Nov. 7, 2011
Opening Statement: Good morning, everybody. Saturday's game was a lot of fun for Texas football. The pregame honoring our veterans was really special. I couldn't believe that one of the jumpers hit perfectly at the 50yard line with the wind, but I guess they've got to be really good at what they do. It was a great day for weather. The crowd was super. We appreciate our crowd who is not one that usually like the 11:00 games coming out, and I thought the crowd was loud and they tried and they fought. And we were ready to play. Had a physical win over a rival team, and everything went well.
We're slowly moving ourselves up. We're 16th in the BCS, so brick-by-brick we keep climbing. Three of the next four games are on the road, and they're against quality teams. So again, we're back in that same position where we could win all four of these games or we could lose all four. We know college football is crazier than ever. You go back and look at we beat Iowa State, Oklahoma beats us, Texas Tech goes to Norman and beats Oklahoma, we beat Kansas, Iowa State beats Texas Tech, we come in and beat Texas Tech, and I think Kansas missed a field goal from the 7yard line to lose to Iowa State. So it's just really crazy out there.
Offensively we had to handle the run really well, and we did. They had 23 attempts for 58 yards, not counting the losses per pass. That's 2.5 yards per carry. We had eight pressures, seven hits and four sacks on their quarterback. And a lot of that was out of a fourman front, so we're starting to get more pressure from our front four. There were no long runs or passes for touchdowns. We won in the red zone. They only scored two touchdowns out of four opportunities. And I thought it was telling in the first drive they had a 16play drive, 12 of those plays were in the red zone. Our guys fought them until the end. We were able to play a lot of backups, which is key for us. When you're playing a team that throws it like Texas Tech, you've got to stay fresh for the fourth quarter. You've got to have fresh legs up front. So early in the game you saw guys that had not played a whole lot like [DE] Cedric Reed out there getting a half sack and pressuring the quarterback.
I thought we tackled well after they caught the ball. [Texas Tech QB] Seth Doege was hot. He came out and hit nine of the first 11. They completed a lot of balls, but our guys were very physical when they tackled them in front of them. We didn't force a turnover, and we had our hands on the ball three different times for interceptions in the first half. So that's something that we've got to continue to work on. We didn't strip a ball. We didn't score on defense, which is something we've got to do better, and we didn't do as good a job on third downs. They executed their thirrd down offense better than we got off the field defensively, but overall we felt like we played well on defense.
Hard Hat Award goes to [CB] Adrian Phillips. Most Valuable Players on defense, Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat for the pressure that they got on the quarterback and the tackles for loss.
Offensively, 439 yards rushing, 8.1 yards per carry was exciting for us. Because you kept the down and distance in normal and short yardage situations, we were seven of nine successful on third downs at 79 percent. We were one-for-one on fourth down, which was a touchdown. Had 16 explosive plays. You want at least eight. Twelve of those were runs. Four were passes. When you get that many explosive runs, it means that your wide receivers are blocking better downfield, and they're helping you break to the second level and get more yardage. We were efficient in our passing game, and we had no turnovers. We thought those were all things that are making us better.
Concerns. We need to continue to grow and develop in our passing game. The next four defenses that we play, and three of those games on the road we probably will not be able to line up and run the ball like we have the last two weeks. We did have a sack with a few number of throws that we had, and we also had two penalties.
The Bevo Beast, the best lineman award, went to [OG] David Snow, and we thought the Most Valuable Player award should go to the offensive line. The tight ends. The fullbacks and the wide receivers. Because they're the ones that sprung the quarterback and the wide receivers that ran the reverses like [WR] D.J. Monroe in the speed sweep and our tailbacks for the big yardage.
Special teams. We had nine kickoffs, were much improved in that area over the last two weeks. Two tackles inside the 20yard line, five tackles inside the 25. Standouts in the kickoff coverage area. [FB] Jamison Berryhill, [CB] Carrington Byndom, [LB] Steve Edmond, [LB] Tevin Jackson, [LB]Keenan Robinson, [LB] Kendall Thompson, [DB] Mykkele Thompson and [DB]Josh Turner.A lot of freshmen, but they made Texas Tech start at the 21yard line. Special emphasis goes to Keenan Robinson. He covered seven of those nine kickoffs as well as working so hard throughout the day on defense when they had a bunch of plays.
Kickoff return. We thought it was just okay. Our starting position was the 29yard line, but the first one was the best one. That was their squib kick at the 40, but we didn't do as well in the other two. Punt, we didn't punt, so they were 100 percent. It worked out real well. Punt block and return. We had two returns for 30 yards. [DB] Quandre Diggs filling in for [WR] Jaxon Shipley did a good job. Our extra point field goal, we had ten points. We were 100 percent [with a] 48yard field goal. [PK/P] Justin Tucker continues to creep up on being one of the most accurate kickers in our school history, and he's obviously a most valuable player for special teams with all he's doing.
