August 28, 2009 – 8 days until ULM
Yesterday was a great day for me personally. My 58th birthday was shared with my family, our football family, and a thousand screaming, excited ladies at last night’s Women’s Clinic. Plus, Larry Gatlin called to sing me “Happy Birthday!“ What a blessed life I have.
After yesterday’s practice, we talked to the guys about a number of issues. Here are a few of the points:
For the players who have missed some practice because of minor injury, they must meet with the trainers over the weekend. If a player isn’t full speed by Monday, it’s hard to be effective in the opener.
On Thursday, we released a two-deep (depth chart) to the media, but who starts and who plays on Saturday will be determined by how practice goes this week. It can change daily based on who performs the best that day. Our guys know that we continue to evaluate every practice to see who plays the best.
We also addressed doing the little things right. Little things are the difference in winning and losing. Biggest among those is that ball security and turnovers are keys to winning football games. Another major factor is the kicking game. Every player who was ever on one of Coach Royal’s teams will tell you they remember him saying, “Press the kicking game, for here the breaks are made.” You must change momentum with the kicking game.
Since so much of this game is mental, there were two major points I felt like we needed to cover. First, the team needs to take the games one at a time, and be “All In.” We can’t get caught in the trap of getting the “big head” and thinking you are better than you are. Sports are really cruel to those who don’t give it their best. We talk a lot about “imposters” (things seeming different than they really are), and about the danger of what we call “poison cheese.” We tell them not to be the rat eating the poison cheese. It will make you sick, and in the context of football, it might do you in! That’s the other reason we change the depth chart daily. We want to reward the guys who are producing at the highest level each day at practice.
The last thing we told the guys was to be careful this weekend. It scares you to death when they’re driving home as tired as they are. We make them call us before they leave and when they arrive so we’ll know they are safe. They also need to rest up for next week. Their bodies are worn down, and they need to get their energy back.
From a staff standpoint, we met with the players this morning at 6 a.m. to go over yesterday’s practice. The staff will continue to formulate the Louisiana-Monroe game plan this weekend. We are also settling on the “Special Teams” depth chart. One of the real issues with special teams is that two players can’t wear the same jersey numbers on the field at the same time. The guys love their own number, and that is a tough one. If we end up with an issue, we usually let the older player keep his number, and the younger one gets it back when the older one leaves. We are also trying to look at how we would substitute players in the opening game. Since you are never sure how a game unfolds, you want to be clear to the players about your plan, but it can change over and over during a game. We call that responsibility without control.
Our state’s high school games start this weekend as well, so our coaches are checking with recruits and high school coaches, wishing them good luck. It is a very exciting time for all involved with football. All the hopes and dreams are still alive. We can also contact the junior prospects for the first time on Tuesday. Needless to say, we’re doing a lot of multi-tasking as a staff this time of year.
The end of preseason camp is just the beginning of a long, hard journey, full of fun, but also full of chasing our dreams. My good friend Phil Mickelson sent me a quote from Henry David Thoreau that said, “Go confidently in the direction of all your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined!” Jack Ingram also called two days ago and wished us good luck. He has a new CD out called “Big Dreams and High Hopes.” I appreciate their support as we head into the season.
Thanks for following the preseason blog. It was fun for me, and I hope you got a little better insight into what goes through the head coach’s mind at this time of the year.
See you next Saturday at DKR. We want you to be in your seats early. I think you will enjoy our new entrance!
August 27, 2009 – 9 days until ULM
Pre-season Camp is officially over! We had a physical scrimmage last night, worked hard and didn't have a player hurt to any point that he can't practice Monday. Other than the loss of D.J. Grant, which was very difficult for all of us, we've been pretty fortunate from an injury standpoint.
As is always the case, there are a lot of sore muscles and bumps and bruises, and total exhaustion. If something isn't hurting on the players and coaches after grueling work for three weeks in this heat, then they weren't committed. The defense has been more consistent than the offense, but that means we could be good. The defense sees the same plays every day, so if your offense is running up and down the field on your defense, look out. That probably means you will have a lot of exciting loses.
Pre-season camp is especially tough for head coaches. You are dealing with injuries, how much to hit, but not get anyone hurt, and how much to run to keep them in game shape, but not have them dead-legged for the opener. Also, every time your defense goes against your offense, one phase of your team gets beat. I am glad preseason is over. I'm ready to try to win as a team against someone else, so I can sleep better at night.
The next step is exciting and just as difficult for team chemistry and team morale. In today's meetings, we went over the video from last night’s scrimmage and finalized our depth chart. It is a very difficult time for some, because they realize they probably will not be in the two deep to start the year. We released that depth chart today, and even though it's based on three weeks of intense work captured on video, we still have to explain to some of the guys why they aren't on the two-deep.
We have a saying that, "The Big Eye In The Sky Don't Lie!" Even though the proof of who should play is documented on video, it’s still tough news. Now they must find their place on special teams, or just help the team prepare for the opponents as part of the scout team and wait for their next opportunity. We'll emphasize to the guys that you must always be ready because you never know when your chance will come. Every one can still have a role to help this team win. They just might need to redefine that role for the moment. It’s a key time for coaches to lead, and your team leaders to step up and make sure that the team chemistry and morale stays high.
All that being said, we must start working on our game plan for the opener, and finalize our depth charts. It is fun to develop game plans. What and who do you feature? How many passes or blitzes do you take into the first game? It's so much fun, but again very challenging. Most opening games are lost not won. They are lost because your team is too tired, or maybe out of shape. Since we don't have pre-season games, the games are different. Usually, turnovers and the kicking game determine the winner of the early season games. There are more upsets in openers and bowl games because there is a lot of time since the guys played a game. We had a good practice today as we start putting in our game plans for the opener.
We had our Women's Clinic tonight, which also is a lot of fun. The ladies have a great time and let me assure you that Texas women know their football. About 1,000 ladies filled the Red McCombs "Red Zone" to listen to our staff talk about football. Greg Davis talked about how the 40-second clock has forced more teams to go to an up-tempo offense. Will Muschamp talked about the difference in the 4-3 and the 3-4 – in what situation you use one as compared to the others. Texas women love their football. George Wynn went over our fabulous new academic center and Ken Rucker talked about his new role as "Team Dad." Sam Acho, our outstanding Junior DE, talked about the value of giving back, and his mission trips to Nigeria. As usual, it’s one of the most fun nights of the year.
