Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong normally shows highlights of the previous days game before Sunday practice and then starts game-planning for the next week’s opponent on Tuesday.
That wasn’t the case after the Kansas victory on Nov. 7.
There were no highlights and preparation for West Virginia began almost immediately afterward, beginning with Sunday’s practice.
Everyone in the program knew how critical their game at West Virginia was going to be for their bowl chances.
The focus had to be there. Preparation had to be crisp.
By all accounts it was.
“Absolutely,” UT safety Dylan Haines said. “We prepared all week.”
Added senior defensive back Duke Thomas: “We had a great week of practice, Coach [Strong] said it himself. The preparation was there this week.”
But – and stop me if you’ve heard this before – the execution wasn’t so said the Longhorns.
Texas knew WVU was going to try to control the game on the ground, and it did to the tune of 268 yards.
Yes, but UT had 304 yards on the ground. So what gave?
Five turnovers gave, especially when it turned into 24 points for the Mountaineers.
“It’s very frustrating obviously,” Haines said. “Going 0-and-4 on the road is nothing to be excited about. Again, we came out to play. We started off a little bit better but we shot ourselves in the foot too many times. I don’t think West Virginia manhandled us. We just beat ourselves.”
It made it even more frustrating for Texas’ defense seeing as though it knew what WVU was going to do. Their cards had been dealt and laid face up on the felt.
“We knew what they were going to do with running the ball and we just weren’t able to stop it,” Haines said. “That’s something we’re going to have to go back and look at and see why the gaps were open. We had a good game plan we just didn’t execute.”
Haines was clearly frustrated with the amount of turnovers Texas gave up and the few turnovers that they created.
“You can control the turnover margin. I can’t control the offense because I don’t play but they have to handle the ball better and we need to force more turnovers on defense,” he said. “That’s something you see a lot of in the Big 12 is defenses forcing turnovers. That’s something we need to do more on defense, make plays on the ball more, try to strip the ball more and pick it off when it’s in the air.”
Texas freshman Davante Davis hauled in Texas’ only turnover of the game on WVU’s first offensive possession. He became the fourth UT freshman to register an interception this season.
But Texas squandered that opportunity near midfield after Taylor Doyle snapped the ball before Jerrod Heard was ready. UT offensive play caller Jay Norvell said it was due to WVU doing things to simulate Texas’ snap count.
It was just one of the many things that seemed to frustrate Thomas after the game.
“We didn’t stop the run, we didn’t execute,” he said. “We gave up big plays in the passing game. We got out there on the field, knew what was coming, prepared right but the execution wasn’t there.”
Why wasn’t the execution there?
Nobody seems to have a clear answer.