Last two games we've rushed for 400 yards plus. It's the first time we've rushed for 400plus yards in backtoback games since 1977. So that's something we're really, really proud of. We've rushed for 880 yards the last two weeks [and]11 touchdowns on 126 carries. We've averaged 7.0 yards per carry. In contrast, our defense has held opponents to 28 yards on 47 carries, or about two feet per carry. So we've had two very successful weeks of running the ball and stopping the run.
Our defense has registered 24 tackles for loss over the last two games, and our offense has been tackled for loss only seven times. So we're doing a much better job at the line of scrimmage than we were earlier in the year. We're the only team in college football in the top 15 in rushing offense and rushing defense. We're ninth against the run, giving up 94.9 yards per game, and we're 11th in rushing, averaging 246 yards per game, and currently we lead both categories in the Big 12.
When you start looking at Missouri, they have played some really tough games. They had a tenpoint loss to Oklahoma in Norman. They go to overtime and lose out at Arizona State. They go over and they're in a sevenpoint game with Kansas State. So they've played really, really well. They go beat A & M in overtime in College Station, come from behind. Gary Pinkel does a great job coaching. This will be an emotional game for them because they're fighting to get back in the bowl picture. They've got 35 Texans on the roster, 10 of them are starting. They've got 12 seniors starting, so it's a very experienced football team.
Offensively our defense will have their hands full. They're 10th in the country in rushing. They're 32nd in passing. They're 10th in total offense with 500 yards per game. They're 25th in scoring, 15th in the red zone at 90 percent. They're 24th in kickoff returns, and they always play a physical defense.
They've got six seniors on defense. They've got seven returning starters, but you look at offensively, their quarterback, [James] Franklin, is completing 63 percent, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Henry Josey, No. 20, is a great runner. He's fifth in the NCAA right now with yards per game rushing. Michael Egnew, 6'6", [is a] 245pound senior receiver at tight end, and then they've got two or three other receivers that are pro prospects, as well.
Up front on defense, they are so good. There's three seniors that are all pro prospects. [Dominique] Hamilton, [Terrell] Resonno and [Jacquies] Smith are 6'5", 305 senior; 6'5", 295 senior; 6'4", 255 senior. and Luke Lambert, No. 33, is a great linebacker. He's a 6'3", 230pound senior, as well. So it'll be much tougher to run the ball against those guys this week. We'll have to be balanced. They're not a big blitz team, but they're very well coached. They're always fundamentally sound, and they are tough.
So this will be going back on the road for the first time since our OU game, and we've grown up a lot. We feel like we've made a lot of progress, but now we've got to see how we'll do going back on the road against a good team that is a hungry team.
Injury report. We feel like that everybody that has been injured has a chance to play again on Saturday.
On offensive balance: You go back when Vince Young was a redshirt freshman in '04. We were second in the nation in rushing at 302 yards a game with [RB] Cedric Benson and Vince, and we were allowing the passing game to grow. By the time we got to Michigan, we were 106th in passing. By the time we got to the Michigan game, we could throw the ball. So he threw the ball very well in that game. We're really working so hard on our passing game in practice. Our job on Saturday is to win the game, and that's what we want to do. Tech was so hot in their passing game when we started on Saturday, we felt like we needed to try to keep them off the field, and they ended up having 20 more plays than we did, still. But we also feel like that we're growing with packages off of our running game. You look at the red zone. We scored from the power play. We scored from the wild formation with the power play and with the speed sweep. So there's a lot of things that are coming. We were able to get four explosive plays off of the passing game and only threw it nine times. So we feel like that we're making some progress. Our protection is getting better. But obviously the next four games we're going to have to be more balanced.
On the running backs: I thought that there was some question about Joe's [Bergeron] yards against Kansas because Kansas was really tired, and he just ran right through them. I thought he looked the same way early in the game on Saturday. So now you've got Malcolm [Brown], who will hopefully be healthy this week. He'll wear a boot around, so there will be some panic this week. But what they do now, if you've got a sore foot, they put it in a boot, unlike back when I was playing. So Malcolm will wear his boot as he's going to class. But he obviously didn't play Saturday and feels much better about starting this week to get back into practice. And Joe had his cramp, but he should be well, and Fozzy [Whittaker] is doing a great job. So now we've got three legitimate backs that we feel like can go out there and stay fresh. And instead of putting Fozzy in a position where he gets more carries than he's comfortable with or Malcolm having to carry it 28 times or Joe having to carry it 29, hopefully we can share the wealth a little bit and let all of those guys be fresh during the game.
