AUSTIN — In preparation for Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Texas had several leaders available to the team, including one who was available to the media following a weekend arrest, a quarterback trying to take another game in Boone Pickens stadium, and two defensive linemen who keep preaching pressure.
Perkins faces media following DWI arrest
Senior offensive guard Kent Perkins was the first to admit on Monday that he made a “stupid mistake” when he was arrested on Sept. 23 for DWI, a mistake that ultimately led him to be suspended one game by head coach Charlie Strong.
Perkins, a team captain, was not forced to speak to the media as punishment, but rather told Strong that he wanted to apologize publicly, according to Texas media relations.
“I want to apologize to my team, my coaches, my family and my loved ones,” Perkins said. “Anybody that’s ever looked up to me, I made a mistake and I really apologize for that. That’s not me, that’s not my character, that’s not what I’m about. I’m just ready to gain the trust back of those people. I know I disappointed a lot of people. The biggest thing right now is that I want to move forward and forget about this mistake. I’m a leader on this team and I need to act like that on and off the field. I’m just ready to put all this behind me and start moving forward.”
Perkins said although he made a mistake, those closest to him have been fully supportive.
“I addressed the line,” Perkins said. “Coach Strong, he addressed the team. I have a lot of good friends on this team. All the guys were contacting me saying we love you, all the support, keep your head up, things like that. It let me know they had my back at this time. It hurts even more because I feel like I let them down. I know that I have a lot of good people in my corner. This will never happen ever again.”
Perkins was arrested for DWI on Friday when he was discovered asleep behind the wheel of his car in a local drive through line. According to a police affidavit obtained by KVUE Austin, Perkins was also involved in an accident in the parking lot, after which police arrested him.
Although he was involved in the accident, Perkins was very thankful no one was injured.
“I’m really grateful that I didn’t cause injury to somebody else,” Perkins said. “It’s crazy what happened, and I’m thankful to God that nothing physically happened to me or anyone else.”
Even though he is suspended for one game, Perkins said he will remain a Longhorn captain. Perkins repeatedly expressed remorse for his actions and for letting those close to him down. Perkins knows he lost something because of his arrest, but he is ready to get what he lost back.
“It’s going to be motivation to me,” Perkins said. “Now I feel I have even more to prove. I have to gain that trust back. I have to work even harder. I’m fired up to earn that trust back from all the people that I let down.”
Swoopes ready to make Stillwater return
After recording one of his best games as a quarterback in Stillwater in 2014, senior Tyrone Swoopes returns to T. Boone Pickens Stadium as more of a power runner in his 18-Wheeler package. While Swoopes performance quieted the crowd in 2014, he knows that the 2016 crowd will be ready for revenge.
“It’s kind of like any other road game,” Swoopes said. “It’s going to be loud. Fans are going to be rowdy especially since it’s an early morning game.”
Those are givens for opposing teams in Stillwater, and things Swoopes knows his team does not need to worry about controlling.
“Just control what you can control,” Swoopes said. “Don’t worry about the crowd because they can’t come on the field and play the game. Just worry about the assignment and what to do.”
Regarding assignments, Swoopes was asked if his offensive line recognizes a difference when blocking for the running backs compared to blocking for him. Swoopes said it does not matter to the o-line, as they are more concerned about what is in front of them rather than what is behind them.
“Most times, they don’t even know or care who’s getting the ball,” Swoopes said. “They’re up there doing what they’re coached to do. I don’t really see a difference one way or another.”
The senior was specific when asked about what Texas needs to fix on offense following Cal.
“I think any offense, just staying out of third and longs,” Swoopes said. “It makes it a lot easier for Coach Gilbert and Coach Mattox to call plays on third and short, or manageable. Just staying out of those third and long situations.”
For all the issues that might be surrounding the Longhorns, Swoopes said the offense did not need to change much prior to facing the Cowboys.
“I think it’s just going out and playing like we’ve been playing these last three weeks minus some mistakes from Cal,” Swoopes said. “Just going and executing what’s called and everybody doing their job in order to be successful.”
Defensive linemen ready to prove strength of defense
Senior Paul Boyette and sophomore Chris Nelson knows the defense has to improve at all levels, secondary, linebackers and defensive line. While Boyette and Nelson do their best to make sure the entire defense is striving to improve, they can only manage the players they sit by in Brick Haley’s defensive line room.
Although there are plenty of mistakes made during the Cal game, Boyette says the defense has its eyes forward.
“It’s good the way our schedule happened,” Boyette said. “Getting ready to go into Big 12 play, everybody is back to the drawing board with extreme focus and preparation. Guys just keep learning what needs to be done for us to go out there and be successful.”
Boyette’s mindset is unique, but not misguided.
“You can’t really harp on Cal,” Boyette said. “That was preseason. This is the real season here. It’s a one game season until the Big 12 Championship.”
When Boyette expanded on his answer, he mentioned the defense has plenty of room to grow up after seemingly digging itself in a hole at the beginning of the season.
“There’s a lot of ball left to be played,” Boyette said. “We can’t let one game harp on our season and make our season go down. We’re like a jet taking off. Every game we’ve got to keep building and keep climbing. For the Big 12, you have to win on the road. Like Coach Strong says, on the road, you have to pack your defense.”
Nelson, who does not play the same leadership role that Boyette does, was a more football specific when asked about adjustments.
“We just came into the team defensive room and talked to each other, feed of each other, and ask what can we do to make the defense better?” Nelson said. “What areas can we fix? Situations like that, we can’t really be too down on ourselves. We try to uplift each other for the next game.”
The word of the day for the defense, as it has been for several weeks, was pressure.
“We get off the ball pretty good and stop runs,” Nelson said. “Things we can work on is getting more pressure. We can always get better in that area. We can never get comfortable.”
Both Nelson and Boyette mentioned the play of freshman defensive lineman Jordan Elliott. Elliott was thought to be a defensive tackle primarily, but he has seen snaps both there and at defensive end. Nelson explained why Elliott is so effective from that position.
“On the edge, Jordan brings a little more power,” Nelson said. “He’s kind of quick, but he brings more power on the edge. He can bend it for us and bring everything back in.”
Going forward, along with victories, Boyette wants to make sure the next class of defensive lineman carry the leadership he does in the locker room.
“I would just love for the young guys to keep catching on the way they are,” Boyette said. “Let them keep building confidence and persistence in what they do, and just keep learning the system.”