Mack Brown Monday press conference transcript: Aug. 30
Aug. 30, 2010
Opening statement: We had great reviews Saturday night for the Westlake-Lake Travis game. I'm very, very proud that we were able to get two of the top high school teams, not only in our area or state, but in the country to come. It sounded like a great game. The crowd was super. There were great reviews from both sides. Hopefully that's something we can continue to do. We love to see high school football in DKR. That's fun for us and fun for the community.
You can tell it's game week. We got up at 5:45 for flex this morning. We took the field at 5:45, so the guys were up at four in most cases. We do that for a lot of reasons. It separates some time that they practice today from tomorrow. It's like a day and a half now because we'll practice tomorrow afternoon. A lot of the guys have Monday afternoon classes and labs, so it makes it more difficult. We always practice Monday morning right after an open date.
The first game is a lot of fun. The guys here, they've been working really hard against each other. Our best and most experienced players are working against the most experienced players for the last three weeks. You really don't know how good you are. One of your guys loses every time and one of your guys wins. You walk off the field mad every day. Now it's time to go put your show on against somebody else. We'll find out a lot on Saturday starting at 2:30. This time of the year there's a lot of hopes and dreams for everybody. Everyone's undefeated. Most people are really healthy. You're probably as healthy as you'll be throughout the year this week and this ballgame. Everybody is feeling pretty good about their team. All coaches and players are anxious.
Opening games are usually determined by turnovers and kicking game mistakes. You haven't done those things live for quite a while. You scrimmage some, but you still can't get the intensity in some ways that you do when you're playing against someone else. Since we've been here, we're 11-1 in openers and we're 3-0 at Reliant. We've beaten Rice there twice and we won the conference championship game against Colorado. Historically, it's been much tougher to go on the road. Texas in general, when opening up on the road is 21-10. It's been much more difficult to go on the road and take your kids. You have guys that have never flown before - this will be a bus trip for us. You've got guys that haven't stayed in a hotel. They don't know what pregame is like. They've never been in front of a crowd like this and national TV. A lot of young guys are having different feelings and emotions this week.
We told the young ones this morning as we get ready to go over the depth chart that what you've done in high school and what you've done over the last three weeks does not matter unless you have a great week this week. I go back to the fact that this depth chart is day to day. This is where we started this morning, but we will go day to day.
John Chiles and Mike Davis are alternating at the flanker. Marquise (Goodwin) and James Kirkendoll are alternating at the third receiver, which is what we call Sub B. Really James Kirkendoll would start - if we played today - at X and Marquise would start at Sub B. But they're both starters. Then you go down to the X receiver - James Kirkendoll and Malcolm Williams are fighting for that job. It keeps pressure on all of them. We did feel like Malcolm was doing so much. We'd like to take some pressure off of him. And James has had the best camp of all of our wide receivers. He can play a lot of places and we're double teaching. So Marquise could play Sub B or Z and those five guys basically would be considered starters. At tight end you've got Barrett Matthews followed by Ahmard Howard. If we just have a tight end on the field, the second spot could be Greg Smith if he's not in there at the H Back. Go down to H Back. Greg Smith would be the starting H Back and Chris Whaley would be the backup H Back and could play some at tight end.
At tackle, Britt Mitchell is the starting right tackle. Mark Buchanan is backing him up. Mason Walters is the starting right guard. Trey Hopkins is backing him up. David Snow and Garrett Porter at center. Michael Huey and Thomas Ashcraft [at left guard] and we may or may not play Dominic Espinosa depending on injuries, depending on Tray Allen if we feel like he'll be back. Kyle Hix and Luke Poehlmann at left tackle.
Your quarterback Garrett Gilbert backed up by Case McCoy. That decision was made because Case has handled the huddle better and he's managed the teams and protected the ball better at this point. Starting tailback would be Cody Johnson. It would be backed up by Fozzy (Whittaker) or Tre' (Newton). We have talked a lot about how Cody has come into camp. He's got his body fat down and has had a tremendous camp.
Jamison Berryhill or Ryan Roberson would start at fullback. Fullback right now would be used primarily in short yardage or goal line. We've also looked at Ryan Roberson because he was a high school tailback at Brenham. We've looked at him some at goal line tailback, short yardage tailback as well.
On defense, Eddie Jones would start and Jackson Jeffcoat would be his backup at defensive end. Jackson has had a tremendous camp. We're really excited about his progress. Kheeston Randall would start at tackle, backed up by Ashton Dorsey. Tyrell Higgins if we played today would start at the other tackle. We've moved Alex Okafor in, but he's in and out. He's playing all four spots right now. He's a very smart young man. He and Calvin Howell were slowed by injuries. It will be interesting to see what happens by game time. That one still - [there's ] a lot of competition for who will play. Sam Acho will start at the other defensive end, but we've been equally excited about Reggie Wilson. Those two ends have played really, really well. We're excited about their progress.
