Dec. 21, 2009
Transcript provided by ASAP Sports
Opening statement: First, we want to wish everybody happy holidays, and especially a Merry Christmas because we will not be talking to fans across the country (until after Chrismas). This is probably my favorite time of the year. I just love the bowls. We have a way to Tivo or we get copies of the first three bowl games, and I watched every one of them.
I watched every play. To see Wyoming coming back and last night Middle Tennessee coming back. It's just a fun time of the year where people question whether they should go to bowls in a 6-6 or 7-5 season, they just love it. It's a lot of fun. I also want to congratulate our ladies volleyball team. What a wonderful year they've had. I've never seen a more competitive game than watching them play Penn State the other night. I watched every bit of it. And it's one of those games that nobody should have lost. We just ran out of time because the ladies sure played well and both basketball teams are off to a great start.
We're proud of this team. We told them thank you the other day to be sitting here at 13-0 and Big 12 champs. Seniors have been absolutely amazing. To have won 26-of-27 games is something that we just take for granted. I know in listening to the 30-game win streak that coach (Royal) had back in the 60's, late 60's, and '70s, these kids modern day have had a record like that.
I think we won 19 straight in '05 before we played the National Championship game and they should get a lot of credit for what they've done.
Recruiting, we've been working as a team in practice, but we've also been recruiting hard since the Big 12 Championship game, and recruiting has never been better. It's a good time now with a lot of young guys in the state wanting to come, and it just shows us that we can have strength for many years and we'll continue to build on what we're able to do.
The fact that we've not been to Pasadena forever, 100 straight years, and in the last six now, this will be our third trip to Pasadena, it's really exciting. And again, it's a fun time to be a Longhorn.
We started practice last Saturday briefly. Then we took off Sunday for recruiting. We went and took Monday off to have a workday to start working on game plans with Alabama. Then we practiced Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. We took Friday off for recruiting and game planning. Then have come back and worked Saturday morning and Sunday morning. We worked this morning and will again before we take a little break for Christmas.
The guys are getting up for breakfast at 5:15. We have meetings. We go on the field about 7:50. They work to 9:50, and we've gone back to twoadays.
We haven't talked a lot to them about Alabama at this point because it was a month and two days from the Big 12 Championship game to our bowl game. So it's like starting over and having a onegame season. So you really just have to go back and work on fundamentals. But we've had very, very physical practices. They've all been ones against ones. They're knocking each other around. They're having fun. And we're really excited about watching them prepare for this game because they're proud to be here.
We will finish this segment of practices again tomorrow morning. We'll have a meeting with them and send them home for Christmas. And then they'll come back the night of the 26th, and we'll talk about that in a few more minutes.
Injury report, Calvin Howell will still not play. Mason Walters will still not play. So they are out of the game. Other than that, we've got a few guys with a tweak or a sprain here and there because we're working so hard and practicing in a physical manner. But there is no one on the team that shouldn't be able to play and shouldn't be ready to practice 100 percent by the time we get to L.A.
John Chiles and Jordan Shipley are back at 100 percent. John missed the last two games with a sprained ankle. We thought he could play with Nebraska, but when he got out there and tested, he really couldn't.
The academic status of our guys, there are still some grades coming in. We feel like we're in good shape. As of right now it seems all the guys should be ready to go out at the bowl game. So that's great news.
(Safety) Christian Scott is academically eligible, so he'll play in the bowl game. He has been practicing with our team every day for the fall, and he's worked very hard. He will be involved in just about all of the kicking teams. At the same time, Duane Akina and Will Muschamp are looking to see if he can get involved some in scheme because he's such a good player. So that is to be determined.
He is not losing a year. He was red shirted. So this is a year that would have cost him eligibility anyway. He'll have three years left to play. Brandon Collins will not play in this game, some people have asked would Brandon play because it's a National Championship game, but it would cost him a full year of eligibility. And as important as this game is, we do not feel like it would be fair to put him out there for one game. If he gets hurt, he doesn't get to play much. He drops the ball and we pull him out and it's cost him a full year.
So his situation is very different from Christian's. He'll also be in a position where he'll have two years left as well.
D.J. Monroe had his charges dropped the other day or changed. I met with him yesterday. What I told him is I didn't like what he did, but I do think he's paid the penalty. It's a severe penalty to have missed the curfew and be speeding and it cost him three games of his college career and one of those the A&M game and the other the Big 12 Championship game.
