Oct. 22, 2009
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis
On how they recover from an emotional win: Mack (Brown) met with the team and talked about our record. I’m sure he mentioned our record with the first ball game after OU. It’s been pretty productive. What we told them was, “Look, if we would have told you in January that had a six-week run to win the Big 12, would that have gotten you fired up?” They responded to that. And I think they also remember what happened last year. At the end of that run, we did not beat (Texas) Tech in Lubbock. There’s a lot on the line, but it starts this week at Missouri.
On how he keeps the offensive line up and making improvements: I thought both our tackles played extremely well against (Auston) English and (Jeremy) Beal for the most part. They are very talented players, and (Gerald) McCoy is one of the best in the country. There were good plays in the ball game, and that’s what you have to focus on. When you stepped right, and put your head right, and you trusted your fundamentals, there were good plays. When you didn’t step right, when your head wasn’t right, and when you didn’t trust your fundamentals, that’s when he gets over-powering. He’s so strong, and along with that strength, he has great quickness, and then you go back, just like you do with a quarterback or anyone else, you go back and show good plays against whoever where they have stepped right, put their heads right, but that’s what you have to do.
On when he begins adjusting for the defensive schemes in a game: It didn’t look like we started until halftime. OU did some things that they have not done since ’04. The first time they did it, Colt came out and said, “Coach that was this blitz. I haven’t seen it since Vince (Young) was here.” He was right, and he responded well to it. It was on the ball that he threw a back-shoulder ball to Malcolm Williams. Malcolm caught the ball, but he was out of bounds. We had to go in and adjust some things. When we got with the players at halftime and got with our offensive coaches, one thing we wanted to emphasize is that it was a one-possession game. Obviously we had not played well, and I felt like I had gotten away from the running game. You’ve got to be able to stay with the run game against a team like that. Even sometimes when it’s not being productive, because it settles everything down. The zone-read for example; when a team is blitzing, sometimes gap control is less important than others. We were able to pop a couple of zone-reads that were able to slow things down. So we just went back and said this is what we’re going to do – we’re going to hang with the run game, we’re going to play a little empty on third down; we had not played much empty in the first half – the kids responded well, and it worked out.
On how many times he and Colt McCoy see the same thing: Most of the time, after five years now. I learned a long time ago the best way to talk to a quarterback is to ask him what he saw, instead of saying “This is what I saw on second down, is that what you saw?” They will all say yes. So I said, “Tell me what you saw on the back shoulder ball you threw,” and Colt said, “I saw the ‘will’ (linebacker) come with a blitz.” That’s exactly what it was. Most of the time, we’re in a pretty good rhythm as to, not only what’s happening, but also what play may be coming up.
On teams trying to shut down Jordan Shipley: I think everybody tries to take Shipley out. I think OU did a better job. He’s been a focus. He’s a guy returning with over 90 catches. He’s been a focus every week. OU did a heck of a job. They mixed it up; I knew they would. They played (Brian) Jackson on him man-to-man; sometimes without help, sometimes with safety help over the top, sometimes Jackson played man with a fire-zone underneath, so they mixed it up. We’ve just got to continue to find different places to put him. Doubling is not as easy when he’s not always in one place. Other guys also have to step up in those kinds of games.
On Missouri: Sean Weatherspoon is a heck of a player. He’s got great size, he’s got great speed, and it seems like he’s been there forever. He’s playing the backside linebacker for them, so he’s playing a position that is a lot of times protected, especially with the way he can run. It’s hard to get to him, especially when you go away from him. When you go at him, that’s no picnic either. They’re a four-down team. They’re a team that blitzes about 24 percent of the time. I told you that last year, and they came in here and they blitzed every snap. But going into this season, that’s what they’ve been doing. Their front is good and solid. Weatherspoon is definitely the key to what they do defensively. They are very similar structurally to last year. I think seven of the guys either started or played significant against us last year.
On how he decides who to put in at tight end: It’s a really tough decision. We labored with it a long time last Monday. We were formulating the game plan as, “Is this the best 11 athletes to put out there? Or is this the best 11 athletes this week to put out there?” So we made a decision that we needed to play more 11 (one running back, one tight end) in this game. We spent a lot of time talking about it. But we just felt like when you’re in 10 personnel (one running back, no tight end), the run game becomes really limited, because you do not have any broad surface. You miss the backside cut-off too. It was just a decision that we felt like was important, even though we went into the game and Oklahoma was third in the nation in rush defense, giving up somewhere around 46 yards a game. We just knew that we had to run the ball. One thing that I was really proud of that we talked to the offensive linemen about is, we don’t think there’s a magical number rushing. We don’t feel like that at all, but what we do feel like, what we call consistent rushing, and what that is, is did the called run, not Colt scrambling, but did the called run gain four yards, a first down, or a touchdown? We had 31 called runs in the ball game, 20 of them were what we would consider consistent rushing plays. When you play them like that, you’re able to slow down and get more gap responsibility.
