Oct. 7, 2008
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis
On Oklahoma's defense: They're really good on defense. They play with great pad level, their front four. They can really jump off the ball. All those guys have a great first step, they're very athletic and they chase the football well. They've done the same things for a long time. (They will be) by far the best defense we will have played this year.
On the importance this weekend of not making mistakes: I think in every ballgame, in the 10 years and five games we've been here, when we win the turnover margin and explosive plays, we're 61-0. So in any ballgame, it's important to limit the amount of mistakes you make, either mentally or physically. But turnovers are a big part of any football game and certainly (Oklahoma) does a nice job of stripping the ball. Because they have people in a hole a lot of times, people are trying to throw more and they create some of those turnovers in that situation. But at the same time, we're going to tell our players that there are going to be mistakes. What we have to is limit them and overcome them when they happen.
On having a dark-horse candidate step up to be an impact player this week: I think last week was a good example. Last Monday, no one thought that Chris Ogbonnaya would step up and have the ballgame he had. Sometimes you have an idea going into a game of the way people are going to play, who should be a featured guy. Certainly there are certain plays where we try to get the ball to Quan [Cosby], Jordan [Shipley] or whomever. But often times in a game like this, because both teams know each other so well, both teams work hard on taking away what a team does best, like last year, it's something that you wouldn't think of. Jermichael [Finley] was huge last year. He had over 100 yards receiving and I think he had over 100 yards in the first half. A lot of times in these kinds of games, those things happen.
On facing Oklahoma's strong defensive line: I think you have to continue to run the ball. When you study them, they do an excellent job of pressuring the passer. When it is an obvious passing situation, they do a better-than-excellent job of pressuring the passer. So you've got to hang with the run game. Hopefully your play action can help you. You have to move the quarterback a little bit. You don't want him always sitting in the pocket. You have to mix in three-step [quarterback drops]. As much as possible, you'd like to stay away from third-and-long. You try to keep your third downs manageable because they do an excellent job with pressure.
On the running game: I think coaches are both eternal optimists and eternal pessimists at the same time. I saw some things the other night that I was pleased with. I guess the key word is consistency. I'm not pleased with the consistency in the run game. If you look at our numbers nationally, I think we're 26th in the nation in rushing the football. That's not bad. But I think also, for those of us who have seen all the games like y'all have, there is some consistency that we need to get better at. We'll find out Saturday. We're going to continue to work on it. Chris [Ogbonnaya] stepped up and really did some great things. He's been a really solid player for us, but he stepped up the other night in the run game and broke some tackles, ran with good vision. Those are the things you need in these kinds of games.
On starting the game with a "feeling-out" period to figure out the defensive scheme: There is [such a period], but not as much as there used to be. Philosophically, I think if you look at today's offenses across the nation, offenses are coming out, attacking quicker. I think in our first five ballgames, we've scored on the first drive three times. The other two ballgames, we scored in the second drive. So there is a little less of that in today's game. Having said that, in a game like this, that is such an emotional ballgame, you want to guard against making an early mistake.
On the game's atmosphere: It's a unique game. There are probably a couple of them in the country - Georgia/Florida obviously comes to mind - where the stadium is split in half. One thing you talk to young players about is the noise because it's always loud. Everybody in the stadium is either really excited or really upset all on the same play and because of that, the noise factor is always up. So in terms of audibles and those kinds of things, you have to be in tune to that, but it's just a chance for a lot of the country to sit on Saturday, those that won't be at the ballgame, and see two really good programs go at each other.
On Colt McCoy's calming effect on the whole team this weekend: I think you're entire football team, especially offensively, looks to your quarterback. They look to his body language, his demeanor, his poise and the way he's handling certain things. Colt is playing at such a level right now that he exudes confidence and he's very much in charge of what's happening on the field. I think the team feeds off that.
On how being a coach's son helps Colt McCoy in high-pressure situations: He grew up around the game, he grew up in the fieldhouse. His daddy would tell you he was a ball boy at a very early age. At 10 or 11, he (was suggesting plays). He grew up with that mindset. He also understands the ebb and flow of the game from watching his dad. I think in most cases, players of coaches bring that to the table, especially quarterbacks.
On improving the conversion of short-yardage situations: We keep numbers on everything, almost like Major League Baseball. We're playing at a very high level in third-down conversions. We're not playing anywhere close to where we need to be at third-and-two or less. The other night, we had two different situations where we went to 12 personnel and thought we had a good play, we were at the line with the play and we just didn't get a combination of things, on the edge with some blocks and those kinds of things. We have to sit down and look at if that's something we want to continue to do or do we want to stay spread out because Colt is so accurate, and force them to defend the pass? Later in that ballgame, we did spread out and ran a quarterback draw for a big conversion. It's something that we need to look at because we're not playing where we need to play on third-and-short.
On Colt McCoy's two interceptions possibly being a product of trying to do too much: No, I don't think so. The first interception, he knew exactly what happened. They were in man-to-man, he had Quan on the shallow cross. He stepped up in the pocket and as he jumped up in the pocket, he was not able to put as much on the ball as he would have liked, and the guy made a nice play to undercut it. But what he saw, he came off the field and said he saw a weak-cross blitz, he knew they were in man-to-man and that he had Quan. Sometimes you can tell just by how they're saying things to you and what they're saying. The second one, Peter [Ullman] was actually his third read. Again, he brought the ball all the way back across the field. I don't think in either one of those cases, he was trying to do something that wasn't there.
