Dec. 15, 2011
Opening Statement: We were talking this morning as a staff. Bowl season is probably the busiest time for our coaches. They're up at the office at 6:30 in the morning. We practice. We meet. We practice. We run out and have a staff meeting right after practice, and then they hop in planes or hop in cars and go out recruitin. Then they get back at midnight and start the process over. It's a fun time, one that we missed last year that we don't ever want to miss again. It's a very important time, but it's a very, very busy time.
We're practicing in the morning and headed out in the afternoon, like I said. You've usually got about 13 to 15 Bowl practices, and they are so very important because you only have 15 spring practice sessions. And there are really no rules for time that you can meet in the Bowls. There's not a limited number of practices in the Bowls. There's not a limited number of time that you can practice in each day. So it is a time that you can get a lot done.
You start looking at what you get out of Bowl practice philosophically. Number one, you want to work your young guys, and you get a spring practice in. We've got so many young guys playing. It's not as valuable that we work them separately as it normally would be because 18 of our 22 freshmen are playing. But some young guys that have been on the second team or the third team are getting a lot of extra work, especially while we're here.
You do your really physical work here before you go out to San Diego. It's more like a spring practice. You have inside drill. You're in pads. You're very physical. You work hard on your running game, and then when you get to the Bowl site, you're working more on your game plan. You're cleaning things up and trying to make sure that you're fresh and excited and ready to go for your Bowl game.
One of the problems with Bowl games is you're at the zoo one afternoon, and they're walking all the time. They're playing their video games there in the hotel and the next day you've got Sea World and the next day there's a luncheon. If you're not careful, you practice hard in the morning and you stay on your feet all afternoon and you're exhausted by Bowl time, especially with a team that's young. A lot of these guys have never been to a Bowl. So we're having the older guys talk to them. I think maybe five to seven guys that are redshirted seniors were at the Holiday Bowl when we played Arizona State, so they can give them a little idea of what to look forward to.
We'll practice from now until December 20th, send them home for the 21st and the 22nd and they'll have their Christmas. The 23rd they'll meet us out there, and then we will practice for the week of the game.On Christmas morning, for example, we will practice, and then they'll go to the zoo that afternoon and then we'll have a special dinner celebration for them and have a Santa Claus and some Christmas stuff for them that night. And then the next day they'll go right back to work. So the Christmas that they will have will either have to be on the 23rd or 22nd before they leave, or it'll be on the 29th after they get back home with their families.
After the game, they'll spend the night because it is a night game, and then they'll go home immediately on their own the next morning, and then they'll come back to school the January 16th to start classes on the 17th, and then we start spring practice February 24th. So there's a real quick turnaround for them to get us right back to work. Coaches will go back and start recruiting on January 2nd. There's some dead periods around Christmas and the holidays, then you've got four or five days you can recruit, then there's more dead periods around the convention. So it's a time where you can get some things done in recruiting but you have to back off two or three times.
This is our fifth trip in our 14 years to the Holiday Bowl. We're 2 and 2. Three of the games have come down to eight points or less, so they've been really, really close ballgames. We've averaged 40 points a game in the Holiday Bowl, so they've been exciting games and high scoring games.
Major Applewhite was inducted into their Hall of Fame last year. We're very, very proud of that, and that was for his 19point comefrombehind victory against Washington where we beat them 47 to 43 and at that time was the largest comeback in our school history. We do have a future home and home with Cal. I'm not sure where we play first, but in 2015 and 2016 we do have a series coming up with Cal that was scheduled before all of the conference realignment talk even started a few years back.
As you know, [TE] Blaine Irby came to me yesterday and we had a long talk and a good talk and talked about his future and what he wanted to do. Would he apply for a sixth year because you have to wait until after your season to do that, and that would have come up in the next week or two. Blaine and his family have decided that he will not continue to play, that this will be his last game. And I told him, number one, what a miracle he has become for all of us because from what I heard from the doctors, my goal for him would have been to be able to play with his children in the backyard. And then when he thought about playing, I said, well, he'll never get to start, but maybe he can participate. Maybe we can get him to be on the punt team or something, and all of a sudden he starts and really helps us, and now he's caught three touchdown passes here at the end of the year. And he's really gotten accomplished all that he needs to get accomplished. He did tell me that his body is beaten down and that his knee has gotten sore some. He's got some tendonitis in one of the knees and soreness in the other, and that's to be expected after three years of really not doing any football type activities. So he's been a miracle. He's accomplished all that he felt like he should accomplish. It is funny and fitting that he and his family are friends with Jeff Tedford, the coach at Cal. The dads knew each other from long ago. This will be Blaine's last game, and we're glad that he's finishing on such a high note.