Our players and coaches will meet tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. to review the practice video from today. Yes, they do work very hard. After Friday classes, the guys are off on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to rest their minds and bodies for next week. We ask the guys to call us before they leave town and then when they arrive home. They also do the same before they return to our team meeting and dinner on Sunday night.
I'll catch up with you one last time in our camp blog tomorrow to close that out. I hope you enjoyed it and feel like I gave you some good insight to what preseason training camp is like at our place.
August 26, 2009 – 10 days until ULM
We started today with the first day of school. What an exciting time for our entire team, but especially for our freshmen. It is another dream come true, to be in class at one of the top academic institutions in the world. It’s interesting how you can always tell when classes have started when you see the guys that day. After a long camp, they’re shaved, have haircuts and want to look good with the other students back on campus.
Because of class, we didn't meet with the guys until 2 p.m. If some of our guys have a class at 2:00, then they meet their coach at 6:00 in the morning. Yes, the coaches and players do work very hard. Eight years of 10-plus wins have happened because of a lot of hard work from a lot of staff members and players. Nothing good comes easy.
Wednesday was all about preparing our team, especially all the young guys, for the opener. It was a dress rehearsal for game day all the way up to kickoff. We had a pre-game meal, walked through the Red McCombs "Red Zone," walked across the field and got dressed, just like we do on game day. Many of the players have rituals they do coming into the stadium. Many times the other team is on the field, so you want to make sure there isn't any mouthing. It is like the atmosphere before a prizefight. Then we went through the normal pre-game stretching so everyone knows where to go.
We also scrimmaged at 6 p.m. because that is the time of the opener. We want them to visualize the experience before it happens. On other days during camp, we practiced at 11 a.m., to simulate the day of the OU game, and 2:30 for the games with Wyoming and UTEP. We think it’s very important for them to know what their minds and bodies feel like at game time. The game with Colorado hasn’t been set yet, but we have covered most of the possible windows.
Tonight, we had about a two-hour situation scrimmage. Trying to prepare for the opener and get ready for the speed of a real game, and not get anyone hurt is a very tough task. That's what practice is all about. We have three different speeds in practice. “Tracking,” means everyone is full speed, but DB’s don't hit the wide receivers or running backs when they break into the secondary. The next phase is “thud.” It’s still full speed for the front guys, and the DB’s and linebackers hit, but do not tackle the offensive players when they get in the secondary. Last is simply “scrimmage,” where everyone is full speed until the whistle blows.
We got a lot accomplished tonight. We started a little after 6:00, and it was really hot. Then we got a brief rain shower, so we had a chance to work on the stadium field with a wet ball. That cooled things off. It was pretty comfortable when we finished — just another example of our unpredictable Texas weather! I was really pleased with the way the defense was coming up with turnovers. That’s been a real point of emphasis for us. Our offense proved they could take care of the ball last year, so we know they can do that.
Pre-season camp is now officially over and we will start working on ULM tomorrow. We’ll begin establishing a depth chart from their body of work through camp. The kids and the staff are really tired, but excited. This has probably been the best camp we've had since we've been at Texas. It was physical and intense, and our hottest summer in 12 years. With all of the students back, you can really sense the anticipation of the opener all over campus. These next 10 days will move quickly, but for our team and coaches, next Saturday can’t come soon enough!
August 25, 2009 – 11 days until ULM
With only two days left in pre-season camp, you can tell guys are tired of practicing against each other and can’t wait to play someone not in Burnt Orange. Today was another very important practice and meeting day. You try to get your entire playbook in during camp, work on some key things you will use against certain teams, and then get settled on personnel and a game plan for the opener. We met most of the morning, focusing a lot on blitz and blitz protection, and then had another two-hour practice this afternoon. We are also working very hard on the kicking game. We think we’ve got a chance to have the best special teams units we’ve ever had this year.
Tonight, we had a meeting to close out the two-a-day sessions leading into our situational scrimmage tomorrow night. At our meeting after practice, a lot of things were accomplished. First, we showed a great video that shows the fun plays, big hits, and freshmen singing karaoke over the last couple of weeks. Then, we showed the guys a slide presentation about our troops in Iraq, and some of our troops rehabbing in our military hospitals. Our staff visited The Center for the Intrepid military rehabilitation facility in San Antonio before we started the season. What an inspirational visit.
An annual tradition that we continued at tonight’s meeting came when we asked the newcomers to sing “Texas Fight.” Of course, the varsity is never satisfied with the way the freshmen sing, so we end the night with the "TEAM" singing “Texas Fight” and finally “The Eyes of Texas” together.
We also have a ceremony to make the young guys official members of the Longhorn football team because they made it through Camp — a big accomplishment.
Just before we close the meeting each year, if we have a scholarship available and there is a young man that has separated himself, we offer a walk-on a scholarship. The kids and the team really appreciate it when a guy that has earned the right to have a scholarship is called up to the stage in the team meeting room. This year, we added a special treat to it by allowing the seniors to present the scholarship.
When you think back, guys like deep snapper Cullen Loeffler and fullback Ahmard Hall were up there getting their scholarships as seniors and are now NFL veterans with the Vikings and Titans. Dusty Mangum earned the right to have a scholarship and then hit the game winning kick to beat Michigan in our first Rose Bowl. The next year, David Pino was awarded a scholarship and ended up scoring eight points in the National Championship game.
It’s a very emotional part of our meeting because no one but the staff and I know who, or if, there will be a scholarship given out. When they were announced, there was a lot of hoopin’ and hollerin’. This team is really close and they love these kids that work so hard. It was a really happy meeting room.
Tonight, Clark Ford, Will Harvey and Mac McWhorter were rewarded for their hard work on and off the field. The staff must be unanimous before a young man’s name is called. You will read more about them on the site, but Clark has shown great tenacity as a special teams player and defensive back, Will has been our deep snapper for two years and Mac has been heavily involved on our special teams for three years, while also working with the tight ends. Will, incidentally, is part of our Longhorn heritage. His grandfather, Sonny Sowell, lettered on the 1951 Texas team.
We also told the kids this year’s slogan tonight. It is "We Are Texas!" We chose that because we have moved forward on the Big 12 tiebreaker and the BCS. We aren't worrying about the system, we are just concerned about what we can control, and that's how we play.
