Nov. 30, 2011
Co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Major Applewhite
On using noise simulation in preparation with the offense: Whenever we play on the road we make sure during some offensive periods we’ll turn it up and turn it down to simulate the opposing team.
On wanting to slow down Baylor’s offense: It’s kind of that Texas Tech theory when they’re throwing around a whole bunch and scoring a ton of points. Taking care of the ball is obviously number one. So you can maintain possession. Long drives. Take as much time off the clock as you can. Those are important because they’re an explosive offense. Those are some things we’ll talk about. Then obviously there are some things schematically that we’ll do. But obviously you want to keep the ball out of [Baylor’s QB] Robert [Griffin III’s] hands.
On the emotions he felt after winning at Texas A&M last weekend: Relief. I know that meant a lot to a lot of people on both sides. So there was a sense of relief after it was over. I felt very fortunate because we didn’t play very well on offense at all. So I felt fortunate that our defense and special teams kept us in there. Then we made enough plays on that last drive offensively to win the ball game. So I’m happy for the guys. This will be a memory that those kids will have for the rest of their lives. That they were the last team to beat A&M. So happy and relieved. At the same time it was a little weird. Because now all of a sudden you’ve still got a game left. For those who have been here for a while, you’ve always ended it with that one. But everybody was just extremely happy to win in their place.
On freshman CB Quandre Diggs: Quandre has always, from the moment I first met him - I guess he was six-seven years old - so from the time I met him in first or second grade he’s always had a football in his hand. Always had the latest stats. The latest Sportscenter highlights. He’s always been a gym rat. And he’s continued to be that way as he’s grown up. He’s got an infectious attitude. A lot of energy and enthusiasm. He’s a guy that’s a straight baller. He just loves football and loves to play sports. It doesn’t matter what it is. At seven years old he was trying to play me on [at video games]. He’s always been about sports. Trying to get [older brother and former Longhorn] Quentin [Jammer] and I out of the apartment. Throw the ball around with him. He’s always been obsessed with it. And I think those are the types of guys that are ultimately the best at the sport.
On if they could use Diggs as part of the wildcat package: He plays so many snaps when it comes to punt returns, kick returns, defense. We’ve got to look at that and be smart. At the same time, we’re trying to get our best players out there. We’ve just got to look and balance that. There’s maybe certain games that lend themselves to that. And certain games that don’t lend themselves to that. So it’s something we’ve looked into.
On Diggs taking on such a big role as a freshman: I think for a freshman to play in the secondary is tough. There’s no doubt. You’re out an on island out there by yourself. And when [defensive coordinator] Manny [Diaz] asks him to play man-to-man it can be a little intimidating I’m sure. Going against some of the junior and senior receivers in this conference. But he’s done a great job. He’s never considered himself an underdog. He’s never considered himself undersized. He’s one of those 5’9 guys that plays 9’5”. He’s a football player. He’s one of those guys that when you meet him you just go, “That guy’s a good player.” He talks it. He breathes it. He sleeps it.
On Diggs having a unique role as a freshman CB and punt returner: He wants to be on the field. So he does whatever his coach asks him to do. Regardless of if it’s [assistant head coach/defensive backs coach] Duane [Akina], or me on kickoff returns. He does exactly what the coaches ask him to do. He loves football. He has a tremendous amount of self-pride. So he doesn’t want to let himself down or the other teammates down. So he gives it his all. Listening to the coaches and his athletic ability combines into a great player. And then when a guy’s like that, when he listens to you, when he does what multiple coaches tell him to do, he’s just a guy that you trust. Because he’s got so much pride in his job. So you say, “That guy. I trust him to go out there on the field and field that ball.”
Assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Duane Akina
On Baylor QB Robert Griffin III: He’s been so productive. It’s hard to find guys with those kinds of legs that can throw the ball like that. Where he’s unique is throwing the ball vertically. Their formations force you to defend the field horizontally but their speed forces you to defend the field vertically. He’s outstanding. What the staff does up there, they give him the chance to be successful. They’re well coached, not only the quarterback but the receiving corps is a well coached group across the board. You’re seeing this across the conference. Like I’ve been saying all season, [players] generating great numbers. We have to do a good job keeping the ball in front of us.
