Football

Monday Mornings with Sean: Turkey Day showdown

Charlie Strong. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Charlie Strong. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Come on, be honest!

How many of you thought this team would be at  6–5 heading into Thanksgiving against TCU after the Longhorns were shutout 23 – 0 at Kansas State?

Texas sat at 3–5 and heading towards 2010 real fast in the most pivotal of years for the Strong regime. The Longhorns only wins were against North Texas, Kansas, and Iowa State. Hardly a gauntlet of top-shelf competition.

Charlie Strong looked disgusted after the game and later described how the post game proceeded, “After the game was over, we sat in that locker room and I expressed my feelings to the team and to the seniors.”

I have a sneaky suspicion that when Charlie Strong expresses his feelings, its not like Dr. Phil with a dry erase board and a discussion of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

The first role of any coach is to teach. Part of the teaching is understanding discipline, when to do it, how to do it, and what buttons to push to get the desired results.

“It may have been the turning point for us,” said Strong. “That was just one of those games when we went out there with no emotional energy and didn’t play well.”

Co-offensive coordinator Shawn Watson intimated the same thing when he noticed the flight home was different. “There was no talking on that flight back, everybody was deep in thought,” explained Watson. “We were all thinking about what we needed to do to get it fixed. Charlie (Strong) sets that tone. He’s got a clear picture of what he wants this program to be. When something like that happens, you have to look at yourself.”

It is not like they did not believe. Strong later recalled thinking and telling his coaching staff, “We are too talented. We’re not coaching hard enough. It’s got to be a reason why we are not having success. Coach Brown left us some really outstanding players. It was all about us getting connected with the seniors.”

Getting connected is what happened. Watson said, “You have to keep teaching. After the Kansas State game, we knew we had people who had character. We knew from the beginning when we got here that there were really good people in this program.”

What followed was leadership and plays by Jordan Hicks, Quandre Diggs, Malcom Brown, and an offensive line that is still not deep but playing well. Everyone is playing harder and not only harder but better.

“At 3 – 5, you only have four left,” said Strong. “You have to make a move to get where you want to get. There are games left but you want to take them game by game. Let’s get this one and we’ll worry about the next one next week, but lets get this one.”

They have taken them game by game and rattled off three consecutive wins to gain bowl eligibility and also build momentum towards a Thanksgiving night battle with No. 5 TCU.

The season is nothing anyone thought it would be when the team started camp back in August. But the direction is exactly where everyone wants it to be.

Two games left with a chance to win both of them.

Every Longhorn fan can say as my grandmother used to say, “We might not be where we want to be but thank God we are not where we was!”

I can’t wait until Thursday.