Nov. 14, 2011
I want to first talk about Fozzy Whittaker because he's a guy that epitomizes what a college football studentathlete should be. He's never, ever been in my office for anything negative. He graduates in three years. He will end up getting his graduate degree. He is a guy that is the heartbeat of our team and our offensive team for sure. And he is a guy that will be at every meeting for the next three weeks, and he'll be on the sideline with us if his knee holds up where he can be that way. And he is a guy who we'll really miss on the field and probably miss as much off the field as any other. We got the news yesterday afternoon that for sure he would need the operation, and he came to the team meeting. He wanted me to tell the team, and the team gave him a standing ovation right after we said that he was out for the year. I asked him if he wanted to come up and address you all today, and he said he would like to because he thinks he can put some light into this and help some other people. He's a guy that takes negatives and turns them into positives, and he said there's a reason everything happens, Coach, and we'll make this work, too, and more forward, too. He is just a special young man and one that has given Texas a lot more than we've given him because he is a giver, not a taker, and he is a guy that will be successful. He'll still play pro football, but there's a lot to him that he'll be successful in after he gets through. I know you all have enjoyed covering him and will enjoy seeing him this morning. There's already some guys asking if they can wear his number. So he means so much to the team because they all love him. They just think he is a special young guy and one that all of us can learn from and live up to.
As far as all the other injured guys that either got hurt during the week or were hurt coming up to the ballgame, it'll be the same this week. You sometimes have to make decisions in pregame. [RB] Joe Bergeron practiced very little last week. He was probably about threequarter speed. [RB] Malcolm Brown was the same. But what we did, and our trainers tell us, that there's a chance that they can be better two days after the Thursday practice, so we take them with us. We take them out in pregame. We see if they can run, and if they can run, we play them. They will say they can play. There's no doubt about that. The trainers say that it'll depend on the pain that they can handle. Malcolm Brown could not run full speed, so he was not a guy that was going to play after pregame warmups. Joe Bergeron kept warming up and kept trying, and Major actually put him out there on one punt because Joe says, “I think I can go in.” And then he was about three quarter speed when he covered the punt, and we didn't want him getting hit. And this was a punt where we thought it would probably be in the end zone or be downed and we didn't see much contact. But after Major saw him run, he knew, number one, it wasn't safe for him to be out there carrying the ball with that many people trying to hit him. So neither one of the guys were ready to play during the ballgame, and again, that's a decision that had to be made in pregame or watching them run on the sideline. The process that we go through is on Sunday, Kenny Boyd, our trainer, talks to the doctors, talks to the players, and he comes and tells us what he thinks will be the case. We'll have to watch them during the week. It's even tougher for freshmen because he hasn't been around those guys that much and he doesn't know their pain threshold. Then you go Tuesday and look and you look on Wednesday and you look on Thursday, and you try to make that decision before pregame. And if a guy doesn't practice a lot, he probably can't play a lot. So we thought we might get a few carries out of each one or maybe ten carries, but that's just something that is a very difficult process to go through. I thought they would both play going into the game. So when you heard it is about the time I heard it.
We had a situation come up at North Carolina once that there was a young man named Leon Johnson. We were playing Duke, and he was a thousandyard rusher for us, played ten years in the NFL. And he was a great player, and he sprained his ankle the week before, and he was actually out on the field in pregame, and we had the same thing. We were watching him in pregame to see how we thought he would do and could he play in the game. And he was limping very badly, so Fred Goldsmith, the Duke coach, is standing out there, and he kind of laughingly said, “How's Leon?” And I said, “Wow, I don't think he's going to play, Coach. He doesn't look very good. You can watch him run. He's limping.” I had known Fred a long time, and we go inside, and Leon says, “Coach, I feel great and I want to play.” I said, “Leon, I watched you run. You couldn't run at all.” He said, “Well, it was really weird. I was out there and something popped, and it just feels better.” And then I think he gained 234 yards in the ballgame. So obviously Fred Goldsmith thought I'd convinced him to go out there and walk around and limp. But it just is what it is. Injuries are hard to predict. Each one of us knows that some days we feel good and some days we don't feel very good, and we're not going to put a young man on the field that has a chance to get hurt worse. That's just the way it is. We could do it differently. could do it like my friend [Kansas State head coach] Bill Snyder and not ever say anything about it and you would have absolutely no information. So that would be my suggestion if this doesn't work for you. I'll call Bill and see how he's releasing injuries this week and see where we're going.
