Dec. 21, 2011
Senior LB Keenan Robinson
How does it feel to get back on the field?
We had a little time off after the Baylor game. Now we are getting back at it, focusing on Cal and trying to get this eighth win.
Have the younger players asked a lot of questions about the bowl game and what to expect from this trip?
After the Baylor game, we had a meeting and the coaches kind of briefed them on the schedule for the next few weeks. Basically, this is like the beginning of spring football. The older guys are on their way out, and the younger guys are on their way in to get spots. There are going to be spots open, and new starters are going to be named. This is the earliest point where they can make a good impression on the coaches going into the spring.
Which of the younger players has made the biggest impression on you?
All the guys that you have seen all year. Obviously, the young corners and young DBs [defensive backs] and the guys on the other side of the ball. We have a lot of guys who have been stepping up and fulfilling the role that the coaches have asked. They have continued to progress everyday.
From the other side of the ball, how are the running backs coming along?
They look nice. We have great depth in the running back field, and that is something we haven’t always had here. We have always had that “one” or “two” guy that we go to, but here it seems like no matter what guy we put in there, they are going to get yards. In the K-State game we saw that with Jeremy [Hills] as well as in the last game and [against] A&M as well. No matter who we put in there, as long as the blocking is done right, then they are going to get yards, and we are going to make explosive plays to the running game.
What advice do you give to the young linebackers?
The wisdom I tell is through my practice and through my play everyday. I really don’t tell those guys too much because I lead by example. They see what I do on the field. Everyday I come to work and run hard. Everyday I practice hard. Everyday I hit as hard as a game rep. I get a game rep at every practice rep. I make sure these guys know that in order to be a great player, no matter what level you are at, you have to practice like you play. If you don’t go hard or don’t finish until the whistle and don’t bust your butt every play, then you are not going to be a great player. That is the kind of players we have had here at Texas in the past, and what we will have in the future.
Do you see any starters losing their spot to one of these younger players who are trying to make an impression on the coaches?
Not that I have seen. You would have to ask the coaches. I feel that the depth chart we have had early on up to this point will probably be the same. We have guys that will make an impression. We have four more practices before we go out to Cali and then three practices out there. There is still a lot of time for guys to make their move, but I think it is more for next year. When the seniors leave than those guys will step up, and that’s more of where the impression will make an impact. It won’t be for this season.What is the difference between ending the year 8-5 and 7-6?
Basically, it is when you end off on the right note, which is a win no matter how you get it. Whether it’s an ugly win or a good win or a blowout. As long as we get the win, it makes everything so much better going into the offseason. You have a starting block where you know what you did last year, you know how to fix it, how to improve on the season you had and you feel so much better going into the offseason. What we have to do, as seniors and all the other guys, is to focus all we can to get this team this eighth win. It really helps the coaches and the players recruiting because now we can focus on getting back to Texas football with ten-plus win seasons like we have had here in the past. Is it more important to finish the year on a win or to finish with eight wins?
I feel like finishing with a win is more important than the number eight. We didn’t win ten this season, so we need to get as close to the number as we can. Winning eight and finishing on the right note would be achieving that. We would have liked to win ten games, but we have a chance to next season. Finishing on the right note is more important for us and making sure we have a great foundation going into the offseason. Has it felt like a long road from the National Championship game to this point of reaching a bowl game again?
I didn’t feel like it was a long road for me because I am a guy who has seen the good and [has] seen the bad. For me, it has been rolling with the punches and growing pains with the changes that have gone on around here. We have new coaches and new staff. It is kind of tough going out this way as a senior, because you know everyone wishes the seniors would go out on top in the National Championship game. Obviously that is not possible. Only 120 teams are in college football and only two teams get the chance. I feel like for me [it] is going to be to go out on the right note with a bang in the Holiday Bowl. That is the best thing I can do at this point, and the best way for me to leave my legacy here at Texas. Have you thought much about how this will be your last game for the Texas Longhorns?
I think about it all the time. I think about it in a happy way because I know my time here has been well spent. I have done almost everything that I have wanted to do. I played in a National Championship game, which is something I could never fathom in high school. I’ve done a really good job of taking these four to five years, because I red-shirted, and I’ve made the best out of them and done everything I can to make myself a better player and give myself a chance to play in the National Football League. We [need to] continue to do everything that we have done all season and play Texas football and play hard and play tough on Saturday. [We need to] play smart football, which is protecting the ball on both sides of the ball and forcing turnovers. Then we can get this win, and I can go out with the rest of my senior class on the right foot.How much progress do you feel the defense has made with learning new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s schemes?
