Aug. 22, 2012
Opening statement: Preseason ends tomorrow night. We'll have what we call an install situational scrimmage, and we'll go through all the gameday routines because the freshmen really haven't been through any of that. So we'll show them how we arrive at the stadium, we'll have pregame meal, the coaches will eat pregame meal with the players to talk to them about the demeanor they want them to have in pregame.Then they'll do the same thing in the pregame warmups, and then we'll actually warm up like the game. We'll be on the same timetable as the game. We will come in before the game and show them where they'll meet at halftime with all of our coaches and try to have the best routine that we can have.
The practices tomorrow night will not be on Longhorn Network, and then tomorrow morning we will have a walkthrough as such with kicking game to go through all the situations in the kicking game like a Thursday before we would play on Saturday. Longhorn Network will not be involved tomorrow. They will not be involved on Friday because we'll have just about an hour and a half practice in shorts on Friday morning before we turn the guys loose for the weekend. They will come back on Sunday. The guys will practice Sunday night. Then we will have Monday for press conference and film review, but it'll be a day off for the players like it normally is, and then we will go back to practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday like we always do, and Longhorn Network will be back at practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. They will not be at Thursday's practices because that's when we've got final game plan stuff that we are going over.
Preseason injuries are always a point of contention with people. Rumors get out. We've had fewer this year than ever at this point. I think that credit goes to our strength staff and new nutritionist, and you go back and look at what Jeff Madden and Bennie Wylie have done, the guys are in great shape. Their bodies are in better shape. We've had fewer injuries. We've had fewer pulls because going back and looking at our history we've usually had 10 -12 pulls in preseason and, this year we've had very few. And the guys are hanging in there. We've been very physical. We've been very demanding and pushed the guys a lot. I also believe it helps these freshmen to come in early. I've said that before, but they're more ready to play in preseason now than they've ever been simply because they've had a summer to prepare with Bennie and Jeff and the guys.
When you're asking about injuries and updates, we talked about that before, and it's a very difficult thing to do because rumors get out. A lot of times the rumors are not true, but modern day media, social media, things spread, and then it puts the kid in a tough spot. It's a distraction. And likewise last year, I've always been asked about the reports that [RB] Joe Bergeron had a cramp during a ballgame and it was more than that. I reported what I was told by the trainers after the game, and then it was more extensive on Tuesday because it took them a couple of days to see. But Joe thought it was a cramp, and they thought it was a cramp. Then it was more of a hamstring. They told us they thought Joe and [RB] Malcolm [Brwon] would play in the Missouri game and they didn't. Anybody that's been sick or been to a doctor knows that everybody heals differently. We can't sit here and tell you exactly what's going to happen. Some of those things change. So when we give you a report, it's a report based on what we've been told, and that's all I can tell you. I can't do any more than that. I'm not a doctor, and I don't want to be. I'm not a trainer and I don't want to be, but I do have to give you some information and what it is is from their mouths.
The only injuries that we've had really, we had the pull with [P] Anthony Fera, which was a couple of weeks ago. That will still be in question. He will not be on the depth chart today because they'll have to look at him next week to see if he will be available for the first game. And then there's two minor injuries that have come up that are a lot like the others we have that just haven't been mentioned, [WR] Jaxon Shipley had a great scrimmage Sunday night, he had a slight pull. He could probably play if we were going to play today, but we'll hold him out of tomorrow night's scrimmage and he should be ready to go on Sunday. And [WR] Mike Davis had a little tweak of his ankle yesterday. Again, they feel like he'll be full speed and ready to go for next week. So they are both on the depth chart that's proposed for a projection for them to be starters when we start practice on Sunday.
When you see a young man in a boot now, walking boot, [former DT] Lamarr Houston wore a walking boot on the trip to play at Nebraska one year, and people saw him getting off the plane, saw him walking to the hotel, and they thought he was going to die and he started and played great the next day. Unlike in the past, they'll put a boot on anybody who's sore or to try to keep the swelling down. Just because a young man is in a boot or on crutches anymore doesn't mean what it did in the old days, that he could not play. But our medical stuff does a great job. They've got hard jobs and especially with freshmen when you do not know how quickly they heal. You don't have a history of their injuries. It's hard to project whether he'll be ready to play on the weekend or not.
