Mack Brown Monday press conference transcript: Nov. 1
Nov. 1, 2010
Opening statement: I want to first thank all of the fans for Saturday night. I thought it was great that you gave Colt [McCoy] the welcome home that he deserved over all the things he’s done for the University of Texas and [being] the winningest quarterback in college football history. I thought that was really well done. I also appreciate how you honored the family members that were affected by breast cancer. I thought it was a great moment at that time to start the game. I was proud of the fans. They stayed. They helped our team fight. I know it’s hard to do when we’re not playing very well. It’s unusual. I ask you to do that for the next four weeks for these kids. They are trying. The coaches are trying. I appreciated you hanging in there and helping us as much as you could.
Guys played very hard on Saturday night. There’s a real fine line between winning and losing. In fact, [Media Relations Director] John Bianco got me some stats a few minutes ago. It’s really interesting when you look at the difference in last year’s team to this year’s team and show you the fine line between winning and losing. We’re obviously making too many mistakes. Penalties last year at this time - we had 59 penalties. Right now we’ve got 59 penalties. We had too many penalties Saturday night. We had 11 that hurt us. Obviously it’s the same as last year. Third down percentage – last year we were converting 44 percent of our third downs offensively. This year we’re converting 41 percent of our third downs. That’s not as bad as it seems. We’d like to do better. Defensively last year we were holding people to 24 percent of their third down conversions. This year we’re giving up 36 percent. We’re not doing as well on defense and giving up more big plays in that area.
Red zone and turnovers is what we’ve said. Last year our red zone scoring touchdowns - we scored 24 touchdowns last year in 38 trips. So 63 percent of the time in the red zone we scored. We held the opponents to only eight touchdowns in 15 trips. Fifty-three percent of the time we kept them from scoring touchdowns. Red zone touchdowns this year, as compared to 24-of-38 [last year], we’re only 15-of-36. That’s killing us. We have got to score more touchdowns in the red zone. We went from 63 percent to 42 percent in the red zone. Last year we were holding [opponents] to 53 percent at 8-for-15 trips scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Right now we’re giving up 14 touchdowns in 22 trips. They’ve been there a few more times. Our offense has been in there about the same number of times. We’re just not scoring points.
Other than the red zone, the overwhelming stat is last year we had lost the ball with turnovers 16 times, at this time. This year we’ve lost the ball 18 times. We’re not turning the ball over any more than we were last year. The big difference is that last year we had gained 26 turnovers at this time. Right now we’ve gained 11. We’re 15 short of the turnovers that we gained this time last year. The kids are aware of it. It’s something that we’ve got to get fixed and keep working on. You force turnovers by energy and knocking balls loose. You get in the end zone by, obviously, catching two passes that we should’ve had for touchdown passes [on Saturday.] We’ve dropped a number of touchdown passes this year. Garrett [Gilbert] can continue to be more aggressive and run when we get down there. We need to be more wide open in play selection. We’ve got to throw the ball better when we get down in the red zone. In my estimation, guys just have to make plays. Those are things that we are not doing at this time. We’ll open it up more and make some plays.
The offense moved the ball probably the best all year. It shows you the stat of total offense is very unimportant. We outgained Baylor by 100 yards and still lost the game. Those things are unimportant. What’s important is what we just talked about. That’s turnover ratio and scoring touchdowns in the red zone.
We answered with a field goal right before the half, right after we gave up the long play right before the half. You want to score going in. Stats historically say that the team that scores before the half and comes back and is aggressive after the half has the best chance to win the game. We came out the second half and scored on the opening drive - scored a touchdown. We felt like things were in good shape at that point. Defense was playing well. Then we give up the big play again, the long run for a touchdown - [a] 69-yard run. Then we come back instead of answering with a score, the offense turns the ball over. We have the great goal line stand that fights them. Then they finally score on the 4th and six inches. We’ve got to play better as a team in those areas.