We were very disappointed in the loss to Missouri. Offensively we were very poor. We had adversity with Fozzy coming out. We had adversity with the two freshmen out playing, but what you've got to do is step up and everybody has to play a step harder and a step better, and we didn't do that. I didn't think we responded to the adversity on offense at all, and that's something that a young offense has got to do. We didn't run the ball well, and then were inconsistent in the passing game. The wind was a huge factor, and when we had the wind we had to make plays and we had get some points, and we didn't do that. We got three points with the wind the first quarter, and I thought the third quarter was huge when we came out and we didn't play well in the third quarter with the wind. I knew we were in trouble and had to fight our way back in the fourth quarter.
There was not a Bevo Beast Award and there was not a most valuable player on offense because we didn't think we played well enough to recognize anyone's performance. There were some guys that played well but not that many.
Defensively overall we were improved. We played well at times. I thought we played a great second half. I think we gave up 93 yards the second half. The goal line stand after the blocked punt was a thing of beauty, holding them out and making them kick a field goal from the oneyard line. We did force a turnover in the red zone, the first series, the first drive, which was huge for us and cost them points. But the things we need to improve - we didn't start very well. On the road you need to start fast, and they drove the ball right down to the 10yard line, and we didn't slow them down. And so we've got to get a better, faster start, especially with our injuries on offense. And then we gave up a long TD run right after the penalty to [S] Kenny [Vaccaro.] I mean, you can't give up long runs for touchdowns. You just can't do that. You've got to make them fight to get everything they've got. And we only forced one turnover. We're sitting here even on turnover ratio with an offense that's struggled some, so we've got to force more turnovers and create better field position with our kicking game to help our offense until we grow up.
The Ball Hawk awards, [LB] Emmanuel Acho stripped the ball out at the 10 and [LB] Jordan Hicks fell on it, which was huge for us. The Hard Hat Award was Kenny Vaccaro. He played great. He made plays throughout the game and was all over the place, and we were really excited about the way he played. And the most valuable player on defense was Emmanuel Acho. Unlike offensively, when [LB] Keenan Robinson went out with a thumb injury, the defensive guys picked it up and played harder to try to make up for the loss of our senior.
Our special teams were pretty good by and large. Our punt team had to punt ten times, which shows you how ineffective our offense was. We did down four balls inside the 20yard line. We had one 64yarder. Our net punting was 37.7, but we did give up the first block of the year, and then, in a game where points are so tight, we can't give those points up at that time in the ballgame. Punt return team had two returns for 21 yards, so averaged 10.5 yards per return. We did have the block for the safety, and even that we needed to be a touchdown. It hit the goal post. So we didn't have much break on the block. But a great job by [assistan head coach/deensive backs coach] Duane Akina. He continues to do as good a job as anybody in punt blocks and creates field position and points for us.Kickoff coverage, we only had two. One was a touchback and the only [other] one we held about the 25yard line, so they are doing a better job each week.
Kansas State is one of the best in the country.
They've returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, so that will be key again this weekend. Kickoff return, we had three for 70 yards. [RB] D.J. Monroe after the loss of Fozzy came in and had a 21 and a 29yarder, and [DB] Quandre Diggs had a 20yarder, so we started at an average starting position of about the 34yard line. I thought it was good, it wasn't great. Extra point and field goal, we didn't have an extra point. We were one-of-two in field goals, even though it was a 53yarder.
