Sept. 3, 2012
Opening statement: I wanted to thank all the fans that came out for the Stadium Stampede before the game and met the team. That was really cool. It was great. The guys really liked it. It's hard to get our guys excited. They really loved it [and] enjoyed it. Can't wait till this Saturday night, and hope we have twice as many fans. We also had a super crowd on Saturday night. A lot of people we take for granted, a hundred-and-one-plus thousand people coming out for an opening ballgame with Wyoming. It's something that was really special.
Thought it was a hot night. Guys looked like they were in good shape. We didn't have cramps, guys trying to get out of the game. Also I thought they played with a lot of energy, and we came out pretty healthy. Happy to be 1-0, and getting ready for New Mexico.
Offensively, the things we did well - rushed for 280 yards, four TDs. We made our third downs. They were okay, we didn't do a great job there. Probably two of the reasons that we weren't successful on third downs were we had four downs to go, and we were very successful on two-for-two on the fourth down. That gave our offensive linemen and our running backs a lot of confidence in short yardage. We had nine explosive runs in the game, which is really good. Hard to do. So we felt good about our running game.
We were very efficient in the passing game. I thought [sophomore QB] David Ash made good decisions, managed the game well, and did a good job throughout the night. A couple of times on the deep balls David could have gotten it out of his hands a little faster. When you don't hit the quarterback in practice, sometimes they have a tendency in ballgames to hold the ball a little bit too long. We think that's one area we can improve this week.
Red zone was an issue for us last year. We came out six-for-six this time, a hundred percent, with five touchdowns and one field goal.
Things we need to improve; on offense we did have a poor snap that led to a turnover. It was our only turnover. In fact, there was one other ball that bounced off [junior WR] Mike Davis' hands, a guy dove for it. That was the only other time it was close to having another turnover. We had two offensive penalties and one drop, but we didn't have enough explosive plays in the passing game. We've got to do both things. We have to throw on the short passes, and we have to make more yards and get more balls deep.
The best offensive lineman for the game was [junior OG] Mason Walters. The most valuable players on offense were [sophomore RBs] Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron.
We got after the quarterback. We thought he was a good player. He broke all the records for their league last year as a true freshman. But he escaped the rush. He made a lot of plays downfield. He can still run with his feet, ran the option on a fourth [down] one once. He did some good things. We forced him into two interceptions on our side of the field, [at the] plus-42, plus-44 yard lines. Those two turnovers - and we forced a bad punt - led to 17 points for our offense in the second quarter. We really felt like we started making progress at that area.
We played the run really well after the first play of the game. Held them to 69 yards rushing. The sudden change where we did fumble the snap late in the ballgame, our defense went out and shut them down immediately on four downs, and forced the ball back into our hands. That was a great play.
On one of their touchdown drives, [junior DT] Chris Whaley did a great job of getting through and blocking the extra point, which showed tremendous energy and confidence after a tough drive. We also disguised our coverages pretty well. We held them to one-of-11 successful plays on third down. We felt that was really good.
Things we need to improve on our defense; we tackled poorly early in the game. Gave up the 80-plus yard pass because we have two guys knock each other off and missed the tackle. Usually that's a factor too, because you only tackle in two or three of your scrimmages. You practice tackling every day, but you really don't have the opportunity to tackle somebody else until a ballgame like this.
Sometimes with new young linebackers and a young safety, we didn't communicate as well on the field. We busted a couple of coverages. Linebackers need to do a better job of dropping in their zones in zone coverage. We didn't feel like we had all-out effort on every play by every defensive player.
Ball Hawks are somebody who took the ball away, or helped take it away with a turnover. We had two; junior CB Carrington Byndom had an interception; [senior S] Kenny Vaccaro forced an interception. He caused an interception, and intercepted a ball. [Senior DE] Alex Okafor caused an interception as well. Really proud of those guys.
Hard Hat Award for big hit went to Carrington Byndom. The two defensive players of the game were Alex Okafor and [junior DE] Jackson Jeffcoat.
We had seven kickoffs. Three of them were touchbacks, two tackles inside the 20 [yard line], and two tackles inside the 10. One with [sophomore CB] Josh Turner, and one with [freshman LB] Dalton Santos - which is nearly impossible. They had a starting position of the minus-12 yard line, which is phenomenal.
We have a thing we call "knock 'em backs," when you knock your guy down, run around him, force him back. We had 17 of those with guys covering. [Sophomore S] Sheroid Evans had the biggest hit of special teams on kickoff coverage. We were really pleased with [freshman PK] Nick Rose. We thought he did an excellent job kicking off. Even after the penalty, kicking off from the 50 [yard line], you have two or three things to decide. We decided to sky kick it. Got them inside the 10.
Punt team was good. Averaged 53 yards a punt. One was inside the five yard line, and they had three yards per return. Somebody told me after the game, "Yeah, but they rolled." That counts. They don't put a picture next to it to say, "How was the form?" But I'm pleased with where we are with our punting game. Thought [senior P] Alex King did a good job. He can do even better than that. He's really good with directional punting.