We had nine explosive plays. Garrett Gilbert had his best game. He played with more confidence and led our team. Michael Huey was playing great. He got hurt at halftime. Michael hurt his knee. He’s out four to six weeks. That’s another blow that we’ve lost another starting offensive lineman. John Chiles also played his best game. Concerns on offense - we did have five penalties. We’ve had entirely too many motion penalties. I don’t know why we flinch, but we do. A lot of times the defenses act like they’re blitzing. Sometimes they call out your signals. You’ve just got to get used to your quarterback’s voice. You’ve got to get used to the center and obviously move on the ball.
We had five dropped passes and two of them for [potential] touchdowns. We’ve got to start catching the ball better. It’s been a problem all year. We lost two turnovers, both were very costly. One of them cost us seven points. It was down inside the 20. The other one was the last play of the game, which I still felt like we had a chance to score and go for two and tie the game up and get in our first overtime game ever. Lack of production in the red zone and not scoring touchdowns [and] kicking field goals is once again killing us. We’ve got to make more plays in the red zone. We went over it with the kids yesterday and showed them where exactly we could’ve scored with each of those plays. We feel like that we’ve got to be more wide open and take more chances right now to score. It’s just like in the kicking game. Instead of kicking the last 49-yard field goal, we went for it on fourth-and-two. We make it, [but] get an offensive interference call. [That] backs us up - we have to punt and we don’t get any points instead of the three. Garrett needs to continue to make more plays with his feet. He’s showing the ability to do that each week. He’s a good runner. He’s a strong runner. He’s a tough runner. If it’s between run and pass right now, we need to him to run if he’s out on the corner and sees the ability to make 10 yards.
Trey Hopkins will start at the left guard. He’ll be backed up by Thomas Ashcraft. Also, Darius White has shown a lot more progress. He had a better practice last week. We need to play Darius more as we get ready to finish the last four games of the season. Fozzy [Whittaker] got a stinger at halftime of the Nebraska game and has played limited since then. I think [running backs coach] Major [Applewhite] is right. We’ve talked about it. When you’ve got a stinger and you’re touching the ball and you get hit as much as we’re needing to score touchdowns, we can’t afford for the ball to pop out. We’ve got to get him totally well. He can go in and protect. He’s caught the ball a couple of times in passing situations. Tre’ [Newton] and Cody [Johnson] have stepped in and done a good job. We were more balanced on Saturday between the run and the pass and we need to continue to do that.
[Baylor quarterback] Robert Griffin is really good. Their wide receivers are really good, and their punter was great. I thought those guys made the difference in the ballgame. You start looking at the plays that Robert made – we held him in check with his feet. We got after him. Defense played really hard. We had four three-and-outs. We had three sacks, [and] 10 hits on the quarterback. The majority of the guys on defense played very well. What happened was when we blitzed, they burned us and had some big plays in the passing game. There was a third-and-10, a third-and-10 and a third-and-nine. They converted and we didn’t. That ended up being the difference. We played well on early downs, but we didn’t make the plays on third down that we have to make to win the game. Then we gave up the huge run on the inside.
Jackson Jeffcoat was not able to play again. He practiced a little bit. We thought he would be able to play some even though as a freshman, you need to practice. But he got out at pregame and could not push off, so we need to get him back and that is important.
We stopped the run all but one big play. You take out the 69-yard run, which you cannot [give up], and we hold them to 2.9 yards a carry. We’ve given up some big plays in the running game, and that is huge this week against Kansas State because they run it so well. Like we said, big plays killed us and we have to get off the field. And it just kills your momentum. Right now, we have to answer better offensively.
We had nine missed tackles for 140 yards on their wide receivers and on Griffin. They’re good players. We only forced two turnovers, and we have to have a minimum of three per week we feel like to win the game. Ashton Dorsey played some in this game, and he is coming on. So we need to play Ashton more in these next four weeks because we’re playing the majority of the time with Alex Okafor and Kheeston Randall, and they get beaten down over time - even though we had the ball in the 80s and they had it in the 60s when you look at number of plays.
