Tracking Mack: Oct. 13
Oct. 13, 2010
Opening statement: The University has decided to retire Colt McCoy's jersey. We're all very, very excited about that. It will be in pregame before the Baylor game. That's an open week for him and it's something that's been discussed. But we were just able to announce it today, and we also felt like since there's a chance that he will be playing in his first NFL game this weekend that it was great timing. We're very, very proud of Colt. Every time we look at his name up in the upper part of the stadium with the other great names that have played at the University of Texas, we'll be proud of him. We'll be proud of his team and all of their accomplishments. We're also excited that he is open that week and has gotten permission to come. We're excited for him, excited for Texas and what a great honor. I know it's not one guy, but it's a team that helps a guy become the national player of the year and that's one of the requirements for having your jersey retired. So we're excited for him.
We had a great practice yesterday. The guys were focused and understand how good and how much fun this challenge will be this weekend, but it's going to be a tough game. They're playing great. You look at [Nebraska QB] Taylor Martinez who's averaging about 11 yards every time he runs the ball which is phenomenal. So we have to play with great eye discipline on our defense. That's something we didn't do with a similar-type offense against UCLA. We had too many busted assignments. We missed too many tackles and you cannot have success against what Nebraska's doing on offense right now unless you're disciplined with your assignments and your eyes, and then you've got to tackle a great player that's 195 pounds and playing as well as any quarterback in the country after you get there. He's also made all the other players around him better so they're just running up and down the field on people. You go back to 17 touchdown drives of five plays or less is just phenomenal, and 11 yards a carry when people know he's going to carry it like [at] Kansas State, it is frightening.
Their kicking game's as good as anybody in the country - it is every year. You look at the return [Niles] Paul had against us last year and it scares you to death because if you kick it to him he can return it every time he touches it. He's an outstanding player. Their punter/kicker is as good as anybody in the country. I think they pinned us two or three times inside the 20[-yard line] last year so they make it tough on you with field position. We haven't been moving the ball consistently well and what they'll do is matchup and keep the guys around the line of scrimmage, but they play a match/man and zone where they're going to pressure receivers and make you get open. We're going to have to beat man coverage to be able to move the ball and win the game.
I think all of the talk about the excitement of this game and how the Nebraska fans will handle it after last year's game and how pumped they'll be for the game and all those types of things, that's who Nebraska is. They follow their team. Every time we've been up there they've been great fans, but I do think they'll treat our team with class.
We feel like we did some things better in the second half of the Oklahoma game than we have done this season. We answered more. We had our opportunities. We still didn't finish it like we needed too, but we're hoping that along with that game and the preparation that we've had for 10 days to prepare for Nebraska is that we will see improvement Saturday against one of the great teams in the country.
On forcing Nebraska to pass the ball: Everybody's trying and that's what's amazing. They've developed a scheme much like we did with Vince [Young]. They have different blocking schemes, but they can block the guy that's responsible for him or you lock up and you've got one guy responsible for him and he misses a tackle and then everybody else is spread out and he breaks it like he did against Kansas State for the big plays. It's very, very difficult to do. Brock Fitzhenry - who is real fast and he ran the option in high school - is Taylor Martinez [in practice] this weekend and he's working really hard to try to make our guys chase him. There was one time yesterday where we missed a tackle and you could tell it would have been a big play so it scares you to death. He keeps pressure on your defense on every play.
On their zone read being similar to the offense with Vince Young: There is some of it, but they've got different zone reads. We did a quarterback counter against Nebraska with Vince. We did a read off of the underneath sweep reverse against Oklahoma last year that was very successful. John Chiles did it against Texas Tech. They're doing a combination of all of those things.
On the offense opening up the playbook: You just have to play well when you do. It's easy to say, "go for fourth-and-twos" when you make them. It's easy to say, "fake those punts" when you make them. It's easy to say, "turn it loose" when you're moving it. Turning it loose means moving it. So that's what we've got to do on offense.
On Nebraska's talent compared to Oklahoma's talent: I think they're two of the most talented teams in the country. You look at Nebraska - from the team that we played last year - this is a very, very similar team. The difference is the quarterback. We held them to 106 yards total offense last year. It's basically the same guys except for him, and he's just made that much difference. So you have to give him and them credit for what they've come up with offensively. It's made a huge difference for their team. You go back to them last year at this time - I think they had nine turnovers and lost to Iowa State about this time of the year and since that time they've gotten better every game. So you have to give them credit.
