Sept. 15, 2011
Assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Duane Akina
On CB Quandre Diggs: He’s probably been as productive as a freshman as we’ve had. Coming in, guys who have played as true freshman, [Nathan] Vasher played as a true freshman when I was here. [Former Longhorn DBs] Cedric Griffin and Michael Huff both redshirted. I would say he’s on par with some of those better players that we’ve had. Now the key will be how he will handle it over time. How will he handle all this success that he’s having. I mean, he’s two games into it. We need to make sure we slow down a little bit with it, but you have to believe what you see. He’s played well. He’s played physical. He’s seen the game, had a chance to make a play and he made a play. We say it all the time, great players make plays at critical times in the game and he came through. Let’s see if he can continue to do it and he’s handling it well and we’re fortunate that if he ever gets out of line, he’s got a brother [Quentin Jammer] he can call. But his brother has been a real stabling influence on him to because I think he understands the game also and that there’s a lot of football still yet. Quandre has been just absolutely terrific, and I think that’s why he has continued to be successful because he does know that he’s only scratching the surface right now and there’s so much more in there and it’s our job to go out and get it.
On the physical play of Quandre Diggs being a surprise: Yeah, and that’s good. I’m glad to see that you’ve noticed and appreciated that because we really do here. The room is built that way - that DB room is built that way. We’re not here just to cover people, we’re here to play defensive back which entails being physical and that’s the first thing we talk about. To gain the respect of your teammates in that locker room is that you have to be physical. Because it’s a violent game and those that play it respect toughness, and he is really coming a long way. As you’ve interviewed him, he’s so good-natured and he’s a good man. In between the lines we want to find somebody else, and he’s like that. AP [Adrian Phillips] is very physical. And they’re setting the edge for us because in today’s game you have to be physical at the corner position because of all the bubble screens [and] sweeps. You have to be able to set an edge and we’re fortunate that we’ve been able to do that and we have to continue.
On David Ash’s current role as QB diminishing the chances of him possibly being used as a punter: I’ll let Major [Applewhite] makes those decisions on that. He’s certainly capable of doing both. It’s quite a weapon back there. I know if I am going after the punter and I see a quarterback back there, that changes my mindset a little bit because the playbook is now expanded. But he certainly is a talented player, and we have to utilize all the weapons we have.
On the team’s play as a whole thus far: I think we’ve really rallied amongst each other. We’re playing together. I think the older players are being patient and continuing to press our younger players to improve every week, and the younger players are open to those challenges. We challenged our defensive line a week ago, and they responded. So there are a lot of guys that really care about the University of Texas and putting a great product on the field. You can see that they are really trusting and believing in the plan, and they are working hard all week to execute the plan on Saturday, which they’re giving themselves a chance.
On the defense limiting the BYU passing attack in the second half: I think that a lot of the stuff that they were throwing were good zone concepts. And we were playing some zone and we were fortunate that we a have lot of flexibility in the package and we got back to some of our man-to-man principles and that slowed it down. There’s a lot of variety that we can go to and it was good job of adjusting and a good job of the players shifting gears too.
On the defense dropping some interceptions: We have had our hands on a couple, but you know, like I’ve always said, those things come in bunches and those were two good plays with AP’s [Adrian Phillips] interception and we needed a spark at the time and that’s what takeaways can do for you. At the time it created some momentum, got some points on the board and then Quandre’s kind of shut things down and got momentum for our offense, and we were able to ice the game and not go back out there. You realize when we get into the Big 12 season, when we get those opportunities, we have to seize them. We have to be more consistent and be 100%.
On how coaching the young guys energizes him: Yes, very much so. To me it’s exciting and that’s what makes college football so exciting because we had a great group that we grew with from 2008 until last year and it’s wonderful to see all three of those guys out there living their dream along with Earl [Thomas] who was in that earlier. I get text messages all the time [from ex-Dbs] that the “room” looks good, and they take these younger guys under their wing too. It’s a lot of fun and it can be exciting back there sometimes because you don’t know what’s going to happen when they start going into all this different motion and all. They do a great job, and they’re giving it their best shot and that’s all any coach can ask. Just give me your best shot and we can go from there.
On CB Carrington Byndom’s field goal forcing tackle against BYU: That’s a great play. He went far and beyond his job description. So it’s little things like that that you’ve noticed there that really determine the outcome of the game because that could have been a first down, which could have led to a touchdown. Those are huge points within the game. That was a four point tackle possibly, and it was an open field tackle. He was high up-top zone player protecting us downfield and felt the game. The more they play, the more reps they get, they start feeling the game more and now they’re starting to play faster because they’re trusting their eyes. That was a tough tackle in the open field.
On Byndom becoming Defensive MVP of the Rice game: He really set an edge and he wasn’t challenged in the throwing game - the quarterback had to go somewhere else with it. He’s playing physical, and we have a point chart in which he scored the most points. He had a couple tackles for loss, which are worth more. He’s just playing really physical and aggressive and so now we know he’s going to be involved in stutters, out and ups, because when you’re an aggressive player, you are now on the offensive coordinators list, “Maybe we need to double move this guy.”
On the importance of big plays: Somewhere in the game, if you look at it, no one play ever wins or loses a football game for you. But there are times in the course of a game, there is a critical time in the game, we need a play at this time, and third downs are critical times. Or maybe it’s at the end of the game and it’s like fourth down and you break up a pass. Winning critical situations is huge in big games, and we’ve done that in these last couple games.
