Nov. 10, 2008
Opening statement: I'm really proud of our guys on Saturday afternoon for bouncing back like they did. It was a game and a week that has been talked about all year, because people felt like it would be an opportunity to be flat. As we saw, Baylor continues to get better, so it was a weekend that scared us to death. So we're proud of the guys and proud of the way they came out. In fact, our offense scored on the first drive of the game and they also scored on the first drive of the second half. Our defense played really well to start both halves. You have to give Art [Briles] and Baylor credit. When we were up 14-0, they came storming back. I was proud of the defense because they worked so hard to keep Baylor out of the end zone, but Robert [Griffin] made a great play to dive into the end zone. But, Baylor is a different Baylor football team, and I think we will see them improve throughout Robert Griffin's career, because Art has won everywhere he has been. He is a tremendous football coach and he has the trigger guy right now, and that guy can make plays. It was obvious on four or five of those runs that we didn't have anybody fast enough to run him down. He is a really good football player.
But, I'm proud of our guys. You start looking at what happened, and there were five big plays in the game for them that ended up accounting for 229 yards. Then, on the other 44 plays, they had 43 yards. So, obviously for them, it became a big play day, and for us, it became a day where we messed up on two or three options that Robert took the distance. He hit a couple of big pass plays against us as well.
We had six three-and-outs, but the best thing we did was that we stopped them 10-out-of-11 times on third downs, and if you do that, you're obviously getting the other team off of the field. We also had three fourth-down stops and those are like turnovers as we've talked about before. The play that changed the game's momentum back for us was Ryan Palmer's interception for a touchdown. And after that, I thought we handled the game pretty well.
We felt like we dominated the second half. We had the ball for 38:19 for the game, but we had it for around 10-and-a-half minutes in the third quarter, and then we had it for 13 minutes in the fourth quarter. We felt like all of that was really good.
We were disappointed that the young guys on defense did not finish the game well. We had a messed up call and we got lined up improperly, and they went about 40 yards, untouched, for a touchdown at the end of the game. That was disappointing. We were disappointed on defense because we gave up too many big plays, but you have to give Robert credit, because he scrambled and made a lot of those plays. We only had four missed tackles for 85 yards, so most of the game on defense, we played really well. I give credit to Will Muschamp and the defensive staff for having a great plan, in trying to contain Robert enough to make him beat you by throwing the ball downfield. Again, I thought the defense played well.
Offensively, we lost the turnovers, which was disappointing for us. We had eight explosive plays, which we would like to have more of, but we didn't play many of the starters in the fourth quarter. We did win the explosive plays. Our first and third down efficiencies were really good, so we won both of those, and because of the missed field goals, we did not win the red zone efficiency.
Roy Miller and Henry Melton played great in the game, but the two players of the game, defensively, were Ryan Palmer and Earl Thomas. It was good to see Earl bounce back from last week's game and be one of the players of the week. The Ball Hawks were Emmanuel Acho, Sergio Kindle, Henry Melton and Roy Miller who all caused fumbles. The good thing is that we caused that many fumbles, but the bad thing is that we didn't get on one. We've got to get on the ball now that we're knocking them loose more. Ryan Palmer had two fourth-down stops and he also had an interception for a touchdown. Earl Thomas had a fourth-down stop and a caused fumble. We had 13 pressures and 10 hits on the quarterback and three sacks. The Hard Hat award goes to both Aaron Smith on the kickoff coverage, and also Keenan Robinson. They both did a great job of covering kickoffs.
The Boss Hog for the offensive line, and there were three of them, were Cedric Dockery, Chris Hall and Charlie Tanner. The big hit, which is unusual for an offensive lineman, was on a zone play, goes to Cedric Dockery, who totally dominated his guy. The most productive player of the day was Colt McCoy, again, who had a fabulous day. The biggest contributor was Quan Cosby. It was obvious to everybody that we missed him out in Lubbock, and it's good to have him back. He has a settling effect for Colt, Colt knows where to find him and he is going to catch everything and make good yards after the catch. The great play of the day was the throw to Brandon Collins in the end zone for a touchdown.