The depth chart will be for tomorrow's scrimmage. It will be projected for Sunday because obviously it could change tomorrow if a guy plays better. It's very fluid. We're handing it out earlier this year than we have in the past because the players know the coaches better than the coaches know the players. So we felt like it would be more of a distraction the longer we waited. It's better for us to tell them what we've got, so we sat down with every player today. We had a long meeting, and they'll be discussing it some with players while we're in here, but to tell them exactly what we feel their role is, what we feel their future is Texas is, and to tell them exactly what we think about them from a positive standpoint and concerns that they need to fix. And all of that is going on as we speak because they're in a team meeting and player meetings while we're in here today. But again, some of this could change. Plans can change. Sometimes people say, I've been asked by people, "You said both quarterbacks would play in the Cal game." I don't remember saying it, but if I did what we're going to do is play the guys that help us win the game. In your business, sometimes things change, maybe your editors change it, but what you planned on changes. Our plans are only to win the game. So what we tell you, if it changes, we don't feel like we've lied, we feel like there was a change made during a ballgame to help us win, and that's what it's all about. It's not about anything else.
If a coach is going to talk and tell you something, it may change. I remember Coach Parcells saying, "It is what it is and I have a right to change it if I want to." And I think that's fair because we're going to do everything we can do to beat Wyoming, and sometimes what you plan to win the game may not be the way it works out. You never know. That's one of the great things about sports, it's always fun to see, and you've got to be able to handle change during the ballgame.
If you could hand out the depth chart, Thomas, and give me one, I'll go over it with everybody. And I will go over it in any way you want to. You will see [RB] Daje Johnson is not on there. He has been suspended for the first game for violation of team rules, so he will not be involved in the first depth chart. And that will not change. While you're getting these, I will go over a couple of things. These are key special teams players that will make so much difference in our football team. [DB] Josh Turner will start on four of the five special teams, and that's hard to do. He's playing really, really well for us, and we're excited about him. Starters on three teams: [DB] Mykkele Thompson, [LB] Kendall Thompson, [FB] Ryan Roberson, [DB] Sheroid Evans, [RB] Jeremy Hills and [LB] Tevin Jackson. They will all start on three teams. And then [DT] Chris Whaley, [DB] Leroy Scott, [TE] Barrett Mathews, [DS] Kyle Ashby and [FB Alex De La Torre if we were playing today would be starting on two teams. And that is really, really key.
Also I think I've said it before and kind of got yelled at, the Wyoming game is at 7:00 [p.m.] on Longhorn Network and New Mexico, the second game, is at 7:00 [p.m.] on Longhorn Network, and that's released today. And Ole Miss is on ESPN and that's at 8:15 [p.m.]. We don't have any other games the way I understand it with the assurance of exactly what the times are or the network. So nothing else has been released to us.
On choosing a quarterback:
Yes, we did. As we've been saying, it's obvious you have to have one to walk out there first. Both of them have played well. They're both much better than they were at this time last year in our estimation. David [Ash] hadn't taken a snap and Case [McCoy] had taken nine snaps the year before, and we also feel like that both of them have been really good leaders. Case is one of the best leaders on our team, and they handled summer well. They've handled preseason well. They're getting along well. And we are not hesitant to put either one of them in the game, but David will start. On playing both quarterbacks:
Well, preliminarily there's a reason they didn't tell you, because they don't know preliminarily how it's going to work. I'll go back and say what we said, which is really true. You have plans of how you will play guys in each ballgame. There's not a plan yet for the rotation at running back. There will be a plan. I will sit down with [co-offensive coordinators] Major [Applewhite] and Bryan [Harsin], and we'll go over how we're going to play guys in the ballgame. It may change. One of the worst things that happened to me at Vanderbilt, I was told I was going to go in on this certain series and I never went in. Coach said he forgot. Not a good thing for a kid to feel like the coach forgot. So you have to be really, really careful what I say to you all and what I say to the kids. What we have constantly said and what we believe, both quarterbacks are good enough to win games, and both of them will play. We do not have a plan of exactly how that's going to be done yet, and we don't have to. That will probably be next Thursday, and we'll look at it to see how we feel like it works. On the quarterbacks:
I think both of them are more accurate, both of them are more confident, both of them are leading the huddle better. It's not a lot of separation in the two, and that's why we want to play both of them. They both have a command of the offense. They know Bryan better. They know who we are better. They know what we're trying to get accomplished, and really it's not as good for the defense, but I think we've had two turnovers in preseason in the scrimmages, and both were tipped balls. So they're throwing it to the right guys, and they're protecting the ball better. On the offense being more open:
