Say this for Texas Longhorns coach Charlie Strong: The man is not delusional about where he stands heading into Year 3. No sir, in fact he is rooted in reality.
His seat is hot and it only gets dialed up from here if the Longhorns don’t start winning more football games.
“The seat’s always been hot since I’ve been here, huh?” Strong told reporters Monday as Texas opened its spring workouts.
“We’re talking about an unbelievable program so rich in tradition. There’s a standard of excellence here. The first two years, it hasn’t happened.”
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The first two years included an 11-14 record, one bowl trip, that being a total annihilation by Arkansas after the 2014 season, two blowout losses against TCU, constant quarterback troubles and coaching staff upheaval.
After watching a horrid passing game the last two seasons, Strong brought in, and not without some heavy convincing, young offensive hot shot coach Sterlin Gilbert, an Art Briles disciple, to put in the type of up-tempo, spread scheme that’s so prevelant in the Big 12. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
“This is a critical year for us,” Strong said. “There’s a standard here, and we need to meet that standard. It’s time for us to move forward now.”
Meeting that standard starts with finding a quarterback who can run Gilbert’s offense. Senior Tyrone Swoopes remain in the mix to be the starting quarterback when the season opens at home against Notre Dame on Sept. 3. So is sophomore Jerrod Heard, who showed flashes last season after he replaced Swoopes as the starter following the season-opening debacle at Notre Dame.
Also in the discussion is true freshman Shane Buechele from Arlington Lamar, who enrolled at Texas in January and is participating in spring workouts. There’s also redshirt freshmen Kai Locksley and Matthew Merrick.
Strong said Monday that he hopes to have a starter picked by the end of spring. The Longhorns play their spring game on April 16.
Strong’s 2015 recruiting class has shown talent and with the 2016 class coming in, the Longhorns are going to continue to be young, but should boast the most raw talent on the roster since before former coach Mack Brown’s recruiting prowess began to fall off.
The only question is if Strong can get the results he needs to stay at the helm, or if someone else will get the chance to win with his players.