University of Texas

Things are looking up for Charlie Strong and the Longhorns

Optimism is building in Austin after coach Charlie Strong landed another nationally praised recruiting class.
Optimism is building in Austin after coach Charlie Strong landed another nationally praised recruiting class. Special to the Star-Telegram

Summer’s here and Texas Longhorns coach Charlie Strong is feeling pretty good about things even though there’s definite heat being applied to his seat following his first two seasons of mediocrity.

About that heat, Strong, who provided a summer update for the media Wednesday, said the only heat he feels is the stifling stuff outside.

“It really doesn’t wear on me because when you’re around the team and you see what you have and what you continue to build, it really doesn’t wear on me,” Strong said. “I know we just have to continue to improve as a team, do a better job of recruiting, get the right guys and just build it the right way.”

Optimism is building in Austin after Strong landed another nationally praised recruiting class. He has more young talent on the team than he’s had, but youth also comes with its own cautions.

Still, a rising optimism meter always beats one headed the other way. And another big reason for the rise is true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele, who was impressive during spring workouts. Also, Strong certainly hasn’t tried to tap the breaks on Buechele hype, which has fueled speculation that the Arlington Lamar product could win the starting job.

In fact, Strong has talked a lot about Buechele’s work ethic and leadership, and he expounded on another story of the youngster wanting the keys to the practice facility late at night.

“He gave me a call and wanted to go throw. He and Collin [Johnson] are always together, and they just wanted to get out and get some throws in. I just told him, “The lights are out, but tomorrow morning they will be on.” He said, “No, coach. We can go now.” I said, “OK, I’ll meet you guys over there.”

Strong said he doesn’t anticipate it taking long for him and offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert to make the QB call. And he’s been so high on Buechele that at this point it’s probably going to be a major letdown for the fandom if Buechele is not named the starter.

“I would like to think we would get it done earlier in camp, so we can get the guys with the ones and move on,” Strong said of the QB question.

A final topic of interest from Strong dealt with the Sept. 4 opener in Austin against Notre Dame. You might remember the spanking that the Irish applied to Texas last September. It led to a change at quarterback and a demotion of the offensive coordinator.

Strong said he blew it last year by hyping up the game beyond reason.

The buildup right now is kind of just easing its way,” Strong said. “As we get closer, it’s really going to build up. I told our players, I really didn’t think I did a good job last year with that game because I made too much about it early, but now we’re just going to approach it like any other game. They’re going to hear so much about it, not much needs to be said.”

Of course, Strong said the game is important, and especially so since it was moved from a crowded Saturday slate to Sunday, where the game will have lone billing.

“It’s really great, we’re the only game on that Sunday, and now everyone across the country is going to have the chance to watch you play,” Strong said he told his players. “Why else would you want it any other way? It’s The University of Texas, and that’s how it should be. Now we have a chance early to stamp our mark and see where we are.”