Oct. 5, 2011
Co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Major Applewhite
On QB Garrett Gilbert’s decision to transfer: Any time someone makes the decision to transfer, it’s always about them and what they want to get done with their career. Garrett has been nothing but class and character since he’s been here. He’s done nothing but work his tail off. I know he’s going to do that wherever he decides to go, and I’ve appreciated that. I appreciate that from any football player. I wish him the best. He’s a good player, and I wish him the best in trying to go out and accomplish his dreams. He looks at it with his family and decides what he wants to do. All of us have goals and dreams and he’s doing what’s best for him and his family, and I totally understand that. I wish him the best and like I said earlier, the only thing that we ask when you come here is that you carry yourself with class and character and that he did.
On reaction in the locker room to Gilbert’s transfer: I think guys are focused. I think guys are self absorbed and I think that when you’re a college football player, and I can attest, you definitely are. They’re all worried about Oklahoma and what they have to do to get ready for the game. Friendships - it doesn’t matter what jersey he’s wearing - friends are going to be friends. So I think that’s about the extent of it.
On RB D.J. Monroe’s increasing role with the team: We have packages that we’ll obviously feature him in and if it continues to work we’ll continue to call it. If they’re kind of wired on what we’re doing with him, we’ll back off. The thing about D.J. in years past is that it’s been very apparent when he comes on the field. And now when he’s come on to the field sometimes he’s lined up at tailback, sometimes he’s lined up at wide receiver, sometimes in the slot. He may be a decoy. He may be getting the ball. He may be an option. Either it’s here or there. He’s a little bit more of a normal player out on the field right now. It’s not a red alert. I think he’s done a great job of learning what we’ve asked him to do and by no means is this simple what he’s learning each week in and out. You have to give him credit for making it work, and he has to continue to make it work.
On Monroe being someone he’s wanted to get more involved over the past few years: Yes, over the past few years, how do we make him fit in? It’s been tough. When you’re running an offense like we run, there are very defined roles and you look at what [co-offensive coordinator] Bryan [Harsin] has done at Boise and you see some of the things he’s done there you start to just watch that scheme and say, “Well he [Monroe] can do this, and he can do this. Well, let’s just bottle that up and make this his package and he’ll find a way to get in the game eight to 15 plays and then he’ll get his touches there.” He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing; learning his packages and executing when called upon and it will continue to go.
On what he said to Bryan Harsin about D.J. Monroe when Harsin arrived: He’s very explosive. When we went back after the 2009 season and looked at all of our explosive plays and I looked at how many touches each player needed before he got an explosive play. Some guys were around 21 touches. Some guys were around 16 and he [Monroe] was one every seven touches. You start thinking, “We’re trying to swap ends of field. We’re trying to create explosive plays. Give it to him seven times and he’ll give you one.” Looking at what Bryan had, opening up his playbook, seeing everything that he had, we could find some explosives. We put him out there on the field the other day. We left a guy unblocked on a sweep to the left against Iowa State, and he set him down and made him miss and gained nine yards and made it about second and one for us. That was right before the double reverse pass for a touchdown. So he’s done some things to help us get in situations like that, those second and one opportunities where you can take shots and be risky. Get across the field and get it to third and one where you can say, “If we don’t get it we’ll go fourth down.” He’s invaluable to us. You see offenses that have those kinds of guys. If you look at Alabama they have Marquise Maze. You look at LSU they used to have Trindon Holliday. They’ve got that guy that can create things in open space.
On WR Marquise Goodwin possibly being used in similar packages as Jaxon Shipley and D.J. Monroe: Those guys’ skill sets are more handsy. They do a great job of catching the football. They can definitely run. DJ has more of that running back background, that start and stop, make you miss. We can definitely use those guys in those situations, but we just want to be smart. When you start running sweeps and start doing things like that, people are taking some hits.
On his confidence on the running game up the middle: I think there have been times where we’ve done well, there are times where we haven’t done as well. We’ve run better inside the tackles this year that we have previous [years]. I think it has to do with all the misdirection and things off of it instead of giving the ball and going straight down the middle. There’s a reverse off it or there is a play action off that run. It’s kind of loosened things up. Guys aren’t fitting the run as tight, so there’s some loose space in there and we’ve given more formational looks so that’s helped us.
On running inside against Oklahoma: It’s extremely tough. Those guys have a great front and you know that Coach [Bob] Stoops prides himself in stopping the run. They’ve [OU coaches] got that Big 10 background. It’s very difficult to run the ball on those guys.
On his level of excitement for this game considering all the changes made this season: From a lot of different angles. From the standpoint of us having a different offense, different defense. We’ve got some different things on special teams. If you look at us the last 12 years, we’ve both kind of looked at each other and we’ve known each other. They’ve looked at our offense and said, “We’ve seen that same coordinator for this long.” Same thing on defense. Now they’re doing a lot of things different defensively with a three-man front, and we’re doing different things on offense, so the schemes are a little bit more unknown to the different sides. So it’s different from that respect. Also, we have a lot of younger players than we’ve ever had offensively going into this game. So it will be interesting to see how those guys react.
On the “gadget” plays that Bryan Harsin brought from Boise State: Those plays that we run, they may be listed on a different column in our play list, but they’re not really gadgets to us because we practice them everyday. There are basic principles on certain plays. It may look fun to a fan, but it’s a power play. It may look fun to a fan, but it’s a toss sweep. We just happen to throw it at the end of the toss sweep. It’s a lot of base football concepts with a lot of window dressing around them. I welcome it. You have to have that when you go against good teams. You have to have something that puts them on their heels. Something that makes them adjust. Something that makes their coach go to the board on the sideline and say, “Listen, this is what they’re doing,” and make them coach. You have to have that, otherwise teams are just going to tee off on you.
