Sept. 10, 2012
Opening statement: Super crowd again Saturday night. Outstanding game. Big win for us. Stadium Stampede was once again really special. I thought it probably doubled in size, and was fun for the guys. I thought the moment with [former Longhorn running back/Heisman Trophy winner] Earl Campbell was really, really special. It kind of sent chills for me to see him walk out there. He was so proud. I saw him on Friday out on the field practicing to make sure he could do it. And he's been walking so well. That was a big night for him as well.
We had a slow start. Give New Mexico credit for keeping the ball in the first half. We only had the ball 26 plays the first half. They had 36 [plays in the first half]. We only had six runs in the first half, which was different from our game with Wyoming. Then we totally dominated the second half. But we do need to get off to a better start.
Offensively, the things we did well; we did not have a turnover, which usually you win the game when you do not have a turnover. We had 146 yards rushing, averaged 4.7 yards per rush, 21 yards after carry or after contact and three touchdowns. It was a unique night in that [sophomore RB] Malcolm Brown had 22 plays, but he only touched the ball four times because David checked out of a number of his runs to passes. We've got a lot of combination calls for our quarterback. It just didn't end up getting Malcolm the ball as much as we would have liked. [Sophomore RB] Joe Bergeron had 15 plays but 13 touches, which shows you it can be unique. And [freshman RB] Johnathan Gray had 16 plays. He had more than Joe. And he had seven touches.
Third downs, we were as good as we've been in a long time; 10-of-14, 71 percent. Two of those were third-and-extra-long, which is something we haven't done well. For the second game in a row we made a fourth down conversion for a touchdown. So we're three-for-three for the year on fourth down conversions.
We had two explosive runs, and this week we had eight explosive passes. So that's a good change for us. We're starting to get more balance. We're doing a better job in our passing game. Red zone, 100 percent for the year, four touchdowns and a field goal. So we've turned around the third down conversion problem from last year. And at this point we've done the same in the red zone – nine-for-nine for the year in the red zone. So that's an exciting trend for us too. That's a change from last year. Seventy-percent passing and three touchdowns. Saturday has helped us improve.
The concerns we had on offense; we still had two false starts, two penalties. We had two sacks. They really weren't problems with the offensive line as much as they were [that] one was a screen that a guy came off too soon, and we've got to get rid of the ball faster. And we've had two fumbled snaps. We had one with [junior QB] Case [McCoy] with the second-team that rolled back this week, and we had one last week. Even though we lost one last week and didn't lose it on Saturday night.
We talked about the slow start, but the offense had nine drives and seven scores. Best offensive play of the weekend came from [junior OG/OT] Trey Hopkins. Very impressed with Trey. He continues to get better. And the “Most Valuable Player” on offense was [senior WR] Marquise Goodwin. Even though he just touched the ball twice, he blocked as well as any receiver I've ever seen. He just stayed after him and became a force. We're really pushing our down field blocking to get more explosives. [Senior TE Barrett] Matthews was also extraordinary as a blocker at tight end.
Defensively, you have to start with the shutout. First shutout that we've had since the Kansas game last year. Shutouts are especially hard to get at this point because you play a lot of players when you beat somebody 450. So a lot of the second- and third-team players in the fourth quarter had to maintain that shutout. And the older guys were getting on them and yelling at them and said, “Don't you let them get in that end zone!” So it is good. But the other thing that was good, even though we had a slow start and couldn't get off the field defensively in the first half, there was not a lot of frustration and finger pointing. And that can happen when you're playing an option offense. You're supposed to have him, and all of a sudden they're arguing back and forth about their assignments on the field. They didn't pass our 28yard line going in.
We matched up well on deep shots. We finished the first half really well with a threeandout. And we started the second half with a threeandout. And they only had 25 total yards in the second quarter, and 30 yards in the third quarter until we put a lot of the younger guys in in the fourth quarter. So we've got a much better feel of what they were doing in the second and third quarters.
We created two turnovers that only led to seven points. We need to get 10 to 14 points out of every turnover that we get. We had seven pressures and a sack, and they only had 13 passes in the game that weren't three-steps-and-quicks. So when you're playing that kind of offense, you don't get a lot of opportunities to get sacks. Stopped another fourth down play, so we're two-for-two on the year defensively when it comes to fourth downs as well.
Concerns. We were four-for-six on third down conversions in the first quarter. And they were able to continue to keep possession of the ball which we couldn't get them off the four [downs]. Two of those were really long third down plays. Had a long run on third-down-and-nine, and threw an out on third-down-and-ten. So we had to get them off the field on third-down-and-long situations, and we did that better in the second half.
