Mack Brown Monday press conference transcript: Oct. 11
Oct. 11, 2010
Opening statement: The bye week was great for us because we got to heal in some areas. A lot of players feel better today than they did a week ago. Also, we were able to work in a lot of different areas that needed to be corrected. Will [Muschamp] and Greg [Davis] will talk to you about those things a little bit later. It’s also fun to sit back and watch college football. It’s so crazy this year. It seems like it’s gotten crazy every year. I’m sitting there watching Auburn nearly get beat at Kentucky and South Carolina beats Alabama and LSU beats Florida. It’s absolutely crazy to see what’s going on. Florida State loses bad at Oklahoma then they go down and kill Miami. You can’t tell anymore what’s going to happen. I heard Lou Holtz say a couple of weeks ago that one game doesn’t mean that you’re going to play well the next, just because you play well one week. You’ve got to get ready to play each week. Kids have to understand that.
It was also fun yesterday watching all of our NFL guys play, especially the six that played in the Cowboys-Titans game. It was fun to watch those guys compete. I didn’t know if I wanted Roy [Williams] to catch the touchdown and score or Vince [Young] to bring them back and score. I was really confused. That’s why when it gets to our NFL guys, we do not pull for teams. We just pull for the guys that are playing and hopefully that they play well.
Coaches and players aren’t happy about where we are right now. We’ve had a tough couple of weeks and another challenging week this week with Nebraska, as we get ready to go to Lincoln. They’ve worked really hard in the open date to try to prepare to get the things better and play a complete game. That’s what we need to do. Also, our coaches had a super week in recruiting. They got to go out and see a lot of players and could go out Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. That helped us.
We still haven’t played together as a complete team for a game yet. We’ve gotten pieces together, but we haven’t played our best. That’s still out there. Hopefully that’s coming. We need to do that this weekend. We’ve been 12-0 after the Oklahoma games, but this is a bigger test than a lot of those weeks.
There’s been a lot of talk about Nebraska leaving the Big 12 and the possible tension between Texas and Nebraska. No one in our administration has ever come to me and said anything negative about Nebraska. I really don’t feel that tension. Even if there was tension between the two universities, there wouldn’t be any of it that would filter down to the coaches and the players. That’s not our deal. It’s not what we are interested in and worried about. We’re only looking at each other from a standpoint of playing. We’ve got great respect for the coaches at Nebraska. They’re friends. We have great respect for their team. And we also have great respect for their fans. It’s a great place. It’s one of the special places to coach and play in college football. I can’t even really think about the fact that we probably won’t be going there, especially in the near future, because the games aren’t scheduled. Most of our games are scheduled through 2021 or something. So unless it’s in this year’s championship game or unless it’s in a bowl game, I don’t think we’ll see Texas and Nebraska playing for a long time. It’s a shame with two of the winningest programs in college football history that they will not be matched up. It’s been a fun rivalry and a good rivalry. I even thought that Nebraska would come back here next year. That’s not going to happen now. This looks like the last game outside of championship or bowl games for a long time.
You have to give their team credit. They’ve played really well. People ask why I’ve always liked Nebraska. I think their fans are great. They’re knowledgeable. They love their team. They love football and they’ve always been gracious about a great game. I think that’s something that a whole lot of people could look at and try to follow. Nebraska has done it right for a long time. There’s never a seat available in that stadium. They come early. They stay late and they love their team. That’s something you have to give them credit for. Like Coach Royal, Coach [Tom] Osborne has been a role model for me for many years. I’ve watched him. I’ve visited with him through the years. He’s a great friend and also a guy that we’ve patterned a lot of the things that we do today after some of his teams in Lincoln.
When you look at the Nebraska team right now, you look at what they did at Washington. That wasn’t a win. That was a dominating win. The same thing happened the other night at Kansas State. They’ve gone on the road and played two really good teams and have beaten them badly. Then it scares you to think that Washington beat USC the next week in the last seconds and Kansas State beat UCLA. We obviously really have our hands full. As you’re looking at Nebraska, it could be the best team in the country by the end of the year. They have improved so much since last year. Bo Pelini has done a great job coaching - he and his staff. They took what they had. They had a great defense at midseason last year. It kept getting better and better. We saw it in the conference championship game, but they struggled on offense.
Now what they’ve done is brought in Taylor Martinez, number 3, and he had 369 yards himself - 241 yards rushing against Kansas State. He’s done for their offense what Vince did for ours. Now the backs are starting to get more yards. You look at [Roy] Helu, Jr. He has gotten over 100 yards three of the last four games. He and Rex Burkhead are both very good football players. Now they’re one of the best offenses in the country. They’re second in the nation in rushing. They’re averaging 337 yards a game. They’re seventh in total offense, nearly 500 yards a game. They’re ninth in scoring with 41.6 points per game. They’re 26th with their passing efficiency at 152.6. Versus Kansas State, Nebraska had four scoring drives of five plays or less. They’ve had 17 scoring drives of five plays or less this year, which shows you how explosive they are.
