Mack Brown Monday press conference: Sept. 17
General comments: The way the weekend started I felt like Chevy Chase with the Griswolds on vacation. It was absolutely crazy. The guys handled all the distractions well and then we get to the stadium and they just have a tremendous atmosphere for Central Florida and it was a great day for them to open their stadium. We learned that we donít need to be opening anybody's stadium again on the road because there is a lot of excitement around it. Iím proud of the guys that they came from behind to win. You look at the rain delay, you look at the lightning, it was so hot down there and it was so much more humid in Orlando than it is here. With the rain, we didnít get cramps, I thought the guys were prepared for it. It is hard to go south and win in that heat sometimes. I am just proud of the guys.
The things that we obviously did well. I wasnít even aware of this, but Jamaal [Charles] had some great runs. He is leading the Big 12 in rushing. He is ninth in the country. He is the only back in our 10 years other than Cedric Benson to have 100 yards each of the first three ball games; Ricky Williams didnít get that accomplished. He had the two fumbles, which was obvious. He was running aggressively when he had the fumbles, the ball wasnít sloppy, we just need to do a better job hanging on because he has got a really aggressive running style, he twists and he turns. We have got to do a better job hanging on to it, but he made some great runs during the ball game.
Colt [McCoy] made a (UT) record 32 completions for the ball game. The best we ever had. Ryan Bailey kicked a record-tying five field goals. We would rather not kick them at all, but since he kicked them, we are glad he made them. He got 17 points, which is a tie for a record. Brandon Foster had back-to-back defensive touchdowns for the first time since 2000 with Greg Brown and Brandon is a Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week this week. He was the Big 12 Special Teams player of the week last week. It is the first time since 2000 we have had a young guy get Big 12 honors back-to-back.
We had 10 three-and-outs with our defense. We ended up giving up eight explosives, which is still to many. We made eight. We ended up losing three turnovers and we had three takeaways, so we ended up even there. We won all three phases of the kicking game. The obvious two things that we didnít do well. We gave up 192 yards of rushing which was too much, and we didnít score touchdowns in the red zone which is something that we have been doing. We are going back and looking at all of our rushing plays that were less than three yards and see why. We are going back and studying all of the things we have done in the red zone in the past and why we havenít scored as easily. We are really proud of the guys. It is hard to get behind on the road in an environment like that and come back and win in that heat in the fourth quarter like they did. We have a lot of work to do; we have a lot of things to improve. All three games have been tough games, all three opponents have probably been better than anticipated coming into the year, and we still have a lot we need to improve.
On the rushing defense: We really contained him [Kevin Smith] well the first half, but I do think he is a great back. I think he is a NFL player because the runs he made are great cuts. He would start one side and we would over pursue and he would cut all the way back. Holding him to 36 yards in the first half and then looking up and you get your rushing yards in the third and fourth quarters, we missed entirely too many tackles. So you give him credit for the running and we had shoddy tackling in the fourth quarter. It was funny we didnít start the game good on defense, we didnít start the second half good on defense, and we didnít do a good job on the last drive on defense like we didnít do a good job on the last drive against Arkansas State. Other than that, we played great defense. We have just got to be more consistent on defense. I do think he is really a good back and he will be a NFL guy if he stays healthy and keeps doing the things he is doing.
On Rice head coach David Bailiff: Your (coaching) transitions are really difficult. Either you get hot and win really easy or it is tough and you have to change some things. They lost a lot of seniors, but they are a much better football team after Saturday than they were after Nicholls State. David is a really good friend of mine; I got to know him so well at Texas State. I think he is a great football coach and a better person. We all know they will be ready to play. This will be a National Championship come Saturday. Spike (Dykes) said that if you can't watch a team on film if they are struggling, play Texas and they will pick it up. We know they will play their best this weekend.
On the return of Billy Pittman, Sergio Kindle and Henry Melton: It will be a lot better to get all three of those young men back. They all had severe penalties for what they did. They have handled it really well. They have practiced well. I know they are very excited about coming back, and we need it. We just had an unbelievable amount of injuries early in the season here. Hopefully what we can do is continue to fight, compete and win, even though the wins have been hard to come by. At some point, when we get everybody back we will have more depth than ever.
On how the team has been able to grow: It is good when you struggle and win. We havenít had anything happen easy for us. We have had a lot of things that have been really tough to overcome and we have overcome every one of them. The things that we are not doing well are very obvious, and we need to continue to work to fix. The things we have been doing well have been overshadowed in some cases because the scores have been closer than we would have anticipated or other people in our early season schedule. The guys are really trying and that is what you can do. You have to continue to get better and to fix the things that are broken and we have to make sure that they understand all of the things that are good because the standard here is pretty high and winning is not enough for some, but it is for us. The only stat we are concerned about is winning and then the things we are not doing well we try to fix. We are proud to be 3-0.
