Coordinators' corner: Aug. 31
Aug. 31, 2010
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis
On RB Cody Johnson:We noticed right off the bat when we came back - we all talked about it - he was in better shape, his percent body fat was down and he was running with better pad level. Through 21-22 practices he emerged, and he is a guy we are really excited about. With working from under the center and doing more downhill things, he has the ability to take the pile and move it. We will need all of the running backs: Tre’ [Newton] and Fozzy [Whittaker] have done some really good things. We just feel Cody brings the most to the party. He is the starter. There is no doubt Cody is the starter, but throughout the ball game you will see all of the other running backs. Tre’ has great vision; he runs with patience and is a good receiver. Fozzy brings the ability of the explosive play. He is really good at the passing game: at bright and blitz pick-ups. All three can play for an extended amount of time, but Cody is definitely the starter at this time.
On QB Case McCoy being the backup quarterback: We told Case and Connor [Wood] the first meeting in August that the biggest factor would be taking care of the football. Over the course of the practices Case just did a little better job. Both of them did some really good things. I’m excited about both of them, but that was the deciding factor.
On the amount of younger players playing on the team: You never count on freshman. You don’t know if they’re going to be in shape. You don’t know if the volume of information [and] the tempo of the game - you don’t know how they are going to handle all of that. It was real obvious early that Mike Davis really did a good job in the slot. He is a natural ball catcher. He has some natural skills in him. Trey Hopkins is a guy that we started at left tackle early at camp. We had an injury to Mason [Walters], a minor injury, but he was going to miss a couple of days so we moved him to guard. He is a very bright guy. [He] reminds me a lot of a young Justin Blalock. When he asks a question, it’s a very good question. So we obviously have him in a position where he is going to play. Darius White just continues to grow. He is a big guy. He made a great play in one-on-one coverage the other day in the last scrimmage. Those are guys that have stepped up and we are going to play them.
On balancing time between the newer players and the veteran players: In camp you are throwing so many balls - from the time they walk on the field - so it’s easy to give them time. Garrett [Gilbert] doesn’t get as much time as some of the other quarterbacks. Mike [Davis] has been alternating in with John Chiles for the first huddle maybe 10 days now, so I think Garret has a good feel for him as far as that spot. What we try to do in every position, whether it’s the offensive line or the wide receivers, is we have a group of guys we consider to be starters and if they are in that pool then they can just rotate in at any time during the ball game. Then you have another group of guys that you would like to get in, but the game is going to dictate to some degree at what point you play them if it presents itself.
On there being more freshmen on the team than usual: This is a very good class. They are a very good class on both sides of the ball. The biggest concern is that you can put them in scrimmage situations, you can put them in walk throughs, but until the bands are playing and the people are there, you are never quite sure what you are going to get. You feel like you might have an idea, but you are never quite sure. That is the next hurdle we have to get through and see how they respond in game situations.
On quarterbacks having favorite receivers: From what I see, I see three or four guys catching from 30 to 40 balls, as opposed to one guy catching 100 balls. I think Garrett has chemistry with several of the guys. I don’t know that there will be, at least early, that go-to guy that everything is designed to get him in a one-on-one situation.
On Colt McCoy no longer being on the team: It’s been fun. Colt was here for five years. You look around in the meetings and to see him not standing there is a little bit unusual, but I think Garrett has a lot of the same qualities. He is a very bright guy, [but]doesn’t say a whole lot. His leadership is mainly through actions and the way he prepares through practices and the way he plays. We are excited for him and we think he is going to be an outstanding player.
On QB Garrett Gilbert performing in the National Championship: I think it was obvious in spring - when we started in the spring - on the experience that he gained in that ball game. You can’t hand that to someone. The experience that he gained on the stage he was on, against that quality of the football team and the way that he improved from the beginning from when he went in. I think that speaks volumes about him.
