It’s getting tougher and tougher for the Texas fan base to continue to support Charlie Strong.
And it’s unclear if a win over hated rival Oklahoma on Oct. 8 will be enough to get them to believe in the coach again.
Strong had two weeks to prepare for an Oklahoma State team that suffered four turnovers in the 35-28 loss to Baylor just a week earlier.
But what Texas (2-2, 0-1) observers saw was another game of poor tackling, poor secondary play and an inability to force the Cowboys to be one-dimensional in a 49-31 loss Oct. 1. The Longhorns had new starters in several defensive positions.
They also saw other things they didn’t expect: three blocked extra point attempts with one returned for a safety, a delay of game on a field goal attempt that eventually led to the miss, and a poorly executed run in the 18-wheeler package on a two-point attempt.
About the only bright spot in special teams was when punter Michael Dixon ran for a first down on fourth and six, which only delayed the fact he had to trot back onto the field three plays later to punt the ball.
And all of those factors reinforced the feeling by many that Strong is a great recruiter but can’t figure out how to manage a game played in the Big 12 where high-flying offenses take center stage each week.
The Big 12 is unlike any conference in that offensive coordinators don’t fear any defense in the league. When Strong was hired, Texas fans thought they’d see Strong’s defensive prowess that led the 2008 Florida Gators’ win against Oklahoma in the BCS national championship. Strong had three weeks to prepare the Gators. But at Texas he has three days to generate the same result.
And having a divided fan base can’t come at a worse time for Strong.
This latest loss is a week after LSU parted with Les Miles. Reports surfaced that the Tigers have targeted University of Houston coach Tom Herman as a candidate for the job.
Texas insiders say several big-money donors had a conversation with Herman several weeks ago about the possibility of returning to the 40 acres to take over the team. They say Herman agreed to go if the job came open.
So going into the OSU contest, the big-money donors were already antsy regarding the LSU opening; it wouldn’t be surprising to learn those individuals reached out to Herman as the latest Texas loss was happening.
Strong indicated he might have a locker room filled with little confidence, but he has the remedy for what ails them.
“It’s a confidence thing,” he said. “You go win a game, it shoots back to where it was.”
That’s the remedy for Longhorn nation. And though Strong must do more than beat the Sooners this time around, he needs to start somewhere and generate support if he wants to stay in Austin beyond to 2016.
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