Mack Brown Monday press conference: Sept. 10
General comments: After watching the TCU film, we were again pleased with the attitude of the team in the fact that they kept fighting so hard. It was one of the most physical games I have been around. There were some great licks on both sides and you have to give TCU credit again for the way Gary [Patterson] has recruited. They have really good players and they are well coached. They came in here with a tough attitude and an attitude to win and that is a credit to them. They are a much better football team than what I remember them being in the Southwest Conference. We do think they will be a top 20 team when the year is over. They have a tough path this week with a short week after a physical and as hot a game as that was, going to Air Force. We do want to wish them good luck. Gary has done a great job.
In review of what we felt going into the game and what we saw coming out is that our guys did play with poise and passion. That is one of the things we talked to them about doing during the week because we felt like it would be a game with some adversity, it would be a game with a tremendous amount of emotion, and again, we are really pleased with our crowd. I do think it is the best our crowd has been since we have been at The University of Texas. If not the best, it is sure in the group. We also managed the game well. The guys were patient enough when things werenít going well that they didnít panic and hung in there. You go back to the first half offensively and a lot of people thought we didnít do anything well offensively. Really we had horrible field position and neither team moved the ball offensively. The three penalties for offensive pass interference absolutely killed the drive and moved us back because we were moving the ball some. And the fact that we got off the goal line was a real positive. Giving up the 10 points offensively with the turnovers in our end are the things that hurt us so badly. Then you have to give our defense credit because TCU didnít move the ball either and when they got it down with the interception down near our goal line and had the big pass to get them down near the 4(-yard line), our goal line defense did a great job. That might have turned the game emotionally when you start looking at the second half and our guys coming out and playing so well the second half. Field position was just horrible the first half and it was because of their kicking game and our penalties more than anything else and then the turnovers led to points. It is amazing that neither offense really scored the first half. Their defense scored and a field goal. It was going to be that kind of game. We knew they had a great defense and we were hoping our defense would grow up and play better than they did in the opening and they did. We knew it wasnít going to be an easy night. I heard (San Diego Chargers head coach) Norv Turner say yesterday something that we believe to be true in most cases, when you are playing a great defense, your rushing yards usually come in the second half. When they are fresh and getting after you and stopping the run, it is very difficult to run the ball against a good football team in the first half. It is usually over the course of the game when you continue to pound and pound and pound and then you start making some runs.
The attitude at halftime was unbelievable with the young kids and coaches. The kids were great. They knew we had played hard and they also knew the mistakes we had made at times. They were very easy to coach at halftime, and the coaches did make some good adjustments, but it was really about the kids' confidence and coming back and playing as well in the second half as they did.
For the running game, our goal, our motto for the week was to finish. We finished the running game in fourth quarter and on the goal line. We stopped the run on the goal line when TCU had it down there, where we were disappointed last week against Arkansas State, and we scored when we got it down to the goal line this time. I thought the great surge with the offensive line and Vondrell McGee did a good job of running behind his pads and doing some really great things.
The kicking game also helped us turn the game with the two turnovers. It looked like when the young man dropped the snap that the snap was a little bit to the left. We thought Brandon Foster was going to block it anyway and that is probably why his eyes got off of the ball a little bit, because we had penetration and there was a free guy. We felt like we had an opportunity to block a punt and we felt like that one would have been blocked if he had caught the snap.
Derek Lokey played maybe the best game since he has been here. His penetration and toughness really helped us up front. Because Rack [Brian Orakpo] didnít play, Aaron Lewis played so much at defensive end and played really well. All of the linebackers played really well. We played five of them and they played maybe their best game in a while. Marcus Griffin always plays well, but the other three secondary guys really stepped it up, so defensively we were really pleased with what we did. They got most of their yards at the end of the game and we were more passive at the end, but also you are trying to get them to kill some clock and you donít want to give them an easy one, you donít want them to get something over your head or break a long run, so for us to have them get some yards, trying to knock the ball loose and have to kick a field goal and kill four minutes of clock was really a good job with scheme with Duane Akina.
Chris Hall did an amazing thing. He played every position up front in the offensive line except left tackle, which is just amazing. He hadnít even practiced much at tackle and when Adam Ulatoski got hurt, Chris stepped up and did a great job against the really good defensive ends at TCU. Adam Ulatoski, to show up how tough young people are, hurt his elbow and they brought the stretcher out and they brought the cart out and he said, ĎAbsolutely not, you put the brace on my elbow, and I'm walking off this field.í These young guys are really tough. Tony Hills did a great job throughout the game. It was a highlighted match-up going in, and we were really pleased with Tony's effort and what he did against Tommy [Blake], because Tommy is a great player. And Nate Jones has had two outstanding football games.
We had 10 explosives for the game and held TCU to five, which was a real important key after last week. We forced four turnovers and we only lost two, so we won both of those. Still the most amazing stat to me when we win explosive plays and turnovers is 56-0. When we lose both of those in a game we have only won one time since we have been here and that was Arkansas State. So we are 1-15 when we lose those two stats. When we win those, we are 56-0. And we won all phases of the kicking game.