Kickoff coverage was excellent. We made them start at the 23-yard line. They averaged 15 yards per return. We had three touchbacks and two tackles inside the 20-yard line, so those guys did their job against a team that has got speed and can do a good job on kickoff returns. Punt team did okay. They averaged 42.3 yards per punt. They gave up no yards in return, and we had one punt down inside the 20. We really didn’t punt much, but the two other punts, we’ve got to do a better job downing the ball inside the 20. Both of them went in the end zone, and if that is going to happen from the 45, you’re only gaining 20 yards. We need to go for fourth and eight, because why punt it if you can’t get it stopped in your own end.
Their punter averaged 55 yards per punt. It was unbelievable what he did. And the last punt, we dropped a 68-yard punt when we had a chance to return it with the game on the line. Field goals- we made five; 21 yards, 26 yards, 31 yards, 40 yards and 49 yards. We missed a 48-yarder. Like we said, we went for the fourth and two from about the same distance and did not convert. We’re going to have to look at trying to go for fourth downs, and if we feel like we are in a game when they’re going to score, we have to try not to kick long field goals. Especially when you’re kicking 21, 26 and 31-yard field goals. It looked like we had a chance to win the game in a low-scoring game. Then they made their big plays in the second half.
Great job on kickoff returns on the first one by Eddie Jones. He ran it back to the 50. After that we were poor. We did a very poor job on kickoff returns. We have to continue to look at something there, and we’re going to put Christian Scott back there this week and look at him on kickoff returns. Get a bigger body and get some yards inside, because we have not done well in that area all year.
Punt block/return has been the best in the country for us for years, and it has been a real struggle to say the least. It’s interesting that Curtis Brown is averaging 14.9 yards per return. He’s 13th in the country in punt returns. The three obvious drops, two of them didn’t affect us other than our hearts and our emotions Saturday night because they didn’t change the game. But the one against UCLA did. So, he’s really struggled in that position. We’ll keep working with him. But we’ll also have Mike Davis, Christian Scott and Adrian Phillips back there to look at getting them punt returns this week. Lots of guys had great at-length performances on special teams. The guys are really trying. That’s why without much effort, we should be getting more, especially out of our kickoff return.
Curtis Brown played really, really well during the game. He graded a winning performance. It was obvious that he dropped the two punts, but other than that he had a perfect night. It really didn’t affect the outcome of the game in a negative way, even though at the times we were waiting on those reviews, it could have. It is something that we can’t do. After the last one, it was obvious to everybody that he got frustrated. He took off his helmet and kicked it. It’s a 15-yard penalty and obviously a loss of composure. I asked Curtis permission for this [next statement]. He’s got a one-year old baby. I got a call from Curtis Tuesday night that his baby might die. [The baby] has really bad respiratory problems. The baby is in Houston. He was driving on Tuesday night to go see the baby, and he was listed on a group randomly for an NCAA drug test on Wednesday morning. They do that about twice a year for schools like Texas. If you miss the NCAA drug test, it counts as a positive. If you have a positive, you don’t get to play for a year. He’s a senior so he loses the rest of his eligibility. So, he stayed here. He decided not to go see his baby - who they thought might die - because he wanted to go by the rules and do what was right. So I think we have to look at that in the future and see if you can have a way if an emergency situation comes up, for a young person to [be able] leave and not take that drug test if he has a legitimate issue. So he got up, [and] took the drug test the next morning at six. He drove to Houston Wednesday afternoon, spent Wednesday and Thursday there and came back for the game. The baby is doing better, and we hope you’ll keep the baby in your thoughts and prayers, along with Curtis. So there was some frustration on his part about the game. He’s afraid he lost the game, and at the same time, for a young guy that is 21-years old, he has a big burden on his shoulders this week anyway. So, a lot of times, things aren’t what we think they are. And people are wondering why Duane Akina and I were trying to help him on the sideline. We knew what he’s been through. And we knew it takes big shoulders to handle all of that. He still shouldn’t have taken his helmet off - still shouldn’t have kicked it. But I think it’s a little bit more understandable, when you understand what he went through for the entire week.