“Ball Hawks” means they took the ball away in some manner. [Sophomore CB] Quandre Diggs had the interception. [Senior S] Kenny Vaccaro recovered a fumble and caused an interception. And [junior DE] Jackson Jeffcoat forced a fumble. So those guys played well.
The “Big Hit” award of the game goes to Quandre Diggs on defense. The Most Valuable Player was Kenny Vaccaro. Kenny's had two great weeks. It's really, really hard for a safety in the option game to get all of his assignments right, and Kenny did an excellent job there.
Special teams, we feel like we continue to improve. We kicked it off eight times with two touchbacks. But [freshman PK/P] Nick Rose’s hang time has been unbelievable. The guys are excited about covering, because the ball hangs there up so long. So they had six returns for only 82 yards. Their average starting position was the minus-16. We had five tackles inside the 15yard line. One by [sophomore LB] Tevin Jackson, one by [freshman LB] Peter Jinkens, and one by [freshman LB] Dalton Santos. Dalton Santos had the “Special Hit” on special teams, as well as kickoff coverage.
Block punt and return had a good night as well. We blocked the punt – [sophomore DB] Mykkele Thompson blocked the punt, and it was textbook the way he blocked it. He dove out, put his hands out and didn't rough the kicker. So he did a tremendous job. We had a 35yard punt return that led those two plays, and our punt block and return team led to ten points. Our punt team is leading the nation right now in net punting. [Senior P] Alex King had one punt for 51 yards. We were disappointed that they were able to return at eight yards, so we've got to do a better job of covering. He's kicking it so far. We're going to have to pick that up this week, because Ole Miss has better speed in the return game than the previous two teams.
Kickoff return. We didn't have an opportunity. They kicked one to us that went out of the back of the end zone. And the “Players of the Game” on special teams - Dalton Santos, and Mykkele Thompson for their play. Dalton for covering kickoffs, and Mykkele for blocking the punt.
Injury report. We're fortunate there are no significant changes. [Junior PK/P] Anthony [Fera] this week is listed as questionable instead of doubtful. So they will start him with some light kicking this week to see if he has a chance to go to Ole Miss with us and play.
Ole Miss, first road trip with the young team is exciting them, but it's a change. It's two very young, undefeated teams. But Ole Miss is like us, playing very few seniors. The new head coach [Hugh Freeze] was a high school coach in Memphis, and [current Baltimore Ravens OT] Michael Oher of The Blind Side went to Ole Miss. His high school coach [Freeze] came to Ole Miss to coach, and then he became the head coach at Briarcrest Christian School. He [then] went to Lambuth College before he went to Arkansas State [in 2010]. And after Arkansas State, a really good team at Arkansas State last year, he's back and coaching at Ole Miss and got them off to a great start.
We'll start with [Ole Miss] offensively. They're very much like the teams that we face in the Big 12. They're up-tempo, no huddle. They're No. 10 in total offense in the country with 551 yards, averaging 38.5 points a game. But look how balanced they are. They're rushing the ball for 283 yards per game, and passing it for 268 yards per game. The number one junior college quarterback in the country Bo Wallace is the young man that [Texas offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach] Bryan [Harsin] talked to a few times on the phone. And we just didn't decide to go for a junior college quarterback. We kept what we had. But Bo's a great player. Completing 76 percent of his passes, five touchdowns, one interception and two rushing touchdowns. So he'll be a handful for us this weekend.
They have two great tailbacks in [senior RB Randall] Mackey and [junior RB Jeff] Scott. [Sophomore WR Donte] Moncrief is their leading receiver. But they can really run a lot of trick plays, and it will be a handful for our defense to come up and try to stop those guys.
Defensively they run a 425 [defense]. So they run a nickel defense with an extra defensive back on the field. They're 16th in rush defense in the country, only giving up 68.5 yards per game. They're 40th in total defense, giving up 329 yards a game, and fourth in the country in sacks. They've had nine sacks in two games. So they're averaging four-and-a-half sacks per game. And nine different guys have gotten those sacks. So they're really, really active.
[Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach] Manny Diaz had recruited maybe one of the best defensive ends in the country named C.J. Johnson. He's a young man at 6'1", 231 [pounds], a sophomore [defensive end], No. 10. And Manny had him committed at Mississippi State, and he changed and went back to Ole Miss when Manny left. But he's a great football player.
[Junior DB] Charles Sawyer, is one of the great safeties in the SEC. And they'll blitz a lot. They play a lot of man coverage, and bring more pressure than we've seen in the first two games. They're averaging about 48 yards per punt, so they've got a good kicking game.