Now things get really busy. We’re still practicing and preparing, but the kids also start school in the morning. It’s the first day of fall term classes for our freshmen. It always amazes me that these young men will be in class a little more than a week before they represent Texas football before over 100,000 fans. Now that's a quick learning curve. A number of them were in class last spring, and some were in summer school, but there is nothing like being on campus when the fall semester starts. It is something they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Tomorrow will be a pretty full day and I’ll get you another report. Talk to you soon.
August 24, 2009 – 12 days until ULM
With our first game week just a few days away, this is a very important time for our coaching staff. Over the next few days, a lot of decisions will be made and our depth chart for the ULM game week will be established. It's a time of critical final evaluations and determining which kids play and where they can help us. We try to find a place for each player to fit into the team with a role.
We've talked about this a lot during camp, but it’s important to remind the guys that we spend every minute of every day evaluating who plays and who represents Texas. Being a Texas football player is fun and exciting, but you have to earn the right, and we can assure fans that the kids they see on the field on Saturday have earned it.
After practice today, I talked to the guys about how we determine who will play. Why a kid plays is a long-term process. Throughout camp and during practices, we film every step. We study and evaluate every drill every day, and that's why we don't have a depth chart during camp. We determine it at the conclusion of camp when we have all of the evaluations in place to make an informed decision.
Each kid was recruited to Texas because of ability. The level of ability differs, so we have to evaluate every drill to see who competes and who gives us the best chance to win.
For example, when the receivers and DBs are working one-on-one, we evaluate the film to see who can cover. Who can we trust to play man-to-man down the stretch in the fourth quarter of a game? Coach Akina looks at every drill to determine who he trusts to perform under pressure.
We look at every pass pro and pass rush drill to see who can protect and who can rush. We have good enough players that if a player can beat another guy here at Texas, he has a chance to succeed in our games.
We can’t have a person in the game we can’t trust or who can’t constantly produce. We chart every kick and snap from our specialists to evaluate consistency and trust. It's what we do for every position.
We see who can perform in individual drills and then take that to compete at the same level in team drills. If they can do that and have success, that should translate to games.
Obviously the on-the-field performance is really important, but another area that determines if a kid earns the right is how he behaves and gains trust off the field, in the community and in the classroom. We’ve found a direct correlation between class, character and on-field success. Those who succeed in the classroom and act right do really well on the field.
None of this works unless a guy is willing to put aside individualism and buy in to the team concept. If a guy can’t abide by the rules, that shows he isn’t willing to buy in to team. When you're trying to win all of the games, chemistry and teamwork are critical to doing that.
So, as we gather our final evaluations over the next few days, we will make tough decisions and have frank and honest conversations with every player about his role as we head into the season.
It's been a strenuous camp for all of the coaches and players, but you can feel the excitement building for the season opener. I just got through talking to the Longhorn band, the best in the Land, which I greet before each season. When you hear them play Texas Fight, you know it’s about time!
August 23, 2009 – 13 days until ULM
You learn a lot about your team when you see how hard they work when they’re tired. Saturday’s scrimmage was a good example of that. It was hot, and the guys have worked every day for 15 straight days. When we talked to the team after the practice, we asked them to think about several things. The first was, “Did you finish every play?” Secondly, “Did you have the edge at the scrimmage that you need to have in each game at Texas?” And finally, “Were you ‘all in’ for the entire practice?" We know the video will give the players and coaches a chance to recognize the results of their play, but only they can determine “how” they played.
That also is where leadership comes in. We count on our leaders to help on the field, and be a strong force off the field. When we finished the practice, we cautioned the guys to be careful Saturday night, because they are worn out and their bodies need time to recover. We have a bunch of really good kids, and we know they will take care of each other. When you have over 100 guys that also means looking out for each other.
With any team, usually the most important quality of a good leader is respect. Some guys are quiet leaders who earn that respect by the way they play the game. Others are more vocal. I remember last year at the Fiesta Bowl when Roy Miller challenged the entire team before the game. He and Brian Orakpo were both great leaders. We continue to look for that leadership on defense. That is a lot of what fall camp is about. You find not only who can play, but who is ready to step up.
Colt has done that with this team, just as Vince did in 2005. When we finished our meeting after the scrimmage, he was the first to speak up and remind the team of what is possible for them if they stay together and do things right. That’s more important than anything a coach can say, and that is leadership.
When the other coaches and I were in the Middle East, I asked the General about leadership. “Do you recruit leadership, or do you create leaders?” He told me, “Definitely you teach it. That’s what the military academies are about, and that’s what we have to do. You, as a football coach, have the same challenges we do. For a team to be successful, you must have good leadership.”
I have thought a lot about that. Used to be when we had a team that wasn’t doing well we might say, “This team just doesn’t have any leadership.” From that trip I learned that is our fault. We recruit players, and we coach them. If we don’t build leaders, that’s on us as coaches.
Another thing the General told me is that it is important to get your leaders headed in the right direction. People will follow a leader. For example, the General said that Saddam Hussein was a powerful leader – he was just leading for the wrong reasons. It’s important to have guys who want to lead right, and be cautious of those who could lead in a negative way.
We often have speakers talk to the team about leadership. This summer we had the author and motivational speaker Jon Gordon come in. He talked about his book “The Energy Bus” and the power of positive energy. All of the leaders on the team were given a copy of the book and I’ve seen many of them reading it. If you came out to one of the open practices, you might have noticed the buses said “Texas Energy Bus” on the side of them. It's so important for a team to all pull in the same direction in a positive way, and Jon’s messages reinforced that.
We’re down to the last week of camp, and we’re going to need that energy to finish strong. Game week is just a week away and we’re ready for another hard day of work tomorrow.
Time to get some rest, but before I go, I want to thank the fans and our seniors for making Fan Day such a big hit yesterday. We know nine-hours plus is too long for our seniors and our fans to handle. We will talk to people in our business we trust and who face the same issues as us and try to find an easier and better way for Fan Appreciation Day. We’re always looking to do things better and we’ll keep looking at this. Thanks for your patience and support!
August 22, 2009 – 14 days until ULM
Fan appreciation day is always an important time for our football team and it was a record-setting one again. We just wrapped up at nearly 9 p.m. after about nine and a half hours of signing and taking pictures with about 4,500 fans.
It was a long day. We started the day at 5:45 a.m. with breakfast and began warming up for full-scale scrimmage at 7:30 a.m. We were on the field for two hours, and ran 120 plays. We were in the stadium for our second scrimmage, and the guys really love the new turf. When you are on it, it is so much like grass that you can hardly tell the difference. It is fast and consistent. We started about 8:00 in the morning, and by the time we finished a little after 10 a.m., the sun had covered the field and it was headed toward another hot Texas August day.