On the receivers this year: Marquise (Goodwin) is getting better, and we’re going to give him a shot to be our wide field player. We’re still going to play a bunch of receivers. You know Malcolm, early in camp, was not as consistent catching the ball as we needed and we talked to him about it. He’s been having great practices for the past three weeks. We’re going to let him start the game at split end. We’re going to take Shipley and move him back to the slot receiver, but we’re going to have to continue to play Jordan at the split end too. With the receivers more than any other position probably, it’s going to be a continuation because we consider all of those guys to be starters. We just have to find which one has the hot hand and go with it.
On Marquise Goodwin: Marquise came to one of those mini-camps where you get about two hours to look at them. Obviously he had great speed. It’s hard to tell. We knew he was coming here in track. We were excited about him coming out, but I had no idea he could pick things up as quickly as he did. He’s an extremely bright guy. I’ve not had personally great success with track athletes. Some of them can’t get out of cuts. Some of them can get by you, but you don’t have to guard them because they can’t catch it. Marquise can explode out of cuts, he catches the ball well, and he’s a very unusual freshman. I think one thing that has helped Marquise so much is, Friday before the first ball game I asked him, “Is it going to be a big deal for you, 101,000 people?” He said, “Coach I’ve jumped all over the world. I don’t think I’ll get excited.” (laughing) And that’s been the truth. He’s the same every day, and he’s got a great smile about him.
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp
On Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert: I think he has tremendous arm talent. There’s no question, he’s a nationally recruited player that decided to stay at home in Missouri. The thing you see is that he can make all the throws vertically, intermediate, put touch on the ball, zip the ball, and when he has to, he can really spin it. We’ll have our work cut out for us. They’re an offense that creates one-on-one situations and a lot of space plays. We have to tackle well in space and dominate the line up front, and affect the quarterback. You have to make it a one-dimensional game.
On the win against OU: I’ll be honest with you, I walked off the field and thought well we have Missouri next. We’re going to be everywhere and they’re going to line up everywhere in motion and shift and you think about the game last year, not finishing well in the second half. You enjoy the win, but you also understand that it’s like climbing a mountain – the higher it gets the more treacherous it gets and you have to continue to push on with what you’re trying to do. You enjoy the win, get out of the locker room and start re-focusing on the task at hand for next week.
On the season so far: So far we’re 6-0 and that’s the most pleasing thing. The object is to win the game regardless of how it looks or comes out, but I think that our front’s come along and played pretty well for us. That was kind of a question mark going into the year of how we would hold up in those situations. I think we’ve had some really solid play out of our linebackers and I think the secondary has really excelled at times and played really well. We have a lot of football to play. We’re about to play some really good offensive teams that have put a lot of points on the board and really moved the ball well. We have opportunities in front of us and we really look forward to them.
On last year’s first-half success: I think we really controlled the line of scrimmage as much as anything. We affected the quarterback, controlled the line of scrimmage, and we took away their playmakers outside. In the second half we didn’t do as effective of a job of that and I think a little of that had to do with not wanting to give up a big play, which we really didn’t the entire game. We made them earn the ball down the field. Chase Daniel was a very accurate quarterback and he made some nice throws in some situations and some tight throws. We weren’t as successful on third downs in the second half last year as we were in the first half, so that was obviously a key as well.
On the defense against OU: Any team, regardless of conference, when you put two pretty good defenses on the field, that’s what normally happens. The defenses take over, and the defensive lines control the line of scrimmage. I talked to the people on ESPN radio at the end and they said that was a 16-13, ugly game, and I said well your definition of ugly and mine is different. I think 16-13 is beautiful; it’s about winning. It’s about winning the game and doing what you have to do to win and whether it’s 16-13, 3-0, or 45-35, the object is to win. I would liken that to the fact that there were two pretty good defenses on the field, especially up front. Anytime people have good front people, it makes it very difficult. Football is a line of scrimmage game.
On Earl Thomas: He played very well as a freshman, and I think that the game has slowed down for him a little bit from the standpoint of formation recognition, backfield sets, receiver splits. Those are the little things that you’re now able to compute a little bit more than maybe last year when we were just worried about getting lined up on the right side. He’s really approached this year to take the challenge of becoming a better mental football player and understand the great ones approach it mentally. It’s not just a physical game. They understand the mental side of being a good football player and that’s where he’s making strides. We still have a ways to go, but he is a physical, relentless, mentally and physically tough football player, and if you go watch him at practice, he’ll practice the same as the played on Saturday. There’s no difference. He is an absolute dream to coach.