Here are a few takeaways from Vance Bedford’s Wednesday meeting with the media.
1. With the number of young players on the two-deep, having an aggressive defensive game plan is crucial, and proved to pay off for the Longhorns against the Sooners.
“We have to be aggressive. We have a lot of young kids. In order for them to play aggressive, we have to call an aggressive game. Versus Oklahoma, the key was to get after them and hit the quarterback early. The first third down, (Baker Mayfield) limped off the field. Anytime you have a quarterback limping, you need to continue to go after him, and that’s what we did. Had we not made that play early in the game, it could have been a different game.”
2. The defensive game plan for OU was fairly simple: Pressure, pressure, pressure. The Longhorns blitzed 18 out of the first 20 plays against the Sooners. Texas has consistently pressured opposing offenses this season, but the issue the defense has faced is finishing those pressure plays.
“Last year, we moved every snap. I would imagine we blitzed 60-percent of the time last year. We have pressured quite a bit this year we just haven’t made plays. We have had guys in position to make plays, but we missed sacks. I’d imagine this year we have missed anywhere from 10-15 sacks. Guys have been back there but weren’t able to get quarterbacks down or guys hit the wrong gaps, so we have had some of those situations occur.”
3. At one point, Bedford did not expect Mayfield to stay in the game because of the number of hits he took.
“That guy’s a tough son of a gun.”
4. The win over Oklahoma was a step in the right direction for the Texas football program, but it was only one game. Bedford wants to see the team take the next step this Saturday against Kansas State.
“That day was a good day. I think you saw us take a step in the right direction (against OU), but let’s see what happens this week. It’s one day at a time. I can’t look too far ahead. You forget the past.
“You’ve heard me say you can’t let a loss beat you twice, but you can’t let a win beat you either. I told the defensive guys, ‘You had Sunday and Monday to enjoy the game. That was a week ago. Everybody wants to pat you on the back, but that’s over with. You’ve had two weeks to get your minds right and get ready for K-State.’”
5. The Longhorns played with a high-level of confidence in the Cotton Bowl and the end result was proof of it. But Bedford will believe the team has officially gained confidence if he sees it Saturday.
“Confidence is something that can disappear real fast. What you got to have is a foundation of one win, two wins, three wins, and then that confidence is there. It’s easy to shake anything if it’s very thin. Right now, we are in a situation where, to be frank, because we are still young and are still growing, it’s thin. So we need to have some success.
“With K-State, the OU game is not who they are or what they have been this year or any other year under Coach Snyder. That’s what I have told the kids. They moved the ball up and down the field against TCU and moved the ball up and down the field against Oklahoma State – two pretty good football teams. We’re going to have our hands full trying to slow the guys down and contain them. That’s going to be the whole key. If we don’t give up big plays, we have a chance to be in the ball game.”
6. A lot of talk has been about if Texas will make a bowl game. While it’s unlikely the outside chatter will stop anytime soon, Bedford wants the team to take a “one-week season” approach down the stretch.
“You always want to get your senior class to a bowl game. The way I have always looked at it as an assistant coach is I’m concerned about one thing right now: K-State. I can’t look ahead. I can’t be concerned about the future. My future right now is being in the present of today. Having a great practice and finding away to put our guys into a good position to have success versus K-State. So it’s a one game season.
"If a one game season gets you to where you need to go, then you know what, you did the right thing. So I don’t talk about anyone else. I’m talking about one game: The Kansas State Wildcats, who six out of seven years have beaten us. That’s what I know and those are things we have been telling the kids.
"We need to make sure we rite the ship at home. We have not played well at home. We need to play well at home. You have to be like the postman, where if rain, sleet, mud, or whatever shows up, we need to show up as a football team and play well in our stadium.”
7. There are 14,000 unsold tickets for Saturday’s game. There’s a 100-percent chance of rain, which may be reason to blame for the number of unclaimed tickets. To no one’s surprise, there is no excuse for Longhorn fans to not come to the game in Bedford’s mind.
“My thing is this, our kids work so hard and you need to come support these guys who have been through a lot of hard work going back to camp in the heat of August. That’s what it’s all about. If you’re a fan of the Texas Longhorns football program, you come and support those kids, win, lose or draw.
“If you have a ticket and you don’t want to come then donate it. Let’s make this stadium, DKR, a tough environment to play in. Give your ticket to someone else and let them come in and cheer for us. To me that’s what it’s all about. Being a Longhorn fan.
“I saw an article that said the Texas-OU game was the most watched college football game of the year. Really? You’ve got a football team that has won one ball game, and that’s the most watched college football game this year? Okay. Well get your butts in the stands then and fill it up. Don’t watch it on TV. Come in here and watch the doggone game. It’s not that hard. I get pretty passionate about that, you know how I get.”