Mack Brown Monday press conference transcript: Nov. 15
Nov. 15, 2010
Opening statement: I really appreciated the crowd coming out for the appreciation for Veteran's Day on Saturday night. It was a great crowd. I know it's a tough time to do that but also to support these players. The seniors have six practices left that are guaranteed. They've got two times to run out of that tunnel and about nine to ten days of football left. Obviously they're trying as hard as they can to finish their careers on a positive and try to get to a bowl game.
You have to compliment Oklahoma State. I think that's the best Oklahoma State team I've seen. I know it's the best since we've been here, offensively. It's amazing. The quarterback [Brandon Weeden] is great. He came from nowhere. The guy threw balls across the field. He didn't miss. He was so accurate. We had him sacked once and he still got a ball for about a 30-yard completion. Kendall Hunter is an all-American running back. We've seen two great backs two weeks in a row. [Justin] Blackmon is a guy that caught about 12 passes last year. I don't know where he came from. He's all of a sudden making plays all over the field. He's changed what you have to do against them defensively. He's a guy that can make plays.
Our focus obviously has to be on us. We've still got a lot of things we've got to improve. We can't just talk about the other team. They did play hard on Saturday night. We didn't make enough big plays to win the game. They made too many. We forced a few more turnovers. We protected the ball a little better. The kicking game was okay. We were sound in the kicking game. Still, we had some kicks that helped us with field position but, we didn't force any turnovers in the kicking game. We didn't score in the kicking game. Those are things we've got to continue to try to do.
A lot of young guys did play well. Alex Okafor had his best game since he's moved inside. He played great. We're really proud of him. He's making progress there. We put him in a tough spot because we were thin at that tackle position. He has been positive. He keeps working. He hasn't griped about being in there at all. He's still about 265 to 270[lbs.]. He's learning to play with his pads down. Next year we can play him outside or inside. He, like Sam Acho, can give us a lot of ability and a lot of different options with that ability to use [the way] we want.
Kenny Vaccaro keeps making plays all over the field. He intercepted a pass on Saturday and got his hands on another one. He's a big hitter. We have to be careful because we're playing him a lot on special teams. He's one of the best special teams players we've got. Even on kickoff the other day, Oklahoma State decided to double team him because he makes such an impact on even the kicking teams. Carrington Byndom is coming through and doing well. After we lost Chykie [Brown] and Curtis Brown has been hurt on and off a lot of the year, I'm looking at Carrington Byndom the other night lining up and covering Blackmon one-on-one out there and [he] knocked a ball loose and did a good job. Carrington is getting a lot of people's attention.
A young guy on offense who will be a real star before he finishes is Trey Hopkins. He is playing so well on the offensive line. We played three freshmen the other day starting on the offensive line. Paden Kelley is coming [on] and will be a really good player here. Mason Walters played his best game Saturday night. It was tough for Garrett [Gilbert] and the offense some with those young guys out there, but we thought they hung in there and tried to fight pretty well. Of course, Mike Davis continues to get better each week. He's going to have a great career at Texas. In fact, he broke a freshman receiving record the other night. That's after missing two-and-a-half games.
On the injury front, we've got a lot of guys who are playing banged up and hurt. You just look at Emmanuel Acho. He's fought through a sore knee all year. Keenan Robinson has been banged up a lot. A lot of the guys are playing with minor injuries. Obviously they have been released by the medical staff to play. With the way we've struggled, you would think some of them would be ducking out and not stepping up and playing. I don't see that at all. I thought the kids had a great attitude Saturday night. They fought from behind when they were in trouble some. After the game they want to get better. They're still working hard to do that.
Jackson Jeffcoat did not play Saturday night, again. He does think in talking to the trainers that he's made some progress over the weekend. Hopefully he will get to practice some this week. We do think Kyle Hix has a chance to play this weekend. Michael Huey is doing better. He was walking around yesterday, but they do not think he will play this weekend. They also feel like they'll watch Greg Timmons and he'll be through with his sickness and have a chance to practice this week so he can get back. We'll have to monitor Fozzy [Whittaker] for his stinger throughout the week. He came out in the first half. We tried to put him back in once, and he got it hit again. Cody Johnson had to carry the load on Saturday night.