Cal, like us, is 7 and 5. They won three out of their last four games, and their only loss in that stretch was a threepoint loss to Stanford. So they've played very, very well to finish their season. They're very well coached in all three phases. They're +4 in turnover ratio. They're 37th in total offense, averaging 419 yards per game. They're 38th in pass offense, averaging 252 yards a game. They're 48th in rush offense, averaging 167 yards per game, and they're 48th in scoring offense, averaging 30 points per game.
They have an AllPac12 receiver that ranks 12th in the country, Keenan Allen. He's a great player. He's a tall guy that can run and catch and very fluid. I've seen them play quite a bit because of the latenight TV games that we see from them. Their running back ranks 20th in rushing in the country. That's Isi Sofele, and he's a powerful guy, a short guy, but he's a guy that can run and make plays. The quarterback is Zach Maynard. He ranks 45th in total offense in the country, but he's also a guy that Jeff said out at the Holiday Bowl practice has been the reason they're much better at the end of the year because he's just improved so much, and he's played very well down the stretch the last four games.They also have a senior that's an AllPac12 offensive lineman, Mitchell Schwartz. They have 11 starters that are seniors on their football team across the board.
Their defense is playing very well, much like ours. They're 26th in the country in total defense, giving up 339 yards per game. Thirty-seveenth in rush defense, giving up 130 yards per game.Forty-third in pass defense, giving up 209 yards per game. Fifty-second in scoring defense, giving up 24 points per game. They're fifth in the country in tackle for losses. They've got 7.7 tackles per loss per game. They're 17th in sacks, 2.7 sacks per game, which is very, very high. Mychal Kendricks is an AllPac12 linebacker that has 98 tackles and 13 tackles for loss and a great player for them in the middle and true leader.They also have defensive ends Trevor Guyton, who's a Second Team AllPac12 player, and Ernest Owusu. You start looking at their cornerbacks, Steve Williams and Marc Anthony. They both led the team with 11 and 10 pass breakups. So they've played very, very well on defense.
Clancy Pendergast is their defensive coordinator. He worked for the Dallas Cowboys, and he also was the defensive coordinator when the Arizona Cardinals went to the Super Bowl a couple years ago. So he really knows what he's doing. He gives you a lot of looks and gives you a lot of problems, so our offensive staff has been having fits looking their defense trying to figure out what to do.
They're also No. 7 in the country in net punting. Their punter, Bryan Anger, is AllPac12, as well, and they're averaging about 44 yards per punt. I think their net punt is about 40, so he's really backed you up and made a difference.
My wife Sally and President Bill Powers are both Cal grads, and they've promised they'll pull for us. I wasn't sure when I asked them.
We will not release a depth chart probably until game time because we want the kids to compete and make sure that the guys that are practicing the hardest and best are the ones that will get to play in the ballgame.
We expect everyone to be healthy for the game except [S] Christian Scott and [WR] John Harris. We thought John might be back, but he tried to run a little bit last week, and they checked his foot again. He's back in a boot, and he will miss the Bowl game, and he will be out there. And also Christian Scott will be out there but he had his wrist operated on, so he will be out there for moral support. He will not be playing. Chet Moss will miss the Bowl game for personal reasons, but he'll rejoin the team when we get back in January, but he will not go to the Bowl game with us.
Academically all the grades aren't in yet, but we feel like everybody right now is on track, and we feel good about guys being eligible to play for the Bowl. We don't see any problems occurring that have come up so far, and most of the grades are in, so we feel like we're in pretty good shape there.
You go back and study our season, in our eight wins, we're +8 in turnover ratio, and our losses we're 13. So when you start looking at what happened last year and what happened this year, we've been more competitive this year. I thought we played harder this year. We've played better this year. Our turnover ratio has been about the same. We've had high numbers in the Baylor game and the Oklahoma game. But you go back and look at it, when we have been two turnovers or less on offense and we've forced at least two turnovers or more on defense, we've won every game. And that's what we talked to the guys about this morning. So no matter what you say about this game, you can play hard and you can be good, you cannot turn the ball over, and you have to force turnovers, and we've still got to get better in those two areas.
This year's graduation rate has come in at 71 percent. It's the best in the history of Texas football. The following guys have graduated: Emmanuel Acho, Blake Gideon, Ahmard Howard, Dravannti Johnson, Cody Johnson, Luke Poehlmann, David Snow, Justin Tucker, Alex Zumberge, Tray Allen, Keenan Robinson, Christian Scott, Fozzy Whittaker, Ian Harris and Tré Newton. They all graduated already, and the rest of the seniors will graduate between now and August. So it's been a very, very good class as far as where they stand academically.