On the defensive backs: We held Central Florida to 110 yards the first half and we did a really good job with it. We didnít play as well in stretches in the fourth quarter. I think he completed 9-of-26 passes, we didnít get as much pressure on him as we liked and they had maximum protection and a lot of play action. The secondary is getting better each week. Ryan Palmer, they tried to pick on a couple of times early in the ball game and he made really good plays knocking the ball down. Marcus Griffin continues to play tough and came up and made a really tough tackle to knock a ball loose and Erick Jackson had his hands on a couple. We just feel like that the guys are getting better each day. It's like the offensive line, it is definitely a work in practice. We go back and look at every play where we rushed for less than three yards and it was unbelievable that it was somebody different each play. Itís not a guy, itís this one didnít get the call with this one and this one was a little higher, or this one didnít get movement, or Jamaal slipped. When you look at the problem of the 1-yard gains, the only lost yardage we had, which is better than the first week, is the one Jamaal slipped on, where he had a chance getting up inside. We made more progress, but we still had too many no-yard gains. We are getting huge gains or none, and we have to go back and continue to work with that offensive line and be more consistent.
On what the team is missing: Experience I guess, in certain areas. We didnít have experience in certain areas and we got a lot of people hurt so we just have to continue to work.
On how much better can the team can be: What we have talked about is that we have been like a roller coaster. We just need to be more consistent. We have to put everything together. There are times again like Arkansas State we could have won this game 45-10 and we just didnít do it. We didnít finish the plays that we needed to finish and it just because of our inconsistency. There are a lot of great things happening ,and again we are 3-0. We feel like at 3-0 we have a million things we can improve. Usually our teams get better as the year progresses and that is what weíre planning on doing. We told the guys you can't use inexperience or injuries as an excuse, so keep playing. Hopefully we will gain experience each week and we will get some of the guys that are hurt back soon, and we are getting a lot of experience with younger guys that will help us when the older ones come back that are hurt.
On Rice: They are very similar with their defensive structure to TCU because David [Bailiff] worked with Gary Patterson. He was the defensive coordinator. So they will blitz you a lot, they line up in an eight-man structure. They try to make it hard for you to run. You have to hit some passes, and we are getting so much blitzing that we will continue to see that this weekend. We've really been impressed with Chase [Clement] as a quarterback. He and Jarett Dillard are really a good combination. Chase is a young guy that we looked at out of high school and he can make plays with his feet and his arm. They were much better on offense on Saturday than they were three weeks ago and that is what will happen with a David Bailiff team.
On all of the upsets in college football: Everybody has got better players. I believe we will see more upsets early in the year than late because everybody is healthy. The difference now in some of the schools, which wouldn't get as much publicity, is they are healthy early in year. They get a transfer here or there, they get a great running back, they get a great quarterback and all of the sudden nobody knows who they are and fans arenít aware of it, the media isnít aware of it, they arenít getting credit and those kids come in and play really hard. If you turn (the ball) over and they donít, they play with more energy than you do because this is a life's dream for them, then all of the sudden itís an upset. We are seeing more and more of that every week. Who would of ever expected 0-2 Utah to beat UCLA 44-6? Itís out there, itís happening, it is real and you just have to understand it. Like I said, itís fun for media, itís fun for fans, it's harder for players, and it is really tough on coaches.
On having all close games: Really and truly I believe you are better off with close games. If you blow out the other team, everybody gets to play and everybody is happy. As a coaching staff and as players, you are not as apt to feel an urgency to fix things. We havenít had a moment to breathe. All three of our games have been tied at times. It has put a tremendous amount of pressure on coaches and players and that is a good thing. We've got to make sure that our guys understand that they have done a lot of good things. We do know that our standard is that we blow a lot of teams out around here and we havenít done it. You know, it is what it is. You would rather blow them out, but I think it is better for you if you donít.
On the running backs: We got Jamaal his 22 carries again. His 71 carries over three games have been the most since Cedric Benson in 2000. It is working that he can carry the ball 22 times a game, and he is doing really well with it. His two turnovers, like we said, are the first two he has had of the year. We do feel like there is a place for Chris [Ogbonnaya] and Vondrell [McGee] to play. Vondrell didnít play much on Saturday, but Chris played a lot more and carried it seven times and did really well. He made a great run on a third down where he broke a tackle in the backfield and made a first down for us. He is a tremendous blocker and a team leader and it was so hot. I didnít tell them that. I kept telling those kids it wasnít hot and they kept looking at me like, ĎI donít know where youíre standing. It is really hot.í I told them yesterday that I would be honest with them and it was really hot.