On QB Connor Wood being redshirted: We would like to [redshirt him]. What we told Connor is that it was a very tough decision and we were very pleased with the things that he did during the course of camp, but at the same time we don’t make decisions on redshirting until 6-7 games into the year. We have kept him with us - he is at all of the meetings and he is on our side of the field. We are preparing him because if something was to happen then immediately the plans have changed. For right now, we would like to redshirt him if everyone stays healthy.
On the running backs: Cody [Johnson] is going to start off, depending on each game and what we are asking out of that position. He needs to get himself good rest on Friday night because he is going to get a bunch of carries.
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp
On turnovers: I think that is twofold. I’m really happy that our offense isn’t turning the ball over, but I think from a defensive standpoint we’ve got to gain some turnovers. We did better in the last scrimmage. That is a huge focal point. Explosive plays and turnovers are the key to the game.
On DE Alex Okafor: I think it is about Alex playing inside and out. But to me, it is about getting your best 11 guys on the field. Alex is certainly one of those guys who figures into that mix right now. We’ve got about five guys we are repping inside, including Alex. We are real pleased with his performance so far. He is a true sophomore and his body is going to continue to grow and develop. As things progress down the road, it is the most logical thing for him and the best for Texas.
On trying new players in new places: I think as we go into camp we really think about repping guys for a lot of reasons. You have to cross-train players for when injuries occur. You have to expose your players to different defensive schemes. The more exposure for the players, the better off they will perform. As they work in the game plan, we also find out who can handle new information and who can handle new positions in a game setting. We narrow them down, and the best 11 reveal themselves.
On player substitution: We are going to play a bunch of guys. As a defensive staff, talking with coach Brown this morning, we discussed our plans to be subbing guys. That is something that is a benefit to us. We have depth, and there is a whole lot of drop off with other groups.
On depth: Depth is not an issue. We need experience and the ability to play well. I think we have that. I have a lot of confidence in the guys we are putting in there. I have a lot of confidence in where we are. But we will find out Saturday, September 4th.
On improvements made since his first year: From a terminology standpoint, we are going back and watching [video] cut-ups from our first year, and it is amazing watching things that we didn’t execute well that now come very easy to our players. There is no question that we have grown. Now our older players are able to tell our younger players. Sometimes they put it in a better manner for them to understand - what we expect from them in each situation in a scheme.
On the seniors’ performance: I think there is a great work ethic from the seniors. Sam Acho is a player who jumps out at you. Dustin Earnest, Eddie Jones, Curtis Brown - they have all been guys that have gone out and worked hard. They have really gone out and practiced hard in just the two years that I have been here. They practice well and practice hard. Our guys understand that if they don’t practice well and hard, they don’t play on Saturday. But that’s been the most pleasing thing for me so far - their work ethic.
On DT Tyrell Higgins improvement: I think Tyrell has made the biggest change in the weight room. He is stronger [and] better. He can hold the double attack on the better teams, as opposed to spring ball and back in the fall. He has answered our challenge to him as far as becoming a better player and contributor. We are going to play about five guys inside, and he is certainly one of them.
On the freshmen and their first on-the- field experience: It is pleasing and unnerving at the same time watching them walk onto the field for the first time. They are going to make mistakes because they are going to be freshmen. And we just need to put them in a situation where they can be successful and play fast and react instead of think.
On Rice: I think any first game is a little unnerving for me from the standpoint of: who have they added? What have they changed? They have had an awful lot of time to see what we do, and I think they know our system as far as what we do. I always tell the guys to prepare for the unexpected. Normally, in the games we play, we are going to face something different whether it is game one or game eight. We need to do a great job with communication and adaption. We have enough experience built up now. We have enough snaps that I feel comfortable with that.
On DE Ashton Dorsey’s progression: I think Ashton is a really good athlete for an inside player. He has really good power. He can hold the point. Hustle is a habit - you either do it or don’t. I’m very pleased with Ashton, but that is our continuing challenge to him. He needs to continue to progress with his game, because it is a long season, and we don’t know how many snaps we are going to need to count on him in game five, eight or ten. That’s where he has got to continue to improve. They get overwhelmed and sometimes their priorities get a little out of whack. That’s where we need to make sure we need to keep a thumb on.