[Former DT] Rod Wright came back and is working in our strength staff right now, with our strength staff in the weight room, and Rod Wright also got his degree last week. So we're very, very proud of Rod that he came back and finished and he's trying to work out where he can stay on as a graduate assistant for us. He's such a positive influence with our players because he's played here. Now he's gotten his "T" ring and his degree, but he's also signed with an agent and gone and done the NFL thing and changed a couple of teams and been hurt. So he's a great resource for them.
The following guys have decided that they will not go for a fifth year, and we said Blaine for his sixth year. But [OG]Mark Buchanan will go ahead and graduate and not play his fifth year. [FB]Jamison Berryhill, we put him on scholarship this year but his body is banged up and he said, "Coach, if you'll put me on scholarship for this one year, I can't play a fifth one. I'm too banged up to keep going." [DE] Dravannti Johnson will finish he has finished his career at Texas. He has a fifth year, so he has graduated. He may want to look at a smaller school so he can play the Russell Wilson type thing if he decides to do that. But we have told him that would be fine with us if he wants to pursue going to a smaller school and playing his fifth year. We appreciate all they've done, and we're glad that they have gotten their degrees and ready to move on with their lives.
[Assistant Athletic Director/Media Relations Director] John Bianco and his staff released a couple of days ago - let us know that [WR] Darius White was transferring. [DT] Taylor Bible will be transferring, and we want to wish he and Darius the best as they go through. People ask about young men transferring. If a guy comes in and talks to us about whether it's being unhappy, needing more playing time, wanting to get closer to home, whatever, it really doesn't matter. I mean, if they're not happy here, we want to help them, and we've never had a conditional release for anybody. If we release them, we try to help them. So we'll call the places they want to go.
It's a little unusual this year, if one of our guys wants to transfer to A & M, they're still in the Big 12 until June. So if they transferred in the spring to A&M, they would still lose two years instead of one because they're still technically in the Big 12. If they wanted to transfer to TCU or West Virginia they will not be in the Big 12 until June, so it's a little crazy. But they can more easily transfer to a TCU or a West Virginia than they could Missouri or Texas A&M until June. So that's a decision they will make.
[DT] De'Aires Cotton has had some back issues and doctors have determined that he cannot continue to play. He will be on a medical hardship scholarship, and he helped coach Bo Davis with our defensive line this year, and he will continue to do the same throughout his career here until he graduates. When the doctors tell us obviously a young man can't continue to play like they did with Trey Graham, then what we do is try to keep them involved. And Tré Newton is involved, he helps us coach. Trey Graham is involved. Ian Harris had the neck issue. He just graduated, but he's helped us coach for four or five years, so we want to keep those guys involved and get them back.
I talked to you about the philosophy of our Bowl practice sessions. We'll work really hard here. We'll work the young ones at the end more, and then when we get to the Bowl it's all about trying to win the ballgame and getting ready for Cal.
We're doing really, really well in recruiting. In fact, we ran in and had a staff meeting right after practice, and I think maybe all but two coaches are out. You can only have seven on the road, so they're all out trying to watch basketball games or get into home visits, and they'll all be at the state championship games on Saturday. Again, you can only have seven out. I can't go out unless one of them comes in, so we can have six on the road when I'm out. But they will be working really, really hard throughout the weekend.
We will practice tomorrow morning, then we will take off on Saturday for the state championship games and recruiting, and to give the guys a break. Then we'll go back to work and practice Sunday and then we'll practice Monday. Probably practice Sunday afternoon and then practice Monday morning and send the guys home and then get them ready to go out to the Bowl site on the 23rd.
Duane Akina has applied for the Hawai'i head coaching job. The reason I mention it is very visible because in Hawai'i you have to apply publicly before you can be considered for the job, and he is interviewing for that job, and that is home for him. We want him to stay, but if he has a chance and wants the Hawai'i job, that would be a great opportunity for him, and we would be all for it. As of this time, none of our other coaches as far as I know are talking to other schools. You may know differently. You all let me know if you hear something. Tweet it to me.
On the running game: I thought we were about to be really good. When we walked out of here after [Texas] Tech, I hadn't seen us run the ball that well since probably 2005, 2004, when we were averaging 300 yards rushing a game. In fact, [offensive line coach] Stacy Searels walked out of here and said, I've never seen 400 yards rushing. We felt so good, and we thought that would help us bring our quarterbacks on, and then it was just unbelievable to see what happened the next week. It's just a combination of Fozzy [Whittaker] going down and the other two backs getting banged up and couldn't continue to play. Fozzy will go with us obviously and he's helped. He was out there this morning. He's even putting off his operation until after the Bowl game so he will be an inspiration, an inspirational leader to the guys when we're out there, and Joe [Bergeron] and Malcolm [Brown] are practicing. So we're hoping that they will be well and full speed ahead and ready to go when we get out to the Bowl site. But we need them to be healthy so we can run the ball better and get more balance back.
