Talking defense: Sept. 21
CO-DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GENE CHIZIK
On if he would compare Todd Blythe to Limas Sweed: That would be a good comparison. Great range, tall guy and they do a lot to get him isolated one on one with a lot of people, which is smart on their part. The problem is that he is not the only one. If you look at the way they spread the ball around when it comes to throwing the ball, it's just not one guy. One guy has 11 catches and another has nine catches. They really spread it around well. It is really hard to pick a guy to stop because the quarterback is really good and they have a fleet of good receivers.
On this being a big test and what he is looking for from the defense: Like I said a couple of weeks ago, we really challenged (the players) at the beginning of last week and it will stay the same. We want them to go out there and play sound, good, fundamental football. We didn't do anything Saturday night (against Rice) that was earth shattering, we were where we were supposed to be and we were trying to get there fast. That's all we did. The week before, Rice posed some problems for UCLA and the bottom line was it is never going to be about who we play. None of the games are about who we play, they are about us, and that is where we have to get better. I hope we can see a definitive difference this week, better in some phases this week that we weren't as good at last week.
On Iowa State last week: Iowa is very good, and I wouldn't go as far to say that Iowa State was making mistakes. Iowa was playing really good, sound, fundamental football and it was one of those games that is a big rivalry game and it goes back and forth. If you look at the first, half Iowa State marched down the field and Iowa couldn't stop them. Then you look at the second half and there are parts where they couldn't cross the 50. That is what happens in those games, those things go in spurts. I just think it wasn't that one team played really bad, it was just kind of the way things unfolded. Iowa is really good on defense, and Iowa State is really good on offense.
On Bret Meyer's runs: He does on quarterback draws, options, and some quarterback trap plays that they are using. He operates quite a bit out of the shotgun. They mix it in. He is a very effective runner when he is in the shotgun because their quarterback draw looks exactly like their passes do.
On if they have a tight end they use a lot: They do, they have two good tight ends. They are good blockers and they catch the football well. They use two quite a bit, I wouldn't say one necessarily over the other. They are almost more like bookends; they are kind of the same guy. The tight ends are involved in the offense.
On Texas' rush defense allowing less than one yard per carry: I think it is a good sign right now. Again it is very early so I don't know how much stock goes into it right now. If it were that at the end of the year I would say that is really good. I think we have really placed a high emphasis on the running game because there were times last year I didn't think we were very good at it. I think they have bought into the mentality of not letting anybody run the football on us. This I think is going to be a great week to see if that is still going to be in effect, because they can run the ball with two different threats.
On the Iowa State offensive line having four or five pro prospects: You can see why when you watch them on film. They are very big and very experienced. You can tell that they have all been working together for a long time. You can tell they have all worked with the quarterback for a long time. They are your prototypical pro offensive linemen; they are 6'5, 6'6, 6'7 and 300 plus pounds, good pass protectors. You can tell they work a lot on protecting that quarterback.
On if Bret Meyer is an all or nothing kind of guy: No, they do a good job. They boot him out and you have your intermediate routes. They will send guys deep and throw it up because they are 6'4. If you play off, they will throw their hitch game, they do a great job of mixing it up. He knows exactly what he wants to do in that offense.
On what he thinks of how his players have been playing: I tell you what, we are very proud of two guys right now. The first is Scott Derry. Now that is a name you have to get used to, because you haven't heard it a bunch lately, but Scott Derry plays all three positions every week. He was very productive Saturday, three tackles for loss, a couple of third-down stops, just a guy that is smart. He is kind of under the radar, but he has really done a great job for our defense and has really been a lifesaver for the linebacking core. It is not easy to play all three every week. He is playing really well at all three. Literally he has played more snaps then any linebacker I have had Saturday. It wasn't late in the game; it was all the way through. I rotate him at strong side then I give the middle linebacker a break then I give the weak side a break and then I bring him back and keep rolling him through. I think he played 40 plays out of however many we played. He also played all the special teams. The other guy we are really proud of for the way he came through for us, was Matt Melton. A guy who has been around here and has been very unselfish and has been under the radar guy to and came in and really did a nice job for us. He really played well for us.
On where Scott Derry has made the most strides: The thing is, he has been kind of an enigma because he has been hurt. He had a real good camp last year and then he broke his ankle and was out for the year. Then he was coming back in the spring and he was moving, but you could tell he still had a bit of a limp. He is a really smart player and just got better and better and was flying under the radar. He started seeing more reps, and now he is seeing the game so well. Now he is a utility guy. He can play all three of the positions and has really come on and been really productive for us. We have been really happy with how he has come on.
CO-DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Duane Akina
On what he feels needs improvement: All we're thinking about right now is we're back on track. We thought we played well against Rice. We operated a lot more efficiently. We got on them, played well and played hard. I think we just want to continue to grow from there. I think Coach Brown has done a great job here. He's built a culture here since 1999 that you don't have back-to-back losses. That really talks about the mental toughness of the football team and how they've responded. Whether it was a game that was very winnable afterwards or a challenging game afterwards, the team has bounced back. We all got in there, we looked at it and we understood the problems. We were all very much accountable. Players, whether it was a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior, or coaches, everybody was very accountable for that game and we moved forward. That's what good football teams do.
On the similarities between Iowa State's attack and the Longhorns offense: They're very similar. They do have some hard runs up inside. The quarterback is obviously a weapon. His legs can get involved in the game; they have options so they're able to man the extra defender. Anytime your quarterback has legs, they plus-one you on defense, so we have to get the free safety involved and yet still be able to keep them up in coverage situations too. This is the new era of offense where you can get one-back offense yet-two back offense, which is really good. Sometimes quarterbacks like this have such a label of "athlete." I think we lose sight of their ability to throw the ball. He's got a great throwing motion. I can remember him as a redshirt freshman. He reminds me much of Akili Smith at Oregon.
On CB Aaron Ross: Aaron Ross is probably one of the great stories, I think, that we've had to date. Even this last weekend, on Saturday, he tied a UT record. There have been a lot of great punt returners here over the last 112 years that have walked through those doors and to say that he's one of the best ever is an exciting thing. Yet his girlfriend broke the American record, so is that all he can do? You know, is that it? (laughing) He's had a great year for us. He is going to be, in my opinion, as good as any corner that I've coached here. I've been fortunate; I've coached some pretty good ones since I've been here in the last five years. He's on par with Quentin [Jammer], [Nathan] Vasher, [Rod] Babers, Cedric [Griffin], and [Michael] Huff. They're all right there in the same mold.
On anyone on the team who can impersonate the Iowa State quarterback: You know, Sherrod Harris does a great job with all the legs involved and quarterback run stuff'; he gives us a great picture.
On Iowa State QB Bret Meyer: He's a very complete football player. He's one that you've got to be conscious with on both sides of the ball. He's a tough defend. Anytime you've got a quarterback like that, where their legs are involved, because you can play everything perfectly, and yet it could be 80 yards later. We saw that from the other side of the spectrum a year ago. Anytime you have a quarterback that has that ability to create an offense for you outside the pocket, they're always tough defends.
On the defense being hungry for an interception: I think they're always hungry for an interception. They haven't had many opportunities this year. We probably had one that we should have pulled down a week ago and we came up short there, but it's something we continue to work on. It was nice that we scored again on defense. That is something that we harp on. To have two touchdowns on defense in three games, I think that is something you can continue to build on. We're never satisfied as coaches, we always want more.