March 22, 2010
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis
Opening statement: After eight days, I am really pleased with some of the things that we are doing. Obviously we are working more from underneath the center than we have in the last eight or nine years. We are doing that to allow the backs to come downhill more, so I am pleased with that. We are still throwing the same things that we have been throwing, but it has allowed us to be more downhill in the running game. Kyle Hix has moved to left tackle for us. We worked Michael Huey at right guard through the first seven days; we have moved him to left guard starting today, and we will leave him there for the last eight. We are cross-training a bunch of guys in different spots. At tight end, we are working Greg Smith and Barrett Matthews, and we are working both of those guys as an h-back.
Malcolm Williams has had a really good eight days. I think that he has a chance to be a standout player. We moved John Chiles inside into a slot position, and I am pleased with his progress. James Kirkendoll is doing a good job outside. The backs - if we had to play sometime in the next two or three days - would be Tre' Newton and Fozzy Whitaker. They have kind of separated themselves. We are going to take the last eight days and really take a hard look at Chris Whaley, Jeremy Hills, Vondrell McGee, and Cody Johnson and try to really have some decisions made as much as we can going into August regarding the backs.
Garrett has picked up and is really doing a good job. I am very pleased with his poise and the things that he is doing. He is making good decisions with the football. We have a battle going on for the second team quarterback position. Obviously Sherrod Harris has an edge right now on knowledge, but I am pleased with what Case McCoy and Connor Wood are both doing, when you think about how they should both be seniors in high school right now.
On determining the backup quarterback: We are kind of letting them duke it out. It would be nice if they separated. There is one train of thought that you would like to have a fifth-year senior backup, and there is another train that you would rather have a young guy in a back-up position. They are going to settle that on the field, and I feel fairly confident that it will not be decided until August.
On the "synergy" between Garrett Gilbert and the receivers: I think that it is still coming. It is a work in progress, but I see things with Garrett and Malcolm, Garrett and Kirkendoll that are really encouraging in terms of putting the ball on the back shoulder and stopping a guy on a route because of the coverage. I see all of that developing, but that synergy between Colt and Jordan was developed over a long period of time, so to say that we are at that spot, we are not. That is the stop that we want to work towards.
On securing their position before the freshmen arrive in August: We have been very honest with them at every position. These 15 days that we are working, if they do not prove to us that they should be in the mix, then we are going to have to look at some young guys when they get in.
On whether any affects from the National Championship Game can be felt on the field: It was a quality game on a big stage against a quality opponent, so there were a lot of things that we took from the ballgame that we liked, especially when you think that if Colt doesn't get hurt, Garrett would be going into spring having never been on that stage. Now, he has been on that stage, and I think that what he did in the second half showed us what kind of quarterback he can be.
On going back under center: Anytime you do something a little bit different, it is exciting for them. I think that the backs and the line realized that we set everything up the past couple years for Colt to win the ballgame throwing the football. I think that Garrett, like I said, is going to be an outstanding player, but having said that, we want to be more flexible in the run game. To do that, we think that one of the things that we had to do was go back under center some and the zone read will take a much lesser role in offense. Philosophically, we still believe as we always have since 1998 that you have to be able to run and throw the ball to win all of the ballgames.
On the offensive line: They have really worked hard and have a great attitude right now. We kind of went into spring with the attitude that we wanted to be nasty up front, and they have done a good job. I mentioned the two older guys, but David Snow and Tray Allen are doing well, and Britt Mitchell at right tackle is doing a great job. What we will try to do is find the top five and where they fit, and then we will start looking for who is going to be the sixth and who will be the seventh.
On RBs Cody Johnson and Chris Whaley: We have not put the goal line package in for spring training, and I am not sure that we will because there are so many other things that we want to look at, but Cody has done a good job. One of the things that we want to find out over these 15 days is exactly where does Chris Whaley fit. Is he a guy that can fit in the short yardage scheme? Is he a guy who can play some snaps as an every down back?
On the team's mood over the past eight days: The mood has been great. This group looks back and sees how close we were in '08 and '09, and they want to get back to that kind of environment. Obviously Colt and Jordan were tremendous leaders along with Adam Ulatowski and Chris Hall. All of those guys will be missed, but if you look back many years ago we were talking about whether Colt could provide the leadership because Vince had left. The thing that I have talked to Garrett about is that you have to lead with your own personality.