On the QB depth chart: Yes, we'll probably play both again. I talked to [co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach] Bryan [Harsin] about it this morning a little bit, and we've just got to get settled there. But right now we're in a position where we're going to need both of them. You know, after it's over, at A&M you thought you might could have played David [Ash] in a few more situations. We could have played David in a few more situations at Baylor. And we'll use both of them in the ballgame.
On the 2004 season and the BCS: You go back to 2004, some of the young ones in here weren't even born then, so they don't even remember. I have trouble with last year, much less 2004. I was taken aback I was asked so much about it at the Holiday Bowl press conference. It surprised me because I kind of thought we had moved on. What I do remember about it is I was asked after the A&M game if I thought our team was good enough to be in the BCS, and I said yes. And people were taken aback that I would pull for our team, which I was taken aback that I thought people would feel strange that I would take up for our team. And I would do exactly the same thing again. I think I haven't taken up for teams that didn't do well. I wasn't trying to fight for last year's team to be in the BCS. I never brought it up, so it wasn't an issue. But I also think that since we got in the game, we won the game, and then we went back and won a National Championship the next year and then we've been back two other times. So if we hadn't gone to the bowl game with Michigan, I still think we would have won the National Championship the next year. That was a oneyear deal that happened. I did mention out there, which is true, that if you ask Oklahoma State right now, they probably aren't feeling that the BCS was fair. If you ask Auburn when they won 13 in a row and didn't get to go, they probably didn't think the BCS was fair. And I would say that [Okahoma State head coach] Mike Gundy stood up and said, I think my team deserves to be in there. I didn't think it was politicking. I thought it was fair for Mike. I think [foemr Auburn head coach] Tommy Tuberville, best I remember, wasn't very happy and pushed for his team with 13 and 0. And I do think in '08 I wasn't very happy, and I pushed for our team to get in in '08 and nobody listened. So I think that's part of the game. It's part of the BCS. I wouldn't go back and talk about Texas in '04 as much as I would changing the BCS if we don't think that the process is fair. And that's what I see over time. Jeff Tedford and I have absolutely no problem with it. I talked to him on the Nike trip right after the game, and he understood. He was fighting for his team, too. It's the way the thing turns out. You've got Harris Poll voters. You've got Coaches Poll voters and then you've got computers. Nobody knows who the Harris Poll voters are really and the coaches are all over the place. That's the most discussed thing the day after the polls come out that you can have. Everybody screws up this and that, and I tried to call the computers a couple times and they didn't answer, and they really didn't see any of the games. So I don't think they would have had a very good conversation anyway.
On the BCS National Championship this year: I don't like rematches just in general. That's what I didn't like about the conference championship games, because to me sports is new and fresh and let's pit two that haven't played against each other. There is an argument that Alabama and LSU are the two best teams in the country, so I don't think anybody is going to question they're really, really good. Oklahoma State is really, really good, too, and that's where I think I'd like to see something different at the end that would answer a team like Auburn winning 13 straight games and not getting to go. That's not fair. Those kids don't get that back, and those coaches don't get that back. And if two teams with a loss go and that one who was really good and played a tough schedule didn't get to go, I think we have to keep looking at our process and see what we've got. I do think the bowl games are pretty good this year. Sometimes we have them that stink. But I do think they're pretty good. The matchups are better, so I think that's good. But I remember when Michigan was maybe 2 and Ohio State was 1 a few years ago, and Michigan got beat by three or four or five points right at the end, and then we all said they should probably have a rematch, and everybody said, we don't want that, we don't want them playing again. I'll bet you if LSU and Alabama had played in the last game of the year, we wouldn't have a rematch because it's too close and people wouldn't want to see it. And that's kind of what happened with Ohio State and Michigan. I think Florida got in because they won a conference championship and Michigan got shoved, and people thought Michigan and Ohio State were the two best teams in the country and then Florida wins the National Championship. So that's what happens. I like to see something I haven't seen before. That's just kind of what I feel about it.
On recruiting junior college quarterbacks: I don't see that happening for us. It's something we looked at, but as of right now, it's not happening. That may change, but I don't see it happening this late.
On WR Jaxon Shipley's knee injury: I just hated that he wasn't coming right back in, and then I felt if I had to go back through everybody that had been hurt, Lord, I'd be crazy. I was thinking about today, though, with Blaine's conversation yesterday, what a miracle Jordan Shipley was. What an absolute miracle. Bo Scaife, still playing, and I told Bo to quit and I told Jordan to quit. The thing about Blaine, I don't want Blaine to walk like I do when he's 60. So I probably, with five knee operations, I've seen that before. And I have to think about these young people's lives when they get my age and not just about next week. But what I thought, I was so happy when I turned around and saw Jaxon jogging on the sidelines right after he'd gotten hurt because I thought he'd be okay, and then he missed three or four weeks.
