Sept. 7, 2009
Video: Mack Brown Monday press conference [Sept. 7, 2009]
Opening statement: It was a fun opener for us on Saturday. Number one, we won and that was the objective. We got lucky. It's hard to hope it doesn't rain in Austin with the drought that we've got. At the same time we were fortunate that the lightning and the rain missed the stadium on Saturday night. A historical night for our players and our fans to be in a stadium with over 100,000 people for the first time in the Southwest and the largest crowd to ever see a Texas football game. They can go back and tell their grandkids they were there for the first one. A lot of guys had fun. The older guys were ready to play and were emotional, and it was also good to watch the young guys play. A lot of us hadn't seen them in a game. A lot of you hadn't seen them practice. It was fun for us to get to see guys that will be playing in the future.
We've got a lot of things to work on. It was good to get out there because sometimes the hype takes over. People get your team much better than it is before they've proved anything. Really and truly, we said it starts Saturday night. We've got a lot of things we need to work on. We've got things we've got to fix. We're not a great team yet. We can be. If you are a great team in the first game of the season and you don't have anything else to work on, it's kind of downhill from there. We didn't expect to be great Saturday night. When you are unhappy with a 39-point win, things have changed around here. We're in pretty good shape, so that's a good thing. Our coaches and players walked in and they weren't happy as well. We have a lot of things to work on, and when you look around the country, looking at all the close games and tough games, openers scare you to death. We'll improve a lot between now and next weekend.
Special teams were good. The highlight of the special teams was D.J. Monroe's 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. That was made possible really by Tre Newton and Malcolm Williams' blocks. He was untouched and he's really fast. The credit should go not only to D.J., but to Tre and to Malcolm because they made the really special plays. D.J. Monroe was our special teams player of the week.
Defensively, the players of the game were Sam Acho and Roddrick Muckelroy. Sergio (Kindle) should also be complimented for his play because he played really, really well. We had 10 pressures on the quarterback. We had 14 hits on the quarterback with only one sack. A lot of times in games like this when ULM does not think they can protect against our front, they're going to run options and they're going to have quick passes and a lot of sprint, and it's going to be very, very difficult to sack the quarterback. That did not surprise us coming in. We felt like the 20 points was too many, but at the same time, we felt like it was more important to work on gaining depth and morale and get a lot of kids to play that may not get to play again during the season or very often that haven't played, and to also get your second and third teamers a lot of work because of injuries and because of things that happen during the season. The last touchdown, we were disappointed. I thought the defense played great in short-yardage and goal line, but the last touchdown we didn't like and we didn't like the fact that we gave up too many big plays. There was a 16-yard run, a 31-yard run, a 19-yard run, a 75 and a 28-yard pass. We've got to take away the big plays. The younger guys, if we're going to put them in the game, they are going to need to do better.
Offensively, we felt like we had an outstanding night. The obvious negative was the three turnovers. We can't have them. To lose the two fumbles at running back to start the season is probably a positive because you can get complacent with the ball. After last year not losing a fumble at running back, now I'm sure there will be a huge emphasis on it tomorrow when we go back to the practice field because the kids have already talked about it. As much as we talked about it in preseason, when you start taking it for granted, that can happen. I thought we carried the ball sloppily at receiver at times, at tight end at times. I did not think we did a great job protecting the ball. We were fortunate that those were the only two that hit the ground. We did a great job on first down, and our third downs were 64 percent, red zones were seven-of-seven. We are going to be a wide open, spread offense that's no-huddle and quick tempo. That's who we are. We ran the ball really, really well in the second half, and that's who we'll try to be. We did get in the I some, we did try to pound some. We were excellent in short-yardage and goal line as I said. Hopefully we can continue to get better where when we get in the four-minute offense, we will do a better job at the end.
Jordan Shipley and Colt McCoy were the players of the game. The best offensive linemen, coach MacWhorter calls it the "Boss Hog", was Kyle Hix. He played really, really well. He is a young man we feel like is getting better and better. He had an outstanding camp. Biggest contributors were D.J. Monroe and John Chiles. The great play of the game was Dan Buckner. The ball he caught over the linebacker's head in the middle is something that we need to have happen. His height gave us the ability to do that, and Lamarr Houston really, really had a good night on the goal line. He just knocked them out of there and really helped us.
