Nov. 28, 2011
Opening statement: It was an unbelievable game with the Aggies on Thursday night. Really proud of so many things that the team did, but number one, the way they fought. The heart and the confidence they played with throughout the game until the final play. They just kept fighting to come from behind and find a way to win, which is what you want out of your football team. And the game reminded me of all the come from behind wins we've had at Texas in our 14 years, and we haven't done that in a couple of years. So it should give us great confidence going into the game on Saturday.
You have to give the Aggie fans credit. It was so loud, our guys couldn't hear. It was disruptive throughout the game, so it is a great fan base and one that helps their football team a lot when they play at home.
Defensively the things we did well: We handled the A&M running game. We won most of the one on one situations in man coverage outside, which really helped us on third downs. They had been so good to [A&M WR] Ryan Swope on third down, and we pretty much kept him from converting the third down, so we were successful on 12 of those 17. And then we created three turnovers with interceptions that all led to points with our defense. Really, really proud that we're starting to create so much more pressure with our front four than we did early in the year. Not only the defensive ends are creating pressure but the defensive tackles, as well.
I thought the stop on the twopoint play was huge. It changed momentum. It gave us a chance to win the ballgame with a field goal instead of having to try to get a score to win the game or a field goal to go into overtime because in our 14 years here we've still never been in an overtime game. In fact, in my 27 years as a coach I've never been in an overtime game. So that was something that gave us an opportunity and a window to go ahead and win the game.
Things that we need to do better: We started poorly. Sitting there and letting them drive down and get the 13 points very quickly was very difficult. They had the wind. You go back and look at the Missouri game and you look at this game, wind was a huge factor in both situations, and you'd better score when you have the wind. But we started poorly. We did make a critical mistake on the last drive of the game that led to points, and we did still give up a third down and 21 while they were going into the wind which changed field position. And field position was such an important part of this ballgame.
[CB]Quandre Diggs, the Ball Hawk [award]. Quandre Diggs had an interception that led to three points. [CB] Carrington Byndom, who was the Big 12 defensive player of the week, had the interception for the touchdown, and that was so key because it changed momentum. We kicked off to them. We stopped them. They had a penalty. We take them back to the 10 yard line but they're coming out with a 167 lead starting to get the momentum back to start the third quarter where they've had some problems, and I thought Carrington's turnover really put doubt in their mind and helped our guys move forward. [S] Kenny Vaccaro had a tremendous interception over on our boundary, getting his foot down, which led to seven points, as well, and [DT] Ashton Dorsey caused one of those interceptions.
The Hard Hat award went to [LB] Keenan Robinson. I don't think I've ever seen him play harder. He was all over the field and knocking people out and played with passion and emotion and it's even more amazing to see how he's done against Kansas State and Texas A&M with the hurt thumb. That just shows you how tough he is and how important that game was to him.
Player of the game was Carrington Byndom. He played well throughout the night. He had a very difficult task with [A&M WR] Jeff Fuller, who's probably a No. 1 draft pick. And we thought he lived up to the task, played up to the task very well.
Offensively, things we did well: You have to start with the last drive. We were in that same position against Kansas State a week before and didn't get it done, so we put a lot of emphasis on it last week. It's something we've always done well, and that is to score right before the half and score at the end of the ballgame. So as disappointed as we were at Kansas State, we were so excited that Case took us down and took care of the ball, and not only threw the passes when they were dropping with a three man rush, but when they came with a blitz saw the crease and ran it down to set up the last second field goal. And obviously the offensive guys played until the end. They didn't get discouraged, even though they were backed up so much of the game inside their own 20 into the wind, and then didn't turn the ball over on our end of the field. And they also scored points when the defense created good field position for them, and all of those things are things that we haven't been doing as well in the past few weeks.
Things that the offense needed to improve: We thought the running game. We had our opportunities. We made some good runs, but we didn't take over the game in the running game, and that's something we felt like that we should and could be able to do, and so we were disappointed there. Therefore we had long yardage third down situations, and we didn't convert like we should. We still had the two turnovers even though both of them were on our ends of the field, but both of those turnovers had chances to be big plays. And [TE] Blaine's [Irby] fumble, we miss a block but we've got a big first down, going down to get points. And on the reverse pass by [WR Miles] Onyegbule, [WR] Mike Davis would have been wide open and he slipped. Both of those really, really hurt us. And we had poor field position into the wind all day and didn't get the ball out. You've got to be able to run the ball into the wind when you're on the road in a tough environment like that. We weren't able to do that.
