Nov. 4, 2008
Defensive backs coach Duane Akina
On the learning process of a loss: I think they learn from every game. They did a lot of outstanding things once again in a really high-profile matchup. But that's what happens when you come to The University of Texas, you're in some big games. They've come out on top in many of those situations, but on Saturday, we came up a little short.
On how he handles the players after a loss: You have to encourage them. Obviously no one needs to remind them that they had an opportunity to make a great play and they came up short. The other thing we've got to also remember and realize is those guys made a lot of plays that got us into the position we're in right now. There are a lot of football players out there who would love to get a play back. I think we have to remind ourselves of that, and yet we have to realize that we have to make those plays. Nobody knows that more than them. But the only way you forget last week's game is you move on to the next game, and that's what we do. We went back to work. We had a great practice. We have to now shift gears and get in to Baylor. It's a different mindset, different offense. We had a great practice today, very spirited, and that's how you put last week away, you move on to the next one.
On assessing the secondary's performance during the four-game gauntlet: I thought they played well again last week. Obviously there was a play or two in there that we'd love to have back. But that's a great offense. You just look over the years, they've done a great job and I think they've done a great job this year. Holding them to the point total that they did, they fought and they got themselves back. They came out in the second half in a very challenging situation and responded on third down, made critical plays all the way to the very end there. Many of those kids were very pivotal in getting the game flipped on the punt return. Earl [Thomas] throws a huge block that shakes [Jordan] Shipley free. So there are a lot of hidden plays in there that fans don't see and realize that they really have a tremendous impact in the game.
On how the young players will bounce back after the loss: They're competitive guys. To get an opportunity to play here and play this early in their careers, you're talking about a couple of freshmen that are lining up there. I challenge anybody to go out and find other freshmen safeties that play in a very explosive offensive conference like this, that has helped their football to a four ranking and an 8-1 situation with all their goals ahead of them. We can still nail every single goal, and that's what we've got to do. That's what we talk about. That's who we are. You can't play in the secondary if you're physically or mentally weak, not with how at risk and aggressively we play. They're going to make some plays. There were a couple of them out there - the fade ball on third and eight to get them off the goal line. Great coverage, great throw. It's going to happen. Let's line up and go play again.
Obviously they're hurt, they're young kids. But when you come to a place like The University of Texas, you understand what you're getting into. It goes hand in hand. They're great guys, they're competing. They had a great workday today and we're excited about the challenge against Baylor. You've got to shift gears. It's a completely different offense than what we've seen the last couple of weeks.
On Baylor QB Robert Griffin:
Good legs. He can stretch the field. Obviously you have to defend the run, we'll have a lot of one-on-one situations out there. He's a very productive player. He brings a different problem.
There is a good share of designed runs, but it's those that aren't designed that can get exciting. There is no doubt we have to defend his legs. He runs the option. He runs zone read, runs it very well. (If you're Baylor) you don't have to block everybody, you can make them miss.
On whether Griffin has the `X-factor':
He's a freshman. We've got to remember, they are young guys. But to be doing what he's doing in an outstanding conference like this at a young age says a lot about him, because the ball is in his hands a lot. I think he's done a remarkable job for a freshman that's been on campus for a couple months.
On Baylor's passing game:
They throw deep, they throw short and (the receivers) do a good job without the ball, which I think is a real measure of an outstanding football player.
On Aaron Williams:
Aaron is doing a nice job. He's another one, for another freshman to be put in this situation, in this conference, is saying quite a bit for him. He had an outstanding game. That early screen, we needed [Graham] Harrell to throw a good ball, but he throws it in the dirt a little bit behind the receiver. (Williams) had a chance to maybe take that one to the house. He's a got gift for making plays. He's learning. He's got to get in the weight room, keep getting stronger, but he's got a great future I believe.
I think Aaron has a gift (with punt blocking) and we've got to find ways to get him free. He has a way to finish. A lot of guys can get there, but it's the ones that can finish that are the ones you are looking for.
Wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy
On what he is coaching his wide receivers on after the loss to Texas Tech:
We always do drills before practice and then also after. Obviously we were disappointed that some guys dropped passes, but we just have to go back to work. Like I've always said about this group, and I'll keep saying it, is that we're a work in progress. Obviously we have guys like Quan (Cosby) and Jordan (Shipley) who have been very solid. We're disappointed and we know we can play better and we have to.
On where the team goes from here: The biggest thing that I can say is that whether it's a tight end, whether it's a running back, a wide receiver, we just have to go back to work. We've got to continue to challenge our players because you know when you come to Texas it's a place where the spotlight's on you and you've got to crave that pressure. You've got to crave making the play and being in the right spot. The guys worked hard. I have not been disappointed in them all year because I see the effort. I see the determination. At the same time, we know that we have to get better.
We've been throwing it and catching it really well, and I think the team, whether it be the defense, the offense, whomever, looks to the wide receivers to make those plays. As a group we have to step up and give our team that boost. That's why I was really pleased with Malcolm (Williams) the other night. I thought he showed significant progress, but he's still a work in progress.
On today's practice and moving on to Baylor: I thought we were very crisp today. I was pleased with the guys' effort. We caught the ball well. Colt (McCoy) was sharp. There's light at the end of the tunnel. The biggest thing that we talk to our players about is there's no doubt we're disappointed, but it's time to move on and it's time to refocus and we've got to go back to work. Baylor's at hand; they're a really good team. We've got to go back to work and lick our wounds but continue to get better.
On playing without Quan Cosby: I think anytime you lose a guy like Quan, it's a significant loss. On the other hand, that's when one of the younger guys should be willing to step up and say, `Hey coach, look at me I'm ready to make the play.' Whether it's Dan (Buckner) or it was Malcolm (Williams) the other night, that's what we need. We need guys not just at Quan's position, but at every position in the wideout corps to step up and play at a high level.
On practice today: We went back to work today. We were really physical with the guys and we hit them pretty good. I think it was a good message not only to them, but also as coaches that it's time to go back to work because we've got a tough road ahead and we've got to do our best.
On Malcolm Williams: It was good to see him make that progress. The one thing about Malcolm Williams that I'm really impressed with is he's really been a consistent worker. He's a hard worker but he's also very prideful, he wants to do well, he's a great kid and so I'm really happy with him. On the other hand, what we've really got to do with Malcolm and with everybody is we've got to put that performance in the back of our minds, and now he's got to go out and step up again and make plays.
On Baylor's defense: They're a real physical group. (Jordan Lake) their free safety is really a talented guy and will hit you. He is an excellent tackler. They play what we call shell, quarters, cover-two, but also some single safety look, so they mix it up. They've got two solid corners and their safety, like I said, was really good. They're a solid defense.
CB Deon Beasley
On what the secondary learned from playing four top-11 teams in a row: It's a great experience for all of us, the younger guys and also Ryan (Palmer) and I. The main thing for us to do is keep moving on and press forward. What we did in past games, that's over. The main thing for us is to keep striving to be the best. All of our goals are still achievable.
On what he told the younger players after the loss: The main thing is to tell them to keep their heads up. You may tend to get down on yourself, but that's not the best thing. The best thing is to keep your head up and keep focused. In the secondary, you're going to make mistakes, but the main thing to do is to keep your head up and play the next play.
On where the team goes from here: The main thing is to push forward. The mistakes we made, we can't do anything about it. That's what you get when you play in the Big 12 these days because everyone is playing good right now.
On Baylor QB Robert Griffin: Robert Griffin is a great quarterback. He's much like (Vince Young). He's able to move his legs, make plays with his legs and make plays with his arm. The guy's only thrown one interception this year, that's remarkable. I put him in the boat with the rest of those guys. He's got the opportunity to make plays.
K Justin Tucker
On how his background helped him in his rugby-style punt: It's really helpful that I played soccer for a very long time in my life, probably for about 13 years. Having that background was really helpful being a kicker first of all, being able to mix in this new style of special teams play.
