Nov. 9, 2011
Co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Major Applewhite
On the challenges of having such depth with the running backs: I think it’s just that you only have so many snaps each week. So you really have to look at your script carefully. Make sure each guy has looks, or if this guy hasn’t seen it yet. You’ve got to balance out your script. Make sure the kids are getting the looks they need to see. But from that standpoint, you always want as many quality players at a position that you can. With the recent success of just the last 14 days, you’ve got to make sure they stay hungry. That there’s not a complacency that sets in. It’s great to have success, but you’ve also got to learn how to deal with that. How to handle it weekly.
On if it’s hard to keep the running backs "hungry": The great thing is that they’re starting off as good people. They’re not starting out as arrogant or complacent kind of guys. So that helps me out quite a bit. The fact that they had good things instilled in them as they’ve grown up and gone through athletics. That’s really helped. Great parenting. Great coaching. So they come in wanting to learn. And the fact that two of the three are really young, they have a lot to learn. And then you’ve got [senior RB Foswhitt] Fozzy [Whittaker] who is just a great person all around. So that obviously helps as well.
On if it helps to have guys who are pushing for each other to do well: It is a blessing to have guys that aren’t selfish. They want to get better and hone their own skills. They also understand it’s a long season. It’s a long season and some guys are going to get nicked. All that kind of stuff here and there. So some guy has got to be ready to roll. They’re also excited that we’re running the football a whole bunch right now. They’re just ecstatic about that.
On how they divide up the carries between running backs: We just look at it throughout the course of the game, as the game’s flowing on if we feel like a guy is getting spent. Or he comes to us and says, “Hey, I’m tired. I don’t feel good. Can another guy give me a break?” We use that as a way to naturally break up the reps and the carries. But also our packages. Because of what packages are called, some guys just aren’t in the game. So that helps as well.
On if he knows who the starting running backs will be: Not yet. We don’t have the opener. There’s certain packages in our offense. And I know in the Iowa State game there was a package that didn’t even have a running back. So for me to call that play first, we wouldn’t have even started a running back.
On if they script the plays or just decide as the game progresses: We do some scripting. It varies. We’ll go back and forth. Sometimes we may go into the game and say we’ll script it. Sometimes we don’t.
On both Texas and Missouri having so much success with the running game this season: And they do it different ways. That’s what is so interesting. Sometimes there’s two backs, three backs, two tight ends - run the ball. Some guys are three, four, five wide. Spreading out empty and running the ball. Both of us have done it different ways. It’s interesting to watch. They’ve done a great job with their quarterback. And [Missouri TB Henry] Josey. So it will be two teams trying to run the ball against each other. Probably a fast game.
On if he feels the Texas offense has been one-dimensional: We have been one-dimensional from the standpoint of just running it so much. But also, when you get a lead and your defense is playing well, you’re going to continue to run the ball. Speed the game up. The thing that was so pleasing about last week was even though we didn’t have the number of attempts in the passing game, when we did throw the ball we swapped field position. It was explosive passes. They were well timed, well called in terms of when we wanted to get down the field. So we felt like we made money from that standpoint.
On if the Missouri game should be a quicker one: Between the two teams, if they run it as well as they have, it will be a quicker game. No doubt.
On freshman QB David Ash: He’s done a great job. David has done a phenomenal job. Especially in these game where you’re running the ball so much. Sometimes you take for granted the decisions he’s made. In terms of getting you out of the bad play into a good play. And he’s done that quite a bit at the line of scrimmage and helped us. So in many ways, I look at that from a quarterback standpoint, that’s every bit as a great completion on a third down. To get you out of something that it going to cost you negative yards, and then get you into something that maybe gets you explosive. So those are great decisions he is making. His timing. His anticipation of his throws continues to get better during the weeks. The spacing is there. But it’s like [co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach] Bryan [Harsin] said last week, if something’s working we’re not going to abandon it just because we want to do something [else]. We’re not going to impose our own will on the game and what’s working for the kids. So the run game was working well. Then when we felt like they got down too far, we let Ash throw the ball. And it resulted in some explosive plays. We understand we’re going to have to throw the ball more as the season goes on. People are going to start defending us better. And I think all of our wide receivers, backs, tight ends, o-line and protection [and] quarterbacks are all ready for that.
On the offense’s blocking: They’re all blocking. When you turn on the tape and you see [WR] Marquise [Goodwin] throwing a cut, or [WR] Mike Davis toward the end of a play throwing a cut block. Or whoever. [WR] Bryant Jackson has been doing his job. [WR] Miles Onyegbule on [RB] D.J. Monroe’s run. It’s all of them. And they understand. [Wide receivers coach] Coach [Darrell] Wyatt makes it very clear. Simply, you’re not going to play if you don’t block. It’s very, very clear. They understand that’s not why [they] came to Texas. [They] came to run routes and catch balls and that’s why we recruited them. But sometimes you have to play without the ball in your hands. Sometimes as a back you have to pass-protect. So you’ve got to learn how to be a complete player.