On QB David Ash’s performance throwing the ball downfield against Iowa State: I think it had to do with the previous two games - us running the ball against BYU, being successful down the stretch with it. Us running the ball in the UCLA game. Obviously, if you’re Iowa State you’re going back to the last three games to see what Texas has done, and [Texas has] relied heavily with the young quarterbacks on the run game. So they load the box up, make it more difficult for us to make plays inside and then we got them in a perfect situation. It was a great call. We had just not converted on a third down. We got a personal foul, so all the sudden their momentum was gone and we hit them on a post. So it was a great call and a great opportunity to make that call on the long post to Mike [Davis].
On the importance of being able to pass the ball from inside the pocket: You want to be effective throwing the football from different areas, whether it be in the pocket, sprint out, half rolls [or] play action. You have to move the launch point. If you just put a giant red X back there at seven and a half yards, it’s hard. There are too many good pass rushers in this league, way too many. You have to be effective there, and you have to be effective moving the launch point.
Assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Duane Akina
On the Oklahoma receiving corps: I think they are as good as they have been. They have two real unique weapons. One guy that has proven [himself].Anytime you become one of the best ever at a University like Oklahoma, there has been a lot of good players walk through those doors in all those years. [WR Ryan Broyles] is just a great football player and I think number 4 [Kenny Stills] is an emerging star. Those are two guys that we certainty have to be aware of. This is our biggest challenge to date and those around him are also outstanding players. And so we will have to be on the top of our game and really prepare hard for this contest because not only do you have those two weapons but you have a quarterback [who] can throw the field out and if he gets into a rhythm, he is hard to stop. So it will be a great challenge for our guys.
On Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles' skills: One of the biggest challenges he has is that the quarterback has extreme confidence in himself that eventually he will pop open. He has been in a lot of big games, and he has produced. You are looking at a very confident receiver no matter who he is looking at across the line of scrimmage
On having a DB dedicated to Broyles: In the past we have done that. When I was in Arizona we had Chris McAlister. Those people had to work away from him. We had to keep in the corner so he would not get bored. We put him on David Boston. We put him on Freddy Mitchell. We locked him. In my opinion here we don’t have to do that. We are fortunate that our three corners are playing well.
On how to defend Broyles: Kenny [Vaccaro] will be on top of him. I am excited for this match up for Kenny because this will be a big, spotlight game for him. He has prepared hard. Like I tell these guys, some of these games are won or lost before the game even happens - in preparation and how they have to eliminate all the noise that surrounds games like these, and continue to prepare like he has for the first four games. I think if he stays on track because they are going to make some plays. Anytime you make up numbers like those - what are they like a thousand yards a game, or something like that - we just have to keep doing what we are doing. Eliminate the big play and the only game that is important is the next play, no matter how good or bad the last one was.
On preventing OU from scoring early: We really prepared hard. This year he have prepared hard and it is really one the best things that have on offense. Between Oklahoma and Oregon they set the standard on setting and changing the tempo up, which is a nice feature they have on their offense and changing the plays to the sideline, where you down, then they have some plays that they can take some shots on you. If a negative play happens, and they see anybody that is feeling sorry for themselves- bang they can strike. So things that we are constantly preparing for and that is at the top of our list. If you just look at the games this year, they have probably had set the bar, them and Oregon
On how OU substitutes to keep the up-tempo offense going: There is a part of that, that when it is on their sideline, they can go quick. Therefore it is difficult for you to substitute if your guy is down. We are not going to see any of our guys down in order to stop the clock, but we have worked hard in preparing for that [tempo]. I am really excited to see if we pass the test. The first four games have been in their term quizzes. This game is a midterm. It is all of the above. You come to a place like Texas to play in games like this - to coach for, to play, to have a real natural rival like this. It is exciting. We are all ready to go.
On always "playing the next play": It is something I have preached forever. It is a major philosophy whether you are talking to your seven year old son or these guys. You just have to keep moving on. Enjoy the last play, celebrate with your team, but the next one is what needs to happen. Many times it is when it is a negative play. You can't dwell on what happened. If you do, then the next one may be worse. It is a philosophy since I have been coaching. We preach it a lot and hopefully we can get that done because I think it will be really important to our success. They will keep coming at you. They wont stop
On trying to simulate OU's up-tempo style in practice: The [scout team] offense just having three or four plays memorized - just run here, run there. And really the scout team, if we are successful this week, they will have a major role in our success. They really have done a great job of simulating that. We have tried a lot of different thing. How to run in two huddles and all, but the idea of those guys memorizing a hand full of plays prior to [running them] is as good as I’ve seen. It is never the same. Much like when you play a wish-bone offense. The first drive to simulate that whole thing, to gain speed, to recognize. I believe we are as prepared as ever in the last 11 years I have been here. It will be exciting to see. We will see how that first drive goes. You will know how well prepared we are.
On if he is excited about his players: As I have said earlier I am very encouraged with this group. They continue to grow and get better. They continue to prepare and get better. I think each player knows their individual limits. I think the leaders, the veterans, Kenny, Christian [Scott] and Blake [Gideon] have done a nice job of guiding their own. They have had some good models before them. We have always stressed, the standard is very, very high. And these guys want to hold to that standard. The [former] DBs always come back. It is neat to be associated with that, and they all understand that all those guys are watching. It is like they are trying to make their big brothers proud and continue.