New UT coach Strong brings changes in first spring practices

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by GEORGE RIBA

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WFAA Sports

Posted on March 21, 2014 at 8:39 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 21 at 8:39 PM

AUSTIN -- A new era of college football is underway in Austin.

“We're not trying to win a game right now,” said new University of Texas football coach Charlie Strong. “We'll just continue to build guys and see what we have as a football team.”

Strong has been on the job since early January, but his first on-field impact is taking place now during spring practice.

“There has been no resentment, everyone has done everything we've asked them to do within this program, and that's what makes it exciting -- that you don't have to deal with issues,” Strong said.

“He's real,” said Texas defensive end Cedric Reed. “He's extremely real.”

Strong likes the players he inherited from Mack Brown's program and is ready to incorporate them into his system.

“When you have a group of good young men - and that’s what coach did, the way he recruited - they’re guys with good character and when you have that group there when you walk in and there is no resentment, it’s like they were more accepting to us as a coaching staff,” Strong said. “We didn’t have to go overboard to win anyone over.”

“You like what you have, I really do," Strong continued. "They’re eager and they want to get better. When you have pride and you have tradition in a program, then it’s not hard to get players to do what you ask them to do."

The new coach has introduced a new open-door policy that allows his players to drop into his office anytime they want.

“I've been in there a couple of times, but it’s a real intimidating place,” Reed said. "You don't really want to go. It’s a good place on lounge. It’s pretty comfortable there. They have fish tanks and stuff there, but it’s a place you want to get in and get out."

“What I did is say, 'Hey, let's take the locks off the doors,'” Strong said. “I told the players that you come up, you can just walk right in. I want them to know who we are.”

Not everything that Strong is doing has an open-door policy. His spring practice sessions are closed to the media. He said that will probably change in the future, once he gets his players more accustomed to his system and his way of doing things.

“It's not for a special reason,” Strong said. “A lot of times people think, 'He's coming in to just shut down practice and closing out this.' There is no mystery to it. There is nothing that we're doing that no one else is doing. When you look at it, and you continue to build and at some point once we get it built, we'll open it back up.”

“Everything we're doing out there is fundamentals and techniques,” said Texas center Dominic Espinosa. “It’s an interesting coaching style. You're learning on the run and it’s fast. I like it so far.”

“Anytime it becomes a competitive situation, now I want us to see game speed,” Strong said. “Now, if you’re going to walk around it, let me know now if want to be standing out here walking around.”

And that's a message his players learned on day one.

E-mail griba@wfaa.com

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