April 1, 2012
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Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin
On David Ash and Case McCoy passing throughout spring: Both those guys are better in the pass game because they understand what the expectations are in each play. The receivers, the tight ends, the backs; everybody that is out and eligible on those past concepts are better at what they are doing. So it is just an overall more consistency in the pass game, and that is really what we needed to see and we did see. I thought those guys did that today for what we asked them to do. We tried to get everyone in the Spring Game. We tried to get everybody an opportunity because the running backs, the offensive line, quarterbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers need to go out there and show what they have done. I though it was pretty balanced in that standpoint. Those guys did what we asked them to do and I was happy with the performance from both those quarterbacks.
On the overall progress of the QBs since the Holiday Bowl: That is really where we compare it. You know it is not spring-to-spring or fall camp to fall camp. It is really from our last practices. From that standpoint, I think just the understanding from both those guys I thought did a tremendous job coming in and studying film during the off-season before spring. Just to really start to try and understand better what are we trying to do and what are the expectations. It showed in this spring. They did a nice job of understanding what we can and cannot do, options to get us out of certain things and why. That is just part of the progress and it is just ongoing. Right now no, but if they continue that trend we will have a good fall camp and an understanding of what their responsibilities are on a couple of plays.
On quarterback depth: I will say this, and Coach Mack Brown has said this, we are trying to get two-deep across the board in all positions. You go back and you look day-by-day, David Ash is ahead one day and Case McCoy is ahead the next day. It is a pretty even split as far as what those guys did as far as completion percentage and things like that in each practice. Both guys from what we ask them to do I thought did a tremendous job. David has continued to impress and improve. And I thought Case really came on in the second half of spring. So both those guys did a nice job. I thought today that David did a nice job down there in the red zone. I don't believe there were any turnovers from David. That is always a key. We know from our side of the ball, if we can hang on to it and not turn the ball over, our defense will go out there and they are opportunistic and when they get the ball, we have to take advantage of that. We have to do our part and those are big things on the offensive side.
On the running game today: I though we ran the ball decent. Through the spring, that is what I think that iron sharpens iron on both sides of the ball. In the spring we see a variety of things from the defense and those guys up front give us tremendous looks and they are very difficult to go against. As far as today, just letting those guys go head-to-head and play. I thought we did some good things on the sweep, getting outside of the perimeter. I thought there were a couple good runs inside and the backs looked like they broke some tackles. Those are things we need to see because you get to that second level and that is where those guys have to make some opportunities for themselves happen. We will go back and analyze it and every practice there is always things we got to continue to work on. But as far as just their effort today, I thought on both sides it was very good.
On WR Mike Davis: It is just the flow of the game. You get out there and you try to dial some things, but the quarterback goes somewhere else without telling the guy what you wanted to do. I have done that and usually it is wrong in those situations. But Mike has had a good spring. Mike has come on and Mike is a guy who from his preparation attitude and mentality going into this spring has done a nice job. That entire group and [wide receivers] Coach Darrell Wyatt has done an excellent job of bringing that group along of where they need to be and what they need to do and the expectations from all the over positions and making sure they just understand things.
On the tight ends: I think that is another group now with some of those throws down the middle; I think that is one area that we have tried to emphasize this spring and work on that. Those guys made a couple good plays and I thought the quarterbacks stuck the ball [in there]. But I thought those guys made some good plays and I thought the run game because of what we ask them to do on the edge makes it difficult because they are one-on-one. They don't get the opportunity for double teams like a lot of guys inside do, so they got to be great at their technique. We continue to do that all through spring and put those guys in situations of one-on-one blocks, but the guys we are going against makes it very hard. They got in a tremendous amount of work and today I thought they did a decent job. I am not sure on the penalties because I don't know what they were. I will go back and review those because, obviously, we can't have those because they are drive-killers. But you can see today that I thought those guys have taken a tremendous amount of pride and it showed up today. Their overall mentality today was correct going out there and being ready to go.
On the biggest concern: Like [defensive coordinator] Manny [Diaz] said, this is where we are now. We are not where we need to be and our guys understand that and that is okay. It is not a bad thing because this is just a phase. It is phase two and we got to move through more phases and get ourselves prepared for the season. What we have to do from this point now is what we did from our bowl game to the spring. It is just continue to become students of the game and get in there and watch tape of how we continue to prepare ourselves mentally so we can play faster and physically so we can work all the drills and techniques. But so much of it is being mentally prepared to play fast and that is when you are not thinking and just playing. That is a challenge to our guys to get in there study, learn, ask questions, and really become students of the game. So in fall camp, some of the issues we had were on mental mistakes but those disappear. We have new mistakes but those old mistakes that are mental start to disappear and we move from there.