Bevo Beast award, best offensive lineman for the game, was David Snow. Again, he continues to play well and play like the senior leader he is. Most valuable player on the offense was [QB] Case McCoy. We're very, very proud of the way he played during this ballgame, and he will be the starting quarterback on Saturday in Waco against Baylor.
Special teams. We felt like we had to win special teams in this game and you go back and look at our wins over the Aggies, and most of them have been driven by special teams play. In fact, [assistant head coach/defensive backs coach] Duane Akina had all the clips where we blocked a punt or returned a punt or returned a kickoff against the Aggies to win the game right before the game for our team to watch - our special teams - and there's some great plays in there, and they just keep coming up.
The kickoff coverage. We had five kickoffs that we covered. All were good. We had one touchback. All were good except the one, and into the wind again. It changed field position. They returned the ball for 40 yards. But we had three guys with tackles inside the 25yard line - [LB] Kendall Thompson, [LB]Tevin Jackson and [DB] A.J. White. And then [LB]Demarco Cobbs, Cobbs got a tackle inside the 15. So the starting yard line for A&M was the 21, which is great for us, and that did help us with field position. We just lost the one time where they brought it back to their boundary.
Kickoff return was very average. In fact, average to poor. Our starting field position was the 23yard line, and again, when they're kicking off into the wind I mean, they're kicking off with the wind and give you an opportunity to get good field position into the wind, you've got to take advantage of that, and we didn't do it well at all. So that's an area that we haven't done as well since Fozzy has come out. We've got to go back and find our niche again and do a better job in that area.
Punt team, they didn't do very well. The punts were short into the wind. We couldn't get off the goal line, but [FB] Jamison Berryhill did. There was a turnover created that led to early points, and that was by our punt team. So they did come up with a scoring opportunity.
Punt block and return. Quandre Diggs and the punt return team did a tremendous job, two returns for 95 yards, 47.5 yards per average, and the 81yarder that led to points. It was huge for us, again, when we had the wind and got us in a position to score points in that third quarter.
Extra point and field goal team. Really proud of them. A&M blocked a field goal against Texas Tech and ran it back for a touchdown. So there were no guarantees that we would make the kick at the end, but Justin made a 23yarder and a 40yarder to win the game, which goes into the great moments in Texas football history when you win on the last play of the game. And we've had some of those moments around here in our 14 years, and none of them any better than that one.
Everyone should be ready to play from a physical standpoint on Saturday. Again, we're sitting here on Monday, so they have five, six days to prepare. So we can't be 100 percent, but [head football trainer] Kenny Boyd thought that everyone who is scheduled to play should be able to play.
I was really, really proud of our Longhorn band in 1999 when they had a great halftime show playing "Amazing Grace" in that stadium. It was a touching moment for all of us when we lost those 12 young people in the bonfire [accident], and I saw the TV copy on Saturday, and I thought "Thanks For the Memories" was a classy and fitting way for our band to end the series over there. And I'm really, really proud of them. Our band is so great and they follow us so much and they're always with us on the road, and they just are a tremendous group of young people that give us great spirit. And we're very, very proud of what they stand for.
I also want to brag on the A&M fans and their coaches and their players. The game was clean. There wasn't a lot of mouthing. I thought their fans treated our football team and our coaches and our staff with a lot of class. I thought it was very similar to the Nebraska situation, which could have been really tough last year. Maybe the last game ever, team leaving the conference, especially with the emotion we've had in Nebraska games and the emotion we've had in the Texas A&M games. And give them credit. Everything was handled first class from start to finish.
The Baylor game is unusual because it's not a championship game, but it is after the A & M game. And it'll be something we'll have to get used to now for the future, but it is on championship weekend. We gave our guys a 72hour rule this weekend, not 24, and you all will extend that a little bit. But we did ask them to watch the BaylorTexas Tech game this weekend. That was their assignment. Get a scouting report and try to figure out what they need to do to win the ballgame. So I think all of them did that. You have to start by looking at the job that [Baylor head coach] Art Briles has done. He's done a tremendous job. Their team is led by [QB] Robert Griffin. The guy is just a phenomenal player. He's a guy like three or four other guys in this league that are up for the Heisman this year. They've had six games of 600plus yards, and that's just phenomenal. You start looking at he can beat you with his arm or he can beat you with his feet. He's thrown 34 touchdown passes. He's averaged 35.9 yards per touchdown pass, which is just a phenomenal stat.
