Oct. 24, 2011
RB Foswhitt Whittaker
On if the second bye week gave them a chance to start fresh: That's exactly how we're looking at it, starting a new season. Fresh start. Basically right now we're 00. Just trying to get one win at a time and focused on Kansas now.
On the success of the kickoff return game: That's obviously the plan, trying to put points on the board any way possible, whether it offensively, defensively or special teams contributing. Ultimately we understand things are going to happen in the game. We have to try to get the job done any way we can. Offensively, our goal is always to score every time we touch the field. Just having that added extra incentive, if we score on special teams, that's an extra bonus for us. We look to score the ball whenever we touch the ball offensively.
On preparing for each team the same way: We have to prepare the same way. That's the way we're looking at it. This game is just as important as the last game, the game before that.We have to be prepared for these type of situations and just be ready to play no matter who it is.
On if the offense is getting into a groove: That is true. We understand who we are, what type of team we have, what we can do. Kind of opens up our mind to play more freely. Whenever coach calls those plays, especially the ones we basically do very well at, it's kind of easy for us to just go ahead and do what we've always been doing, try to gain a rhythm throughout the game.
On what he is looking for on a kickoff return: I'm focusing on the blocks up ahead and trying to set them up. Whenever I catch it, I make sure if I'm too deep in the end zone, I want to take a knee, let the ball go. Just an opportunity to get our offense better field position. I'm willing to take that opportunity. Ultimately the guys that are blocking up front, they're laying it out on the line. I'm just trying to set them up.
On when he knows he can go all the way with the kickoff: There are times I'm kind of surprised with the holes that are there. Whenever I get surprised, I just hit the acceleration, try to accelerate right through it. I know those guys. They're working hard. That's what we've been working on, hitting those holes that they create.
On if he wishes he had returned kickoffs before: I can't really say I wish I had done it. I'm happy to be on the team and contribute any way possible and am thankful for being back there now.
On this week’s game versus Kansas: I wouldn't say it's exciting. The way that we termed it, Coach Brown told us it's almost the same predicament as last year going into the Iowa State game. We had just lost a couple of games. They had lost a couple games to ranked teams. Our confidence level wasn't where it needed to be. Whenever we came up, we didn't show up. They came ready to play. That's something as a senior, as a leader on this team, I basically put it upon myself to make sure that doesn't happen again this year.
On the unique personality of this team: It's a peculiar mix and blend of old and young people. A lot of freshmen are playing. A lot of guys are being able to show their talents. At the same time there are a lot of veterans playing, showing the young ones what the game is about, how it's playing. It's kind of odd to see that kind of combination work the way it's been going. I'm having the most fun I've ever had, taking guys under my wings, like Malcolm and Jo. Just showing them what it means to be a Texas running back is always just a joy.
On having been a mentor in high school also: That is correct. A couple of young backs, Casey Carrier, Dustin Garrison, Jackie Robinson, came up under me. Always go back anytime I can and talk to them, give them some words of encouragement, some advice that may seem beneficial for them. Ultimately, I feel like that's the role I've been placed in, is contributing to the team, whether it be athletically [or] off the field. Just helping them be a better person in life.
On what color cancer ribbon he will wear: Well, actually we have an option. The seniors, we'll get together and look and see which ribbon we want to wear. There's yellow for prostate cancer. [Director of High School Relations and Player Development Ken] Rucker was affected by that a couple years ago. There's pink for breast cancer awareness. [Team physician] Dr. [Andrea] Pana, that was one affected by it and [S] Blake Gideon's mother was also affected by it. There's some people on the team that have been affected by it. The purple ribbon, that's for all cancer awareness. My dad actually died from lung cancer. That's one thing I always look at, just seeing the people that are affected by cancer in general. Just basically giving back and dedicating these games to people like that.
On how old he was when his father passed away: Just turned three, on my birthday.
On if he received his athletic talent from his father: He was more of the brains and my mother was more the athletic one. I would say I'm a true mixture of both of them.