On the emphasis of being more physical than mental: We put it on both sides. The physical mentality is both sides. Today was one snapshot of what we have done the last 14 practices, and we have had some regular practices where guys have gone after it. I think the one thing that I feel like has been very good is that both sides are now getting after it in a way that is very competitive where they are improving each other at the same time. They are out there making sure that they are all getting better. There is a respect factor out there that we are improving as a team because we can practice like this and prepare like this. On both sides there have been some big hits out there and guys are playing faster. That is what we see overall. We are playing faster and doing a better job on both sides. It is that iron sharpens iron theory.
On relying on the run game to take pressure off the pass: I hope so. I don't know the answer to that statistically of what it is going to be. We want to build our plan so we can be successful in both, obviously. The run game is one area that if your quarterback is not playing well, you need to be able to hand the ball [off]. You have to find ways to be successful in that area. And I think with the variety of different types of players that we have that we can put the ball in their hands, it doesn't have to be a throw all the time. We can give it to them and they are dynamic when they have the ball whether it is Jaxon Shipley or Mike Davis or D.J. Monroe. It doesn't have to be chunked out there, and we can hand it to them to do different things. That is one area for us and just overall in our scheme we want to be good in the run game so we can go to it. And then, when we get to the pass game we're working on getting consistent and making plays. When it gets to 50-50, I think it is hard to stop when you have that type of balance and that is what we want to have ultimately.
On having WR Jaxon Shipley throwing more passes: I actually just talked to him about coming into our room to work on that. [laughs] He is already onto his second and third reads on those plays. He is a ball player and it is fun to have guys like that and just the ability to have some fun things and especially his ability to make decisions.
On TE M.J. McFarland: Good to have him out there coming off the redshirt year. He is a big physical guy, and he took advantage of his redshirt year. He got into the weight room. He studied, he learned, and he came out there. He had to physically get in there and do some of the things we asked him to do rep-wise. But he understood it, and he knew the mental side of it - not perfectly. But the way he changed his body and just getting himself prepared to be in that position he is in. I think he has been a nice surprise this spring as far as where he is at and the plays he has made. He is not perfect by any means, but he continues to come in with an attitude to improve and we appreciate that. So I think that is a big part of why guys have continued to get better with that mentality and he is prime example of it.
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz
On where the defense stands today: Well, we're not two-deep, is the first answer to that question. I think that was evidenced today. But it's just really what we need, is those at-bats. We have some talented guys that we're asking to step up in terms of their role compared to where it was last year. And they all make that step at different times. So what you always see when you put together a spring game, and you put it out there, what you see is a photograph taken today on April 1st of where we all stand today. Some guys will take it upon them to improve themselves this summer at varying levels and speeds. And we'll do the same thing. We'll reconvene back in August and take our temperature then and see where we are at.
On his biggest concerns: Well, I think as a defense the tip of the spear is up front. But what gets you beat the quickest is in the back. We have a lot of guys that stand up for us - the back seven that are still very young. There can be the assumption of potential that they can just take the place of the guys that we lost. The nature of the position they play, and this goes for linebackers as well, you don't have to be wrong very many times to get you beaten. So I think that's still our test, that can these guys step up to their role where down-after-down they handle their business. Before we even talk about being great players. That we just handle our responsibilities; that where we're supposed to be and when we're supposed to be there, doing what we're supposed to do. So as of right now, that's still what's being asked of us. Furthermore, in this league we will never survive with 11 players if our second 11 doesn't continue to come on. Then we will continue to be exposed. That's fairly obvious. So, I think today was very similar to the rest of spring. I think it was what you expect about spring practice. Both sides getting after each other. Hot and cold. Guys making plays both ways. And I think what was on evidence was an offense improving and a defense improving. But both that are far from being finished products.
On if he thinks the defensive line is close to two-deep: We do. What we're trying to get to is where we have eight guys that we feel like can just roll into the game. And you don't suffer a severe drop off no matter who is in the football game. And I think [junior DE] Reggie Wilson, [sophomore DE] Cedric Reed, those guys in the absence of [junior DE Jackson] Jeffcoat this spring, those guys have stepped up their game. They have improved. And then on the inside, when you think of where we were 12 months ago, I think we've made leaps and bounds of improvement from where we are in our defensive tackle position. There is nothing more tiring in this sport than rushing the passer. And when you play in a league where people don't blink at throwing the ball 50 times you have to have, no matter who you have out there, you have to have a backup that can go in and the quality of play doesn't drop down. So we have more experienced depth up front than in the back end.