That heat was one of the reasons we have changed our Fan Appreciation Day’s location. We moved it to Gregory Gym, just up the street from the stadium. That accomplished a couple of things. First, we combined it with our nationally ranked volleyball team’s Orange-White scrimmage, to give the fans a chance to see them in action while they wait in the stands for their autographs.
I was told that fans started lining up at just after midnight and there was a pretty good line already when we got here early this morning. We appreciate being able to use Gregory Gym as an indoor facility so we can limit the amount of time the fans have to stand in the long lines. When we tried to do it at the stadium, we had people, both old and young, who were in long, hot lines for hours. That is really dangerous in this heat. Even though they were often under the stadium, the heat was too much.
We also have decided to have our team represented at the autograph signing by our seniors. We talk a lot about “earning the right,” and when you look at what these seniors have accomplished, they have “earned the right” to be the ones our fans get to meet. These are the guys the fans have watched and cheered on for four years, so this is another way they will demonstrate their leadership – and we will talk more about that tomorrow.
We appreciate our fans so much. When we came here we asked them to “Come early, be loud, stay late and wear burnt orange with pride.” As we watched the thousands of folks file by for pictures and autographs, I realized just how much the fans have meant to our program – and how much our players mean to our fans. That’s another reason why I was so glad we could do something with our volleyball team. Those ladies have earned national respect and have earned the right for our people to recognize them, too.
I was really proud of Colt and several of our seniors, who stayed with me at Fan Day for more than eight hours. It is a joy to see the smiles on the happy faces of kids, and the respect in the eyes of some of those who are kids at heart. It was a long day and a quick turnaround for an early morning wakeup tomorrow, but well worth it. Our seniors had a great practice, and then, even though they were really tired, took time to say thank you. It’s not about what you get…it’s about what you give back.
We’ll watch this film today, talk about it as a staff and then get back to work with the guys tomorrow. Today's scrimmage will be another great evaluation tool for our depth chart. We’re only two weeks away. What an exciting time to be a Longhorn!
August 21, 2009 – 15 days until ULM
We talk about how our football team is a family and how important that is to us all of the time, but it really seems to be reinforced this time every year. When you're working hard, tired and around each other so much during camp, you really build a bond.
With kids leaving their families, some for the first time, each day reminds me more and more about how our team is just like a big family. For all of us on the coaching staff, we feel like the kids' parents away from home. We don’t try to replace the parents when they get here, but we are an extension of them.
We discuss their families, lives, girlfriends, school, and things important to them outside of football each day. When you have more than 100 players, you're going to have some tough news you're going to have to deal with. We've had some players lose loved ones or have to deal with serious illnesses. One lost an aunt and two others have very sick granddads. We always keep the health of our players and their families in our thoughts and prayers. The word ‘supportive’ is important to us. That means we are there in the good times, as well as in the tough times.
When I was playing, fall camp was pretty much strictly football. Our guys are not only working hard on football, but they are in the process of finishing summer school. Add to that the inevitable injuries, bruises and strains that come from tough practices, and there are a sack full of issues our guys have to deal with. It's important that families stick together in the tough times, and that our young players understand that correcting mistakes isn’t scolding; it’s how you learn.
We want our extended family to be inclusive, so communication with the kids' families and keeping them informed of what's going on here is a critical element to what we do. We are constantly sending out emails and notes to fill them in on what their sons are doing. If a parent calls, we are always available to talk. From the day their sons arrive on campus, we have a meeting with the parents to take them through the camp and season schedule and answer any questions. There are a number of educational sessions we do on everything from agents to compliance and bowl games (upon accepting a bid). It's just really important for us that they know what's going on. Parents are welcome at our practices. Sally told me a long time ago that these 18 to 21 year olds are “pieces of adults.” Watching them grow is the most challenging, and exciting, thing a coach can ever do.
We had a great practice this morning. We had a goal line scrimmage yesterday, and this morning we worked on two-point plays. We are trying to cover everything in all three phases of the game that may come up. This afternoon was about meetings to answer all of the questions before the very important scrimmage tomorrow morning.
We look forward to seeing everyone at fan day tomorrow. It should be a great day to be a Longhorn.
August 20, 2009 – 16 days until ULM
It’s interesting that fall camp really breaks down into phases both on and off the field. On the field, the first seven to 10 days are concentrated on the physical. Today, we spent the morning focusing on the mental.
The guys obviously took away a lot from the visit they had with “Mean” Joe Greene on Wednesday. When they circled to break down after the morning practice, they put the pieces of mental, physical and team together, and used his words “All In” to close the circle. It doesn’t matter what you do, you will be more successful if everybody buys in to what you are trying to do.
Like “Mean” Joe pointed out yesterday, if you wonder who is all in, look at these seniors, they are. We know our veteran leaders are all in, but every day I get more of a sense that this is a team with great chemistry and is all in.
We had taken a break last night after our meetings and video review of the morning scrimmage, and we let the guys have some fun. We never “haze” our freshmen, but we do ask them to sing for their teammates. After listening to them working with a karaoke machine, I think it’s safe to say they are way better at playing football than they are at singing. “Texas Fight” is going to need some more practice before the season.
We did have a special treat, however. Coffey Anderson, a friend of Colt and Jordan’s who was on Nashville Star last year and now is a rising young artist, brought us music that ranged from rap to country. It was fun, spiritual and inspirational. You work hard in fall practice, and it’s great to see the guys laughing and jumping and enjoying a break. All of that is part of team building.
This morning we went through a session that was like a “walk through” without any contact. This is where you can get a lot of teaching done. It’s one thing to be physical, but if you don’t take the time to learn why you are doing what you are doing, it isn’t effective. The walk through gives you time to watch, think and review the things the coaches have been working on in the meeting room and film reviews. I believe we got a lot out of it.
This afternoon we had great energy and the guys really got after it. We were back at a full, nearly two-hour practice. I was telling the media earlier today that the practices are what are most important to the veterans and I continue to be really impressed with how hard they’re working. I also told them we treat our camp a lot like an NFL camp. We don’t have any preseason games, but our older guys get their work in during practices and then our scrimmages are our preseason games. The veterans get some early work during those, but that’s a great chance to evaluate the young guys and see where they fit.
We’re back at it with another full practice tomorrow and our second scrimmage on Saturday. At that point, we’ll have just one weekend separating us from our season opener with ULM. We’ve got a lot of work to get done before then.
