Sept. 5, 2012
Assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Duane Akina
On what he is telling the defensive backs about New Mexico’s offense: This week is a different challenge in some ways. It is a big eye-discipline game. There will be challenges anytime you face an option-oriented team. Who’s got the dive? Who’s got the quarterback? Who’s got the pitch? Along with all of that, you still have the shot plays because here the throwing game is for points. They are down field throws. With all of the deception, everything looks the same. It is a great eye-control game for us. It is a great chance for us to now play a different style of offense to get us prepared for the Big 12. Next week is a little but of both personalities. Once again, [they have] two quarterbacks, and they both have their certain strengths.
On preparing for more throws despite New Mexico throwing 10 passes last week: No, you have to defend what you see. You don’t want to chase ghosts. Anytime there is a new offensive coordinator in there, you are not sure what personality. I would think the history is they want to run the football. They want to shorten the game. They want to try and take their shots where they can and quicken the game up. I would think that would be their personality. If there is a big play out there to get to try to hunt the big chunk of yardage in there.
On fixing the communication breakdowns: I think it has been better. All the common concerns showed up in the first game that you always have. Tackling is always a big concern for yourself. We found a way to turn a four-yard completion on third down to an 85-yard touchdown, which I think was the only conversion they had on third down. You can see as the game went on, we tackled better which is what you want. Again, this will be another challenge because when you play option football it is one-on-one in a different sense. The quarterback is one-on-one with somebody, the pitch is one-on-one, and so it is another good challenge for us to work on our tackling. It was disappointing on two plays we had a communication mistake, and they found big plays against us. That has been a strength in the past, taking away the big play, but we hurt ourselves the last game. That is certainly a focus in this team because big plays are a big part of this offense also.
On the Ohio State transfer WR Lamaar Thomas: I think he is real athletic. He runs after the catch. It looks like he didn’t get the ball as much as he would have liked to, but I’m sure there is a whole lot more offense in there that we have not seen because the game got out of hand rather quickly. It looks like he is a good athlete. He was a punt returner at Ohio State so obviously he can do something with the ball in his hands in space. It will be a great opportunity for us to defend a great player.
On having versatility among the defensive backs: We try to get back to that where we have a number of guys. That last game there were six defensive backs in the game. Just gaining trust with each other and having an opportunity to have position flexibility has always been a big part of us here at the University of Texas. [Sophomore CB] Josh [Turner] is in training to do that. [Sophomore DB] Mykkele [Thompson] is in training to do that and we have to keep finding guys that can handle that phase of the game.
On Josh Turner and Mykkele Thompson’s performance in the first game: They both graded out solid performances for the first game. Those first games out there when you are playing a major role, and it is a little bit more than covering a kickoff here or there. There is always a little excitement there, but for a first game they both had solid performances.
On senior safety Kenny Vaccaro’s interception against Wyoming: He was an outside first defender. Once again, he felt the eyes of the quarterback and fell in on number two and defended two guys on one. Those are the kinds of things that we are expecting out of Kenny this year to make that big play and create the interception with a sack. He is a very active player, and I am just happy to see that.
Co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Major ApplewhiteOn upcoming game plans for RB Johnathan Gray:
We have got packages, as always, that he will play in. He did a good job of what was given to him on Saturday. So he will just continue to work to be more part of the offense. He has done a good job thus far in practice this week and will continue to progress and move on.On Gray’s role:
He was cognizant in his role but to be honest, I don’t think those guys are counting carries. They would all love to carry it 30 to 35 times a game because that is just their personality. But they are students of the game and they understand from watching college football and NFL football and hearing the analysis on it that those days of Bo [Jackson], Ricky Williams
and carrying it 35 times a game doesn’t last. These kids are smart these days, and there is a lot of information at their fingertips so they understand for the team to be successful and for them to ultimately be successful, they have to share some roles. On when the running game culture changed:
It’s built on different offenses. In the spread offense, I think that’s where it started to change quite a bit. When you started to get the ball out on the perimeter more. And the game was played in the phone booth, but now it’s out there played by the numbers. There are really two games going on. There is a perimeter game out there by the numbers, and there is an inside game. Those are the great teams; the teams that put up a bunch of points that understand how to tie those two worlds together. When they tie that together with tempo, it is even more explosive. On WR/RB D.J. Monroe’s ability to catch the ball:
He has done a great job catching the ball. He has spent a lot of time in the off-season working on it. The one thing I appreciate about D.J. is that early in his career he was trying to get his feet settled in to Texas and just growing up and maturing. I have noticed that, in the past two years, what he says he does, and when he says he is going to go do something, he does it 100 percent. That is all you can ask for as a coach. On 15 carries for each RB Malcolm Brown and RB Joe Bergeron being the target number:
It all depends on the game. Sometimes packages put guys in and out, but it was not by design. We weren’t up (in the coach’s box) tally marking or keeping count and saying “We need to give him two more.” That is not what we’re into. It just worked out that way. When we got out of the game, we felt that there was a good mixture of both of them. On thoughts about the kicking competition this week:
It’s been the same two guys in terms of Nick Jordan
and Nick Rose
competing. They both have kicked well this week and done a great job. A lot will be made of that because of the two missed field goals, but there is competition at every spot. There is competition at fullback, tailback, and I am not trying to downplay it, but that is the reality. On what he saw in his fullbacks: Chet Moss
did not get to play except for on special teams and Alex De La Torre
only got to play in a couple plays. He did some good things, but he is still trying to get that feel and when moving from linebacker to fullback the instincts are different. He is a quick study and is working very hard. Ryan Roberson
did some really good things, but there are also some things he needs to work on and get better at. He is a guy who has played linebacker and moved to fullback last year but then Cody Johnson
did such a great job for us, that he really didn’t get many snaps until late in the season. Just working on Ryan and continuing to sustain his blocks and continue to be more physical to take on that fullback role.