On if today represented the way the young defensive backs have been playing all spring: Yes. Like I said, I think today was very similar to what we've been witnessing the past couple of weeks. Both sides competing. Both sides making plays. And then what you see - that's the encouraging thing with youth - is that you see things that get you excited. And that's still why on our door it says "Coach." Because there are still some ways, even on a day like today, when they didn't have a lot of assignments to do, we may still go left when we're supposed to go right. And that's kind of the point. You do that twice a game and you lose. So when I think of that class of young men, I'm excited because I feel like, just from watching from the sideline, I thought every one of them made an exciting play. So they know they can be encouraged enough to play for us here. But every one of them will have had something happen to them during the course of today to know they've got to improve over the summer before they can go into a game.
On junior LB Demarco Cobbs: What Demarco showed when he hopped back in there was that he was ahead just through the reps he had gotten from last spring. The reps he had gotten in the fall when he was with us. He's a bright young man. He understands the game very well. Football is very important to him. And then he's obviously very athletic. He loves the game. He's a joy to coach. So when he hopped back in there, he really hit the ground running, pardon the pun. And he helps us. He changes us when he's in there. It changed our defense a little bit with his athleticism.
LB Jordan Hicks
On the game today: On defense we always talk about depth and going two-deep. No matter where we are, we always have to get better; one's, two's, three's or whatever it is. We are still coming along. Personally, I think I did all right. I played probably about half the snaps in the game. It was good to get out there in front of the crowd. They showed up today and showed a lot of support.
On depth at the linebacker position: We are always going to continue to work and continue that depth. We can't be complacent. We have to keep working and coming along.
On filling the hole of former LBs Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho: They both had a great year, a great few years here at Texas. We are coming in and doing our own thing. We are not really pressured to take their spots. At the same time, they are some big shoes to fill.
DE Alex Okafor
On the defense accepting the challenge of helping the young offense: Honestly, we are just worried about us. The offense will do their thing. I am confident in them. If they don't score on us then the other team can't win the game. That's what our mindset has to be.
On how the defense performed with the injuries they faced this spring: I think we did well. The injuries may have been a blessing in disguise. It gives the younger guys a chance to play and prove what they have. It only helped us by creating depth.
On his personal goals for the spring: I just wanted to become a better leader on the team. Of course, I wanted to become a better player, but personally I wanted to become a better leader and make sure I got the confidence of my team, and I did that.
QB Case McCoy
On grading himself today: I had some good plays, and I had some bad plays. Not any plays that were mental problems, just plays that the ball came out wrong on one play and a couple of different things. Credit to our "one" defense going with those two's. They played well and they are a good group out there. We are excited about where we are headed.
On how he thinks spring training went overall: I think it went good. I got a lot better on certain things. You can't wrap up everything out there. You want everything to go perfect out there, but it is part of the game. There are a bunch of quarterbacks that go out and throw a pick in the first drive, but you have to come back and win the game. I was glad that I came back and made some plays that I made, along with everybody on the offense. Just the spring in general, I thought we made strides. We are all getting this offense down and we are excited to wrap this part of the season up and move on to our next stage.
On what he has to improve on the most for the fall: There were a couple of mechanics that came into play there. That is what the end of spring and summer is all about; just tweaking those things out. [That way] when you go into fall you are good and ready to go. I can get better in some of my mechanics. That's all you can do is just keep trying to get better. I thought our receivers made plays today, and I thought the offensive line did well. A lot of credit goes to our defensive line as well. We just have to keep working.
S Kenny Vaccaro
On what he saw from the defensive side of the ball: Today was really basic. We just ran a base defense and didn't really show anything. I just saw guys playing football, flying to the ball, hustling, and working hard.
On building what the defense needs to improve on: Just building depth and making sure the young guys are game ready. We're going to need a deep team if we want to have success this year.
On what the team needs to improve upon most before next season: We need to develop more leaders on both sides of the ball. We need more guys to step up and take control and just play with confidence. We have a whole lot of talent.
TE D.J. Grant
On the offensive game plan coming into the spring game: We got as many people in there as possible. We were rotating a lot of guys and getting everybody reps to see what we have and to improve and get used to game-like situations.
On WR Jaxon Shipley's pass to him for the touchdown: Jaxon throws a nice ball, especially for a wide receiver. He's just an all around athlete, and we trust him to make plays like that.
On the offense and how they have improved over the past year: We definitely have a better feel for the offense. Everybody knows their job, and we have made a lot of strides this spring. And now that everybody is comfortable we are doing things a lot faster. We get to the line faster and everybody is more in sync and the offense just runs more smoothly.
QB David Ash
On his performance today: I felt like there was one play where I kind of checked out, but besides that I was pleased with my performance. I just took what the defense gave to me and executed our game plan to the best of my abilities.
On the area he has most improve upon this spring: Just understanding defenses better and knowing our offense and what to do in what situations.
On not forcing things and taking what the defense gave him: The best play isn't always the big throw. Colt McCoy [did a great job] of throwing the check down pass. And if you keep taking what the defense gives you then eventually the big ball will open up.