FIVE PIECES OF ADVICE FOR CHARLIE STRONG

Charlie Strong has said he wishes he had a "reset" button to start things over. After a 50-7 loss at No. 4 TCU - Texas' seventh loss by 21 points or more in 18 games under Strong - here are five ways the second-year coach can hit the "reset" button:

#1 … Make adjustments to your staff, if necessary, and ask for what you need

There are real questions about if you got the support you needed from former athletic director Steve Patterson, including his decision to fire your football media relations director - John Bianco - without consulting you.

Bianco probably would have helped make sure none of the shots taken between players in the media and on social media on Monday ever happened in the first place.

(Junior safety Dylan Haines said some young players on the team weren't putting in extra work, outside of practice, and some young players on the team appeared to take shots back at Haines on Twitter/social media).

So make a list of what you need - and I mean everything, QUICKLY - and present it to interim athletic director Mike Perrin, who played football at Texas under Darrell Royal (1965-68) and has expressed very public support for you.

Do you have an operations staff member who can serve as a player liaison who can identify with young players today (and their appetite for social media - and how destructive it can be?) who can earn players' trust and serve as another advisor for them? Maybe a guy like Michael Huff, who just retired from the NFL after winning the Thorpe Award and playing on Texas' 2005 national championship team?

Go to Perrin and tell him exactly what you need to get your program right.

The Joe Wickline lawsuit settled? Bianco rehired? Operations member/player liaison? More money for quality control assistants? 

If there is any friction being caused on your staff, affecting the rest of the staff's ability to put out a winning product, get rid of the friction (even if it means dismissing an assistant if you have to).

If Perrin and school president Greg Fenves are going to bring you back for a third season – and they have been 100 percent in favor of that – you’re going to get one chance to reset this coaching staff.

So make sure you include them in every thought you have about changes needed or bringing in any new staff members, including a conversation with Perrin and Fenves about the likelihood of needing guaranteed, multi-year deals for any new assistants, because coaches are going to be hesitant to join your staff if there's a chance you could be fired after the 2016 season. 

 

#2 … Put Jeff Traylor in charge of the offense

Traylor, your first-year tight ends coach, ran the ball while winning three state titles at Gilmer HS the way you want Texas to be running the ball.

The guy studied the offenses of Gus Malzahn and Chad Morris and averaged 69.2 points per game last season in a 16-0 Class 4A Division II state title run at Gilmer.

Traylor just might be the next great offensive mind to emerge from the Texas high school ranks (a la Morris and Art Briles). Maybe not. But you should probably find out now. 

The game plan at TCU should have been to run it between the tackles with a lead blocker from the beginning.

The whole week of practice leading up to the TCU game should have been a message to the team that Texas was going to physically pound the ball at a defense with a 190-pound linebacker.

Instead, Texas came out and threw the ball on five of its first nine plays. By then, UT was already down, 16-0.

Find out what you’ve got in Traylor as a play-caller. You will have to sell your offensive meeting room on this, and it probably won't be easy. But that's why you make $5 million per year.

 

#3 … Take over the defense and put Vance Bedford in charge of special teams

Your calling card is defense, and your team is giving up 38.2 points per game - worse than the defense that got Manny Diaz fired in 2013.

If you’re going to go down, make sure that defense is doing exactly what you want it to be doing and that you're playing the players you want to be playing.

When you made the change in offensive play callers - from Shawn Watson to Jay Norvell - you also replaced Joe Wickline as run-game coordinator with Jeff Traylor and then divided up special teams coaching duties among the staff.

Get Bedford, a veteran, to coordinate special teams since those units are largely made up of defensive players. That unit could doom this staff and this season if it doesn't improve quickly.

 

#4 … Stop letting position coaches decide which players go into games

Put the play-caller in charge of that.

Allowing the position coaches to decide this is a recipe for dissension.

 

#5 … Make Mike Perrin your new best friend ... and don't lose anymore games by 21 points

Tell Perrin, who played defensive end for Darrell Royal, you need him by your side right now so that he feels totally invested in your success.

You need to have Perrin at practice, seeing you at work, so he can feel good about everything you're doing - so he can defend everything going on to critics.

And Captain Obvious has a quick message: You can't lose another game by 21 points.

Your record is 7-11 and seven of those losses have come by 21 points or more (an average margin of defeat of 31.1 ppg in those seven losses), including Saturday’s 50-7 beatdown at TCU.

Texas faithful can handle seeing 19 freshmen playing as long as the team is playing hard, improving every week and remaining competitive.

They can’t handle seeing their team looking lost, making mistakes on the most basic plays (a punt snap, a kickoff out of bounds) while being blown out.

They can't handle embarrassment.

It's Red River Shootout week, and a bunch of Texas fans aren't going to make the trip to Dallas, because they don't want to be around all the Sooners at the State Fair of Texas if there's a chance the Horns could be blown out again.

So you need to plan on fighting this fight with you, your staff and the players in your locker room.

As former Texas All-American offensive lineman Dan Neil said on HornsDigest, go William B. Travis at the Alamo, get out your sword, draw your line in the sand and make sure everyone in your locker room, coaches included, are on your side of that line.


Horns Digest Top Stories