Central Florida is coached by George O'Leary. Mac McWhorter coached with George when he was with Georgia Tech and when George took the job at Notre Dame; Mac was the interim head coach for their bowl game. I think they played Stanford out in Seattle and actually won the game when Mac was their coach. George is tough. They will be well coached. They beat N.C. State two weeks ago and they have had a week (extra) to prepare for us. They play great defense and they are going to run the ball well. Kevin Smith is leading the nation in rushing. He had 35 carries for 219 yards and they are opening up their new stadium. They held NC State to 85 yards and rushed for about 246 and won the game, 25-23. We will go down to open up their new stadium and George will have them ready. As I said, they had a week off to prepare and with our very emotional, tough, physical game with TCU, it will be interesting to see how we respond to a lot of people talking about how well we played instead of people talking about how poor we played. It is a different week for us, but one that we need to get ready to play.
On Jamaal Charles: Jamaal is playing really really well. We felt like he did a better job with 22 carries than he did with 27. So we are trying to find the exact number for him, but he made two or three really great runs that we have all seen him make and expect him to make. He is so fast. When you wear the other team down some, there are some yards there for him to make. We thought he ran better up inside. Some of his long runs started up inside and broke outside which is what we want him to do and try to look at four-yard runs and then you might get the big one. We were really excited even more about Jamaal's performance Saturday night than we were the first one.
On starting Chris Ogbonnaya the second half: The last play of the half Jamaal hit his funny bone. It wasnít an injury to keep him out, but he wasnít ready to go right back in. I think when he saw Chris do really well on that first drive, his elbow got better.
On the focus at halftime: What we said was that we need to spread them out a little more and make them chase the passing game, and then we can finish with the running game. Very honestly, we felt like they werenít moving the ball. Games are won in so many ways on defense and kicking game. If they arenít moving it, you have some more time to fix some things on offense and when people say that the offensive kids werenít trying, they were. They were making some great plays. They just werenít consistent again. They just had to get more consistent. I thought what Colt [McCoy] did was phenomenal. For a young quarterback to have two interceptions that lead to points in the last three minutes of the half and come back and play like he did in the second half it is really a difficult thing to do and shows his confidence and shows his toughness. He is all about winning and that is the only stat he cares about. He doesnít care about the other things. He knows that turnovers arenít good, but if we can win the game, then we can fix the turnovers. The other thing we said to our team is that we think you are playing hard, and as long as you are playing that hard you are going to be okay. If you keep doing what youíre doing and cut off the mistakes on offense, weíre going to come back in there winning the game. It was a very positive halftime, it wasnít negative. I give the fans credit when we leave the field and the fans are positive, and we haven't played as well as we like, we have played as hard and as emotional as we wanted, it really helps our team. They know that the fans think we are going to win the second half, and I think it affects the other team some. I think the other team is like, ĎWhat is going on around here? We have a 10-point lead and these people look happy.í
On if he told the team they could win at halftime: There wasnít any need for that. I think we knew we were going to win at halftime and we knew there were some things we could fix. I have never seen three pass interference calls before and those things are just absolute killers. They just stop drives. You can't have them and they affected us probably more than anything else. Their cornerback makes a fabulous play on that interception. He is blitzing, he stops, Colt reads the blitz, he turns and throws the quick pass, and as hard as Colt threw it for him to catch it and then for him to catch it and score with it, that was a great play on his part and that is what we told Colt. Give the guy credit and letís go to the next play. The second one was a ball that was a little bit off and it was a tipped ball and it is in the air, and tipped balls are dangerous because they can be intercepted. You really look at Colt, neither one of them are things that you can say he wasnít trying to do the right thing or it wasnít close or it is just a game of inches. As he said, he didnít want anybody standing next to him for luck in the first half because it sure didnít happen for him. To have that much happen against you in the last 3:33 of the first half and come back out and score the first drive of the second half and dominate the second half like we did is really a credit to the game.
On having a well balanced offensive attack: When you play a George O'Leary coached football team, they are going to run the ball and stop the run. I mean 246 yards rushing, two weeks ago against N.C. State and 85 given up, and then you start looking at time of possession. It happened some against Arkansas State. They just eat up the clock, they keep your offense off the field and if you are not careful, you look up, at one time in that first half, TCU had it 14 minuets and something and we had had it seven. It is a constant reminder that when you get on the field, you have got to get them off and you have to stay out there. We do feel like it was a huge positive for Saturday night and our team knows that. And we are finding out who we are offensively. We are going to be more of a multiple offense, a lot of different formations, we are just not going to be a shotgun team because that is not what we do best all the time right now. We are finding out what everybody is doing and it is better. We hope Jordan [Shipley] will be back this week. He was probably about 90% last week and he didnít get to help us and we were hoping he would. And we still have to play more freshmen, we are just getting better and we like where we are right now.
