Mack Brown Monday press conference transcript: Sept. 6
Sept. 6, 2010
Opening statement: We had a lot fun in Houston on Saturday afternoon. It did not start well. When we got to Houston on Friday afternoon, the hotel had some problems. There was a fire in [the hotel] and it lost all the electricity. George Wynn, our Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations did a great job of having us change hotels right in Houston on Labor Day weekend without too much distraction. The kids were out in the hall for about two hours. They had to wait to get in. We had to cancel our movie on
Friday night. We call it “sudden change” in football - when there’s a turnover and you have to change what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. We felt like the staff and the kids did an amazing job of handling that.
I love Reliant Stadium. It’s one of the beautiful stadiums out there right now. It’s fun to play in. To see 70,000 people mostly in orange was a lot of fun. It was such a credit to our fans to come and I thought a great credit and respect to our team. We have great respect for Rice and David Baliff and they’re better. They played better than what we saw on film last year. They played hard on defense. They played tough. The quarterback, the young guy from up here at Vista Ridge did a good job for them. He was going to be in the group that played in the national championship bass fishing tournament – [the] collegiate national championship here in two-a-days. I told him if he’d have come to Texas, we would’ve let him go. He’s a good player and he’ll do a good job for them.
We’ve won 11 straight openers now. That’s important. It scares you to death. The one in ’99 was kicking game issues and turnovers. When you win your 11th straight, you’re excited. We wanted to be 1-0 and we are. We had 70 scrimmage plays plus the kick plays. The most plays [played by one] of our defensive players was 51. On offense we had one player play 70. We had a slow start on defense. We said during the week we’d play base defense until we saw what they were doing. They came out with a different quarterback than we thought. They came out with a different offense than we thought. They had a two back offense that ran zone read. For people to think as much as we’ve run zone read around here we should be able to defense it, it’s different when you don’t have a look at it every day. It’s something that the guys quickly adjusted to. I give Will (Muschamp) a lot of credit for his adjustments during the game, because the second and third quarters we played really well and basically shut them down. We had seven three-and-outs during the game. Three-and-outs and turnovers are what we’re trying to force. We forced two turnovers. We should have had two more. We should have blocked a punt and we had our hands on two interceptions that would’ve led to scores and we dropped both of them. We have to do a better job of holding onto the ball.
Our defensive staff and our offensive staff look at explosive plays differently. We held Rice to two explosive plays, both passes. They were four out of 14 on third downs. We really need to learn from the deep pass before the half. That’s the old LSU pass that beat Kentucky a number of years ago. We weren’t aware on the field as players about how much time is left. An interception wouldn’t have mattered. It was going to be the last play of the half or one more Hail Mary. We should’ve batted it down instead of going for the interception. That’s just something you learn. We’ll look at that today. It may save us a game later. Sometimes critical plays that you do not handle well in a game can really help you, because as much as you say bat the ball down, they weren’t aware that there were four seconds left. They needed to be aware. We’ve harped so much on turnovers that they wanted the turnover more than batting the ball down and it could’ve cost us a game later on. That was a great deal that we messed up [on] that we can learn from.
The second team needed to play better in the fourth quarter. We didn’t tackle very well when they went in. We were disappointed in them. They could’ve stopped Rice in the end after the fumbled punt. Rice put some starters back in and our guys should’ve stepped up and played better. We didn’t play well and missed too many tackles with that group in the fourth quarter. The player of the game defensively is Keenan Robinson. The Hard Hat Award on defense goes to Kenny Vaccaro. The Ball Hawks are Sam Acho for stripping the ball with great containment as their quarterback turned to go back, and Keenan Robinson for the interception and the picked-up fumble.
Offensively we stayed pretty simple. It’s amazing in a first game not to have any fumbles, no interceptions and no sacks. That may be the first time we’ve ever done that. We’re proud of the guys for doing that. We won explosive plays the way the offense counts them seven-to-four and we were four out of five in the red zone. The one obvious one [where] we didn’t score, we had a missed assignment on the sweep, the linebacker ran underneath instead of outside and we just missed him and [they] caught us for a loss. If we had it to do over we would’ve had a power run of some type and run straight at them and scored instead of going sideways. We rushed for over 200 yards - we had two losses that kept it at 197 for the game. Cody Johnson sprained his ankle on the second play of the game. We weren’t aware of that because he wouldn’t tell us. He was afraid that if he came out he wouldn’t get to go back in. We kept him out because he wasn’t cutting as well. Early in the game his ankle started swelling on him. He even went back in the latter part of the game and we didn’t know it. Yesterday his ankle was swollen. He probably will not practice tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll have him ready for the game on Saturday. I thought it was a credit to him that he worked so hard to get back in the game and didn’t want us to think he was being soft because he worked hard enough to get that playing time.