On the first road game: It's not only that you're going on the road, but you're going to Memphis [Tennessee], which puts you in a position where you have to stay in Memphis because there aren’t hotels in Oxford [Mississippi]. So we'll go to Memphis. Normally you take young guys to the dressing room and to the stadium and let them walk around and get a feel of what's around them. We will not be able to do that because it's an hour-plus trip from Memphis down to Oxford. So we'll drive down there on game day. It will be the first time the guys have seen the place, will play the game, and then uniquely enough we'll fly back out of Tupelo [Mississippi]. Because Tupelo has an airport, but they didn't have any hotels for us. But I think it's about a 30minute trip instead of the hour. But we'll get home at 4:45 in the morning, which is difficult for kids. Thank goodness we've got an open date the next week, and we'll let them sleep in Sunday and start our meetings much later on Sunday.
But I think our teams have always embraced good crowds, and always embraced playing on the road. I'm amazed our fans are so excited about this game because it's been a hard ticket. We've got so many people calling and asking, and trying to find extra tickets. Ole Miss people are excited about it. [Former Ole Miss QB/father of Eli and Peyton] Archie Manning is a great friend of ours. Some of our boosters and Archie got together to make this game happen. So it's a fun game. Glad that both teams are undefeated. And it will be the toughest test we've had to this point.
On involving senior WR Marquise Goodwin more: Throw it to him. One of the things that happens is we've got a lot of good players now. So every week I come in here, and we're going to ask why didn't we give it to somebody? There was only one ball. Our deal is to win. We had plans to get it more in Marquise's hands, but as it happened we had a couple throws to him that didn't connect. We looked at a reverse once to him, and it wasn't there. So you're going to take what's there. Offensive coordinators have the hardest job in America. He's got to please mamas, and dads, and fans, and the media, and the head coach. So they've got a hard job. But what we are selling - it's not about how many touches you get, or how many balls you get. It's about how you play. He played really, really well. I think it's a message to everybody that he touched it twice, and is the “Most Valuable Player” in the game for us, offensively. That's what we're trying to get to.
On his thoughts going into the Ole Miss game: The first thing to me would be going on the road. So it is unique and different. So the older guys have to help the younger guys understand and keep their focus. It's a night game at 8:15 at night, which is even later than they've been playing. And the fact is that we're going to have to play better. We've been better than the two teams that we've played, and this game will be a more evenly matched game. So this will be a great test for us. I feel like the schedule is set up perfectly as we get ready to go into Stillwater in two weeks.
On the improvement of Ole Miss from 2011 to 2012: Yes. I think their offense is so much better. They are really moving the ball, and I think that's a product of [sophomore transfer QB] Bo Wallace, probably too. He played for Coach Freeze at Arkansas State so he already knows the offense, too. So that helps as well.
On the Ole Miss offense: They're running a [former Longhorn QB] Vince Young type offense. They run zone-read. They're wide open. Lot of trick plays, but they're really balanced. He's a big guy that can run and pass. He's been very accurate at 76 percent.
On S Kenny Vaccaro coming back for his senior year: Yes, it's a real credit to Kenny. Number one, he would have been a high draft choice. We don't know exactly what that means. But he would have been a first or second round for sure and made a lot of money. He decided he needed to come back and do some things better on the field. He and [assistant head coach/defensive backs] Coach [Duane] Akina talked about it at length when he made the decision. You've got to give him credit, because he's a top pro prospect playing as hard as anybody we've got. The defensive coaches made he and [senior DE] Alex Okafor captains for two weeks in a row, so that's pretty cool.
On the anniversary of Sept. 11: I think the biggest thing is it's an imprint that will be in my mind that morning for the rest of my life, like it will [be for] most Americans. We were sitting in a staff meeting, and as I walked in somebody said some plane hit the trade center. I thought, “Oh, that's awful. I hope it's a single plane accident or something.” And then when the other one came and we all saw it, they ran down to get us. Our first concern was obviously that [former] President [George] Bush's daughter was in school here, so we didn't know what that would mean for Austin.
[Former Longhorn QB] Chris Simms was from New York, and we had some players that had parents working in New York. So we tried to find each of the players immediately on our team, and make sure that they were safe. And make sure that at the same time we could find that they have found their families. We tried to get all the players back to our building. We cancelled practice that afternoon. All of us were worried about President Bush. We didn't know where he was, or what he was doing. Then there was that time lapse of what's happening to our country because then it grew as we all know for the day.
I know one of my sons came to me wanting to enlist. I think when you talk to [sophomore DB/DS] Nate Boyer, that had a huge effect on his life. So it's something that we'll all remember. And it's a real tragic time in our lives, and one that probably changed all of us in so many ways. I know that I have so much I have great respect for our military. But I have so much more now to think that the men and women that protect us every day, we haven't had a national incident in our country since then. So good for them and the decisions that they made. But at the same time, as long as our country is safe and our children are safe, that's pretty cool.
