Nov. 8, 2011
Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin
On where QB David Ash has improved: I think just decision making. It showed up in this game. We had a couple situations where one, he ran, on the third down, where everybody was covered. He took off and had an explosive run on that. I thought it was a really good decision. He had been in that situation before. Then we had the throwaway. We ended up getting a penalty on it, but he got to a position that he's been in where he started to back up. We were in the red zone, realized this is not a good situation [and] just threw it away. hose type of plays that go off schedule like that, that's where the quarterbacks come in and they've got to make those type of decisions. Just get us out of a bad play. It's experience. It's going through those situations. It's being burned in those situations before and learning from it. And that's just part of what everybody as a player, quarterback, receiver - doesn't really matter - you go through those experiences and you learn from them.
On the running game: I think we've got to do what we have to do, and being balanced is ideal. You'd love to be 50/50, so that way you're even more difficult to prepare for. But you know, as far as each game is a little bit different, you go into a game with run-to-pass packages that you're 50/50, and these guys got into a flow in this game and the run game seemed to be clicking. And that's why we continued with that. But I think just from the pass game, there'll be opportunities there. There will be opportunities down the road that we've got to take advantage of. We had a few throws in there that were some bigplay opportunities that we've got to capitalize on and hopefully get those in the end zone. But I think from the receiver standpoint, the quarterback standpoint, those guys continue to practice and get more comfortable with each other. That will show up in a game eventually. But being able to run the ball and the Oline doing their jobs, running backs, tight ends, wide receivers, everybody doing their job in the run game. Obviously if you can do that, I think any team would like to have the ability to be able to run the ball. It's something when you have to fall back onto it and you can do those things, then you feel more comfortable.
On not being one dimensional: Our philosophy and my philosophy has always been to run the ball and everything else comes from there. As a play caller, if you can run the football you feel a lot more confident and comfortable being able to do what you want to do offensively, and I think that's for anybody out there, to come back to that. It'll always start there, and we want to try to make sure that we can do those things, and when it's not there you've got to be able to balance it out with the pass game, and that will come eventually.
On if the passing offense needs to be more successful: I felt like going into this game we had a good pass package. Going back and looking at it, there were opportunities there we could have taken advantage of, and it's just a matter of the flow of the game. When you're running the ball the way the guys were running out there and the way the Oline was coming off the ball, you know, it's hard to take away from that and just change it just to change. Just to say you want to throw the ball and take away what they're doing when you're getting eight, nine yards a carry.
On being more balanced on offense down the stretch: I think the number one thing is we've got to make sure we're doing what we need to do to win the game as a team. We've got to do our job offensively. We've got to take care of the football. And what happens after that as far as how much the balance comes out, that's going to be determined by how the flow of the game is going. We may have to throw 50 times in a game. We may run 50 times at the end of the game. It just depends on how the flow of the game is going, and that's the number one thing with what we're doing right now. It's not going to be a set number of plays for run and pass. It's going to be based off how the flow of the game is.
On how he determines which running back gets the majority of snaps: It's a little bit of everything when you've got them all in there. It's a matter of we have one football, we want to make sure that we're trying to distribute that the best we can. But at the same time you want to allow one or two guys to get into a flow. It's more about series than it is really play selection or down and distance. Let somebody get into a flow. Let them play a little bit. Let them see the field out there, and once that happens you have a chance to bring in somebody that's fresh to change it up. And then after two, three, four series you've got somebody that's got a hot hand in there and you let them throw a little bit and then you spell them as the game goes on.
On the team’s identity: I think the biggest thing just from a confidence standpoint is winning the football game. Number one, I think from our goals, not turning the ball over is huge for our confidence. That we have the ability to hang onto the football and not put ourselves in a bad situation. And then I think just ultimately with the last couple games, we had the chance to run the ball and we've run it effectively. I think the guys, it gives them confidence. Gives them confidence in what they're doing out there on the field and their technique and their mentality is important with that, as well. All those things are just combinations that come from winning football games. And it's for everybody out on the field, special teams, defense, I mean, it all helps with everybody's confidence from that standpoint.