Talking about Wyoming, Dave Christensen is the new head coach. He was the offensive coordinator and the architect of one of the best offenses in college football at Missouri, and he's a guy that we have seen for the 12 years that we've been here, so we know what they're going to do offensively. We were watching them last night and this morning against Weber State. It's the Missouri offense. He had Chase Daniel and did an outstanding job with him. They had 434 yards of offense during the game. They're playing two quarterbacks. They've got two tailbacks that they're playing. They ran the ball more and better than they threw it on Saturday with a big back named Darius Terry who weighs 209 pounds. Their defense is not as much blitz as the other night, they're about 30 percent blitz. They have a new defensive coordinator, even though he was on the staff last year. They'll still be a four-man concept like most people but they will play some 3-5 and go in and out. We're really not sure of what they'll do on defense because the system is new, but they did have five interceptions last week. That was something that got our attention. Their secondary is really good. They can all run. They had three punts inside the 20. They had two punts that were over 50 yards, so that really changes field position. We thought ULM's punter the other night did an outstanding job of keeping us backed up because he did such a good job of directional punting it was hard for us to return it. (Wyoming) upset Tennessee in Knoxville last year and they beat Virginia in the opener two years ago at home. They are a team that has the ability to upset you.
Michael Huey and Jared Norton are out of the game for Saturday. We usually don't release those on Monday, but they are not going to play, so we felt we wanted to go ahead and tell you that. We do not know anymore about the unresolved academic issues, so until we know something we will not discuss that anymore. That will be reflected on the depth chart. Those three young men are not on there this week. Until we get information, we've got to plan on playing without them and because of the injury to Michael Huey, Tray Allen will moved back to left guard this week. He did play defensive tackle, offensive tackle and on special teams on Saturday night, so Tray is doing a great job of getting in the positions that we need him to help us win.
On if there is a settling feeling among the team now that the season is underway: All of our players and coaches get so nervous for the opening ballgame, and especially when you play a Saturday night game and watch all those things happening. When you're seeing Northern Iowa kick two field goals at the end of the Iowa game it scares you to death. One of the things we did at the pregame meal, I said, `How many of our coaches slept any last night?' Not one of them raised their hand. All the coaches walked out of the room, they couldn't even eat it. It's just part of opening the season, and it's part of expectations that are completely out of control, and you have to manage those expectations. I think it's good when everybody sees college football is an imperfect sport. You're going to make mistakes, and what you have to do is overcome those mistakes. It's never going to be exactly like we want it to be. We get into video games so much now, they're much easier than people. Human beings and things make mistakes.
On the play of freshman QB Garret Gilbert: I thought Garrett was great. He did everything that we could have expected him to do. We wanted him to throw, to sprint out, to drop back, he did all of those things. In fact, the one pass that was incomplete was a great throw. At the same time we wanted to him to run, and he showed the ability to escape, made a move and then got in the end zone. We felt like Garrett played great.
On if the young players will be more relaxed now with a game under their belt: It'll be much more settling for them because now they get it and they can understand that in practice when we're demanding that they play at the same speed as the game, that they know now what that means. Road trips are good for you to do that, too. There are more distractions on the road. It'll be a different altitude, it'll be cooler, the wind the will be blowing there. It will be hyped. Everywhere we go on the road, when you're at Texas, is hyped because everybody's excited about you being there. This will be a new experience for a lot of the young guys, and it will be something that is good as a learning experience for them.
On if he is concerned about playing in the altitude in Wyoming: No, but we haven't lost in Boulder and that's high. We've played well there and we haven't been in a position where we even felt like the altitude was an issue. We tell the kickers they can kick it further, so that's fun. Our guys are so excited about 60-degree weather after being here for the summer. The biggest shout I heard after the game on Saturday was when I said that it'll be low 70's, upper 60's for the game and they all said it was great. They'll be pumped to get out of the Austin heat, especially the big guys.
On the running game: You'd like to be able to run it up and down the field all the time. Usually that doesn't happen in the first half. The teams that we're going to play, even if we overmatch the team like Saturday night, they are coming in here to stop the run and they are going to play their tails off. We scored 14 quick ones and then I thought it went to sleep a little bit there and we had to pick it up and jump start it. We're going to be a team that's going to throw it a lot, and we're going to be spread. The runs are not always going to be lining up and knocking people down. I had to keep us from scoring there at the end because you beat the other team down over time and what you want to do is be able to run the ball in the fourth quarter. That's when your running game should really be good. If you go back and study Ricky Williams, most of his yardage was in the second half, when the team gets beaten down because he's the big back and the strong back. That's what you have to do. To rush for as much as we did was really, really good for us. It was a great message. We lined up in the I some, we were physical some, and I thought we did good. The two fumbles were unacceptable.
