Nov. 6, 2012
Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin
On the situation for the mindset of the team being tough or easy: Well, I wouldn't say either one, necessarily, is the case. I think right now what we talked about with our team and what we have to do and where we're at is just about getting better. We played some games. We haven't played our best. We played some games where we fought through, and scratched and clawed, and we played some games that we executed very well. Week to week it gets tougher and tougher. From our mindset, it's just about getting better. Understanding that each opponent we play is going to get better, tougher, harder. That's really what we're just talking about week to week. All we have to worry about is us improving and doing our jobs. That gives us the best chance to go out there and win a game.
On if he sees some basketball ability in WR Mike Davis: I see Magic in him. I can say that. I see Magic in him. One thing Mike has done this year, we've thrown him some balls that he's gone up and gotten. That one David threw there the last touchdown pass was one that Mike continued on his route. The DB played it well and was in position, and he had to throw it deeper in the right spot. He had to throw it a little bit deeper where only Mike could get it. Mike went up and got it, and high pointed it. I think that's something [wide receivers] Coach [Darrell] Wyatt is always talking about with those wide receivers. We're going to give you an opportunity on the throw, and that's what we tell the quarterbacks, give them a chance. That means put it on them. When we do that, your ball skills take over. It's much like basketball, going up, getting the ball. That's what it is. You see he's got great body control and an awareness to go up and do that. He's shown it in several games. But those attributes from playing basketball and things like that, it does show up in other sports like football and what he's doing at wide receiver and the way he's playing right now. He's playing at a very high level. We want him to continue to do that. He's done that because he's worked hard. He's done that because he's prepared hard and his mind has been right. If he continues to do that, then hopefully we see the same things in the future games.
On Iowa State being a very physical team: Yes, absolutely. We know this from playing them last year. I got to see those guys firsthand. I know they pride themselves on the toughness they play on defense. Their front seven, those guys have no bones about coming up and trying to stop you in the run game and playing physical at all. They do that. We watched them in the Oklahoma game, and I thought their guys up front played well. They hit them on some throws down the field. But it was tough sledding running the ball on those guys because of the way the Dline was playing. The linebackers, I thought played very well in that game. So we understand that's going to be physical. No different than what we've seen in previous games. But these guys bring a very tough front seven. We have to understand that and make sure we go out there this week in practice. Don't take anything for granted. We know what we're getting into. Those guys will come hit you in the mouth, and we have to be ready for it.
On QB David Ash: David knew in the previous game it wasn't his best game, and we had to do something in that game to win the game. And Case [McCoy] came in and was fantastic. And David's played well this year. So all it was was do what you've done. Go back and do your job. That's been our motto in our room, do your job. This is what you have to do this week in order to do it. I thought David in the game, I thought he threw very confidently. I thought he threw on time. I thought he knew exactly where he wanted to go with the football on his throws and made some very good decisions in there. That's what he's done. It hasn't been anything different, he just went and did his job, basically, and played well, and prepared well. So when he does those things and the guys around him with protection and the wide receivers and everybody else continues to do their jobs and we have big play opportunities, that gives the quarterback more confidence out there. Some of the throws we hit to Mike, when you do that, you feel pretty good throwing the ball back there. And I think that's what helped him in this game.
On Coach Brown saying this was the best team win: He's [Coach Brown] right as far as the whole team win. I know there are segments of games that we have played better offensively and defensively and all that. But when we were down in the third quarter and we weren't doing much, the defense was out there playing hard and holding those guys and getting us the chance to get ourselves regrouped for the fourth quarter. So that's what he's talking about. We played off each other. We fed off each other and believed in each other. I think that is the funnest part about being a part of a football team or any team in general, is when you have that type of camaraderie. One side, hey, we'll pick it up. Hey, figure it out. We'll do our jobs. You guys get yourselves back on track, whatever it is. That's why it felt so good at the end of the game, because that's exactly what happened. Defense was down there and they drove down, and [CB] Carrington [Byndom] blocks the field goal. That was the spark that ignited us to get ourselves going and go down there and score and put some points on the board. So that's fun to be a part of. We continue to play like that, it's not perfect by any means, but we play like that on both sides of the ball, and we have a chance to continue to be successful.
