Longhorns hope to cure road woes in 2016

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Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele rifles a pass against UTEP on Saturday. Buechele has led the Longhorns to a 2-0 start, with both wins coming at home. Texas is about to enter a three-game stretch away from the friendly confines of Darrel K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

The No. 11 Longhorns have a long month ahead of them.

After starting their season with consecutive wins, the team is set to travel for their next three games, including Saturday’s matchup against the Golden Bears in Berkeley, California.

And the road hasn’t been kind to head coach Charlie Strong recently. His team was outscored 184–77 in away or neutral-site games last season — Texas finished 2–4 in those matchups.

“It will be a big challenge for us going on the road for the first time,” Strong said. “[We’ve} got to treat it like a business trip. We’re going to be a little bit out of our element.”

Texas particularly struggled on offense outside of Austin in 2015. The Longhorns ended the season last in the Big 12 in scoring away from home with just 12.8 points per game, compared to 40 at home. 

Strong said he isn’t worried about the team having the same issues on the road this season. With a tighter-knit team and more veteran leadership, he said he expects Texas to excel in hostile environments on the road.

“It is a totally different team than last season,” Strong said. “[The seniors] are really carrying the torch for us right now with their leadership and how they’re preparing the team. I meet with them on Thursdays, deliver the message to them, they deliver it to the team. We don’t want to look back to last season because we’re not the same football team as we were.”

Texas is also counting on freshman quarterback Shane Buechele to keep his poise on the road. His teammates have praised his “veteran”-like calmness through his first two starts — he’s completed over 70 percent of his passes and thrown just one interception. 

But the freshman from Arlington is yet to play in front of a large crowd on the road. Instead of feeling nervous, he said he’s looking at his first road trip as an opportunity.

“I’m just excited to go play somewhere else,” Buechele said. “[I’m] excited to get into a new environment, go out to California and try to get a win.”

As they head out on the road, the Longhorns believe their preparation will make the biggest difference. 

Sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson said his teammates have gravitated toward the film room this season after failing to do their homework before away games in 2015.

“It comes down to watching what [opponents] do [on tape],” Jefferson said. “Everybody is focused and everybody is buying in. We do our film sessions every day to make sure everyone is ready for success. Guys weren’t ready last year, honestly.” 

Texas has flashed potential on both sides of the ball through its first two weeks. The Longhorns rank No. 21 in scoring and No. 50 in total defense after two games at home through two games. 

But with eyes set on a Big 12 championship in 2016, Texas must match its home success as they play away going forward. 

“We got to pack our defense, we got to pack our kicking game, we got to pack our togetherness,” Strong said.