Instant replay. After the season I'm going to recommend to the AFCA, because I am a board member, that we expand our instant replay if it's a critical play during the ballgame. Officials have tough jobs, and plays are happening so fast out on the field that they may miss it, and with the way the BCS is set up, we can't afford to have a bad play in a ballgame that might hurt us and our chances to win. But with the way the BCS is set up, and one loss just absolutely kills you, I don't think it hurts us any more if there's a play upstairs. And regardless of what the call is, if it's pass interference, an awful holding call, and the guy upstairs sees it, you don't have to stop the game. He can just call downstairs and say, there was holding on the right tackle. He grabbed the guy and pulled him down. It should have been called. And especially now with head to head. I'm not going to talk about Saturday's game, but those are so critical, and we know it's a good rule change because we want the safety of the players to be something that's really, really important to all of us, but we want to make sure that it's being called consistently across the board.
It's a call that's hard to call, so let the guy upstairs who can see it and run it back two or three times help the guys on the field. It probably doesn't happen much because the officials do such a great job, but one, two or three calls per game that might change a game, I think it would help us since they're up there anyway.
We're sitting here at 6 and 3 with three tough games left. We've got to keep improving, and as crazy as college football is, how do you ever know what's going to happen? You've got to play as hard as you can each week. It doesn't seem like right now one game leads to the next one, and you just never know. We all got shocked every Saturday.
Kansas State is one of the great stories of this year. Nobody gave them credit, again, at the first of the year. My good friend Bill Snyder has done the best job of anybody for his university that a football coach could do in my estimation. He won at a place they've never won. He goes away for a while and watches and comes back and wins again. He's just a tremendous football coach. He's a great dad and a great person and great friend. They're well coached and they're tough. They always play well. They've outcoached and outhit us for the years that we've played them. Only twice have we played very well against them. They've got a senior or an older offensive line. There's three seniors and two juniors. Brandon Wilson is a 6'4", 255pound fullback. He's a junior, and Collin Klein is one of the best stories in college football this year that nobody is talking about. Here's a guy that's 6'5", 226 pounds. He's 26th in the country in rushing as a quarterback. He has the third most rushing attempts of anybody in college football this year. He's gained over 1,000 yards rushing. He's leading the nation in scoring touchdowns with 24 touchdowns, and he doesn't turn the ball over. So they're +9 in turnover ratio. So he is doing a tremendous job. Now, they've got skill around them, but you've got to spend so much time with him that John Hubert is going to [get] yards. He's 62nd in rushing in the country, and they're averaging 35 points a game, 23rd in scoring. hey're 22nd in rushing offense in the country.
But they're doing a great job, and Texas fans love to see great teams and great players come in here. They'll see that on Saturday when you watch Collin Klein play because he's a goodlooking, big, strong sucker that can really run. So he's a guy that can give you fits.
They're 25th in rush defense in the country, only giving up 117 yards rushing per game, and obviously we've got to continue to improve our passing attack. We were forced to use it on Saturday, and we didn't do it well enough to give ourselves a chance to win. They're very athletic on defense. They're always very physical. They'll always hit you, and as we said, they've been opportunistic, and they're just finding ways to win.
They're 9th in turnover ratio. No. 1 in time of possession.They're keeping the ball 35 minutes per game. I think we're 4th. So it'll be a fight to see who can take the ball away from the other one, and they've always had unselfish teams.
So this will be senior day. Senior night. Our seniors have finished second in the country and third in the country and they've given us a lot of thrills throughout their time here. I do want everybody to come out, too, and give Fozzy a standing ovation and let us all appreciate not only the other seniors but what he has done, as well, and want the guys to come early for senior day because it'll be before the game starts, as usual.
