Oct. 19, 2009
Opening statement: Saturday's Cotton Bowl game against Oklahoma was one of the most hard fought games that I have ever been around. It was a lot like last year's where it was a real battle, but unlike last year's, the defenses and the kicking game were much more involved in this game than last year's game. It was about as opposite of the 45-35 game as you could possibly have, but I am really proud of our guys that they found a way to win. They seem to be doing that each week. That game was one where we had a tremendous amount of pressure on us. OU coming in with 2 losses, a lot of people thinking that we would just line up and win, and I was proud of the guys that they just hung in there and kept fighting. It's 3-1 for the seniors against Oklahoma, and I thought that Colt did a tremendous job of managing tough times on Saturday. Colt is five wins away from being the winningest quarterback in the history of college football. With one more win he ties Peyton Manning, who he was honored to have on the sideline Saturday to watch him play because both Sam Bradford and Colt were at Peyton's camp this summer and Peyton just wanted to watch him play.
(Being) 6-0, No. 3 in the BCS, 3-0 in the Big 12 conference to start is exciting for us. The defense holding Oklahoma to minus-16 yards rushing is very impressive. We have been concerned about stopping the run throughout the year. We kept saying that we were sure that Oklahoma can run the ball, so back-to-back games against Oklahoma and Colorado, our run defense has been pretty good. Oklahoma was averaging 187 yards rushing per game coming in. The defense has forced 19 turnovers this season. Last year, we forced 16 for the year. So this is a huge change and it was a real emphasis coming into the season, and we are really proud that our defense is forcing turnovers. In fact, the defense did not let OU in Texas territory the last four drives of the game, which was key. Over the last two years we've out rushed OU by 271 yards. So I was really, really proud of our running game Saturday. We actually gained 189 yards and had four sacks, but proud of the fact that we were able to line up and run the ball like we did and that our defense lined up and stopped the run, and we still have a lot of things to fix, so that's the good thing about where we are right now. Still not as good as we can be, but at the position of 6-0 you like the fact that we find ways to win each week and that is really the face of a good football team in my estimation.
Missouri will be a tough game. They had two tough losses back-to-back. They really played hard against Nebraska and were ahead of them and gave up points in the fourth quarter in that rainstorm to win. But Gabbert is a really good quarterback, they have a 6-5 receiver, another receiver that can really run; those two guys can fly, (Danario) Alexander and (Jared) Perry. (Derrick) Washington is a really good running back for them. They are running the exact same offense that they ran last year. They are still the spread, their quarterback coach, (David) Yost, became the offensive coordinator when (Dave) Christiansen left. So they really haven't changed anything, but you have to tackle well in space. That is another thing; we gave up a couple of big plays on Saturday and didn't tackle as well at times as we felt like we needed to. They are a four-down defense, they blitz about 24 percent of the time, and (Sean) Weatherspoon is a top pro player. They have a lot of players from Texas, they have got seven starters back from last year's game and we feel like, once again, we are in the same position, right now, as we were in last year. We controlled our own destiny last year being No. 1 in the country after this game, and we let one second take it away from us and put it back in the system and we would rather continue to control our own destiny. And as coaches and players we just enjoy being in the mix after mid-season because if you are in the mix after the Oklahoma game that is pretty good stuff when you are at Texas, and we have got to make sure that we take advantage of every opportunity that is left and take them one at a time and not start looking down the road.
On the change in the amount of turnovers: I think experience, older kids than we had last year. You start looking at what Sergio Kindle has done, and Lamarr Houston, Sam Acho, Kheeston Randall, and Ben Alexander has been great. You start looking at what happened to our front since we lost those guys last year. You lose Henry Melton, Brian Orakpo, Aaron Lewis, Roy Miller, you are not sure who will replace those guys, and what has happened because of our depth right now, we have guys step up and they are taking the place of those guys when it's their time. That is why Texas has been consistent. It is your responsibility to step up and take the guy's place who played ahead of you the year before and make sure that you play well, and we play a lot of guys, and we do that on purpose just so we're sure that they will take someone's place. We are also able to play better man coverage right now. Chykie Brown, Curtis Brown, Aaron Williams, those guys are locking up man-to-man and we are blitzing real well, and we are stopping the run. So we are putting more people in third-and-long, and if you, for instance, Oklahoma did not make a third down the second half. They were 3-for-15 for the game, it think they were 3-for-10 at halftime. We made one out of nine third downs because of penalties, because of turnovers the first half. We made four out of eight the second half and controlled the ball 19 minutes, so that combination right now is really good.
