Tracking the Longhorns: Aug. 29
Aug. 29, 2012
Co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Major Applewhite
Assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Duane Akina
On what stands out about Wyoming QB Brett Smith: His legs. He is very productive. You have to defend the quarterback run game. They do a lot of things formation-wise that can give him some good angles and some good numbers. He can also keep himself alive with the throwing game, so there are times you may have to cover him twice. You may have initial coverage, but he can extend plays with his legs and create offense down the field. We have to work hard. We have get our eyes back if we see him move and relocate our eyes again back on our targets. I think he is coming in with a lot of confidence. He had a very good freshman year, and his main weapons are back so I think he is excited. The last time they lined up against the University of Texas they faired very well for a while there. We are all excited to get the opportunity to play against a real productive quarterback.
On going against a team that tests the defensive backs: I think it is good. There are some guys that don’t like that, but it gives us a chance to see where we are at with our depth. It forces us to play six guys out there. It also puts us in a position where we can stay with our regular personnel and see guys play in space. I think we will come away with a good feel of where we are overall defensively with maybe a core of 18 players or so.
On sophomore CB Quandre Diggs’ progress the last year: I see good growth. I see a guy who has not rested on last year. We have challenged him with that. I think it is always good when the best player in your room, [senior S] Kenny Vaccaro continues to improve. My feelings are that as a coach, I think you need to coach the best players the hardest and keep raising their level, because I believe then the rest of the room comes along with them. Kenny has done that, and Quandre has answered the challenge that he had a great freshman year. He has heard about people coming back as sophomores and being not as productive, and he understands that. He has heard it from myself, and he’s got a big brother [NFL San Diego Chargers CB Quentin Jammer] that understands that. The neat thing with him is he is very driven competitively. We are lucky that we do have built-in competition there because AP [CB Adrian Phillips] is a starting corner, too, and with [DB] Mykkele [Thompson] and [CB] Josh’s [Turner] development, you can move a lot of things around.
On former defensive backs coming back in the summer: They do [come back]. That is something I am really proud of. We are really proud in that [defensive backs] room that those guys have great feelings about being a part of Texas football and being a University of Texas defensive back. They share that with the guys that are in the room now. When you go in the room, all of those pictures are up there, and I remind them that those eyes are watching them every Saturday when they are playing. They are somewhere in some city watching those guys play. They let me know about it, and them, if they do not like what they see.
On the current DBs being reminded of former players' accomplishments: No, [they do not mind], because we don’t do it to that extent. I think it is more one of those things that if they get mentioned with that group there is a sense of trying to belong; the little brother that is trying to be like the big brother. What helps is that those guys come back, and they help. They come back and do footwork drills with them in the summer, and they try to lead them along and help them as much as they can. It is really a neat fraternity. I am just proud to be a part of it myself.
On punt returns: For the punt return game, I think there are some of the same situations that were there. Qunadre is going to be in that situation, and I think you just have to be smart. We talk with the punt returners all the time that the bottom line is we want the offense to trot back onto the field and just do your job and be smart with it. We do have a guy that averaged 22.7 [yards] a return a year ago and had one of the real electric plays in the A&M game. We are excited that we are having a veteran returner come back. It is a little more exciting when you have a first-year guy back there. This year we are excited about Quandre being that principle weapon.