On former Longhorn FB Ahmard Hall: We talked to him the other day. He's through playing in the NFL and is ready to settle. But he brought such a great story to our team when he got out of the military and walked on. I remember him coming in and asking, “How do I get a room?” We didn't know who he was. He was a linebacker for a year, and he ended up starting and playing great for us. Catching a touchdown over at A&M, that made a big difference. Ahmard Hall had a significant career in the NFL. I thought that might be the best story I've ever been around until Nate. Here's Nate that went to a high school that doesn't have a high school football team, so he never played high school football. Then all of a sudden he's sitting around, and 9/11 definitely got his attention. He wanted to help our country. But at the same time, here's a guy that decides that never playing high school football, he's going to go to Texas, get in school, which is so difficult to do especially outofstate. He's going to make our football team, and none of that could possibly happen. It's like a movie now. [Nate’s] got a bronze star. He still protects our country. He's still in the military reserves. At the same time, he's a 31yearold sophomore that snapped the other night. He was a little low with his first snap. He was a little nervous. And I said, “Don't go there. With what you've been through, you don't need to be nervous on the football field in front of 101,000 [fans].” It's a wonderful story. A great student, and he's brought a lot of maturity and leadership to our team. I think [associate AD/media relations director] John [Bianco’s] going to try to get him up it here to talk to you.
On any concerns about the deep passing game: I'm really not, because the short ones are working. Then it doesn't matter. When they take the short ones away, you get more long ones, to be honest with you. We took a shot on the first play. We missed the other night. It was wide open. We need to hit that one. We took a couple of other shots that were wide open. But they were playing way off us. [New Mexico head coach] Bob Davie is doing a great job. But their game plan was to keep things in front of them. Try not to let us run, make us throw short passes, and they were going to dominate the game with time of possession and stay on the field. They were snapping the ball with less than five seconds left every time. Bob's been around. He knew he was going to try to shorten that game and not give us any easy touchdowns.
On adapting the running backs rotation to the flow of the game: Yes. We're going to play [sophomore RB] Malcolm [Brown], and [sophomore RB] Joe [Bergeron], and [freshman RB] Johnathan Gray, and [senior RB] Jeremy Hills. And we're going to play all four of them. They're all good players. We think Johnathan's got great speed that will add to what Malcolm and Joe already give us. And Jeremy's got a special role sometimes in third-and-long situations. So we can't come in here every week and ask, “Why didn't he get it? Why didn't he get it?” What we need to do is win. We're trying to get the ball in the people's hands that give us the best chance to win. Again, if Malcolm's run wasn't there when he was in the ballgame, and we scored a touchdown on a flair pass - good check by [sophomore QB] David Ash. That's what we've got to do. It's about winning. Not about stats, and not about just guys.
On former Longhorn WR Roy Williams retiring from the NFL: Yes. Roy is one of the great players to ever play. He's been in the Pro Bowl. He's changed history here. He screwed us up when we're trying to recruit a receiver, because we're always looking for him. He set that standard really high, and there aren't many of him out there. I'm really proud of him. He played for a long time. He played really well. Roy's tight with his money, so I'm sure he's in good shape with his money. And now he'll have to transition to something else in his life. But Roy's always been very unique. He stayed in the dorm for four years here. He never wanted to move out. He didn't want a car. He didn't want to have to drive. I remember his girlfriend's dad wanted to take him to dinner one night, and he came in and asked us, “Is that legal?” We said, “Yeah, it's legal. You're fine. He's not a Texas booster or any of that kind of stuff.” Roy is a guy that will do really well when he gets out of football, and I'm really proud of it.
On playing an SEC team: We won't take them lightly, because they look good on video and they're undefeated. That is the thing that helps you going in. I think the thing is that the SEC winning the national championships, as of late, has made them a “media darling.” So our players hear nothing but SEC all the time. I thought [Texas] A&M and Missouri played well. They had a chance to win, both of them, in their ballgames. So I think what we're talking about is great teams across the nation, instead of just league. Because there are a few teams in each league that need to pick it up to be counted as a dominant league. But I think right now that the SEC has gotten credit for having depth in their league and a lot of good teams. And the Big 12 is coming quickly to that point. The other thing, it says something about the respect that the Big 12 has for the SEC, and the SEC has for the Big 12, when we partnered for the “Champions [Bowl] Game” in 2015, because we thought that would be the two best football conferences in the country playing against each other. So that makes this game a lot of fun for our guys.