Tracking Mack: Nov. 5
Nov. 5, 2008
Opening statement: I think what we're all seeing is that the Big 12 is such a great conference this year, and that there is absolutely no margin for error. After watching the Baylor film, they are really good and legit. They took Missouri to the wire, and it actually was like our game, where there were a couple of plays at the end, that if they make, they win the game. We were talking this morning to Will Muschamp, and what we're seeing is that the SEC has been this way for years and now the Big 12 is becoming that way. You have to bring your `A' game every week. And not only do you have to play with energy, you have to play tough and you have to play good. That's what's happening in this league now. It's a great complement to the league, but like I said, there's no room for error. You have to play, and you have to play good.
Our guys are coming back out of the bad feelings they had on Saturday night, and they practiced well yesterday. I think you'll see that they're going to be ready to play this weekend. But, Baylor can beat you even if you play good. I just think that's where we are and where we're headed.
There are still some questions about a few guys, and I obviously cannot answer all of those. We did address that Chris Ogbonnaya did have a sore ankle, and it's just hard to get well as a running back. There have been some questions about Chykie Brown and disciplinary actions, and none of that is a factor at all. He's got a sore ankle, and we put him into the game the other night and he couldn't push off. And at this position, you cannot play when you're injured that way. Not having Chykie is really hurting us, because he's becoming one of the best cover guys we've had since spring. You look at Quan and Rak [Brian Orakpo] and those guys, and what happens when you have problems with guys practicing full speed during the week, is that they are probably not going to play to their level of normal performance anyway. You can watch them on Saturday, but if they are limited in practice because of an injury, then they probably aren't going to play as well as we need them to. So, you have to get somebody else ready to play, regardless. The other thing that happens with an injured player is that they get tired faster. If a guy normally plays 65 plays, he might only be able to play 20, and then his ankle gets tired and he loses the explosion that you want to have as well. We've got a lot of that going on this week. We're trying to balance who can practice and who can't, who would be able to play, and even if they do play, how many plays will they be able to play. That's just the thing you have this time of the year, and that's what we've got the next three weeks.
On if the team is physically worn down as a group: I don't think you can group things. I talked to Jordan Shipley and I asked him if it's too much to have him on punts, kickoffs and playing every snap. He said, "Absolutely not, I feel good. I'm excited, ready to go and in great shape." So what we've done is that we have gone to individual kids and have talked to them, and each one of them said, "Coach, let's go back to work and get ready to play." They do not want to use that as an excuse, and I think that's good for them.
On how much harder his job is now that he can't take Baylor lightly anymore: Well, it's changed. There was a time where you had some breaks in the league, and you didn't have to play your `A' game to win. In fact, we've probably won some games around here where we just played okay, and won by a lot. Those days are gone, and it's gone for the next three weeks. We'll see some ups and downs with teams in the league, but you always have that. Overall, I think you're going to see the majority of this league being good enough to beat you if you don't play well.
On how there are four teams that are beating up on each other: I think we have to put Kansas in Missouri in that group, because of last year. Sometimes, you can have teams that just have good years, but Missouri is showing they weren't a joke and that they can play. Kansas is showing the same thing, because they can line up and beat you. I think the fact that Missouri and Kansas are leading the North, and Baylor comes down to a last second play in their game, shows that every team is legit. It's a great credit to the Big 12 and you are starting to see some teams come on. Gene Chizik will do a great job for Iowa State, and they will keep fighting, and he will make them more competitive than they are right now. We saw last year that they beat Colorado and they beat Kansas State at the end of the year.
On if practice is going to be less physical this week: I can't get into green jerseys, because they will tell too much. We decided to go back to work this week. We felt like we weren't as physical as we wanted to be last week, and if a guy couldn't practice, then maybe he shouldn't be able to play this weekend. So, we're going to go back and work like we have all year. We're going to be really aggressive with the kids and be physical. For the guys that will be able to practice, we'll play them. We lost a lot with Quan the other night, because he does all of our tricks and all of that. But, very honestly, we just need to do that with some other kids too.