On his favorite moment at the Rose Bowl during his time at Texas: There has been a lot of them. That Rose Bowl has been an exciting place for me. Probably the most exciting for me was when my youngest son finally had a chance to have a field pass and stand there on the sideline with me and work the game with me. Because there are so many great plays from the “kick.” [Former Longhorn CB] Cedric Griffin knocking the ball out of [Michigan WR Braylon] Edwards hands to save the Michigan game to save a touchdown. Obviously [Former Longhorn S Michael] Huff’s fourth down stop [against USC] that unbalanced him - knowing that that tackle was ineligible and shooting the gap on fourth-and-two, which was a hidden play. A lot of people want to talk about fourth-and-five, which was a huge play, but Huff’s play on fourth-and-two is as big, and we’d have never seen fourth-and-five if he doesn’t make that play on fourth-and-two. Many memories, hopefully we can collect some more Saturday.
Co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Major Applewhite
On RB Malcolm Brown: Malcolm’s done a great job in practice, as has Fozzy [Whittaker], Joe [Bergeron], Cody [Johnson], DJ [Monroe]. All those guys have certain roles and I know you’ve heard it from us before, but all guys have packages, and there are just certain plays that certain players just do better. They’ll all see the field on Saturday.
On the upside of RB Malcolm Brown: His upside is that he’s made yards after contact. The first guy typically doesn’t bring him down. He’s very intelligent. He’s been able to learn a complicated system right off the bat as a true freshman. Those are some of his upsides. He has great vision, one step quickness, all those little taglines that you hear coaches talk about. He’s done a great job being able to learn the system.
On Malcolm Brown’s presence: I think we’re all products of our parents and our upbringing. I think his parents have done a phenomenal job with him and their other two children. There’s some military background with the family. There’s a very spiritual background, so he’s got a great opportunity and a great leg up on a lot of other kids. He’s had a great upbringing, and I think that has a lot to do with who he is.
On the running backs lack of egos: It’s tremendous, and it’s rare. It’s rare at running back. Most of those guys are the stars from Pop Warner on, so a lot of times they have difficulties. You hear that a lot with backs. To have that kind of attitude in that room and you mix it with a guy like Fozzy [Whittaker], who’s unselfish, Cody Johnson, who’s unselfish, who made the ultimate sacrifice going short yardage back, basically giving up tailback to go to fullback. It works when you have those kind of people in the room. It can be difficult when personalities are different. I’ve been on teams where that’s been the case, so I’ve seen both sides.
On how quarterbacks must be ready at any time: I think as a quarterback you have to just worry about what your gameplan is, focus on that because you never know. You never know when your opportunity is going to come. I remember my freshman year, I was sitting there battling for a second team position and a guy gets injured on the last scrimmage. One of the last few plays and now you’re backup and he goes down and you’re starting in the third quarter. You never know how that stuff is going to happen. You have to be ready to play. No one really buys into that until it’s their opportunity and they say to themselves, “Man, I really wish I would have listened to that coach.” You have to be ready to play.
On his fondest memory at the Rose Bowl: My fondest memory is the Michigan year. I was a graduate assistant on that staff and that was Vince’s [Young] coming out party, a kind of forewarning to the 2005 season. That was my best experience in the Rose Bowl.
On assessing the wide receivers against BYU: They did a great job in their own respect. Jaxon [Shipley] made some key plays that we all focus on, but you have to look at the background story. There are other plays that were made out in open field. Some blocks were made on the DJ’s [Monroe] big runs. There were some key blocks thrown. Some stuff that wide receivers typically don’t get credit for, or they don’t get noticed. So there were a lot of different ways that they contributed. There were some great plays made by wide receivers on special teams. You just have to look the thing as a whole and not just how many balls did he catch and how many yards did he get after he caught it. There’s so much more to the game at that position.
On QB David Ash’s block to free DJ Monroe: When he ran the little option series, that just shows the heart of him, the heart of David. He’s just a competitor. I know it’s a tagline but not many quarterbacks are going to throw their shoulder and head right into some linebackers’ knee to set a guy free. That just shows you how bad he wanted to win, and how in the moment he was. You recognize it when you see it and there it is. It’s exciting and encouraging to be able to see that.
On QB Case McCoy being a better runner and QB David Ash being a better thrower than given credit for: They always try to draw that polarization. One guy is hot, one guy is cold, one guy is black, one guy is white. They always try to draw that comparison. Usually both of them are right there in the middle somewhere in between. They both did things well. Obviousl,y one of them may do something a little bit better than the other, but they’re not polar opposites.
On rhythm being overrated: It all depends on certain routes, certain plays where rhythm is extremely important. Certain timing plays, whether it be fade balls, things like that, red zone fades. I think a lot of times it can be out of proportion. You’ve seen times where guys have sat the whole game and came in and set it on fire. Or haven’t played in a long time and came out. So sometimes the rhythm thing can kind of be played out. It’s one of those fan taglines, the rhythm of the passing game, change of pace back, you know. There are all those little things that you can get caught up into. Basically a quarterback that is accurate and a wide receiver that catches it, those are the guys that are going to continue to play and if you want to call that in rhythm, so be it.
On UCLA’s defense: They’ve got great talent, and they do play hard. I’ve always felt like when you talk about someone’s talent, in some ways it’s a slam. They’re talented, and they play hard. So that makes it even more difficult. They’ve got big guys up front. They’ve got guys on the edge that can rush the passer. They’ve got some very experienced, smart linebackers that have played a lot of football, have seen everything thrown at them. They have some great skill outside at corner, a great safety in Tony Dye. There’s a lot of great players on that team. I wish I could say that there was one thing, but they’re really solid all around.