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp
On younger players stepping up on defense: Kheeston Randall started for us most of all last year and I think he's had a good spring. Kenny Vaccaro is a guy that's come along and done some nice things. Those guys would be the ones that would jump out at me that haven't necessarily played as much. Tevin Mims and Alex Okafor again are guys, but you've got to continue to press forward. Consistency in performance is so key to playing at a high level. That's what those guys need to understand.
On how the young linemen are playing: I think it's all relative to where they are in their career. They've certainly improved. Their production will be a telltale in how they play.
On the National Championship game as a learning experience for the players: I don't necessarily know if you talk about the game as much as you learn from the experiences from what it took to get there. It took a lot of commitment, sacrifice, discipline. Those are easy words to say, but they're hard to do. The leadership of this team understands how difficult that process is and what it takes to get there. That's where you've got to have that burning desire to get back and get that opportunity again.
On facing Garrett Gilbert in practice: Garrett is very talented. He has tremendous arm talent. It's just a matter of getting snaps and turns. That's what all good players will get, and he's going to be an outstanding player at Texas.
On Aaron Williams' role: Aaron is a good cover guy. He's got nice zone instincts. He can play nickel. He can play corner. He can be an emergency safety for us. He's just got to continue to step forward with his role on the team, continue to finish plays as well as he has finished, become a more physical player and become a more complete player.
On his conversations with the players preparing for the NFL Draft: (Earl Thomas) is doing really well. He's had great workouts. He had a great combine. His interviews went tremendously well from the NFL people I've talked to. He's a great person and very productive player here at Texas. I think as much as anything, the intangible things he brought to our defense - the toughness, the attitude, the lunch pail mentality, blue collar, overachiever - God's blessed him with a lot of ability, but he's taken it to another level.
I've talked to Serg(io Kindle). (Roddrick) Muck(elroy) came by today. So, all of those guys certainly understand what this program has meant to them. They've meant an awful lot to us. They're missed because of their work ethic and the intangibles they brought to our defense.
On if they cross-train players on defense: We've got a bunch up front. You look at Sam Acho, Tevin Mims, Alex Okafor, Kheeston Randall, Tyrell Higgins. We've probably got six or seven guys playing different spots up front. Emmanuel Acho and Dravannti Johnson are both playing linebacker and rush situations for us. On the back end, all of them have to learn all positions. We try to do that to build depth on our football team. Also from an injury standpoint, you've got to prepare for injuries. You've got to be able to adjust and adapt in a game and move around to get the best 11 on the field.
On having a balance between veterans and younger players: Every year is a new year. Nothing that happened last year is going to help us win a game for next year. It's a new year, and you've got to understand that you have to work as hard as you did before, if not harder. The target on our chest is bigger, which is great. It's always big. That's what you want. Nothing that happened last year is going to help us win a game next year.
On the development of the linebackers: I think that right now we're probably a little deeper than we were at this point last spring. That's how I equate things - where we were year to year at the same timetable. We've got five guys we feel pretty comfortable with as far as playmaking ability. They've got to continue to progress, though.
On if he uses the spring game as a measuring stick: It's an opportunity to get better. You've got 15 opportunities. I look at my first year here, Blake Gideon had a phenomenal spring game and walked out there in front of 40,000 people and played really well and produced. The game was over and Duane (Akina) and I looked at each other and said that this guy should be getting ready to go to the prom and he played pretty good. I think that was a pretty good indicator that he was going to be able to handle some things in the fall. Any time you get an opportunity and stand in that stadium and play and produce for Texas, it's good for you.
On if he's easing Garrett Gilbert into the position: No, we're going to call the game. He's going to see it in the first game against Rice and down the line. Greg (Davis) and I and Coach Brown are all on the same page as far as our installation offensively and defensively. Nothing is put in that we don't know is going to happen going in. There's nothing worse than going out and losing your kids because they're not prepared for something. We're very well tied together as far as our installation is concerned, but we're throwing everything we've got.