It’s funny because once they told me that [former defensive coordinator Will] Muschamp was leaving and [Manny] Diaz was coming in, it didn’t really matter who came in. We could have had Mickey Mouse coaching us and I was going to follow him. I’m a guy that is coachable, so no matter what the scheme is, I’m going to learn it and try to perfect it the best way I can and just be a person that the coach wants to teach and go to, to get anything done. I am one of those guys. When Diaz came in, I was like no matter what he tells me I am going to do [it]. If he told me to blitz into three linemen then I‘m going to do that, if that is what is going to help us win games. On the season, we each feel in our Rice game and in some other games that we were not as aggressive in attacking as we are now on defense. What you see now is us being more comfortable in the scheme, and we all play off each other. The A&M game is a perfect example when Kenny [Vaccaro] got that interception. It was a time when we had a play called and the quarterback checked. We all knew right then and there that Coach Diaz wanted to check the play. So we went over to the sideline, got the play called and changed the call and that is how we were able to put ourselves in the position to get the interception. We were in that coverage and checked on the run. Kenny had a split second to make that decision to run up there and get that ball and he did. It was something that we were all on the same page, because we are all used to playing with each other and all used to this scheme. That just shows how we have come from the Rice game to how we are going to get better in these next two weeks before the game.Who will emerge as a leader among the younger linebackers?
Out of the linebackers it will probably be Jordan Hicks
and Demarco Cobbs
. Those are the two oldest guys at the position. Jordan is a guy that was one of the top guys in the country coming out of high school, so he is a guy that is going to be able to take that role. He will be a junior so he will definitely have the experience and the leadership skills to be able to do that. How much does it mean to be going to a bowl game after not making one last season?
Last season taught us not to take anything for granted. When I came here, we went to the Holiday Bowl my redshirt year, the next year went to the Fiesta Bowl and the next year the National Championship game. Whatever bowl game we can go to, be happy you are there. Not every team has that opportunity. There are about 85-plus teams that don’t get the chance to go to a bowl game, and we are one of those teams that get to go. I think that this time around, no matter what the bowl game is, we are happy. That is something all the young guys know because sitting here a year ago we were done and we were ready to start the offseason. We need to take this chance and cherish it and be ready to make an impact next season when we get a win.
Freshman CB Quandre Diggs
How do you feel about being selected to a bowl game in San Diego where your older brother Quentin Jammer is?
First of all, the game is business no matter what. We are going out there for vacation, but at the same time it is business and we have to handle business. It will be great to go out and play in San Diego, but there is really nothing different. It is just another football game.
Do you have any plans to spend time with your family when you are out there?
The biggest plan is winning. No matter where you go on a football trip, you have to win. That’s the biggest thing.
What are your thoughts on Cal?
They have a real good offense with a pretty good quarterback, two good receivers and a good [running] back. So we are going to have to come out and execute. Hopefully we can get the win.
How anxious are you guys to get back onto the field?
You can tell even at practice that everyone is anxious to get back on the field. The time off is good, though. We need the time to get our bodies back. With this time, we have been relaxing and executing at practice. We are ready to get after it.
What was your brother’s reaction when he found out that you were going to be playing in San Diego?
He was pretty excited. We always spend Christmas together so being able to spend another Christmas with him is great. He is ready to come to another game. He came to the [Oklahoma] State game, so he is ready to support Texas.
How have you felt you have grown from the first game of the season until now?
I feel like I am a lot different. Going out for the Rice game and playing in front of 100,000 people, it is something that an 18-year old has never done before. I feel like I have grown over the year. I have tried to become more of a complete player. I feel like I have changed a lot, but I still have a long way to go.
At what point did your confidence start to kick in and you thought that you could handle this game at the collegiate level?
Even though we lost to Oklahoma, I would say being out there and being in a game like that, there is nothing bigger. Once you get in big rivalry games, everything slows down for you. I got on pace with the other guys, and that is when things started to click.
What kind of role has your older brother played in your life as far as your football career as well as outside of football?
He is my role model. Everything I do is because of him. I play this game because of him. He has taught me so much with this game and [even things] not game-related. He has taught me to be a better person in life. The advice he gives to me is priceless. He gives me football advice and on being a better person. He is a great father, and he is like a father figure to me. He is so great to his kids and I see that and it makes me, in the future, want to be a better person or even a better dad if I ever had the opportunity to be one.
Has your brother been able to watch many of your games?
[He watches] every game he can catch. Even on their road trips, he will get online and try to watch it. He keeps up with me, and I keep up with him. With the conflicts we have on Sunday with us having practice, I try to get every-second updates I can on that game. We keep up with each other.
Does it bother you having to be constantly compared to your brother?
No, not at all. It’s great to have that kind of a comparison. If you can be compared to an All-American and Texas great then you want to take it and run with it and try to be better than that person. That has always been my personality toward him. I told him when I was little that I was going to be better than him, and that’s what I intend to do. It’s a tough goal, but I set high goals for myself.
How did your brother react when you told him you would be better than him?
He tells me to push and to be better than him. He wants me to be better than him. That’s all you can ask out of a bigger brother. It is great, and we love each other to death. Right now, I told him I am leading this interception race three to zero. I feel like I am having the better year.
