Sept. 21, 2009
Video: Mack Brown Monday press conference [Sept. 21, 2009]
Opening statement: It was really a great night to showcase The University of Texas football program - the weather was great, GameDay being here, national TV. I was able to go back and watch some of the TV copy, and the pictures of the stadium were just fabulous, so we were in every home in America that cared about football Saturday night. That really helps you. It helps you with recruiting, it helps you with your perception of your program. The kids played hard, it was a great game, give Tech credit for how hard they played, but we really felt like it was a showcase we needed.
Offensively, we started slow. We had a very poor first half. We didn't have the ball very much, but we tell the offense, it is their responsibility to keep the ball. When you're 3-for-8 for first downs in the first half, that is unacceptable. That is something we have to do a better job of. The second half was a different story, except for taking a knee at the end of the game. We were 5-for-7 on third downs for the second half. Even in the fourth quarter, we controlled the ball for over nine minutes. We had 14 runs in the fourth quarter. Colt was 6-for-7, and we finished the game the like we should. We're disappointed in the slow starts. We've got to do a better job there, but the team is getting better there. The team is coming out of it. It is better to have a good second half than it is a bad game. So, we're seeing things that are promising about our offense, but we've got to get better.
Ball security was really good. We did not have a fumble that came out. We think Colt's doing really well. Just like our team and staff, we want to start faster and do better earlier to get out of the blocks and this is something traditionally we've started slowly at the first of the season, and we've been a team that gets better as the season progresses. But we're ahead of where we have been the last four years. We're scoring more points, we're doing better things. I think you can see we're really excited about the potential of this offense, but the potential means that we haven't been consistently good yet, but there are things there if we can continue to grow in different areas that this could be a fun offense to be around. They are 15-for-15 in the red zone this season and that's hard to do as well. Turnovers we won. We were very excited about that. We did not win explosive plays and that can happen when you're playing against Tech. First down efficiency, we were 58 percent, third-down efficiency we ended up 8-for-16, as horrible as we were the first half, so that ended up really well. As we said in the red zone, we were 4-for-4.
The offensive player of the game was Dan Buckner. He just continues to get better and better. We're excited about him. The big linemen, the Boss Hogg of the game, there were two of them, Kyle Hix and Chris Hall. Chris Hall continues to amaze us with how hard he plays and how well he plays. We're excited that Kyle Hix stepped up. Biggest contributors in the game offensively, were Jordan Shipley and Tre' Newton. Great plays and numerous plays were Colt McCoy and John Chiles. Defensively, we felt like played really, really well the first half. They kept the ball some, but holding Tech to three points was exciting for us. The second half, they had a few good drives that we were disappointed in, but overall, we thought it was a good performance defensively. You go back and look in '99, we held the Tech offense under Mike Leach to seven points, in 2000 it was 17, in 2005 it was 17, in 2001 it was seven, in 2004 it was 21, and then the last three years, they have scored 31, 43, and 39, so even though 24 is not what we were looking for, it is an improvement over the last three years and as we said, specifically the first half. We really stopped their run. They had one run for 18 yards. The rest of their running game was pretty insignificant. The thing that hurt us most in their passing game was the three big plays. They had a 33-yarder, a 24-yard pass completion and a 22-yard pass completion. In the red zone, we were disappointed. We were 0-for-2, so give Tech credit on scoring. On third down, we were great. They were only successful on 3-of-13 third downs. I thought the way that they stayed in the ball game was that they were successful 3-of-4 fourth-down situations, and that gave them three extra possessions. So we should have gotten them off the field and would have had even better field position in those fourth-down situations, but we felt like field position was much better this week than it was last week.
We forced four turnovers counting one interception, two fumble recoveries, and one fourth-down stop, but there were a lot of balls on the ground that we didn't get. Our guys did a good job of stripping the ball. Ball Hawks this week, guys that knock the ball loose, Sergio Kindle had two, Emmanuel Acho had two, Samuel Acho had one, Lamarr Houston one, Eddie Jones one, Earl Thomas one, and AJ Williams one. Player of the game defensively, was Roddrick Muckelroy. He played the game since he has been at The University of Texas. We're really proud of all the things he did during the game. The Hard Hat hard hit award was Sergio about six times. He hit everybody and was just was knocking them out all over the place. We're excited about his play. You've got to get pressure on the quarterback when you're playing Tech. Their quarterbacks aren't going to run very much, but you have to get the ball out of his hands and make him get out quickly. We had 10 pressures, 23 hits on the quarterback and three sacks.
