Mack Brown Monday press conference: Sept. 3
Opening statement: We had a great meeting with our team yesterday, and I told the guys that 50 percent of the teams that played Saturday lost, so let's make sure that we get our heads up. We're proud that we won. When we go back and look at what happened in the ballgame, there was good and bad. There were a lot of really good things that happened to us and a lot of guys played well. You look at a guy like Frank Okam who played probably by far the best game he's played, which it was exciting that he's well after his knee. And you go back and try and figure out why we didn't finish the game when we should of. Time and time again you go back and try to figure out why we were good but we weren't consistently good. First you give some credit to Arkansas State because we thought they would be good. They changed a lot of things they were doing coming in against us, and that usually happens especially in the first ballgame. And the great thing is we didn't turn the ball over very much and we won all three phases of the kicking game. So when you usually do that, you're going to come out a winner. And we didn't play as well as we wanted to, we still won, and we have a whole lot of things we can work on to get better this week. The other thing we told the guys as of last night, that (game is) over and if you win it you put it away and if you lose it you put it away. And we better get ready for TCU because they're really a good football team, played great against Baylor, and we'll have to play a lot better this weekend to have a chance to win.
I started looking at some things, and I really feel like college football hasn't been fair to TCU. They have been as successful as Boise State over the last five years and they've won over 10 or 11 ballgames every season for the last five years. They've won their last four bowl games and they've beaten the last five Big 12 teams they've played. (TCU coach) Gary Patterson has won 73 percent of his games, and they've just done a tremendous job. And I think one of the reasons they haven't gotten the recognition they should have is because they're not on TV as much as they should be. The (TCU) guys are fast, they're good, they're well coached, and they play with a lot of confidence. They will blitz you and put pressure on you, but at the same time, they do a great job of defending deep because of speed. Offensively, they've got a combination of power and option, but they can still throw the ball, and they do a great job coaching in the kicking game. So this will be a great challenge for us.
We were talking in a staff meeting about what we can do to get better fast. And obviously the thing you look at is that we lost 16 guys to the NFL in the last two years that are on current teams. All nine guys last year made it. So we've lost some leadership and what we've got to do is somebody needs to jump out and take those leadership roles when we jump out to a quick 14 points and then not sit there and get complacent or whatever happened in the second half (of the ballgame).
On TCU coach Gary Patterson: Gary has been doing this for a long time, he's very passionate about football, he grew up as a defensive guy, he's built his program on defense to start with and being aggressive and getting after people. And at the same time, he's grown as a head coach and he knows how to run the ball well and they've got a great offensive package that's up-tempo and they're throwing the ball. He and I have talked a lot about the two programs as we've gotten to know each other over the last four or five years. And he does a great job in the kicking game. They probably do as good a job recruiting as anybody in the state because they have really good players. Tommy Blake may be as good a defensive end than we've seen in a long time; he's not just a good player he's a great player and a number one (NFL) Draft choice.
On TCU: You go back and look at what they've done, and again I don't think they've gotten the publicity we've gotten. We've gotten the national attention and TCU hasn't gotten, and it's probably because of TV (time). But our players saw the Baylor game and they're not going to have any trouble getting ready to play. Those guys can really run, they get after it, and it will be a great challenge for us. Our players won't be thinking about Arkansas State for very long after today.
On if it is easier to prepare for the TCU game: Well, it is from a technical standpoint. TCU has a lot better players than Arkansas State, but at least we have some film on TCU. (Corey) Leonard played the last four games as the quarterback for Arkansas State and they changed a lot of their package. You know when you start out with a naked-boot throwback in the first play of the game that Arkansas State is probably going to come in and throw everything at you and not have anything to lose. We'll know more about TCU and where they are, but they're a tough football team and a very confident football team, and it will be a great challenge for us.
On TCU's defense: They're so quick. They've got great quickness and speed. It's funny because we haven't played a lot of people who have played them, and because we haven't played them, you don't see them much in your film exchange. I didn't realize how quick they were and how well they could run until the spring. And then we watched them against Baylor, and they held Baylor to 78 yards total offense in the second half. That's just phenomenal. In the Big 12 to shut someone out and hold them to 78 yards is absolutely phenomenal, and I'm just amazed at how good they looked at on film.
On the offensive line: I thought they did a good job. You go back and study it, and the obvious things that were negative that we all see and remember after a ballgame were that there were a couple of run-throughs. (Arkansas State) blitzed us probably 40 percent of the time. Jamaal (Charles) had a run out to our right on a sweep where he lost six or eight yards on a blitz, and if we were a step quicker around the corner or if we had kept our eyes up inside and pick-up the blitz we may have scored. It was that kind of night. Everything happened perfect for them and not many things after 14 points happened for us, and we told our guys that. We needed that, we needed to be humbled, we needed to be kicked in the face, and we needed some bad things to happen and have to overcome them. The thing that I'm concerned about, and we have addressed it as a staff, is that we need to score from the 4(-yard line), and we didn't do what we should have done down there. We weren't as physical as we needed to be and that wasn't the offensive line, it was a combination of everybody. At the end of the game we needed to run the ball better, we needed to stay in bounds when had it, and short-yardage and goal line we needed to be better. So those are things we need to improve by Saturday.