Pearl of the day:
L – Live
I – It
F – Fully
E – Every day
August 19, 2009 - 17 days until ULM
Today was a very productive one. We had some really nice weather for our scrimmage in the stadium. It was our first time on the new turf, and I really liked it. We looked faster even with tired legs.
We had a tough, physical scrimmage with some emphasis on the kicking game. We worked for around 100 plays and the guys were enthusiastic and looked good. It was a great opportunity to evaluate, and we got a lot of good looks at the young guys. We are continuing to learn the importance of practicing with an "edge" every day. At Texas, you get everyone's best shot, so if we aren't totally prepared and have a mental edge going in, we could be in trouble on the field.
My great friend coach Spike Dykes, who was at practice today, said when Texas is ready to play as a group, at the highest level and with an edge, we are hard to beat. If we give people a little crack in our armor early in a game, they get excited because they see a chance to beat Texas.
I'm always asking retired coaches like Spike to come to our practices, evaluate what we are doing and tell us what they see. Coach Royal is a regular visitor and coach Akers came by the other day. It is always great to have fresh eyes that you trust come in and give you suggestions.
Like Coach Royal and coach Akers, I trust coach Dykes, and I know he will tell me what he thinks whether I like it or not. He is a good man and friend. Coaching really misses him.
We also were fortunate to have one of the NFL greats at the scrimmage today, Mean Joe Greene. Most of the guys remember him from seeing re-runs of his famous Coke commercial, but I told them to us older folks he was one of the most dominant defensive linemen in NFL history. He is a scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers and took time after practice to talk to the guys. He told them he respects Texas and what the Longhorns stand for. When people like that talk to the kids, it really reinforces what we tell them, Texas football is bigger than any one person. You're representing the pride and tradition of all of the Longhorn players that have come through here and this great university every day.
Mean Joe made a point of saying that a sign of a great team, and as a Super Bowl Champion he knows, is they put it all on the line. They go all in. That means eating right, studying right, lifting right. He emphasized that the number one reason for losing is not being mentally prepared. His closing message was take advantage of being here, make it count and don't take this for granted. A strong message from an NFL Hall of Famer!
I'm glad we had our scrimmage early so the guys could watch the video and get some rest before we go back to two practice sessions tomorrow.
Time to get some rest, prepare for tomorrow and get in another good day of work as the days count down to kickoff.
August 18, 2009 - 18 days until ULM
We remind our guys every day to eat right and take care of their bodies. That is an important message for them to buy in to so they can compete and perform through camp and the season, especially in this Texas heat.
We're fortunate to have the best support staff in America available to help our kids and our program any way we can within the rules. There are more than 300 people in the athletic department who touch our football program every day. I'll try to give you some insight into those areas in the camp blogs over the next couple of weeks.
Our athletic training staff does a great job working with our strength and conditioning staff in educating, monitoring and advising our guys on taking care of their bodies. Kenny Boyd, our head athletic trainer for football, gave me some numbers I thought you'd find interesting. He said the guys typically take between 10 to 14 days to get acclimated to practices in this heat, so we're just getting to the point where they should physically be used to it. They are on top of all of the technologies out there that help monitor heat and help keep our guys stay safe. That gives us a lot of information on how our guys are handling the heat, and which ones we need to keep a close eye on.
The thing we've learned in working with our athletic training staff regarding the heat is that it's not only a factor the day you are practicing, but the accumulation of straight days in the heat will sap your energy over time. In our early years at Texas before we had the bubble, we kept the guys in the heat all of the time and it would build up, so no matter how much rest we gave them later on in camp, they were still exhausted at game time. When we thought they were not in shape, they actually were just tired. We've started the year much better and safer after we learned those lessons. We now get them out of the heat, put a greater emphasis on nutrition, rest and hydration and head into the season with a fresher team.
You can see how the heat would drain your energy when you hear some of the things Kenny told us. He said the highest heat index during the past week was recorded on our practice field at 115 degrees. Our practice on Sunday started at a 104-degree heat index and rose to 108 within 50 minutes of us being on the field. We went inside at that point. That's what makes the bubble such a blessing, because it allows us to keep practicing at a fast tempo and reduce the risk for heat illness.
What you eat and drink throughout the day is also critical to managing the heat and performance. We have an athletics department nutritional team that gives us great guidance. It is a very diverse and valuable group that works with our kids on a daily basis. It's a group of seven people ranging from folks in sports medicine and strength and conditioning to experts in our kinesiology department and sports dieticians.
That group will monitor and educate our guys in how to properly and effectively gain or lose weight. When you think about camp and what a football player needs, they recommend at least 4,000 calories per day. Guys needing to add weight, which can be very challenging during camp, obviously need more. That's where the nutrition team is so valuable because it’s important they eat the right foods to put on good weight while maintaining their speed and athleticism.
Kenny told me during a typical practice in this heat, the guys need to replace about 24 ounces of fluid per hour. That means they need to be hydrating regularly, and we build in multiple breaks during practice to do that. There are water stations and trainers all over the place helping the guys. I was told that during a typical practice, we consume 90 to 100 gallons of water and Gatorade.
As we concluded our 10th day of camp, the players have done a great job following the advice of our nutritional team and coaches because we've had very productive workouts and meetings. The guys have had great energy and focus. They've worked hard, gotten their rest and are helping us to prepare to be the best team we can be.
Pearl of the day
Many will forget what you said. Some will forget what you have done. Most will never forget how you made them feel.
August 17, 2009 - 19 days until ULM
The media asked me recently which freshmen I think will play this year. It's a good question and one that typically comes up when I'm visiting with the press this time every year. Today, as we complete our ninth day of practice, my answer is simple – it's too early to know and honestly isn't even in discussion with us yet.
At this point, there are no redshirts, or even a thought of who is redshirting. Camp is a grind, especially for the young ones. Freshmen feel like a part of the team when they make it through camp. There is a huge jump in confidence for them when they accomplish that and get their legs and energy back.
Another big factor that you can't ever predict is injuries. They are a nightmare for the head coach and something you face and adjust to every year. You can’t predict them and you really feel for the player and the pain he’s going through. He’s worked his entire life to live this dream and suddenly an injury has changed all of that, sometimes for a career. After a number of knee operations, I’m very sensitive to the guys and their families that lose a chance at chasing that dream. You’ve probably heard me talk about the MACK 8 committee before. It’s a group of staff members that touch our players’ lives every day and they are a great resource to the coaches, players and families. They have a plan in place for counseling and working with a young man who doesn’t get to continue playing.
