Mack Brown Monday press conference: Sept. 24
General comments: We felt like we got a lot accomplished with our win over Rice this weekend. The most important thing was going 4-0. We got to play a lot of people and the guys that played played hard and they played well. We pretty much were able to play everybody that is planning on playing this year unless something changes.
We challenged them to be more consistent as a football team and they were. So we felt that those things were really good. Defensively, we stopped the run. We were much better in the red zone than we have been all year, which has been a concern and something that we worked hard to accomplish. We won the explosives 15 to six, we won the turnover battle two to one, and we felt like going back to those two stats, we are 57-0 when we accomplish both of those goals. The kicking game was really hard to judge because we kicked off 11 times and they only kicked off once. It was really hard to manage who had the best field position on that when there is that much of a discrepancy on how many times you kick it or punt it. I am really pleased with Ryan Bailey. He has been accurate, but his 52-yard field goal gives another weapon from further out than we had. There was a slight breeze with him, but it could have been a 60-yard field goal. It went right through. So we are really pleased with him.
I thought Chase Clement for them played really well. He made a lot of plays with his feet, he was under pressure all night, he got hit, but as advertised, he and Jarett Dillard played really well. I really hated to see Jarett come out of the ball game and hopefully he will be well for them as they start conference play this week because he is really a good receiver and one the of the best we will play. David Bailiff's team was ready to play. They are lined up in the right places, but they are not as talented as us right now. I think that David is the perfect coach for Rice. We all saw what he did at Texas State, and he will do the same thing at Rice just over time. I don't think we play them next year, but we will play them in two more years, and by the time they come back or if we play them in Houston, wherever the next game is, it will be a different David Bailiff football team. I have watched him and been around him a lot.
K-State is 3-1 and Ron Prince has done an amazing job coming in there and continuing to build on what Bill Snyder did for the many years that all of us watched him at K-State. They had a 13-9 lead at Auburn late and a quarterback sack and a ball loose that was picked up by Auburn's defense and run back for a touchdown that was the difference in the ball game or they would be undefeated. That was an opening game on the road. Ron Prince is an Appalachian graduate, and in fact, I went up and watched them practice once in the early 90s, and he was on that team and I didn't even realize it when I was at North Carolina.
It should be a treat for the fans to watch two of the best young quarterbacks in the country. When you watch what Josh Freeman has accomplished, he has been unbelievable. Colt [McCoy] is obviously one of the best players in the country, as well, so that should be fun to watch. Jordy Nelson for them has already had 30 receptions. He is the guy who caught the last ball of the game last year to kill the clock against us.
They are No. 21 in the country in pass offense. They are throwing for about 300 yards a game and 36 points per game. If you look at their defense, they are a 3-4 pressure defense. They are blitzing about 60 percent of the time and playing a lot of man coverage. They are No. 9 in rush defense in the country. They have seven seniors that have played well at K-State for a long time. They're only giving up 68 yards rushing per game. They are 13th in the country in total defense giving up 258 yards per game. They are 16th in scoring defense. They are No. 3 in punt returns. They are No. 21 in kickoff returns. Their punter is averaging 44.6 yards per punt and six of his 14 punts have kept the other team back inside the 20-yard line. They are fourth in the country in sacks with nearly five sacks per game. Ian Campbell, the great defensive end who is a junior for them, had 11-plus sacks last year and is on all the watch lists just like Tim Reyer their punter and Brooks Rossman their kicker who has not missed a field goal.
If you look at the history of the last three games we lost 42-45, we won 24-20, and won 17-14. The last three games that we have had with Kansas State have been really tough games and really good games and we will know more about ourselves this weekend because they are a really good football team.
On Ron Prince: Ron has done a great job wherever he has coached. He was the defensive coordinator for Al Groh over at Virginia. Al is a great football coach. He is in that line of Bill Belichick, Bill Parcels, and all the great defense that come out of their systems. Ron grew up in that system. He is a tremendous football coach and has done a great job with those kids. They play hard, they play tough and it will be fun to have that challenge again Saturday.
On what Josh Freeman is doing better this year: It is hard to say what he would do better than he did last year against us. He didn't miss and they beat us with so many big plays. He is doing the same. They are throwing the ball up about 40 times per game. He is just so big and strong and has a great arm and is very accurate. He is right now the force to be reckoned with on the Kansas State offense. He is very good. He is about 6-6, 240. He is just huge.