S Blake Gideon
On this week’s cancer awareness theme hitting close to home: It is. I think like Fozzy was saying, it's a chance to give back to the community. The hundred thousand people that come out here and show the support, the millions of people that watch on TV on Saturday, it's a chance for us to turn around and give back, show our support if they're going through that situation in their lives.
On trying to force turnovers: I think you always have to be ball conscious as a defense and offense as well. As a defense you always want to be ball conscious. here are certain situations when it's not smart to go for the pick. You need to go for the pass. You need to make a tackle first. There are situations to where there's the best times to go for turnovers or whatever - try to get the ball out. I think that's part of having a feel for the game and practicing that every day on the practice field, which we do. Whenever the turnovers do start coming, they're going to come in bunches, we know.
On how to play without CB Adrian Phillips this week: I think one thing we've developed through spring ball, through camp, is great depth. We've got [S] Kenny [Vaccaro], [S Christian] Scott, myself back there as kind of veterans at safety. A.P. was moving all around, playing whatever position. We still have two good corners out there that have played a lot. We'll be fine. We're ready for him when he gets back, but at the same time we're fine.
On this team’s identity: I think this year, coming into this year, it was a matter of getting back on track, getting that confidence, that whole swagger back. Compared to years before [when] we were coming off a 10win year every season. In this case we all know what happened last year. We're trying to do everything we can to make sure it doesn't happen again. I think you're seeing a lot more senior leadership this year from all the seniors. Even if they're not playing vital roles in games, they're not going to let stuff happen in practice or in the weight room or whatever that's not going to be what's best for the team.
On if it is good to have a chip on your shoulder: I think in football it's always good to have a chip on your shoulder. You always need to have an edge. You always need to be ready to snap at any moment. It's just the nature of the game, the physicality of the game. You always need to have that edge to how you work. It needs to start on Monday, then going into practice on Tuesday. That's the hardest thing in the world to be coming off a very emotional game the Saturday before, to pick yourself back up, go back to work on Tuesday. You always need to have that edge. Great defenses, great teams have that edge every week.
On avoiding getting complacent after playing two tough games: It's going to come back to that leadership, that senior leadership, how mature we are as a team. For these young guys to understand that this is college football. This is the Big 12. Every team comes to play every week. They also need to understand that more times than not, and I can attest to this over four years, the teams we play on Saturdays are not going to be the same teams we watch on film. There's something coming down to Austin to play Texas, teams bring a little extra. They need to be ready to play because Kansas is going to be ready to play.
On the Kansas offense: They're a running football team. They're mainly out of the spread. Inside running team, divide zone, all that. Two-back power. They want to control the clock. They want to take what they can get in the passing game. They're going to use the running game to open up the passing game. It's going to be a responsibility game for us, everybody in the right gap, not worrying about your buddy next to you being in his gap, taking care of your own responsibility. We'll be fine. It is old school. [The] past few games we were really wanting to stress taking away the pass, force them to run. In this game, that's definitely their strength, to get behind the big boys up front, kind of road grade you out. We want to take that away, see if we can clog up the middle. Force them to throw it outside.
On if the team chemistry is different from last year: I think so. A lot of that comes from guys that went through last year. I think your strongest bonds come whenever you go through the worst of times together, not only the highs of going to a national championship or whatever. The large majority of the people on this team went through last year, so we went through a rough offseason, to say the least, and a rough spring ball, summer and camp. So all those trials and tribulations we went through, it only made us stronger as a team and as a family. I think that's a fair assessment, to say that we are a lot closer than last year. Those guys that watch it from the stands or at home weren't really there to experience it. But I think they can tell by the type of intensity we bring every day and the looks in all of our eyes from the guys that went through that last year. They can tell how passionate we are about it, and we're going to do everything in our power to make sure it doesn't happen again.
LB Emmanuel Acho
On the team’s identity: We have to be resilient. We have six games left. Have to take them one game at a time, be prepared for each and every opponent, starting this week with Kansas. Make sure we get this “W”. Roll on from there.