I think, again, if we're completing passes we'd like to throw more. If we go out and we're not completing passes and we run the ball, we'll do whatever we need to do to win the game. I think since the last scrimmage, I've really seen a difference in our passing game and I'm seeing confidence now with our offense, and they performed much better this week than they did the first week and a half. On how the quarterbacks were told who would start:
Well, Bryan told them, and it's really personal when we tell anybody, and both responded really well. They both practiced hard and they both went right back to work, and they've both matured a lot since last year, and right now it's more about the team than it is about them. I'm really proud of both of them. You would not have known any different in the practices. Case took snaps with the “ones” this morning, so it'll continue to be like it's been, because we sincerely want to play both of them. On if QBs Connor Brewer or Jalen Overstreet expressed an interest to redshirt:
No, Bryan has talked to some of them. Right now Connor would be the guy to go in first ahead of Jalen. He's listed here because Jalen wasn't in a throwing offense, Connor was, and you'd need your young guy to be able to manage the passing game more than anything else. And right now we would feel like Connor would be that guy. We're hoping to redshirt both of them. I think the other thing that's really important, Jalen has improved his passing motion so much since he's been here. It's been an amazing difference to see when he started, and he's getting much more confident. So he really knows that it's down the road for him right now with the passing game. But he's excited about it. On DBs Josh Turner and DB Mykkele Thompson:
What we would do is right now Josh and Mykkele are the first two to go in, probably even at corner. osh would probably be the next corner, and he and Mykkele could be the safety. And what [defensive backs coach] Duane [Akina] did back with the great secondary with the Michael Huff
group and Michael Griffin
[group] is he would put Mykkele in maybe first at nickel and then the next series he'd put Josh in because he's trying to groom them both. But we feel like they are the next two guys to go in in the secondary, and I can try to help you with that at each position. [OT] Luke Poehlmann
would be treated like a starter. He can play guard or tackle. He would be the first lineman to go in in the offensive line. [TE] Greg Daniels
is making a push because he's a 256 pound tight end, and we've really been pushing our tight ends because we know that's an area that's got to pick it up and play better, and he's pushing Barrett and DJ Grant, and he's pushing them on a daily basis, which is a good and positive. [WR] Marquise [Goodwin] played probably 30something plays the other night in the scrimmage, which was the first time he's really gotten involved, and it was a very positive time, and he caught the ball and he caught a touchdown pass and he ran well and blocked well. So we're excited about where he is. [OT] Trey Hopkins
can play center if we need him to. [OG] Garrett Porter
has played well, but he can move in there and play. There will be freshmen that aren't listed on this list that will play probably next Saturday, but in some cases we put three deep. I would think most of the guys on this list will play. That's the plan. I went over this with the coaches at about 2:15, so this is just coming out of that room. Right now at tailback it wouldn't matter whether Joe or Malcolm ran out first. They're both really high quality players. We feel like [RB] Johnathan Gray
has really shown up in preseason and that he will play in the opening game. He's done well. We're not sure who will be the third down back yet. That's always the toughest thing to do because it's hard to pick up all the blitzes, and Wyoming has got a new defensive coordinator, so we're not sure what we'll see in the opening ballgame. We can go back and look at some of his past games, but it could change. So [RB] Jeremy Hills
can do that because he's been around a long time, but we're not sure who the third down back will be. Ryan Roberson
right now would be the fullback and the two young ones are competing, but Ryan has had a good camp. Right now Nick Jordan
would be our kicker in the opening ballgame unless we hear something different on Anthony Fera
between now and gametime. Nick Rose
has got a powerful leg for kickoffs. He is not a guy who's been a field goal kicker. We do feel like right now [DE] Reggie Wilson
and Jackson Jeffcoat
have made a push, and the older ends they can they can get a rest now from the younger ones, so we've got good depth at that point. We do feel like that [DTs] Chris Whaley
, Ashton Dorsey
, Brandon Moore
and Desmond Jackson
can be interchangeable at any time and all four of them are like starters. So that's the most depth we've had in a number of years at defensive tackle, and we think Malcolm Brown
can come in and play, and Kyle Kriegel
has helped out there some in preseason camp.[LB] Demarco was well and has practiced the last couple days after a sore ankle. He did scrimmage some the other night. Tevin Jackson
has played well enough to be in the mix but Demarco would start. Steve Edmond
and Jordan Hicks
are backed up by Kendall Thompson
, but Dalton Santos