In special teams, we had had some tough spots here and there, but we won all three phases. Our kickoff return team that we call the "house party" started at the 32-yard line, and we had a 15-yard penalty for a late hit or we would have been even better than that. Our "wild bunch," which is our kickoff coverage team, held them to the 27-yard line on the average. Our "posse team," which our punt return team, again, returned a punt for a touchdown, which set the momentum for the game early. Our "rangers," which is our punt team, downed three balls inside their 15-yard line, which is hard to do, but helped us so much with field position. And we were 4-for-4 for extra points and 2-for-2 on field goals. Our players of the game for special teams were Jordan Shipley, Hunter Lawerence, and Justin Tucker. We felt good about our kicking game. Usually early in the season, you are going to win with defense and kicking game and hope your offense continues to get better and be more consistent and that's what we did Saturday. Special teams and defense kept the game intact until the offense could get on the field.
This week we are playing the University of Texas at El Paso. Mike Price is the head coach. He has been a head coach for 28 years in college football. He has won 160 games. He is a guy who knows what he is doing. We looked at their roster; they've got 74 guys from the state of Texas. Seventeen guys will be starting from the state of Texas, so this is another in-state game. A truly in-state game because, like Tech, most of the players will be high school football players from the state. Last year they out-rushed us, they out-gained us, they had the ball 36:41 to our 22:33. I thought they played harder and better than we did last year. We've got to make sure we don't let that happen again on Saturday.
On how to re-energize your players after such a big conference win to a non-conference game: We're still trying to play to a standard, and we haven't gotten to that standard yet. We're trying to play to the standard to be the best team in the country, and we're not close, so really and truly, we've got so much work to do regardless of who we play at anytime. We need to play better and our guys know that. We challenged our fans this week to be excited about Tech, and they were. Now, our fans have to come back, if they want us to play great, then they have to play great. So our fans have to come back and do the same thing. It always amazes me, and I've said this last week. When a fan is flat and wonders why a kid is not, "Why is that kid flat? I can't believe that kid is flat," and he comes in the first quarter and says what happened? You know you have to have excitement. Coaches will have to do a great job this week. We have enough things to coach. Our guys will be excited.
On UTEP running back Donald Buckram: He's gained over 100 yards for the first three weeks, and he's playing really well. He scored two touchdowns Saturday night against New Mexico State. I hear they had a three-hour delay, which I have never heard of. That's amazing now to have to go out, play and compete, and they have to re-stretch. I don't know what you do for three hours. Watch ball games, I guess. But he's playing really, really well. The quarterback played great against us last year. He is sixth on the active list of NCAA passing leaders. Moturi, the receiver, runs 4.3, 4.4 and has caught s ball in straight games, and he hurt us last year, so they've got some skill that at El Paso and always do at UTEP.
On does this feel like March Madness in basketball, dealing with the fans: If you play perfect early in the season and you can't improve and you win 34-24, then you probably have problems. We're lucky we haven't played great yet and are 3-0 and No. 2 in the country. We have things we can fix. If we are playing as good as we can play, then we're in bad trouble. The good thing for us is, we can continue to improve as coaches and as players and get better. Like I said, we're ahead of where we were last year, and every year, offensively, since 2005, but the standard is higher to the fans. Not to us. That's what we've got to do, is continue to play. If you look at teams that had trouble Saturday, it was all offense, it's not defense early. Defense, kids can play hard every week and don't have worry about timing. You just have to knock them out, play hard and get excited. Offense is so hard because all of the timing has to be good. Right now, we have a lot of pieces to this offense, and we have to tie them all together. Because right now we have pieces that are looking good, but we have to have the offense play better as a team.
On last year compared to this year's game: We changed the tempo in the second half the other night. We probably should have started with a faster tempo and that would have helped. The first drive was good, but then we just kept getting stopped because you look and you have one guy here, one guy there, so you just challenge everybody to do better and be more consistent. Thought that both lines of scrimmage played really hard Saturday night and were very physical. Where in last year's game, I challenged our team because I thought we got whipped on both sides. Saturday night, we didn't. Colt didn't have much pressure at all. We were able to run the ball. Defense dominated the line of scrimmage with Tech. You can tell that in the running game. Last year they out-rushed us 105 to 80. On Saturday night, it was 135 to -6. All those things were better in this game than they were last year.