On how injuries affected the offense: I think the combination of you take Fozzy, the two young backs and Jaxon, that's your oldest senior leader and the heart of your team, and he got about every award at the banquet. And then you take three of your best freshman stars that were all touching the ball and making a difference in the ballgame, I think it took everybody aback. People will sit and say don't talk about injuries. When it's everybody that's touching the ball it's hard not to talk about them and think about it a little bit. I didn't think we responded very well at Missouri. I'm trying to look back at what we would have done different. We never thought Fozzy would get hurt because he's so strong and having such a great year, so that one shocked us and can happen. But we talked out there thinking both Malcolm and Joe would play against Missouri. So I don't think we did a very good job of having a better plan. Going into Baylor, by Friday, by Wednesday actually, we said we're not going to sit here like we have for the last three weeks and everybody is going to say they're going to be fine, they're going to play. It's hard for freshmen to play in a game that aren't practicing full speed. So we at least had somebody else ready to go. And Jeremy Hills has done a great job. He jumped in there as senior - a fouryear junior because Jeremy does want to come back, and he's a young guy that's really helped us here at the end of the season.
On RBs Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown: Well, they may get hurt tomorrow, but they are practicing better. Yes, I think if we played today they'd both play. I want to see them practice more, but they are participating.
On WR Jaxon Shipley's contributions to the offense: Yes, I think he's 100 percent, isn't he? His passing efficiency, I think he leads the country. It is really high. But he is what we have talked about in our staff meeting. He's just a football player. He's still limping. He's not 100 percent. He's got that big brace on his leg, but he's out there fighting for balls and diving. He likes to play, he's a fun player, and he just makes plays. You start looking at guys, if you wait two or three years and a guy hasn't played and he's a skill guy, he usually doesn't come around. Big guys can come around late, but usually skill guys play when they get here, and he's a guy that can just walk out there. It's funny, the players usually know. When I met with them, the four or five that we met with at the Big 12 media day, they all said, "Coach, he'll start." And I said, "Well, that's pretty tall for a freshman." And they said, "No, he'll start, and he'll be real good." And he was. And again, I think it took some of our swagger and some of our confidence away, and that's kind of weird that a freshman could do that. But when he got hurt, it really hurt us.
On how bowl practices will help the freshmen: They've learned so much. You start looking at the shock of the Oklahoma game, coming back and fighting in the Oklahoma State game, the Kansas State game, trying to learn how to win and what that means and learning about turnovers and lastsecond drives. The difference in Kansas State and Texas A&M is a play or two. It's down to a play or two. Our two turnovers that we got against A& M we didn't get against Kansas State. So they can see from Rice and Brigham Young, they can see where ten wins would have been possible if we'd done better as a group, coached better, played better, taken better care of the ball, punted better, whatever we needed to do to do better. And I think this is the next step for them is to go on to a bowl because they've done pretty well on the road. I mean, they've gotten that pretty good, getting on planes and traveling. I'll try to get the numbers for you and Bill and John could help us, but I would bet 50 percent of this team has never been to a bowl because there's so many young guys. And not going last year, there's a huge number, at least probably if there's 24 or 25 sophomores and 22 freshmen, then 40something of your 85 have never been to a bowl game. So this will be an experience when we get out there, too.
On assessing the season: Somebody asked me after the Baylor game what I thought of the year, and I really hadn't had time to think because I was mad and tired. In trying to reflect a week or two weeks afterwards, I think we've had a great year from where we were at last year's Thanksgiving and where we were this year's Thanksgiving. And not in number of wins. It's in process. And that's what's more important to me right now is that we get our toughness back, we get our philosophies in line, and we are doing exactly what I want us to do offensively except score more and turn the ball over less. But we're headed back where we want to be. Defensively we had older players and better players, and I thought we played very, very well defensively barring the Baylor game. We didn't play as well against them. But other than that, I thought our defense probably did better than most of us thought, and I thought our kicking game came back and did really well. So when you start looking at where we are and where we're headed and what this win would mean, no question the win helps us. You'd love to win eight and that gets you back in the mix. If you win seven, longterm it doesn't make much difference. Shortterm it sure makes us feel a lot better leaving San Diego.