I wanted him to learn from it and be more accountable, but he's been practicing with our team every day. So he is not behind. He has not missed anything, and he's had a great attitude since his incident. So he will be reinstated. And if he practices well enough, we'll play him in the game. We're not punishing him anymore. What we do with our discipline is we try to look at their body of work. We try to look at what gets their attention and our team's attention the most when somebody messes up. At the same time it doesn't have anything to do with how much it hurts the team. It's about the individual, and the message to our team and who we are.
(Freshman DB) Marcus Davis remains suspended. He's not practicing with the team. He will not travel with the team and will not be at the bowl game. And I will talk to Marcus after January 1 as far as his future.
As far as the depth chart, we're working so hard and competing so hard we'll not have a depth chart until we get to L.A. We weren't pleased in some instances on defense in the A&M game. We weren't pleased with some guys on offense in the Nebraska game. So we're going back and competing really, really hard and figure out what mistakes we made in the last two games because all phases need to play well to give us a chance to win. But we will release the depth chart when we get out there.
We said they'll practice in the morning and go home on the 25th. So they can have Christmas at home, they'll come back here for dinner on the night of the 26th. We'll practice the 27, 28, and 29th. They'll return home the afternoon of the 29th for the 30th and the 31st. Then they'll all fly out to L.A. on the 1st.
Our guys have all come out on their own. They do get their stipend that way. It's worked for us. It's something they really want to do. And we've got easy access to airports throughout our state. So it's not a problem for them to get out there. And it's something we've done ever since I coached.
After we get out there, we'll have the normal one week of practice. Alabama's a great football team. Coach Saban's done an amazing job turning it around. They were 6-6 three years ago. Now they've won 25-of-27 and 13 in a row this year.
They're a great team, they were announced the other day with six AP All-Americans. They have a Heisman Trophy winner. Five other guys have accepted to play on the senior bowl, which is a bowl that showcases the best pro prospects in the country.
Their defensive scheme is very much like ours. They've given up 11 points (per game). It will be very interesting. You have to know that Nick and Will (Muschamp) are proud to have the number one and two defenses in this ballgame and they win championships. And that's why we're there.
They also have a tremendous group of special teams guys. They have a great kicker in (Leigh) Tiffin. (Kick returner Javier) Arenas is a guy that every time he touches the ball on special teams he has a chance to score. They're the best at what they do in the country, and their offense is very powerful, very balanced. (They're) really good up front, have the Heisman Trophy winner at tailback, because of that he's such a great runner. Trent Richardson is also a great runner. But they have a play action pass off of everything that they run. So they're doing a tremendous job.
On having thought about the tradition of the two programs: I really have. We loved Coach Bryant, we love Coach Royal. So we're aware of those games. I've been around Tommy Nobis when he talked about the quarterback sneak in the Orange Bowl. I was standing there with Mickey Andrews who was the offensive guard with Joe Namath and Tommy Nobis. And Joe Namath said, "Tommy you know we scored." And Tommy Nobis says, "Not only did you not get in, none of your offensive linemen got in either. And you missed it by this much." So it's been a tremendous series. And there have been some great games. Texas has come out on top of those most of the time. But the games have been really close and really competitive. We've been so lucky over the last five years to play storied programs. You're playing Ohio State, and Michigan, and USC. And you have Nebraska and Oklahoma in your own league. Then you start looking at Alabama, and start looking at all of those things. And the best teams in the history of college football, and there is just a list of them there together. It's been really, really fun, and this one will be no different.
On the benefits or negatives of having former Nick Saban assistants Major Applewhite and Will Muschamp on staff: It helps in that we have a pretty good feel of at least their juniors and seniors. And most of their players are juniors and seniors. And Major was there as an offensive coordinator, and he knows those kids. He knows how they'll think. He knows how they'll practice. Will and Major have said their bowl practices will be exactly like ours. There will not be any difference in the preparation for the two teams. Then Will was kind of raised by Nick. He had five years under him as a defensive coordinator. And it's really funny when you start looking at the defenses, they're exactly the same. The calls are the same. That's the positive for us. The negative is that both staffs will be trying to outthink what the other one is going to do, because we know so much about each other. And you have to be careful not to outthink yourself and do what you do best. Nick's done a tremendous job. He's a great coach. We have tremendous respect. Great players, they coach them hard and coach them well.