Tre' Newton, his family and the doctors have decided that he is through with football. He will not play anymore. Tre' will be over this morning to sit and talk to you about it. It's obviously for medical reasons. Because of the sensitivity of releasing individual medical records of kids and HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act], we thought it would be better for Tre' to come up. He's had a great career at Texas. He's a great young man. He's a super student. He's never been in my office for anything but positives. He will stay with our team. I think he's got another year to graduate. He'll work with these young running backs to help them get back on track, and some of them will need to play early next year because of the lack of numbers at that position right now. He's a guy that Texas fans should applaud and appreciate because he's done everything we've asked him to do. He's helped us win ballgames. He's a young guy who has a great future ahead of him. We're disappointed that we won't have Tre' on the field anymore. Thank you for all of the things you've done for us Tre'. You've earned your scholarship. You can still do a lot on that sideline with the kids to try to help them.
Cody [Johnson] would start today at tailback if we were playing today. The game with Florida Atlantic is very important for us to finish positive. We still have a chance to get to a bowl game. I appreciate the fans thanking these seniors, but also we're trying to keep these young guys motivated that are playing as well. Most everybody on this team will be back next year. We're adding a top notch recruiting class to this group. We feel like by finishing strong, it will give us more momentum going into the offseason. Finish recruiting strong and have a great spring practice and next year get back to the standard that we expect at The University of Texas. This class has been the best academic class in the history of Texas Football. They've done everything right off the field. Obviously, we're disappointed on the field. We have to thank them for all the great moments they've given us and appreciate the young ones for the moments that they have ahead.
[Florida Atlantic head coach] Howard Schnellenberger is a great coach. We've all looked at him from Louisville to Miami to Louisville to the NFL for all he's done and then even at Oklahoma. Our fans are very aware of him. I don't think coaches change much. It's still the pro-style two-back offense. Their offensive coordinator left from when we played them [in 2008]. Darrell Jackson, who was the receiver coach at that time, is now the offensive coordinator. They're going to be balanced between the run and pass. A lot of the guys that played against us as younger players will play. Jeff Van Camp, the quarterback, played the last half against us or some of it. He was a great player. [Lester Jean] is a great player at receiver. He has 46 receptions. At tight end, Rob Housler from San Antonio is a pro prospect. He's got 31 catches at 6'5, 230[lbs.]. I was talking to Duane [Akina] about him. He's from Judson, and we looked at him. At that time he was a 200[lbs.] thin, little guy that now is at 230 and playing really well. He'll be a pro prospect and a very good player coming back home.
Unlike us, Florida Atlantic has won their last three games. They'll be coming in with a lot of hope that they can beat the Longhorns. Defensively, they're a four-down defense. They've had only 17 snaps of three-down. That's basically blitz. They're tough. Like Coach Schnellenberger, they're sound. They're well-coached. They only blitz about 16 percent of the time. They've got seven seniors starting on defense.
On if there is a temptation to start looking past FAU to Texas A&M: At times in our past, maybe. Right now we can't look at anything except getting better. We've asked the kids to make sure they've committed for 12 days on Saturday. Now it's more like 10 or nine to give the best effort they possibly can. We want the kids to keep fighting. We said you can not have the season you want, but you can't ever quit. If you quit, what an awful message to you in the rest of your life - I don't see them doing that. I thought they were great in the meeting yesterday. They understand that Oklahoma State is a great team. We did play better. We'd have won a lot of other games if we'd have played as well as we did at times on Saturday night. They understand who we are and what we have to get accomplished. I've been really impressed with these kids. They've handled a very difficult situation about as well as you can handle it, I think, since Iowa State.
On the team's desire to get to a bowl game: There is no question. This would be the first time in our thirteen years that we haven't been, and they don't want to be the team not to go. That is why I think they'll keep fighting and fight hard, and they know they can't go to a bowl without Saturday. So if they get Saturday, they have to play well to do that, because it is hard to get it clipped when things aren't going well. They're continuing to try, and they know they have another chance to get it fixed with a short week after that.
On Tre' Newton's career coming to an end: Nate [Newton] and mom came down and talked to our doctors on Saturday afternoon, and they're obviously disappointed, but the health of the young man is much more important than a football game. And no one other than Nate and mom would understand that better, because Nate has seen a lot of injuries in football carry over. But at the same time, what our team and staff is having to deal with right now, is we've been able to deal with the highs of college football for 12 years. That is all we've dealt with. Right now, we're dealing with the tough times - the lows - and you have to be able to deal with those too. You just have to keep your head up when you are out front, and Blaine Irby's injury that cost him a chance to play. For Tre', I remember looking at Tony Hills break his leg at Texas Tech, when he was getting ready for the draft. I remember Cedric Benson, he had the knee injury, that wasn't awful, but he hyperextended his knee in the Rose Bowl against Michigan. I was thinking he shouldn't continue to play, but the doctors told him he hyperextended his knee, but he was a first-round draft choice. So he went out there, plays, fights and competes. So, guys want to play, and it is really important to them to play. And the message I want to give from Tre's standpoint - because it will be harder for him to give it today - is that he wants to play. He didn't decide not to play. This is a medical decision where he really doesn't have a choice to continue. He will be very disappointed, but we also felt like it is important to hear that from him, because we are limited in what we can say. And now modern day football, there are so many rumors out there, so we thought it would be best for him to tell you the facts instead of letting everybody decide what the facts are.
