Mack Brown Monday press conference: Oct. 13
Oct. 13, 2008
Opening statement: It was an exciting game like the Red River Rivalry should be. You go back and look at big games in college football each week and now with College GameDay and all of the hype, a lot of times the hype's better than the game. This game lived up to all the expectations. It was a great football game between two really good, I thought well-coached football teams, but good football teams and talented football teams. Both teams played so hard and probably the most impressive thing is that when one team would go ahead, the other would answer and it would come right back and answer again and again and again. That's what made the game one of the best I've been involved with. It was also fun that it was the largest crowd in Cotton Bowl history and something that these kids can remember from both teams for a long time. I thought the crowd was louder because of the extra seats and the setting was what everybody wanted it to be, and it was fun to have all of our NFL guys back. There were so many of them that were back, some of them currently playing that were open and some guys that are between teams or not playing any longer. We had a pretty good looking bunch on that sideline. Once again, I thought the game lived up to the hype, both teams played really hard, played well, it was a physical game and one that people will remember for a long time.
We said last week two of the things we thought would determine the game would be turnovers and kicking game, and we felt like that's what happened. We won the turnover battle 2-0 with true turnovers and then we forced three fourth down stops, so really we had five turnovers or change of possessions to only two, and we felt like that was very significant in this ballgame. The two biggest plays in the kicking game, Jordan Shipley's kickoff return at a time where we needed to change momentum back and Curtis Brown's play on the fake punt because he comes from the outside right, the punter runs away from him to our left and he runs him down from behind and stops him short, which was another really big play. We won all three phases in the kicking game. Because of those two plays, Jordan Shipley and Curtis Brown were our special teams players of the week, and then we felt like you could also look at Hunter Lawrence, he was 100 percent with his three field goals and extra points. We felt like those guys were most productive.
Offensively, the two players that were most productive- Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby, those guys blocked well, they caught the ball, the made plays after the run and we're really, really proud of their performance. The best lineman, the Boss Hog, of the week was Chris Hall. He had some big guys to block inside and he did just a super job and we're proud of him. Best Contributor was Colt McCoy. He continues to play at a high level. People were talking about 80 percent (completions) against lesser competition but let's see how he does when gets against a really good defense. He continued to be in that 80 percentile with completions and still taking care of the ball. You look at where he was last year with the 10 interceptions as compared to three this year. He's responsible for 21 touchdowns this year as compared to 10 at this time last year, so he's just playing at so much more of a high level. Chris Ogbonnaya had the best play of the game, the run at the end of the game to put the game away was an outstanding run but also he's playing the best we've seen him play in his five years (at Texas). Offensively, the good things were we kept answering and that's something a good team has to do. This game, because of the split crowd we think, has more momentum shifts than any we coach in. It's just been amazing and the players feel the same way. To win this ballgame you're going to have to take momentum and turn it back because it'll be against you some. They finished. The offensive kids finished plays, they finished drives and they finished the game because when you're down there with four minutes left and you're sitting in a position where you've got to make a couple of first downs and get the ball on the other end of the field, they not only did that they went down and scored. There were three drives over 74 yards, which again, against a great defense is hard to do. Once again, no turnovers which we felt like was a big, big part of the ballgame. It was two of the best teams in the red zone in the country. We were seven out of seven in the red zone on Saturday afternoon.
Defensively, we were able to force the five turnovers, the two interceptions and the three fourth down stops. We felt like that on a negative note there were three other balls on the ground that we forced fumbles and didn't get on them and there was another interception that we could've gotten. We had four three-and-outs. We stopped the run really, really well. We felt like that was something we had to do is make them one-dimensional and we were able to. We did miss 10 tackles for 91 yards after contact and that's something we have to improve, some of that credit should go to OU because they've got really, really good football players. We did get 13 hits on Sam Bradford and three of those were sacks so we felt like we kept him from getting as comfortable as he had been in the first five weeks. We did give up too many big plays. The good thing is that we felt like to win a game like this and go back and see so many things we can correct on both sides of the ball will really help us get prepared for this week. Secondly, probably three of the five big plays are plays that we had some mistakes and that we can correct.
