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DMN: Charlie Strong did indeed put the 'T' back in Texas — at least for a night

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Gosselin: Charlie Strong did indeed put the 'T' back in Texas — at least for a night



AUSTIN — It took Charlie Strong all of 25 minutes to finally put the “T†back in Texas.

With about five minutes left in the first half Saturday, the Longhorns were sitting on a first-and-goal at the North Texas 3.

On first down, Texas handed the ball off to Johnathan Gray over the left side for two yards to the 1.

On second down, Texas handed the ball off to Gray again over the left side. No gain.

On third down, Texas handed the ball off to Gray once again over the left side. No gain.

On fourth down, Strong didn’t trot out the field-goal team in his head coaching debut at Texas. This wasn’t a night to settle for anything. This was a night to make a statement.

With the crowd of 93,201 imploring Strong to go for it, he did — and quarterback David Ash won a footrace to the right corner of the end zone on a bootleg for the touchdown.

That made it 21-0 on the way to a 38-7 victory over an overmatched North Texas team. But this game was all about Strong putting his stamp on Texas football.

The missing T at Texas — toughness — was back. At least for a night. Toughness on the football field comes from running the ball on offense and stuffing the run on defense. Mental toughness, physical toughness.

There was a lesson to be learned in that goal-line sequence. If you’re a good football team, you should be able to gain a single yard any time you want it, any time you need it. And Strong intends to field a good football team in this, his first season at Texas.

Run the ball down your opponent’s throat. Whip your man across the line of scrimmage. Strong could have ordered a bootleg pass on second or third down and probably notched an easy touchdown. Bootlegs by Ash to the left side had been collecting easy completions and easy yards all night.

But this was about setting a tone for weekends to come. The Longhorns needed a yard and ran the ball on four consecutive plays to get it. In fact, the Longhorns ran the ball (23 times) more than they threw it (17 times) in the first half.

Against an inferior foe, this was a night to emphasize grit.

And it wasn’t all on offense. Texas was soft on defense last season, missing a Big 12-leading 88 tackles. Strong rose through the coaching ranks as a defensive coordinator and was not going to put up with what he saw on film from the Longhorns on that side of the ball. His own Louisville defense finished No. 1 in the nation in 2013.

The Cardinals allowed 40 points in a game just one time in Strong’s four seasons as head coach. The Longhorns were riddled for 40 or more points three times in 2013 alone. That had to stop under Strong. That’s going to stop under Strong.

North Texas is a team that wants to run the ball. That’s its offensive philosophy. And with an inexperienced starting quarterback, the Mean Green needed to run the ball at Texas on Saturday night.

But the Longhorns wouldn’t let them.

In the only half that mattered — the first half — North Texas managed only 27 yards on 19 carries as the game was slipping away from the Mean Green. The Longhorns didn’t miss many tackles and had no problem slipping blocks. An inexperienced Texas defensive front dominated an experienced North Texas blocking front.

“You saw the intensity,†Strong said. “You saw it all day. Defense sets the tone for the whole game.â€

The games will get tougher in the weeks to come. So will the opponents. But the Longhorns now know how their coach wants them to play. Charlie Strong wants that T back in Texas.



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Strong definitely put the "D" back in DEFENSE!  


Offense has gotta play a lot better.  Missed O-Line assignments, dropped passes, missed FG, and botched snaps. Gotta take advantage of short field after TOs.


"An inexperienced Texas defensive front"?


Who lacks starting experience besides maybe Shiro Davis?  Most UT followers expected the D-Line to be a strength.  Ignorant writing by Rick Gosselin.  He should stay with the Cowboys beat.

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