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Pre-game weather pep talk from Texas HC Charlie Strong helped Horns focus

The Longhorns head coach wasn't willing to let his team start another game unprepared.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Longhorns senior wide reciever Daje Johnson didn't think he'd played in such heavy rain since Little League.

From the body language of the other Texas players during warm ups on Saturday morning in preparation for the Kansas State Wildcats, head coach Charlie Strong didn't think his team as a whole was ready to play in the unusual conditions produced by Hurricane Patricia's landfall.

"We were warming up, and I called us up during warmup, and I had to tell them some things because I just didn't like the way we were warming up," Strong said. "It was kind of just going through it."

Strong has seen that type of warning behavior from his team before and he took the opportunity to put the situation into perspective.

"Okay, it's wet, we understand that. What do you want me to do, move the clouds? I can't move the clouds. I can't stop the rain. But okay, so is it raining -- look at the far end. Is it raining down there? They're warming up pretty good, so let's get into it and let's stop going through the motions."

Once the game started, the Longhorns responded to Strong's exhortations, scoring 16 points on the first three Texas possessions to assert some physical dominance on the game in conditions that ended up being worse than redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard anticipated.

"I thought it wasn't going to be bad because it wasn't really raining that hard," Heard said. "But when we came out there it just started pouring... There was a moment in the second quarter where the ball really did feel like five pounds."

As a result, Heard told Strong at halftime that he couldn't grip the football and the Texas offense got extremely conversative, opting to run clock and concede some lost possessions in order to avoid the potential for a game-changing mistakes. With the Longhorns defense playing well enough to limit a flawed Wildcats offense, the trade-off ended up working out for Strong and Norvell.

Texas had practiced all week in preparation for the rain, wetting the balls in practice in order to approximate the expected game-time conditions, but weren't able to practice in similar conditions when some expected precipitation never materialized.

And once Norvell saw the poor forecast continue in the morning, he went ahead and installed the 18 Wheeler plays that the Horns used on the game-sealing touchdown drive. Without having repped the plays in practice, junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes was able to follow his lead blockers, lower his pads, and power for 52 yards on three carries to close out the game.

For the most part, the defense took advantage of the poor conditions in holding Kansas State to only 242 total yards. Junior safety Dylan Haines admitted that he personally left some plays on the wet field, describing a "difficult situation" that contributed to two dropped interceptions in three opportunities.

In the end, the Horns did exactly what Strong wanted them to do -- accept the circumstances and and play with joy and confidence.

"The weather is on both sides of the ball, so it kind of makes you more excited to play," Haines said. "You know, when it's raining out there and you got the water all over the facemask and stuff. It's just a different atmosphere and we took it with an excitement and passion. We went out there and played our butts off."