On Colt McCoy's internal clock and the possible negative aspects of it: When you deal with quarterbacks that have mobility, you have to be really careful that you don't take their spontaneity away from them. I think Tony Romo is probably a pretty good example at the next level. So the number of plays that Colt has made off-schedule this year, including the second touchdown pass to Jordan [at Colorado], is something that you want him to be able to do. At the same time, there are times and places to do that. But any time a quarterback can buy himself some time in or out of the pocket, we think that's a good thing.
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp
On Oklahoma's offense: I think they're very efficient with what they do. First of all, they have good players. Sam Bradford is an outstanding quarterback. He's completing 70 percent of his passes. He's very accurate and very comfortable in what they're doing offensively. DeMarco Murray is an outstanding [running] back and will be a first-round pick when he decides to go to the NFL. He's a cut-and-slash guy, gets vertical, a punishing runner, does an outstanding job with the cutback and finding the open seams in the defense. Four out of five offensive linemen are seniors and have been starters for three years. All four of those guys will be in the draft next year. They do a great job of getting movement in the running game and as far as protection is concerned. They have four guys averaging over 17 yards a catch. [Jermaine] Gresham, the tight end, is a tough match-up because of his vertical speed down the field, along with [Ryan] Broyles, [Juaquin] Iglesias and [Manuel] Johnson. We look forward to the opportunity. Our kids are excited about it. It's a great rivalry. It's important because it's a Big 12 game, but it's also important to the Texas people. So we're looking forward to the opportunity Saturday and kicking the thing off.
On pressuring the quarterback despite Oklahoma's strong offensive line: They're obviously bigger guys, but we're going to do what we do. We're not going to change for anybody. We're going to gameplan based on what we feel like we can take advantage of in the game. They do an outstanding job. I have a lot of respect for Kevin Wilson, their offensive coordinator, a guy that I've known for a while. They're very well-matched together in what they do offensively, as far as the run game, the passing game. They do a great job in tempo with the no-huddle series they use when they get to the line, especially early in the game, they've been very effective with it. They're well-rounded, they're well-coached, they have good players and we look forward to the opportunity Saturday.
On Oklahoma's lack of a running game versus TCU: TCU brought a lot of pressure, but obviously they gave up four explosive plays for 60-plus yards. You live by it, you die by it. When you want to pressure and eliminate the run game or maybe affect Bradford, you have to realize that they have very good skill people outside and he's very accurate against pressure. You've got to pressure him at the right time. You've got to be multiple with what you do. You can't be stuck in one thing the whole game because if he knows what you're in, he's going to do a good job of exploiting it. Because of the no-huddle, they're able to see a lot of what you're going to do. We have to do a great job of moving around, disguising it and being multiple.
On the positive aspects of rivalry games: As a coach, you don't have to motivate the kids this week. They're going to be excited to play. It's going to be a great atmosphere. I look forward to being a part of it. It's a game on Saturday. It's going to be a 60-minute ballgame and we need to go play well, coach well, and prepare well in the game and not make it bigger than it is. I think sometimes your anxiety level may be higher as a player, your emotions will be high. You have to settle down and play, settle down and coach. That's what we're going to do Saturday.
On the game's atmosphere: It's a great environment to be in. That's why you coach. That's why you come to a place like Texas, is to play in this rivalry, to be involved in this game. It's a storied tradition, the history of it. A lot of great coaches and players have been a part of it and I look forward to it.
On facing Oklahoma's no-huddle offense: Communication is going to be key early in the game. It's true in any game, but especially this one. Kevin [Wilson] has done a good job of balancing their no-huddle and the look-back to check the box and see what you're in. We've got to do a great job of communicating what we're doing and what we're getting into based on what they do, how they align and the personnel groupings they're using.
On the prospects of a defensive struggle on Saturday: I hope so. I expect two outstanding football teams to be playing on Saturday that are both well-coached, physical, tough football teams who have good athletes on both sides of the ball. Those sorts of games can fall either way depending on the momentum of the game obviously. Again, I think it's just two outstanding, top-notch football teams that are very deserving of their rankings. I look forward to a great opportunity on Saturday of playing an outstanding football team.
On whether the plays have given him insight into what the game will be like: You could tell a different mood yesterday. We finished the Colorado game, watched the film and made the corrections, looked at the positives and negatives, we were very technical in our approach. But you can feel the difference in the atmosphere with the kids. They're excited because of the Red River Rivalry.
On the possibility of too much anxiety among players and coaches: I'm going to be me and just the let the players play. The first time they get that helmet in the throat, they'll calm down. (They should) just go have fun and play the game. Enjoy the atmosphere, the environment and have fun. That's why you play college football - the enjoyment of walking out in front of 92,000 people and having the opportunity to play in the arena. Enjoy the day in the arena and play well.
On the game coming down to individual matchups: I think that's true in every game. We always tell our guys to win their individual battle. That's true in every game you play. The pass rush matchups, the matchups outside, the matchups in space tackling the backs. That's true in every game and you've got to win your share of those - limit the explosive plays that they've been able to get to change the vertical field position and momentum of the game.