Players of the game, defensively was Brian Orakpo and it was obvious he played at such a high level, and the other two were Earl Thomas and Blake Gideon, so it's really interesting that the two young safeties ended up being defensive player of the game. Ball Hawks, meaning you caused a fumble or got an interception, Earl Thomas caused a fumble and had two interceptions, Brian Orakpo caused a fumble and Roddrick Muckelroy caused a fumble. Hard Hat award goes to Curtis Brown for a kickoff cover where he hit DeMarco Murray and really knocked him back. He had about three of those. Really, really proud of Curtis, he played so well on special teams. He really stepped up and did a good job for us.
Fun win, a good win and it just makes this game with Missouri much more important. You look at just the next three weeks, Missouri's ranked 11th, Oklahoma State's eight and Texas Tech is number seven and then we've still got games with Baylor who's much improved, their win over Iowa State was really impressive on Saturday night, Kansas and Texas A&M. We've got our hands full. The fact that we're sitting around here as No. 1 means absolutely nothing except we've played well enough in the first six weeks of the season that people have acknowledged us by letting us be in that top group. I'm not even sure there is a number one team. Nobody this time last year remembers who No. 1 was. Nobody remembers and nobody really cares. I don't think it puts any more pressure on our guys and at the same time I do think it is a reward for playing well and we've got to continue to play well as a team.
Missouri's a team that comes in with a quarterback like we faced last week. We've got some fun coming up here when you look at Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy and all of us getting to watch those two guys play and they lived up to the expectations. This weekend we've got Chase Daniel, next weekend Zac Robinson, next weekend Graham Harrell, next weekend Robert Griffin, then Todd Reesing. It just goes and goes and goes. We're all getting to see why the Big 12 has the most teams in the top 10 right now because of their offenses and their quarterbacks. There are 10 starters back on the Missouri defense. They'll be very disappointed with the outcome of their game on Saturday, so we'll catch their best shot. We know they'll be excited. It should be a rocking stadium Saturday night at 7:00 so it should be fun. It's fun to play in games like this. One of the things we told the players yesterday, `Don't worry about number one right now, six weeks from now if you're still number one, we'll start talking about it.'
On the difficulty of the game immediately following the Oklahoma game: When I coached at OU in 1984 we went to Iowa State and absolutely stunk the week after the Texas game. Texas was number one and OU was number two at that point, and at that time it made sense to me that the hardest thing about this game is the week after. The week before is difficult, I didn't realize that at Oklahoma because I can't remember who we played. The week before and the week after are very difficult games to coach. Both sides are really banged up today, they're really sore so you've got to go back to Tuesday's practice. One team's getting bashed for not winning the game; one team's getting glorified more than they should. It's over exaggerated on both ends of this game and at the same time you've got a good team coming in. We've been fortunate enough to win 10 straight after this game. Whether we've won or lost the (OU) game, four of those were top-25 teams so we told our guys, `You better forget it, you better forget it fast, you better learn from it.' The good thing for us is we made so many mistakes Saturday, that we were able to overcome them by good plays and we were able to overcome them by effort and attitude, that we've got so much to wok on and treat it like a loss again and tell them that we cannot beat Missouri making the mistakes we made Saturday.
On the resiliency of the team: We're really proud of these seniors because they have set a tempo since Arizona State. This didn't start this summer, this started back with the offseason programs at 6 in the morning and nobody missing and all of them working. Then spring practice and then this summer, just listening to them, they had nearly 100 percent show up at their workouts and the things that they organized. The juniors and seniors on this team were involved with the national championship group in 2005 and I don't mean to say that this team is such a team that that team wasn't, that team was older and more talented than this team. We didn't even think about team concept because they played like it every week, they didn't have many close games, it was just a different time. This team has been fun because they're working so hard together and they understand right now what you have to do to win. They're taking care of the ball, you see Chris Ogbonnaya get through the line of scrimmage and he's got both hands on it, Colt has just been so careful with turnovers and they also understand that when momentum changes it's on you to get it back. You have to compliment Will Muschamp, after the game the first thing he says is thank goodness for the running game, thank goodness for Colt McCoy and that offense coming back when we gave up a big play and that's what happens right now. It's a very unselfish staff and therefore a very unselfish team, but they're learning how to win the game and they know when they're in trouble they need to pick it up and go right back and score, no different than Colorado intercepting the pass, running back and scoring and they go right back and score so answering is a big thing for them at this point.