This is the first time since ’05 that we had three running backs in a game gain over 50 yards. We thought all three running backs played well. We did not block down field well with our wide receivers and felt like that cost us some explosive plays in the running game. What happened on the couple of plays that the running plays did not make yards and do well for us [was that] we didn’t do a good job of cutting off the backside. Sometimes in practice when you don’t cut, they have to learn from that. We should be much better cutting off this week than we were last week against Rice.
We missed on a third-and-two and a fourth-and-one, that’s obvious. That’s what everyone will talk about, because those are things that will lose you games. You cannot run the ball and mess up on short yardage. We’ve been great on short yardage until last year in goal line. Now we’ve got to pick it up and do better. We did get seven out of 14 third down conversions, which is really good. We didn’t finish some drives when we had really good field position. Our kicking game put us in good field position and we didn’t close.
Malcolm Williams was the player of the game offensively. We’re really proud of him that he stepped up and caught the ball and blocked. He played the best of the receivers. The offensive lineman of the game was Michael Huey. He had some pancakes and did really well. The big hit of the game was Mason Walters. He hit a guy and de-cleated him. He knocked him down and put him on his back. The biggest contributors of the game were Tre’ Newton and Garrett Gilbert.
If you go back and ask about how he [Garrett} did in an opening ballgame, John pulled up numbers of Colt McCoy’s first game. Colt completed 12 of 19 for 178 yards and three touchdowns against North Texas in ’06. Vince Young’s first game in ’03 as a starter against Iowa State he was 11 of 15 for 136 yards, one TD and one interception. Garrett was 14 of 23 for 172 yards and he could’ve had two TD passes. One of them, Marquise [Goodwin] gets knocked out at the two and [the other] John Chiles gets pulled down at the one. He probably got cheated a little bit and no interceptions. We felt that Garrett did a good job for an opening game.
Special teams we did really well. We can still improve. Our kickoff coverage held them to a minus 25 yard line starting position. We were still inconsistent with our kick and coverage. We missed a couple of tackles. Our kickoff return started at our 42 yard line as compared to their 25. We thought it was very good. They refused to kick it deep to our fast guys and Eddie Jones and [Ryan] Roberson handled the short kicks really well and returned them well. I thought that group was very efficient for an opening ballgame.
The punt block and return group was inconsistent. We missed on a block and we were there. We didn’t go ahead and block it. We also fumbled a punt at the end where the game was basically over. We were trying to get Case McCoy and the seconds some more shots. So we put in a bunch of young guys up front. [We] just wanted to fair catch the punt and work on offense with the younger guys and get them another six [to]eight plays, and we fumbled the punt. The punt we should’ve blocked we lost 70 yards of field position - to show you how it matters during a ballgame. The young man just killed it. We still had [a] 10 yard average on the punt returns because Curtis [Brown] and Aaron [Williams] had chances to score on one.
The punting was just okay. It wasn’t great. We had one inside at the 15, but the first one had a chance to be blocked. We’ve got to do a better job in that area. Extra points were perfect. We were two of four in field goals. One of them was probably long. It was a 54 yarder. I stretched him, because we’re trying to find out the range in a ballgame. Most valuable players with the special teams were Jamison Berryhill and Christian Scott.
There were 12 true freshmen and six redshirt freshman, so 18 freshmen played. Out of the 70 plays, Mike Davis played 38 of them. Jackson Jeffcoat played really well. Mike played really well, he just didn’t catch balls. Jackson played 23 plays. Jordan Hicks played 11. Plus, they all played on some special teams. Of the redshirt freshmen that had significant playing time, Mason Walters had 68 plays. Calvin Howell had 16.
We’re 31-3 in the months of August and September since we’ve been here. We have a 15 game home winning streak at this time. It’s the sixth longest UT home game winning streak. It’s the fifth longest active streak. Since ’03 we’re 39-4 with the game with Wyoming coming up this weekend.
Saturday’s game with Wyoming will be dedicated to 9/11 and the tragedy that shook our country at that time. We’ll have God Bless the U.S.A. red, white and blue ribbon decals on the helmets to show our respect. There will be seven honorary captains representing [the] Austin area’s first response service organizations. They’ll be on the field for the coin toss. It will be an emotional time for all of us.
Wyoming, like us, did not have the game that they wanted this weekend. They’re running Missouri’s offense. They did win like us. They have a lot of things they probably want to correct. They were probably looking at us. They’ve got seven starters back on defense and nine guys that played against us last year. They’re running Missouri’s offense with the young quarterback who is really good. He came in at the end of the game against us last year. He led them to a bowl win. He’s a guy that brings them back and has really done a good job of leading their team. He was committed to San Jose State and Dick Twomey told me he thought he was a great player. He was from San Jose, California. One of the San Jose State coaches left and went to Wyoming. That’s when he went. Dick told me about him last year. He is a great player. [WR David] Leonard is also an outstanding receiver that has tremendous pro potential.