Dravannti Johnson would start at [strongside]. Emmanuel Acho at [middle] and Keenan Robinson at [weakside]. They would be backed up [by] Dustin Earnest [who] can play all three spots. Jared Norton is in shape. He's played well in preseason. So he will play the Mike. You've also got Jordan Hicks that will back-up Keenan Robinson and be on a lot of kick teams.
Your secondary is Chykie Brown backed up by the two young freshmen, Carrington Byndom or A.J. White. We feel like we need them to play this year because we will lose two corners next year and we could lose a third if Aaron (Williams) decides to go out. We feel like that the young freshmen need to get ready to play and learn what to do.
Blake Gideon and Adrian Phillips at the right safety. Nolan Brewster has asked that we try to redshirt him because of a shoulder. His shoulder is sore. He is not ready to play. Jeremy Hills has asked us the same thing on offense. We've told them and the other freshmen that probably will not play in this game, that we do not decide who redshirts until after midseason. We will give them the courtesy of holding them out of games until we see if we feel like we could possibly redshirt them.
Your three corners, Curtis Brown, Aaron Williams and Chykie Brown are all starters. Kenny Vaccaro is a young man that is playing nickel and dime some too, and we've been impressed with him. Adrian Phillips would be the backup at that safety.
John Gold would punt today. He's being challenged by Justin Tucker. Justin will kickoff and Justin will kick [field goals]. We do plan on playing Will Russ this year to get him experience. A couple of names that aren't on the depth chart that we feel like will probably play; Taylor Bible, we feel like will play before the season is over, Greg Daniels the same and Darius White. They may play on Saturday, but we plan on playing all three of those. Two of the redshirt freshmen, Dominic Jones and Eryon Barnett [may play] - Eryon has been slowed by an injury as well. A lot of guys get banged up in camp and miss some time.
I think if my math is right there are 13 true freshmen on this list and five redshirt freshmen. That's a lot of young guys. A couple of other things - Marquise (Goodwin), D.J. (Monroe) and DeSean Hales all have a specific package for them in the offense. We did not feel like it worked as well last year [that] every time D.J. comes in he's doing a certain thing. We've got other guys that are involved. Marquise would be the first guy up in that package as we get ready for Saturday's game. Also, Curtis Brown and Aaron Williams will return punts- both of them. They're so valuable in the punt block that when one of them is returning the other one will still be on the punt team, and he'll be up front. We could possibly alternate those guys on punt return. In the kickoff return game right now you would have Marquise Goodwin and D.J. Monroe.
The rest of the week we'll finalize game plans now that you know who is playing. It's a very difficult choice especially when you've got this many young ones to figure out how many plays each one can play in the ballgame. You're starting to work on substitution.
David Baliff has done a great job at Rice. Their coordinator has not changed on defense since 2008. So we have a pretty good idea of what they will do there. They're a 4-2 structure up front. They blitz about 21 percent of the time, which is not a lot of blitzing from our standpoint. On the offense they have two new coaches that came in from Kansas. Coach Baliff has talked about how they loved their offense in '08 when they won 10 games. We're not sure what they'll do. They've got three quarterbacks and they're not naming one now. They've got Smith - the running back from up at Cedar Park. They also have Sam McGuffie - the transfer from Michigan. We're not sure what we'll see on offense.
Rice sold the game to Reliant. There have been over 56,000 tickets sold. They will have Conference USA officials.
On his confidence going into the season: I'm personally very confident about this team and what they can become. The question will be their chemistry, their motto, "Every play, every day." Are they going to do that or will it be a team like in '06 and in some times '07 early, that played up and down? All of us can sit here and look at all the pieces. All of the pieces are there. The experience isn't there, which we're not as concerned about. They can really run, but they can't play with complacency. They have to be excited every time they go out there. This is not a team that can win if we're not ready to play. We'll know that on Saturday. We'll see. I'm waiting to see. This team has responded to everything very well. Will they respond on Saturday to be excited about the game? Then the seventh and eighth and ninth and the tenth game when it gets like a professional schedule, will they still be playing with the same enthusiasm?