On starting conference play: We are hoping that we saw enough positives on Saturday night with the consistency. That's what we weren't doing well. They need to continue to play with that attitude, understanding the players at Kansas State will be better than the players at Rice. We were hopefully able to start developing some more depth on Saturday night. I think we threw two passes after the first drive of the second half, but we were able to run the ball with those young linemen. John Chiles got in and Vondrell [McGee] got in and made some plays and some of the younger receivers got some experience. Defensively, we played everybody. Hopefully we have had a growing process. We are finding out more about who we are because we will have to play by far our best game on Saturday to win.
On if they needed a game where things came together: Somebody asked me last week if it is better to blow everybody out or have all close games. I think I said that you would rather blow them all out, but the close games may be better for you. The thing you do learn when you are in tight games is that you learn to hang in there and win, you learn how to handle adversity and we have had all that, you learn how to come from behind and we have done that. As I have said, we are the best on-side kick prevent team in the country. We have done that three of four weeks. At the same time, there is an urgency that we are near where we need to be and that a whole lot of things need to continue to get fixed. That hasn't changed after Saturday. We just feel like we have made some progress.
On who got into the game on Saturday that hadn't been in before: Michael Huey and Kyle Hix played a whole lot. They played maybe 30 or 40 plays in the ball game of 70, so that was really good for them. Tray Allen played, Britt Mitchell, Buck Burnette, Greg Smith. We were able to play Steve Moore, all of those guys got to play some, and they looked like they fit. With Cedric Dockery's knee and him still trying to fight through it, I think he only played 40 plays as compared to 89 the week before, so that was better. The fact that Charlie Tanner is nursing a sprained ankle and Adam [Ulatoski] has been hurt, we are going to have to play those other guys and just move on and try to get them more reps during the ball game when it matters, not just at the end.
On if Colt McCoy is excited to play this game healthy: I am sure he is. I haven't talked to him about it. I did notice this morning that he was 4-4 for 51 yards when he came out so that may be a factor. Colt is mature; he is a coach's kid, so he understands it is about Texas and wanting to win rather than about last year.
On if he is excited about how many students are waiting for tickets: The crowd has been great. It has been great since we have been here. It think we have sold them all out except for the first two. They have been great.
On the Kansas State running game: They can run the ball. Auburn is really good and stacked the line of scrimmage and they just threw it 57 times. I am sure after that game, like us, if you have a game where you didn't run it that well, you go back to work and tried to make it an emphasis the last two weeks.
On if the team had more fun after the Rice win: I would think so. We won't know until Tuesday, but they had more fun yesterday at meetings and they were like that after TCU, too. I thought the second half versus TCU they played so well. The first game and the game against Central Florida they weren't as happy after those, obviously, and we weren't either. We had some things to fix the first half against TCU, but we felt like we got them fixed the second half. They were pleased Saturday, but they also know that Kansas State will be a lot tougher than Rice.
On Limas Sweed: He just has had a tough year physically. Because of that, he has not been able to practice as much or as full speed as he would like. It probably hurt his timing and Colt's some and he was a little unsure with a sore ankle and a wrist. It looked like Saturday to me he was full speed and confidant, and we need him back, especially to stretch the field. We thought we did a better job getting the ball deep Saturday than we have so far this year. He helps us do that.
On the defensive ends: Lamarr [Houston] is coming on. I hated to see Eddie [Jones] get hurt because he is really improving. The young defensive ends have gotten so much more experience than we have expected them to since that first ball game that they are growing up. Everything speeds up now so it will be tougher. Lamarr led us in tackles maybe up front. He is just going to have to keep coming, and Sam Acho played well. He batted a couple of balls in a row and made some plays. We are just going to have to take the young ones and they are going to have to play.
On Kansas State blitzing: They blitz about 60 percent of time. They are a pro-oriented defense with their 3-4, but they are really aggressive with it. They don't drop them as often as they bring them. They make it very hard to run the ball with 68 yards per game, but also if you can't pick up their blitz, it is a nasty looking day. You have got to be able to handle their blitz to have a chance.
