Texas Football: Charlie Strong's 5 Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses
It has been nearly a week since Charlie Strong accepted the head-coaching position for the Texas Longhorns, and already we are seeing what may or may not become of Strong's tenure in Austin.
Strong's hiring has been met with mixed feelings, the most notable instance of that coming from Texas booster Red McCombs. But Strong handled the early criticism with about as much class and professionalism as one could expect, and he made it clear what kind of head coach the Longhorns are getting.
Every coach has his strengths, but they do not come without some chinks in the armor. Coach Strong's strengths can help bring the Texas program back to basics, but it will miss a few particular qualities from seasons past.
Strength: Culture of Toughness
Toughness starts at the top.
From the moment Charlie Strong took the microphone in his first press conference as the head coach for the Longhorns, it became immediately clear of the kind of philosophy and approach that Strong imparts to his teams.
The word "soft" was thrown around as a descriptor of the Texas program for the past few seasons, and Strong will make it a point to change that quickly.
After 16 special seasons under Mack Brown, it was time for a change. And with the introduction of Strong, the Longhorns will be injected with a brand-new approach that aims to revive a program that has been mediocre at best since 2009.
There was a call for change, and Strong will bring that.
Strength: A Defense Mind, One of the Best
Numbers never lie, and a Charlie Strong defense brings the pain.
Between 2005 and 2009 as Florida's defensive coordinator, Strong fielded units that allowed 95.1 rushing yards per game, good for first in the SEC and sixth in the FBS. During that same span, the Gators allowed 289.7 yards per game, ranking fifth in the FBS.
Florida's 2009 defense ranked in the top 10 nationally in pass defense (2nd), total defense (4th), scoring defense (4th) and pass efficiency defense (6th), per Gatorzone.com.
In his four years at Louisville, Strong never had a defense ranked outside of the top 25 in total yards allowed, finishing 18th, 23rd, 23rd and first between 2010 and 2013.
While this is just a snapshot of Strong's defenses, Texas is undoubtedly getting one of the top defensive minds in all of college football.
Strength: Recruits Well
In college football, recruiting successfully, and thus developing successfully, means stability for the program.
Strong has begun assembling his coaching staff to do just that and reestablish Texas as the premier recruiting power in the state, and he'll use his Florida connections to cherry-pick from the Southeast.
With a recruiting hotbed in his backyard, Strong will need to maintain Texas' ties with high school football coaches if he plans to compete with the likes of Art Briles, Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy, Big 12 coaches who have had plenty of success in plucking from the great high school talent in the state.
As long as Strong can nurture relationships in the Lone Star State and maintain his connections in Florida and Georgia, the Longhorns should be able to recruit well.
Weakness: Unproven at the Highest of Levels, Under the Biggest Spotlights
Louisville was a good landing spot for Strong coming out of Florida's defensive coordinator spot in 2010, and with the help of a good staff and a developed quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, Strong's stock soared in Years 3 and 4 with the Cardinals.
However, the top of the chain in the Big East/American Athletic Conference is much different from the mountaintop in the Big 12.
So when the likes of Central Florida, Cincinnati and Connecticut turn into Oklahoma, Baylor and Oklahoma State, the stakes become much higher, but the prizes are that much more fruitful.
Strong was 23-3 over the last two seasons at Louisville, and if he can come anywhere close to matching that mark in Austin, he will have done so with plenty of naysayers at his back.
Strong has yet to coach a single game at the University of Texas, but already the pressure is one.
Weakness: Not a Politician
Perhaps the biggest difference we may see between Mack Brown and Charlie Strong is the handling of the media and the politics behind the scenes.
Brown always said the right thing and commanded press conferences with his articulation and charm.
Strong is a hard-headed football coach who has come to Austin to rebuild a program and return the Longhorns to the top.
Can he do so without the perfection behind the microphone? Does it even matter?
This much is certain. While we will not see Strong become the politician that Brown embodied almost effortlessly, Texas will finally have the fire, passion and attitude that it has been missing from its head coach.
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