On the passing game: I thought we made some progress against Oklahoma State in the two weeks leading up to Missouri, and we just didn't play well. We dropped some balls. Everybody wants to blame the quarterbacks. Our offense played bad across the board. People blamed Garrett Gilbert sometimes when we didn't play well, so everybody talks about the quarterback. We've got to give the quarterbacks help and especially these two young ones as they continue to develop. I think we were all surprised, obviously we didn't plan on Fozzy getting hurt, and we thought one of the two or both of the young tailbacks would play. So we were caught off guard. Shouldn't have been. Should have planned for that better, and then we didn't do a very good job of handling all of that I don't think on game day. So we've got to do a better job of preparing for the two young ones not to play and then trying to figure out ways that we can move the ball in different ways. Just what we have to do. Our defensive players are older. Our defensive players are more experienced. Our defense is better than our offense. It was that way last year. And right now our offense came up with our niche, and our niche was taken away. So we've got to go back and regroup and find another way to figure out how to try to move the ball against a good Kansas State team and against teams that are going to score points here the next three weeks.
On the effects of losing Fozzy Whittaker: We've got to go back and look at the wild formation and how much of that was him and how much of that could somebody else take and do something because [co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach] Bryan Harsin said he's the best I've ever had. He's just got such a great feel of this, and it's why it's working. Even Saturday with the wind, we were planning on using it a lot more than when we were going into the wind because we felt like he could stay on the field. So we've got to look at can one of the other ones do that. If so, how much practice time will the two freshmen get. Is it something [RB Jeremy [Hills] can do. So we're still looking at the possibility of what that formation will mean here the next three weeks. We've got to give our quarterbacks better protection, and we're trying to get the ball deep. Some of those probably could have come short. We probably designed shorter passes, as well. I never thought I'd have Texas fans griping about deep throws as much as I heard them gripe about short throws for 13 years. I do know we're going to gripe after a loss, so it's guess it's whatever happens we're going to gripe about. And I'm griping, too, so it's not unusual.
On RB Fozzy Whittaker: Fozzy is a guy that will take negative things and try to fix them every time. I sat in there with his mother and him yesterday, and I'm not going to talk about our specific conversation, but everything he said was there's a reason for this. “Coach, hey, I'm fine. Don't you get down. You keep your head up.” Here he is picking up the 60-year-old who just lost some football game when his knee is torn up, and he'll have to have an operation, and he said, “Hey, let's go in there. We've got to beat Kansas State. Let's pick these guys up and let's move forward and see what we can do. I'll be fine. They're fixing these things better than ever before.” That's just the personality he has. It's really fun to watch a guy that his dad died of cancer when I think he was two years old. So all this stuff about I don't have a dad or I don't have this or I don't have that, he and his mom have made it work. And whatever she gave him and whatever genes his dad gave him is what we'd like to can for everybody because he's so positive. He's so honest. He's so nice. He's so smart, and he's tough. He's not a soft guy that's not going to go do the things you need to do. And he didn't get hit. That's what's so unusual for him. He said the unique thing, “Coach, as much as I've been hit this year, I plant my foot and my knee just goes out.” So he didn't get any contact on the play.
On the team dealing with a loss: Yes, and that's the growth we're having to have as a team right now. I think they understand at Texas you don't like to lose. Most of these guys had great programs in high school so they weren't programs that when they lost weren't affected by it. And they can see that it's really, really hard on our fans. It's hard on our players. It's hard on our coaches. Losing is very difficult, and we had two very positive weeks where we were back on track, and then to have this one kick us in the face like it did, not taking anything away from Missouri. We said last week Missouri was the best four and five team in the country. They had lost some tight games and lost some games on the road where they had chances to win. And we had to stop Franklin coming into the game. He hit 14 of the first 16. I think he hit his first nine, and you can't let those things happen, and that's what our team has to understand. We've got to keep learning. Kansas State is finding a way to win, and right now we've got to in these last three weeks [and] we've got to just keep digging and finding a way to win.
On the history versus Kansas State: I think by and large, the northern schools have been tougher for our guys to get ready for than the southern schools in the Big 12 because they don't have history with them. I felt that some last week. I worried about going up on a cooler day. There wasn't anybody there in pregame. There's no talk from our fans about Missouri. There's a lot of talk about [Texas] Tech. And that's a history here that we've got to change because 14 years, you'd have thought we'd come up with some reason to change it or something to change it. I worried about it last week. I thought there were some things in Tuesday's practice offensively that I just didn't like because I know we're not good enough unless we play the best we can play every week. We're not going to score points right now, and that's just who we are. And we told them that on Tuesday, and we told them again on Wednesday, and I then I thought I saw it show up on Saturday.
