Q-and-A with Daily Texan sports editor Garrett Callahan


Q: If you look up the word discipline in the dictionary, it feels like you’d see Charlie Strong’s name listed. He’s done a lot of work with this team both on the field and off, and the players who are still there seem to be adjusting to his style. How have you seen this connection develop?

A: Over the past nine months since Charlie Strong’s arrival, it’s been interesting to see all of the changes he’s instilled at the helm. As most people know, he’s already dismissed nine players from the team, some of which were starters and has been very adamant on his five core values: honesty, no drugs, no stealing, no guns and treating women with respect. Though what most people don’t see is how much fun the team is having under Strong.

Many of his players, most of which were recruited under former head coach Mack Brown, consistently say how fun and enjoyable Strong is, especially at practice. The media always hypes about how he intimidates his players and how his hard-nosed attitude drives players away, but in fact it’s the exact opposite. Even Strong himself has said he’s probably one of the most fun coaches these players have had. Just a few weeks ago, Texas Ex Matthew McConaughey stopped by practice and gave a little motivation speech to the Longhorns.

Strong and his staff constantly stress their open door policy, allowing players to come into their office to talk about football, the upcoming game or just anything. That relationship has started to transfer onto the field, allowing Texas to become more confident and have a greater chance to put more wins on their schedule.

Q: To say things went badly for Tyrone Swoopes against BYU is an understatement. However, the young quarterback looks like he is finding his groove as the starter. What has stuck out to you about his development?

A: Strong joked after last Saturday’s game against Iowa State that he considered moving Tyrone Swoopes to another position after his performance in Texas’ spring game. However, for many Texas fans that wasn’t a joke.

After coming out of high school as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, Swoopes far from impressed in his limited playing time last season. However, since his tough collegiate start, the sophomore has started to show his talent and improved his poise during that time. After Texas’ game against Baylor earlier this season, Swoopes admitted he was afraid to get hit after getting knocked down a few times. Since that time, Swoopes’ biggest development has been his confidence.

Since his Baylor game, Swoopes has learned to maintain his composure in the pocket, especially under pressure. Even when he’s getting hurried, he’ll take the extra second to find an open receiver, step up and make a pass – a process he wouldn’t do before.

In addition, Swoopes has grown as a decision maker. With a more-open playbook, he’s started to use his knowledge to catch defenses off-guard and use his feet more, opening the dual-threat talent that made him attractive to so many coaches.

Q: Texas’ defensive numbers have been very impressive in the first half of the season, especially in relation to turnovers. What has been the biggest change in 2014-15 to improve these numbers?

The biggest change with the Texas defense has been attitude. Led by seniors Quandre Diggs and Jordan Hicks, the Longhorns have found “dog” attitude (as they call it), which has given them the motivation to halt some of the top offenses in the conference.

In past years, the Longhorns have had a talented defensive squad, but lacked the drive to put together a full game. This year’s team has gotten back to the fundamentals, limiting its missed tackles and limiting big plays.

Q: What position/unit matchup are you most intrigued to see?

I’m most excited to see the matchup between K-State’s wide receiver group and Texas’ defensive backs. Tyler Lockett’s electric blend of speed and ability has made him one of the best receivers in the country, already tallying 485 yards and four touchdowns on 35 catches.

On the other side, Texas’ defensive backs have had an eye on Lockett and Kansas State all week after a disappointing showing against Iowa State.

Q: Texas wins on Saturday if ________ ?

If Texas wants to win on Saturday, it will need to put together a full game in all three aspects of the game: offense, defense and special teams. However, the Longhorns have had trouble doing that in the past. Just when the offense started to step up against Iowa State, the defense fell to its old habits allowing 45 points to the Cyclones.

Q: Score prediction?

K-State 31, Texas 17