On what he wants the team to learn from Saturday's game: That it's really, really hard to win, and that you always give the other team total respect even if nobody else in America is giving it to them. And as we learned in a few other situations on Saturday, teams are good enough that if you don't play well, you can lose. Dick Tomey said it best, "It's not the best program and it's not the best team, it's the team that plays best on that day." And when you see upsets, usually the lesser team plays better than the really good team on that day.
On the team leadership: We said this in preseason, but this isn't really a team that gets loud. We didn't get to substitute enough because the game stayed closer than we wanted it to so we didn't get a lot of our young guys in there that we wanted to. You have to develop (leadership) roles. We don't have preseason games, so Saturday night was good for us to be able to evaluate some personnel and we're still doing that. But you also need to evaluate who you want in the huddle on each side, and when things were going differently than we wanted them to, why didn't we pick it up? We extended three of their drives that should have been three-and-outs because we had two late hits on a quarterback and a personal foul with a facemask. I mean that's another 100 yards of offense and points. We had ourselves in a position where we would have played a lot better than we did.
On the kicking game: Our kicking game was really good. The two pooch-punts we put in with Colt (McCoy) really worked for us. We think that when you're around the 50(-yard line), the shotgun gives you the ability to go for it on fourth-and-seven or less and you can still punt and have a chance for them not to have a chance to get a safety back. It's a really good weapon for us, and because of (Colt McCoy's) athletic abilities it's probably better for us to do that than pooch out of the regular punt, which we did once and it did go in the end zone. Hunter (Lawrence) was great; the last (kick) was a little bit more of a line drive and we didn't cover it as well, but the first three (kicks) were great. Our snaps were pretty good. Ryan Bailey kicked through again, and Jordan (Shipley) did a good job with his snaps. We felt like the first kickoff return was great, not good, and Quan (Cosby) breaks a punt return. So we really felt like the field position and the punting game and the kicking game were the best things we did throughout the night, and that can be hard to do in an opening ballgame, because it's hard to do it live. And we need to look and see how much we can keep Quan (Cosby) out there because he played so well that we just don't want him out there on every snap, and he did so many good things. The other thing we felt like we could have improved is that we could have answered better. When we scored to go up 21-6, then all of a sudden they got a kickoff return out to the 40. All the other kickoff returns had been the 30 or in, and teams have to answer well. Like I said, we really played well, we were ready to play, we had a lot of emotion, there were a lot of good plays, but we weren't consistently good and we didn't put them away when we had our opportunities.
On the defense: It's amazing how hot (Arkansas State) got, and they hit some really perfect throws, and we've got to make plays on those throws. During the deep (pass) right before the half, I was out there calling a timeout to stop the clock so we can score and then the (Arkansas State) quarterback runs for 18 yards on 3rd-and-16 and gets a first down. That was a double screen, it wasn't even a run, and he fakes it both ways. Our guys had the screen covered perfectly on both sides, unlike the first screen, and then (Corey Leonard) ran for 18 (yards). It was one of those nights. I told (co-defensive coordinator) Duane (Akina) that we shouldn't have covered the screen so well the second time. Overall, (the defense) played well. After (Brian) Orakpo got hurt, we had the young defense ends in there for nudes and boots and zone-reads and all that, so we've got a lot of stuff to do now.
On the young defensive ends: The thing's that's difficult is that a lot of times the media is trying to make blanket statements and we're dealing with kids who over time play great, average and poor. And some of them probably have 37 great plays and two bad ones and you saw the two bad ones. So you're saying he played horrible and I'm saying they played great. College football is an imperfect game that's why people like it. They like to see kids try hard and make mistakes. Eddie Jones made a great play to save a touchdown and Lamarr Houston was in the backfield for most of the night. Over time they'll be really good.
On TCU joining the Big 12: TCU is every bit good enough to be in the Big 12. They've proven that five straight times. And I wasn't here when the teams were chosen and I'll bet if we ever expand, I probably won't get a vote, but they are really good and they're deserving to be in anybody's conference. If you look at their record, they have earned the right to be considered one of the best teams in the country.
On TCU's offense: They do a great job with the option and that hurts you, and (TCU quarterback Andy Dalton) can run the option. (Dalton) is a great football player; he's very accurate. They're well schooled. Gary (Patterson) has done a good job of keeping the staff the same for a long time. And they'll also quick snap you a lot. They'll just run up and snap the ball. So they do affect how you call your defenses, and we'll have to figure out what we can call because of their quick snaps, and you always have to concern yourself when a team can run the option. It changes your blitzes because then somebody obviously has dive-quarterback-pitch, so on every play you can't run a blitz when you're playing a TCU offense without making sure that your option duties are good.
On the linebackers: They did a good job. Again, if you look at it, we had nine explosives and (Arkansas State) had 11 (explosive plays). It's funny, but other than the 11 explosives, we played great, but that's way too many. So we've got to stop the big play, and part of that is because we let them stay on the field after we'd stopped them.
On being able to move forward: It is good (to have a basis) because when I've been asked about preseason polls, I have always said that we're all guessing. When coaches are guessing about what they have on their own team, media and coaches are guessing about other teams nationally. And then people can't believe when a team that's ranked fifth gets beat, but nobody is ranked, that team was guessed fifth in the country. Maybe the people who voted should get beaten up and not the coaches and the players that lost.