On how he knows the team has moved on from the loss to Texas Tech: I could see that as a group, they didn't think we were physical enough, and we were really physical in practice. We thought this is the time of the year where if you're not careful, you can get caught up into so much BCS stuff, that you forget fundamentals. So, we had a really good fundamental practice, and we tried to go back to doing little things better than we have for the last two weeks. We felt like there were times during the Oklahoma State game that we played really well, but there were times where we didn't. And then at Tech, we thought the first half was very poor. We had a very good second half, a good enough second half to win against a really good team. But, we did not play well in the first half, so we needed to go back and just remember why we were good and go back to those things.
On the BCS: I do think our system is better now than it has ever been, and I do think there are a lot of things that are left to be desired. If you take the top 10 teams, and this is true more than ever before, all 10 of those have a chance to be number one if you had a playoff. There is less separation at the top than ever before. We've gone back to where we've left a 13-win team out in the past. We've gone back where two teams in this league didn't win a conference championship but were able to play for a national championship. I do think there's a better system out there. But, there's not a good enough package that's been put together, in my estimation, to know what we're even talking about. Everybody says, "What about playoffs?" But, what does that mean? What are we talking about? In an essence, we have a playoff, but I don't like how we've gotten so impressionable that if Texas beats Oklahoma, we go from number five to number one. I didn't agree with that. Tech goes from number seven to number two, because of one game on TV one night. I don't think we should have preseason polls, and I don't like what we do with polls because they change so much. I think that sometime in late October, somebody should start ranking teams and have some way to play them off at the end. I think that would be better for everybody.
On if the offensive line feels as though they have something to prove this week: I don't think they felt like they played well. Two of the sacks were on the tight ends, so it wasn't that they didn't protect Colt [McCoy] well. But I think that they weren't pleased overall with how physical we were. I think if you are not physical, nothing works, because you can take the right steps, but if they get off the ball a little quicker than you do, then nothing works. This is a physical, tough and vicious game and you have to knock the other guy out of the way. Even if there is a stalemate, you lose in the running game, and I think that's kind of what happened the other night. We didn't dominate at the line of scrimmage like we did earlier in the year, and that's what we need to get back to.
On Robert Griffin: Robert Griffin is doing for Baylor what Vince [Young] did for us as a freshman. It's amazing what he does. He gives them a chance to win because he's raised the level of play of everybody else. You have to focus so much on him with your defense that it opens up the running plays. You have to focus so much around him that it makes it easier to throw the ball. He has a very high percentage in passing, and he's thrown only one interception all year, but you have to worry about him running. That was like Vince, because if he throws it, you're happy. That's the thing - he can score so quickly and easily. I think he will change Baylor, and he will give them a chance to be able to compete in this league at the highest level before he leaves if he stays healthy and if everything else works out. I think he's that good.
On what other positions Baylor has improved on: They have improved with their receivers. [David] Gettis was a great receiver last year, but Kendall Wright is a guy that can score every time that he touches it. Art [Briles] has been around a long time, and he knows how to get the ball to different guys with different formations. They are playing much harder on defense than they have, because they are scoring points. Their defense knows that their offense gives them a chance to score. So, they are playing like that on defense because they have a chance.
On if he sees similarities between Texas Tech and Baylor: You really don't. Art gives you so many different looks, and Mike [Leach] is pretty basic with what he does. He does the same stuff every year, and he's good at it. Mike works his kids to out-execute you. Art is going to confuse you. With our young defensive backs and some guys who are banged up that might not get to practice, this is a real problem because of all the different shifting and motion that he does, because he can surely get you out of position. He does that along with running the ball, where Mike is not going to run it very much. Art is going to go in to try to beat you with running the ball. I think they had 400 yards rushing against Washington State. If you allow him to run the ball, you won't see many passes, and I think that's the major difference.
On the rugby punt: I think it is not what the fundamentalists started many years ago. With scoring and field position, the rugby punt gives you better opportunities to fake, because if they're not out there with you, you can run it. Secondly, to defend it, they have to hold that corner and that takes away from a gunner. So now, they probably will have to go to double gunners and bring one of them, like Tech did in the second half the other night. Obviously, when you have great players now in our league, like Dez Bryant and [Jeremy] Maclin returning punts, you don't want to kick it to those guys. Kansas State beat us out here last year, because of a punt return. That's what started the whole thing in the fourth quarter. So, if you can get your 40 yards and kick it out-of-bounds, that's a whole lot better. What we're starting to see now is that the defensive coordinators are starting to come up with things to disrupt the rugby punt. What we were seeing is that it hurt our blocks when they would rugby punt because it took away our schemes.