Mack Brown's Monday press conference transcript
Opening comments: It was good to get back on track Saturday night against Rice. We have great respect for Coach Hatfield and the wishbone offense they run. If you go back and study our last eight games, four of them have come down to seven or less points. Fortunately, we were able to jump on Rice early and make them catch up.
On playing at Reliant Stadium: We would like to thank Bob McNair, Charlie Casserly, and Dom Capers for allowing our team to play at Reliant Stadium. It is probably one of the best places in America to play football. We had a great Texas crowd with a lot of orange in the stands. It was a great experience for our kids. We appreciate all they did for us and want to wish them continued success.
On the performance of the defense: The defense played really well against the wishbone. The first-team defense shut it down completely in the first half. Derrick Johnson and Dakarai Pearson were the Defensive Players of the Game. They played outstanding throughout. The free safety has one of the toughest jobs when you're playing against the wishbone because they have to play the run, the option, and then be able to recognize the pass. We felt both guys did really well. We were disappointed that we weren't able to get the shutout. As hard as our first-team defense played, some of the younger guys just weren't able to hold out Rice at the end of the game. We need to tackle better in the latter part of the game. I really felt that the team played hard enough and that they deserved the shutout, but credit needs to be given to Rice for scoring.
On the performance of the offense: We had a great first half. We had good balance and did the things we wanted to do. The offensive line came off the ball and got yards on draws and options, which we hadn't been getting, and made some yards after contact. Tillman Holloway was our Offensive Player of the Game. He has really been dominating the line of scrimmage in the past couple of games. We felt both quarterbacks played really well. We didn't ask Matt Nordgren to do very much, but he did handle the offense well. On special teams, we didn't return kickoffs as well as we wanted to, so we need to continue to work hard in that area. The two punt returns by Nathan Vasher were great, then Rice started punting away from him and kicking the ball out of bounds. We won all phases of specials teams and felt really good about it. We got to play a lot of guys and that should help us as we start to get into the tough Big 12 schedule down the road.
On what to expect from Tulane: Everyone in college football has some good players and it's hard to tell who the top teams are. We have told our players that they need to throw out all their expectations going into a game. They need to play hard and plan on the other team playing their best. That is what our guys are expecting from Tulane this weekend. Tulane is the eighth-best passing team in the country, averaging 383 yards per game. J.P. Losman was one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the country coming out of high school and a lot of people are talking about him being a number one NFL prospect. He'll be excited about coming here and playing against Texas. They also have some great receivers that are very similar to ours. It will be an exciting time for our fans to watch a great passing team that will be a great challenge for our defense.
On Chance Mock's performance: He played great. He led well, he stood in the pocket, and he was very accurate. These are the things we've seen from Chance in practice over the past three years. He was more comfortable this week than last week, but we thought he played well against Arkansas. The offensive line is protecting well right now, so we are seeing progress in that area. Chance got us in the right plays and didn't have any problems in the huddle or at the line of scrimmage. He has played as well as I have ever seen him play. We need to remember that this is just his third start and he has many more ahead of him. We are really pleased with his progress.
On dealing with high expectations: What we have found is that we are expected to win every week. When you coach and play at Texas, you understand that the standards are as high or higher than everyone else's in America. We just need to not worry about it and prepare for a Tulane team that is capable of beating anybody. I am really proud that I was the athletic director and coach of Tulane. They have come so far, and I am happy they kept the football program. They are making progress and are a credible team. With all the upsets in college football, you just need to worry about playing against a team that is going to play their best against you, nothing else.
On looking ahead to other games: We told our players to focus on this week and to not listen to others' comments because they do not have to prepare for Tulane. We need to worry about our job and not the opinions of everybody else. People talking is not a bad thing because it means that there is a lot of interest, but there is so much information out there that is not true and it could affect the minds of our players. We need to focus on getting ready to face Tulane.
Overall feelings about the game: We still have a lot of work to do even though we played well against Rice. We did the things we needed to, but it sure wasn't a perfect ball game. After halftime, we decided to work more on the running game and getting some of the younger guys in on defense. We got a lot accomplished in the second half, even though it might not have looked like it. We felt that we played better against Rice than we did against New Mexico State even though the score didn't reflect it. We did a better job against the big play on defense and that was key for us because we gave up too many against Arkansas. We ran the ball more and we ran it better. We were able to get more big plays from the offense, as well. I think this is the best we've played so far, but we need to go back and continue to try and be consistent.
On starting a new home winning streak: I think the players are anxious to get back home and start another streak. The loss at home was such a shock for them that they didn't know what to say or how to act. It really bothered them and I think they will come out and give a great performance on Saturday.
On the performance of the second-team offense: We put Vince in with the entire second-team and it worked. They scored the two times they were in. What we're doing now is taking a look at the film to see which of those guys played well. Then, we will decide, on a week-to-week basis, whether we would put Vince in at the same place, whether we would put the entire second-team offense in at the same time, whether it would be an advantage to the other team if they knew that we were going to put them in at a certain time, or is it better to change them up? These are things we are talking about now.
On the possibility of a shutout against Tulane: Tulane has been scoring a lot of points, so for us to be talking about a shutout would be ridiculous. They can throw the ball, and we didn't cover the pass well against Arkansas. I would think that if Tulane is studying our Arkansas film they would see the problem, so we need to play the pass better this week than we have been.
On the performance of Cedric Benson: Cedric had the opportunity on Saturday to show what he can do and he responded really well. The route down the boundary was a great route and Chance did an outstanding job of looking the safety off inside and throwing the ball over the top for Cedric to catch. It was good to see him with yards after contact, making moves, breaking tackles down field, and having a lot of long yards. We're glad that he's back on track. For us to have the season we want, we must continue with the offense we had in the first half. That's the balance we want, the play selection we want, and that's who we want to be.