On KSU QB Collin Klein: Yeah, he killed us last year. I had one of the Topeka, Kansas, writers ask me on the teleconference this morning, how much do I know about him, and I said, "Four and a half hours." I watched him run up and down the field, and we never tackled him. He ran over us. He ran around us. He wasn't supposed to start. It was another one of those where their guy had a sprained ankle and this guy shows up, and he's great.
So he's tough. He's smart. He's making the right decisions. Bill Snyder has always shown the imagination on offense to move people around and change formations a little bit. A lot of what we're doing right now, having a little motion, but he's creative in the way he gets the quarterback to run the ball. And it was funny, I remember all the griping we had when Vince [Young] was our leading rusher and when Colt [McCoy] was our leading rusher one year. Kansas State is not worried about it. He's by far their leading rusher, and they're proud of it.
On Collin Klein compared to other KSU QBs: I’ve never seen anybody this big that can run like that. He's 6'5", 226. Those guys were guys that our defensive backs could stand eye-to-eye to. This guy is a tight end playing quarterback that can run fourfour. And he's really a freak of nature when you look at him with how big and strong he is, and that's why they carry the ball. It's in his hands, and he's got big hands, so he's not going to drop it. And nobody has knocked it loose yet. I'm just amazed how week after week, we talk about being tough. He is tough. He just goes, and he will bring it at you every play. So you'd better be ready. Our defense better be ready Saturday night, because he'll be ready. I've watched him for ten weeks. I'm amazed how sore he must be on Tuesday, and he doesn't look sore on Saturday night.
On Senior Night: Yes, it's very emotional. It's unique this year in that we have two away games after this, and that's very unusual since the realignment and we don't have a championship game and they moved the Baylor game back. So we've had the two open dates and now two games afterwards. So it's not near the last game of the season. But for the guys to walk out into DKR-Memorial Stadium is very emotional. We talked about it last night. 101,000 people. National TV game, and their last time ever. I told them you'll be coming back griping about play selection the next time you come back here after this game. You'll be an alum. And [S] Blake Gideon has started every game since he's been here, which is absolutely amazing and been a tremendous player and leader for us. Your two linebackers, Keenan Robinson had the thumb injury and he's wanting to go back in, and hopefully he'll be able to play Saturday night. We think he will be. But there's no way he could have gone back in with the injury he had at the time. You start looking at [DT]Kheeston Randall. He's been a tremendous player for us throughout. [S] Christian Scott has overcome so much, and he'll graduate at the end of this semester with the three hours this fall. He has just been a tremendous player for us. And those guys have won a lot of football games.Offensively you go back, you talk about Fozzy. You talk about his unselfishness. You talk about [RB] Cody Johnson and giving up who he was as one of the leading scorers in the history of Texas football to be a fullback and not even blinking as he did that. You go back and look at a guy like [OG] Tray Allen that was highly recruited, and he's overcome a broken foot. And he's had a good year for us. [OG] David Snow has had a winning performance about every week. He had one last week. He was the offensive lineman that played the best last week and played well. You don't have to look any further than [TE] Blaine Irby to look at miracles, and the fight that this senior class has had as he comes back and fights through his senior year to do all the things we needed to do. [OG] Mark Buchanan has done a lot of things for us. He hasn't started, but he's been a guy that's contributed a lot. And I'm sure I'm missing some guys. [P/PK] Justin Tucker has been most valuable player on our football team probably this year. I was just going through offense and defense, but here's a guy that's done it all. And how do we replace a guy that can kick off, can punt, can regular punt, can rugby punt, and has been one of the best field goal kickers in the country while he's been here? So this is a great senior class that's given us a lot of joy, and that's why I want the fans to give them their proper greeting when they come into the stadium on Saturday night for the game.