Who plays at the end of the year? Should we just dump all the seniors and just go with youth since we’re 4-4 on the season? Absolutely not. You play the guys who give you the best chance to win. And you play the guys who are there to win. You’re not going to bench a guy for playing great. Now if a guy isn’t playing well, you bench him and you move on. You sure don’t do that with guys who are helping you win and getting themselves in position. A lot of these guys are playing great. Some of these guys are going to help us win a lot of ball games around here. We’re not going to let the losses we had jerk them out of the game when they’re playing well. So, we will not do that and they know that.
Recruiting - most of the commitments for this weekend, are doing fine. We get emails all the time asking if recruits are all going to jump ship. Usually they like the fact that they’ll have a better chance to play if you’re not winning all the games. Nobody is wavering, and everybody is doing great. Recruiting is still hanging in there.
Bill Snyder is one of the great coaches of all time. He’s a great friend of mine. He and I are like the granddads in the Big 12. We always sit with each other at the meetings. We think alike. But he is a tremendous football coach. He is what Coach Royal is to us. He’s a living legend. When you drive into their stadium, you pull in on Bill Snyder Boulevard. You get out, and you walk into Bill Snyder Family Stadium, and that is pretty cool. I told him not many guys that are still living have a stadium named after them, and he’s done a tremendous job. He’s one of the best coaches in the country. They’re always well-coached. They’re tough. They take care of the ball. They’re good in the kicking game. They’re very physical on defense, and it will be like a brawl. They’re a power running team. They take about six-inch splits. They have got what might be one of the best, if not the best, running backs in the country. We’ll see two great ones in the next two weeks. Daniel Thomas is 6’2”, 228lbs. He’s a guy that has already gained 996 yards, and he’ll touch the ball 38-40 times during this ball game. They’ll run it at you, run it at you, then they’ll fake it to him and have a double-move outside by a wide receiver in man coverage, and throw it deep. And they do a tremendous job of that.
Also, a top pro-prospect is Kenneth Mayfield. He’s 6’4”, 350lbs. He’s a senior, number 67. He’s the right guard. They’re 25th in the nation in rushing, averaging 193 yards per game. Defensively, they’re a four-man front. They’re not a big blitz team. They blitz only about 26% of the time. But they have a lot of good players out there running around and knocking people out. We do have comparisons. They beat UCLA, and they lost to Baylor by about the same margin as we did. It should be a great ball game, and I want everyone to know our coaches are working as hard as they ever have. They’re disappointed, but they are working their tails off to try to get better and win a football game. I thought we made tremendous progress last week after the way we stunk against Iowa State. We’re still making too many mistakes. There is still a fine line. The stats that I gave you that matter to start the press conference, were the ones with turnover ratio and we have to start forcing turnovers with our defense We say it every week, but it’s hard to do. You can’t just wave a wand. You have to knock them loose and put pressure on the quarterback. Get some tipped balls. We’re getting balls that are tipped and they catch them, but we’re not having any that are tipped and we catch them. There were five balls on the ground Saturday night for Baylor that we didn’t get. We have got to get on them. Same thing happened at Nebraska. We have to keep working and keep fighting and try to get it all together in the last four weeks here.
On how to get better wide receiver play: Well, it seems like it’s one drop [for] each one of them. We go around the room and its been amazing. We got so spoiled by Jordan [Shipley] and Quan [Cosby] and we never had any drops, and that is what is killing us. So if it was one guy, we’d take him out. But everybody seems to have one. And when you’re struggling, the one [drop] kills you. In the past, we could drop some passes and nobody notices it because we scored so many points. Now, it’s an issue. And I think it goes back to confidence more than anything else. It is hard to play here. You have a big confident person, when you drop one you drop another one, and if you’re not careful you drop another. We have to get those guys to regain their confidence.