On possibly overlooking Missouri: Just about all of these kids played last year and all we have to say is .028 and make sure that they understand that this is the stretch that got us in trouble last year. We talked a long time yesterday in our meeting that you are what you are. That if you want to make this run, then you have to be prepared each week. You have to be excited like it's the only game of the year each week, and if you have only six games left to put yourself in the position to win the conference championship and the championship game, then it's on you and it's on the coaches to make sure that we get ourselves focused and ready every day. We didn't play great on Saturday, but we played hard. You don't have to play great every game, but you do have to play hard. The more I know about this game, the more I realize it's about attitude, it's about toughness, it's about hanging in there and playing hard - finding a way to win and being confident and that's what these kids and our coaches need to do. I told them that you don't have to forget about the Oklahoma win. That's a hard one to get around here. A lot of kids that played at Texas didn't beat them. I want these kids to remember this game. I want them to enjoy it, but I want them to move forward, and that is really important. The best thing is that every kid on our team from Saturday still has some things that we can improve. So we can go back and coach hard. Last year it was easier to coach the defense harder to coach the offense when you get 45 points. The offense will get their attention today.
On getting his team back mentally: I really feel like the week before and week after are the hardest coaching jobs that you have are around mid-terms. Upsets happen mid-season, and that (Oklahoma) game is just unbelievable. There are so many banged up kids for both teams. Emotionally, it's nearly like there are two feelings that are both unhealthy right after you get through. You feel pretty good about yourself when you've won that game, so you can be a little complacent and say, "This is pretty cool. We're okay." And Missouri is watching the same game and they're mad at you or you can come back and really have a little bit of a depression because you were on such a high getting excited about that game that you come back now and say, "Whew, gosh, I'm relieved that we're through with that game." And both of those are just really dangerous, so what we did was say that we are going back to work. We are going to have a physical practice tomorrow. We are going to get right back to work. What we saw is beating Oklahoma means nothing unless you finish it right and that is what we want to do this year that we didn't do last year.
On the pressure of trying to be the top team: The pressure is there being No. 3, because everybody says to every one of our kids that unless you win them all you're not going to have a chance to get what you want. What we want for them is to try to enjoy the ride. What a wonderful time that these kids have given us as fans, you as media, this is fun. Two years in a row they have been in the mix after mid-season. Two years in a row they have beaten Oklahoma to jumpstart the writing of the first BCS polls that come out. There is pressure, regardless of whether you are (number) one or three and I don't think that the kids feel there is any difference because they know that it changes. They know it changes per week so I feel like they know that if you are in the top 3 or 4 than it is okay.
On Colt McCoy being sick against Oklahoma: When you talk about sickness, I'm sick about every day, I have got allergies and headaches. There are levels of sickness. If you can play and you don't feel good should I say to everybody, "Boy, Colt doesn't feel good Oklahoma so you all get after him now. He is miserable. He has a real bad head cold, he can't breathe, so I'm just making everyone aware of that." Or do you listen to Colt and say, "Hey, let's go to work, let's do the best you can do." In fact, if he could talk after the press conference he probably wouldn't have mentioned it. And when his thumb got hit, he said to me, "My gosh, coach, that thing hurts, but I'm not coming out and I need to run the ball more. Let me have the ball in my hands." And I'm thinking we're sick, we have a bad thumb, but I'm not coming out, and we need to run the ball more - that's too much information. But Colt is so tough. If you watch the emotion of Colt right after the game, number one, with that ball in his hands and he's shaking it up above and he's so excited that he's beaten Oklahoma again and that we're moving forward as a team. And then he broke up a little bit with Lisa Salters after the game. That shows you that it is not about him. He's not worried about, "How many times did I throw it and how many times did I complete it?" And, "What did it look like for me?" He wanted to win that football game. That was the only thing that matters. And when people are looking at Heisman numbers, to me that's key. It's not always about gaudy numbers, it's about who wins, and that kid is about five away from the winningest ever and that's cool.
