Longhorns regroup with players-only meeting

Nick Castillo

Sitting at 1-3 after the Longhorns’ 30-27 loss to No. 20 Oklahoma State — Texas’ worst start since 1956 — the players felt tired of losing.

The Longhorns gathered in a players-only meeting Sunday to air their frustrations. Senior center Taylor Doyle told his teammates this is the turning point. Fellow senior wide receiver Marcus Johnson said Texas has to learn from its losses.

“At some point, we have to make up our minds that those 3-point losses and the little things throughout the game, we have to stand up and say, ‘We need to make the difference,’” Johnson said. “[The coaches] are putting us in the right position. They’re making the right play calls. We just have to capitalize as players.”

The Longhorns have decided to change their mentality after losing to Oklahoma State and California by a combined 4 points. Texas needs to regroup. The path doesn’t get easier with road games against No. 4 TCU in Fort Worth and No. 15 Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in the next two weeks.

The team could be sitting at 1-5 entering its bye week. But Texas feels it can compete with any team it plays given its newfound offensive identity created by redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard and wide receiver coach and play-caller Jay Norvell. 

“I think we’re capable of hanging with any team,” senior offensive guard Sedrick Flowers said. “Our offense when we get going, we’re putting points up, … our defense is coming around. We saw how they did in this past game. I feel like when we play on all cylinders, we can compete with any team.”

The defensive is beginning to find its way. First, the Longhorns contained Cal’s offense in the fourth quarter. Then, on Saturday, Texas regrouped after giving up 14 points in the first quarter to hold the Cowboys to 395 yards and three forced turnovers — the best defensive performance this season.

Despite the Longhorns’ record, head coach Charlie Strong said the team has grown since starting the season with a 38-3 loss to Notre Dame.

“You look at the two opponents we’ve played the last two weeks and look where we are and just how far we’ve come,” Strong said. “It’s our own fault that we’ve been in the position we’re in. We have to learn how to just go close out games. Everybody has a job to do, and just do your job, and just keep battling, keep competing.”

After the players-only meeting, senior running back Johnathan Gray said he and his teammates are back on the same page.

“We’ve come together and [told] each other, ‘We got to fight for one another and keep playing and keep pushing,’” Gray said. “I think everybody’s mindset is up. Everybody wants to play for one another. Everybody wants to do the right things to be successful.”