On Tre's status with the team: He will stay on scholarship. He will obviously apply for a medical and get it. What we do on this is we have some good young running backs here and some coming in, so we want him to help us coach them. Vondrell McGee came in and helped us in that area this year. He has stepped up and helped the young ones and been at practice a lot. And we think Tre' can add a whole lot to us. He is also a great student, so I'm sure [Associate Athletics Director of Student Services] Brian Davis can use him some in the academic center as well.
On if he ever thought he would have a season like this after his 1998 season: The answer would be no. But being practical in coaching, it happens all the time. This is not something that is going to last. To my estimation, we should have won three or four more games than we have, and we should have been 7-3 right now instead of 4-6. And that is on us as coaches. People want you to say it's on you, and they say, "Well why don't you do something about it?" But that is our job as coaches. And what is confusing is that this same coaching staff for the last two years has had a chance to play for the national championship, and played for one. They're good coaches. They're good people, and they're trying really hard. And they're not happy - they're not happy that Texas isn't winning. It is not fair to our coaches, and it is not fair to our administration. You get more grief when you lose than you get credit when you win, and that is not fair. And our guys understand that. I'm proud of our staff. They understand where it is. They understand it's not good for Texas, and it is not what we should have here. They're like me. We all are constantly looking for why, and what we could have done to stop it. But what we can do to fix it is more important than what happened, and that is the thing that matters. Some people have asked me, "Are your coaches still recruiting?" I email every kid every week, and our coaches call every kid every week. We're working our tails off. We want to make sure we're back on track next year.
On if this season has been tough emotionally: It is really tiring during the season when you win. So losing is awful. At the end of the season, coaches usually get sick because they didn't have a chance to get sick during the season. I've never missed a practice because of sickness in 37 years, because you just don't. I've been sick, but I've never missed a practice. That's what gets me is, when a trainer tells me a player has a headache, I say, "Yeah, me too." He's tired. He has a little virus - well, me too. I do think there is no question it makes you want to fight and get it fixed and fixed fast. I want to see those kids happy in the dressing room, and I haven't seen it in a while. When you are responsible for something, you are not as happy. You are not as fulfilled, so you want to get it fixed. So that is our job right now.
On if he has looked back throughout the season to try to find what is going wrong: I ask for input from coaches to see what they think. Not as much like you guys. I don't go back and see all the possible things that could have been wrong in the past 13 years, but trying to figure out exactly what is good and what is not good. And for what is not good, instead of trying to figure out how it got that way, we figure out how to fix it. Everything is about fixing it and moving forward instead of blaming. The only reason to look back is to see if something happened that could have changed - can you make sure it doesn't happen again. And that is what you try to do. As I said, there are a lot of positive things going on with the program. Everyone cares about the academic program and graduation rate when you're winning. But no one is asking me this year. It's not as important. Everybody wants your kids to stay out of trouble, and these kids have done everything we asked them to do. We haven't had any missed meetings. None of the normal problems that you would think would come from a season like this have popped up with us. So I'm really proud of those kids, and I'm proud of what they're doing. By and large, I've made a statement that twice I thought we didn't think we played as hard as we needed to, and with as much passion. But the rest of it we have. I thought the kids have tried. So, obviously, we have to keep doing everything we can to figure out how to win two games. And then basically, you can start over. And that is what I've told the kids. Hang in there for two weeks, and lets do everything we can do as a group in this room to win two games. And after that, it is our job to look at the whole picture. But until we do that, it is about winning Saturday.
On seeing the kids happy after the game: That is the most important thing to me. I want to see the kids happy in that dressing room. They've worked too hard. This group of kids has worked like the rest of ours. It is a shame they haven't been able to reap the same benefits. I'm so proud of the seniors. Everyone beats them up, and there aren't many of them. Only six played much on Saturday, three on each side of the ball. But it is not their fault or responsibility. They're trying hard. I have seen those seniors give speeches and shout, and push and shove. So again, the responsibility is mine, not on any of those kids. I'd like to see them happy.