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Texas HC Charlie Strong: Longhorns don't need "turned the corner" hype

How does Texas maintain an edge heading into the West Virginia game? Just try to stay negative about the team (they suck).

Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong has been in this position before.

He knows how it goes. The Horns actually put together a winning streak and the "turning the corner" narrative starts to emerge. And then fades harshly and definitively.

So Strong wants to control the message now. He's joking, but he's not.

"Well, we're not going to write we turned the corner, keep writing it's really bad, don't give them no hope at all," he said after the 59-20 win over Kansas. "We don't need that."

Turns out, the players can get kinda caught up in that with all the distractions that now come with being a football player at the University of Texas in 2015.

Play caller Jay Norvell says he didn't have all that when he played linebacker for Iowa from 1982 to 1995. All he cared about where those opportunities to play.

"When I was in college, I didn't have anything except Saturday afternoon. That was all I thought of all week."

Former wide receiver Quan Cosby says that he didn't have all that from 2005 to 2008, but he was unusually mature because he signed with the Horns in 2001 and then played four seasons of minor league baseball.

"When I was in college, I focused on two things -- football and college (my plan B)," Cosby wrote for the University Co-Op. "When I wasn't studying, I was watching film. When I wasn't watching film, I was studying the game plan or calling Colt to see what he felt about plays for the week. Sometimes I would even call coaches to get their opinions so we were all on the same page. I felt an obligation to win for our fans and coaches for believing in me and giving me the chance to play at UT. I'm not sure how much football means to the team as a whole."

Strong once infamously said that social media will be the "downfall of society" and the notable instances of discord in those forums recently surely haven't changed his mind. It surely didn't sound changed on Saturday night.

"It's like every time we get built up, it's like crash and burn," Strong said.

Like the TCU game on Thanksgiving last year after winning three straight games. Like Iowa State last week after winning two games in a row.

Strong is right -- this is a team that doesn't currently have enough self motivation to ensure that it can achieve a high level of effort every week, especially after a victory that could dull the inconsistent edge.

At the same time, surviving some adversity late in the first half could become a key moment, though you didn't hear that here, and so forth.

The next step is not letting up after getting out to those crucial strong starts, as Texas did in allowing two long touchdown drives and needing to survive those two goal-line stands late in the first half that resulted in a failed fourth-down conversion and missed field goal by Kansas. Strong certainly delivered the message at halftime.

"We jump up big and we can't be front runners," he said. "Once we get a lead, we got to continue to play. And be aggressive. And we weren't aggressive. We jumped out there in front and then all of a sudden gave them an opportunity to go move the football."

Having ensured the proper reponse coming out in the second half, now Strong has to push the right buttons during West Virginia game week, something the results suggested he wasn't able to accomplish heading to Ames. After all, the 28-7 win over an Oklahoma State team in 2014 that hadn't yet inserted Mason Rudolph as the starter at quarterback still stands as the only notable road win in his tenure.

Becoming consistent is about keeping an even keel amidst that praise Strong wants to shelter his team from receiving.

"They won't get overly excited with this because I told them we have to go out and dominate this team and next week is critical for us because we're going to have to play very well," Strong said. "We're on the road, haven't played very well on the road, but we are going into a tough environment."

Norvell perhaps said it best this week when discussing the mindset that the Horns have to adapt each and every week.

"You're going to play every Saturday and when that happens, you're either going to whip somebody or you're going to get whipped," he said Tuesday. "And if you think about it any other way, you're in the wrong sport. We need to get ourselves ready to whip somebody every Saturday. If we don't do that, then we're going to be on the other side of the ledger. You have to play with an edge...

"This ain't tennis, okay?"

Nope, definitely not tennis.