Longhorns arrive in California
Jan. 2, 2010
Head coach Mack Brown
DT Lamarr Houston
On the attitude of the team now that they’re in California: Everyone is just trying to get ready for practice, stay focused and get prepared for playing in this game. Get your Internet hooked up in your room so we can play a little wireless. That’s all we’ve been talking about.
On the game finally being here: The closer we get, the more exciting it gets. The bowl games are starting to get knocked off one by one. The Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl were today so the closer it gets, the more excited we get.
On whether the team looks back to help them prepare: We are just focusing on the game. Looking back at anything isn’t going to help us at all, except for looking at film. That’s the only thing we look back at. We’re just keeping our heads straight, keeping our eyes on the prize and getting ready for the big game against a great team.
On how the team still has fun while preparing for the National Championship: It’s easy, it’s football. We love playing and coach Brown will have little activities to do at practice just to keep it fun. We’re always used to being loose and never uptight and that’s how this program is built around big games.
On Alabama QB Greg McElroy: He’s a good quarterback. He does really well at spreading the ball, play-action fakes and passing the ball. Their offense is really good at what they do. The way they set up the plays they want to run, the screens, play actions, pass plays, then they do a lot of running to get their offense started. We’re just going to have to play football, play physical and play fast like we always play and just try to get him off his game and get him out of the pocket and don’t let him get comfortable at all.
On stopping Alabama RB Mark Ingram: I think his offensive line does a good job at letting him get to the second level. When they get on their guys up front, in the front seven, all he has to do is make a DB fake or run a DB into a slide tackle. It’s pretty easy when you’re a guy like Mark, you know you’re 220 pounds and 5-11 with a style like that. He runs with a full head of steam, that’s how he gets his yards. It’s got to be physical and we have to tackle like we know how to tackle and tackle with technique. We have to have our heads in the right position. We can’t just lunge at him or arm tackle him or just throw our bodies at him. We have to bring our feet and wrap him up.
On having Christian Scott back: He’s been practicing all year and he’s doing a great job now that he’s back with the defense, he’s doing really well.
On staying focused with the long break between games: We just keep working. Coach Will Muschamp never lets us enjoy anything too long. You look at it on Sunday and then you’re done and get back to work on Tuesday. It’s a repeating cycle now. We’re just practicing physical. We’re doing tackling drills, a lot of one-on-one drills and then just getting it after it. There’s no break, it’s just like two-a-days.
On what they’re doing to help the Texas offense improve since the Nebraska game: I think it was just a great college game. We’ve been going ones-on-ones at practice, so I think we’re going to help each other just going good against good and that will help improve our offense.
On if the offensive line has moved on since the Nebraska game: I think they let that go. There’s nothing to worry about. We just have to practice the way we practice. They’ll do a great job in this next game and we just have to put a rest to everything else.
On who Alabama would compare to: Alabama is very similar to Nebraska the way they run the ball, run the ball, play-action pass, try and hit the ball deep sometimes off the run but I think they’re the most similar to Nebraska.
On competitions at practice between the players: We have one-on-one pass rush, we have Longhorn drill which is basically just man-on-man. Coach Brown says we can’t play if you don’t win, so everybody is competing out there every day. That’s how we try and get better. We don’t keep score, but we do a little cheer or dance when we do really well. I don’t have a favorite celebration, I usually just sit back and watch. The most I’ll do is a chest bump.
On Alabama DL Terrence Cody: He’s a real big guy, he’s 355 pounds and I think they say he’s about 6-7, so that’s a lot of man moving around out there. He’s really good at drawing the point of attack and keeping two blocks no matter what because he’s so big. It frees up a lot of room to get out there and run around. With him out there, we’re going to have to find a way to make it a one-on-one block because he’s so big and athletic.
On whether he takes tips from other defensive players: Anytime you get to watch anybody play football, you watch what they do and see if you can somehow incorporate the way they play into your style, but everybody plays different so it’s hard to say.
On the attitude of the defense: We’re just Texas, we’re going to play Texas football. We’re going to be fast and physical and furious. That’s how we play and that’s how we’re always going to play. Coach Muschamp reminds us of that, and we’re going to keep our heads and our swag and keep going out there and do what we do.
On what it means to the seniors to have the chance to go out on top: Coach Brown always says it’s going to be your last time out. To go out in the National Championship I think that’s the best way to leave college football. You’re playing in the biggest game there is in the country, having all the people watch, in the location it’s at with the history of the Rose Bowl, it’s like a dream come true.
