Tracking Mack: Nov. 10
Nov. 10, 2010
Opening statement: This weekend is Veteran's Appreciation Day and we always thank Mr. Frank Denius who has done so much for the university and is a national war hero. We also want to say once more how much we appreciate all the veterans, all the active military personnel that are across the country helping us but especially the veterans. Many who are wounded, many who have changed their lives to help us stay safe, and it will be a touching moment during the ballgame on Saturday for all of us to say thank you, and I know our fans do appreciate and understand the military and want to be there for them.
I also want to ask our fans once again to keep pulling for the players. You can get mad at the coaches. We get paid for this, and it's our job and yell at us and boo us but pull for the guys. The guys are still trying. They had a great practice yesterday. They're pulling hard. They're trying to finish strong here and a lot of these guys have given us some great moments, and a lot of them are going to give us some great moments before they leave. It also sends a message to the recruits. We've got one of the top recruiting classes in the country. They're going to watch very closely to see how they're treated and how they're going to be treated and how you're going to treat them on days that aren't as good as we've had. We've been able to walk around here with our chest stuck out and our head held up high for 12 years and that was easy. It's a little bit harder right now, but we all have to pull together and step up.
The fault of the season so far has been the coaches. It's me. It's the coaches because we're in charge. You can put some on the players, but they're 18-22 years old. They're not NFL players. Come be part of the solution. Be positive for your players. When they're in some trouble out on the field and struggling a little bit, pick them up and help them come back like you tried to against Baylor and I think that will really help.
[We] sat down with Greg Davis, [and] Will Muschamp and looked at some numbers that are really interesting for what's happened this year. What we have to do now is try and figure out, again, week-in and week-out what we need to do to fix it. What can we put our fingers on? We said stats are for losers and a lot of them don't matter. The fact that we outgained Baylor doesn't matter and the fact that we outgained Kansas State doesn't matter because we lost both games, so those stats are unimportant. Here are some things that [we got] that Will and Greg and I were able to sit down and look at that are really interesting. At this point this year, we've forced the same number of fumbles that we forced last year which is really interesting. Twenty-five fumbles were forced last year and at this time, 25 have been forced. This year we've only recovered six [fumbles]. Last year we recovered 12 [fumbles]. That's one thing that Will and the defensive coaches have talked about this week. We've been saying, "force turnovers." They're forcing them, we're just not getting them. We've got to be more aware when one guy strips it out or knocks it, we've got to get on it. That's six turnovers at least that we've lost that would have been very, very important. Scoring opportunities - this is amazing what [we] found. We've had 11 scoring drives of 39 yards or less this season for our offense. Two of those drives resulted in touchdowns. Nine field goals. So when we've gotten the ball within 39 yards of the goal line, we've only scored two touchdowns out of 11. So that's nine field goals and two touchdowns. Now listen to this one, this makes no sense. In contrast, our opponents have had 11 drives of 39 yards or less - which is way too many that we've turned the ball over or our special teams have put us in a bad spot - and eight of those drives have resulted in touchdowns. Just three field goals. The ironic part of that is [we] also found that we've had 13 scoring drives offensively of 70 yards or more and 10 of those 13 have ended up in TDs. So when we've started 70 yards away, we score a touchdown. When we start 39 yards away, we kick a field goal. So I think we should just pitch the ball back and start [there] or something. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but those are things that we've talked to the players about. We're not giving ourselves a chance to win with some of the things we're doing. Non-offensive touchdowns in 2009 - we had 11. We had four interception returns for touchdowns. We had two punt returns for touchdowns. We had two punt blocks for touchdowns. We had three kickoff returns for touchdowns. Non-offensive touchdowns in 2010 - we've had one in the first game. It was a fumble recovery against Rice that was picked up and run back for a touchdown. So again, [there's a] 10[-touchdown] difference in non-offensive touchdowns which has really hurt us. Points off turnovers, this is amazing again. Last year we forced 36 turnovers for 120 points. This