Nov. 3, 2008
Opening statement: I want to first congratulate the [Texas] Tech team, Coach [Mike] Leach and his staff, and really their student body and the city of Lubbock. The atmosphere they had on Saturday night was very similar to the atmosphere we had against Missouri. It was just great.
At the same time, I want to brag on our kids and coaches for the class they showed after the game. I do think that the Big 12 and the NCAA should change settings where kids are mauled after the game on the field, it's just really dangerous. It's amazing to me that we sit around and talk about security all the time, and we'll turn everybody loose - on the field, drinking, we don't know what they have in their hands. I see Colt [McCoy] getting pushed and shoved after the game. I was in great shape because I had security all around me, but our kids don't. I really appreciate our kids keeping their composure and handling things right. I never saw Coach Leach. I couldn't get down to the Eyes of Texas for the first time that I've been at The University of Texas, and didn't know where any of our players were.
All reports were that they handled themselves well. It's really hard to go talk to (the media) right after the game, and they did that well. So I really appreciate the class that our team, our coaches and our staff showed in a very difficult situation after that game, because it will not get more difficult than that. At the same time, it's not the students' fault, it's not Texas Tech's fault if we're going to allow that to happen across the country. I'm afraid, in my lifetime, there will be a tragedy, and that's when we'll change the rules. I'm really proud of Texas that we don't do that here. I think it's the best and I think everybody across the country should look at it. Again, it's nothing against Tech, because we do not have Big 12 rules and we do not have NCAA rules against it. So I do not blame Tech, I do not blame the students at all, I just think it's a very difficult and dangerous situation for kids and coaches, and I think it would be better if it wasn't that way. It's not that way here and it's not that way in the NFL.
To start with the game, we didn't play well. We played hard but we didn't play well. We really played poorly the first half. I really give our kids and coaches credit for not pointing fingers, hanging in there, fighting and scraping on a night where nothing was going well, and getting ourselves back in the ballgame and having a chance to win it, then lose it right in the end. First half, defensively, we had a number of third downs - a third and eight, a third and 10, a third and 8 and a third and 14 - that they make, and one of our goals was to get off the field on third downs. We did that much better in the second half defensively. We gave up eight explosive plays - two runs and six passes - and we had opportunity after opportunity to gain turnovers, and we only got one. It's something we're not doing well. We're one of the worst teams in the country at forcing and gaining turnovers, so we need to obviously get better in that area. Graham Harrell really hurt us with the scrambles. They were getting outside of our ends and most of their really good plays were off-schedule plays that he made with his feet, getting more time and throwing the ball down field. We missed 15 tackles for 93 yards, which is too many again. So for two weeks in a row, we haven't tackled well. Part of that is Michael Crabtree. He's as good as I've seen anywhere. He's a great player.
Offensively and defensively, because we weren't getting off the field on third downs, we stayed on the field too long. We had 43 plays in the first half defensively, and that will wear anybody out. We're in pretty good shape because we had some guys banged up and some guys come out of the game. To be out there that many plays - I think we ended up with 81 - after a first half like that, it's too many.
The defense really held them to 30 points, and with they way they score, that should have been enough to win. Our offense gave up nine points and that really hurt us. In this game, you've got to get possessions offensively; you can't lose possessions and specifically points. The one turnover that we got, our offense only got a field goal out of it when we've been scoring touchdowns.
The last drive was a great play by them. I don't know many people that can make that play other than Michael Crabtree. Honestly, if he catches it and we tackle him, the game is probably over. So it was really risky by them and at the same time, it worked out for them. I don't think we've ever lost a game in my career on the last second, and I don't think we've had a come-from-behind win where we score with a 1:27 left and they come back and score. We've won all those here and it's really disappointing - a tough Saturday night for all of us.