On winning close games: We always condition to last longer than our opponent and we always have that confidence. Coach Brown never lets us to get caught up in the situation or anything. We just stay focused on winning.
QB Colt McCoy
On making it to Pasadena: I’m really excited to be here. When I got on the plane this morning to come, a lot of my teammates were on the same flight and you could sense the excitement. Once we got here it just kind of settled in. We’ll have our team meeting later on, but everyone’s really focused and kind of in tune to what’s going on. It’s going to be a long week of preparation because we’re all excited and ready for the game, but it’s going to be fun.
On what to expect from the first practice in California: I think everyone will be ready. We have had a couple days off, but I know people have studied their film. Coach Brown asked us to sweat a little bit when we were at home, work out a little bit, so I think everyone will be ready. Our focus is completely on Alabama at this point and what we have to do to win.
On keeping an edge as the underdog: Coach Brown told us to find an edge, find what will make you better than the guy you’re going against every play. When we go to practice, when we go to meetings, when we are hanging out at the hotel, we’re slowly trying to find our edge, find our advantage. We’re not thinking about being the underdogs, we’re just thinking about what we have to do to go into this game and play our best.
On if they’ve faced a team like Alabama this year: I don’t know if we’ll see a more complete defense than Alabama as far as their talent, their skill. They’re very physical. They have a little different mentality than some of the people we’ve played. I expect them to come after us every single play from the very beginning. They’ve seen what we’ve done versus teams that blitzed us. We haven’t handled that as well as we should, so we expect them to come after us and we’re definitely going to have to be ready.
On the different blitzes Alabama brings: Well they have every blitz in the book, anything you want to draw up, they probably have. They use them in different situations. Some games you’ll see one blitz more than the other, versus what they think, they’re going to bring different blitzes. So, first down, second down, maybe some zone pressure, but they really like to play man-to-man so it’s going to be tough and it’s going to be a challenge. If the offensive line can win up front, if we can protect and have time to go through our second and third progressions, we feel like we have a great opportunity to win.
On his confidence in the offensive line: We’re confident. The offensive line has been with me pretty much for the last three years. A lot of those guys have and have played in a lot of big games and big situations. Their confidence going into this game will be high. They have to know that coming into this game that if we can win up front and win the line of scrimmage, run the ball a little bit and give us some pass protection, then that’s really the only opportunity we have to take advantage of them on defense.
On the possibility of Alabama getting off to an aggressive start: If we can get some time, we feel like we can take advantage of some things. Our team is going to have to play really good. We’re going to have be very sharp, very focused because we will probably see a lot of things that we’ve never seen before and lot of things that we aren’t prepared for because they’re Alabama. They’re really good. They’re really well coached, so our mentality is number one to have fun. This whole week we’re going to enjoy practice, we’re going to enjoy this week, being in the National Championship. It’s been our goal all year long to get here. Second of all, we’re really going to focus on creating an edge and going out there and do everything we can to play our best.
On having a month to prepare the offensive game plan and his involvement: We do have a little more time to prepare and a little more time to figure out what I like and what I don’t like, what are we better at in certain situations, third-and-long, third-and-medium, what are our best calls. We have a better game plan just because we’re able to practice more, get a little more film study in and kind of break them down. I think this week will be really key to really tuning in to what we’re trying to do. We’ve really prepared hard for Alabama. This week I think will be just fine tuning some things, really focusing and understanding what our job is.
On being the underdog: If you look at what we’ve gone through all year since the Ohio State game, we’ve had a lot of pressure on ourselves, not just individually, but on our team, to win – a lot of expectations. But we’ve made it to where we want to be. We’ve made it to where we set our goal to be in the very beginning of the season. Now it’s time to go out there and relax and have fun and play. That’s kind of our mentality. I don’t think a lot of us are thinking about underdogs, thinking, ‘Oh, we may not be good enough to win.’ We’re talking about how ‘Hey, we’re going to go out there have fun, execute and do our best.’ That’s our mentality.
On what the attitude of the team is like: Well I haven’t gone to the team meeting yet but I would say that there are a lot of good senior leaders on this team, a lot of guys who have been here before, first of all, then a lot of guys who have worked their tails off to get to where we are. From the end of the season last year, this has been our goal. This has been where we have wanted to be, so I think everybody has a sense of urgency. You know, we’re here, let’s get it done, but also a sense of let’s have fun and make sure everyone is on the same page and go in there and play our best.