year we've forced 11 turnovers for 33 points. It just makes no sense. It's a total difference in where we are. Passes intercepted in 2009 - we had 25 interceptions out of 460 passing attempts by the opponent. So we intercepted a pass out of every 18.4 throws. Pass interceptions this year - we've had five out of 205 opponent's passing attempts. [That's] one out of every 41 attempts. Because we're not scoring points and because we're not getting ahead, they're running the ball much more. That's why the fumbles have been the same, but we're not getting the opportunity for those 25 interceptions that we got last year. So 20 interceptions more than last year, but they threw the ball twice as much last year as they have in the games against us this year. Also, 10 of the 27 scoring drives against us have started inside the 40[-yard line]. Five of those have been inside the 15[-yard line]. So again, when you've got 10 drives 40 and in and they're scoring touchdowns, like we said earlier where we're kicking field goals, we're just not getting what we need out of this. Also, the national stats say if you lose more than three turnovers, you've got a 90 percent chance to lose. UCLA - five turnovers. Iowa State - four turnovers. Kansas State - five turnovers. We're not forcing them, so when we get five it's five against one or five against two. So we're still losing by three or more. What we've tried to do is go back with the guys and say here our things that we know that are happening that we've got to stop, instead of saying everything's bad. Everything's not bad. There are a lot of good things happening, but we're not doing the fundamentally sound things we need to to get it done. The kicking game has to score. The kicking game has to force turnovers, and the kicking game has to work with better field position. Offensively, you can't have as many turnovers and you have to score touchdowns in the red zone, and that's been a problem all year. Defensively, we've got to get on some of those fumbles we're forcing and try to get them behind enough that they'll throw so we can get more interceptions. All of those things end up putting us in the tough spot we're in.
Oklahoma State's a great team. They're probably the best Oklahoma State team we've seen. We've got our hands full Saturday, but like I said, the guys are excited, they're challenged. We need to continue to run the ball and not panic and get behind and start slinging it every time like we have in those three games that I just talked about where the turnovers occurred. We feel like the guys haven't given up and they're continuing to work hard, and we're going to do everything we can do the last three weeks at home to get the home crowd turned around because we haven't played well at home, and also to put ourselves in a position to go to a bowl [game].
On showing players how to be successful like at Nebraska: I think the weirdest thing is: why did the Nebraska game work so well? Why did it happen? If it did happen, there was enough confidence that day. [We] ran the ball well that day. [We] didn't throw the ball well that day but it was windy and it was a tough day. We only threw it 16 times, but we didn't have a turnover. Defense forces two turnovers. Defense forces a turnover, offense gets it and scores quickly. Defense forces another turnover, and offense gets it and kicks a field goal. So we're up 10-0 but held it. So why in the Baylor game, up 19-10, didn't we finish? We played hard, did a lot of great things in that game, but why didn't we finish at that point? We're a team that's not playing with a lot of confidence, and we've got to go back to Nebraska and we've had a bunch of guys hurt since then but we've got good players. That's not the issue. We've got to be a team that goes back and plays like we have with swagger and confidence around here, and that's what we're not doing right now.
On how turnovers affect an offensive game plan: I think balance. I think right now we've shown in the three games where we've gotten behind - two of them which we didn't play with the intensity that we thought or focus that we need to as a team - but when we got behind two touchdowns or three against UCLA, 28-7 against Iowa State - that one we probably had no choice. We had to throw it to catch up fast because we were in bad trouble, it was the fourth quarter. But last weekend, even down 24-0 at halftime, if we could have come out, if we could have scored right before the half that would have been huge. But if we could have taken the initial drive in the first five minutes and driven it and been more balanced, that's when we've been our best. We were balanced at Nebraska, in fact, heavy [on the] run. So when we've been able to do both, we've had a better chance to win. We have not shown the ability to be the team that we've been in the past where we can take it and throw it 50 times and win. We're just not doing that well enough right now. We've got to find ways to do both and stay balanced.