On the younger players stepping up into new roles: Yes, no doubt. I think we practiced Saturday, but it was kind of for the recruits and to let them see what we do. We came back and practiced Wednesday, yesterday, I guess now, and one of the things we told the players is take all the seniors out. So we lose that leadership, we lose that ability, who's going to step up while we're sitting there? You think, which one of you will be Keenan Robinson? Which one of you will be Emmanuel Acho? Which one of you will be Blake Gideon? Which one of you will be David Snow? And just go through the process, and then say -- this is important -- we will sit down with every player and we will have our nutritionist, our trainer and our strength staff sit down with the assistant position coach and go over everything we think every young man is doing well, and we will go over everything that he needs to do better if he's going to play more. And then we'll talk to their parents about that, because a lot of guys sit there and they say, why aren't I playing? Well, you're going to know and we'll tell you, but you don't listen. We're going to show it to them. We're going to say, here's your goal by August, and if you can bench Bo Davis came in and said, we need everybody benching 400 pounds at defensive tackle. We've got one guy now benching 400 pounds plus, and that's Desmond Jackson, the freshman. So all of the defensive tackles will need to bench over 400 pounds by the time we get ready to start the season next fall. And that will be a goal, and it will be a goal that [ strength and conditioning head coach for football] Bennie [Wylie] will attack. And you start looking at it, and [Bryan] Harsin didn't really get the whole offense in because of his inexperience at quarterback and the injuries. So I want to see that in the spring, and I want to see us move forward with who we thought we could be this year because we saw spurts of it. I liked the philosophy of our offense. I like who they are and I like where they're headed. I thought [defensive coordinator/linebackers coach] Manny [Diaz] and the defensive staff did an amazing job, like I said. I thought they did better than I would have expected in one year. But even talking to Bennie, he really didn't get near enough done because our guys didn't do anything from Thanksgiving until January 17th, and then we started spring practice and then he has a short summer with them. Now he'll have a full year. He's kind of gotten them started, and he's gotten an attitude change, but now he'll have a full year and they're going to work really hard to make sure that we're in better shape and moving forward better than we were at this point.
On the cornerbacks: The corners were my biggest question coming in because Carrington [Byndom] did not play a lot last year. I think when [former CB Chykie Brown] broke his wrist or broke his arm at Kansas State is when Carrington played a little bit there at the end. And Quandre [Diggs] hadn't ever played. I thought they did an amazing job of coming in there and hanging in because I think we played 14 we played five offenses that were in the top 14 in the country, I believe. Maybe seven, six of the top 15 offenses in the country we played. And those corners held in there, and most of those guys could really throw the football. And I thought [assistan head coach/defensive backs coach] Duane [Akina] probably did his best job coaching this year, and he's had some great players and done a great job over time. But I thought he did his best job this year.
On the senior class during bowl practices: Yes, they're all about beating Cal and getting No. 8. That's the number one goal is to win eight games, period, and they all know that. Process is a little bit different, and these guys have been to a National Championship game and a BCS game, so our seniors have been to two BCS games, so they get it. They know what it is. But everything will be to beat Cal. What we're trying to do is stir up some of the younger ones and say that February 24th is going to come really fast, so if you're going to sit around and be sloppy now and wonder why you're behind, you're going to be behind. And those guys starting spring practice so quickly need to go home and lift some weights and maintain. But we'll have the young ones up at the morning at I think they lift at 6:00 in the morning, 7:00 in the morning. So we're working their tails off.
On comparisons between Texas and California: Yes, I think we're very much alike, and I think it'll be a great ballgame. I think we're probably a very, very good match for each other, still hungry, got some things we need to prove, didn't get accomplished what we wanted to in numbers. Both of us are coming back and growing. Neither one of us went to a bowl last year. So it's backontarget type years for both of us.