On if they’ll need to be a more balanced team to keep winning: We want to be balanced. We want to be able to win the game running and win the game passing. It’s not about the yards. The reason we won the past two weeks is because we’ve been great in the red zone. We’ve converted on third downs, and we haven’t turned the ball over. That’s why we won. Not because it’s 400, or 300, or 200 yards [rushing]. That’s why you win. Turnovers, explosives, third downs and finishing in the red zone.
Assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Duane AkinaOn Missouri quarterback James Franklin:
I think he’s a good quarterback. I think he poses a couple challenges with his legs. He’s a very physical player. He seems to have a nice throwing motion. I thought he did a nice job in a stressful situation against Baylor at the end of the game and was able to make some critical throws for them. He does things that you hope your quarterback can do in a tough game on the road. On the possibility of designed quarterback runs coming from Missouri:
I can’t give an exact number, but it’s enough that you have to be aware of them. They do a nice job of getting him the football and getting him into some downhill running. It’s a well conceived package for the personnel they have. On CB Quandre Diggs as a punt returner against Texas Tech:
I thought he did a nice job. I thought that there was one out there I thought he could have had a little more on that 22 yarder if the wall would have been set up right. That would have made it really exciting for everyone. I think he has done a nice job. He’s found the crease. He did what you hope your punt returner would do, which is that he made one miss on his own to get things started. On Missouri tailback Henry Josey:
All you need to [do is] watch the film to understand that he’s an outstanding player. A very explosive runner [that] can do a lot things and certainly he is one that, when you line up against Missouri you have to be aware of him. He can just have explosive plays. That’s the one thing we’ve been doing a good job for the most part at negating those explosive plays the last couple games. This will be a challenge to us. On the Missouri receivers:
It looks like they try to do some similar things that they did when they had [Chase] Coffman and [Jeremy] Maclin. Some of the same concepts. It’s an offense we’ve looked at. They have shifted gears a little bit. They maybe have a little more of a run game than when we played them three years ago when Chase Daniel was there. They have done a nice job of adjusting with what their weapons are to fit the offense. Now it’s a little more like when Brad Smith was there. The quarterbacks legs are back involved in the game a little bit more. On grading the safety play this season:
I think that it has been very productive. Really our three safeties, we feel as a staff, is really a strength of this football team. Kenny [Vaccaro], Blake [Gideon], Christian [Scott] and Nolan [Brewster], when he was healthy, have all played very well for us. They give you some flexibility because with what we’ve done defensively for the past ten years, that safety position is very difficult to find players that can match up one-on-one with some receivers and yet fall into the box and be physical on teams like this. We feel like they’re doing a great job, and when you see the six defensive backs back there that we have had to play quite a bit in this conference. Having physical safeties that can cover like Christian and Kenny playing down below really gives you some options when you’re getting into your coverage packages and blitz packages. Kenny and Christian are excellent blitzers also. On S Christian Scott hitting his stride this season:
He’s really playing well for us. I’m really proud if him. With everything that has happened to him. He’s had so much adversity. He’s continued to move forward and get better every week. It’s really a nice story. On the impact that the increased pressure on the quarterback has had on the defensive backs:
I don’t think that you can ever relax back there, in this conference especially. Obviously, we have always talked about that in games it starts on the offensive and defensive fronts. We all work together. In the run game the secondary is a big part of negating any long runs. In the throwing game we have to get them to the second look to give those guys up front opportunity. I think that in the last two games we’ve done a nice job. The front, particularly, has really done a nice job of getting vertical. With the games coming up here, it’s a good stretch run for us, for everybody cross the board. On DB Adrian Phillips' availability for this week:
AP has come back, and he’s just really as flexible of a football player as I have been around. He plays corner for us. He plays safety. He plays nickel. He plays dime. He has the ability to learn conceptually without taking a lot of physical reps, which is a real gift. We are very fortunate that we have a guy like that so when you have an injury he can plug in as a nickel, a dime, or as a safety or a corner. Other people don’t have to learn as many positions because you can plug him in to a lot of different areas. I think he does a nice job. Everyone has their gifts and AP does a nice job in learning a lot of different positions. He takes pride in it. I think being a quarterback helped him because that has been his world growing up, knowing what everybody does. On CB Quandre Diggs being able to have the same gift as Adrian Phillips because he had played some quarterback as well:
Yeah, he’s doing a great job as a freshman to play corner out there with the kind of defense we play, where you’re tied into a lot of one-on-ones. He’s done a terrific job.