Sitting at 5-5 with two games remaining in the regular season, the Texas Longhorns may need to win out for head coach Charlie Strong to keep his job. At the least, the ‘Horns can’t avoid a letdown on the road after losing the season’s first three road games and first four games away from Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
However, the Longhorns head coach doesn’t believe that a letdown is either likely or probable against the 1-9 Jayhawks.
“You know, there's no reason we should have a letdown at all,” Strong said on Monday. “We're trying to get to a bowl game, and we need to get one win to get there, and we deserve — our seniors deserve that, and I don't think our guys will have a letdown.”
At least one senior is certainly motivated to extend the season so Texas can have 15 extra practices to help the numerous young contributors on the team improve.
On Monday, wide receiver Jacorey Warrick had a rather absurd exchange with the media and the public-relations apparatus at the school. First, he rather harmlessly guaranteed a bowl game — a threshold that should be easy to achieve given this weekend’s opponent — but then had to walk his comment back, saying that the ‘Horns would merely try to get to a bowl game.
While asking Fox end Breckyn Hager to issue an apology about the defense’s stated intentions to “injured that quarterback” in reference to Texas Tech star Patrick Mahomes made sense, forcing Warrick to retract his guarantee seems odd for a program selling the “Believe” mantra to its players and fanbase.
Warrick believes, and was willing to go on record about it.
Whatever the team is allowed to say publicly, however, there’s a growing sense that the program is finally moving back towards having pride in the output on the field.
As recently as last October, that wasn’t the case, according to Strong.
"You gotta have pride,” he said after the blowout loss to TCU. “I just don't know how important it is right now. You look at some guys, and they're just happy to be here."
Following four losses by seven points or less this season that is indicative of much better competitiveness overall, it sounds like the “T” is getting put back in Texas, even if the process still isn’t complete — the team has at least built the base now and is now trying to cross it.
“You know what you really see now is that you watch when we compete now, when we play, it is, it's one of those when guys walk into a game, they expect to go win the football game, and like the one on Saturday, it hurt, and it hurt them big time because they know that we let one get away from us,” Strong said.
“But it just -- overall just how competitive they are now, and just how much pride. It's all about pride, and it's just how much pride they have within themselves and within the program.”
As usual, Strong and his team will focus on themselves this week instead of worrying about the opponent.
“It's all about us — it doesn't matter who we're playing or that they have the record that they have. We've still got to get better ourselves and we've still got to improve, and we need to show that we can go on the road and win another football game and then come back home and get ready for the next one.”