When, and if, an injury does happen, someone needs to be ready to step in. A lot of times that involves a younger guy moving up the depth chart. You must always be prepared for someone to step up or move positions to help, and in the end, it may not even be necessary, but you always have to be ready. It’s responsibility without control!
That said, it's always a tough decision. We really study which guys are ready to help us early, when some others may be able to help us and which guys are redshirt candidates. Communication is really important in our program, so after camp we have honest conversations with the guys and their families and get their input. There may be some that are considered for redshirts, but we try to get every one of the freshmen ready to play until about game seven or eight. Flexibility is critical and the one thing we tell all of the kids is to work hard, take care of yourself and act right, and you’ll have a chance to help us. That could be this year, next year or down the road, but if you handle your business, you can help our team.
We have been able to adjust our philosophy when it comes to freshmen in recent years. With so many coming in for the spring semester and almost all of them in by June for summer school and workouts, they are much more adjusted to being in college by the time camp rolls around than freshmen in previous years. That makes their transition into school and the social side of campus smoother and they are physically better prepared to practice.
The next few days are significant for the young guys because it’s a time when we're getting them ready for more teamwork. It's hard to put a guy in there in game-like situations until he really understands and knows what to do. If he's still learning and getting adjusted, he will disrupt a play, miss an assignment or may get someone hurt. That's what makes football the ultimate team game, because everyone has to be moving in sync to have success. One miss-step can throw everything off, and that's what we need to get those guys prepared for.
They're taking in a lot of information, so about this time each year, you can see they're getting overloaded by football, scheme, heat and the rigors of camp. How they adapt, handle that and get acclimated over this week especially will give us some valuable information as we prepare for the season.
Pearl of the day
Success happens by focusing on the process, not the outcome.
August 16, 2009 - 20 days until ULM
As we sit here with just two Saturdays separating us from our season opener, the anticipation is building. Today, so was the heat. After we bragged on the weather yesterday, we got hit with a 104 heat index when we took the field at 3 p.m. today and it was 108 by the time we went in the bubble.
This time of year is one of the toughest parts of a head coach's job. You ask yourself a lot of questions as your preparation intensifies. How much do you practice? How much do you hit? How much do you run? There's not a "how to" book or formula to follow when it comes to any of the many questions of training camp.
It's like when you're raising your children, it changes with the personality of each team. No team is the same. Add in factors out of your control like injuries and how inexperienced players are going to perform, and you have to always be ready to adapt. It's always interesting during camp. The older guys think you're getting soft because they've been through it before and the young guys think you're trying to run them into the ground. You also are making decisions on who plays, who you're going to play early in the season and what freshmen will be on the field right away or likely redshirt. All of that affects team chemistry and morale, so you have to be careful how you handle things.
One area we pride ourselves on in our program is honesty. We're up front and very frank with our guys. They will know where they stand with us and the reason we've made decisions when it involves them. With all that is going on during camp and the season, you still need to be fair to the players, assistant coaches, staff and Texas!
You always have to keep in mind that your standard for the year is set in the preseason. It's always the most challenging part of the year. Players getting hurt, or in trouble, only make things tougher, so you might make a decision and suddenly have to re-evaluate. It's a tough sport, and we constantly remind the kids you always need to be ready and willing for change. One of our team slogans is "You don't grind, you don't shine," meaning put in the work and you'll get your chance to help this team win.
We talk about building depth – creating and maintaining a mental edge every day. It's one of the reasons we feel like we're never out of a game. We don't find ourselves behind too often, but when we do, we've been able to use that depth and mental toughness to come back. Our sports information staff gave me this stat on our comebacks since we've been here. In 11 seasons, we've registered 22 second-half comebacks, including 12 fourth-quarter comebacks. We've also recorded the six largest comebacks in school history. That's remarkable when you think about it. When you're behind, depth and mental toughness are the reasons you can fight back and win. I think all of you, our fans, have built that edge as well. The players definitely feel it from the fans that no matter how tough things get, you believe in them and know they can pull it out.
Pearl of the Day
Trust allows you to navigate the potholes and roadblocks on your journey.
August 15, 2009 - 21 days until ULM
This was our first full "two-a-day" practice, and we continue to be pleased with the attitude and effort the guys are showing. In a way, this was kind of a crossroads — it marked a full week of practice, but more importantly, as we worked out in the evening on Denius Fields, we could begin to sense that it was exactly three weeks until our kickoff against Louisiana-Monroe.
After working out in shorts for 90 minutes this morning, we were in pads for the evening practice. We actually intended to go inside for the last part of the workout because of the heat. But as the time to move in approached, a nice breeze came up, and it was comfortable enough to stay outside the whole practice. I like that, because it gives us a good picture of what the weather hopefully will be like in three weeks.
Working in the "Bubble" gives us a great advantage in the heat. I remember when a lot of schools up north began to get indoor facilities because of the cold. In our case, it is a safety factor because of the heat. The one thing we stress with our guys is that they must run to stay in shape. We run to and from drills, we run hard in practice. The guys worked all summer to get in shape, and it is important that they stay after it while we are working on team drills. You never want to overwork a team, but we remind our guys daily that it is important to keep an edge in everything they do.
In this heat and during a tough pre-season camp, depth is critical. We recruit great players and develop our depth so we can have really competitive practices. We want every guy to be able to come in and push anyone they are up against to get better. I reminded them again tonight that we watch and study every play. We can't afford to let anyone take a lazy step. If we do, that's going to hurt us at a critical point in a game.
That's a big reason why we don't have a depth chart anymore. We're mixing groups of players together to see who and what fits best. We want them to compete for spots on the depth chart every day. At the end, we'll build our team and scheme around getting the best players on the field and we'll continue to compete all season.
We'll have a chapel service available for the players in the morning, and then be back on the field tomorrow afternoon. They will sleep well tonight.
Every day we share with the team our "pearl of the day." It's a motivational message we hope will stay with them. I thought you'd find it interesting if I shared those with you throughout the camp, so here's today's.
Pearl of the Day
Ability is what you are capable of doing.
Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it.
