AUSTIN — While head coach Charlie Strong can now hang his hat on a 2-1 record and a vastly improved offense, similar issues that plagued last season’s 5-7 team have reappeared on the 2016 team.
Texas gave up more than 40 points to Notre Dame to start the season, allowing multiple long plays through screens and short passing. Texas gave up 50 points to Cal, allowing multiple long plays through screens and short passing. For Strong, he could not be happier he has a bye week to work on fixing what is wrong with the Texas defense.
“We’ve had three games to evaluate and get a chance to just get a look at what our issues are,” Strong said. “We’ve had some issues there on defense. Offense is good enough to put up a lot of points.”
After Saturday’s loss, Strong knows that there is immense pressure on his defensive coaches to make sure their unit improves after fielding a historically bad Texas defense last year. While Strong never got specific on what he would tell the coaches to change, he knows adding his presence is a good start.
“I can get more involved and I will be more involved,” Strong said. “It goes back to accountability. I told our coaches you are a direct reflection of your position. I expect that each and every week when we go out there and compete that coaches will be held accountable just like I’m held accountable for how this team goes out and performs.”
After fielding another question about how he would specifically get involved, Strong provided a simple answer.
“The defense can be fixed,” Strong said. “I’ll get more involved. We’ll get it fixed.”
Strong was asked about his current involvement in defensive coach’s meetings, and said he sits in, but does not run those meetings. He does not plan to begin running them, but he will definitely be more involved.
“I sit in the meetings,” Strong said. “When we go through the defensive calls, I’m sitting in there and I pitch in what I feel we need to go do and make sure everybody has an understanding. I don’t get involved so much in telling them this is what we have to go do. I’m sitting in the meetings and listening to everything they’re saying.”
Part of the changes Strong knows needs to be made on defense is putting his more talented players on the field, regardless of their age. One of the players that has earned playing time is freshman Brandon Jones.
“He’s all over the place, the he goes and blocks a punt,” Strong said about Jones. “He’s someone that you have got to get on the field and got to see more of because he’s a play maker. He plays the game you like the way for it to be played. You want to see a lot of those guys, and you’ll see them because they’ve earned the right to play.”
Strong has a week off to evaluate who gets to play and how they will be coached. With the non-conference schedule now complete, the focus shifts to Big 12 play.
“Our conference starts now,” Strong said. “Our conference starts now. Everything starts. Our goal is in front of us. We said that we want to go win the conference. Now we have a chance to go do it. It starts on the road again. It’s a tough thing. Now we have to go back on the road, and it’s up to us as a coaching staff to get them ready to go play on the road, and we’ve got to be able to handle adversity.”
At the end of it all, Strong made it abundantly clear he has to adjust. Strong plans to make sure that happens.
“It will get fixed,” Strong said. “The defense will get fixed, I can tell you that. It will get fixed. Whatever I need to do to get it fixed, it’s going to happen. We’ll get it fixed.”