Kickoff return was just okay. We averaged 19 yards on the return. Had a couple of sky kicks we caught with some field position. We can do a better job in that area. Punt block and return - we forced a bad punt which led to three points. We had a 14-yard return, which could very easily have been a touchdown. We missed one block. We can do a better job in that area. Their punter, who had come in as an outstanding punter, missed some balls, and we didn't have opportunities to return them.
We talked about Chris Whaley blocking the extra point, which was good. Our extra point on field goal team was poor. We had one blocked. We had a bad snap. We were one-of-three for field goals. We really have to improve in that area. This week Nick Rose and [freshman PK] Nick Jordan will compete for that job because [junior PK/P] Anthony Fera is doubtful for this week.
We played a lot of guys. We played 12 true freshmen, and more freshmen should play this week. Anthony Fera is doubtful again this week for the game.
For the New Mexico game, it is the alumni band and cheerleader weekend. [Former Longhorn RB and Heisman Trophy winner] Earl Campbell will walk out this week as the honorary captain. We would like everybody to come out and honor and respect him to thank him for all he's done for the University of Texas and our football program.
New Mexico is coached by Bob Davie. Bob has been on TV as an analyst for 10 years. It's an exciting time for him to come back. They had a great win on Saturday night, scoring 66 points. They hired [offensive coordinator/running backs coach] Bob DeBesse, who came in from Sam Houston last year with the option offense. They rushed the ball for about 327 yards.
The defense is very well-coached with Bob there. They got a couple transfers in from Illinois that have really helped their front. They also got a slot running back in from Ohio State with great speed. So it's going to be a much tougher game than we anticipated this time last year. He's done a really good job, and they've got a good-looking team.
All of a sudden we've gone from four and five wideouts on defense, to coaching against a triple option that looks like the modern day version of the wishbone. It will be a week of discipline and assignment football that our defense will really have to try to figure out. Questions.
On senior S Kenny Vaccaro not buying into the hype of the Texas defense: Yes. They've been told that [by me] as well. I've said throughout the pre-season I had some concerns with their defense. Nobody listened. But the older guys played really well. Some of the younger guys played more like young guys. I think that's what Kenny was talking about. We have to all pull it together and understand that Wyoming has a good offense. Lord, you look at what Baylor scored, West Virginia scored, Oklahoma State scored. They scored 50, 60 and 80 [points]. I mean, we're not talking about Wyoming being the best offensive team we'll play by any means.
On the challenges of New Mexico's offense: Yes, we have great respect for [offensive coordinator/running backs coach] Bob DeBesse, and what [his former team, Sam Houston State] did playing in the [2011 FCS] National Championship game. What you can do - because of all the veer blocking, angle blocking - you can get better a lot faster than your conventional-type offenses. I think it was really smart of [New Mexico head coach] Bob Davie to hire Bob DeBesse to come in and run the option early. They completed 70-percent of their passes because they're very efficient, because most of it's off the running game. They keep the ball away from you. It's really hard to sack the quarterback. I think they're doing exactly what they need to do offensively. They'll come in, try to keep the ball 40 minutes per game.
On whether there are more or less first-game fixes than normal: I think there's probably less first-game fixes than normal. When you force some turnovers and you protect the ball, that's one of the big concerns. I thought our kicking game was excellent - outside of what we had with the extra point field goal. We were concerned about that going in. But we feel like we need to throw the ball more often deeper. And we have to make more yards on the short passes. That's something that we've been concerned about. It will open up more as the season comes on, and [QB] David [Ash] gets more comfortable. I thought overall - the obvious mistakes I just talked about - but overall, I thought it was a good first-game opener. I thought Wyoming was a pretty good test.
On the deep passing game: We didn't know what they were going to do. We threw downfield some and didn't complete them. Another thing that I think a lot of people don't understand, you call a lot more passes that are deep than there are. I thought with David, last year we were on him for throwing into coverage some. I thought he really took what was given to him Saturday night, and he was very proficient with it. So we've just got to work more ways to get more people open deep.
On if he believes most teams improve from the first game to the second game: I really do. I think it really even goes into game three. The reason I feel like that is because you don't get to practice like you play. Offensive linemen don't cut in practice. The first time they cut in pre-season, even in our scrimmages, we don't cut [senior DE] Alex Okafor. We're not going to cut [junior DE] Jackson Jeffcoat. Nobody does that across the country. It's the first time Alex and Jackson get cut during the ballgame. It's the first time our offensive linemen get to cut the other team. Your [running] backs are hit during scrimmages, but you're not going to let [sophomore RB] Malcolm [Brown] and [sophomore RB] Joe [Bergeron] carry it 40 times in two or three scrimmages. Your quarterback is probably the one that has the most to gain, because he doesn't get touched in pre-season. And they have a tendency, because they don't get touched, we have a little beeper that goes off that says, "Get it out of your hands, you would have been hit." Still, until they feel that actual pass-rush, it's hard for them to feel the urgency. Especially young quarterbacks. Defense is tackling. You work on it every day. You take [junior WR Robert Herron] for [Wyoming] - he's real fast and hard to tackle. All of a sudden we go up and thud him, just bouncing off, and he runs 80 yards for a touchdown. Those are things that should be better for this weekend. Of course, New Mexico is playing their second game too.