How important is it for this team to reach eight wins?
It’s very important. If we go in and get this win in the bowl game, it could really jump-start us for next year by getting us a fast start and building our confidence. It is big to us, and that is our plan to get that eighth win. Right now, we are trying to find a motto to get that eighth win. Just like our ‘brick by brick’ motto, we want have a motto for that eighth win.
How do you think you did this season?
I thought it went pretty well. It was tough early on. There were some ups and downs, but that’s life. You just have to continue to move on and continue to get better. I feel like with a great guy like Coach [Duane] Akina pushing me everyday, I have no choice but to get better. That’s my goal, to get better. I know I’m not where I want to be, so I have to continue to move on.
Freshman WR Jaxon Shipley
What has your schedule been like with the bowl practices?
We have a little bit of time off and now we are working in these bowl practices. We are not practicing everyday. Obviously we are taking some breaks in between, but
I think that is helping me with my knee.
What is your perspective on going to the Holiday Bowl?
All of us are really excited, especially the freshmen that have not been able to play in a bowl game yet, and those freshmen last year that did not get to play in a bowl game. We are all very excited. San Diego is supposedly really awesome. The weather is going to be great, and we are really looking forward to playing in this bowl game.
Did you go to any bowl games when your older brother, Jordan, was playing?
I went to the Alamo Bowl when they played Iowa. I went to the Fiesta Bowl when they played Ohio State, which was awesome and I got to go to the National Championship game, too. So I got some experience in that, and it has been a lot of fun. I know that going into this bowl game I will be really excited because I’ve got to go to those games, and the atmosphere is great.
Do you think it will help you knowing what is to come after having gone to some of these games compared to the other freshmen?
Obviously I was in the stands, so I wasn’t able to participate. I was getting the feel and everything, though, so hopefully that will help me out.
How would you assess your first year?
Did you think you would have thrown two touchdown passes by now?
I definitely would not have bought that. I had no idea that I was going to throw the ball. When I did find out I was going to, I was really excited because it is something new for me and I enjoyed that this year. I think this year, for me, it was a year where I didn’t really know what to expect. I got thrown in there and ended up doing what I could for the team. I am excited going into next year.
How important is it for this team to go to San Diego and win this game?
One of the things that Coach Brown has been talking about is getting this eighth win. He said we really need this eighth win, and I think it is going to do a lot for us. We are all really excited to try and end this on a good note for the seniors as they are going out and also for us freshmen and younger guys coming back in the spring. I think that will give us a lot of motivation going into the spring.
Did you set expectations for yourself going into your freshmen season and did you meet those expectations?
I didn’t really know what to expect. I was just hoping that I could get some playing time. I didn’t know that I was going to get any playing time until about halfway through fall practice. Once I started to get thrown in there a little bit, it was one of those things where the more reps I got the better I got at executing plays. This season has been a blast for me so far, and I am really excited to play in this bowl game and finish the season off right.
Have the bowl practices been different than regular season practices?
A little bit. We have still been going full-go. I think we have had some of the best practices that we have had so far this season, and I think that is because everyone is excited. There is a lot of energy out there at practice because everyone is excited to play in the bowl game.
How much carry-over effect do you think this bowl game will have going into the offseason?
I think it is really important for us to get this win. We are trying to send these seniors out on a good note since it will be their last game. As far as us younger guys, we are really looking to have a good game to get us off on the right note going into the spring, so we will have a lot of momentum. I think if we win this game we will have a lot of energy and a lot of momentum going into the spring. I think it is very valid for us.
Do you still feel like a freshman?
No sir, I really don’t. Once I started getting a lot of reps early in the fall and then I actually started playing in games, you can’t think about being a freshman. It’s one of those things that can hold you back if you think, “Well, I’m a freshmen,” and blame that on stuff. Coach Brown has but an emphasis [on the fact] that we are not freshmen anymore. We’ve got experience under our belt, so we have to play like we are older than we really are.
Which of the younger guys who didn’t get to play a lot during the season are starting to turn heads now?
I think [TE] M.J. McFarland. He has been doing a great job with the scout team and us. I am looking for him to have a great year next year. He has that determination and he is really trying to get better right now, and I think he is. He has been doing a great job for us, and we are really excited.
How did a guy with the leadership qualities like RB Fozzy Whittaker influence you this year?
Fozzy has been unbelievable for us. He is one of those guys that I look up to so much, and I respect him. He has taught me a whole lot about leadership and being one of those guys who plays with passion. He comes out there everyday and is always energized and excited and loves the game of football. That is something that I think is going to carry over to some of the guys in the other classes. Having a leader like that is not something that you get too often. He is one of those guys that we all look up to. Hopefully, some of the other guys and myself are looking to be leaders next year. We will have to step up and try to lead as best we can.