On if the dropped passes affect QB Garrett Gilbert: It has to. Especially in the red zone. You talk so much about the red zone, it gets to be a problem. But the throw he made to the tight end was perfect. There was another throw he made to a wide receiver that is going to be a touchdown. It was a great break on the ball and their defensive back misses. Where Baylor scores in those situations, we did not. And those are things we are missing.
On what the goals are at this point of the season: We’re really honest with our team. We told them exactly what we see. I went over yesterday with the entire team, and told them I was proud of their effort. It was a lot better than it was against Iowa State, but we still didn’t make the plays we needed to win. It’s about winning. The effort should be without saying. And I took up that we’re not in the Big 12 South championship or BCS race. So understand that is fact. What we are is, we have a chance by winning this weekend, to take it another week and still win your eight games; make it to a bowl and win your nine games. And that is up to you. You can either lay down and feel sorry for yourself, or you can go back to work. And we’re going to go back to work.
On the difficulty of getting a win against Kansas State: Yes, I try not to study the history, but we do. And like I said, it’s been hard for us to play against Big 12 North teams from the old Big 8 for whatever reason. The history of my 13 years here, it has just been harder every time. And if you look at it, the first year we had no chance. Major [Applewhite’s] first start, they beat us 48-7. It could have been 108-7, and I don’t remember how we got 7. We didn’t make a first down. Ricky [Williams] had 28 or 38 yards. I do remember that being a miserable day. The second time, we went up there it [and] was a real tough game after an Oklahoma loss. And Marcus Tubbs blocked a field goal on the last play of the game for us to win, 17-14, and Kansas State was ranked and had a great team and [it was] a great game for us. The third time we went, we scored very easily and very quickly. And Colt got knocked out, and Jevan [Snead] came in and we got beat. When you look at it; the first time we went we had no chance, the second time we won, the third time - I like our chances with Colt in there - but Jevan went in as a freshman quarterback and did really well. So probably our history has been worst against Kansas State in Austin than in Manhattan. We sure stunk three of the five here.
On what he draws upon for this season: Urban Meyer is a great friend, and we’re both struggling with some of the same issues this year. And the hardest thing is, fixing things is simple to the public eye and the media because everybody just wants somebody fired. Everybody wants players taken off the team immediately. They want people ripped in public. They want coaches by name ripped in public. They want you to make them feel better, and none of those things help you win. In fact it hurts your staff and hurts your team. So, first and foremost, I worried after Iowa State, and I was mad obviously, because the guys did not play with the passion and confidence that we’ve known around here for a long time. Similar to UCLA. So I’m not going to have that. It is inexcusable. Secondly, we got some of that straightened out last week. I thought we had it straightened out going into Nebraska and coming out of Nebraska it obviously wasn’t. So we had a lot of hard meetings last week. Coaches and players said a lot of hard things. Everybody got some things off their chest. There is absolutely no finger pointing. Everyone is playing hard together. The frustrating thing is the numbers that tell you what we have to do better. We have to score better in the red zone. And we have to force some more turnovers. Those are the things that have to be done. And you have to make some plays in your kicking game that we haven’t been making. So instead of screaming, shouting, throwing things - you’ve worked really hard doing those things. Most of our practice this week will be in the red zone offensively. We have to get our confidence back and start scoring touchdowns. Defensively, I don’t know what else we can do other than talking more about the turnovers. We’ve done drills, so we have to start playing with enough confidence to make things work. People forget, I was 2 [wins]-20 [losses] at one time. I’ve been here, and I understand fans being frustrated and media being frustrated. I feel frustrated. You have to get it fixed. My frustration has to go away and be turned into production. So far, we haven’t played well. When you go back and look at the fine line between playing for a national championship and what we’re doing this year, the obvious difference in those stats says 26 turnovers last year to 11 this year. It says 63 percent touchdowns in the red zone last year to a lot less that that now. So that is what we need to fix.