The positives were that we scored on the first drives of both the first and second halves. We dominated the time of possession offensively, and we had 30 first downs to their nine. For the season, we're 56 percent on converting third downs, and we were eight-of-16, which is really good. We felt like we ran the ball more efficiently than over the last two weeks, and that is something we wanted to do going into the game. We've got to improve on the two turnovers.
The kicking game was really not bad. The two missed field goals were the thing that marred the kicking game. Hunter [Lawrence] had a sore leg going into the week, but he practiced and practiced well, and we just missed the two field goals. Other than that, we won all three phases, and we were really proud that the kickoff coverage was better. We tried out some young guys there at the end, but they didn't do as well in the fourth quarter, which was disappointing. Throughout the game, we thought that Justin [Tucker] kicked the ball well and our coverage was pretty good. Aaron Smith, A.J. Williams and Keenan Robinson all had tackles inside the 20-yard line, and that is hard to do now when they move you back. We felt like all those players did a better job and we kicked it in a better spot. We only had one punt for the day and Justin Tucker kicked it down to the 6-yard line again. So, one punt for 53 yards and no return is something that we're really excited about. Our kickoff returns were better and Jordan [Shipley] had a great punt return. So, he's doing a really good job of filling in for Quan on punt returns. The players of the game for special teams were Jordan Shipley and Keenan Robinson. Keenan got much tougher up inside and did a great job covering.
You start looking at Kansas, and they are 5-1 at home. They have 27 players from the state of Texas, and they are in position now where they need to win like we need to win. It's kind of like playoffs from here on out. You have to go wherever you need to go on the road. We're going up north and that will be the area where the Big 12 Championship will be played at. You have to play well and you have to win. We can just continue talking about great quarterbacks like we have each week, because Todd Reesing is doing the same thing. He's 10th in the country in total offense, he's very accurate and he's from this area. We saw what he was able to accomplish out at Lake Travis [High School] and we'll have our hands full again this week.
A lot of guys are banged up, but I did feel like we were able to get some energy out there on Saturday and play well, so we'll just have to be able to keep doing it.
On Texas tying Notre Dame for second place on the all-time win list: I'm pleased with Texas. I think that the Texas fans have such pride in their football, and at the same time, have great respect for Notre Dame. Michigan is the only one ahead. So, when you look at those three programs and what they've meant to the history of college football, and you have to thank Coach Royal for all of the games he won during that stretch, it's a prideful thing and we gave a talk about it to the kids last week. But I think the fact that if you are in the top five of the history of winning it means that you've had good football for a long time.
On what he told the team about the different scenarios that could happen: We went over those scenarios with them yesterday as much as I understand them, because I get confused too. The thing we told them is that nothing really matters except for winning, and if you win, it all will take care of itself and you'll end up in a really nice place that you'll be proud of. If certain things happen, you may be in the conference championship game, but you can win out and not be in it as well. So, don't worry about all of that. But, the one thing we know for sure is that we'll be in a better place by winning out than if we lose a game in the next two, so you better go play and forget about it.
On how they might have to rely on computers and if style points matter from here on out: That's a question we're asked a lot, and I don't worry about style points. I worry about winning and doing the best you can. You would hope that people would put the best football team at that time in the right places, and that's what we're working toward. If you're working on style points, number one, it's an insult to the team you're playing because it insinuates you can. You better be ready to go, because the last time we went to Kansas, there weren't any style points. There was 11 seconds left when we scored to win the game. What we need to do is win.
On if this last stretch reminds him of the 2004 year: I haven't thought about it, but it probably does some. The '04 team probably had higher expectations than this one going into the season. As much as coaches beat up the BCS, and I'm one of those that have been critical, I do think it's much better than the system we had when it got in place. There are a lot of really good things about the BCS, and it's got everybody talking about it right now. It's what college football wants. It wants attention, good attention, and everybody is sitting down with a pencil and a piece of paper trying to figure out how this crazy stuff is going to work. It'll all change next week again, drastically, because somebody will get upset that's not supposed to. I do think there's some tweaking that would make it a better system, but we're pretty much in playoffs now if you look at what we got. It was like that in 2004 when it came down to the smallest degree with us and [The University of] California and who would go to the Rose Bowl. It was a great moment for us and we had to win out to do it and they had to have a tough game at Southern Miss to do it. So, who knows, that's what happens to these things at the end.