and Peter Jenkins had one great scrimmage on Sunday night, and they're stepping it up fast, so we've got some really good competition. [Defensive coordinator] Manny [Diaz] and I feel like really you've got three that are starters and significant players, and then you've got a group back behind them that are trying to get in the mix. So that's not settled yet at all. And then in the secondary you've really got six players that would play if we played today, and that would be Josh Turner
and Mykkele being the two guys that would be interchangeable with the four starters. The other guys are fighting to get in that position. Alex King
has shown a lot of ability to punt, the transfer from Duke, and because of Anthony's strained muscle, we're lucky that we've got Alex here, but he's shown the ability to punt, and he can rugby punt. He can do everything we need done. He's older, he's a guy that's mature and has really helped us. Our punt returner today would be [CB] Quandre Diggs
or [WR] Jaxon Shipley
. Quandre would be the first one to walk out there if we started today. [WR/RB] DJ Monroe and Quandre Diggs
would be the first two to walk out on kickoff, and Marquise and Mykkele Thompson
would be the second two if we had that today. Nick Rose
has shown the ability to be as good a kickoff man as we've had in our 15 years here. It's been fun to watch him, so I hope he can continue to do the same for the game. The holder would continue to be [WR] Cade McCrary
, but Alex King
was a quarterback at Duke and he can hold. The deep snapper is a freshman that would be in his first ballgame in front of 101,000, Kyle Ashby
, the deep snapper, and he's done a great job. And the deep snapper behind him would be Nate Boyer
.On his confidence in the team:
So much higher because we've got more depth. We've got more continuity because the staff has been here. The staff has got a tremendous amount of energy, and they've practiced that way. We had a great practice this morning, and it was fun because they were getting after each other. We've gone mostly ones against ones and then we've started a little twos against ones because the twos need to show us that they can play against a one if they're going to play in a game, and you have to do that some. When you start talking about twos against twos all the time, they can feel real good about themselves, and it's not so good. So they need to see the deal. On special teams:
We're trying to have the best special teams we've ever had. We'd like to lead the country, and you've got to put your best players out there to do that. And if every time they punt to us we've got a chance block it or return it for a touchdown, that gives us a chance to win a tight ballgame. A & M was won because of the kicking game, defense. If you look at field goals, if you look at the punt return, if you look at kickoff return on the last play after the 35, that gave us pretty good field position. You look at them starting the second half when they didn't get it off the goal line. We feel like our kicking game can be the best we've had, and we have really, really worked hard on it. All the coaches are involved except Bryan Harsin
and [defensive tackles coach] Bo Davis
, and really Major and Duane Akina
have done a great job with it. So we are excited about it. We are meeting more than we've ever met. We've done more live stuff. We've had two kicking game scrimmages that we usually put into the scrimmage, so we're excited about watching that next Saturday. On PK Nick Jordan’s play in the scrimmage:
It was probably good, not great. So that's still a question mark. Major came up with a great idea last summer, and we did it when we first got here and we got away from it, and it was great that we got back. The last two years we've had a kicking camp, and deep snappers can come and work in the camp, as well, and Kyle Ashby
walked out there, and he was just unbelievable with his speed and his accuracy. So we felt like he was a guy that we wanted to come to Texas and he wanted to come, so it's worked really well. On being comfortable with a young deep snapper:
I think so. I think most of them are young. You keep one four years and hope he doesn't snap bad and then you kind of start over. But this one hasn't had a bad snap for three weeks, so I think he's real good. On DT Chris Whaley:
I think he's about 287 pounds, so nearly 290, probably runs 4.7, so he's really playing well, playing with lower pads. He wants to be a really good player. He's kind of come in the same mode as Lamarr Houston
a couple of years ago, running back, defensive end. Lamarr was a linebacker, fullback some, so it's what you can do. If you get the big guys that are speed guys when they start with and they gain so much weight they move down - [former Longhorn] Marcus Tubbs
was a tight end - you just go back and look at some of those guys that can really be a force inside. He is most powerful and most effective to me still on third down because he's so quick. He's hard to block, and he can put a lot of pressure on the passer, and he also has great recovery speed for screens and draws. On the offensive line:
We've got two concerns that have to be fixed. Tight ends have to play better, and we need some of the other offensive linemen to step up. [OL] Thomas Ashcraft
has done that. He would be the second guy to go in right now. But we need those other three guys to continue to get better because you're only a snap away from putting one of them in the starting lineup. If there's two things we need to have continue to grow in the next week, it would be that and tight ends.