On the approach of not focusing on Alabama to this point in practice: Yes, we haven't touched Alabama yet. We'll do that. We'll start balancing Alabama the three days we come back after Christmas. Then we'll treat it like a 10-day open date. That's what we'll do. We'll really work Alabama for those three days. Then it will be all Alabama when we get out there. We'll have a week out there in L.A. That will be a week's preparation building up to the game. We felt like we needed to go back and be more fundamentally sound. We had to do a better job of blocking. We had to do a better job of being physical with each other. We've been lining up ones against ones on scrimmaging. Obviously when the one offense is playing our one defense, it's playing Alabama because it's the same schemes exactly. We feel like that's what we want to do in this stretch of time.
On being an underdog: It doesn't matter what I think or like, really, but I think it's fair. You look at the way they ended against Florida and the way we ended against Nebraska. And I watched their film against Florida - they dominated. They played great. So if they play like that, it's unbelievable how well they played. We sure didn't play our best game against A&M or our best game against Nebraska. So our kids have been around long enough to win, but neither one of those were pretty games in all phases like Alabama's was against Florida. So I understand that completely. They've got great players. They've got all those All-Americans. So I told our players, I think that's fair. You look at it on paper last ballgame, last two ballgames for us, and the last one for them. I would think everybody would pick them.
On being in the same situation in 2005: No, but it's very similar. Their team's similar to '05 with the Heisman Trophy winner, and being so good, and dominating at the end. Our team didn't get the credit they probably deserved. We won 70-3 in the Big 12 Championship game and got no credit. So it probably deserved more credit then. Right now this has been a team that's had to fight for everything they get. So we understand where we are. We know we're a work in progress, and still haven't played our best game. We've got to play great. But what they also understand, these are two great programs, two great teams, really. And people will compare everything. None of that matters. You've got three and a half hours to win a National Championship, so it's whichever team plays the best for three and a half hours. That's what matters.
On Colt McCoy using not winning the Heisman as motivation: No, I do think, too, that Colt's been there twice. Very few times does anybody ever get to once. He's seen the story twice. And it was really funny. At the end of the Heisman, he walked up to me and said this is not the most important thing in my life. That next game is going to be when it comes to sports and the National Championship as a team, is a bigger team award than the Heisman. But he was very gracious about Mark (Ingram) and congratulated him. Again, Colt's gotten so many awards. He had all the quarterback awards, and I was really proud for him.
On Alabama's defensive front including DT Terrence Cody: Well, coaches are dealing with Alabama. We're not able to sleep. They've got three Suh's up front. That's the problem. Everywhere you look, they've been knocking people down. We've been afraid to show it to our kids. We'll try to limit how much film we show them. Cut some plays out and go real slow with them. We're not going to feed them all of it at once.
On if his approach with Colt McCoy will be any different in this game: No, if you look at the players in Alabama they're similar to the defensive players at Oklahoma, similar to the defensive players at Nebraska. They're great players, wellcoached. If you look at the two best defenses in the country, both offenses have gotten their challenge ahead of them to sit here and try to move the ball. They've got a lot of people on that defense flying around and getting after people. And Colt knows that. He understands. I think that our guys also understand you're not going to get to a conference championship game and a National Championship game very often without playing a really good football team. That's what it's going to come down to, is who plays the best. In '05, Colorado really struggled and had some people hurt. There were some people being negative about Coach Barnett at that time. So we caught a Colorado team that's been in a tough spot. Nebraska was just the opposite. They had won five straight. They were on a high. They had nothing to lose and they were relaxed. We told our kids this time last year we wanted to win the Big 12 Championship and get our goal. And playing for the National Championship would be a dream. We want the pressure off, have fun and enjoy the moment.
On Alabama having players from Texas and how that impacts recruiting: It doesn't. They're both really good players. We should have taken both of them. They're really good players and playing really well. It's the same thing around here. Every time you look up, there is one we should have taken. There are 375. I'm appealing the NCAA to see if we can get 375 scholarships available each year. And that's the only way to correct who we're going to play against. It's really good. But you look at what they've done, both kids have done an amazing job. And offensively, (Greg McElroy) couldn't have played any better in that ballgame against Florida. To see the progress from the beginning of the year to the end, they can do both now. At the first of the year they were more limited. But they're good and they have great balance now.
On offensive adjustments from the Oklahoma and Nebraska games: Yes. In Oklahoma we were going through transition of trying to get the tight end, running the ball better and moving the ball. Nebraska, Suh just dominated. You can't say you were surprised because he played well all year. We were disappointed as coaches we didn't do a better job of doing some things by scheme to help with him. Hopefully we'll do a better job in this game.