Offensively, as I said, we were very poor in the first half. We gave up nine points. Our running game was nonexistent and we didn't protect Colt well. Colt played a really good football game to hang in there and not lose his composure with the pressure that he had across the board. He fought and competed and gave us a chance to win, just because of him. He came back and won the game with 1:27 left, then it slipped away, but he played great. We dropped seven passes. I don't think we've dropped that many all year. Again, he didn't get frustrated, he wasn't pointing fingers, to his credit, when you lose Rak [Brian Orakpo] on defense, it's really tough. When you lose Quan [Cosby], for us, it's a lot like losing Crabtree for them. But I was really proud of Malcolm Williams. He stepped up and had by far his best game of the year.
I thought the kids battled, the coaches battled and all of us can do better. We can coach better, they can play better and we've got to do that. Kicking game, we had the blocked punt that really didn't help us much because it was deflected and rolled down to the other end. We did have the blocked field goal, which saved points and gave us a chance to win. We had the punt return for a touchdown, which really helped us. The rugby punts helped our field position, because we were able to get the ball to the other field a lot. Hunter [Lawrence] stayed 100 percent. We were better with our kickoffs. The last one, we didn't get it exactly where we wanted it, we didn't cover it very well and they got it out to the 36 yard-line.
We're going to need our fans this week. It's a very difficult week for our players and our coaches. They're emotionally and physically tired. They're banged up. Some may not play this week. A lot will not be able to practice this week after this stretch. Baylor is improving, so we have a lot of work to do and we can't get let one loss beat us twice.
On rooting against other teams around the nation to better the Longhorns' position: What we've really got to do is play better. I'm not worried about the rest of it. We win the rest of our games, something good will happen to us. We can't sit around here after a loss when we didn't play well and worry about the end. We'd better play better, or we'll have some trouble this weekend.
On going through the four-game gauntlet with a 3-1 record: Any time you lose a game at Texas, as players and coaches, we're disappointed. We thought we'd win all four of them, period. It wasn't talked about. I think it's happened one time in the history of college football, so we probably should have looked at it a little differently. I think it was in the 1940s by Notre Dame. I told the kids we were one second away from doing something that hasn't been done in your lifetime. Now we have to go back to work.
On Texas Tech's offensive and defensive lines early in the game: I thought really and truly they played well up front on both sides. We were disappointed. We had some opportunities, we made (Harrell) move around, so our pass rush wasn't as bad as it looked. Offensively, we didn't play well up front. What happens in a game like this, there are a lot of kids that played really well, but since you didn't play well as a team, they don't get any credit. We don't have any players of the week when you lose, so it's a shame. Chris Hall had a great game, for instance, and it will go unnoticed publicly. Really, he's not feeling good because we lost the game. So there are some things like that happen. But very honestly, we didn't play as physical as we needed to on either side of the ball.
On the importance of senior leadership after a tough loss: You work through a lot of pain and disappointment. There's some depression usually and anger. Usually there is finger pointing. We're pretty lucky around here that it doesn't happen to us very much. You get more criticism. All the cheese is gone, we can pack those boxes up, they're out of here. We'll need first-aid kits this week instead of cheese. I really think that you've got to use Sunday and Monday to get rid of it. I don't feel very good today myself. It's a hard thing. You lose a lot of things that are out there for you. You can't let it bother you. We told the kids, winning every game is not a realistic lesson for life. Losing every now and then is. Handling that on the field like they did after the game is a great lesson for later, because if you can handle that, you can handle about anything. You're going to have some tough things in your life. Handling this week is tough for a football player. It's not death, but in football it feels similar. You're in a position where you don't have any choice. If you want to win, you've got to go back, that's what makes you stronger. So we think there will be a lot of life lessons this week. We've all got to pull together and it does take seniors, it'll take staff, it'll take coaches. We've got to get back and feel better about each other. Each one of us is disappointed, as coaches and players, that we let the other guys down because this has been such a special team. That's where it hurts so badly, we feel like we let each other down. That's a hard thing with sports.
