Mack Brown Monday press conference transcript: Sept. 20
Sept. 20, 2010
Opening statement: It was a great win out in Lubbock on Saturday night and a hard fought, passionate win. You look over the last few years at how hard it's been for Big 12 South teams to win in Lubbock. The record [for teams] other than Texas is 3-12. It's been a place that's taken some great teams down. We've lost out there [ranked] as number one in the country. We've lost out there as number four in the country. I'm really proud that our guys have come back now.We're 4-3 in Lubbock and won three out of the last four. They understand the environment. They were ready to play. They played tough. We didn't do everything right, but usually out there you're not going to. The only time I can remember us going out there and lighting it up was in '04 when we scored 51 points. It was kind of Vince Young's coming out party. Other than that, it's been a tough thing.
That was our 13th straight win in the Big 12, which is exciting for us. It was also our eighth straight road win, which is very difficult to do. I was proud of the guys, especially the character. Even when we had our adversity we didn't give up. They hung in there and played really well. We thought time of possession going into the game - looking at previous trips out there - was really important and once again it was. We had the ball 37 minutes and 44 seconds compared to their 22:16. In the first quarter, we had the ball 12 minutes. We got off to the fast start. In the fourth quarter, we had the ball 10 minutes and 54 seconds. We turned that trend around that bothered us in the first two ballgames.
Jumping out 14-0 was really important. Up until that point, that's the kind of offense we want to be. We looked really good. We were running up and down the field. Then we got to make it 21 - I thought the play call was great. We had a screen pass called that looked like it [would have] scored. The ball was tipped and it was intercepted. After that, we have another ball that's tipped and intercepted for a touchdown. We turned the ball over. It slowed down our momentum early in the game. We were sporadic after that getting it back.
Our special teams played really well. They really helped us with field position. We're still not scoring as much with special teams as we'd like. We need to block a kick. We got close. We roughed the punter this week. We've been close in each week, but we're not getting it done. As you look at it, our kickoff coverage, we had two tackles inside the 20. It's something that's been a problem here in the past. We're doing really well with that now. One touchback and the average starting position for Texas Tech was the 21 yard line. Extra point was three-for-three, field goal one-for-one. They [special teams] had six points and came up with the pooch punt at the end of the game that backed Tech up again and kept them in tough field position.
Our punting team averaged 39.7 yards per punt. I was really proud of John Gold with his 55-yard punt. We had three punts down inside the 20, which again really affects field position. The fake punt was successful again from the minus 30-yard line. You can call that when you've got confidence in your kids. They think they're going to make it when we fake. Those are things that allow you to trust your kids and have some fun with it. They like the fakes. That gets them excited on the boundary. It changes momentum. Even if you miss it, you're still being aggressive and the kids like for you to be aggressive. We did have a face mask penalty on the 16-yard return which really hurt us in field position on one of the punt returns. We just had one opportunity for kickoff return and it was poor. We didn't block anybody, and we had opportunities if we got two guys blocked on our side to have a huge return and we had two guys just miss their guys.
Punt block and return, Curtis Brown had a 15 and 20 yard return. He made some great decisions on that team. We did have a holding penalty on punt return and it was a critical error when we ran into the punter. You run into the punter when it's 4th and four and it's like a turnover. It gives the ball back. That's something that we have to correct.
Special teams players of the week - Curtis Brown for his punt returns and good decisions. Adrian Phillips covered five kickoffs and recorded three tackles and had one assist. Adrian is playing really well on special teams for us. Alex Zumberge our snapper has done a great job with snaps. He also led the charge on the fake punt.
Offensively, we had great time of possession. We had an 80-yard drive with 22 plays. The longest drive we've had since we've been here was 19 plays against Iowa State a number of years ago. We had the 22 plays that took over 12 minutes and we had another drive that we took off [from] the one-yard line down to the 10-yard line, and that's the one that bounced off Malcolm Williams' hands and had the interception. We should have gotten points off both of those long drives.