On if it is hard to figure out which quality running back to give the ball to: No, but that's a good problem right there[laughs]. If you can keep doing that, I think anybody would take that. It's just a credit to, obviously, the backs who are doing a nice job, but when you really break it down, the Oline, the tight ends and the receivers down the field, you've got to give credit to those guys for doing their job.
On the offensive line working together: It takes time. It's doing the same things over and over. It's working with each other.I t's communicating. It's building that confidence in what you're doing with your technique and those type of things. You know, we've had the ability in these games to run a lot of plays, a lot of run plays, and so that's just more opportunities for those guys to keep honing their skills out there on the field and just building more confidence in what they're doing. And the experiences they have, too, will carry over into practice, whether they got beat on something or they did a really nice job on it. They're going to know how to attack that next time versus the new looks they're going to see against these upcoming opponents.
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz
On the defense improving: I believe we're getting better, which as a coach is all you want to see, because that's all we've talked about week in and week out is how we can improve ourselves. And we've tried really, really hard to be a performancebased defense more so than resultbased defense, because you focus on your performance, specifically do the results work out the way you want to. I do think our guys are playing with more confidence. The more confident you are in what you're doing, by nature the more physical you can play because you can be more aggressive. Someone that knows what they're doing does it more aggressively than someone that doesn't, and I think those things are showing up on the field.
On the Missouri offense: Well, first of all, they're an excellent running football team. They are what I would consider advanced level. They're graduate classes level run game. They're really good at what they're doing. Schematically, they cause you a lot of problems before the ball is even snapped by the way they line up and motion guys into and out of the backfield. And then on top of all that, they have a quarterback that's a run threat. So anytime the quarterback is a runner, it evens the count defensively, gives them an extra blocker in the run game. So they're big and experienced up front, and I think they've got a home run hitter in that running back. They really have all of the elements of a great running football team, and their numbers obviously back it up. The number one challenge, though, like it is every week, is we have to make them onedimensional. We have to do our best to try to slow down the run game. I don't know that it's completely stoppable from what's been put on film, but we have to stand up to that challenge.
On Missouri RB Henry Josey’s smaller stature making him hard to spot coming through the line: I think the number one challenge with him is his speed. If we all play our gaps like I always say, he'll come to us if we're all where we're supposed to be. The problem with a guy like him is, I wish he was small and slow, but he's not. I'm not sure if he's the smallest guy in the world. I think he's pretty much decent sized for a running back. But the issue is if you make a mistake and somebody ends up not in their gap and they do a lot of things that cause you to think about where you should be, and if you guess wrong, he can go all the way. And we've seen that when we've played well, we've not allowed explosive runs, and when we've not played well, we have. I mean, there's a lot of things you can look at, but number one deal will be to try and limit their explosive runs.
On the LSU-Alabama game: I was going back and forth because I was watching Missouri and the K-State game. There was a lot of really great games on, of course. But that game, there's a lot of big people that can run really fast running into each other really hard. So yeah, it's not for the faint of heart, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But defensively there were some war daddies running around out there.
On the defense staying focused through the last four games: I think what we do now, now you want to make the big push. But what you hope, and this is true in football and life, what you hope what happens is that you fall back on a core set of values, of beliefs that transcend inspiration. You know, if we just do things a certain way let's just be who we've been. Let's just do things the way we've done them and continue to improve and build on that. But understand that when we don't give long touchdowns we're hard to beat. Understand when we stand up in the red zone and make you kick field goals we're hard to score on. And continue the things that are working well for you, and at the same time try to fix some of the things that we're maybe not doing as good as we'd like to. Let's cause more turnovers. Let's do a better job on third down defense than we did this past weekend. The funny thing, we've been preaching those things since Rice, but the players have seen now through our eightgame résumé how it works and how it wins ballgames. And that's all we ever talked about. All we want to do is win by any means necessary. We just want to win the football game. And we know what wins now.