On if he is anxious to get back in the win column: Being a senior, I know I don't have too many college football days left. I'm always anxious. On top of that, we haven't tasted victory in three, four weeks. I'm anxious to get back out there.
On this Kansas team being different from those in the past: Most definitely. This team is a lot more run oriented. Running backs averaging four yards a carry. They've had a tough schedule. They're going to come in here ready to fight. We have to prepare ourselves for that.
On the Texas defense: We have such high standards for ourselves as a defense. We feel we have so much talent we have to play at that level. We're not playing at number one in the nation level right now. That's what we're striving to get through. We worked a lot during our bye week to get better at assignments and whatnot. Have to continue to improve so we can capitalize on special teams breaks, offensive breaks.
On how Fozzy Whittaker’s kickoff returns inspire the defense: Gives us new life. He's done a great job of doing that the last two games. When it looks like we might be down and out, that might be the knockout punch, Fozzy comes out and gets us back up. That's been great. I hope he can keep it up. I'm excited for him.
On the season so far: It's been a whirlwind. So many new things, so much going on with the adjustments to the coaching staff, position changes. It's been an interesting season. But when you're in it, you just focus on the next task. For me, that's making sure we beat Kansas. hat's all I can worry about. [Defensive coordinator/linebackers] Coach [Manny] Diaz says control what you can control. I can control making sure the defense goes out and plays well.
On concerns about giving up big runs: It's not too big of a concern. It all comes down to gap assignment, being in the right place at the right time. We did some things schematically that left us susceptible to it. At the same time, had we been where we should have been, we could have handled it well. We got to get better at that, better at containing the explosive play. It will reward us in the long run.
On the unique mix of players on this team: When I was young, I feel like there were a lot of guys in the middle category, a lot of sophomores and juniors with a lot of experience. Guys like [Jordan] Shipley. Now I feel like it's freshmen and old guys, freshmen and seniors, with a little sprinkle of sophomore and junior here and there. It's been interesting, funny for me being on the old side of the spectrum, trying to make sure I play my best for the guys in the middle.
OG/C David Snow
On avoiding getting complacent after playing two tough games: We played a lot of good teams. Each team and each opponent we face right now is just as equally important. It's another brick. Keep on laying the foundation to this year.
On the offense scoring more points: It's very important for an offense to score points. That's a gimme. One that doesn't score points, it's a pretty terrible one (laughter). We've had a lot of chances in the red zone that we didn't capitalize on. We just need to keep on working at it. Through this next week we're going to work on keeping getting better on a lot of different plays, focusing on that.
On how the team spent the bye week: We had a lot of practices. We got better. We got a little break to get our bodies back. All that kind of helped the mind and bodies at the same time. I feel like we got a lot prepared last week. It was a good practice.
On OL Josh Cochran: He's really growing up. With more and more games underneath your belt, that's what happens, you get more comfortable. That's just how it is. He'll just get more and more comfortable with more experience.
On if the older guys feel more comfortable with Cochran: Once you get things in there, we start working together. We get synced together. We know what's going to happen in certain things. It's really good to get synced with everybody.
On cancer awareness week: I haven't had breast cancer in my family like a lot of people have. My grandfather had throat cancer. He's a survivor. I think he went through like 48 treatments or something like that. It hit home with us. Yeah, it's a very crippling disease.
OL Mason Walters
On this team continuing to succeed: We're going to stay positive. I think we saw last week we're going to keep working hard no matter what.
On the team’s emphasis during the bye week: Protecting the ball [and] coring in the red zone were a big emphasis going into the week.
On OL Josh Cochran: I've seen the kid growing up really fast, playing left tackle. In this league, it's no easy feat. As a freshman, it's really hard. He's grown up and done a good job with it.
On Cochran’s strengths: He's a technician. Just getting better at that week by week. Right now he's giving himself a good chance to win most of the time because he is using the right technique.
On QB David Ash: I think all of our quarterbacks are really more confident, I really do. Getting to see David grow up a little bit in the last couple games, [it’s] been good to see.