On the team's attitude toward the rugby punt: It's something that we're looking into. It's something that we're experimenting with. The whole rugby-style punt is something we're working on collectively.
On being able to rugby punt with both feet: Like I said, it helps being from a soccer background because in soccer you're running around the whole game, you use both feet. It's not too hard, it's just something that I'm blessed to be able to do. Every other kicker on our roster is from a soccer background, so I'm sure they can do it pretty good too.
On where the idea for the rugby punt came from: It was just something that just kind of sprung up one day. Coach Brown and Coach (Tolleson) approached me one day, I think it's because it's kind of been catching on around the country. I think Arkansas State used the rugby punt against us in 2007 and they used it pretty effectively. It's just a matter of putting in another wrinkle that we can use on our opponent.
DT Aaron Lewis
On practice today: A lot of guys cleared their heads. You've got to let go, move on, start focusing on Baylor and their game plan, and what we need to do to accomplish what we need to get done.
On whether the players are feeling better yet after the loss: It's a sore subject. If you talk about, it's like salt in the wounds still. I don't think that will be over with until after this Saturday.
On whether a win over Baylor will help getting over the loss: I think any win after a loss is going to help any team.
On losing a close game: It was a great game to look back on and be proud of the fact that you fought hard, the atmosphere was great. Tech fans were crazy and it was a great place to play at. But the first loss is probably the hardest one because of the fact that we won eight straight. It shows a lot of character when you move on and keep plugging away. I think a lot of guys are showing that this week.
On whether this is a different Baylor team: The Big 12 South is incredible this year. There is so much parity going on. Just the players and athletes in general, they're a lot faster and quicker. (Baylor has) a quick offensive line, so they're going to use that to their advantage, and their quarterback is agile.
On comparing Baylor's offensive line with other lines they've faced this year: I think as far as size, they're as tall. I don't think they're as heavy, but they make up for that with their speed, agility and quickness. It's just another offensive line to prepare for.
On Baylor QB Robert Griffin: He's riled the team up. They're really coming on around him and the offense shows that with what they run and what they're able to do and produce. They're scoring more points this year - I think they're averaging around 30 - and they've played some tough teams. They've played (Oklahoma), they've played (Oklahoma) State. These are games that they've proven themselves and it's something you can't fall asleep on. It's not the typical Baylor team.
On losing Brian Orakpo to injury: We have Henry Melton behind him and we have Eddie Jones in his footsteps. It's kind of sad to see a player go down with injury but you know someone is going to fill his shoes.
LB Roddrick Muckelroy
On the team's mindset: We're just putting it all behind us. We're looking forward to a great game Saturday. All that's behind us is in the past, you learn from your mistakes. We can only get better. This week is going to be a great game. Baylor has a great team. So we're excited for a new task.
On today's practice: We went back to work. We have to start over and correct the things we did last week, make sure we don't do those things again. It was another hard, physical practice, tempo was up. We're just getting back on track where we left off. We kind of fell off last week, but we have to get back up this week. If you stay down, you'll mess around and lose again. All we can do now is continue to fight, move forward.
On how the team is responding after the loss: We started out Sunday, a couple of guys stood up and made some speeches, told everybody to move forward, we can't dwell on the past. Right now, everybody has their head up high and is looking forward to playing on Saturday.
On Baylor's running game: They've got a pretty good running back. They're going to come in running the ball. We've just to be ready this weekend, go in there and have the mindset of stopping the run. They have a great quarterback. He can throw and beat you with his legs. We have to go into the game focused.
On whether it is a different Baylor team than past years: I'm going to say yes, this is a different Baylor team than people are used to seeing. They lost to Missouri by three. It's not the same team. We can't just roll the helmet out there. They're not going to lie down.
On Baylor QB Robert Griffin: He's a great quarterback. He's a freshman. He's come in and is running the offense. He can beat you with his arm and his legs. He's an all-around talent - great speed, he has athletes around him and that's a threat. We just have to focus this week, come out Saturday and show him what we've got.