On the message he gave to the defense this week: Obviously when you play here or when you coach here, the great history of this school always follows you. Coach Brown does a great job. He'll show old videos of Texas playing whatever team it is that we're playing, and that was sort of my challenge, especially to our older guys. How are we going to talk about this team in years to come? Are we going to say, “Hey, we were able to finish this way?” I always say, “Thank God we had that guy. Thank God we had that guy.” Well, go be that guy. Be the guy that when it's all said and done, that when people look back at this team two years from now and they say, “Well, you know what? Because they had this guy and this guy made this play, that's what got it done.” And that's what's great about this place because that's where you can stamp your legacy that people will remember for a long time. And that's really what we're enjoying about this football team because this football team is all about building and pushing and just getting better every week.
On if he noticed the team is not satisfied: I do, because this team has never been a destinationoriented team. Let's just push. We're still becoming something. We're gaining an identity. But I think week in and week out it's becoming more obvious, I think, to the naked eye who we are. And the neat thing about that is that that's something you want to travel with every week. The idea of being a physical football team. We're going to go play a very physical football team in Missouri, but you know what, if I'm a player I can go to bed at night because I know that that physicality is going to travel. We don't have to worry about does it show up. We can make sure it shows up.
On the offense’s ability to run the ball helping the defense: Well, there's not a doubt. Our offense controls the football game with their ability to run the football and run the clock and keep the other team's offense off the field. Offenses are all about rhythm, and you know, certainly it's our job to try and take them out of rhythm, which we can. But an offense possessing the football by nature takes the other team's offense out of rhythm because they're sitting on the sideline. And they're sitting there and they're wondering when they're going to go back out there again. The quarterback is throwing to [a] wide receiver on the bench. And then if we can go out there and get a threeandout and all of a sudden they walk off the sideline and they're saying, “I don't know when we're going to get the ball back again.” And that's really what you want, and again, it comes back to being able to run the football and not letting the other team run the football. And we didn't invent it. That's only been true since this game was invented, but I think our guys are really relishing in it.
On trying to make the Missouri offense one-dimensional: Well, obviously we want to force them to throw, but that's not because of an indictment on their passing game because they're pretty good at throwing the football. There's an old adage, if they can run when they want to, they can throw when they want to. If they can't run when they want to, they have to throw because they have to. And I felt like it's a little bit what happened last Saturday. And when you throw, you will usually get yards, but sometimes it's hard to get points because that's when the sack comes in. That's when the holding penalty comes in. It's just really hard to execute the throw game. This is not just about Texas or Tech or Missouri, this is just ball. That it's very hard to execute the throw game on long drives. And if we don't give up big plays, which we didn't this past weekend, it's really hard to score a lot of points throwing it every snap if you're not getting explosive plays.
On Missouri scoring a lot of points in the fourth quarter: Well, they do wear you down, and I felt like that's a challenge of all tempo offenses. That's something where even with us, the numbers of players that we play, our depth especially in the secondary and the back seven in particular, where you have to rotate guys more. We probably could have done that a little bit more even this past Saturday. And that's a testimony to their coaching staff. They have a great coaching staff, and they're not going to quit. They're not going to stop, and like I said, they are built by their nature to come from behind because they're always either in a fivewidereceiver look or a fourwidereceiver look and they have a very good passing game. And because of the running quarterback you're constantly in a little bit of a conflict in terms of what you want to do on defense.
They are relentless, and that's why they're averaging 500 yards a game and all the points that they're scoring.
On playing more young guys in a game: I think it's assured we are, and again, what we've shown is to make it through these games we have to have these young guys come through for it. hey're not young anymore. That's part of it, too, now. We're almost in mid November, and they're just now all Longhorns. Whoever is out on the field, the 11, they've just got to go play for us. We cannot make it through this last month, especially with the next three games being in a condensed time period, we can't make it with just 11 or 12 or 13 defenders.