Sept. 28, 2011
Assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Duane Akina
On having senior S Christian Scott back: Well, getting a veteran player back like that who has a real physical presence, is certainly a bonus. It helps us in our special teams, having a big athlete that has played a lot of football for us and been a very productive player. So it's good timing as we're moving into Big 12 conference [play], and obviously our dime package is going to play an even bigger part in what we're going to be doing, having six defensive backs on the field.
On if Scott was able to keep up with the team and defense while out: He's very [up to speed]. He hasn't missed a beat, and he did a good job while he was away. He stayed in physical condition and stayed involved in the game. He's a very smart football player. He's a quick study, so it's been a good fit for us.
On if improving the special teams has been a focus lately: Certainly. Special teams, we've got to be more productive in that area across the board, create better field position for our football team and put the offense on a shorter field. That's the biggest thing. And we've seen in past years how special teams can create field position, points, and momentum every time somebody steps out on the field. We've seen it over and over -I n the Oklahoma game when [former WR Jordan] Shipley's kickoff return sparked us. We've seen it with [Texas] A&M a couple of times. So it's certainly a focus. We understand the importance of it, and coaches and players have got to do a good job with it all.
On having WR Marquise Goodwin back on the team: I think there's always excitement when you've got a game-breaker like that. Offensively, I think it breeds confidence in your team, knowing that at any minute he can create something for us, and he has. And he's another one that's got a lot of value on special teams because of his speed. He's blocked a kick for us in the past. So he's a weapon that we've got to continue to find a way to utilize.
On having taken Goodwin off of special teams for now: Yes, we've taken him off of special teams just to ensure we can get him through. He's still got to callous his body. That sand pit isn't quite as physical as what he's been running into here lately. He may be penciled in here and there, but we're going to pick and choose our spots with him.
On having RB Foswhitt Whittaker replacing Goodwin on special teams: I think you've got speed, and you've got a physical player that can really hit a crease and come off the other way. Fozzy's a dynamic player when the ball's in his hands, so it's just another way to find a way to get Fozzy the football.
On if CB Quandre Diggs is on kickoff or punt returns: He's on the kickoff return and the punt return. He's on the depth chart on both. He's been back doing a couple of punt returns and the situation just hasn't come up where it's been a return possibility. [The ball has] been kicked inside the 10-yard line where he's had to let it go. But we're excited to see what happens when he gets his hands on the ball. In some of the scrimmages he's been dynamic with the football in his hands.
On preparing for a physical quarterback in Iowa State's Steele Jantz: We talk a lot about, "You've got to cover them twice." When you've got a quarterback that can extend plays, that's been a big part of their offense, it's probably one of the biggest things that he does. That type of quarterback is the toughest to defend, so we've drilled that in quite a bit in the last two weeks. It's going to be something that will be a good test for us this week, to stand coverage, because he has created plays, and really has determined the outcome in a few of these games for [Iowa State] to be 3-0.
On if this is a big game because Texas lost to Iowa State last year: What motivates us, or what motivates me, is that there's a game on Saturday. Whether it's Iowa State or BYU, choose somebody and put the ball down and let's play. I think that's the attitude we have here at the University of Texas. I think you can say this is a big game, but guess what? You ask me the same question and that OU game will be a big game. And it will just continue to get bigger and bigger as we continue to stack "W"s.
On if he is worried about the DBs getting overconfident: I think you've got to give credit where credit is due. They've played well, but we've got many challenges ahead of us. The season's not over. I've said many times and I've been encouraged with their improvement as they've gone on. We've had some opportunities to make plays, some of them difficult plays, and they've finished plays. CB Carrington [Byndom's] play was huge. S Kenny [Vaccaro] getting his eyes back. So we're moving in the right direction. But as I said, that's part of their job description - to make plays. We've got some playmakers back there, and they've got to create plays. So this is another challenge for us, and as we continue to go forward here we've got some bigger tests ahead of us. But this certainly will be our biggest test to date. Going in to a Big 12 opener, and the quarterback's done a nice job, and they're 3-0. There are a lot of reasons for us not to get too excited. We've got to go out, and that's my job to make sure that they understand that we've got to line up and play.