On RB Joe Bergeron being the short-yardage back: He and Malcolm would be the two bigger backs right now that would be the short yardage and goal line, even though Jonathan has got really good vision and power for a 205pound guy. I think Joe is 236 and I think Malcolm is 220, so those are pounding backs. And that's the other thing, we've got to still make a decision on is the wild formation. If we were going to do it today it would be with Joe, Malcolm or Jonathan probably, and all three could do it.
On if it realistic to think the team could crack the top five in rankings: I think so. I think if you didn't think that, Lord, you shouldn't be at Texas. I think two years ago was not the norm for us. Last year we had a lot of growing to do to try to get back in the mix. We had our chances, didn't work out like we wanted it to, and this year I think we've got a chance to be in the mix. Now we've got to play good. I see this team, if we play really good we've got a chance to win every week. If we play average we've got a chance to lose. So the coaches and the players have to do a tremendous job of being prepared to play each week and play at a high level.
On if he is seeing the right things in the team: Yes, the freshman class and the confidence of the older guys. We had a little night last night where the freshmen have to sing, and they were awful. It was awful. They'd better make a living in football because they're not going to make it in singing. But afterwards we said,”Seniors, get up and sing the Eyes of Texas.” And it seems like it's a small thing, but Luke Poehlmann said, “Freshmen, come up here with us. Y'all get up here, you've got to help us win.” That wouldn't have happened two years ago. We kind of had a team that was split and the older ones and younger ones weren't getting along, and there was just a disconnect there somewhere. And it's back, and this team is focused. We've been really hard with this team, we've been really direct with this team, we've been really disciplined with this team, and we're not letting anything slip and I like it. I like what I see. I feel much better about where we are right now than leaving spring practice.
On having chosen a starting quarterback after the Holiday Bowl: If you said that we had chosen a quarterback, you were wrong. We had not. So I'll go back and stand by that. What we did is we wanted both quarterbacks to have to compete hard over the summer because we felt like that was very important. We have got to improve our passing game. And then we saw them continue to compete, and when we came back, both of them had improved a significant amount, and we liked it. We liked what we saw and we liked them competing, and we don't think you should treat that position any differently in a competitive nature than you do the others. Somebody has got to earn it. You just don't give it to them. Case earned it at A & M. It didn't happen well at Baylor. David earned it at Cal, so we really felt like let's let them compete. Let's let them see who's the best one that comes out of it, and I think what we found is they both pulled closer together. They both decided it's more about the team than them, and that was probably difficult for both of them last year. And they both are very productive, and now we can put if one of them is hurt or not playing well, we can put the other one in the game and feel like he has a chance to still help us win. And if something is not working at one time or the other, we can change, and they know that. Some people say they'll be looking over their shoulder, have fear. If you're scared about not having enough confidence at quarterback, you shouldn't be playing anyway.
On PK Anthony Fera: He's just with the trainers right now. We thought we needed to get him totally well before we ask him to do anything. He said he could probably punt some right now. Alex King is punting really well, so we need him to get well. He's had a very difficult month with all the things that have happened in his life and the transition and then pulling up, so we want him to take his time and make sure he's 100 percent before he comes back. I saw him punt one day, and he was killing it. He just knocked it way up in the air, and then he just came across one, and we didn't really realize, but he had a slight pull from a groin muscle or hip flexor this summer and he just irritated it.
On PK/P Will Russ: Yes, he is punting and kicking off. And he would be the backup punter, and he's done a good job. We've probably got more quality people after Anthony gets well in our punting and kicking than we've ever had, and that's amazing from where we were last spring.
On moving Greg Daniels to tight end: Yes, when you're looking at defensive ends that can run, usually a lot of them play tight end in high school. It may be short yardage. Malcolm Brown played tight end, the big defensive tackle, and made some plays. So what we saw was we were in better shape at defensive end leaving Cal, the Cal game, than we were at tight end. And we felt like my job is to look around the team, and if a guy is not being able to produce where he is, find a place where he can produce better. And whether you're moving Lamarr Houston or Aaron Lewis or guys that we've moved throughout our 15 years here, that's part of my job is to try to figure out who can step up and have a chance. He's 256 pounds. He hasn't played much at defensive end or defensive tackle. He got to 285. We were in good shape at defensive tackle by recruiting Brandon Moore and Malcolm Brown, Paul Boyette, Alex Norman, so we had more depth there. So we felt like it was a move to move Greg over. We feel like the upside is that he hasn't played there at all since he's been here, and he missed spring practice, so we think that we're seeing some progress. He's not near ready to be anointed the answer yet, but we're seeing enough progress, especially in the blocking area, because he's big and strong and he's done that before, that we feel like he can help us there.