We overcame a lot of adversity throughout the night. There were three holding penalties by our offensive line which we can't have. On two of those drives we overcame holding penalties. We kept Texas Tech in bad field position. We did get very conservative in the fourth quarter when it was evident that Tech was not going to be able to score. The most important thing for us is to win a game and take care of the football. We did that. Same with the pooch punt at the end of the game instead of trying to kick a 55-yard field goal that could've been blocked, because that was the only way that Tech could win because they were struggling offensively.
The offense created nine explosive plays. We had very few penalties. James Kirkendoll and Marquise Goodwin both had 15 yards after contact. Fozzy [Whittaker] had 33 yards after contact. Cody had 23 after contact. We need to be more consistent. We were very inconsistent on offense. We need to play relaxed. I think they're trying too hard. You see drives and you see plays that look so good and look like what we want to be. Then we get out of character and see things that we can't possibly have. We've got to make sure we can go back and get more consistent.
We were poor at the end of the game in four minute offense. We can be conservative but you can still make first downs. We didn't do that. We had six dropped passes. We gave up three sacks. We were four-for-seven in the red zone because of turnovers and six-for-20 on third downs. None of that is good enough to win consistently. Those are all things we have to improve.
The offensive player of the game was James Kirkendoll. The offensive lineman of the game was David Snow. The big hit was Fozzy Whittaker on the tough goal line run. The biggest contributor was Garrett Gilbert. We're really proud of Garrett when he did not panic when he had the worst luck I've ever seen with the tipped balls. He is what we think he is with his composure and his confidence. But we do need to get more consistent.
There was a question about time management before the half. [ABC football analyst] Ed Cunningham called us out. What we felt was that we wanted the two timeouts in our pocket, because we wanted to have the young quarterback with 1:31 from the 50 yard line with two timeouts. We wanted to control some of the time that Garrett had instead of letting the clock control it. We thought we did exactly what we wanted to do. If we had to do it over again, we'd do the same thing. We'd try to make first downs instead of having two bad plays. It ended up that it didn't matter anyway.
D.J. Monroe touched the ball one time in the game and he did really well. We're still trying to work out ways to get it to him more and we need to. He did a good job when he was in there. He's earning more chances to get the ball. We've got to have continued explosive plays.
Defensively, we gave up seven points, which was great. You have to stop their pass attempts to less than 3.3 yards per attempt. We stopped that with 2.9. They had 43 attempts for 90 yards. We forced three turnovers and had a fourth down stop, so actually four for our defense.They were three-of-14 on third down situations, eight-of-23 on first down situations. We had 14 hits on the quarterback, ten three-and-outs, five sacks and we handled sudden change 100 percent. We only had three missed tackles for 33 yards. I thought our defensive staff did a really good job of rotating the front guys and keeping fresh legs. We rotated eight pass rushers up front. When you dominate time of possession and your offense is on the field so much your defense doesn't get as tired in the fourth quarter. Usually Tech can move the ball and score in the fourth quarter. We were more fresh this time. We did give up the 25-yard run. There was a big play there.Tech did score one-of-two in the red zone, so we've got to do better in that area. We did hold Tech to 144 yards, which is the least they've gained since 1982, which was 134 yards.
The entire defense played really well, so our defensive player of the week was the entire defense. We didn't feel like we could separate them. We had to stop their running game, which includes their screens and their bubble passes that hurt us so much last year and two years ago. Blake Gideon had five tackles in those areas. He got our Hard Hat Award. Again, it has nothing to do with the targeting. He played really well other than that. Ball Hawks - Dravannti Johnson, Eddie Jones, Emmanuel Acho, Jackson Jeffcoat, Blake Gideon, Curtis Brown and Aaron Williams all caused some kind of turnover in the game.
For UCLA, last time they were here it wasn't good for us. It was 66-3. We need the crowd to be pumped. We need them to be excited. They had a big win over Houston this weekend.They will come in here with a lot of excitement with the understanding that they can turn their year around by coming in here and getting after us. Rick Neuheisel does a great job.
