Strong, players ready to fix defense

Tyler Horka

Head coach Charlie Strong hinted at the notion of taking more control over the Texas defense last week. Questions surrounding defensive coordinator Vance Bedford’s grasp on Texas’ defense arose after California carved up the Longhorns for 507 yards of offense and 50 points two weeks ago.

Strong sat down with Bedford and the rest of the defensive coaching staff during the bye week, while film of the Golden Bears dismantling the Longhorn secondary played on the big screen.

“I need to be involved and we need to have those meetings,” Strong said. “It was just so key and so important that we just sat down [for] just a self evaluation. Look at yourself … check your ego at the door. Some guys, you’re going to get your feelings hurt, but it is what it is right now, and we have to get it better.”

But Strong said it’s too early to make a change at defensive coordinator; he said he believes it would do more harm than good in terms of team chemistry. He said the defense needs to work on its fundamentals, and he still has confidence in the current coaching staff to make sure that happens. 

“We know we’ve had our issues on defense,” Strong said. “[But] I have a lot of confidence in Vance Bedford. I know Vance is going to do a good job.”

The players also have confidence in the coaching staff. Senior defensive tackle Paul Boyette Jr. said he doesn’t let the cries from fans for a new defensive coordinator affect him.

“We know we have an outstanding coaching staff as a defense,” Boyette said. “Coach Strong has done a good job at recruiting guys here, not just players but coaches as well. They’re a family, and we know that we have a good bond with our coaches.”

Other players don’t buy into the coaching staff talk whatsoever. Sophomore linebacker Breckyn Hager still has the loss to California on his mind. He said he’s tired of people saying Texas has a bad defense because he doesn’t believe that’s the case.

Hager said it’s frustrating to walk around campus, where people ask him what happened in Berkeley. But according to Hager, the hardest part is formulating an answer to that question.

“You can’t really give an answer that people want,” Hager said. “You’re like, ‘Man, we just didn’t do our job,’ basically. They’re not happy with that. It’s nothing more than that, but now we just have to go do our job and prove that we’re a great defense.”

Hager and the Texas defense have the opportunity to prove it Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State’s No. 11-ranked passing attack.