On Oklahoma State's offense being so good despite losing key players: They've done an amazing job. It goes to show you what preseason expectations and ratings are worth. They were supposed to be one of the worst teams in our league. Nobody had ever heard of [Justin] Blackmon. My gosh, he's Michael Crabtree. He's Dez Bryant. He's done everything they're doing. I think their offense right now is like ours in 2005. They can just run up and down the field at will. They had 725 yards against Baylor. They're scoring 60 points like it's nothing. It's amazing. When [Kendall] Hunter runs it - and we remember out here we did a good job against Dez Bryant two years ago - Hunter got 161 yards rushing in that ballgame two years ago because we had to spend all the time with Dez Bryant and Hunter was a good player. Right now you're sitting there and they've got weapons outside of those two, and [Brandon] Weeden that can still beat you. They've got the full compliment. They're as good an offense as we've seen in here in a long time.
On Oklahoma State's offense: They run up and down the field against everybody, including Nebraska. They only scored 41 points against Nebraska, but that is a great day against that Nebraska defense and Nebraska scored 51. It is a struggle for us, so we have to figure out how to slow them down and knock some balls loose. You are not going to stop them because nobody has all year, but you have to make some plays against them where you keep them from scoring as many points and try to force more turnovers.
On how the young guys have stepped up: We thought Carrington [Byndom] played really well Saturday night to be forced out there like he was. He is a very smart young man. He was a really good baseball and football player at Lufkin. He had great grades, and he plays like that. He is a smart football player. He got sucked in on one play where he thought it was coming off tackle, and it bounced out for about 17 yards. Other than that, he played nearly perfect on Saturday night. As tough as it is as these young guys are having to play right now and hurting us, it is really helping us for next year. We worried about corner next year, and Carrington is getting some valuable time out there now. It is hard to put corners out there that are younger unless you have to. Also, for the guys on the offensive line to be put in the position where they are right now, it is tough. Trey Hopkins is playing great. He is really going to be a super player for us down the road. Paden Kelley played really well Saturday night, so we will want to see him continue to get better now that he is out there. [Offensive line coach] Mac McWhorter will have enough confidence to put him back out there. Dominique Jones had a shoulder operation out of high school. He played defensive end some. We are trying so hard to find the right mix at tight end, since we have had our struggles there with injuries, and we think that Dominique can be really good. It was good for him to catch a touchdown the other night. It was good for him to get in there and have some experience, and he is in the mix this week to play.
On the secondary: I think that they have played well. It is hard. We have put so much pressure on them because we have been thin at defensive tackle, so we are using our safeties a lot in the run game. When you do that, you are putting your corners and your safeties--when it's a 3-4 spread team--in really bad positions like we did at Baylor. It was really tough on those guys to cover. If you blitz, you have to get there. It they catch the ball, you have to tackle. We haven't always done that, but we have probably put as much pressure on our secondary this year because we knew it was a strength coming in.
On the difficulty of recruiting tight ends and fullbacks: Tight ends and fullbacks are kind of a thing of the past. [The] NFL is telling us the same thing. You can find them, but a lot of them are the big, tall receiver that grows into a tight end now, like Darius Terrell. Then you have to get them where they get used to blocking and want to block and can block. It is definitely a hybrid position that is harder to find with all of the spread offenses. We are finding smaller running backs. You have not seen as many big, great running backs in the last few years in the state after everybody started the spread. You are finding quarterbacks that can run and throw because most of them are running spread offenses now. Most of them are in the shotgun. You are also having more trouble with fullbacks because they are more of a thing of the past except short yardage and goal line. Same thing with tight ends.
