After taking care of business in the season opener against North Texas, the Longhorns were routed by BYU for the second consecutive season. Now, with three matchups against top-15 teams, Texas wants the full effort of every team member to get back on track.
The same Texas team that took the field against BYU will play in Arlington against No. 12 UCLA this week, barring any last minute changes to the suspensions of four Longhorns, all of whom are potential starters. Head coach Charlie Strong noted, while most of his team has bought into the core values of his new program, those serving suspensions still seem not to get the message.
“Well, when you look at it, you have 95 percent of your team doing it the right way,” Strong said. “And then you have 5 percent, and you say to that 5 percent, ‘Why can’t you do what Malcolm Brown does? Why can’t you do what Johnathan Gray does? Why can’t you buy in?’”
Strong believes the suspended players could help the team on the field if active, but, at the same time, those players haven’t earned the privilege to contribute on game days.
“You get frustrated because you look at a talented group of players that you have to suspend that could really be helping this football team,” Strong said. “But who knows if they can be? Because they can’t even do the little things we ask them to do.”
Senior cornerback Quandre Diggs agrees that those who can’t follow coach Strong’s way have been a serious detriment to the team.
“Not only are they hurting themselves, they are also hurting us as a team,” Diggs said. “You know it’s a lot of guys that aren’t playing here or even just not playing. They really hurt. And you know, I just really don’t understand it. How can you just go let your teammates down? Let your families down? That’s something I wake up with and know I’m blessed with each and every day. And I just wish guys take advantage of that.”
Diggs sees the problems on this team expanding past just those who have been disciplined by the coaching staff or dismissed from the team. Ultimately, he thinks it comes down to each player just giving his complete effort in each game and buying into the program and the values coach Strong has instilled.
“Anybody that doesn’t do their job are letting us down,” Diggs said. “If you are suspended, you are letting us down because you are not playing. If you’re not going out and taking advantage of the opportunity that you have, you are letting us down because you are not doing your job.”
Though Texas may struggle without the suspended players, Strong is not willing to compromise his program for the small percentage of players who won’t conform to his ideas.
“We will never become them; they are going to become us, and that’s just the way it is.” Strong said.