On winning the way they did: Yes, I think it's humorous after 12 years here and I kind of grew up in the SEC if our game had been in the SEC Saturday, they would have said what a great, tough SEC game. This is the way they win down here - they run the ball, they play defense. In the Big 12 they say that's sloppy. I can't believe that's sloppy. So we're all spread offense and it's not a tough league. I thought it was two great defenses on Saturday. There will be so many NFL players on that team and off of those two teams that will be playing on the defense next year. Peyton Manning came up to me at the end of the game and said that there was a bunch of them out there that "I would like to draft but they're not going to make it to us, we're 5-0," and that's true, but I think the key to college football is everybody loves style points. Style points die when you're undefeated. Here we are, starting the second run at the end of the year, and what you've got to do is win, survive, move on. It's not going to be pretty all the time. I think that's the key to where we are right now. We've won with kicking game, we've won with defense, and we've won with offense. Our differential, we've outscored the opponents by 164 points, and that's second in the country in amount of how many we've scored to how many we've given up. Florida has 166, so they are two points higher than us. I like the way we're playing. We can fix some things. I really like the fact that we can run the ball for 189 yards. That's a huge message. Last week we couldn't, and Colorado is obviously getting better. Nobody in here would have picked them to beat Kansas. That's part of the deal. If we can just stay away from ghosts, and stay away from talking about the end, and talk about today, and talk about the now; I loved our misdirection Saturday. I loved the fact that we were able to run it better. It'll help us with play action. There's some things that we hit on Saturday that I think with help us down the road.
On if there's more or less to fix this week then last week: Every week they're different. When you start looking at it, in my estimation, that's what makes it so hard and so challenging, because you never know who's going to show up. Our kids usually play hard; they don't always play good. We've been able to just line up and throw the ball for the last couple of years and beat everybody. Well everybody now is trying to press us and they're trying to blitz us. So we've got to be able to run the ball. We didn't have the sacks the second half that we had the first half because we tired the blitzes down with the running game. We had some bigger runs Saturday than we've ever had. If I would have asked you guys if we'd run for a 189 yards, you guys would have snickered last week, because you were beating me up so bad about how we couldn't run it a lick, and they were giving up 53 yards rushing a game. I thought the coaches did a great job of finding some runs to settle down the team in the second half. We were able to keep the ball 19-plus minutes.
On the Missouri game last year: I thought our first half against Missouri last year was the best half we played for the year. It's a little unrealistic because things are not going to happen that well all the time. Every time a ball bounced up, we caught it. Colt dropped a ball, and it bounced up in his hands and he threw an 18-yard out. It was one of those nights where it just worked for us, and it happened to be the week after Oklahoma on national TV, so it was good. Then the next week, we didn't play quite as well against Oklahoma State. We had chances to put them away and didn't. And Texas Tech, we've seen it and talked about it enough. So that's what the kids and coaches need to learn from. You never know when pretty is going to show up, but when pretty shows up, hug it and enjoy it. Say, "I don't know where these guys came from but hey Greg (Davis), repeat successful plays. Just keep doing it big boy." (laughing) But when ugly shows up, you still have to win too. You've got to hug ugly and hang in there and fight. There was some ugly that showed up Saturday, but an experienced staff, a confident staff, hung in there and didn't panic, and did what we needed to do to win when not everything was working. That's the thing that the staff should get so much credit for. At halftime, I told the kids, "You were down by one point last year. You're down by three this year. So what's the big deal? Come on now. You've got to find a way to win. This is us. We win the fourth quarter. We're going to do it in this game, so let's go out and start it that way." That's what the kids did, and I was very proud of them, but you can't expect to have a first half like Missouri last year this time.
On if it was Oklahoma's scheme or their personnel that gave Texas trouble: Number one, they may have the best defensive personnel in the country. They're in that group. They are unbelievable. Gerald McCoy is unbelievable. I looked him up after the game and I told him, "My gosh; bless your heart. What a great player you are, son. You are unbelievable." Their whole front is that way. Their linebackers are great, their secondary can cover you. I think what we found is that we need to run the ball better. That will help us with play action and get the ball deeper. The same scheme they used in the first half, they used in the second half. It was different than what they had done with us in the past. They came with all out blitz, Colorado played us differently, so there's no question that people are going to try to pressure and press us, and what we've got to do is make sure that we can get the ball down field, and make sure we do some play action to get some deep balls and run better.