On not being able to connect on deep throws: George O'Leary has a defense that plays bend not break. They are going to play really deep. We were behind them twice and they pulled us down both times and those donít count as deep balls. Limas' [Sweed] catch was really close and it was overruled. There was another deep ball to Nate [Jones] and he jumped up and had a chance and they intercepted it. We will keep throwing it deep. If you go back, we have coached against George O'Leary teams four times now. Three times at North Carolina and once here. One game was 27-25, one game was 16-13, the other game was 16-0, and this one was 35-32. He is going to run the ball, he is going to have a great punter, he is going to play great field position and if you turn it over, he is going to make it hard for you to score and he is going to blitz you inside the 20. That is who he is and it hasnít changed. His deal with us Saturday was to keep the game close. We had our chances to blow it away two or three times. We didnít score from the two, we didnít score from the 12, even a field goal, so we lost those two opportunities and then the fumble at the end of the game let them get back into it. They do a tremendous job of running the ball, playing good defense, and keeping you in front of them and hoping that you donít make the big play. The punter did a great job. They averaged 44 yards net punting and we averaged 32. So there were a lot of hidden yards in there. There were three times when we had two defensive late hits out of bounds and we have one on offense and they got 17 points out of those three series. They were 3-of-16 on third downs, but the three they got, they scored on. What we are doing is we are not finishing individual things when there games that could be blowout. We are keeping close or the other team is keeping close because they are making plays.
On Ryan Bailey: It was a poor decision not to recruit Ryan and a really good one to put him on scholarship. We are excited about it. In fact, if he had made the second short field goal, he would have broken the school record on Saturday. He is doing really well. He has a great leg. He is so poised and composed and that is the good thing about this team. When we went down with 13 minutes in the fourth quarter, they all knew we were going to win. They went back in, I just wish they would start doing some of that sooner. Our offense scored the first drive; our offense scored the last drive before the half. It was the kind of day where we throw it into the end zone, they call it a touchdown and then they overrule it with Nate and we donít have enough time to score. So we have to kick a field goal from the two with five seconds left. Then we come out and score to start the second half. Then when we got behind in the fourth quarter, they went right down and scored. We would have liked to score when we had the ball at the end, but we didnít. We fumbled or we might have scored again. They are doing a lot of great things; we just have to be more consistent. That is the thing I would say about this team; they are trying really hard, they are working hard, they might be trying too hard in some ways, but they have got to be more consistent. We have to help them more as coaches in their consistency so we can get points when they are there and not give up big plays.
On if the consistency is the problem with the red zone offense: Yes. You run on first down and you donít make any, it puts you in a real tough spot on the red zone because everything happens faster down there and they are squeezing it in. There is no doubt that we need to be more consistent. We will drop a ball, we will miss a protection, we donít make any on first down, and so we are continuing to look at it. The only thing offensively, there are three things Ė turnovers, red zone offense and we still have to develop more depth because there are so many kids hurt. We just have to move people around. Quan [Cosby] has never even played X and he goes out there and plays the whole game after Limas comes out and plays great. Tony Hills played again maybe his best game. A lot of guys are playing well; we just need to do it across the board.
Defensively you go back and look at what happened. There were so many great things. Ten drives of three-and-out. We scored a defensive touchdown again. We had two takeaways from inside the 20. We had a fourth down stop and 3-of-15 from third down, but you go over and give up 192 yards rushing and three big plays. Those are things you can't do. Every time we had a chance to put them away, we let them get back in it. The offense had a 10-point lead and didnít put them away with the ball, they had an interception. So it is playing better together as a team and being more consistent.
On the linebackers: We would still like to play Jared [Norton] and Roddrick [Muckelroy] more. Sergio has done a great job in practice. He has had a tremendous attitude. All the kids are excited that these three kids will get to play again. We are hoping that we will get to start rotating like we wanted to and that is every other series with the guys. Rodderick and Jared are on all kicking teams, so we have to be smart with them too and not wear them out, but we would like to play them more.
On developing consistency while still playing some of the younger guys: It's hard. We have to just keep doing it. Your objective is to win, but one of the reasons we have won here, especially late in the year, is because we have developed depth. We still havenít gotten enough of those guys in and we would like to. It seems like every time we try to start to, something has happened to put us in bad shape. We have to do it, we have to go ahead and put them in the game and not worry about it. Kyle Hix played quite a bit Saturday. When Charlie Tanner got hurt, Chris Hall had to move back to guard and Kyle Hix went in and played. Michael Huey played some. We have got to play those guys just because we cant leave Charlie Tanner out there with a sore ankle if he is struggling some in that heat. He is trying to play, but we just have to put the young guys in, turn them loose, and let them go. Blaine Irby did a good job; he played a lot of plays. All the young guys are coming along, but we have to get them in.