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Strong to handle all defensive duties for the Longhorns

In stating the last two games by played by the defense was unacceptable, Texas coach Charlie Strong announced “I’m going to run the defense.”

That’s how he began his weekly press conference Oct. 3, two days after the Longhorns (2-2, 0-1) lost to Oklahoma State 49-31.

“We know we have a lot of talent on defens,e and we can play much better than what we played,” Strong said.

Former defensive coordinator Vance Bedford will coach the secondary with Clay Jennings, the coach who was hired when Chris Vaughn was relieved of his duties a few months ago because of an NCAA violation while he worked at another school.

Strong wasn’t specific about why he made the change this week as opposed to the week after the loss to California 50-43 Sept. 17. But he believes new eyes can help the defense get better, which is what he told the players and coaches.

“It’s just a move that needed to be made,” he said. “You know, when we had the bye week, there’s a lot of things that we did differently then, some schemes that we put in. Just feeling like right now, I just need to be calling the defense.”

Strong told his players they shouldn’t concern themselves about his job security. Instead, he told them to focus on playing and he’d “handle everything else.” And he’s heard questions about his job security before so it’s nothing new, he added.

The biggest obstacle, Strong said, wasn’t getting the players to play harder; rather, it was getting them to play with control and focus.

“I told our players on defense, I said, ‘hey, quit pressing so hard. If you go out and you play with a lot of effort and you play with a lot of energy, the scoreboard is going to be what it is at the end of the day but if you play hard enough, you’re going to be on the right side of that scoreboard,'” he said. “We are just pressing so hard now and one bad play leads to another bad play, where it’s got to be boom, that’s over with.”

The defense is tied for fifth in the Big 12 in allowing third down conversions, giving up 39.3 percent, which is unacceptable to Strong. He said it almost looks like the players are waiting for one of their teammates to make a tackle.

“We get into third down, but we are not getting off the field because nobody’s making a play, because everybody’s kind of like sitting back and waiting for something to happen, and it’s not going to happen,” Strong said. “You guys got to go make it happen.”

The change comes the week of the Red River Rivalry against Oklahoma. Strong maintained throughout his press conference the issues the Longhorns have experienced are correctable.

“Records doesn’t matter,” he said. “Just getting our players to play with a lot of poise and confidence. It’s one of those games where it’s going to be an emotional swing, and it’s going to be up-and-down. We know that if we get our guys, if we get off to a good start and just relax and just have fun in this game and just let things happen, it’s going to be a really good day for us.”


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