On the effect on the team during possible coaching changes: Yes, I would like for us to look at changing the way college football happens. I think we have got about 23 jobs that have come open the last couple of weeks, and it really disrupts everybody. I mean, everybody. When I was at Oklahoma as offensive coordinator, I interviewed for the Tulane job and took it while we were playing Washington for the National Championship, and I stayed and I worked and I remember I tried my best. We didn't do very well. And I was answering calls to recruits from Tulane. I was trying to hire a staff. I mean, it is really impossible to do a great job with your current team while you're trying to get started in your new job. It's really hard. I remember because of that experience when Gene Chizik got the job at Iowa State, I said "Go. Just go, and let's let Duane do it." And that was better at that time because Duane's full focus was here and not out there. And then I see every situation that's coming up now across the country, and I say, "Well, I'm going to try and stay and coach. Well, they're mad at me." Well, some will stay, some will go. It's a mess. It is a total mess. It's not fair to the coach that's getting the other job because he feels guilty and he's torn and he's all over the place. Not fair to the staff that stays here. If you're like Auburn and you've had two coordinators leave, that's so disruptive. And I talked to our coaches a long time about that this morning. It is hard to make it work right for everybody. You're all over the place, who's going, who's he talking to and when is he going, when is he leaving? So there's no privacy. When I married Sally and Oklahoma offered me the job while I was at North Carolina, she said, "Why don't we take a couple of weeks and back away and go look at it like business people do?" And I said, "Sweetie, we've got about 24 hours." And that's about what you've got, and it may not have that long. She said, "Well, that's not fair." And I said, "Well, that's what it is so get used to it because that's the life you just jumped into." But it's the same way with an NFL prospect that's on your team as a senior. Is he talking to agents? Is he talking about going out? Is he staying? Is it a distraction for the bowl game? So I don't know what is out there, but I think there might be something, and maybe we could move the calendar back a little bit and that coaches on your staff couldn't talk to other schools until their season is over, the Bowl season is over. There's got to be a better way than having coaches leaving and just being gone the next day. I thought the quarterback at Pittsburgh [said] "Yesterday, I went to sleep. Two hours later I wake up, my coach is gone." Life changes, and it changes so fast that I think it's probably not healthy. The NFL gets it better than we do at the end because they have contracts, and you can't talk to them until a certain time and you can't leave unless it's a lot better job. And I want to help our guys get jobs, but I don't want to hurt the seniors on this football team's chance to win a bowl game because we've got five guys that are interested in looking around. And then our guys will get frustrated with a player that says, "Well, sure I'm going to look at the NFL." That's what I told the guys this morning. Everybody is going to take care of themselves, and everybody wants to get what's best for them, but there's a proper way to do this, and Duane has done it right. It's a shame that it is so public because they make you apply publicly, but I think everybody knows that's home for Duane, and he's been involved in that job a couple of times. Duane at 55 years old, I wouldn't ask him not to look at that job. I don't think that's fair. And people like the Hawai'i people, and the other jobs that are out there could care less about our bowl game. It's not an issue in their timetable, and that's fair, too.
On the effect on recruiting during possible coaching changes: No. We tell them all. They came here before him to be defensive backs. We've got great defensive backs. The four that we've got know that he's talking to them, and we tell them all. I mean, one thing that's happened, there are no secrets anymore. So what we've told our players, even with Will [Muschamp] last year, with him taking the job at 6:00 and it being public by about 6:13 before I could find a phone to even or an email address to tell our players, some of the players got upset and said, "Well, you didn't tell us." I said, "I told you about 30 minutes after I knew." And we've told them. We've just explained to them because of all the modern technology, we are not going to know it before anybody else. Unless it's something we're releasing. If it's coming from somebody else, you're going to see it on all your modern technology that you love so much before we can get to you. So understand that's part of the deal. It doesn't mean it's wrong, but don't blame us for not releasing something to you when if one of our guys takes a job and the other people release it. And people are so excited when a guy takes a job that they usually release it before I see it. But I just told our players, we'll figure it out, and we want what's best for our coaches, and if one of them decides to leave, we've done pretty good around here finding good coaches to replace them.
On the top concerns going into the bowl game: Turnovers. I want our two backs and Jaxon healthy. I think that's important for us. And we've got to take care of the ball better. You go back and look at that stat, in two years, I'm getting sick of it, we're not forcing as many turnovers as we'd like and we're turning the ball over too much.
On building the offense for the future: We want a great quarterback, and we want a quarterback that can run and throw. That hasn't changed. But we would like to have an offense where if the quarterback is sick, the quarterback gets hurt or the quarterback has an average day, it doesn't lose a game for Texas. And because of that, we'd like to be very balanced, and we haven't been balanced probably since Jamaal Charles left. And even then we had too many lost yards plays I thought. We were big play, bad play. We weren't consistent in what we're doing. What we did against Texas Tech and Kansas is not what I want offensively, it's half of what I want. I would have liked to have thrown for 250 yards during both of those games and still be able to run the ball, because in our best offense, we scored 50 points a game, we averaged 250 rushing and 250 passing. That's what I would like to be. We got away from that, and part of it was because we were so good with Quan [Cosby] and Jordan and Colt [McCoy] that we didn't have to run it, and we still nearly won all the games. But that's what we're trying to get back to. And if you go back and look at them, I'm not sure I guess LSU is 1, Alabama is 2, Oklahoma State is 3 and Stanford is 4? Is that what it ended up? All of those really can run the ball. All of them. Three of the four you know the quarterback's name really quickly, as well. You might not know one of them because you'd have to look it up because he's younger, but there aren't many people that play for it all that can't run the ball and stop the run at some point in some way, because they've had a bad day with that player. And that's what I want to get back. There was a perception, I think, that I kept being asked about for Kansas and for Texas Tech that we just want to run the ball. That's not what we want. We want to be balanced and throw it really well because if you're onedimensional, a good football team can take something away, and you've got to be good enough to do both. And I think what happened to us after Texas Tech, people started saying we've got to crowd the line of scrimmage and then our backs got hurt and then Jaxon got hurt and people crowded us and we weren't able to do the things we wanted to do. So we've got to be balanced, but you can't be balanced without running it. And we were throwing it well enough around here. I wasn't worried you can catch up throwing it faster than you can catch up running it. You've got to have the linemen, you've got to have the backs, and you've got to be physical to run the ball. You can bring in some good receivers and get better fast out there.