On the performance of the freshmen: I thought the freshmen did really well. It’s a tough time to go on the road. It’s new for them. I could see their heads were kind of spinning and they were looking around at the stadium and thinking about the life changing experience that they [were having]. We got all 18 in the game that we wanted to get in the game. Some got four plays and some got 38. We feel like that they should be much better this week, because they’ll have some basis of knowledge of what a real game is like to deal with. Everything just went fast. I thought of the group, Jackson Jeffcoat played the best. His dad got to see half the game because Houston was playing at night in town. So dad came and got to see the first half and then ran back to his team. That was fun for him as well.
On his assessment of the team after the first game: I left the stadium mad. I’m too old to do that. It was [being] mad over the same things that you all are mad about. It was obvious. What you see is that most of what you did was really good. The kids had low pads for an opening game. We missed opportunities all over the place. So the score wasn’t what anybody wanted, which really is unimportant. The win is what is important. We did run the ball better. We did throw the ball accurately when we threw it. We had great protection. Defensively we tackled really well for an opener. The kicking game was really good. We’ve got to do a better job of cutting off and that’s not surprising. We’re changing some things in the running game and you don’t cut in practice. So those are things you have to get used to in an opening ballgame. If you go back to just about every opening ballgame we’ve ever had, we always walk out mad unless the other team turned the ball over. We felt like other than the score, and the seven things that we’ll all talk about too much until Tuesday that we can correct easily, it was a probably great opener. Cody [Johnson] is the only guy who got a nick. That’s great in the opener. They were in good shape. I want them to have more energy. When you’re inexperienced you look around when a guy makes a play. They played really hard, but I didn’t see the enthusiasm when some play was made because they were thinking too much. Obviously we’ve been a team that’s started slow every year and we get better as the year goes on. I think this one will probably have a better chance than our other teams because they’re so young.
On if he likes the style of offense they ran on Saturday: I do. We’re not near where we are going offensively. What we wanted to do in this game is line up and test the guys and be patient and send the message to them that we may not run it a lot more than we have in the past, but we want to run it better than we have in the last couple of years. We did that. 200 yards rushing is good. We didn’t have long runs. The two or three we messed up, I like the fact that we had only two lost yardage plays and both of them were mental mistakes. They weren’t physical mistakes. On the reverse, we didn’t block it properly. On the goal line we didn’t block it properly. Those two can be corrected. We’ll go back and throw it more for those who are panicked over us not throwing now. All the ones that wanted us to run it got panicked when they wanted us to throw it. I understand the balance there. We had some things we wanted to look at on Saturday and we think we got those accomplished. If you look at it, Britt Mitchell had never started. David Snow has played very little center. Mason Walters really hasn’t played in a ballgame. For your right side who struggled more than the left side, hopefully they’ll be much better this week and they did not play badly. And your tight end had not started. There’s a lot of new stuff up there.
On Garrett Gilbert moving forward: We thought that he managed the game really well. We didn’t have a delay of game. He pulled Rice offsides twice with his snap counts, which is very unusual for a young guy to do. They just didn’t jump off. He was changing up his snap counts. I only remember one ball that he probably wishes he had back. That was the one that was thrown short to our boundary. I haven’t asked him if he threw it short because it was covered. He managed all of that in the game well. The one time that they came over Mason Walters and pushed him back, he bounced back and moved and threw the ball away. He took a really bad snap on the goal line, which could have been a disastrous play and he made five yards and he was aware enough to move forward with the hole where the play was going. That was a draw play that probably would’ve scored. The guys laughed at him and said, “A running back scores and you get five.” That’s okay. That’s what their job is. We thought he managed everything well. He threw the ball deep well. We just didn’t throw it a lot with him. That’s what we’ll do. We’ll progress.
On the team’s leadership: We felt like there was enough inexperience that there was a lot of standing around - playing hard and looking - but there wasn’t a lot of leading. That’s something that we’ll really challenge our team to do. I’m sure some of them were looking into the crowd. Some of them were really into the game. If you watch film, they played really hard. I did think there was more jumping up and down on the Rice bench than ours. That’s probably because Rice came in with no pressure and said we’re not going to let this get out of hand. Texas came in saying they’re 2-10, we’re pretty cool. This team better grow up. That’s the bad message that I gave them from Saturday. We told all freshmen you are now varsity. We are not talking about freshmen anymore. You’ve been through two-a-days. Some of you have been through spring practice. All of you have played in a game now - [those] that will continue to play. Let’s stop talking about the young thing. You’re either a good player or you’re not. Youth is not an excuse.