On being able to back bounce after losses easier in next year's conference format: I hate to answer it because I haven't thought about it. When I was at North Carolina we had the other format, I guess, but I really hadn't thought that much about which would have the advantage. I've always felt like you can get a truer champion in what we will have next year because everybody has to play everybody. [In the Big Ten], I heard them talking that Michigan State doesn't play Ohio State this year, and it's always harder to determine who the best team is unless you win it out on the field.
On playing tough games in the past after losing to Oklahoma: I've gone back to look at where we were in 2007 when we lost back-to-back games. I've gone back to trying to see where we were with the two top-10 ranked teams in 2008 when we played them back-to-back. I think the only other time we've played two ranked teams back-to-back was our first year and that was UCLA/Kansas State, I think. You go back at this stage and you try to look for every advantage that you can possibly get.
On when they told Colt McCoy that his jersey was being retired: We would not have brought it up with him until we could do it. The only thing we did was look at his schedule to see when he had an open date and hope that it would work out, and then obviously, if he could not have done it this year, I am sure that the University could have waited. There is a process that you have to go through with a group of committees, and I have absolutely nothing to do with it.
On retiring McCoy's jersey so quickly: One of the things that I feel like is that when somebody has accomplished something, why not let him enjoy it now? The way I understand it, we did Vince [Young]'s as soon as we could because we were not retiring jerseys when Vince finished for anything except Heisman Trophy winners. Then they went through a complete evaluation and looked at each sport and changed the criteria some. One of the things they added for football was National Player of the Year, and Colt and Vince have both accomplished that goal. To me, why wait? Fans appreciate it. It's fresh on their mind. He can enjoy it. I am in full support that the athletic department and the University decided to do it now.
On how Texas's offensive line matches up against Nebraska's defensive line: They totally dominated us last year. It was a frustrating game. I was so proud of the guys that they came back to win with that last drive and did a great job with it. I do not think that there is any question that their defensive line has our offensive line and our coaches' attention. Even though I saw Ndamukong Suh on Sunday doing the same thing to those pro guys, [Baker] Steinkuhler stepped in and has done a great job. They have a great team. There is not a weakness across the board, and I think that they have earned the right to be one of the top teams in the country.
On whether there is more pressure on Nebraska than Texas this year coming into this game: I would say that we are a team that is trying to get better, trying to get back on track, and they are a team that is trying to win a national championship right now. We can't talk about anything except trying to win, and their goals have gotten much bigger than that. So I do not think that there is any question that there is a tremendous amount of press on us because it is Texas, and we want to win all the games and we want to get better, but we have lived the life that Nebraska is living right now more than we have lived the other life, and it is constant pressure.
On LB Emmanuel Acho: Emmanuel is so smart, and when we are talking about eye discipline and assignment discipline, that fits he and Sam [Acho] to a "T" because they are smart, have disciplined lives, and they are young guys who usually do exactly what they are supposed to do. Plus, they are athletic enough and tough enough to be disruptive. It will be a real test for our defense, but one I think our defense is excited about.
On whether moving to the Big Ten will affect Nebraska's recruiting presence in the state of Texas: I don't know. I think it will be interesting to see because the whole question will be that their games will not be on TV regionally as much, and obviously, the distance to travel to all the games would be further now because their home game would be in Nebraska and their away game would be further away. I know we were even thinking that if we joined the Pac 10 that one of the things we would need to do is schedule as many regional opponents as we could out of conference, so we would make it easier for the parents and high school coaches to still get to some games.
On the article which came out in Sports Illustrated on agents: I gave it to the staff this morning and told them to read it. Obviously, if this is true, that stuff is still out there. So you have to be real smart and real careful. Then, they usually take those things to their individual meetings and talk to the kids about it, and then will give copies to the players. I will also mention it after practice.
On whether he expects WR John Chiles and WR Mike Davis to play this weekend: Yes. They practiced well yesterday, and I think they will be well. John hasn't been well. He has tried to play. He was not well at UCLA, and he hasn't been able to get off bump coverage or get open like we need him to. I was concerned about Mike, but I thought that he looked good yesterday, and hopefully some of the freshman will start being more consistent.
On whether any players have been moved over to the offensive line from defense: About five or six weeks ago, we moved Kyle Kriegel over to offense, and Mac [McWhorter] is working with him some at the end of practice and did a little bit on open week. I don't think that there is anyone else that we have looked at.
On whether they are going to switch up punt return duty: We are going to stay with the two [Aaron Williams and Curtis Brown]. They are older guys who have been really successful for us. A lot of people like to throw people out after a mistake, and if that had been the case, there would be very few people in this room, including me, who would have a job.