August 14, 2009 - 22 days until ULM
Day six reiterated the fact that we must practice winning every day. Our practices are very competitive and somebody is going to win the drills every day. The offense did that on Wednesday and the defense got the better of the drills on Thursday. As the head coach, I have mixed emotions every day because one side of the ball is going to win or lose. It’s a tough balance, but it is a must that we compete on every play, every day.
Pre-season camp is a grind in the heat. In order to have a successful camp we must be Texas Tough. This heat challenges us to be mentally tough for every practice. One of our program’s slogans is, “We have to be consistently good in order to be great.” No matter what the conditions are or challenges we face, that’s what we’re striving to do every day.
With the heat or any other adversity you face, concentration is critical. A good friend of mine, Kathleen Hessert, provided us with bullet points on how to concentrate when you’re working hard to be the best. Like the poem last night, I hope you enjoy it and feel free to share it with your friends.
We are so grateful for the support the fans showed us this week. What an honor to be your head coach!
How to Concentrate
Concentration literally means a coming together of the mind and body to a mutual center. Following are the essential elements for effective and enduring concentration:
1. Stay within yourself. Develop your own cocoon of concentration.
2. Believe in yourself and your capabilities. Be on your side.
3. Have appropriate and attainable goals. They are the blueprints for success.
4. Be realistically positive and eager. You can do it so go for it!
5. Develop your own style of relaxing. It is home base for effective preparation as well as sustaining your concentration.
6. Stay in the here and now. Emphasize only that which you can control.
7. Learn how to pay attention to details as well as be aware of the big picture. Zoom in and out between attention and awareness as the situation warrants.
8. Focus your intensity as you would use a magnifying glass to focus sunlight. Channel your physical and mental energies to the task at hand.
9. If you become distracted, get back on course as soon as possible. We all let our minds wander at times, but winners recover quickly and make few mistakes.
10. Be proud of yourself and your efforts. Build on your strengths and accomplishments.
August 13, 2009 - 23 days until ULM
Day five was just as exciting as yesterday because of you, the world’s greatest and most supportive fans. Tonight was by far the largest crowd of any of our open practices. We sincerely thank you for your support and for being the best.
The spirit in the air was so great we all said we can’t wait until opening day. The only negative was that we were without D.J. Grant, who was injured yesterday during practice. We will support D.J. in his rehab and know he’ll work hard to recover. He has a bright future with us.
As you noticed throughout the practice, we have officials at every team drill. They often receive a lot of negative feedback for doing their job, and we all get on them from time to time. However, we are so grateful for our volunteer officials, who range in duties from high school to major conferences. I have found that officials are one of the most dedicated groups in America.
As with the officials, it never ceases to amaze me how hard our players work. I am so proud of our guys, who have worked tirelessly and unselfishly the entire pre-season. The work ethic of our players magnifies how proud I am to be the head football coach at The University of Texas.
Today’s practice in pads gave us even more information to evaluate in formulating our personnel and game plans. My good friend and world-renowned Longhorn, Joe Jamail, often says, “You can’t learn to swim without water.” We can’t truly evaluate the team without hard work in pads.
I also hope everyone understands why we ask our guys not to stop and sign autographs or take photos before or after practice. We keep them on a very tight schedule before practice and they are exhausted afterward. I enjoyed seeing them sharing high fives and flashing hook ‘em signs with all the fans on the way out, so hopefully you all know how much they appreciate your support. We look forward to having a chance to sign autographs for you at Fan Appreciation Day (Sat., Aug. 22 at 11 a.m. at Gregory Gym).
Zig Ziglar once said, “You never know when one act or one word of encouragement can change a life forever." In the spirit of Zig, and as part of our life skills program, we constantly uplift our players with words of encouragement and praise. This is a poem that is issued to every player at the start of each year. Take time to enjoy it and feel free to pass it on.
This is the beginning of a new day.
God has given me this day to use as I will.
I can waste it or use it for good.
What I do today is very important because I am
exchanging a day of my life for it.
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever,
leaveing something in its place I have traded for it.
I want it to be a gain, not loss. Good, not evil.
Success, not failure, in order that I shall not
forget the price I paid for it.
August 12, 2009 Part II - 24 days until ULM
Day four was exciting because our players always like working in front of our great fans. It was also in the high 70's when we got started instead of 100-plus degrees. The freshmen enjoyed their first workout with the older guys, as well as the excitement our fans bring.
The practice was very spirited and we got a lot done. Our second day in shells gave us more video to evaluate before we put full gear on tomorrow night. These continue to be critical sessions to help us make decisions about who plays. You are making decisions about who plays in the first game, but you must consider who might be ready for mid-season, which is now game seven when you hope to play a 14-game schedule.
It is a very difficult chore to be fair in your daily evaluations to your players and team. Trying to make sure we get maximum effort each day is why we change the depth chart, thus rewarding the players who produce at the highest level at each position. We are constantly evaluating what we are going to feature in each of the three phases, and who we are doing it with.
We were thrilled to see our players' parents, who are always welcome to practice and who we are so grateful for. The parents are a vital part of our football family. We are in constant communication with our parents, who support us in our every endeavor, be it playing time, character building or leadership training.
The threat of rain and lightning kept most in suspense as to whether we would proceed with practice. Once the weather cell passed, we began our special teams work in front of the greatest fans in America. In turning a lemon into lemonade, the good thing about the rain today is that it gave us a chance to work on wet-ball drills.
As evidenced by the record-setting number of season tickets sold this year, our fans showed support and enthusiasm with every drill and catch at practice tonight. Some fans even came prepared with rain gear in an effort to weather the storm to see their beloved Longhorns practice.
August 12, 2009 - 24 days until ULM
Fans who attended the practice tonight might have noticed a small difference on our helmets. Two years ago, following the death of Lady Bird Johnson, we wore a replica of a bluebonnet on the back of the helmet to honor her. Everyone knew of Mrs. Johnson’s great love for wild flowers, as well as her love for The University of Texas. We are very respectful of the tradition of our uniform, so it’s rare that we put anything other than a Longhorn logo on our helmet, but that seemed like an appropriate tribute to our former First Lady.
When I got back from our trip to visit the troops in Germany and in the Middle East late last spring, we started thinking about what we could do to show our support for them. We’ve been carrying an American flag as we enter the field here in our stadium (which is dedicated to U.S. Troops who have served in all foreign conflicts). One of the things the other coaches and I realized on our trip was the number of lives that are touched, not just those of our service men and women, but the families who are left here at home while they fight for us.
