Strong ready to move on with freshman quarterback

AddThis

Junior linebacker Naashon Hughes brings down a Notre Dame runner. Hughes tallied four tackles in Sunday’s victory, and ranked second on the team in sacks in 2015 with 5.5.
Photo Credit: Gabriel Lopez | Daily Texan Staff

Coming off a big win over No. 18 Notre Dame on Sunday, here are some of the week’s biggest story lines from Texas’ media availabilities.

Buechele’s performance validates Strong’s decision

Charlie Strong delivered a victory over a top-10 opponent Sunday night — his third such win in the last two seasons. But he’s already moving on.

“There’s a lot of things we need to get corrected,” Strong said Monday morning. “We just need to continue to build on it. We need to continue to play with confidence. One game does not make a season.”

Strong expressed his confidence in quarterback Shane Buechele on Sunday. He sent Buechele onto the field for Texas’ opening possession despite telling the freshman that he’d start only the day before.

Strong called Buechele’s mother, Nancy, on Saturday night to let her know that her son would start the game. She cried, but those tears of anticipation turned to tears of joy after Sunday night.

“My family was really excited and it was really cool being able to see them,” Buechele said after the game. “It was just really exciting having my whole family here.”

Buechele’s family saw him throw for 280 yards and account for three touchdowns in his first collegiate victory. He’ll look for his second win this Saturday against UTEP.

Gilbert preaches progress

Offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert preached progress in the weeks leading up to the game against Notre Dame. He said Buechele has room for improvement despite breaking a Texas record for total yards by a true freshman with 313.

“Anytime, especially when you’re young, you’ve got a lot of room for growth and a lot of room for improvement,” Gilbert said Tuesday. “That’s our goal right now at every position with every kid: Let’s get better, be focused on us, and continue to drive yourself to be better.”

Gilbert displayed his up-tempo offensive system for the first time against Notre Dame. Texas ran 86 offensive plays against the Irish, besting its 67.8 plays per game average in 2015 by nearly 20 snaps.

But as is customary for Gilbert at this point, he said there’s still room for improvement. He added that Texas had “decent pace” at times on Sunday. The offense is plenty fast for junior running back D’Onta Foreman. He said on a scale of one to 10, he’d rate the tempo an “eight or nine.”

Bedford calls for improvement

Despite the Longhorns giving up 47 points to Notre Dame on Sunday, defensive coordinator Vance Bedford opened Wednesday’s press conference by praising his defense.

“In the fourth quarter we had three series where [Notre Dame] had 19 yards and two three-and-outs,” Bedford said. “The attitude right now is that the entire team believes in each other, they like each other and they care for each other.”

Bedford still acknowledged Texas’ struggles against the Fighting Irish, specifically in the second half. Bedford said the Longhorn defense “stunk” in the third quarter — giving up 14 points — and needed to show more consistency throughout the game.

While many in Austin are still riding high over Sunday’s victory — as well as the Texas’ No. 11 ranking in the AP poll — Bedford chose to focus on Saturday’s matchup with UTEP. Bedford said the Longhorns must put the season-opening win behind them and move forward in their preparation for the Miners.

“It’s just one game, and I let [the Longhorns] know that,” Bedford said. “That Notre Dame game, it means nothing right now.”