Texas is a mess with players now pointing fingers
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas coach Charlie Strong spent nearly a half-hour Monday insisting his team was unified and would rebound from a 1-4 start.
Within minutes after he left the podium, Strong’s players put those promises to the test, publicly exposing a rift between some of the team’s veterans and a talented group of freshmen that have forced their way onto the depth chart with scant success on the field.
"People need to grow up and take things more seriously. A lot of people aren’t preparing," said junior safety Dylan Haines, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship last season. "They just want to go out and play the game on Saturday. They don’t want to put in the work on (the other days)."
Freshman defensive end Charles Omenihu apparently didn’t like this kind of chatter and swiftly responded on Twitter.
"Lol," said a tweet from Omenihu’s account, which seconds later added, "People get in front of the cameras and just talk they heads off. Always remember think before you speak."
A school spokesman confirmed the account belongs to Omenihu. The second tweet was quickly deleted, but not before the divide in the locker room had taken over the day from Strong’s message of unity ahead in Saturday’s showdown with No. 10 Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0 Big 12), a game that has taken on even more urgency with Texas off to its worst start in nearly 60 years.
Strong is 7-11 in his second season and the Longhorns have lost six of their last seven games dating to last season.
Several older players tried to diminish talk of a split locker room, but even they ended up reinforcing the message that some of their teammates haven’t been putting in the work need to succeed.
"Sometimes people have to suck it up and understand where it’s coming from," junior defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway said.
None of the older players identified any teammates and no freshmen came to the media availability. The Longhorns had 13 freshmen in the two-deep lineup for last week’s 50-7 loss at TCU, including starting quarterback Jerrod Heard and six linebackers and defensive backs.
The Longhorns were already dealing with the embarrassment of freshman defensive back Kris Boyd tweeting from the locker room during halftime of Saturday’s blowout loss. He retweeted what amounted to an invitation from an apparent supporter of Texas A&M, a rival the Longhorns don’t play anymore. The tweet read, "Whenever ya’ll (sic) are ready to transfer … we’re ready. (hash)Gig’em." Boyd later said he apologized and insisted he is "100 percent committed" to the Longhorns.
Two days later, his teammates clearly were still bothered by the episode.
"Everyone felt disrespected … He didn’t think anything was wrong with it," senior defensive back Duke Thomas said. "I told him you can’t do that here. It’s not the same thing as (in high school)."
Thomas refused the call the locker room divided, but said there "may be a little disconnect with the way (the freshmen) feel they need to play."
The freshmen have read and heard on social media they are the best players in the program, but they need to learn how to earn playing time and victories, Thomas said.
"They’re hungry. They feel like they are the future," Thomas said.
Freshman DeAndre McNeal’s Twitter account later posted a message that said "us `FRESHMAN’ are go getters … we are here to pull Texas out of the drought so you so can either get with it or get lost."
The comments came after Strong called two meetings following the loss to TCU, which came a week after the team called a players-only meeting after a loss to Oklahoma State.
"It’s time to pull this team together," Strong said.
At Oklahoma, coach Bob Stoops was asked Monday if he had a cellphone policy.
"I didn’t have one until this week," Stoops said, drawing laughter from reporters. "That’s something that will be addressed."
Oklahoma receiver Sterling Shepard imagined what Stoops would do if he caught a player with a cellphone during a game: "If he sees it, he’ll probably take it and snap it."
When told of Shepard’s comment, Stoops replied: "That’s probably a fair assessment."
Stoops said he expects players to use common sense with social media.
"If you want to tell everyone you are at the grocery store picking up Twinkies, have at it," he said. "But if you are telling them what’s happening in our building, now it’s a problem and you won’t be using it (social media) then if you can’t do it the right way."
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