On RB Johnathan Gray: I think Johnathan's gotten better week to week. He's prepared more. He's had more opportunities and he's taken advantage of those. That's what anybody that plays, when they have an opportunity to take advantage of it, and he's continued to do that. He needs to have that mindset this week in practice. Take advantage of your opportunities, be prepared, and do your job. The last drive there, we ran several plays over and over in that drive. The Oline, fullbacks, tight ends, wide receivers then Jonathan, everybody, just the way they finished the game is something that we talk about on a weekly basis. That's what we want to be able to do. That one actually happened. You can see the guys. I think they were excited that the way we were finishing the game was what we had discussed and what we've always wanted to do. So I think that was motivating for everybody. And Jonathan just capped it off by running hard, finding holes and making those plays more explosive and even better, and getting guys more excited.
On taking chances on plays during the game: I think in this game that's pretty much what we said. We're going to take those shots. We had those built into our opening calls. Based off of we had played them in the past, different coordinator, but we had played against them so our chance to look at our game and what we had done and what they were looking at. We felt like we had some opportunities in what we had done in previous games to set some of those throws up and we did. Just to have some opportunities to take some throws down the field. We felt like in practice that week that we were throwing the ball well and getting open in those routes in practice. They looked good. So as the week goes on, I look at what plays are successful during that week of practice and try to put those in the opening plays and say, “Alright, we're going to get the ball to this guy, this guy, this guy. We're going to take these type of chances. We're going to set these plays up for the looks down the road in the game.” It happened to work out in our favor. We hit some of those big shots and those big plays are huge, those big chunks. That's what you want to do. When you can run the ball and hit big chunk yardage plays, it opens up a lot of things.
On co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite being inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor: We talked about that. It's a great honor. Obviously, he does a tremendous job with our backs, with our offense, and recruiting. There are a lot of opportunities he does a tremendous job with. What he did in the past and he did as a player, you can see why he was successful working with him as a player, because a lot of things just make sense. He makes it make sense, so I know that's what helps those running backs when they get out there and play. Why they play well is because he does a great job coaching those guys up.
On if he remembers watching Applewhite play: Oh, yeah, I remember. I remember watching Texas football. I remember Major Applewhite, I remember Chris Simms. I remember Ricky Williams, the touchdown run he had for the record. I remember watching a lot of Texas football, and specifically Major Applewhite is not a common name, so that's something when you hear that you know that. Playing quarterback in college myself, you hear Major Applewhite and it's like all right. That's a different name there, and they're playing at Texas, so you watch those guys and follow them a little bit. It's fun to kind of go back and relive that a little bit.
On if Iowa State lost anything when their top linebacker Jake Knott went out with an injury: Not at all. As a matter of fact, the linebacker that replaced him, No. 52 [Jeremiah George] had 17 tackles in the Oklahoma game. So in my opinion, they just reloaded is what they did. There was really no dropoff. When they came in and played, he was all over the field in the games. We all feel like he's just watching him out there and watching that linebacking crew and that front seven. Those guys are good as anybody we played against. We flew around out there and watching our game and how physical and some of the breaks that we got that could have gone the other way, you look at those things, too. “Hey, we didn't have this guy covered up, we just happened to slip out of it? Could they make that play this year?” Yeah, they could make that play. So we have to do a better job of making sure we have guys covered up and getting on guys like we did last year, because they're playing at a high level. Those guys are making plays. That's what the front seven did.