On Baylor WR Kendall Wright: They do move him around. You can’t really get a bead on where he’s going to be. They are constantly looking for a match up, like a lot of good offenses do that have that kind of a weapon. He’s well coached, and they get a lot of chances. They’re on the field quite a bit.
On the smaller stature of the Baylor wide receivers: They’re smaller, but they can really run. It’s a little bit out of the old run and shoot concept. It doesn’t matter how big they are. They do a nice job of really making you defend the whole field. That’s the biggest thing with them.
On the spread offense: I think it’s the kind of thing that comes in waves. It’s become attractive to a lot of universities to open it up. It’s an exciting brand of football that generates a lot of offense, and I think that’s what fans like to see.
On his expectations for CB Quandre Diggs this season: I was hoping he would come in and provide depth. He’s really grown very quickly. You never really know when an incoming freshman comes in how he will absorb the game mentally because there’s much more schematics than they’ve been used to. How will the handle the speed of the game? Because everything is much quicker. How will they handle the physical side? Everything is faster, bigger, stronger. Will he be intimidated by all of that? Everything is louder, bigger, the noises are louder. He’s really grown up in a high profile football family. His brother is a defensive back, an eleven-year NFL veteran who has taken him [Quandre] under his wing. So he has been around high quality football. So he knows how to prepare. He knows how to train in the off-season. He’s worked out with the best in the world, so he’s not intimidated by anything. For him to come in and learn as quickly as he has is really something.
On there being another freshman he can think of that has had as many responsibilities as Diggs: There really has not been one here since I’ve been here. When you consider the returning skills, kickoff, punts. We’ve asked him to wear a lot of hats. He just started off as a back up corner. He showed he could do that. He trots out as punt returner and shows he can do that. We put him as kick returner and we get the same result. You just keep adding more and more and he seems to be handling it all. All of this on top of him being a very productive defensive player in a very explosive offensive conference.
On the defensive backs having surpassed his expectations: I thought we had a chance at being good, I really did. With the younger guys as our wildcards like Quandre and Carrington [Byndom], you always feel like they are going to make a move forward. But when you consider how we’re talking about Quandre now, we really could have been saying about Adrian [Phillips] and Carrington last year. They just didn’t have any opportunities because they had three NFL corners in front of them. You knew they had some stuff about them, and how they worked in the off season you knew they had something. You like the fact that football is important to these guys. They prepared, not only physically by running and lifting, but they also prepared mentally, too. A lot of credit can go to [S] Blake Gideon who was a real soldier and a leader in that group who took the young guys under his wing and did a great job. That’s what makes that DB room great. There are just so many great stories with the guys who have been in there before. Blake and [S] Kenny Vaccaro are a big part of it. Everybody has improved, and as a coach that is what you’re hoping for.
On defending the Baylor WRs: I think both of us [Baylor and Texas] are the same way. We’re always looking for some matchup. They’re looking for matchups and we’re looking to stay out of those matchups. It’s going to be a situation where we’ll look at where they are going, where are they putting their people. They have really outstanding receivers and we can pick and choose. When you have guys that are averaging 18 yards per catch, 16 yards per catch, 15 yards per catch, those are phenomenal numbers across the board. I’m not sure which one we should match up with at times. So I think we just have to get in, we have to play, make sure we do a good job disguising our pre snap looks. Make them have to see the game on the run. We have to understand that they’re going to make some plays. They’ve done it all year. We can’t get impatient, and we just have to keep swinging. They’re going to land some jabs. We just have to land the knockout punch.
On playing Quandre Diggs on offense: There’s a discussion with that. I like recruiting athletes. I like recruiting football players. I think something in the evaluation process that you have to look at more is ball skills, guys that can play the ball in flight. With as much as offenses are throwing the football now, that is a real skill that you have to have back there. You saw how it worked out last week with Carrington being able to flip the game. Carrington was able to understand that to start the drive there was a slant, and when he saw it again he did great job of adjusting to it. That’s where he has really improved his games.They’re all really learning offenses, which I think is so big. I think that offensive players are important to have in the secondary because you have to be able to finish plays.
On his feelings about his secondary after the game against Texas A&M: You always feel good when you see how much these guys have invested and how hard they have worked. Everyone knew what was at stake in that game. It was a big one. For them to come out and play well and to celebrate in that locker room, that’s one of the real joys of this profession. It keeps you young when you see a lot of guys being overrun with emotion like that, knowing that for a long time they will be talked about. They were part of history.