Oct. 13, 2009
Running backs coach Major Applewhite
On Fozzy Whittaker’s speed and vision: He’s got that quality. When you combine change of direction with speed and vision you can do a lot of things. There are guys with great vision that don’t have great speed. Fozzy has the combination of those things.
On if he tells his players about his experiences against Oklahoma: I don’t think they’re very interested in my stories. I think they’re interested in hearing how it’s going to be. They’re not interested in hearing my personal anecdotes. I talk to them about the game being fast and physical, how much it means to our people, how much it means to the Oklahoma fans. I’m not going to get into personal anecdotes; that just bores them to tears.
On the two teams’ return to national prominence over the last decade: I think that’s a compliment to both head coaches, what they’ve done with their programs respectively and bringing them to the national forefront. Instead of an unranked playing a high-20’s team you’re always seeing top 10 teams meet each other for the most part. It’s a credit to what both programs have done and a credit to what both head coaches have brought to their universities.
On the run game: The run game is a multi-facet issue. There are a lot of things, all the way from scheme to the things that people don’t think about like wide receivers blocking. You would think it’s got to be the offensive line. There are a lot of things that come into play. There’s scheme, the quarterback’s got to get you in the right play, the back has got to make the right read, he’s got to break tackles, offensive line and tight ends have to finish blocks, safeties and corners have to be blocked on the edge, wide receivers have to do their job down the field. Every position has to do its job, and then we as coaches have got to put them in a position to be successful. We can’t run against fronts where there are people that are unblocked. Everybody has got to have a hand in that. I wish it was as simple as, “This group isn’t doing their job.” If it was that simple we’d be able to address it quicker but there are things across the board that we’ve got to get better at.
On tempering frustrations with the running game: The thing is it was one game. It hasn’t been what we’ve wanted, but there have been times where we have run the ball well and we’ve run it when we needed to, and there have been times where we haven’t. You have to look at it and see if we need to do more of this and less of that and use it as motivation. You have to at some point flip your index pointer with your thumb pointer and say, “It’s my fault. I’ve got to do it.” I’ve got to do it as a coach, my group has got to do it as players and that’s where we’re at. There’s not a lot of finger pointing, there’s a lot of thumb pointing. That’s what you have to have.
On Cody Johnson: He came in camp at 260, he was overweight. He’s done a great job since then and has really worked himself back into the rotation and has really focused on everything off the field, school, everything that you need to do to be a great player at Texas. He’s really got his mind in the right place right now and has great potential, great ability and we’re just looking for a chance to see him go.
On the status of Vondrell McGee and Tre’ Newton: We can’t talk about their injuries, but they’re paying close attention to make sure that they’re ready for Saturday if they can be as opposed to people who have no chance of playing.
On the plan for Saturday: You just kind of have to go with who’s healthy. You have to really rely on your doctors and your players for information and their input and how they feel and get a good read on those players. I was very optimistic about what I saw today. I feel good about that. When you’ve got guys like Vondrell and Tre’ who have taken a lot of reps, it’s good to get somebody else some reps to get them worked in the routine and those guys can get mental reps. They’ve gotten a lot of grass reps in the last five weeks, so it’s good to stand back and let somebody else get a few more looks at the runs.
S Earl Thomas
On his two interceptions against Oklahoma last season: I was just playing a high safety and I just got a good jump on the ball. I was trying to plead my case a little bit to the refs on the last pick, just to see if they would give it to me.
On how he has been able to increase his interception total to four so far this season: I don’t know, it’s just happening for me. I’m just trying to read the offense the best that I can and trying to make plays for the defense.
On the defense: We’re just taking it one game at a time. We’re not looking past any game. We’re playing every play and we’re trying to finish every play. We’re playing every play like it’s our last.
On why the secondary has improved so much from last season: Last year we were just roaming around out there, basically. This year we know what we’re doing a little bit better as far as the scheme.
On if the coaches are providing any extra motivation this week: It’s OU, that’s motivation by itself. It’s the Red River rivalry. It’s going to be one side Texas and the other side OU. What more do you need?
On the atmosphere at last year’s game: It was crazy. You would think it’s like 5 p.m., but it’s 11 in the morning. Everybody’s out there being rowdy. It’s just a great experience.
On defending Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford: He’s a good quarterback. We’re just trying to do what we’re coached. We’re not going to try to do anything out of the ordinary. We’re just going to go out there and play ball and see what happens.
S Blake Gideon
On the Texas-Oklahoma game: This is definitely a game that all of us watched growing up. I’m sure every little boy at some point growing up in Texas pictures himself in the situation that we’re blessed to be in right now. It should be a blast.
On having more experience going into this year’s OU game: We’re veterans I guess now. We’ve got a year under our belt. Maybe we’ll do a little bit more than know how to line up this year. We understand that they’ve got a great offense and a great quarterback; they’re going to make plays. They’re going to move the ball. In a game like this, playing defensive back it’s about forgetting and moving on and playing the next play.
On Oklahoma’s offense missing players: It’s the University of Oklahoma. They sign just as good of athletes as we sign and just as good of players. We don’t feel like there’s much of a drop off as they go through their depth chart. To say that there’s holes in their offense, I think that would be leading you astray. From what they’ve put on film, and the guys that have had to step up I don’t think they’ve lost a step.
On putting plays behind him as a defensive back: You have to remember it in the sense that you don’t want the same thing to happen. You’ve got to remember the route that guy just beat you on and make sure it doesn’t happen. Coach (Duane Akina) talks about having a positive memory. You store stuff away in your mind throughout the game and you should be getting smarter throughout the game and figuring out an offense. At the same time, not dwelling on plays that beat you and letting plays that beat you continue to beat you throughout the game.
WR Jordan Shipley
On playing in the Texas-Oklahoma game for the last time: It’s a fun atmosphere to get to be a part of a game like that. That’s the fun thing – every year is so different. The last couple of years I’ve been a part of a game that’s been so different every single time. Just to be in there, especially with the renovations in the stadium and 90 something thousand. It’s a really fun atmosphere.
On the two defenses in this game: I do feel like both defenses are really good. I have a whole lot of confidence in our defense, and I think they’ve been playing great. They’ve made some huge stops for us. I can’t say enough about what they’ve been doing. At the same time, we have a lot of respect for their defense and know that we’re going to have to be at the top of our game on Saturday.
On special teams having an impact on this game: I feel like special teams are important in every game. This game is not any different. In big games, especially rivalry games, a lot of times they come down to special teams. We realize it can be a huge momentum swing. I’m looking forward to being out there on Saturday.
On the memories he wants to take from his last Texas-Oklahoma game: The main thing is that you want to end it on a good note. I’ve had a lot of fun playing the last few years, and I’ve had some good times, some good memories. Definitely the main thing is that I want to end that on the right note.
On if he prefers scoring long receiving or special teams touchdowns: I’m not picky as far as 70-yard touchdowns go. I think they’re all pretty fun. Any or all of the above are really fun to me. Really, I just like seeing our team score 75-yard touchdowns, or actually, any touchdowns. They’re all fun for me as long as it’s the guys in the orange scoring them.