On the schedule: What happens with all of us in non-conference schedules now is usually you're going to play one or two really good teams, Arkansas even though they upset Auburn this weekend did not the credit for being a good team, and the other three teams didn't as well. Colorado, because they had just gotten beat by Florida State, I don't think they got the credit going into the game. This was the first game that our guys can walk out of the game and say that against very, very good competition that we were able to win. They understand now at least they're in the game. We do have a difficult schedule but it may be good for this team. They're going to have to keep their foot on the pedal and they understand they can not slip. Missouri coming in, they've watched them, they know how good they are, then they've got Oklahoma State coming right in, then Tech so there's three top-11 teams in a row. They can't slow down.
On the latter part of the schedule: I don't think we'll know who we are until we go three more weeks and then after that we're going to play really good teams that won't be hyped as much unless things change by then so another real difficult thing for us is after this four week stretch of top-10 football teams, then we can't take a deep breath and act like it's over, we're going to have to go back to work.
On what strategies the staff has used to motivate the team after the Oklahoma game: We're 5-6 in those games, of those 10 four of them were top-25 so there's some tough games mixed into that. What we've tried to do is tell the guys that the Oklahoma game's the end of the first half of the season, it is over, bury it and you better get rid of it win or lose. Now that we've been here 10 years we've got a lot of information that we can show them like, we beat OU 28-10 two years ago and lost the last two games and it didn't even matter. At the end of the year it was a disappointing year because we didn't get a chance to play for the conference championship. Take this one for what it is, OU's a very important game but after you beat OU, unless you go finish, it makes that game less important.
On if had preferred Missouri won last week: That's a real hard call. I was sitting there watching the game trying to figure that out. For the fans and the national attention and all that, yes but you never know if you want somebody coming in a little wounded. I don't think it makes any difference, I really don't. They're going to play as a good against us as they can, they were anyway. If you say `I wish they'd won' then Oklahoma State's mad at you the next week. I've got to look at six weeks here, I can't look at tomorrow and nowhere else. I don't think it makes any difference.
On the difference between last year and this year's team: We probably weren't as bad as everybody thought we were because people around here can take a dive real fast. If you get three bad quarters people are in the tank and we don't give other teams credit much, A&M was in a very emotional situation, they were losing their coach. I don't want to continue to bash last year's team for 10 wins and a great bowl win over a top-12 Arizona State team because they did a lost of great things. What they didn't do what this one's done so far is they weren't consistently good and that's why we came up with our theory and we felt like not everybody as hard and as well as they needed to on every play and if you don't you're going to get beat. So far I don't think I've seen a guy loaf this year, period. That's what we've got to keep doing. We're not the type of team that can go out there and roll the helmet out and think we're going to win, 2005 probably could have. We're not at that stage right now; we're not talented enough, we're not old enough, we're not experienced enough so that's where I'm feeling good is the fact that so far in six weeks they have played up to the level of expectation and beyond because they've played so hard and they've finished games and last year's team just didn't do that all the time.
On the kicking game: I'm probably the most excited right now about our kicking game. For Jonathan Gold to get two punts over 50 yards in this game and change field position and Justin Tucker's kicking well, we've finally got that kickoff return we've been looking for and Quan (Cosby) had one close and now we've got to go back and keep working on our punt return because people are trying to punt it away and we're not getting the opportunities we had before. Offense and defense are who they are and they're going to keep working, if your kicking game can make a significant difference every week and you don't turn the ball over, you're going to have a chance to win most games.
On Missouri: Chase (Daniel) is a great football player. All we're seeing him do is what he did at Southlake Carroll. I think he lost one game, Todd Dodge was the coach and they just did the same thing. Adam Ulatoski played with him and he's just so accurate, it's amazing. You look at the stats and you don't see his ability to run. He's smart, he doesn't turn the ball over and he's going to make plays with his feet. They've scored more touchdowns in the red zone running than they have passing, and that's because of him. (Jeremy) Maclin's amazing, big, tall, fast, makes plays. He's the guy that can take the underneath screens and go score and we didn't do very well in those areas last week so I'm sure he and Chase will be excited about some of the big plays they saw, and we'll have our hands full this weekend. On defense, they're blitzing about 50 percent of the time, so we'll see the same stuff with them coming in here and getting after us.