On high expectations for TE M.J. McFarland: There are. I talked to him a long time yesterday when we were deciding on these positions and told them that he's a wide receiver that has gained a whole lot of weight and moved into tight end, and sometimes it takes you longer to get your pads low and learn how to block in there. But he can run, he can catch. He still has a really good upside for us. We've got to think about what to do to win next week, and that's what these decisions were about, and he knows that. So in the conversations from our coaches today, it'll be, “Here's what we feel like you can do today, and here's where we project you in the future and here's where we need to get you.”
On WR/RB D.J. Monroe: It's a work in progress, but he's worked some tailback, and he's worked some Z, and that's that T and Z position that we've talked about, and we feel like he's making progress in that area. He's catching so much better, so we feel like he can do some of both. He's had a great attitude, and he's really trying hard.
On if WR Marquise Goodwin can play a whole game: I think he can. If you'd asked me Sunday afternoon, I'd have said no. In fact, we didn't know that he was going to scrimmage Sunday night because we were really careful with him, and then he got a sore foot, and the heat. But he said, “I want to play.” And he did really well, and he's practiced every play since. So I think he can play a whole game now. He wasn't even back until Sunday or Monday before the UCLA game last year and didn't have any spring, any summer, anything. So he's so much further ahead, and he's playing well, and we need his speed.
On if there is an MVP right now: It's hard because each position has their own guy. I'd say the two offensive linemen that have played best would be Trey Hopkins and Mason Walters. They're both becoming good leaders in that area. Mike Davis, Jaxon and now Marquise have all had really good camps, so they're so much further ahead of where they were last year. We really challenged the backs yesterday. They get so much publicity, and we've told our entire football team who you are is how many games you win. And the guys on this team and me as a coach have won eight the last time we showed up, so eight is not good enough. So let's don't start talking about how good we are until we win more, and that's really important. But Malcolm and Joe have worked really hard. Jeremy Hills has really worked hard. You take Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex [Okafor], they've been really good leaders for us. Jordan Hicks has become the leader of the linebackers and had an outstanding camp. [S] Kenny Vaccaro, really all four of those secondary guys, even though they're still younger guys, they've played like they're older. Quandre plays older than he is and acts older than he is. He's sitting there this morning at about 7:00 at a special teams meeting he said, “Hey, freshman, move, that's my seat.” I said, “What, are you acting like you're older?” He said, “I've been around you since I was six years old, so I've been here a long time.” And that's really true. Those guys have all played well and are standing up. We've got more leadership than we had. I'm not talking about them being stars, I'm talking about them doing the things we've asked them to do and leading in their positions. Last year we were trying to find a leader in each room, and now we've got more than that. And when you get leaders on your team, they actually tell the young ones, “No, don't do that. Pick it up, you're loafing.” So those things comings from players are more powerful sometimes than coming from coaches.
On how the freshman receivers were able to progress so quickly: I think summer. I think Jaxon Shipley and Mike really did a good job of teaching them this summer, and I think that's where Case had a great summer leading, and the kids really believe in him. And David has gotten so much more confident in the huddle. He's able to talk to them now and move them around, unlike last year at this time. We were so unsettled on everything at this time last year. We're pretty settled right now on who we are and what we want to do and who we want to do it with, and you don't know how those freshmen will respond a week from Saturday. But hopefully they will grow as the season grows. It's just unbelievable how much different it is when you take them the second time into the stadium. Sunday's scrimmage was night and day from the first one. We have practiced in there four or five times now to get everybody used to the setting. It's a little bit bigger than most of the stadiums they played in in high school.