On picking up the tempo of the game: Well you'd like to have a fast start, you'd like to have a fast middle, you'd like to have a fast finish, and that's what we're trying to get, but that's just like things in life - some days, my day start slow. I'd like to get up and start it faster. I think our players this week will probably hear that they have a slow start. I bet you ask them some about that today, and that helps me, so keep asking them, and when you get some answers, come tell me. We told them last night that we would like them to start faster.
On Colt McCoy's game against Texas Tech: Practice is important and he didn't practice Tuesday. He was out there but didn't practice. He got very little done Wednesday. I thought at halftime, he had the shakes just a little bit because he hadn't eaten. He didn't feel good, and he was weak. They gave him stuff, some energy to help him, and I thought he settled down and played better the second half. I don't know.
On the flu: There is flu across the country right now. We've addressed it with our team. Most of our team got flu shots yesterday. All of our teams and coaches. I got mine this morning. We have some bullet points our trainers and doctors are sending to our parents and giving to our players to you all this afternoon because it is scary for all of us, not just football players. They stay around each other all the time, but everybody needs to be careful with the flu. We have always taken it as just a bad cold around here and, "Eh, don't feel good." But it is more serious across the country, so we have to watch it more closely, and we're taking very strong precautions to make sure that we are.
On Dan Buckner moving inside: Kids want to play. He wanted to be a part of it. He is now becoming a vital part of it. He is doing what Jordan did for us in that spot after the Oklahoma game last year. It doesn't take Jordan out of his spot, so we're in good shape there. We just feel like he has been a go-to guy that Colt can throw to down the middle. People can cover the outs, they can bump the receivers, but it is more difficult for linebackers and safeties to cover a wide receiver type person inside at a flex tight end. Dan's doing a great job to shake them off and make plays.
On Earl Thomas: Earl played an outstanding game Saturday night. You know we had the interception, but we still had our hands on about three or four more, so we just have to catch the ball better. In the secondary, we're working on that. Earl made some excellent tackles. I didn't say it, but Will will tell us later, I think we only missed eight tackles for 36 yards, and on all of the big plays, they were because of missed tackles. So we've got to tackle better, but we're continuing to improve each week. Tech throws so many short passes that that's what you do. You have to tackle them in space, but Earl played as well as I have seen him play on Saturday night, and he's playing a lot on kicking teams as well.
On John Chiles' flexibility: We want the ball in John's hands as much as we can get it. Every time he touches it in the running game in the past, he has made plays usually. Saturday night, I thought, he really jump started us offensively. He ran the quarterback counter and that was a read play and you have a 10.0 800-meter guy out there and you have John Chiles, who runs real fast at 200 pounds. It just gives you some extra weapons on the field. I thought the reverse pass was a good thought off of it, too. We'll continue to let part of the package grow and that's part of who we are because we will let Colt run it some, but it also takes the ball out of Colt's hands as a runner and lets John run, and we'll have some passes for John, too. We feel like that's better than the other package we had, so aptly named that it was dropped because John is doing more things that he is used to doing. Last year, we were trying to do things he was not used to.
On Kindle's hit and the rules for hits: We feel like it is a very difficult rule to call because so many times a player will hit here and then you're helmet slides up the shoulder pads and then you'll hit here and it slides up. You've still got play football. It's a very physical game. It's a vicious game. There are hard hits and you can't take hard hits out of the game. I think what they are talking about it point of helmet to point of helmet with a player who is hung out like a receiver, a punt catcher, a player that cannot take care of himself. An unprotected player with what they call it. I think that is what they are really looking for more than just changing the game and trying to make kids think before they hit think let's see now, what is the rule. What do I have to do? It is still a tough game. I think want the officials are trying to do and what the Safe Guard was trying to do is make it safer for kids. I think they are doing that. Now whether we have an opinion on every hit now, whether it's helmet to helmet. Helmets are going to hit helmets when it is not what is considered to be a violation of the rules.
On Tre' Newton and running game: We're lucky enough to have enough quality backs that can step up. It has been hard to get Tre' ahead of those other experienced guys, and now because of his effectiveness and the fact that we have had some injuries, it gives him his shot. When you are The University of Texas, number one, you better not get hurt because there is one that can step up and take your place, and number two, when you have your chance, you better produce, and Tre' has stepped up and done that.