Tracking the Longhorns: Aug. 31
Aug. 31, 2010
Running backs coach Major Applewhite
On his conversations with Cody Johnson getting in shape: There's no doubt there were several hundreds of text messages back and forth. What's your weight? What are you doing tonight? How are we getting better today? What are we focusing on today? He's got a decision to either respond to it or not, and he's responded to it. He's going to continue to respond to it. He's serious. He knows he's got two years left. He's aware of what he has on the table left for him. He's a hungry athlete right now. I'm pleased to see his shift mentally.
On Cody Johnson starting against Rice: I don't know how the carries are going to be distributed. He's getting the start not because he's lost weight or body fat. He's getting the start because of the production he's provided in fall two-a-days and spring ball as well. He's done a lot of different things. He's allowed himself to be an every down back. Some of the things we had to pull him out of the game for last year - we're going to run this pass, we're going to use this screen - he was not fit for that play. He's allowed himself to be in the game and stay in those situations. If he continues to produce, he'll continue to get a full amount of carries.
On how Cody Johnson's game has changed: I think he's playing with better pad level. He was always a big back, but sometimes big backs don't always run big. A lot of it has to do with your pad level and how low you can get your pads. Ricky (Williams) could run underneath a coffee table. He had great pad level as a runner. Cody has gotten better with his pad level. He's also gotten better in his route running because he's lost body fat. He's become a more flexible, agile athlete - worked on his feet so he's become a better route runner. We're not finding ourselves having to pull him [out] in those situations.
On how Cody Johnson fits the new running scheme: I think all of them do, but I think what Cody allows you with a guy his size - when you're doing some things in the run scheme and maybe a guy shakes loose or we turn a guy loose - with his size and pad level he allows you those minus two, minus one yard plays. He should allow us to get back to the line of scrimmage, or possibly in those situations gain yards. As opposed to some of your smaller backs [who] have to bounce it outside, and you have the threat of losing more yards or they're wrapped up and taken down. A guy of his size, he can move the pile. He's a guy that can break an arm tackle and keep us on schedule as far as the chains are concerned.
On if he has seen the progress he wanted in the running game: I think the biggest thing in the spring was the change in the mentality whether it be the wide receivers blocking downfield [or] tight ends blocking. It's always running back [and] offensive-line when you talk run game, but there are so many [other] things when you look at great run teams. You see wide receivers down field making blocks. We talk about the Denver Broncos. When they were a great zone team at the end of the `90s, you had guys like Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith going downfield blocking and setting Terrell Davis free. The biggest thing was the attitude shift and approach to the run game. We're still a ways away. It's still a work in progress. I don't think you ever get to the point as a coach where you say, "We've done it. Here we are. We're a run team now." I think you've got to consistently stay on the guys and they've got to take pride in it as well.
RB Fozzy Whittaker
On the running backs: I feel like we all can play whenever the coaches call our number and just go in there and do the best that we can to help our team win.
On RB Cody Johnson: He has worked hard a lot this offseason to get to where he is and manage his weight and gain more muscle. You can see a difference in him. He is more agile and able to be more flexible. It is all kudos to him for putting in the work. You could see it as soon as we got done with the National Championship all the way through spring, through the summer, through camp and now. He is working to handle his weight and do the best that he can.
On whether he tempted Johnson to stray from his diet: I never tempted him - just anytime he would need some encouragement, I was always behind him telling him it would pay off in the long run.
On the running game: It has been a lot easier for us to get downhill. Just having the flexibility of running straight downhill rather than going to the run, having to go sideways and then going downhill. It just makes it a lot easier for our offensive line to stay on the blocks a little bit longer and for us to just pound it.
On the season opener against Rice: I am looking forward to it a lot. It is going to be really exciting. I just cannot wait to start Saturday.
RB Cody Johnson
On the encouragement the coaches gave him: It just shows that you still have people out there who care. With me being here for a pretty long time now, and knowing that they were pushing with the text messages and telling me I needed to drop my weight because they had faith in me, [that] meant a lot. The day they give up texting is the day I really need to start to worry.
On being at the top of the depth chart: I found out today - and I was obviously excited, but at the same time you cannot get too complacent. You have to be on top of your game, and when I go in, the other two [Tre' Newton and Fozzy Whitaker] are coming right behind me. We have a good depth chart right now, so we cannot wait for the game.
On his hard work paying off: It does mean a lot. I worked hard this summer, made my mind up, and a good thing came out of it. At the same time, I have to keep working and not get too complacent to keep my spot here and make myself better on the field every Saturday.
DT Tyrell Higgins
On what has been going through his mind this week: I've never really had a chance to prepare for weeks like this. It's all pretty new to me. I just want to go out there and do my best, whatever they ask me to do.
On being away from football and coming back: I had a tough freshman year. I came in not focused on what I was recruited to do. I wanted to do more things for myself. I paid the price for it. I'm glad to be back. I'm glad to be back on scholarship. It was a long time coming for that as well. I'm glad to be back as a part of the team.
On what he learned about himself when he was away from the team: I learned to humble myself. I learned to not take anything for granted. Things can be taken from you as fast as they're given to you. I learned I needed to work for everything I'd been given and continue to do that today.
On his trip to Nigeria over the summer: I wanted to go and get a new experience. Sam (Acho) offered me the chance to do that with him. Our friendship grew a lot stronger over there on that 11-day trip.
On what impacted him the most from Nigeria: Talking to the kids and seeing what they value more than what we value in America. The kids wanted to save their money to buy books and save their money to buy pencils and things like that. Kids in America don't really value those things as much as they should. They want to buy video games and remote control cars and things like that. It's exciting to see something like that.