On taking precautions with injuries: Yes, and he was much better yesterday, too, so they felt good that we were able to hold those two guys out and still score 52 points and get them healthier. But they're taking a lot more precautions with young people away from the field. And it's just like Malcolm said last night, the boot just keeps him from moving his foot at all. So instead of walking where you would put pressure on it, if you're walking to class all day, he has no pressure on it whatsoever. Then they take it off for practice and then put it back on. We've had guys wearing boots into the hotel on Friday before they play, and fans panic and say, “Oh, my gosh, he's broken his leg. He's in a boot.” And I say, “No, they're just trying to rest his leg.”
On becoming a running team: Yes, what I want to do is be more like we were in '98. I want us to be balanced, but I want us to be a physical team. And we're in a finesse league. We're in a league where people are running the spread all over the place, and I thought in some ways people were kind of catching up with the spread a little bit. And you had to have better players because if they can match up mantoman and your quarterback has a bad night, you're in some trouble. And I can see us getting softer and getting farther away from the toughness that Texas football should have. Plus our history here has been to be a tough running team, a deep passing team, and to play physical defense, and that's what we want to get back to.
But we do not want to just run. We have got to throw the ball better, and we have got to throw it downfield. David [Ash] missed two passes that were open, one to Marquise [Goodwin] and one to Mike Davis. The one to Mike probably would have been a score, too. So he's just got to keep growing. The receivers are patient. They understand where we're coming from, and they understand where we're going. I don't question what [we] did with [former QB] Colt [McCoy] because we ended up third and second in the country with a chance to win the national championship, but he was so special at what he did. And we did what we needed to with Vince. We did what we needed to with Major [Applewhite] and Ricky [Williams], but did what we needed to with Colt. And now what we've got to do is keep developing our young quarterbacks but be able to throw the football better.
On the importance of QB health: It is, but I also think if you base everything on the efficiency and the health of your quarterback, you can have a bad day and lose some games. And we lost some championships around here because Colt got hurt before Kansas State [and the] A & M game. And we lost the possibility of a national championship. So you'd like to still be able to play if the quarterback says I'm having a bad day or I don't feel well.
On QB David Ash: Confidence. I thought he ran faster. It's really funny, when you look at a mental block that players have and you put so much on them that they've always said there's paralysis with analysis in football. And if you get too much off them, they get so they can't think. They look like they're slower, and I thought Saturday he knew where to throw the ball. He threw it accurately. He threw the ball away, and he was conscious about this isn't Belton [Texas]. I can't run around back here for 30 minutes and probably get loose and make a big play down the field. I'm going to have to be able to let us punt some or throw a ball away and try and make it up on the next down. But the two or three times he ran the ball he was tough. He was quick. He was confident. The burst of emotion he showed after the 47yard run was really telling, I think, that he's feeling better about himself. So I just think he's growing. He and Case [McCoy] both are doing a great job with each other and trying to develop. It's fun to watch them.
On playing on the road: I think it's a good question. I wish we were two and two and could have a couple more home games. But we've got four good teams left that are all very talented and well coached on the road, and I think this team is ready to take the next step and see. I'm glad we had two games at home after the two we lost so we could get comfortable again and get our confidence back up. But we'll take a lot of confidence on the road this weekend.
On the national rankings: We've gone back to '03 and '04 and shown them some years where we didn't start well or we lost a game badly and we fought back and got back in the mix late. We didn't mention the ratings at all on Sunday to them because again, we've got too much work to do here. They could have a tendency this week to feel good about themselves until they watch Missouri video. When they watch the video they'll be okay. They'll get back down to earth when they see those three pro prospects up front in that front line on defense. They won't think about the running game being as easy.
On talking to the team about rankings: When we do stuff like that, we either do it Sunday or we do it Thursday, and we try to see where it fits and how it feels. The older guys understand that six is a minimal amount of wins to get bowl eligible. The younger ones really felt like, “Oh, this is cool. We're bowl eligible.” The older ones said, “Now let's figure out how nice the bowl is that we'll go to.” And that's the type of mentality you want. The seniors on this team are just doing a tremendous job. I've really enjoyed watching them with the younger players and just say, “No, no, no, uhuh. Don't start that. We're not going to do that.” And then last night you're tired and you're sore after a tough Saturday game, and you come out on Sunday and then Tuesday is a hard practice, especially for the backs and the linebackers that hit so much. And last night, I mean, we run them hard, so you can coach them really, really hard when you're winning.
