Pre Game Texas Tech


Charlie Strong made his reputation as defensive coordinator. He’s a defensive expert. From a football perspective he’s defensive minded. He’s not the head football coach at The University of Texas earning five million dollars a year because he can put together a great defense. UT is paying Vance Bedford $800,000 a year to be the defensive coordinator. UT is paying a combined $1.25 million dollars a year to Shawn Watson and Joe Wickline to coordinate the offense. In addition to the coordinators, Strong has a legion of position coaches responsible for coaching football fundamentals specific to every single position on the team. It’s an absolute requirement for a head coach at a major football program to have decades of experience in coaching football and understand in detail what every assistant coaches job is, but he is not being paid millions a year because he’s the best defensive or offensive coordinator there ever was. He’s being paid millions because he has good judgment that will mean the difference between wins and losses in two to three games a year.

Did Charlie Strong exercise good judgment when in February of this year, he decided not bring in a transfer quarterback to compete with David Ash to be the starter at quarterback or at least as an experienced backup? I wrote on August 29th that I thought David Ash was making a big mistake by continuing to play football. In my judgment, it seemed highly unlikely that Ash could stay healthy for more than three or four games. I think Strong made a major error in judgment on this issue. For that matter so did David Ash who now has many years to contemplate whether or not he took one too many blow to the head on the football field.

Did Strong use good judgment in delegating to a position coach, the decision about which running back would carry the ball on that critical fourth and one play against Kansas State last Saturday? And did he use good judgment by letting that play be run behind the weakest link on a struggling offensive line? I say no on both counts. In my opinion the big salary is paid to the head coach to make these types of decisions during the heat of battle.

Charlie Strong did a great job at Louisville and he was on everybody’s list of hot prospects to fill a head coaching opening at a premier college football program. Excuse me for being captain obvious here, but Louisville isn’t Texas. Maybe it’s going to take a year or two, or three for Strong to grow into his big responsibilities in Austin.
I like Charlie Strong. I desperately want him to succeed at Texas. You can almost be sure that he’s made dozens of good judgment calls that are less public than the ones I’ve cited since arriving in Austin. But from my perspective, he’s made some marginal to bad judgment calls, in areas that we as fans can observe, in exercising his duties as the UT head coach.  Right now those calls may be the difference between 3-5 and 5-3. That’s not fatal, yet.

Are today’s football players that reach elite levels of competition now so specialized that they aren’t so good at seeing how their performance fits into down and distance? From a broad statistical stand point the Texas defense had a good game against Kansas State. But Kansas State was 9 of 17 in third down conversions. Five of those conversions came on an average of third and 11 and Kansas State’s two longest plays from scrimmage came on third and 13 and third and 14. Mainly this happened because defensive linemen lost containment of the quarterback and defensive backs let receivers get behind them because they were covering like it was third and 5 not third and 14.

Speaking of defense, Texas is tied for 41st in the country in forcing turnovers with 14 for the season. That’s not enough to be considered elite. They could lose to Texas Tech if they don’t force at least three turnovers.

Freshman running back D’Onta Foreman came in early in the third quarter against Kansas State and had three rushes for 19 yards. For the season he’s had five rushes for 51 yards. That’s a small body of work to judge, but I’d move him into the regular running back rotation and make sure he gets 10 + carries a game for the rest of this season.

Did you note that former Longhorn defensive tackle Lamarr Houston, now playing for the Chicago Bears, tore up his knee while celebrating a sack on New England’s second string quarterback, in the 4th quarter, with his team behind by 28 points? Talk about not understanding a team game.

HooK ‘eM,


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2 Comments to “Pre Game Texas Tech”

  1. I absolutely believe it was a massive Strong mistake to have hired a fired-twice-in-the-past-8-years offensive coordinator (Watson), who should be relegated to QB coach to let Wickline call plays.

    • Strong’s judgment will also be tested in how he handles this legal mess between Wickline and Oklahoma State. Seems like a situation that could have been avoided.

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