A week ago, everything was on the table for Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong as he evaluated his defensive staff and worked to follow through on his public promise to fix a defense that allowed 50 points to the California Golden Bears and 43 points to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Behind the scenes, there were rumblings that Strong would reassign embattled defensive coordinator Vance Bedord
But the bye week ended and Strong voiced his support for Bedford during Monday’s media availability.
"I have a lot of confidence in Vance Bedford, and I know Vance is going to do a good job," Strong said of his longtime colleague.
Clearly, though, Texas defense can certainly afford some significant improvements; more specifically, three key areas Strong said he told Bedford were areas of focus moving forward.
"We've got to get better fundamentally," Strong said. "That's got to happen."
Missed tackles and blown coverage assignments are the most evident fundamental breakdowns by the ‘Horns thus far, many of which are inexcusable and inexplicable.
A grasp of concepts, or a lack thereof, can largely be credited to Texas’ defensive deficiencies through three games and Strong went in-depth on the significance of learning concepts.
We've got to learn our concepts. Our players have just got to understand just the overall scheme and what we're really doing and what we're trying to accomplish. Instead of guys just lining up just to go play, and then we've just got to devise a game plan where we can be successful and we don't give up the plays and we don't just turn guys loose. I told them, I can live with a guy playing hard, if he makes a mistake then I'll take the hit on that with the mistake, because as long as they play hard and they play with a lot of energy, and it hasn't been where we haven't played hard, we just haven't played very smart, and that's where we've got to -- that's where I talk about just concepts, where they understand and just totally be prepared.
As far as what influence Strong said he will have regarding the defense as of now, that has more to do with personnel and the talent placed on the field in order to execute the fundamentals and concepts.
"I look at it, and when we talk about me just -- what I have a say with the defense, it's just personnel," Strong said. "I want to make sure just personnel that the right players are playing and that we put the players out on the field that can make plays. It's all about playmakers, and as the guys that can just run around and not afraid to go hit."
Some personnel changes we can expect to see will be young talent including a trio of true freshmen in safety Brandon Jones, fox end Malcolm Roach, and defensive tackle Jordan Elliott taking on larger roles, and potentially starting in the near future.
We’ll see just how impactful Strong’s emphasis on fundamentals, concepts, and personnel proves to be Saturday morning in Stillwater against an Oklahoma team quite similar to Cal in numerous offensive facets.