West Virginia Post-Game

Charlie Strong Should be Retained for 2016

It was a bit of an outlier that a 4-5 team would have only seven turnovers through nine games.  So Texas was due to lose a game because of turnovers.  Texas had more total yards, rushing yards, passing yards, and time of possession than West Virginia.  In many ways, it was Texas’ second most well-played game of the year. But when one of your go-to offensive weapons is Tyrone Swoopes, and your starting quarterback is a redshirt freshman who has only attempted about 100 passes that traveled beyond the line of scrimmage, you’re going to have a game where you commit a lot of turnovers.  As far as the West Virginia game is concerned, that’s the whole story.

If Jay Norvell’s final two game plans are as reasonably aggressive as the plan for West Virginia, then there are going to be more turnovers. If Charlie Strong and Norvell are spooked by the turnovers in the West Virginia game and go conservative versus Texas Tech and Baylor, you might as well pencil in two more losses and a 4-8 season.

2016

For the good of the program, Charlie Strong should be the head coach for Texas in 2016. Not because he necessarily deserves a third year. A very good case can be made that Strong should be fired for the performance of his offense over the last two years, especially when you consider his decision to stick with Shawn Watson and Tyrone Swoopes at the beginning of this season.  And if Strong doesn’t present a plan for 2016 to the athletic director and president that includes hiring the best offensive coordinator money can buy, then Strong probably should be fired.

For the purposes of this argument, let me assume that Strong hires a highly qualified offensive coordinator and a new running backs coach to boot.  Then take into consideration the following.

  1. The upside of a more experienced Jerrod Heard that includes the benefit of a new offensive coordinator. Keep in mind that Shawn Watson’s total focus in the spring and preseason workouts this year was on Tyrone Swoopes. Heard was the proverbial red-headed step-child.
  2. Six quality freshman starters – three on offense and three on defense – return in 2016 as experienced players. They are on offense, tackle Connor Williams, guard Patrick Vahe, and wide receiver John Burt, and on defense, linebacker Malik Jefferson and cornerbacks Holton Hill and Davante Davis.
  3. In addition to the six freshmen who return as starters there are 10 more returning starters, four on offense and six on defense. That’s 16 returning starters total, and not one of them is a player you aren’t glad to have back as a starter.
  4. As bad as this season has been, reasonable depth has been developed on both sides of the ball for 2016, something Texas hasn’t had since 2009. In addition to seven returning starters on offense, tight end Caleb Bluitt, wide receiver Lorenzo Joe, running back Chris Warren, center Jake Raulerson, and tackle Tristan Nickelson have logged considerable playing time. On defense, cornerbacks Antwaun Davis, Chris Boyd, and linebacker Edwin Freeman have played extensively. In the last two games, true freshman Deshon Elliott has been added to the rotation at safety.

I’m aware that those who follow recruiting 365 days a year are concerned about the Longhorns 2016 recruiting class. I think it’s way too early for hand-wringing on this front. Strong and his staff closed the end of the 2015 recruiting season strong. Excuse the pun.  In addition, I would point to the failure of Mack Brown’s strategy of signing the majority of his recruits as high school juniors. This was a major contributing factor to the culture of entitlement that pervaded the program in Mack Brown’s final years. I prefer Strong’s recruiting strategy.

I wrote earlier this month that Charlie Strong’s decision-making in hiring and sticking with Shawn Watson, his seeming lack of involvement in offensive game planning, the poor play of his special teams, and his poor in-game management led me to believe that even with a roster stocked with high caliber players, I thought his ceiling was about eight wins a year.  Keeping in mind that no one can predict the future, for continuity’s sake, I believe the best option at head coach for Texas in 2016 is Charlie Strong.

Over/Under Results

It seems like it’s been a while since we’ve had a first time winner but we have on this week as Jeff Otto wins his first Over/Under contest with eight correct answers.  Jeff – famous for being a quick study in most disciplines –wins in only his third try at Over/Under.  Reed Ramlow – our man in Viet Nam –turned in another strong performance this week with seven correct answers.

