AUSTIN — After a road loss to the California Golden Bears, freshman Shane Buechele and seniors Tyrone Swoopes and Kent Perkins were available to the media to discuss what the team needs to fix following their performance in Berkeley, and how the team needs to get in the right mindset prior to opening Big 12 play in Stillwater.
Buechele discusses lessons learned from first road experience
One of the questions the minds of fans this week was how a new offense led by a true freshman making his first road start would perform on the road on a two hour time change. Although he took several series off due to what was described as a chest injury, freshman quarterback Shane Buechele did not appear to be affected by the Golden Bear crowd.
“The environment there wasn’t too bad,” Buechele said. “I thought our fans did just as well as their fans. It was a fun place to play at Cal. It wasn’t too big. It wasn’t bad at all.”
Texas’ offense continued to light up the scoreboard, posting their third straight game of 40 or more points. While the defense and special teams units struggled, according to Buechele, the team remains unified.
“No finger pointing at all,” Buechele said. “We have trust in each other. We know that we just have to get better on each side of the ball, defense, offense and special teams wise. We just have to go in every day and get better.”
Even with all of the points the Horns have put up this season, Buechele says the team has yet to really open up the playbook.
“There’s more,” Buechele said when asked if the offense had more to show later in the year. “We’re doing what works, and we’re going to continue to do what works.”
One of Buechele’s main targets, sophomore John Burt, did not have the strong game Buechele had. Burt, who has faced problems with drops recently, will continue to get targets from Buechele.
“It’s just having that trust in him,” Buechele said. “He’s a great player. We know he can catch the ball. It’s nothing different, it’s having the trust in him, and him trusting in me.”
Another receiver that Buechele has a lot of trust in is freshman Collin Johnson. Johnson enrolled early with Buechele, and reportedly built strong chemistry with the receiver, who was able to play in his home state on Saturday. Buechele again reiterated the trust he has in his receiver.
“I think there’s chemistry with all the guys,” Buechele said. “You know, that relationship me and Collin have is a good one. I trust in him, I think he has trust in me.”
Even with a bye week for Buechele, he remains confident in the offense he runs.
“I think we can do anything on the offensive side and we can do it successfully,” Buechele said. “As long as we can stay doing that and just adapt to what the defense is giving us, I think we’ll be successful.”
Swoopes looks to improve during bye week, prepare for the Pokes
Senior Tyrone Swoopes was called to do a little more than his normal, simple 18-Wheeler reads against Cal when Buechele was in the locker room being evaluated for a chest injury. While he served as a respectable spell for the few series Buechele was away, he still threw some inaccurate balls, including an interception that quickly shifted momentum. Swoopes knows both he and his team need to solve the little mistakes on offense to be as effective as possible.
“Just the small things like false starts and the holding penalties,” Swoopes said on what needed to be changed. “Just things that killed drives. I think just working on fixable things.”
Although his offensive unit gave the best performance against the Golden Bears, Swoopes looked at the game from a team perspective.
“Everybody knows that collectively we all didn’t play a great game,” Swoopes said. “When you look at the record, it doesn’t say a loss for the Texas offense or a loss for the Texas defense, it says a loss for Texas. I think that’s just important keeping everybody cohesive and not pointing fingers.”
With Oklahoma State on the horizon, Swoopes is not going to let his team jump to far ahead and ignore mistakes from the loss.
“I think this week we’ll fix what we messed up on Saturday,” Swoopes said. “Then, next week just start working on Oklahoma State.”
Swoopes remembers in 2014 when he gave on his best performances of the season to get the Horns to bowl eligibility. After facing one environment in Berkeley that few would describe as intimidating, Swoopes knows he is walking into a more raucous environment in Stillwater.
“We played there a couple of years ago,” Swoopes said. “It wasn’t kind of what it is now. There really weren’t that many people there. I think it will be just a totally different environment. Like I said before, we’re going to get everybody’s best game. We’ve just got to be prepared for everything that they have.”
With all the issues the other side of the ball has faced in the first three games of the season, Swoopes knows he needs to make sure his side performs the best it can. If his unit does that, he knows the defense will have an easier task.
“We’ve shown that we can put up a lot of points every week,” Swoopes said. “I think every week we’ve put up more than 40. Just doing that consistently, it will help take some of the pressure off of the defense.”
Perkins continues to lead, tries to keep team grounded
Several times throughout the course of the preseason, Strong would commend the quiet leadership that senior offensive lineman Kent Perkins provided to the team. Perkins was said not to speak very often, but when he did speak up, the team listened.
In this instance, Perkins did not speak up even when he says he saw younger players act in ways that troubled him.
“Being a leader, it was a time where I felt like I probably should have said something and I didn’t say anything,” Perkins said. “Just young guys not being focused. You’ve just got to say something. Not being focused, by that I mean, when you’re called out there you go out there. You should not be calling someone more than once to go out there. It’s just lack of focus.”
Perkins said he knows where his team’s real focus needs to be: on the next nine weeks.
“I told those guys ‘listen, the real season starts in two weeks,’” Perkins said. “We learned something today. Let’s build off of that. Let’s focus.”
One of the players who struggled with penalties against Cal was freshman center Zach Shackelford. Shackelford, who has faced problems with injury, appeared to miss the snap count several times against Cal, with the ball remaining in his hand while his teammates began to block. Perkins, as usual, provided positive feedback.
“After the play, I told him – Shack is one of the hardest workers – and I told him ‘bro, don’t focus on the last play,’” Perkins said. “Don’t let the last play beat you. Take that play out of your head.”
Cal, whose style of play is similar to what Texas will face in the Big 12, had a well-conditioned defense according to the senior guard. Although the Golden Bears were used to what Texas threw out there, it still did not prevent them from getting tired.
“Cal defense played real well against the tempo we had,” Perkins said. “I will say at times they were getting tired. We were able to break some side running plays. Our offense executed really well.”
Even with the loss, Perkins knows his team needed to get the message that it takes work to be one of the top teams.
“It’s not a setback at all,” Perkins said about the loss. “I believe that it’s a wake-up call on how well we know we can be this year. Every guy on this team, when we’re 100 percent focused and we’re locked in, it can be pretty great.”