I was talking to [defensive coordinator/linebackers coach] Manny [Diaz] this morning. He said, “I've never seen this many deep passes for touchdown. You look at the highlight reel and it's just over and over and over again.” But he's [Griffin] tough, he's smart, and he can also beat you with his feet. And [WR] Kendall Wright may be the best receiver in the country. They've got an outstanding receiving corps, but that guy just time and time again - he gets hit, he's tough, he runs the ball well on screens - but he also has the speed to beat you, and he can make plays happen in the open field.
They're No. 1 in passing efficiency in the country. They're No. 2 in total offense, so for the second week in a row we'll play a top five offense. With their defense they're No. 5 in passing offense. They're No. 6 in scoring offense, 40something points a game. They're 17th in rushing offense. [RB] Terrance Ganaway is a big 235pound guy that makes a lot of yards, so they can run the ball as well as throw it. And third down efficiency they're No. 28 in the country, and they've got a very good offensive line with two seniors and two juniors and an older group that's been together.
Their defensive stats are skewed some because they score so fast. Their defense is out on the field so much, so it's like Oklahoma State, when you looked at their defense. Their defense didn't get the credit because they were in a situation that they played so much, but they forced a lot of turnovers. [Baylor defensive coordinator] Phil Bennett is one of the best football coaches in America, and he's done an outstanding job with their defense. So it should be a great finish to championship weekend.
With the realignment stuff we're all learning that traditional things are changing here, and we're having to deal with it, and it's here forever, so we'll just have to continue to work to put these things in place.
This is the most successful season since the early '90s for Baylor. It's the first time they'll go to backtoback bowls since 1992. So we used to have to worry about being excited about playing Baylor and trying to come up with little things that would get our guys ready and get their minds ready, but you don't have to do that anymore. Baylor has done a great job, and they're a really good football team.
We want to encourage our crowd to buy as many tickets as you can. We've played well in Waco. We've had outstanding crowds when we've gone up there, and we need a great crowd on Saturday, as well.
I'm very proud of the Big 12. Six teams in the BCS standings going into the final week of the season, and it just shows you the power of this conference. Only Missouri in that six will be leaving, so there will be a lot of great football ahead for the Big 12. Questions?
On coming off an emotional game: Well, we had a very emotional game with Kansas State, and then we had another emotional game with A&M. I didn't think we had the same intensity out at Missouri, and that scared us. But I think because Baylor is good, because Robert Griffin is trying to win the Heisman against Texas, because they're scoring so many points, they're playing hard on defense, and this team wants to win, we've got a chance to win our eighth game now. And we had our chances against Missouri, we had our chances against Kansas State. The early ones, we said, we can't get those back, but this team is improving each week, and I think this will be a good benchmark for us to finish this weekend and see how we finish the season. We said we would be a team that had a strong learning curve, and we had to get much better at the end of the year than we were at the beginning, and I think that's happening. We're a much better team now than we were against Rice per se, and we need to finish strong, lead into our bowl game and get a good start before next week.
On the win against Texas A&M: We told them in the dressing room, this is an exciting win, a fun win and important for our school, so enjoy it for 72 hours. We did say take the weekend and gloat over it and enjoy it and feel good about it. When you get back on Sunday, let's go to Baylor. Let's forget it now, and let's move forward. There's so many things we can fix, especially offensively. We haven't even played as well offensively as we can, and it's time for us to this weekend. There's a whole lot of things they still need to prove.
On S Blake Gideon starting 50 games: It's hard to start as a freshman at the University of Texas, and he was able to do that as a true freshman along with redshirt freshman Earl Thomas, so it's hard to do that. It's hard to maintain the focus he has for 50 games. And it's also hard to stay healthy, and he's a big hitter. He's in a hitting position at safety. We've got to give Blake all the credit in the world. It would be interesting to see how many defensive backs at Texas ever started every game in their career at Texas.
On Blake Gideon’s leadership qualities: He's smart. He's tough. He loves football. He's passionate about it. The terms “coach's kid,” “coach's child” fit him perfectly because he's a gym rat. He's in there studying every minute of every day to try to make sure we have the best advantage we can, and what Duane Akina has always said is we'll lose a great coach back in that secondary. He's helped those young corners line up, and he just knows what's going on out there and just has a great presence.