On how RB Malcolm Brown might fit it when he gets back: I think that will be determined throughout the week. But the one thing in this game, guys get dinged up. Then you have guys that come in and carry the flag. When they come back, they have to work themselves back in there. So he knows that and he has to do that. He's a guy that's played and been successful for us. He's going to have his opportunities. Have them this week in practice and take advantage of them. Get back in there, get in the mix, run hard, see the holes. Get your feet wet again and get going. He did last week, and he'll be ready to go this week. As we get our packages put together, Malcolm looks great. Let's do this, this, and this. Joe's [Bergeron] doing this. Johnathan's doing this, and so on and so forth. You mix it up with those guys so they can get in there and have opportunities. That is the one thing about having some really good players at one position. It's a good thing as a coach. You have those guys back there and you don't have any dropoff. But you've got to make sure you find ways to get them in the game. At the same time you're still giving those guys opportunities to get into a rhythm. Talking about Johnathan, and that is the one thing he was able to do in the game. He got into a rhythm. And at the end of the game, some of the plays we were running over and over, he started seeing it, seeing it better and knew how it was going to develop from the first run, to the second run, to the third run, and so on.
On seeing how excited Coach Brown was after the win against Texas Tech: We were all excited. Just the way that the game unfolded, the way that we won the game. I think as a head coach, when you see your team on both sides of the ball play as hard as we did - we played hard. Not perfect, but we played hard. When you see that, you're proud and happy with that. You're happy with it. You see all the work in practice and all the things you've talked about, it all comes together. It's just general excitement of just seeing your team come together that way. We were all excited. I think the staff, the players, we all could feel that. Both sides, special teams with the blocked field goal, everybody was playing hard. The guys were just out there fighting and finishing the game.
I think everybody was really excited. It was a great football game. What you would expect between two ranked opponents. You're going on the road that's very difficult to win, historically. What's needed is a game that we started out well. They made the push, which you would expect them to do. So what it does is it really touches your team's character, because somebody was going to have to find a way throughout the course of that game. They had the ball down by two. We got a stop. The offense went down there and scored, and they get the ball. To make the play there, to keep it a twopossession game, that's what you want to see. You want to see your guys come through in those type of situations so as a coach it absolutely makes you very proud for your players.
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz
On being able to handle Texas Tech QB Seth Doege: A lot of the credit there goes twofold. One, we denied them the big play, which we talked about is something that we had to improve on and we have over past few weeks. Then, secondly, it came down to the red zone defense. Sometimes that came down to one of our goals. We have to be tough in the red zone. When the ball is up in the air and it's one of their guys and [CB] Carrington [Byndom] was in situations that presented, that's what it came down to. It came down to a fight for the football. The credit goes to Carrington for outfighting for guy to get the ball out.
On seeing the defense perform well: Well, I was happy to win. I don't know if relief would be the proper emotion for that. But all that being said, we came in yesterday and had a very, I would say, fiery meeting because our standards are still so much higher. There is still so much more improvement to come. So, again, as a coach, what we're trying to do is try to find a way to win the football game. So we were delighted that our players persevered and found a way to win the game. But we still can't stop our push to try to improve.
On what he attributes the defensive improvement to: I do think that we're getting better because we're playing more. But we have guys that are getting more atbats and haven't mentioned they've been making more and more positive plays, weekin and weekout. Over of the course of the year, I don't know if we can be more simple than we've been since the Ole Miss game. But it's just a matter of part of it, the simple thing. The offenses we go against are not simple to go against. They present so many problems and so many questions. So part of it is getting an idea of what they're doing. Okay, yes, I've seen that before. Three weeks ago I had not seen this play or this motion. Now we're starting to come around the curb again and see things same as, and I think that helps our learning.
On the defense staying positive through criticism: Well, there is no question that this went from the very first meeting we had back in August was we were going to talk about that our room was going to be sort of our little dome. And the opinions that were going to matter, are the opinions that's came out of that room, whether it was way, way the extreme good, or way, way the extreme bad. And we really had focus on what was real, because there's so much said in both directions about our defense. This is one thing I'm most proud of the players. They've done a great job all year of staying on point, focusing on what's actually happening, what is actually fixable, which is themselves and us and just getting better at being us. That's why yesterday nothing changed. There was no sitting around, congratulating ourselves yesterday. It was, “Hey, look at all those plays that we need to fix. Let's just keep going about it. Let's keep going about fixing what we have to fix.”