That’s why, this year, our players will respectfully wear a small yellow ribbon on the back of their helmets. Those men and women over there risk their lives daily to fight for our freedom, so that we can enjoy playing a game like football. They don’t get “days off,” so the ribbon is a symbol for them. It is our way of saying thanks to them and their families, and that we will constantly keep them in our thoughts. It reflects our hopes and prayers that they all return safely.
August 11, 2009 - 25 days until ULM
Day three has been a very successful one. We were able to adjust to shoulder pads and shorts before we have the entire team together for the first of two practices open to the public Wednesday night. With the split practices, we've learned more about the young guys on this team with each practice period. I keep saying it, but the three days of split practices have been a very productive way to kick off our preseason camp. Looking ahead to Wednesday night, it is my experience that the players will be pumped for the two open practices tomorrow and Thursday night (7-9 p.m. at Denius Fields). It will be 100 degrees as we start those workouts. We will work hard as always, but be very smart and have some built-in breaks. Coping with the heat is always very important.
Our equipment manager Chip Robertson gave me some figures on the uniforms that I wanted to share with you. Did you know the shoulder pads and jersey weigh 5.5 pounds and the helmet is 4 pounds? That's heavy enough, but when they get sweaty in this extreme heat, it's really a lot of added weight. You have to be in great condition to manage that and do a great job preparing your body for practices. Kenny Boyd, our head athletic trainer for football, does a great job helping the guys learn to handle the heat. In addition to testing for sickle cell trait, we run specific tests to determine which young men have more trouble with the heat. By using state-of-the-art technology with the CorTemp ingestible pill, we are able to further monitor environmental conditions and assess our players for potential heat stress.
When it comes to our medical services, one of the things we're happiest about in the expansion of our football facility is our new office area for our doctors. The addition is about 2,000 square feet – the area of a good-sized house. Not only does it give us new space for our medical staff, it creates more room for our players in our already state-of-the-art training and rehabilitation facilities. Having our doctors available in this great new area will allow them to see a lot of athletes on campus, saving time during their school day, plus the costs of transportation to doctors offices in Austin. This is also important for the medical privacy and confidentiality of patients.
As we have assessed the needs of our student-athletes, our medical staff in the athletics department has doubled in the last 10 years. This new area will also provide appropriate space for on-site nutritional, chiropractic and other work, and it will allow our medical staff to visit privately with players and their families here on campus. Plus, we can use it for routine medical procedures and exams that used to be done in off-site medical clinics.
It's a great use of space to accommodate our people, and it embraces our concept of "family" in yet another way.
August 10, 2009 - 26 days until ULM
Day two has been long, but productive and fun. It's obvious the older guys have a lot of retention from spring, and the young ones are working hard to get the coaches' attention. The early days of camp are about teaching and evaluating, so splitting the team up in two sessions gives us a great chance to focus on that early on. It helps us determine who plays in the opener and who will be ready by mid-season. As I said yesterday, the team all reported on time and they seem to be in very good shape. Weights and body fat are where they should be with most of the players, and the few who are overweight will be conditioning extra after workouts.
To give you an idea of what camp is like on the inside, here's today’s schedule:
4:30 a.m. Wake up
4:50 a.m.-5:50 a.m. Tape/breakfast
5:40 a.m. Defensive squad bus departs for practice field
5:50 a.m. Team bus departs for practice field
6 a.m. Blitz walk-thru
6:15 a.m. Team flex
6:30 a.m.-8 a.m. Practice in shorts and helmets
9 a.m. Post-practice continental breakfast
9:30 a.m.-10 a.m. Special forces (teams) meeting
10:05 a.m.-11:15 a.m. Offense/defense meetings
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Lunch
Noon Staff meeting
1 p.m.-3 p.m. Rest
3 p.m.-4 p.m. Dinner
3:50 p.m.-4:20 p.m. Special forces meetings
4:25 p.m.–5:25 p.m. Offense/defense meetings
5:25 p.m. Defensive bus departs for practice field
5:35 p.m. Team bus departs for practice field
5:45 p.m. Blitz walk-thru
6 p.m. Team flex
6:15 p.m.-7:45 p.m. Practice in shorts and helmets
7:45 p.m. Snack
8:30 p.m. Offense/defense meetings
10:30 p.m. Curfew
You can tell the days of camp get long, but it's a time where the team grows, improves, and most importantly, bonds. The players only practice once per day, but the coaches must have high energy and attention to detail all day. They are there before wake up and working through all the breaks, meeting and reviewing practice tape. We see and study every move of every practice. Tomorrow, we will talk more about how our guys handle the heat.
August 9, 2009 - 27 days until ULM
It has been a great first day of camp. There is a tremendous feeling of excitement from coaches, players, parents and fans as we get started. Can you imagine the thrill for the freshmen and their parents as they lived a dream of playing football at The University of Texas in their first practice Sunday night? We had a great check-in day on Saturday, but as pumped as everyone one was, reality set in when that wake up call came at 4:30 a.m. this morning so we could get ready for a 6:30 a.m. practice. There isn't a traffic jam at 5 a.m. so that's nice and the weather was pretty good for our first morning workout.
We split the practice sessions for our first couple of days. The NCAA only allows a young man to practice once per day during the first five days, so we divide the team up, basically younger and older, and the coaches are practicing twice, so the players can get more reps. It's hard on the coaches, but we feel like it is very beneficial for our young new guys. They get more reps, but they also get to watch the older guys work, learn the tempo we expect, and then the older players coach the young ones. It has been very good for team building. The experienced players were also very impressed by the incoming class. They are very talented, and more ready to compete for playing time than freshmen in the past, because nine came in for the spring semester, and the others came for summer school. Unlike a few years ago, the transition is easier since they have already attended classes, and they are in much better shape because they worked in this intense heat with our strength staff all summer. Jeff Madden, Kenny Boyd and their staffs did a great job preparing the guys this summer to handle the rigors of this intense heat. All in all, it was a very successful opening day. The day will be very similar tomorrow.
Our fans can be very proud of your staff and team. Starting at 4:30 a.m., the players worked hard and had meetings, watched video all day, and then went to bed at 10:30 p.m. It is hard being a great player and team. We will check in with you tomorrow. I'm going to give you a feel of what it is like to be a player on the Texas team. Think about us in the early morning. Our last player will be on the field at 6:15 a.m. Many of you will see us on Denius practice fields as you drive into work on I-35. Smile as you pass knowing how hard your Longhorns are working on the opener. We look forward to seeing you out there on Wednesday.