On Todd Reesing: He's so much like Colt and Chase Daniel. He stays on the move, he's very hard to sack and he's so accurate. He's competitive. The people who saw him at Lake Travis know that. He just keeps the ball alive. He can make plays that you just wouldn't dream he could make, throwing off of his back foot and front foot with people trying to knock him out. He's just a really good football player. They've got some great players. Their two receivers are playing so well for them and they are getting the ball downfield to them. He's the reason they're winning. He is really a good player.
On how the state of Texas has transitioned from a running to passing state: When we first got here, everybody talked about the passing leagues in California. We did not have them in Texas, and 11 years ago, everybody was just running the ball. Now, so many teams in the state of Texas are running spread-type of offenses. They're still running it and they still have options. But with our seven-on-seven, you're seeing more receivers coming out and better quarterbacks. I don't know what the number is right now, but at some point midseason, I was told that 22 quarterbacks from the state of Texas were starting across the country and not just in the Big 12. That's an amazing number, because there are some really good backups too. I do attribute it to the high school coaches doing such a great job of getting into the passing leagues, catching up and teaching these guys better than ever before. What we've found at this school, is that you better get a good one, because you're going to play against a lot of good ones that you can't take or that don't want to come. So, it's a real plus for us to have that many choices. If you evaluate poorly, it kills you, because you're going to play against one that was better than the one you took, if your guy doesn't work out. We're lucky that we got Colt and that he is playing so well.
On the recruiting process with Todd Reesing: It was really good. Again, it's like Chase Daniel and the other quarterbacks, because you can only take so many, and our numbers weren't as such at that time. Our staff had a great relationship with Lake Travis, their coaches and with Todd. We still do. He's going to be pumped up for this weekend.
On defending against the pass in the Big 12: You look at the stats, and Kansas has struggled some against the pass, but who wouldn't in this league? I mean I wouldn't want to be a secondary coach or a defensive coordinator in this league because it's crazy. Everybody says the numbers on defense are going down in this league, and yeah, that's because the numbers on offense are all going up. They've played Oklahoma and [Texas] Tech in the last few weeks too, and if you start looking at the numbers those two teams can put up offensively, it scares you to death. I do feel like we are making some progress and I felt like we played well on defense on Saturday.
On if this is the best collection of quarterbacks in a conference in his opinion: No question. I think it really is. I've never seen this many good teams in a division. It's still amazing. Here's Oklahoma State with two losses against two really good teams, which are in the top five, all in the same division, and they are still a really good team. I don't think I've ever seen this many quarterbacks, and therefore, you're now seeing the receivers come in the same way. I don't think Jordan and Quan get the due credit that they deserve in this league, because there are so many great receivers. I noticed this morning that Jordan has caught the same number of passes this year, 70, that Roy Williams ever caught in one year at Texas. That's pretty good, and Jordan has never mentioned this stuff. It's just an amazing year. You look at the two receivers coming up this weekend, and they're just like the guys we've been playing. It's just amazing, and I don't think I've ever seen anything like this.
On if the team has a policy on Facebook and MySpace pages: The University cannot tell a young person they can't have one. It's against federal law and it's against the right to have what they want. We have encouraged every one of our players from day one not to have one, and we check them as often as we can. That's a difficult thing to do. I think that all young people need to make sure they are very cautious of everything they write on there, because it's just not public, it goes all over the world. It's out there immediately and it can be a very hurtful and dangerous thing. We're constantly telling our guys to be very careful. You're talking about the media looking at them and employers in the future might look at them. I don't watch them, but it's amazing to me what I'm hearing is on some across the country. It's a dangerous thing. I'm sure it's a great thing for communication, making friends and all of that stuff, but at the same time, I think we all need to make the young people aware that it's also a dangerous tool for the rest of your life if it's not used properly.
On Jake Sharp: He's doing a good job with the run, but the other thing he's doing is that he's getting 100 yards per game with the combination of run and pass. He's a very productive player for them and he's a tough guy. He's taking care of the football. You get the two big receivers outside, they got the big offensive line and he does a good job of running inside, and Todd can find anybody. He can scramble like Robert did against us, and he has made so many plays scrambling. A lot of times, he does it to the back out of the backfield.