On defense, we knew they were good to start the year. They’re number one in pass efficiency defense. They’re number one in pass defense. They’re fourth in scoring defense giving up 13 points per game. They’re 12th in total defense giving up 275 yards per game. They’re 22nd in third down efficiency at 32 percent. They’re led by number 4, Lavonte David. He had 16 tackles against Kansas State. He’s had 35 tackles over the last two weeks. He’s had 60 tackles for the year.
Their place kicker and punter, Alex Henery is one of the best in the country also. He’s averaging 44 yards per punt. He’s made only four field goals because that’s all they’ve had to kick. He’s also in a position where he has gotten 28-of-28 extra points. Niles Paul, number 24, is a great punt returner that we saw return a kick against us which nearly was a game changer last year.
Since 1998, we’ve played eight times against Nebraska. Only two of the games have been decided by more than four points. Six of the eight games have been decided by 17 points or an average of 2.8 points per game. The three in Lincoln have been nine points difference. None of them have been more than four points. It’s also the first time since we had the back-to-back Oklahoma State and Texas Tech top ranked teams [in 2008] that we’ve played two ranked teams in the top 10 like Oklahoma and Nebraska. I think Oklahoma is sixth and Nebraska is fifth.
We practiced this morning. We flexed at 5:45. We were out there early. John Chiles, who only played 10 plays last week against Oklahoma is probable for the game and Mike Davis is probable as well. Hopefully we can get some of our receivers back.
On playing against Taylor Martinez and the Nebraska offense: I think you have to start with [Martinez] because he can win the game. Now what’s happened is all the other guys are opening up. The two running backs who couldn’t get free much last year are now getting 100-yard games. They’re making big plays. Martinez can throw it. People aren’t talking about his passing efficiency. He can do both. He’s been a game changer for them. He’s shown so much composure as a freshman.
On the difference in Nebraska’s defense from last year to this year: They’re basically the same. They haven’t changed much at all. They’re very aggressive with their defense. Not that they blitz a lot, but they line up and do what we call “match.” They’re going to have their guy take your guy. He’s going to have him all over the field. That’s why their shutting down everybody’s passing attack. I think Washington’s [Jake Locker] - they all say he’s a number one draft pick, maybe the best quarterback in the country - was six-of-20, I think. They make it very difficult because they can get pressure on you with four. Their linebackers are more in the 200 pound to 210 range that can really run with your backs and tight ends and wide receivers, and their corners can really cover. It’s very difficult to get people open.
On if Nebraska’s defense is different than Oklahoma’s: Yes, Oklahoma is much more multiple than Nebraska.
On how the bye week affects him as a coach: It’s good and bad. The bad part is that you have to wait another two weeks to have a chance to play. The pain of losing stays with you. It’s a very difficult thing. It’s not like basketball and baseball where you play on Tuesday and play again on Thursday and play on Saturday and Sunday and get another four next week. You can get it fixed easier. The good thing for us it that we needed to heal. We had three very physical games with Texas Tech, UCLA and Oklahoma – emotional games, two of those three. We also had some things we needed to fix. We went back to work and are trying to do a better job with the things that haven’t been done well. It’s funny, parts of our kicking game have been good, but they all haven’t been good on the same day. Our punt block and punt return teams have been so good throughout the years. We’ve given up 21 points and haven’t scored any on that team. There’s some fundamentally sound things that we need to fix. Hopefully a lot of those got fixed because Nebraska can sure expose you if you don’t play well.
On any major changes for this week: Well, it’s a lot of little things. Coaches are at a real disadvantage in the 15-minute [post-game] press conference - people want to know how the offensive line played and what changes did we make on defense. You really can’t get into some of those things anyway, because we don’t really want to say what we changed for Nebraska. Secondly, it’s hard to explain it in a sound-byte, and that is what people expect. It’s a difficult thing to do - that’s where we get the term coach-speak.
On the past two games and Nebraska all being in one stretch: It’s basically like the four games we had back in 2008 –it was Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Tech. Those were ranked in the top 8, I think, at that time. Going to Tech is tough, whether they’re playing well or not, that is always a tough trip. UCLA surprised us, and we didn’t play well. But it was a physical game, and we got beaten up. And then you have the physical and emotional game with Oklahoma last week. And now we’re pulling up to a Nebraska team that may be as good as anyone in the country. So what we will do - this will be the last game of the first season. It’s midseason right now, and then we’ll start over next week. Our guys understand that because they’re running the option and doing new things, we like the fact that we had ten days to prepare. You need that with this look, and not only do you have trouble preparing for Martinez’s speed, but he makes everybody else better on his football team especially on the offensive side. So it has been a tough stretch, but it’s been a stretch that made us grow up and be better too. We’re not going to play any teams better than last week and this week.