On if he has thought about moves which will be made in the offseason regarding the coaching staff: None. I constantly look at the big picture. It is something that have to do, but at the same time, during the season you are tired. This season, I have been mad for about half of it, so when you are tired and you are mad, I have been told that you [should] never make decisions. What you do is you research information - take some time after the season to look at it and see exactly where things are. I do it every year--good and bad--and then you try to make the decision that is best. The hard thing and the good thing for me is that I am in a position because of Deloss [Dodds] and Bill Powers that they let me make those decisions. Nobody at Texas makes them for you, and that is better. Sometimes they make that decision about the head coach. I am fortunate that I am not in that position right now. Also--I do not say it facetiously--for a lot of coaches in other programs, they have a bad year and they are fired. I think that is unfair, but that is just the way it is. Especially with young coaches, they do not have a chance to have a bad year and get it fixed, and right now we do. What I have to do is make sure that I do what I said earlier in the season that everybody seemed to get all upset over. It is amazing to me that it got as much attention as it got, but you look at production. You look at the guy's position. You look at what he has done with it. You look at how it is working. You try to figure out from my standpoint not who is mad at who and who is pointing fingers, but you look at why it was not productive. You look at if one player was not productive or a group of players were not productive, and you try to figure out why. Then you fix whatever it is, and that is the way that you do it. I think that the biggest thing would be that people just want you to fire somebody. You want to make sure you are right. These coaches are great coaches. A guy asked me a question today. He said, "How would you grade your staff and yourself this year?" I said, "An `F.' We are not winning, and that is what we are supposed to do." Now, off the field, the kids are being taken care of. Academics are good. All of those things are working, but in this business if you don't win, you are not being successful. Period. If you ask me what my grade should be right now and what our coaching staff should be, I think that it is an `F.' We have not been as productive as we should have been with these players, and that does not sound good. It's not pretty, but it is factual.
Given the numbers shared in the opening statement, on whether he thinks the team is due to have a good break: I do. I thought that last week we might, but we stunk against Kansas State. My gosh, since we have been here, we have always stunk. I told the players yesterday that every team but two stunk against Kansas State since we have been here, and now we are going to play them every year. So you younger guys need to get it fixed. It is not like they go away. The fans at Kansas State were yelling, "We own Texas" behind us, and I agreed. I wanted to turn around and say, "I think that is pretty obvious right now. We have not done anything to refute that at all." I think that, again, the players need to understand, we tell them things come in bunches. We have had bad luck in bunches. I mean it is bunched, so when we turn it, it is going to be a good day. I do not know when it is coming, but I am ready.
On playing Oklahoma State: We have played good in this game, like Nebraska. It has been a game where we have played with a lot of confidence. I want them to play with that confidence this weekend. I want them to get back home. I want them to be excited. I thought that the Baylor game was a great night for our fans, and I thought that the kids tried hard. I was disappointed we did not finish, and we had our chance to finish. We just didn't. This team [Oklahoma State] is better than Baylor. They have shown that. They jumped all over Baylor last weekend. I thought that last week would have been a great time to send the message that we are getting it fixed because Kansas State had been so hard for us, and it did not happen, so I was disappointed. Again, we have a great opportunity because when you have something that people think that you cannot do, like going to Lincoln - and you do it - it is a great message that things are turning and getting fixed. They have that opportunity this weekend. It is not going to be easy, but it is an opportunity that we have. I have told them, "There are still eight games out there as a possibility that you can win. It is whole lot different than four. There is a great way to finish that you can finish, but you have to play better."
On who is blamed when a team is struggling: What happens when you are struggling is everybody blames the offensive coordinator, the head coach and the quarterback. That is it. If you get online this weekend, whatever school like Texas loses, they want the offensive coordinator fired. They want the quarterback benched. The second team quarterback is always better than the first. It is 100 percent. It has not changed. In fact, when we were going through our Chris [Simms] and Major [Applewhite] tussles and comparisons back when, Coach Royal called me one day and said, "Don't think that you are the first guy who has ever had a problem with people second guessing who the quarterback should be. I started that around here. They have been doing that a long time when I benched Bradley and put in James Street." That is predictable. That is something that is out there. A lot of people have been critical of Greg Davis. One thing that he has done a great job of is bring young quarterbacks along, and I do trust that. People wanted Vince [Young] benched. People wanted Colt [McCoy] benched. People wanted Simms benched. They want them all benched, and all of them but Major [Applewhite] played in the NFL, and Major probably could have, he just decided he wanted to coach.
On whether it is too premature for him to talk about the new Longhorn television deal: Yes. I do not know enough about it. That is above me, so I have heard about what you have heard. As far as I understand right now, there is not one. They are still in negotiation. I do think that it is going to be a great deal when everything comes together, regardless of what happens. I am excited about the future of it.