On the strong performance from Fozzy Whittaker: Fozzy did a good job and we played better the second half. Chris [Ogbonnaya] has had a sprained ankle since Oklahoma State. In fact, before that. In the Missouri game, early in the second half, he sprained his ankle and he's really struggled for two weeks here. So Fozzy needs to come on now and be fresh. Vondrell [McGee] had a couple of good runs on the counter play. We've just got to keep working on it. I don't know why we didn't (run the ball) very well. When we lost out there in (2002), it was a very similar game to this. We didn't run it well and we were inconsistent.
On learning from the loss and improving after it: No question, and that's what this week has to be about. We're supposed to be teaching lessons for young people and we're still trying to learn them at my age. These guys have to learn how to pick it back up and go to work. Some of these players will be embarrassed to go to class today. They won't go out and eat. That's where our fans have to help us too, because usually fans are angry, like the players are angry. Only difference is, players are angry at themselves, fans are angry at players or coaches. It's just a different feeling totally and some of our players have never had that feeling. It's something that we'll have to deal with and at the same time, this will be our toughest coaching week of the season because Baylor is really improving. Baylor is playing well. They've had a chance to win the last two against teams that in the past, Baylor hasn't completed well against. As disappointed as they are to lose, they're seeing hope here. They'll see us banged up, without some guys, and they'll come in here pumped. We need our fans and we all have to pick it up and go back to work.
On what makes Baylor different from past years: Robert Griffin. He's changed the face of their program. My gosh, what a player. He's thrown one interception all year. He's completing 60-plus. He can really run. He won the hurdles in track in the Big 12. And he's giving them a lot of confidence. And [Kendall] Wright the same way, he's a great freshman receiver. They may have two of the best freshmen in the country who have stepped in and are playing really well for them.
On the strong performance from Malcolm Williams: What a great couple of plays he made. The play in the Missouri game probably changed his whole confidence level. He just stepped up and took over. Quan, whatever it was, hurt his back on the first play of the game. He had some soreness coming out of last week's game. I thought it was the same thing and it popped back up, but it really wasn't. It was just a freak accident for him. But at that time, Malcolm just stepped up. In fact, all of those young guys tried. A couple of them dropped balls, but they're trying and they'll get better. They got thrown in the fire pretty quickly. We've been taking care of them, but Saturday night was a lesson under fire.
On whether the coaches will focus on breaking down the mistakes or handling the players' minds: Both. The thing I'm really proud of, I don't want to act like our guys didn't try and didn't play hard. They really tried. If they hadn't, they'd have gotten blown out because nothing worked. When it's not working on the field, your coordinators struggle more with trust because it's hard to do what you want when it's not happening. The whole thing is tougher. When it's working, it's the easiest job in the world. Unless you get the psyche back, unless you get excited about playing Saturday, the fundamental stuff will not work because they've got to get their minds back to work. We'll go back and have a really physical practice tomorrow. We'll go back to work. We have no choice. We'll act like it's the first game of the season.
On the emotional loss involved with losing Brian Orakpo to injury: He's our spirit. He and Roy Miller are our spirit and our leaders. That's who we are. Obviously in a game like this, we needed him in that last drive to rush the passer. It just really hurts you. That's a tough one there.
On any pressure from here on out to win convincingly: Not after Saturday night, we just need to win. I think we've got to go back and get off all the national stuff and play better. That's what we have to do. We've been into all the national stuff all year. Sometimes you can sit and listen to that stuff, it gets more important than playing well. Very honestly, you have to play and coach well. None of that stuff is important this week, winning is important. We have to get back and win.
On seeing Kendal Briles, Casey Horny and Beau Trahan on the opposing coaching staff this week for Baylor: I hadn't thought about it. How neat is that? It's fun to have Major [Applewhite] back for us. It was fun when we had Derek Lewis on our staff. It's going to be a lot of fun to see those guys over there and they've done an amazing job. Art [Briles] has had them in about every game, giving them a chance to win. I know he's not happy with losing, but you can see progress. When Vince [Young] was a freshman, you could see we lost some games, but we had a chance to get better because of him. That's what I see with Robert Griffin now. We all better grab and hold on because it's not going to be the same Baylor from this point on. I hope they don't get it turned this weekend.