On if the goals for the offense have changed throughout the course of the season: I think some people have totally gone off the end of the road with what offense we wanted to implement. All we ever said is we wanted to have more balance with our running game, and that was it. I shouldn’t have said anything about it, because it gives everybody something to yell at when you’re losing. But that hasn’t changed. We are running the ball better right now than we were at this point last year, but we’re not running near where we’d like to. But as far as being balanced, that’s what we would like do and that’s our goal still, and we’re not there right now. And we’ve been back to the same offense for the last three or four weeks that we had last year and throughout Colt’s career. We just want to run it better.
On how the team handles losing: There’s so many people on the team that it’s hard to say. Some of the young guys may be worrying about that a little bit. Some of the old ones know they can win. I told them last night when they got back for our team meeting, that if they looked at Saturday, wins are really hard. Florida has lost two in a row. It’s hard to win, and sometimes we take that for granted. And as players and coaches, we cannot take that for granted. We have to go back and make sure we do the things we have to do to get back on track. We cannot take any win for granted. After you lose two, you don’t take a win for granted.
On if he’s seeing the same effort from his players: Yes, they are really trying. And I think that’s part of growing up. I was a little worried because you got some young guys on the team and the older guys playing [together], so you never know [if] they’re going to mesh. We always say that [during] preseason. You never know how you’re team is going to respond to you in the fourth quarter in a tight game. Like we said, I liked how we responded in the second half at Tech. I didn’t like the way we responded to UCLA, and I liked how we played in the second half last week. But I didn’t like the first half. It’s a team that’s growing up, and we need to grow up fast.
On the belief that Texas has little chance against Nebraska this week: I haven’t heard anybody say that we have a chance. We haven’t been an underdog around here in a long time. I guess Alabama was one of the few for the last few years. Maybe in ‘08 against Oklahoma. And we’ve been an underdog the last two weeks in a row, so it’s new for us and I don’t like it. It means you’re not playing very well.
On leadership roles among team members: You can do things at practice - you can have team meetings and have player speeches. But until produce out on the field, they’re not effective. And that’s what we told the guys. You can do that, but you have to do it on TV. In front of a national TV [audience], to win a game that we’re having trouble with, to step up and be the strong leader that you need to be. And that is what we’re asking the guys to do. Who is going to step up on Saturday at 2:30. They had a great practice this morning, and they’re excited about going. But it’s going to be a hard fought game. You can’t play it on Monday. You can’t play it on Tuesday. But make plays during the game to change the momentum of the game. Then we can stand up and say you have become the leader. We saw inconsistency from Tech up to Oklahoma, so it is something we have to do for the rest of the year to be successful.
On how QB Garrett Gilbert is handling the pressure: I think Garrett is fine. He’s smart. He’s tough. He grew up in football and he understands that at Texas, you need to win games. He understands that he is going to be scrutinized as the quarterback. We told him that before he came here. But he was here when every one gave up on Vince Young and said move to him to receiver or free safety. He sat in the stands and watched Missouri, where we took [Vince] out and he was out of there. He watched the Chris Simms and Major Applewhite stuff. He watched Colt [McCoy]. There were times in Colt’s first or second year that people said he’ll never be tough enough to win the game. I get all those calls and emails. So I think that [Garrett’s] demeanor is really good in that the only thing that is important to him is winning. He’s not sensitive. He’s not worried about perception of people. He does want to continue to win like the great quarterbacks before him, and that is something that’s on my plate. It’s on his plate. It’s on Greg Davis’ plate. All of us need to pick it up.
On his prior success at Nebraska: Well I would think that it’s more walking out of there with three great games. Those things are unbelievable. I will never forget the Ricky [Williams] game, because 47 straight wins and he had a great night against a super blackshirt defense. And I’ve said it many times - to be there after the game and the ABC interview and walking off the field, and having the fans, all who stayed, giving an opposing player a standing ovation is something I’ve never seen before, and I don’t think I’ll ever see again. It was one of the most amazing moments to me in sportsmanship that I’ve ever seen. And then the second game up there was unbelievable. In the last moment of the game, they called a push-off on Roy Williams. I’ll never forget the official dropped his flag and couldn’t find it. We huddled up and the flag comes out, and I asked him where the flag had been. He said, “I lost it.” So he threw it out there late. Then we had a short punt, [and] they return it nearly for a touchdown. Then Frank [Solich], trying to be aggressive, goes for the score to win the game, and Nathan Vasher intercepts the ball in the corner with three seconds left. Then in the last game with Ryan Bailey, we kicked it at 25 seconds leaving 22 seconds left. And that one was after they make the first down then fumble the ball and we get it. We start moving it then we fumble it, and Kasey Studdard sprints down the field and dives on it to save it. Then our kicker has a pulled groin, so poor Ryan Bailey is on our sidelines and most of our players didn’t know who he was. I will never forget Greg Davis saying, “Should we try to score, or is a field goal right?” And I said, ”Go ahead try to score”, because I didn’t know what Ryan would do when he got out there. Then he kicks it right down the middle into the snowstorm to win the game. But even after that they get it to midfield. They throw it deep for the last play of the game, and Brian Orakpo hits the quarterback late and they get another throw into the endzone. So all of these games have been unbelievable. This has been great for college football.