On LB Steve Edmond: He's making better plays weekin and weekout. The impact is you're going to feel it because it helps solidify you and the middle of your defense. If you can be strong up the middle, that is kind of where, in any sport, that's where it all begins. Steve is playing better. He's making more and more exciting plays weekin and weekout which is helping his confidence. He still has it ton to improve, but it's been fun to see his growth.
On starting a game at 11 a.m.: As a coach, we'll always look in our eyes what it is we're doing in our preparation. I speak back to Kansas. In Kansas we went out there and got a threeandout and scored. It seemed like we did start well. They had 30 yards in the first quarter, then we had a poor second quarter. So I think sometimes the credit has to go to who you're playing. But at the same time, it's our responsibility to make sure that we're ready to go. Anything, as a coach, you have to be responsible for your players to make sure they're excited to play. We have a lot of respect for Iowa State. Iowa State is a much bigger problem than 11 a.m. - whether we're playing them at 7:00 a.m. or 7:00 at night. They present enough problems. So we have to make sure that they have our full attention, which I know they will.
On Iowa State QB Steele Jantz: Number one, they have the quarterback run game with him. They're continuing to feature him more and more with more dynamic ways to run the football with him as a runner, which puts strain on your defense. Then secondly is just going back and watching the tape. We almost couldn't sack him if we were pulling flags last year. He's so elusive. I don't remember how many times we did sack him, but we could have sacked him three or four more times, but we just couldn't get a hand on that guy. So again, be disciplined in your rush and your coverage, because he can create explosive plays with his arm or with his feet. What we have found is when the defense gives up fewer explosive plays, the chance of winning goes up. The more explosive plays we gives up, the harder it is for us to win the football game.
On WR Mike Davis: I think it's been fun to see what Mike Davis [has done], his improvement as a football player. I think sometimes that's where it gets lost. These guys come in with really high expectations, but it's still a matter of just improving. What you do as a freshman, you need to find a way to improve on it as a sophomore and go into your junior year. What's been neat to see in practice and in the games is Mike starting to make some of those big time plays like he did at the end of Oklahoma State, Kansas, and certainly on Saturday against Tech. But that's kind of how a college career should go. You kind of learn your way. You flash early on. Young guys are normally more inconsistent than older guys for various reasons. But it has been fun to see Mike develop in practice. Then you see him carry those type plays in the game. Certainly our team needed it, and it's been fun watching him step up to that role.
On CB Duke Thomas: Yes, Duke got in there. He's been helping us on special teams and now [defensive backs] Coach [Duane] Akina feels comfortable putting him in defensively in the corner for us. He got in early on in this past week. He's a diligent worker, hard worker. He listens to every word that comes out of Coach Akina's mouth and tries to do it exactly the way he's taught. He was a great player in high school, and did everything at Copperas Cove, and just one of those guys that we're excited about his development.
On co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite being inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor: It is certainly neat for Major. I know he'll be proud of that. I know he'll be more focused on getting his guys ready to play. I think it's been fun watching the job that Major has been done, getting his improvement and seeing the improvement that Johnathan Gray has made throughout the year, and dealing with the loss of Malcolm [Brown] and Joe Bergeron's improvement. He's on our staff, does a lot of things, wears a lot of hats for us. And any recognition he gets is well deserved.
On getting a three-and-out inspiring confidence early: It's a great confidence boost to the defense to go out there and get the threeandout to start the drive. We've done that three straight weeks. We've played of course better the last two than we did three weeks ago. I've been around great defenses that did that. I've been around great defenses that didn't do that. But certainly when you get on that field because of the dynamics of the game, if you can kick to them, get to threeandout, you sort of steal that first possession. If you get a good punt return and send the ball up to the offense in positive territory and then sort of get that 2 for 1 at halftime. From a game strategy, it's an important aspect of the game. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. But it's important for our confidence when it does.