On the leadership of the upperclassmen: Oh, there's no doubt. That's what they are. Their freshman and sophomore years they were in those positions so they came back and they remember [the] Fiesta Bowl beating [Ohio State].They remember the National Championship game. In fact, [S] Blake Gideon and the guys were talking about we've got bad memories in the Rose Bowl, too. So we wanted to go beat UCLA, but we didn't want it to be just about, “Oh, we're going back where we've been.” And the seniors have sent that message to the younger ones. And this has been an unbelievably mature freshman class. They've responded. They've responded to practice. I thought they hit a little wall, like I said, about Oklahoma State. But the open date kind of helped them, and now what we've done, we changed it up a little bit. We were going to have this as the third season. What we actually said is let's make Tech the last part of the third season so we can get this out of the way. Let's get the bowl game out of the way. Let's get the old Southwest Conference rivalry out of the way, and now let's start over and finish with a really difficult fourgame stretch that no one thought we could have a chance at the first of the year. Now we're in the mix. Now we've got a chance. Let's see if we've improved as much as we hope we have.
On RB Joe Bergeron: We talk to our guys all the time about you're going to get an opportunity. It may be in practice. It may be in your junior year. It may be your senior year, but when you get it you'd better take advantage of it because at a school like Texas it may not come up twice. Malcolm was hurt and Joe was doing well in the early part of practice, had a little trouble holding the ball some, so we talked to him about that. And then Malcolm gets hurt again and Joe steps up. Or when Malcolm came out last week, Joe stepped up and did a good job but had the turnover. So our concern playing him as much as we did Saturday [was] would he protect the ball, and he did a great job. I don't think there was ever any question mark of a ball that was close to being out. And we probably ran him a little bit too much with the cramps there at the end. We could have given him 20 snaps, 25 snaps, but we feel like that he proved himself on Saturday. So he'll get good snaps this week.
On the Missouri running game: Gary [Pinkel] is a tough coach. He's a guy who believes in a physical football team. They've always been physical and good on defense. But he's taken the spread concept, and each year he's running the ball better. Franklin is a great runner. So it's more like us with Cedric Benson and Vince Young. You take Josey, fifth in the country in rushing, and all of a sudden you look up and they've got the great skill guys outside. They've got an older offensive line. Four of their offensive line starters are back. Three of them are seniors that are pro prospects. So they're a really, really tough offense to defend, and it's obvious by their numbers.
On Missouri going to the SEC: I don't think the kids care. Somebody asked me this morning, “Is Missouri mad over the Longhorn Network?” Gary and I wouldn't talk about that. I didn't ask for the Longhorn Network. I don't get in fights with the other coaches or teams. I respect Gary a lot. I like him. I've always thought he's a guy that grew up under Don James who was one of the guys that I looked at, at Washington, as being one of the great coaches ever. So I knew when Gary came to this league after what he did at Toledo that he was going to be a factor in this league. But I also believe that Missouri is not the only one looking around. There's a lot of people looking around, and we did some things that were best for us, and Missouri feels like they're doing something that's best for them. I'm a guy that thinks that's fair. You take care of your own family first. There were not means put in place to keep people from moving. If you couldn't have moved and they moved, it would be one thing. But there was nothing there to keep people from moving around, and hopefully it's about to get settled. I am excited we're going to have a Big 12. This will probably be the last time we play Missouri. But good for them. It's a Big 12 game this week, and then after their season, I'm sure they'll look at what's best for them and we'll be starting with a new group next year.
On the defensive line: Yes, and the inside guys did a great job. [DT] Ashton Dorsey was back in the backfield. [DT] Kheeston Randall is playing like the player we knew he could be. He's playing like a pro prospect now. And [DT] Calvin Howell is getting some push. [DT] Desmond Jackson - me looking out there and seeing Desmond and Cedric Reed rushing the passer in the first quarter, I was saying, “Boy, those guys are 18 years old so we've got to grow up fast.” I'm really pleased. [DE] Jackson [Jeffcoat] has come so far. I thought that [DE] Alex [Okafor] was making plays early in the year he wasn't getting credit for, but the last two weeks Jackson has played great. So that really helps us going into the final stretch here. You go back and study it, we've got four really good teams, but all of them have quarterbacks that can make plays, and your ends need to be athletic enough to get back there with them.
On the team finding an identity: It's really helping us. We felt you need to be known for something, and last year we weren't. We just were all over the place, and when you're in your seventh game of the season trying to figure out who you are, that just means you're not very good, very honestly. That's what happened to us. And then I thought the inability on offense started affecting our defense, and then all of a sudden all of those kids that are on your special teams don't feel like they've got their chance to win. It affects everything, and what the offensive staff and I talked about early in the year and then about fourth, fifth game, even after Oklahoma, we still didn't know for sure who we were. We had a few trick plays, and we were running it and trying to throw it. Right now we need to do whatever it takes to win, and right now our best chance is to run the football and be physical and try to get some deep shots off of a trick play or some deep pass off play action. And I'm really proud that the players and the offensive staff have said, “Hey, this isn't who we want to be, but it is who we are right now.” We've got to grow. We've got to develop, but at least we're doing something now that everybody understands.