Lock of the Week Results

I very much enjoyed being wrong with Baylor over Oklahoma as my Lock of the Week. I wrote of my affinity for Oklahoma in last week’s pre-game column.   Today I want to share with you the roots of my dislike for Baylor football.   During my freshman and sophomore years in college, I was lucky enough to befriend a Sig Ep brother who was an All-Southwest Conference player for the Longhorns in 1975 and ’76.  This friend – who was a highly recruited two-way player from out of state – told me the dirtiest recruiting he encountered came from Baylor which offered him and other recruits money and other benefits and aggressively denigrated Texas and other programs in the process. So there.

HooK ‘eM,

W.E.

5 Comments to “West Virginia Post-Game”

  1. News travels slow to the East (hardly, but I will say it anyway) to find I was the bridesmaid again in the O/U. Anyhow, I appreciate the honorable mentions. Perhaps my growing analytic skills coupled with my inability to watch a down of Longhorn ((or any) football will yield a first place finish in the last two games.

    “Remember, the storm is a good opportunity for the pine and the cypress to show their strength and their stability.” Ho Chi Minh, when asked posthumously about the state of Longhorns, the future of Charlie Strong, and the upcoming Tech and Baylor games.

  2. The article is full of tired clichés that we’ve all heard for two years. Enough is enough … He’ll get another year — or more — but, here’s my expanded take on what we’ve got:

    Strong is responsible for the awful, awful offensive coaches he brought with him, including Shawn Watson as defacto OC, who has been a rank failure everywhere he’s been (Colorado, Nebraska and Louisville but for one year with a now NFL QB). He’s also responsible for the two terrible assistant coaches he had to fire after just one year because they couldn’t recruit anyone and did precious little with what talent was around. And he’s responsible for letting Watson stick with Swoopes through last spring, all summer, fall workouts, severely limiting the development of young Mr. Heard, who got virtually no meaningful practice reps for more than a year. Result is that our sainted Horns run a Mickey Mouse offense less complex than virtually any high school in Texas – and they run it badly. In addition, Texas special teams are a joke – the longest kickoff return this year is an uninspiring 36 yards – our punt returners have no idea when to not catch it – and you can chalk up two losses (probably) to special-team screw-ups of the highest order. In addition, we’re constantly incurring costly penalties (holding last week when not necessary as our QB went 30 for a touchdown is a pretty good example), the clock management the likes of what the Horns have done this year would get suitcases piled up on other school’s coaches’ front lawn, and player personnel decisions have been more than suspect (most notably, starting and giving more carries to a running back averaging about 4 yards per carry than the guy who’s averaging 8.5 yards per carry and has taken it “to the house” four times).

    All in all, I frankly think Coach Strong caught the proverbial “lightning in a bottle” with QB Teddy Bridgewater (now starting for the Vikings) at Louisville, had a favorable schedule of cupcakes and beat a no-offense Florida in the BCS bowl that stands as his crowning achievement. I love his no-nonsense attitude, the toughness he’s brought back, but there is simply no excuse for the record of non-achievement, and way yonder too often, for not even being competitive.

  3. Willie Earl-Geez…you’re growing wise in your 60’s! This was the best take I’ve read or heard on the Strong ordeal. Thanks for your voice of reason. But if we’re bad next year, I’m off the Strong band wagon.

  4. He’ll get it, but doesn’t deserve another year, in my opinion. He’s fielded a wildly inconsistent team, presided over awful fundamentals, okayed (I guess) poor game plans, seemed totally disinterested in many games on the sideline, made clearly crummy personnel decisions on coaches and players (i.e., Shawn Watson, Flowers and “J” Gray) and decided to sit tight with obviously not-ready-for-prime-time quarterbacks through two recruiting periods. His inability to articulate a complete sentence during most media outings also wears thin with me, as did his comment that the Iowa State game was not embarrassing. Huh?

What Say You?