On whether he’s talked to Vince Young: We’ve talked a little on text messaging but I’m sure we’ll talk more later this week.
On whether he’s found his edge: I have just thought a lot about of what am I playing in this game for and what has gotten me in this game. First of all, I’m playing for all of the kids that I went to see for the last two years in Peru. Second of all, I’m playing for my cousin Grant who gave his life for our country. Third of all, I’m playing for all of my teammates and for my university. They’ve given me so much the last five years that I’m just going to relax and enjoy the position I’m in and go out there and play my best. That is my focus this week.
On how he stays loose before the game: Thinking about how blessed I am to even have the opportunity to play. I know that I’ll be as prepared as anybody going into this game. I know how hard I’ve worked to get to this point, how hard our team has worked, and that gives me some comfort. To look around and to see the best coaching staff in America around us, Coach Brown and his staff, to see all my teammates that I’ve played with for the last four years around me, that is what gives me comfort. And then to know how fortunate I am to be out there. I truly understand how much God has blessed me and how much ability he has given me, and when I look at all those things, I just go out there with a smile on my face and just try to do my best.
On whether he has high expectations for himself: I love this position, I love this game and I have a passion for it. This is the biggest stage you can be on, so I’m going to go out there and enjoy it.
On playing in his last game at Texas: I feel like it’s gone by really fast. I can remember every play we ran when I was a freshman. When you’re a freshman and a sophomore you set your goals to play in the National Championship and then you look up at your senior year and you’ve accomplished all these things and this is about the highest that you can get. For me, that’s very satisfying. I know it is for our team, this is what we’ve worked for since each one of us started playing. We’re very excited and it’s going to be a really fun week.
On memories from the 2005 National Championship: I actually re-watched the game a couple of days ago, it was on ESPN Classic, so I watched that game and it kind of fired me up and that kind of made it all sink in. Watching that last drive and the big stop on fourth down, those are memories that I’ll have forever. Now you want to go out there and actually play in the game and create some memories of your own.
On Vince Young telling him he’d be in the same position during the 2005 National Championship: I don’t know if he necessarily meant that I’d been in the Rose Bowl in that position, but he just said, “Hey, you’ll be in these shoes some day so just watch and learn.” This was when we got the turnover and there was a TV timeout. I was just the kid with the clipboard, always out there with Coach Kennedy and Coach Chambers and helping relay the play from upstairs, so it was pretty special.
On Nebraska’s bowl win over Arizona: They shut them out. Their defense is really good and they played great. It’s good for our conference and good for us. I think everybody already had an idea that they were really good and were going to go in there and do that.
On having a month to prepare and correct things from the Big 12 Championship: We have great coaches. We have great heart on our team and we have great determination. For the offensive line, for our offense and really for our team we went back to work and used those weeks wisely that we had, really focusing and watching film, preparing and understanding what we did wrong and how we can fix it. I think the biggest thing from the Nebraska game was that we didn’t capitalize on our opportunities. We had several opportunities to put the game away. We knew going in that it wasn’t going to be a game where we score a lot of points, light up the scoreboard. It was going to be a game where you have to grind it out, punt several times, play field position, but when you have your opportunity you have to take advantage of it and in that game, we didn’t do that. That’s exactly how this game is going to be. It’s not going to be a game where you go in there and complete 80 percent of your passes for all these yards and a lot of touchdowns. It is going to be a game where you are going to have fight, you’re going to have to claw, you’re going to have to make plays and ultimately find a way to win in the end. That’s exactly how this game is going to be. Going through a game like that I think will prepare us for this if we learn from our mistakes and go into this game and take advantage of some things.
On the role the other receivers can play if the Alabama defense concentrates on Jordan Shipley and Malcolm Williams: Those guys will be big and they know that. Our coaches do a great job of getting us prepared and making us understand what the game is going to be like. Those guys are going to have to play. They’re going to have to step up and make some plays if we’re going to win. I definitely think they’re capable of doing that. We worked really hard going one-on-one, it’s been really physical and we’ve gotten a lot of really good work in over the last couple of weeks. We’ve got a good feel of what they’re going to try to do to us. We’ve watched a lot of film, but at the same time every game is different and you’re going to see some new looks and see some different things, but those guys like Dan [Buckner] and James [Kirkendoll], our running backs, they’re all going to have to come up big and make some plays.