On if the younger players are adjusting well: They really are. Chris Hall saved us and that is so unusual that you just say Chris go in and he knows to find the open spot. It is like finding musical chairs. ĎWhere is it open coach? I will go do it.í What a neat thing for a kid who hasnít played very much. It was just a great game for him. I saw him at dinner last night and he said I have never had that much fun playing football in my life, and I said since you had fun, I had fun. It makes it better that way. We did get to play the young guys right at the end, but we do need to play them more. There are a lot of very good young players without any experience and we are just going to have to get them out there like Sam Acho. Sam made a tackle, got a play and we were probably going to red shirt Sam until Henry [Melton] didnít play and then Rack got hurt, but that is why things change. Thatís why you have to be flexible with your thoughts in college football because they change by the day.
On how the UCF game came about: I really donít know. You would have to ask DeLoss [Dodds] and Butch Worley. They do the scheduling. They usually call over and say is this ok. We make a lot of money in football, but we spend a lot of money in football. We have always felt that DeLoss and Butch should be able to schedule who they need to to make it work. Scheduling is a very big, difficult thing for an athletic director. A lot of people thought we shouldnít play TCU. Well a ticket was hard to get, it was a great night, and it was a fun night for the state of Texas and both schools. It was a dangerous game for us, but you know what? It was a dangerous game for them too. If they had played a lesser team and won it might have helped them toward a BCS more. Give TCU credit for playing the game, as well.
On the Florida schools: South Florida just beat Auburn at Auburn and that will get your attention. We all remember Daunte Culpepper at Central Florida and they won the Conference USA two years ago. Like the state of Texas there are a lot of football players in the state of Florida. So all of their schools have a chance to be good like ours.
On instant replay: I really like replay and not because of Saturday night, but across the board because every game now that we are seeing on T.V., we are seeing it affect what is called. They can call something on the field that is close just to have it reviewed, where before they werenít sure. Like the fumble against, I guess, it was Arkansas State, with Colt right before the half. The guy said we are taking care of the quarterback, if we are not sure if it was fumble or not-let it be a fumble and then we can review it and make sure. If a score may occur, let them score and then we can bring it back. I think that is what happened with Colt's fumble on Saturday night, but I do think it is good. I think they are getting quicker with it. I really wish they would review every call that is poor upstairs. They donít review pass interference upstairs and I think they should. If it is a bad call and it affects the game and an official makes a mistake, let's just change it. I donít see why we should have to run over there and talk for awhile, I think you can just say fix it, change it and letís go to the next play. So we wouldnít lengthen the game. I do think what we are trying to do is get it so the team that plays the best that night wins. The closer you can get to good calls gives that opportunity.
On UCF RB Kevin Smith: He is really good. He is 211 pounds, so he is a big, strong guy that is about 6-1. They lost him some last year and it really affected who they were and what they did because George wants to line up and be physical and run the ball. He will be a real test for us. He will be like the best ones that we play in our league that we play throughout the year.
On coaching against George O'Leary before: We have coached against George three times when he was at Georgia Tech and we were at North Carolina, and he is a good football coach. He wouldnít have been hired at Notre Dame unless he was a good football coach. He is doing a good job there and they will be excited. I know he works them as hard as anybody in the country and he gave them off last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and that is not like George. He is trying to have them fresh when we come down there to play.
On the young guys stepping up: That is who weíre going to have to be. We have to have young guys that are going to keep getting better and better and better each week, and sometimes young guys arenít quite as mature in their preparation for games. That is just what we were talking about. This team needs to go back to work like we are starting the season over and do a great job this week. That is part of what the older guys on the team will have to sell to the young ones. ĎCome on now, this is my last year, and youíre just starting.í Depth is a huge advantage for us at Texas, not only when somebody gets hurt, but also at the latter part of ball games against teams that donít have as much depth. We have to continue to coach hard and we have got to play those guys. We are still hesitant some to put them in, but we have got to make ourselves play them.
On how the young players did with the second half surge: They just have more confidence. The older guys understand the speed of the game and what changes the game and we did not feel like we managed that part of the game against Arkansas State. When it was time to put them away, we didnít. When it was time for somebody to step up and have a key play, we had a penalty. Saturday night, the second half, everybody fed off each other. That is what is so key. We forget three of those four defensive backs did not start in a game until last week. They felt different about this game Iím sure, not because they werenít ready to play Arkansas State, but because they hadnít been out there. When you walk out on the field for the very first time and you look around to 80-90 thousand people, it probably is a distraction a little bit. We felt like the three other secondary guys other than Marcus played great and much better than they did in the opening ball game. We felt like we were able to substitute more at linebacker and keep them more fresh, which really helped us as well. We had a play off the edge by Lamarr Houston, which was really a great play. We had a play off the edge by Jared Norton, and those are plays we didnít see last week against Arkansas State. Hopefully, some of those guys are ready to play now instead of just participate.