On CB Adrian Phillips: He's just a real headsy football player. It's what I thought I saw when I saw him in high school as a quarterback in my evaluation of him. We guessed right on him. He's a playmaker. Football is very, very important to him. He came in more physical than I anticipated, which was very encouraging. What he's done for us - playing corner, playing safety, and playing nickel, is really something when you're starting to talk about a real mutiple defense. And for him to be able to handle three positions flawlessly, along with his athletic ability and all that, but to be able to play corner, [to be] physical enough to play safety, and then to have the awareness on nickel - to be a blitzer and a cover guy, really speaks volumes for him as a total player. And that's what we're constantly looking for.
Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Major Applewhite
On contingency plans for the third string quarterback: We've worked a bunch of guys because there are some roles that those guys have - both Miles [Onyegbule] and Mykkele [Thompson] [who] have their own roles to fill at their primary positions - but we work both of those guys. Obviously, we are in a situation that we didn't anticipate, but we have a plan for it. So you have to work both of them because it could happen to the other one too.
On Thompson's and Onyegbule's ability: They can both throw the ball. It would surprise you if you saw it. They can both throw the ball really well. They both played the position for a while at their respective high schools.
On the impact of the injury to WR John Harris on the receiving corps: I think the whole offense has to bear the burden of a loss, be it a wideout position [or] a quarterback position. But specifically at the wide receiver positions we're not going to ask for one guy to come in and fill John Harris' shoes and do everything that he does. We may give a part of that guy's assignments and responsibilities to a DeSean [Hales], may give part of it to Bryant Jackson, may give part of it to Darius [White], or Miles. It doesn't matter, we'll spread it around. Each guy is going to contribute in that room.
On D.J Grant's performance and how it will impact the offense going forward: Yeah, absolutely, we've waited for guys like DJ and Blaine [Irby] to be back and now they're a big part of what we're doing. They're doing a great job as well as the other guys, with Darius [Terrell], Barrett [Matthews] and Dominic [Jones]. They are doing a phenomenal job, all those tight ends. It's good to put it on tape. It's good to have it on tape, other people have to watch it and see it. See the tight ends making plays in the passing game as well. It's definitely a benefit.
On tight ends making plays having an impact on the rest of the offense: As an offense, the first thing you want to do is attack the middle of the field. You want to attack the middle of the defense. It's the same way in all sports. The same way in basketball, you want to get the ball inside, and that's what you want to do in football. So when you have a tight end that can get over the middle and can play games with the "Mike" linebacker and safeties and make them cover the middle of the field, you're in good shape.
On QB David Ash and QB Case McCoy adjusting to their roles: They're doing a great job. Both quarterbacks have been phenomenal in terms of their preparation and leadership. That's really where the position starts. How you prepare is so important, not just for your own performance, but for the other guys so they can see how you're preparing so they can tune their own habits up like yours as a quarterback. Then your leadership. It's easy to be a leader on good days, but there have been some times at practice where they've had to pick people up, pick themselves up. They've done a great job with it.
On the quarterbacks being able to get into a rhythm: I think you can get into a rhythm as a quarterback. You can feel those type of things when they come about. They have done such a great job. Both of those guys are really pulling for each other. You can see them on the sideline. Ash is going in and you hear Case, "Come on now," and now Case goes back out, you hear David doing the same thing. I think it's really helped the both of them. You've really divvied up the pressure of being a quarterback, which has been very helpful, and both of those guys have really taken to it.
On his thoughts about former RB Chris Ogbonnaya being activated by the Houston Texans: Extremely proud for Chris. Just the stuff he's done in terms of graduating in three-and-a half years and going on and working on his masters. He was a true professional before he ever signed an NFL contract. As a coach coming in your first year and he's the senior in that room, it's great. His leadership has been passed down to Fozzy and it will get passed down to the next guy. It's a great blessing as a coach in your first year to have a guy like that in your room. It doesn't surprise me at all. He'll do well with his opportunity.
On his running backs returning kickoffs: Yes, absolutely, we want to put some guys back there that are explosive and have done some things with the ball in their hands. It doesn't mean that DJ [Monroe] or Marquise [Goodwin] won't have an opportunity. They're still in the batting order, but we're going to give some guys some opportunities that have some size to them. You watch some of the great returners in the NFL, guys like Darren Sproles, guys that have great quickness but they also have power and can break some tackles.