Sept. 12, 2012
Co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Major Applewhite
On previous experience in Oxford: I have been to Ole Miss and coached [for Alabama] there. The pageantry around the stadium, the Grove, great fan base, and it is just one of those places that you remember as a coach and as a player playing there. They do a great job with their stadium and create a great atmosphere on game day. Being at Alabama, it was obviously a big deal when we were there that day, and this will be very similar.
On the strength of the SEC: I don’t want to avoid your question, but there is so much parity in football now. We use to say that even when I was playing, but it seemed like a stretch. When you see some of the scores on Saturday that scroll across the bottom, it is hard to differentiate. It really is. There is great football in all leagues.
On if the players care what conference the opponent is from: I’m sure to some extent. You’d have to ask them personally, but I think they do. Just because some of the hype and the things they read and see, I am sure there is something in the back of their head. Ultimately, when the ball snaps and you set your pads, it’s an opponent. They don’t care whether we are from the Big 12 or not, they are trying to beat us. When you start playing, the kids are just trying to beat the opponent.
On specific preparations during practice: Anytime we play on the road, even when we don’t play at our home stadium or a neutral site - whether we play Oklahoma in Dallas or go down to Houston to play Rice - we always pump crowd noise in just so we can work our system in terms of offense, defense and communication.
On spreading the ball around: We talked about it to the offense in general because [WR] Marquise Goodwin only got two touches as well, and he went to the Olympics, so he is fast. We always talk about the selflessness of both those guys. Marquise did a great job. He didn’t care how many touches he got and just went down the field to block. You see [RB]Malcolm [Brown] on the touchdown-run by David Ash and he is down there leading the way. It’s about being a selfless football player, and we talk about that every week on how to get the ball in different guy’s hands more. It is one of those rare instances that Malcolm played 22 snaps out of 60, almost a third of the ball game, and then the game got out of hand in the second half. It is a situation that he has to understand what the complexity of that game was. I brought back the story of ’98 when we played Oklahoma State where Ricky Williams had 10 carries for 90 yards, and he is on his way to get 2,000 yards and win the Heisman. He comes in after the game, I believe he had 10 carries for 92 yards, and he said, “Major, I don’t care as long as we win the game.” That ultimately showed what kind of football player he was, and I think the guys fed off that story and understand it. I am fortunate to have good people in my room. They are not attached to that kind of stuff and as long as we are singing “Texas Fight” in the locker room, it is not big to them. But we talk about it as coaches and say we need to get this guy more touches or this guy less touches.
On using Brown and Goodwin as positive examples for rest of team: Absolutely. Coach Mack Brown had both of those guys break down the team on Tuesday after practice and said, “We are becoming a team. We have older guys, and even younger guys like Malcolm understanding the team concept.” Marquise Goodwin blocks his butt down field, Malcolm plays 22 plays, and does whatever he has to do whether we check out or throw a screen away from him. He is not whining or complaining. That is what you have to have. Sometimes it may be [DE] Jackson Jeffcoat having 3 or 4 sacks and not [DE] Alex Okafor because he is dropping into coverage or whatever else it may be. It is ultimately a team game, and I think we do a good job of it from the get go when it comes to recruiting.
On the first road game: It is always a new experience for the young guys. First time on a plane, first time on a bus, going on the walk-throughs and the new hotel. The good thing is that we tell those guys about that during the week. We try to eliminate some of the things that might be distracting for them. Our football operations does a good job about giving them information about the stadium, the city, the university, and all those types of things so they are not wide-eyed when they get there.
On walk-throughs before a game: From personal experience, we have gone to stadiums and not had walk-throughs and won. Then we had a walk-through at Oklahoma last year at the Cotton Bowl, and that didn’t go well. It is six of one, half a dozen to the other. So I have been where we had beaten someone and not had a walk-through and where we had a walk-through and not played well. I think a lot can be made out of nothing. [The field] is 120 yards long, right? Well I think we will be good.
Assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Duane AkinaOn Ole Miss being the toughest test the secondary has faced this season:
I think so. It has been a good week, I thought. There are different challenges here once again. The offense can get a little more vertical. I think this corps of receivers is probably the best group of receivers we have seen. The quarterback once again is very active. He can move around and do a lot of things. Anytime anyone can put up the numbers that they have generated offensively so far this year, it gets your attention. On what you can take from the first two games into this one:
There are similarities in both games with some of the run game and some of the deception throws that they do. They do a nice job with play action pass and finding shots down the field, so there is a lot of carryover from last week’s game. It really challenges the secondary’s eyes and puts a lot of people in one-on-one situations out there. They have been able to win their fair share of one-on-ones so far in the two games. There will be a little more spread offense which we saw in the first game, too. So there is carry-over in both games. On what he has seen from Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace:
I see a guy that has been very active. He has kept them out of very negative plays. He has turned some potentially negative plays into positive plays for them. He has thrown a very good completion rate and when there are shots downfield to hit, he has hit them. I think he is going to be a good challenge for us right now on the road in a real hostile environment. On playing the first road game of the season:
Anytime you go on the road anywhere for any visiting team it is a different environment, because it is not your friendly home field. If we were to be playing in a Big 12 environment, it would be exciting for everybody. It is just a small group of us that are battling together, get on the road and we have to stick together. I think we all as competitors enjoy that environment. On the secondary’s performance last weekend:
We all graded out well. It was a good football game for all of us. Anytime you can keep a team to zero you have a good chance of having a number of guys play well. I think across the board it was a good team victory. On the younger players learning in these last two games:
I think they grew quite a bit from the first game to the second. I thought our tackling was more efficient. They are very diverse formation-wise, so that was a challenge but where we got fooled early on, we got better. That is part of the growing pains that you go through in this game. I expect them to continue to grow every week and not only the young players, but we set a high mark for the veteran players also. We expect [senior S] Kenny [Vaccaro] to continue to grow and A.P. [junior DB Adrian Phillips] and [junior CB] Carrington [Byndom] and [sophomore CB] Quandre [Diggs] and I thought they all upped their game from the opener, too. On stressing to the players to be physical every game:
I have been here now for 12 years, another place for 15 prior to that. I have been doing this for 30 years and we’ve got one way to play. We know what it should look like when we look at the tape of ourselves. I think where I stand and knowing the standards we have here in our room as a defense and with the good defenses that we have had here, I like the level of physical play that we are at right now. We will let our games talk for us. I don’t think the game can be won in a media conference or anything like that. I think we will get out there and play hard. I would say that I have had a lot of outstanding safeties here, and I would put Kenny Vaccaro
in there with the best ones I’ve had. I’m talking about the Michael Huff’s, the Michael Griffin’s and the Earl Thomas’. So I think if I can put him in that light it speaks for itself.