University of Texas

Texas’ Strong focused on fast finish, not bowl talk

Texas coach Charlie Strong heads into Saturday’s game against No. 20 West Virginia with a two-game winning streak and some emerging confidence in members of the Longhorns’ defense.

A victory Saturday in Austin would give the Longhorns (5-4, 3-3 in Big 12) their first three-game winning streak under Strong since the 2014 season and would match the coach’s longest winning streak in his three seasons at the school. Texas also needs one more victory to secure a bowl berth, an achievement that should help Strong in postseason deliberations by school administrators about whether he will be retained after this season.

But the topic of a bowl berth and the significance it could have for this team has yet to surface in team meeting rooms, Strong said during Monday’s teleconference with Big 12 football coaches.

“We haven’t even talked about a bowl,” said Strong, who has a combined mark of 16-18 in three seasons at the school. “We’ve got three key games left. We’re looking to end the year the right way and play better in each and every game.”

Texas is coming off last week’s 45-37 victory over Texas Tech, when the Longhorns overcame a 23-14 deficit in Lubbock by holding the Red Raiders’ high-scoring offense to 14 points over the final 37 minutes of the contest. The two-game surge has lessened the amount of weekly speculation about Strong’s job status but the issue could resurface if Texas, which is undefeated at home this season, falls in Saturday’s 11 a.m. contest in Austin against West Virginia (7-1, 4-1). Strong, a longtime defensive coordinator who has been calling the team’s defensive signals in the past five games, says more improvement is needed to extend Texas’ streak.

“In every area on defense, we can improve and get better. Tackling and getting off the field is critical,” Strong said.

Jimmy Burch: 817-390-7760, @Jimmy_Burch