On the Baylor running game: When you've got Ganaway at 235 pounds and Robert Griffin, who's big, strong and a track star, he's so fast that gives them the ability to run the dive, gives them the ability to run the option. They can run draws. But Robert can run quarterback draws, and then you've got his ability to scramble. So it's really a difficult thing now that they're twodimensional. The fact that they're 17th in the country in rushing is overlooked, and that's a tremendous factor. I was talking to Manny this morning about trying to game plan them, and he said they're one of the few teams in this league that can do both [those things] well.
On Baylor’s offensive depth: Yes, they've got two quarterbacks that are older and have been around, and that's hard to do anymore. Most quarterbacks transfer if they're not playing. That's been our problem. It's hard for us to get two older ones. In fact, we played three this year. But it is a factor for them, and I thought he [QB Nick Florence] came in Saturday and did a really good job against Tech. We played against him and knew he was a good football player.
On naming Case McCoy the starter this week: David [Ash] will still play some and we'll still bring him in for his packages, but Bryan and I both thought talking about it last night that he earned the right. Throughout that game he played well. He did not turn the ball over, which was key to the ballgame, and at the same time, he made the plays to help us win the game, especially on the last drive.
On the significance of turnovers: Well, it's critical. We beat Kansas State if we don't have two turnovers and two turnovers on our end of the field, and the two turnovers Saturday night were on the other end of the field. So it made it where it was an advantage for Texas A&M. So in our estimation, it's not only the turnovers but it's where the turnovers occur and do they lead to points, and Kansas State's did. Saturday night the two turnovers kept us from scoring, but they did not lead to points, and none of those turnovers were in the second half when we got hot. We felt like we missed scoring opportunities with Blaine's fumble. We felt like we obviously missed a scoring opportunity with the interception on the reverse pass, and then we felt like we blew a situation right before the half where we could have gotten points. We left six to 14 points, maybe 17 points off the scoreboard in the first half.
On the defensive line: Yes, I'm so proud of our front four right now. I'm not sure we've ever gotten this much pressure out of all four of them, and we're playing with tremendous depth there, too. So I'm excited about that. It gives our secondary hope now. They don't have to hang on forever back there and we can play more man coverage and we're able to blitz less, and when they do blitz it's more of a surprise. So we're making bigger plays with our blitz. All of that right now is really helping our football team.
On WR Jaxon Shipley: Jaxon, just his presence for being on the field. He's such a cool customer. He got us started with the first catch that Case threw on the little sprint throwback, and that was an outstanding play, and he's so cool with his throw to Blaine in the end zone. He hadn't practiced in four weeks and goes out there and acts like he's a quarterback. He's a guy that just needs to be on the field for us, and he came out of the game no worse than going in, so hopefully he'll even be better this weekend at Baylor.
On the offensive progression: We feel like we've been banged up at receiver. We've had really some bad luck at running back, so all the guys have been hurt, and our quarterbacks continue to develop. So hopefully the running backs will be well this weekend. You'd hope that your receivers are getting more well than they were. Davis has had a strained hip. Marquise Goodwin has had a sprained ankle. Jaxon hasn't even played, so we haven't been at full strength offensively, and now that Case has got a full game under his belt with confidence, he should be more ready than ever to come in and play this weekend. And he can help us maybe throw the ball better.
On different players wearing Fozzy Whittaker’s number: What a tribute for Kenny Vaccaro to ask to wear it last week. And then the reason we split it up is Marquise had asked about the same time. What a tribute to their fallen senior player that they wanted to send that message not only to him but to our team and everybody else. We felt like on Senior Day when Kenny wanted to wear it that Fozzy should wear it. Fozzy is really excited about it, and we thought it was neat that one defensive player and one offensive player, both juniors, decided that they would honor the senior. And I think it's a fitting way for Fozzy to go to Waco for his last game.
