AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Texas coach Charlie Strong was looking for ways to motivate, perhaps even taunt, his players into a big game against BYU.
Strung around the locker room were BYU posters and signs noting the Cougars’ 40-21 victory in 2013 and the school-record 550 yards rushing allowed by Texas that day. Strong expected his players to get mad and rip them down.
The problem is, no one did. BYU then rolled to a 41-7 win that left Strong still using words like ”embarrassing” two days later.
”Anywhere else I’ve been, some player would have run through there and tore all that down. They probably would burned it in the locker room,” Strong said Monday. ”It’s like nobody did nothing. I did it just to see what we would do, see if somebody would just get (mad).”
That message got lost somewhere for Longhorns players who were surprised to learn the signs were a test to see how they would react.
”It didn’t cross my mind to take it down,” senior running back Malcolm Brown said, noting it can be tricky to know what’s a real emotion or staged one.
”You can’t have guys putting on a show,” Brown said.
And given all of Strong’s disciplinary measures lately with suspended and dismissed players, others weren’t sure if tearing down signs would even be allowed.
”It’s hard to kind of get a read on coach Strong, honestly … You don’t want to rip it down and they come looking for you,” senior corner back Quandre Diggs said. ”I did want to rip the stuff down, but I didn’t want to be the guy, you know, they’re yelling at.”
”I’ve ripped down a couple signs they weren’t happy with me ripping down,” Diggs said without elaborating.
Strong spent much of his weekly news conference Monday continuing to explain his suspensions and approach to discipline. Minus its two starting tackles to suspension and starting center (injury), Texas’ offensive line struggled badly against BYU. The Longhorns averaged just 2.3 yards on 35 rushing attempts.
Last season’s loss at BYU got defensive coordinator Manny Diaz fired and increased the heat on coach Mack Brown, who was pushed out at the end of the season. Strong was asked if the latest loss to BYU meant his honeymoon period in Austin is over.
”Did I ever have one?” Strong asked.
Texas (1-1) plays No. 12 UCLA (2-0) on Saturday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Strong said his two suspended tackles will still be out and gave no indication two other potential starters, safety Josh Turner and wide receiver Daje Johnson, would return anytime soon.
Quarterback David Ash remains out indefinitely after concussion symptoms after the first game, meaning Texas will stick with sophomore Tyrone Swoopes as the starter. Swoopes was 20-of-31 passing for 176 yards with one touchdown and one interception against BYU in his first career start.