On if he knew Bob Davie when he was Tulane's defensive coordinator in 1985: I did not. Bob Davie was the defensive coordinator, and [current Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator/former Texas A&M head coach] Mike Sherman was the offensive line coach at Tulane. I had some ideas on the staff I wanted to bring. I did not keep anybody on the staff at that time that was a coordinator. So we felt like they had done a good job, but they'd had a bad season. And we just needed some new life. But Bob has been a tremendous coach, what he did at [Texas] A&M - the wrecking crew [defense]. He did a good job at Notre Dame. I knew he was a very good head coach there. I know he's excited about starting over.
On if he could imagine taking a head coaching position after not coaching for ten years as Bob Davies did: I can't. But you see it going back in history. Coaches coach. That's who you are. That's what you do. Bob has been wanting to get back for the last four or five years. He found the right opportunity. I think he's a great hire for them.
On what he is looking for from the wide receivers moving forward: We want to see more yards. We want to see more production. That's out of [both] the quarterback and receiver area.
But when we get screens, we want them to plant that foot, and go north and south. We don't want the dancing. We had two or three times the other night where we had opportunities to make four or five yards, and we make two. Or maybe 10 yards, and we make four. We want them to become running backs as soon as they get the ball. Plant the foot and get north and south.
On the performance of the defense against Wyoming: You go back and look at forcing two turnovers which led to 14 points, and changed the game in the second quarter completely. You go back to they stuffed the run, which in a first ballgame is really important. Even though Wyoming wasn't a running team, they looked like it on the first play of the game. Then I thought the other thing, they were efficient in the red zone and they were great on third downs, forcing one-of-11. So all of those things were good. You can't give up an 80-yard pass play. [Wyoming] made too many third downs. We stayed on the field. The penalty with [junior LB] Demarco Cobbs kept a drive going. Another opportunity we had there, they get off the field on third down when we have them. I think those are the things that the defense was disappointed in.
On sophomore QB David Ash's decision-making: I think he threw to the right places just about every time. You can't tell. Quarterbacks are under such scrutiny. If the route is not perfect, you throw where the ball is supposed to be, and the guy doesn't get there, you get the blame for it. It's a poor pass. We thought he made good decisions. He threw the ball away a couple times right before the half, where we could have kicked the field goal, and he might not have done that last year. There's 14 seconds left. If he stays inbounds, doesn't make the first down, we don't get the field goal. He was very aware of that timing. He took the ball, threw it out of bounds, gave us an opportunity to get points. You always tell the quarterback to keep the right to kick, and he did that. We thought he managed the huddle well. Like to have a little better tempo getting out. I think he walked out of the game with a little more confidence than he walked into it with.
On football in Texas this Labor Day weekend: I think the state of Texas has so much pride in its football. It will be talking points all week. I think it's obviously fun. Great win for Texas State over Houston. Upsets scare you to death every week, and that's what you do. When you play a night game, you sit there and bite your fingernails all day watching other teams getting beat. When one drops a snap, you duck. We also played 12 true freshmen. We have some more we'll play this weekend, but we did play 12.
On if the worst field position Texas had on kickoffs was when the ball was kicked out: Yes. The worst field position we had Saturday night on kickoffs were when we kicked it out. We've really got to look at that. Again, the sky kick took them inside the 10 [yard line]. [Freshman PK] Nick [Rose] missed the first kick. It was his only poor kick. We got him inside the 20. We've really got to look at that. He's got such a strong leg, he can kick it out. He's got such height. What was perfect for us Saturday night is when he kicked it really high and to the goal line. If they caught it on the goal line or the one [yard line], they didn't get past the 20 one time. It's something we've really got to look at.
On if New Mexico has a challenging defense for Texas: They do. They're much improved. I think that credit goes to [head coach] Bob [Davie]. He's a defensive guy that knows what he's doing. They move around a lot. But they played with so much more confidence in the game. They were better than Southern University. They played with so much more confidence than anytime last year. It's amazing to see the improvement that he's done. I'm proud for him.
On one major thing he is looking for his team to improve on from the opening game: I think you have to go get more explosive plays in the passing game. And continuing to keep the other team from having explosive plays on defense. I mean, those were the two things that probably hurt us the most. The other thing you can't do with an option offense like they're going to run, is you can't let them keep the ball. They could go for five fourth downs to keep the ball away from you on Saturday night. We just can't allow that to happen. Thank you, have a good day off.