On being blitzed so much: It is tough, but I think we have been blitzed more this year than I think we have been since I have been here. We have handled it pretty well. We have had four sacks I believe and the one Saturday was just a miss call up front. We feel like they have handled it well so far. We should be prepared because everybody has blitzed us. Rice blitzed us a lot more than we thought they would. Colt asked me after the game why I thought we were being blitzed so much, and I think everybody is blitzing more. It is harder to stop the run, so people are blitzing to try to stop the run as well as try to get pressure on the passer. Nobody can let the passer stand back there and throw anymore.
On Kansas State WR Jordy Nelson: He is just a good player. He is tough and he blocks. He hustles, he has had great hands and they have used him to run it and they have used him to pass it. He has been involved with their trick plays. They had trick plays against us last year and they've had two weeks to put some more in. We will see some of those on Saturday.
On what questions he still has coming into conference play: I would say we answered better Saturday night except right before the half. That has popped up with this team. It needs to be a team that continues to answer each other and play more together as a team. We can do that, we showed that. The second half even with the younger guys, they answered better and kept playing hard. That is the thing this team will have to answer. There will be more adversity this weekend than there was against Rice, so when it comes up, we have to step up and do a great job with it. Our seniors are doing a great job. You have leaders like Tony Hills. Tony is playing as good as any lineman we have had here in the first four games. He should be up for all the awards. You look at what Frank Okam and Derek Lokey are doing inside with their leadership and their toughness. I think they're trying to help the younger ones understand the urgency of conference play and it is here now and we will get some things answered Saturday about 2:30.
On if he thought Tony Hills would be where he is today: Obviously when he got hurt, we didn't. There was a time when we did not feel like Tony would get to play football based on everything we had heard. Now he is a top pro prospect and a leader on our team and a guy that is playing as well as anybody we have had. You just have to give Tony full credit for number one, having strong faith, to continue working when people told him you probably won't play again and not only to play, but to change positions from tight end to tackle after the injury and then reach the level he has reached is just amazing. He will be able to graduate at the same time. He has done everything right for us. I am glad he is playing so well for us, but I am also glad that a good young man is reaping the benefits of staying strong and being confident and having a good family, and he has overcome so much, you are proud to see him do so well.
On Quan Cosby: We are so fortunate with Quan that he has been like a senior leader since the day he has stepped on campus because he is older. I think he is 24 years old now. He is so unselfish. He has caught a lot of balls, he returns punts, he returns kickoffs, but you never hear him say on a day where he is not getting the ball, `Let me have it.' He is always about team, he is always about winning, he is always about leadership and he is starting to make some of those catches that we used to see Roy Williams make with the one hand. Now we are so used to that around here that when he makes one, we all say that is a good catch Quan, when it really shocked us a month ago. He has been such a valuable part of this team. Especially he and Nate Jones, trying to help us until the other receivers got back. Nate has done the same thing. Those two guys have just taken over and stepped up and played so well until we could get the calvary back at receivers. Now hopefully all of them are back. Billy [Pittman] got to play some the other night; he will get to play more. Jordan [Shipley] looks like he is getting back into form because he has missed so much practice. In fact, Jordan only practiced a little bit before Central Florida. Both of those guys should come on fast now as well.
On Chris Ogbonnaya: Chris Ogbonnaya did a great job too. Chris' play down here on our boundary with a third down and maybe eight when he caught the ball on the flat and faked two guys out and lowered his shoulders and got the first down was just a great play. He makes the big play on the deep pass, the wheel route near our boundary. We are fortunate right now to have three really good backs.
On Ryan Bailey: Ryan is doing really well for us and he is so accurate. We have a new snapper in Greg Smith, and Greg continues to get better and Jordan Shipley has done an outstanding job holding. That is just part of confidence. It seems to get better every week. He is a bright young man. He is a guy who came in without notoriety. They didn't kick a lot in high school his senior year, so a lot of people didn't know a lot about him. He has kept his mouth shut, he is again very unselfish. I think he is like a 3.9 student. He has done the things he has needed to do to be patient and earn a spot. No better kick in his career will be better than the Nebraska kick the first time he walked out there. We knew he was tough, we knew he was smart, we knew that he could handle pressure after that and he was excited after that and he continues to do so. He was excited when he came off after the 52-yarder. He said, "Thanks I knew I was going to make it." I said, "I expected you to or I wouldn't have put you out there."