The other thing I'd like to touch on. I feel so bad for Case Keenum in Houston and the backup quarterback Cotton Turner. Both of them are out for the year, Case losing his knee. He's a Heisman Trophy candidate. He's done a tremendous job out there. Our thoughts and prayers go out with those men. What a tough thing for a young man who's handled everything right. He's been a great example and role model for the state and he's a tremendous player.
Also, the tragedy at West Orange Stark this weekend with Reggie Garrett. He and his family are close friends with Earl Thomas and his family. It's a tragedy to lose anyone, especially of that age. This was a very unique and special young man that was leading their team and they lost him during the ballgame. Our thoughts and prayers once again go out to that family and that team and Coach Hooks. That's a very tragic thing for young people to have to go through and friends being on the sideline with him and such. It's a tough thing for all those young families. We have our thoughts and prayers with Reggie's family and again want to wish the best for Case Keenum.
On what Tech was doing to stop the running game: I think you'll hear Greg Davis talk about this. It's so frustrating for us. Usually, there are four guys who are doing what they're supposed to and one that just messes up. We're so close, just like the spring. If the ball is not tipped we probably score, we go up 21-0, and we're not having any of these discussions. So we just have to keep getting better.
On the health of the running backs: They're all banged up. The one play that Tre Newton was in, he got hit on the same hip that he got stung on against Wyoming last week, so he couldn't come back in. Fozzy [Whittaker] got his shoulder hurt a little bit, but I think they'll all be okay to play. Cody [Johnson] still doesn't look quite as fast since his ankle strain. So we're banged up at that position.
On the offensive line's play: Well I think it's wrong to say they're not playing as good as they want to. Usually, somebody is. It's usually one guy, and the problem were having is that it's a different guy all the game, so it's really frustrating for us. We should have run the ball better at the end of the game, but at the same time the game was over, so we were more conservative. We weren't going to run counters or reverses . They weren't going to win if we didn't turn the ball over. So I think we put more pressure on Cody when he was in, and we put more pressure on the offensive line when they were in. The sacks, one of them we should have [been] thrown away. James Kirkendoll should have thrown his ball away on the reverse pass. There are some things we can do offensively that are basic coaching things that we have to do a better job of as an offensive staff that will help this team a lot. It's an inexperienced offense that's going through some changes, and everybody is on them. So they don't have a chance to even breath. We score 34 points in the first two weeks and everybody is mad, then we score 24 at Lubbock, which is hard and everyone is mad. So it's not fair for these kids right now. We've all got to keep them positive. We've all got to keep coaching and doing a better job coaching than we are now. But I think our fans also need to pull for our offense. We've had a great offense around here recently, and we've been spoiled. But this one doesn't score as much, but we all need to get behind this offense. Now for this weekend, the difference is that our defense hasn't played a running team. UCLA is averaging over 203 yards a game, so everybody is going to brag on the defense more than they deserve this week. They did a great job, and if we're not careful the defense will just stand around. So our job is to keep the defense grounded. We'll see if they can stop the run this week, because they got [running teams] for the next three weeks for sure, and we'll see if the offense can continue to get better. On the importance of the wide receivers helping Garrett: I think it's very important; everyone needs to help [Garrett]. We dropped three passes, gave up three sacks, three holding penalties - it is just inconsistent. It's amazing, if you just take a highlight film, you think we're just running up and down the field, and we look great. But we're making too many mistakes, and that's where we all need to help Garrett more.
On if he was expecting the offense's inconsistencies after the preseason: I don't ever know. You try to do the best job you can do coaching. I'm not one that looks back and I'm not one that anticipates. I think what you do is you coach everyday. Our defense was more consistent than our offense in preseason, and our offense last year at this time was very inconsistent. We had trouble at Wyoming, we had a lot of trouble against Colorado, and still played for the national championship. We're not ready to push the panic button yet, but you need to get better. And the kids are trying, and that's the thing I like. If the kids weren't trying Saturday night, we probably would've gotten beat. But I'm proud of the kids; our coaches need to do a better job. On if there is comfort that the mistakes are correctable: Yes, there is. Absolutely. We're mad at scoring 30 points a game. And we can fix it. There are a lot of people who would like to switch with us and get that 30. We can fix it.
