The Texas Longhorns football team’s defense was on top of the nation in terms of defensive stops per game during the 2017 regular season.
The defending champions, however, are coming off of a tough loss to the rival Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl.
Texas is one of three schools in the country to lose to a team that won the conference championship.
“We just got to play better and better,” head coach Charlie Strong said after the game.
The Longhorns (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) allowed just 3.5 yards per carry and 5.3 yards per catch against the Sooners.
“Our guys were in the game, and they got in the end zone on us,” defensive tackle Kevin Johnson said.
Strong said the Longhorns had the ball in the red zone twice.
“You know, we didn’t give up a touchdown,” he said.
“I think that’s the big thing that we have to get better at.”
Johnson said his team is not going to let the Soonies “come out and be like we’re playing with no respect for anybody else.”
Strong also took some heat from fans after the loss.
“The guys in here are mad because we beat Oklahoma in the bowl,” he added.
“That’s not what they think.
That’s not how they want to play.”
Strong is taking a different approach this season.
“This is what I want to do,” he told reporters after the bowl win.
“When I talk about the things I want, I’m not going through the motions.
I’m going to get it done.
And I know the guys that are here don’t like that, so we’ve got to get them to know that we’re going to do it the right way.” “
But at the same time, we don’t want to just come out and beat anybody.
And I know the guys that are here don’t like that, so we’ve got to get them to know that we’re going to do it the right way.”
Texas finished the regular season ranked eighth in the nation with a 14-1 record and 10-0 in conference play.
Johnson said he doesn’t think the Longhorn defense will be on the hot seat this season when they face Oklahoma (5-5, 1-3).
“We have a lot of things that we can work on,” Johnson said, “but we’re just going to be more focused and we’re more focused on what we need to do and how we’re doing it.”
Johnson is one player who might not be a factor against the Cowboys in 2017.
Texas finished in last place in the Big 12 in scoring defense in 2017 with 23.9 points per game.
“They’re a good football team, and we just don’t know how to play against them,” Strong said of the Soonos.
“If we’re getting beat in the trenches, we’re not going into the game thinking we’re the best team.”