On the running backs: It's like I answered Mike with the quarterbacks. We haven't gotten there yet. Really, we stay over here all the time, so you're over here at 6:30 in the morning, you leave here 10:30 at night, so you talk about those things all the time. You have some discussions about when do you put Case in? What does he do when he gets in? Is he no huddle? But what you do is you plant seeds and you allow people to talk about it, but you don't make decisions. And then you make a decision, you may not even tell the players because it changes, and that's what you have to do. Same with the running backs. We've had wild formation discussions. We've had how we rotate the backs discussions, and I think some of that depends on how you're playing. If there's a guy in the game that's going wild and taking over, you let him stay in. If one is not running well or not something a productive day, he may not get as many carries. Also, I think, again, the coaches have done maybe the best job I've ever seen of explaining everybody's role to them and letting them understand exactly what we need out of you. Here's what we need out of you two backs. We need four yards every time you touch it, and we need you to break some plays, and we need you to protect the ball, and we need you to be able to block on third down. That's all we need. We don't need anything else. If we bring you out, we want good body language, we want a good attitude. We are going to decide when you play and when you don't play, and we've done that with every position. Again, you don't know how Jonathan will respond in his first game. He's played before 60,000, 70,000 people before, and he's done really well, and you think he'll do well. But when do you put him in, do you play the two older sophomores more than him to start with and let the game get settled so he can watch it more before you put him in? All those things we'll have to decide next week. And what we do is the coaches will take off Friday afternoon, Saturday, come back Sunday, and it gives us a lot of time to write down notes for each other. I'll write down all of those questions for them and say I want to have your input by Thursday, and then on Thursday we'll make those decisions and we'll be able to go into Friday having a pretty good feel of what we anticipate, and then it may change. I mean, again, the discussions change a lot, and when they do, I've got to be in a discussion with the position coach and the coordinators about if things are dragging offensively, do we pick it up and go no huddle? How do we change the rhythm here if Manny's guys are standing around and they're moving the ball on us? Do you blitz more? Do you pick it up? What do you do? Do you fake a punt? And that's where I have to get involved with the game plans.
On the offensive line rotation: I think [offensive line coach] Stacy Searels and Bo Davis have done an amazing job of stabilizing what was an area of concern for us on both sides of the ball, and we're still not there. We need 10 offensive linemen that can all play and not have a dropoff, and we're nearly there defensively that we've got four inside and four counting the two outside guys that we've got eight guys that we feel like we can play. Now you still want Alex and Jackson [Jeffcoat] in there more than you want the other two, but the other two can have some significant snaps if they have lesser snaps.A nd we're not quite there offensively. I'm not saying that those other guys aren't doing a good job, but there is some separation between the ones that would start today and some of the guys that are backing them up. There is some on defense. There's not as much. I think Bo Davis could change who he plays with his four every day, and it wouldn't make any difference, because if he gets mad at one he just says this one can play. And he's usually mad at one of them.
On if he is surprised at the progress of the players: I never look at that stuff much. You all hit me with that. I think, again, it's a great freshman class, so they haven't produced on the field yet. But the two quarterbacks have probably come as far as anybody from spring practice just with their demeanor, their confidence, their body language. Most of those secondary guys were good last year. You worried a little bit about Jackson Jeffcoat, Adrian Phillips and Greg Daniels with their shoulders, and they haven't even been sore, so that's really been good. [TE] Miles Onyegbule got a little bit of scrimmage work on Sunday, but he's still not doing everything every day, so we've got to look and see where that fits in our tight end grouping for the future. But I would say if you just look, Jordan Hicks has made a huge jump from last year, and we need him because we're still really inexperienced at linebacker. I think we're getting too much credit at linebacker right now until we prove it. We lost two seniors, and I want to see when we get in some trouble with people moving the ball how we respond to a leadership role, and Jordan is the guy to do that. I'm just really impressed with the defensive line. I like what I see and I like four of them, and that's comforting as a head coach. And then Malcolm Brown is coming back. But that puts you in a good shape. We're starting to develop some depth at end, but if you see Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks play as freshmen, and usually you're okay, have some flashes that are really good last year, and I think they're ready to be really good this year. And that's what happens to you when you usually don't redshirt them. That's the norm more than not. But when you just see guys like Peter Jenkins and Dalton Santos step up Sunday night and some of it against the ones and they looked really good and were ready to play, that's going to be fun to watch them. So they'll be kicking guys early and then you'll see how they mix in. [OT] Donald Hawkins has done a good job. [OT] Josh Cochran is so much better than he was at this time last year because he was a true freshman that was weak with a sore shoulder starting for us in that opening game. Luke Poehlmann is more well. Thomas Ashcraft is in the best shape he's ever been in and he can play now.[C] Dominic Espinosa had a shoulder operation his senior year in high school, and Stacey didn't even have him last year because he got it fixed again, so he didn't even go through spring practice. So he's so much further ahead than where he was.So I just think we've improved in a lot of areas. Now, I do think our league has improved. I've said that, but I think West Virginia is a factor from what I can tell watching their video, and we know TCU is good. Our schedule may be tougher just because of those two teams coming in with a lot of confidence and something to prove.