On what those things might be: I'm obviously not going to say. That would be the best answer. That's the truth. If you want me to give you an answer that says a whole lot and has no credibility at all, I'll try (laughing). We should have done different things with some double teams. We should have had more draws, the ones we had were successful. They had four good defensive linemen like Alabama's got, and that's the problem is trying to handle one when you've got the other guys that look just as good. I thought early in the game he made so many exciting plays that excited their defense and frustrated our offense. We didn't come out of the funk until the end of the game. Now we drop a touchdown pass and screw up the field goal attempt. We also didn't think we managed the game as a whole very well. Those are things we need to do a better job. When you have a great player like that, it's tough. And honestly, Cody's one of them. It's a really impressive defense. We don't get to see them that much in this part of the country because we don't see their games. But Alabama's whole front looks like Suh. They're just amazing.
On having experience at the Rose Bowl as a benefit: It is. The Rose Bowl people came through and few have changed. It's fun to see them again. To think the night we did the teleconference when we're playing Michigan, I was told nobody out there liked us, they didn't want you and it was going to be bad. That night they were really gracious and now they've become friends. It's going to be our third trip back in six years, it's just amazing. It's more than we can even ask for. For these fiveyear seniors, there's seven of them. To have been at the Rose Bowl and stand on the sideline and find the national winner and to be able to go back, it is just an amazing experience for them. I did learn though, this is not the Rose Bowl. This is the National Championship game at the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl will be on the 1st. But it will be the National Championship game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. So to me from Cookeville that sounds the same. We won't have a (Rose Bowl) parade, but that's pretty close. We can still count it.
On the importance of special teams playing well: Yeah, this team has found a way to win in all three phases at different times, and that's what you have to do to be good. It's hard to win 13 games. Not everybody and not everything's going to work every week and everything has been pretty good. Our kickoff coverage was great against Nebraska, except for one time. That's why in this game you don't need to have it except for one time. Hunter Lawrence has been unbelievable. In fact, in the '05 Rose Bowl when we played Michigan, I walked out to Dusty and said you're so lucky you're going to be a hero. They're going to talk about this kick the rest of your life. I wish I was you. You're going to have all kinds of girlfriends. I mean, I was trying my best to be happy and excited for him. With Hunter, I walked out to the offensive line and said in front of Hunter where he could hear it, if you guys keep Suh from blocking it, he'll make it, but you have got to protect him. Protect him. He's 100 percent, he hasn't missed. And he was. I didn't realize how close it was until I got home. But I thought it was right down the middle. When I got home and watched it, I still think it was right down the middle, because it doesn't matter. Doesn't matter at all. And the kickoff return at A&M by Marquise. We've been able to do the things in the kicking game that have really helped us. Now it's so much fun, Jordan's punt returns against Tech and against Colorado, to watch Arenas and Jordan, Marquise, D.J., I mean, every time somebody kicks it now, there is going to be some excitement. And it will be a huge part of this game, I think.
On if he is worried about the pressure Colt McCoy might place on himself: I'm really not. Colt has put himself into position where he'll have pressure the rest of his life. I told him. Every week you have to win now. I mean, this is what you do. People say, now, well, if he wins, it will be different. It really won't. He's had a wonderful run here, a great career. He's a wonderful player. He's played in big games. He's beaten Ohio State. He's played in tight games. He's had more lastsecond comebacks. What I thought the other night that got lost is that his game wasn't like A&M. It wasn't what he wanted, but he had us in a position to open the game up with a touchdown pass at the end. He had taken us from the 6-inch line. Hit a 3rd-and-12 to get us off. Drives us to the 32, and the ball was taken out of the tight end's arms where he threw it perfectly. So that would have been a field goal that probably puts them out of range, because they weren't going to score a touchdown. And the last drive he takes it down and makes plays to get us into position. As much as people said about the last seconds, he left enough time. I mean, he's done that. Who would question Colt McCoy when he's had eight of nine last second drives for wins? And at Tech it wasn't his fault. I felt like he had the last three drives were Heismanlike drives against Nebraska. We drop a touchdown. Have a catch taken out of our hands, and the last time there was more talk about the clock running down than there was the lastsecond field goal. So I thought he played well enough to win. The other night, we didn't help him very much. So we've got to do a better job helping him against Alabama.