On the youth on the depth chart: It tells me that with the change in rules, they can come in January and you get them in June. You can sign freshmen that are good enough to play. That wasn't the case five or six years ago. They could be good enough but they weren't as prepared. Now, if they go through spring and summer it's like a redshirt year. Even summer is a redshirt year for some of these guys. The guys that aren't on this list probably got caught up in a depth chart issue where there were too many guys at their position or they got caught in wanting to redshirt. Some guys just want to redshirt. They say, "Coach, I'm just not ready for this." Or they get really tired during camp. We do feel like there's not a sure miss in this group, which is unusual as hard as evaluation is when you can't coach them and you can't see them a lot. We do feel like everybody in this group has a chance to play.
On Cody Johnson's fit with the offense: We felt like in high school that Cody Johnson had a tremendous upside, because of his power and his strength and his speed. He can catch. He can pass protect. He's a smart football player. He's had good ball security. Weight is a problem and it's one that he's fought for two years. Everybody fights it unless God gave you good genes for not fighting it - you fight it. He just decided this spring and summer that he was going to take it out of the equation and give himself a chance to play. He's looked really good. I hope he does the same on Saturday. I do want to tell everybody - our philosophy hasn't changed. We just want to run the ball better when we run it. Everybody's talking about how we're going to line up and run it every play. That's not going to be the case. We're going to do whatever we need to do to win. We'll still throw the ball. We'll have no huddle the whole game. We'll be up tempo. We want to be wide open, but we want to be able to run the ball and not lose yards.
On Garrett Gilbert's first start at quarterback: This is the first fair start for him, too. It's been his team since spring practice. Coming out of the national championship game, he's worked very hard to make good decisions and drop the ball off and lead his team. He's got a lot on his plate right now. I'm sure his head will be spinning some by Saturday. I think it's a good challenge for this team to go on the road and have to play an opener out of their comfort zone for the first time. I'm excited about watching him play.
On what he will tell Garrett Gilbert before the game: It's funny,Colt has told him many times -be yourself. Don't do anything else but be yourself. Yourself is good enough. That's what we will tell him. You have waited on this your whole life. One of the players showed me a picture yesterday of him looking up to Major (Applewhite). I feel real old now if Garrett was that little when we were here. We want him to have fun. This has been a dream for him. To live your dream you've got to enjoy yourself and enjoy the moment. He's going to have some problems, but the way you overcome your problems is the way you win.
On the importance of Gilbert being successful: Win. That's all that matters. We can get into all those stats and all those other things but if you win the game, then you can move on to game two and that's it. If you lose the game then you take a huge step back, then you're all over the place, starting over and trying to find out what is wrong. But if you win, the natural progression is that a good team gets much better by the end of the year and early games usually aren't pretty. The only really pretty game we had there early was New Mexico State, that one year [the score] was 66-7. They had eight turnovers. Everybody was excited and I thought we stunk. But it helped us so much. I just want to see us line up, be fundamentally sound, have fun and execute and be aggressive for 60 minutes. That's what we're looking for.
On the game plan for the offensive line this Saturday: The biggest decision we have to make this week is playing time. That's with the freshmen - you don't know how they are going to respond, you don't know if he'll hyperventilate, you don't know if he has to come off the field on the third play just because he hasn't been in that situation. So offensively, we'll have a game plan. Defensively, we'll have to formulate a game plan during the game. For their three quarterbacks, two of them are athletic guys that can run the option and throw, and one is more of a drop back traditional passer. So we won't know for sure who is going to play until Saturday. But trying to figure out how many plays a guy can play, when you can put him, do you put in a second-team offensive lineman early in the game - we've done that in the past, now we just have to look and see if it's something we can do. What do you with Case [McCoy]? Do you put him in the game early trying to get him experience.? There's a lot of unsettling things this week that we probably won't decide until Thursday or Friday.
On concerns about the young players: Youth is an excuse. These guys are good players, and they came to play. It's our job to get them in the right places. It's our job to teach them what to do and then they'll get the experience.
On what unit he'd prefer to see play as well as they have ever played: Special teams. If your special teams can get you points and field position, the rest of it usually works by itself. That is the hardest one to do in practice. You don't want Aaron Williams or Curtis Brown getting knocked out catching punts. You don't want your starting punter getting hit when someone is trying to block the punt either. It is harder to get game- speed-type reps in the kicking games in preseason than in anything else. Backs have been hit, receivers have been hit, balls have been stripped, passes intercepted, the quarterback doesn't get hit - but in the kicking game, it is very difficult to do. So that's the thing that I would say in this one, if we come out and say our kicking game was really good we probably had a good day.
On if there is an additional wide receiver wanted in the rotation: Yes. You have DeSean Hales and Darius White that both will play. There will be a certain rotation to start the game, then we will figure out how to put the others in.