On if the Big 12 is better: Yes. I think the league is better. You don't even count the two coming in. I think the league is better than it's ever been, which makes it tougher on everybody. I mean, everybody right now in the league has a chance to win, and you bring the Notre Dame quarterback into Kansas and Charlie Weis, and all of a sudden, those guys get a few transfers and Charlie knows what he's doing and that quarterback knows his system, and it's harder to play in Lawrence. We know that from being up there, than they are on the road right now. I think Charlie is going to have those guys playing. With an older quarterback that can throw it and a pro coach with a great system, you never know what can happen. Really and truly there's not a team in this league that you have to prepare for to play. When we got here there was some we could beat and not have to spend a lot of energy, and that's over. hat's done.
On how to guard against hazing: That's a great question, but you even go back to the proposed hazing down at Florida A & M that got out of control. We don't have any, and there was hazing when I was in school. Our hazing now is the guys have to sing karaoke, and that's it, and that's pretty bad. And the players can all laugh at them. And then the second thing they have to do is Sunday night when they get back, all the freshmen have to stand up together and sing Texas Fight, and the older guys will boo them. They will say it's horrible, they're embarrassed, it's the worst they've ever seen because I've seen it for 14 straight years. And then they will stand up and sing it and pull the freshmen in with them. Their big brothers will go up and get the freshman and make him sit down with him, and then they'll all stand up and sing it together. But now with college football, unlike the NFL, they need to play, and you've got to play them right now. So when they get here, an older guy has to take him under their wing and get him ready to go, and you can't afford to one run off. I think one of the great things the NCAA did for college student athletes coming in in football were letting them come in the summer. We used to have guys going home all the time, homesick all the time, and it can happen, but you're just not seeing it near as much as you used to.
On a physical running game: I think that if you go back and look at it, really the Michigan game and the '05 Rose Bowl, the SC game, running was a factor in both of them from the other team and we didn't stop either one of them very well. And then you go back to Ohio State, I saw them being stronger and more physical than we were in the Fiesta Bowl. So all of a sudden there's three Rose Bowl games two Rose Bowl games and a Fiesta Bowl, three BCS games at the end where I thought the other team was more physical than we were. And then when we go back to Alabama, by then I knew that Alabama had a more physical football team than we did, and I thought it was on both sides of the ball. And we gave up I think 200 yards rushing to Ohio State, and each back had over 100 yards rushing in the Alabama game. So unless we could outscore people, we weren't going to win. And we were putting a tremendous amount of pressure on two of the best quarterbacks to ever play college football to win every game, and what I feel like we need to do now is still try to get that quarterback production, and like we said, throw it, move it. We need to score points in this league because it's a points league, and I think we scored 28 last year, and we were scoring 50 in times there at the national championship game. Even the second one we were in the upper 40s, I think. We need to get back and score 40 and 50 points a game to win the games that we need. But to me, what we got away from is we couldn't run the football when we needed to. There were games in the fourth quarter where I was so frustrated because we couldn't finish them. We had to play defense and hope we knocked the ball loose because we couldn't put the game away. And then I'll never forget the Colorado game in '09 where we there were about three third down and fours or less, and we threw it every time. And I think we didn't make any of the four, and I wanted to throw up leaving the field. We'd won the game 38 to 12 or something, and I was sick. I didn't like who we were and where we were headed. And we still had a chance to win the national championship that year. But I could see that we had to be throwing it really, really well, and that's who we had become, and I don't think that's fair to Texas. There's too many good backs in this state. There's too many good linemen in this state. It's not who we've been. We need to get back and be who we were when we got here, and that's balanced. I don't want to be a running back football, I want to be a balanced football team. What I've learned, and I go back to reference '04 a lot, we were second in the nation in rushing with 302 yards a game and 116th in passing and beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. And then the next year we were balanced. So I do feel like you've got to run it good before you can be balanced. You can't just pass it good and say you're going to run it, you have got to put an emphasis on running it. And we've spent two really hard years to try to get back to being a very physical football team on both sides of the ball. And if you watched our practices now, I mean, they're knocking each other out, and it's a very physical practice, and they're staying healthy. We are getting more mentally and physically tougher, and I like that. I am going to feel better about that going into the game.