Oklahoma Pre Game

Gradually and then Suddenly

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
– Dialogue from Ernest Hemingway’s
1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises.

I was thinking earlier this week about Charlie Strong’s plight and the above dialogue  came to me.  It’s one of my favorite descriptions of how dramatic events  often unfold in life. In the span of eight days and two games, Strong has gone from having virtually universal support from the  Longhorn fan base to having almost zero.

His support and goodwill wouldn’t have so suddenly disappeared if not for a series of bad decisions he made and his team’s pratfalls in blowout losses in his first two seasons.

Charlie’s bad decisions

  1. Bringing offensive coordinator Shawn Watson with him from Louisville. Strong had a blank check to hire elite coordinators and coaches to assemble his staff at UT. Instead of going elite he brought the journeyman Watson just another college coaching gypsy with an undistinguished record in stints at Northwestern, Colorado, and Nebraska. His biggest claim to fame was coaching Teddy Bridgewater at Louisville. In Austin, he developed a man-crush on Tyrone Swoopes at the expense of developing four- star quarterback recruit Jerrod Heard. His 2014 offense ranked #109 out of 128 teams.  In the Texas Bowl is offense totaled 59 yards. No, that’s not a typo. 59 yards total yards.
  2. Finishing 109th in total offense with 59 total yards in the last game of 2014 certainly was a ringing endorsement for retaining Watson for 2015 and that’s just what Strong did. After Strong touted during the spring and summer the new up-tempo offense Watson was going to unveil in 2015, his offense posted 7 points and 163 yards in its debut  versus Notre Dame.  Strong demoted Watson to quarterback coach after the game and lamented that his offense wasn’t up-tempo after all.  Say what Charlie? Are you saying you didn’t really know what your offense was going to look like until the first game had been played?
  3. When Strong arrived in Austin in January 2014 he inherited a roster with two scholarship quarterbacks, veteran David Ash and rising sophomore Tyrone Swoopes. Ash, who would be a redshirt junior in the 2014 season, had shown promise as a solid if not outstanding quarterback with 30 touchdown passes against 18 interceptions for the 2011, 2012, and 2013 seasons. Ash suffered two concussions in 2013. The second one ended his season after the fourth game and should have given Strong serious concerns about Ash’s viability as a long-term starter. Evidently Strong wasn’t concerned enough to recruit a junior college or graduate transfer quarterback to bolster the depth chart. This was a big mistake as Ash suffered another concussion in the first game of the 2014 season ending his career and forcing Texas to rely on the inexperienced Swoopes. Strong, in my opinion, compounded his quarterback issues by redshirting freshman Jerrod Heard even as Swoopes and the offense struggled mightily.  Strong’s quarterback problems dovetailed with his decision to bring Watson with him and retain him for the 2015 season.
  4. As obvious as it was that Texas needed a new offensive coordinator for the 2016 season, what about his defensive coordinator? Vance Bedford’s defense in 2015 was the worst in Texas history surrendering 30 points per game but Strong retained hi for 2016 anyway. Shawn Watson lasted one game in 2015, Bedford last four games in 2016.

Linebacker coach Brian Jean Marie is the only assistant coach that hasn’t been fired or reassigned from Strong’s  2014 staff.  Quite frankly, it appears as though Strong was not qualified to assemble a coaching staff for a power five conference football team.

Blowout Losses
BYU 41-7
Kansas State 23-0
TCU 48-10
Arkansas 31-7

Notre Dame 38-3
TCU 50-7
Iowa State 24-0

Oklahoma State 49-31

Charlie Strong’s poor decision making and his team’s proclivity for blowout losses  over two-plus seasons indicate to me that he isn’t the answer for the Texas Football program.  The silver lining for Texas is that it appears that Strong has stocked the cupboard with  good players, including a quarterback, for the Texas head man that succeeds him to have at least moderate success in 2017.

The OU Game

It may shock and amaze you, but I think Texas will make this game competitive and they might repeat last year’s surprise by winning it.

The Texas offense matches up well with the Oklahoma defense. Oklahoma is giving up 35 points a game and perhaps Shane Buechele’s ribs are healed enough to let him resume throwing the ball deep to John Burt, Jacorey Warrick, and Jerrod Heard.

I believe the odds are in favor of the Texas defense  playing better than they did against Cal and Oklahoma State. It’s a low bar, right? I don’t necessarily believe Charlie Strong’s assumption of the defensive coordinator duties is going to make that big a difference but I do think the players have probably learned something from the last two games and could hold Oklahoma to say 35 points. That maybe just be good enough for the win.

That seems like a good note to end on. It is OU game Friday after all.

Beat the hell outta OU!

Hook ‘Em


2 Comments to “Oklahoma Pre Game”

  1. Big dog BB King said in a song, “The Thrill is Gone.” Seems to sum it up with the vultures circling around the athletic offices at DKR. Nonetheless the OU game is the OU game, so the rally on Commerce St stays the same. Do you sttill do that? Have fun watching the game at the Cotton Bowl, and I’ll wake up Sunday morning here in Hanoi to read the the news. Hope it’s not read it and weep.

  2. Strong is dead man walking. Thirty-nine percent of his victories since arriving have come against Rice, North Texas and UTEP. His teams are 0-13 when trailing at half. He doesn’t follow the game closely enough to make an easy decision on penalty situations. He doesn’t know when to punt, when to call a timeout, when to use versions personnel , and on and on. Frankly the compendium of mismanagement examples are so long it’s not worth the time. All that said, agree with Bill that our Horns match up well with OU and the Sooners no longer scare Texas players , as they obviously did for so many years. So, beat OU!

What Say You?