On PK/P Justin Tucker: Yes, Justin is very confident, and he makes those kicks every day. I should have told him he can't keep wearing those shoes unless you make the kick, but I didn't. He had enough pressure at the time, but there was absolutely no doubt in my mind or anyone in our sideline's mind that he was going to make it because we have lastsecond kicks every day in practice. We usually run them on the field and make them kick the ball without having time to even prepare, and this one [RB] Cody [Johnson] got it perfectly in the middle. There was not enough wind to affect a 40yard field goal, and there was no doubt. What we were concerned about is the front because they had blocked the kick at Texas Tech, and [offensive line coach] Stacy Searels did a super job of telling those guys, “Hey, you just grind and hang in there now, we've got to have enough time.” And then [holder] Cade McCrary - our snaps and holds have been good all year - and I asked Cade after the game, “Were you nervous?” And he said, “Scared to death.” I said, “I'm glad you didn't tell me.” But those guys were prepared for that moment, and for that team - we call it “automatic” - Stacy told them before they went out there, there's a reason you're called “automatic.” That's what you do, because when we need the field goal, you've got to get it. I think that that'll make their year because to have a chance to make a kick like that and that entire team have a chance to give him the opportunity to make that kick is a special moment in those young guys' lives. And they'll remember that kick for the rest of their lives, whether it's Hunter's [Lawrence] against Nebraska or Ryan Bailey's at Nebraska. It was Ryan Bailey at Oklahoma State. Dusty Mangum at Michigan. Kris Stockton at Iowa State. There's been a bunch of those. We just try to get them down there as close as we can.
On the significance of getting an eighth win: Our goal would be to get nine, and we're still on the brick by brick. So it's really important that we get the eighth win this weekend, because it would finish with strong momentum. We thought we had great momentum coming after Oklahoma State and then we stubbed our toe at Missouri and didn't win at Kansas State in a game we had chances to win. So we really felt like A&M was so critical to get us back on track here to finish, and now Baylor is just like A&M. It's a great opponent that is rated higher than we are that's in the BCS, that's on the road. I think for a team that's starting over to win on the road is even bigger than winning at home, and to win like we did in that setting Thursday night should give us great confidence going to Baylor.
On Baylor QB Robert Griffin III: I would compare him to what Colt and Vince did for us because when you got the guy under the center that we have to try to stop, he is the dominant player they have. Now they've got some really good ones around him, but he is the focal point. He's their confidence. He's their heartbeat. When he walks in that huddle they all believe that they're going to win the game, and that's something that that culture has changed. That wasn't that way at Baylor since we've been here until really last year, and it started his freshman year. Then he got hurt the other year, and they didn't do as well. He's come back last year and played great, and he's doing the same thing again this year. What he does, he gives them a chance every game to win, and he gives them a chance even if they're behind to come back and win every game. I mean, that's just who it is. And you also look at what they've done. Their three losses have been on the road, so they've played much better in Waco other than they have on the road. But he's a great football player. He's as good as quarterback as anybody in country.
On watching the final drive against A&M: I really thought that when they missed the field goal, we'd win. I was so disappointed that we didn't beat Kansas State in the end because that's who we've been. That's the moment we've lived for around here. When we had the pretty good kickoff return by Quandre. Usually in your mind if you make the first first down in that last drive before the half or before the end of the game, then you're going to win the game, and we made the first but we lined up wrong, which we couldn't do. That was a killer, to start the drive. Then we got the penalty, and then after that it was really interesting to watch. I thought [A&M defeinsive coordinator] Coach [Tim] DeRuyter did a really good job. He was going to make Case beat him throwing, and then there was a threeman rush twice and Case hit the two passes really quickly. When he hit [WR]Miles Onyegbule down the sideline on the left side, we're at the 50, we've got two timeouts in our pocket with an eternity, and I thought we'd win the game because I know Justin is such a good kicker. We could have stretched him probably to the 33. And then when Case started and he had [RB] Jeremy Hills as a lead blocker for him, I thought he did really great when he got knocked around kind of like a pingpong ball at the end there. I was screaming, “Get down, please,” because we'd like to have the ball, so he didn't slide. But I'm sure he was having trouble exactly figuring out where he was, and where he came down might be where the field goal was kicked from. And then we tried the one little speed sweep into the boundary with Marquise because we thought we'd get it out of bounds probably regardless or we might score. And then at the end we said, “We've got a great kicker. This team has been really strong for us, let's put Cody in and send him right up the middle.” Maybe he squirts it and gets it down. Cody has never fumbled the ball. He's got really good ball security. But let's get it right in the middle of the field and kill the clock. We feel like three seconds is what you need at the end. So we wanted to go down and leave nothing for them at all and put it on Justin and that “automatic” team for the last play of the game. As I said, when we stopped the twopoint play, the kids on the sideline really took momentum from that and said, now we can win. Let's go win. That used to happen all the time with Colt and with Vince, and I'm really glad that it happened with Case. That should really be a great confidence builder for him, and especially [since] he's watched his brother play A&M through the years. That had to be a special moment for him being a young Texan growing up sitting in the stands watching his brother play A&M for the four years that Colt played them, as well.