On if getting the win is still the most important thing: College football and high school and pro football are imperfect sports. That's why we love to coach them. We love to critique them. We love to see what is going to happen and anticipate. We all have our opinions and that's what's fun about the game, but they're all ugly in most ways. If you beat somebody bad, it's usually because they were awful and they dropped it and gave you some easy scores. But if you have to earn them all; they take care of the ball, do the things their supposed to do and play hard - everybody has got scholarship players. So it's hard to blow people out all the time. I think that's what our team has gotten used to and we are going through some changes now. Our fan base is doing the same. But any win in Lubbock that anybody would question hasn't watched Texas football. We've had great teams go out there and get beat. So if we can go out there and win, we can come back and fix what needs to be fixed. I told the kids I want them to enjoy every bit of this win. If only three teams in the Big 12 South have left there with a win since 1998, we need to be happy when we win. Come back on Monday and start fixing your problems. But if you're not happy beating Texas Tech in Lubbock, we've lost who we are. We don't get it anymore. Wins are hard to get.
On progressing through the season: If you're better in game 3 than you are at game 10, then you've had a bad year. So you need to get better as a team and usually we've done that. We've won games early, but we have had slow starts, especially offensively. In this one, you've got more young guys playing , so there are more mistakes. You have some new things that you're trying that we haven't done in two or three years, so that takes a little longer. I'm a little shocked that people are shocked that we are struggling because it had it written all over coming in. We weren't going to be as consistent. We just lost Vince Young and Colt McCoy, and Garrett is brand new. So there is a lot of new stuff going on. I am excited about fixing it. I don't get mad or down about fixing it, I get excited about the challenge. We have to play better as an offense this week to win.
On if players realize they need to step up: As long as they play as hard as they did Saturday night, we'll be okay. Now, we are not good enough to go out and stand around - I said that at Rice. But if they will go out and play as hard as they did, you can fix mistakes. But if we go out there halfway, we're not good enough to win. We have to have all out effort from our football team this year. We have had some teams come in that we are good enough to go out and stand around a little bit and still win. But we have to do a better job coaching this offense than we have done. And we have to do a great job continuing to keep the energy and the passion up that we have had with this team. And that comes from our fans. We need our fans more than ever before. We have a hard stretch coming up, and we need our fans to keep us up.
On WR James Kirkendoll: James is very nice. He is very smart. He has done a tremendous job for us. He is a team guy. There are games when you don't notice him as much, then on Saturday, he steps up and becomes player of the game. He had a tough drop early, and I really like the fact that he got his composure back.
On UCLA's performance this season: They are running the ball for 203 yards a game using the pistol. They are running the option and doing a whole lot of things that Nevada is doing, which is a complete change for them. They've got five seniors on the offensive line. Defensively, they are not a big blitz team, but they are very talented. Rahim Moore is a great safety that we recruited out of LA, and he is playing well for them. Early they got beat on the road at K-State, which we can understand more than anyone else in America. And that was a two-point play at the end of the game. Against Stanford, they did not play well. They turned the ball over a bunch. And then last Saturday night, they played really well. It was 21 - 3 when Case Keenum got hurt. They were probably going to win the game either way.
On if this UCLA team resembles the Colorado team Neuheisel coached: It's very different seeing Norm Chow and Rick Neuheisel running the pistol, running the option and running the ball so much. So it is really not the same.
On the scheduling of UCLA: I think it's great. You go back and look at our history; we've played them four times, and we are 2 and 2. We won the first two and they won the last two. My second game here, we played in Pasadena and we got beat 49-31. It was 35-3 at halftime. But I will never forget, after the game, we came back after halftime and fought. Texas fans need to remember this. I've never been more impressed by them. We had 15,000 fans there, got beat 49-31 and they gave us a standing ovation after the game. So things have changed a bit. But I do think we have made tremendous progress since then. Rick is really bringing UCLA back; I think you will see them back on the map soon. We thought it would take him two or three years to get the right guys in place, but he's getting it done. We go back to Pasadena next year, and I think this will be a great national game for two years in a row.