On the offensive and defensive lines: I thought last year we struggled in both, and this year I thought we were better in both. Now, we weren't far enough along at quarterback and receiver that some of the sacks in my estimation were not attributed shouldn't have been attributed to the offensive line. I thought Stacy Searels did an amazing job with our inexperience, starting two freshmen, a sophomore really two freshmen, two sophomores and a senior. He did an amazing job in this league of hanging in there and rotating those guys and trying to get it straight for us. And I think we'll be much better in both lines of scrimmage next year. And that's where I'm excited about where we are other than the numbers. I'd rather us win ten games this year, and we could have, and we didn't, but I think we're really ready to start getting depth in the two lines of scrimmage, and when you do that and you're really good at it, then you can start becoming a really good football team again, and the rest of it comes around. And we were in trouble at those two areas at the end of last year. [Defensive tackles coach] Bo Davis has done an amazing job this year in my estimation, as well. ust talking about all of our thoughts and concerns in preseason, where we are today with depth, to watch Chris Whaley chasing down people and getting sacks. And I think Bo has done an amazing job bringing that position along and we're bringing in some good players at that position for next year, and we're only losing one. We're losing two offensive linemen and bringing in some really good offensive linemen. In fact, next year I looked at it. If you projected next year's starters, just throw it out there from who's played this year, you'd have five seniors starting on next year's team.
On Baylor QB Robert Griffin winning the Heisman: I thought it was great. I think he was probably the best player. I didn't know if he'd win it because they won nine games. But I thought it probably attributed back to Ricky Williams because Ricky was probably the best player in college football on a ninewin team our first year, and that's what Robert did. And I think beating Oklahoma this late probably helped him. You've got to have a late splash it looks like to me. Reggie Bush had a late splash. He had a play against Fresno and he had a game against UCLA. And Vince [Young] didn't have as glowing a game against A&M. Colt [McCoy] had a great game against A&M. If he has a great game against Nebraska, I think he wins the Heisman, and we didn't have the good offensive game. It was a week too late, and all the voters are sitting watching and it gets so even because all the players are great players. You've got to have a turning point. Even with Colt as a junior, when Sam Bradford got to play Missouri in the championship game and we didn't, I thought it cost Colt the Heisman Trophy. It's one of the reasons I was so upset, because the team that was going to play was probably better than Missouri, and Sam had great numbers, so that just marked it up. I've learned enough about the Heisman. It's the best player on the best team that gets in the mix that in the end has a good game or a good play, and that's about what it ends up being in my estimation, just watching it like I did.
On players trying new positions during bowl practices: I put [DT] Chris Whaley at tight end some yesterday and today because the way we're packaging things you can do that, and Chris is such a good athlete and he can run, he can catch, and he's 285 pounds now. So the last two days we took ten minutes with him and put him at tight end on some inside drills, and just to see where he is. The way our offense is packaging things now, you can play a guy in five different packages that will give him 10 or 15 plays that you can work on in a 10 or 15minute period and then go be a defensive tackle the rest of the day. So we're looking at that. I'm just kind of playing with it, and of course when you act like you want to take one away from Bo Davis, he becomes the best defensive tackle in the history of college football [laughs]. The staff say, when you want to move one or look at one or somewhere else, his stock goes way up real fast. But I don't think right now there's another one - like probably Bryant Jackson might look at safety and receiver in the spring because we'll be thin at wide receiver, so he's playing wide receiver. He played safety last year. We'll probably play him some at both to see where he would be best fit and help us with legs on offense until we can figure out who's going to be the wide receiver group next year.
On DT Chris Whaley: He will not move from defensive tackle. He's doing really well, and we really like his pass rush ability on third down. But we think with a couple of guys, an athlete as good as he is, that he might could give us ten plays on offense and still be a defensive tackle. And Stacy and Bo are such good friends, and they've worked together forever, that when you're doing your oneonone drills, he can flip over and block in the pass rush drill, the pass pro drill, the oneonone blocking drill. So we're just looking at him to see if you can do that. And it is unique. It is different. I'm not moving him. He's done really well, and we're excited about him. We also thought for a tailback who came in at 235[lbs] from a 1A school . . we're too critical on those guys early because he's growing into a really good football player. And from 235 to 285 and now one of our best pass rushers that we may look at playing both ways, Chris Whaley will end up being in the NFL I think before he leaves here.