Two coaches who are bringing in the new era of Texas Longhorns sports were both at Pluckers on Thursday night, when head football coach Charlie Strong and head baseball coach David Pierce appeared on the “Longhorn Weekly” radio program.
Before Pierce came on the show, Strong discussed the challenges of recovering from a Sunday night game and re-emphasized the fact that one game doesn’t make a season. The people who place you at No. 11 “can always unrank you”, Strong said.
The third-year coach was complementary towards his offensive line, which didn’t allow a single sack in the Notre Dame game. He acknowledged that the heavy run scheme wasn’t technically a balanced approach, but that only throwing the ball 27 times was due to the physical nature of the match up and the success running the ball on the ground on first down.
Though the Longhorns mostly ran the ball on Sunday night, Strong also discussed his receiving weapons. He praised Jerrod Heard’s work ethic and stated that the former quarterback was most upset about being tackled at the 1-yard line against the Fighting Irish because he wanted to debut his touchdown dance.
Strong also mentioned the speed and skill of Devin Duvernay.
“I want to be the fastest team in the country, bar none,” Strong said after discussing the speed he has at the receiver position.
Strong and former star wideout Quan Cosby also mentioned the celebration after the game, which included Strong being lifted up by players and an extreme amount of chest bumping.
“When you play for yourself, it’s usually not as good. But when you play for your alumni, and for your coaches, and for each other things like that happen,” Cosby said.
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It’s no surprise that recruiting was the first topic David Pierce talked about when he appeared on the show, as the new baseball coach has already reeled in 15 commitments in his first three months in Austin. The former Tulane skipper had a whopping 27 recruits at the Notre Dame game.
“It’s huge for us. To kind of be in that environment, to kind of get a real good taste of what’s in like to be a Texas Longhorn. Boy, you can’t beat it.” Pierce said in regards to the experience the recruits had at the game.
Besides recruiting, Pierce also is ready to work with his current returning players. Interestingly, he mentioned Kody Clemens as someone who he is excited to have back in 2017. Clemens underwent Tommy John surgery and was speculated to perhaps miss the 2017 season, but maybe Pierce has a plan to use the sophomore in hitting situations.
Pierce also mentioned Joe Baker as a guy who could be a “really good player in the middle of the field.” Though the Longhorns have several solid options in the middle infield, including David Hamilton, Bret Boswell, and Jake McKenzie, Baker could become a guy to keep an eye on to start at second base or shortstop on opening day.
When discussing his pitchers, Pierce said that senior Morgan Cooper “looks like a big leaguer in the bullpen.” He added that Connor Mayes and Kyle Johnston have a chance to round out the weekend starters.
Although those three guys are the clear studs on the mound, Pierce said that sophomore Nick Kennedy has impressed him in the offseason. Kennedy finished with a 8.44 ERA in 16 innings pitched in 2016, but he could be crucial to the Longhorns’ success as he is one of only two lefty pitchers on the roster (senior Josh Sawyer is the other).
Overall, Pierce emphasized that the team already has a great nucleus — which makes sense considering the Longhorns only lost four players from 2016.