Offensively, David Snow is really coming on. He played a lot for us, and we were excited about him. John Chiles is really getting better and more confident, and he is now a receiver. We're really excited for him. The obvious, D.J. Monroe, we've got to figure out how to get him the ball. I didn't realize he only played 12 plays. It looked like he had production on every one except one. He had a counter play that knocked him back. If you think about the difference in D.J. Monroe in the running game and Ricky (Williams), there's probably about 100 pounds difference, so its' going to be a different looking running game than what some of our fans are used to. We were excited Marquise Goodwin got in the game and got to make some plays. We felt like Tre Newton did well in special teams and when he got in the game. He made some great cuts, and we knew the game was over by the time he got in the game as a running back, but still, cuts are cuts. Defensively, the young linebackers were impressive. Keenan Robinson, Emmanuel Acho and Dustin Earnest were really impressive for us. The Sam Acho improvement is huge. He really has come a million miles like we saw. And we were excited Nolan Brewster got to play so much and made the plays that he made.
On what the team gets out of a game that it doesn't get in practice: You get the tempo of the game, you get the pressure of the crowd, you get the officials that are more demanding than they are in scrimmages, the 40-second clock is huge. Directional punting is something that is very difficult, full speed kickoff coverage is too. Kenny Vaccaro had the big-hit award on defense on a special team. He was the guy that knocked them out with a Hard Hat Award. The special teams plays are huge in games like that because you can just change games, and it really reflects how turnovers can change a game. To drop a ball at the 20 and let them run it back and get it inside the 10, if we punt that ball, ULM may not score. And people look at the defense giving up those points, they really only gave up three points and that was a time in our defense where it would have been an easy score for the other team. We felt like that's the biggest thing. Now they're practicing for a purpose instead of just practicing to get through two-a-days and get to the first game. They understand that the standard is very high here. If we scored 59 points here in the past, everybody would have said, `Wow, what a blowout. This is the best team ever.' We scored 59 the other night and everybody's talking about the negatives, so our culture's changed and that's okay because our players did the same thing. I had to tell Colt, `I know you were down to 72 percent and two touchdown passes, let's hang on here and get back to reality.'
On the plan for D.J. Monroe: He's limited because of pass protection. He's not going to take on Roddrick Muckelroy or Sergio (Kindle). He may, but he's going to be in Colt's lap. You can't cut every time because they'll jump over you, they're too athletic. He will not be a guy that's going to go in there and play every down, because he can't. He can be a great special teams player. I'm going to talk to our coaches about getting him involved as a gunner covering punts because with 10.13 100 meters speed, he's a guy that can do those things. He is not a great punt catcher, so that's not something he will do at this time. We'll keep working with him in that area. He's a guy that Greg (Davis) and the offensive staff will keep doing what they did the other night, get him 10, 12 plays a night, try to get the ball in his hands in space and let him make some plays.
On the hit that depth has taken over the last week: It is, but you can't talk about who's not playing. You talk about who is. At The University of Texas we recruit hard year-round to make sure we have enough guys to move somebody there if you're depleted. Our tight end position was a disaster to start the season and Dan Buckner looked great the other night, so that's what you do. You look at a tough situation and you handle it and move forward. In modern-day coaching if you can't take crisis, which you're going to have when you've got 120 teenagers, and turn them into positives, you're going to get fired. You're not going to make it because you're going to have the crisis. You try not to, and when you have them you've got to fix them and then you move forward.
On junior DE Sam Acho: Sam probably improved so much because he got to play some last year, but he became the guy in the spring, and it stepped up his game. He's 260 pounds, he can play in a pass rush position as a tackle, which he did some the other night, he can play end. He's in great shape. He's a tremendous young man. He tested out of 27 hours when he got here so he's just a brilliant young man, and he and Emmanuel Acho have come in here from (Dallas) St. Mark's and they're both making a real impact on our team. They both played a whole lot the other night. We're excited about the Acho's and what they bring to our team.