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Report: Texas held Thursday team meeting to air grievances

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Maybe the coaching tactic works, but it’s a sign of where things are for the ‘Horns.

NCAA Football: Kansas at Texas Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Festivus apparently came early for the Texas Longhorns — and wasn’t much of a celebration — as the team reportedly held a Thursday meeting to air grievances, according to The Football Brainiacs.

The meeting comes several days after the players participated in their own meeting to discuss how to improve the struggling defense.

In describing the proceedings as including “fireworks,” the report indicated that several players stood up to express their frustrations about the current three-game losing streak, including junior running back D’Onta Foreman, who is rapidly emerging as a team leader:

Foreman didn’t mince words. He spoke about how hard he has worked in the off-season and how hard he works everyday…how much effort he gives and how much he gives to the team only to see that effort squandered by the lack of effort from others. He specifically called out the defense and named a particular defensive player who he said should be making plays and leading the defense but currently isn’t. He also called out an entire group of the defense and their position coach. I’m told given the status of Foreman on the team, people, including said position coach, listened.

Coming off a career-high performance against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, Foreman is one of the few players on the team beyond reproach after playing through his abdominal strain.

As for his targets?

There’s certainly enough blame to go around, but sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson was the most likely candidate to receive criticism from Foreman, as well as the entire group of defensive backs and position coach, Clay Jennings.

After showing promise last season under Clay Vaughn, the defensive backs have regressed this season, making the short tenure of Jennings a monumental disappointment. However, former defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and head coach Charlie Strong aren’t without blame, either.

According to the report, freshman Fox end Malcolm Roach also made an appeal to his teammates:

Freshman DL, Malcolm Roach also spoke passionately about his background and his desire to be successful. He spoke about his hunger and how he felt there were too many guys on the team that aren’t hungry. I’m told he even referenced past Texas championship level teams saying (quoting the sources expression of Roach’s words), “half of y’all are just here and wondering why we aren’t back…guys that used to play here were hungry!”

Assuming that Roach’s accusations have merit, his statements are a disturbing echo of comments made by former Texas defensive back during the tumultuous 2014 season.

“I don’t think we have all the guys expecting to win,” Diggs said. “I know guys are young, but that’s no excuse. My freshman year I had that mentality, but I guess everybody don’t have that dog in them.”

For the ‘Horns to continue struggling in those areas two years later is unacceptable. Strong has had ample time to effect culture change and the great majority of the roster is now made up of players he recruited, so there are no longer any excuses about why this mentality continues to exist.

Offseason stories abounded about improved team chemistry for the Longhorns, and while players haven’t turned on each publicly, as they did last season, there’s no question that losing is weighing on them behind the scenes. The increasingly tenuous job security of head coach Charlie Strong isn’t helping matters, either.

These types of team meetings only happen out of desperation, as an act of last resort.

Is Strong a dead man walking or will the team respond and rally around their head coach and each other?

Tune in on Saturday evening for the latest — and perhaps decisive, as it regards Strong’s future — edition of the soap opera known as Longhorns football.