Oct. 8, 2012
Opening statement: What a special night it was in [Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium] on Saturday night. Nobody's fans anywhere in the country that I've ever coached, were more excited, louder, more electric than our fans on Saturday night. They were just unbelievable. They made a difference in the ballgame. It shows what we can do each week. And they also made a huge impression on our recruits. We've just gotten a tremendous response from recruiting over the last two days, not only that our team fought so hard and had a chance to win the game in the end, but that they'd never been in a stadium like that before.
We also had great energy on our bench. I thought the guys that weren't playing, the young guys, helped stir up the crowd, and I thought it was just a special night in so many ways. We need to be the same way every ballgame now. That's standard set, and if we expect our players to play the hardest they can, we've got to expect our fans to yell and cheer as loud as they can each week, and even up in Dallas this weekend.
Our guys, like the fans, played really hard. There were so many great things that came out of the game that we can build on. It's just a shame that we lost. You've got to give West Virginia credit because it was a great football game, and they just made the key plays in the end and we didn't. That's simply what it comes down to.
We’ve forced 10 turnovers and only lost three this year. We've outscored opponents 563 when we've forced those turnovers, and Saturday night is the first time in 57 games we've won the turnover ratio and lost the game. So there's so many things that, again, lead back to where we did [not do] enough things right to win. We aren't where we want to be. We're much better than we were last year. I don't think last year's team could have even hung with West Virginia because we couldn't have scored enough points. But we're making a lot of progress, and at some point this football team is going to be really good, and we are getting better each game.
Offensively the things that we did well; on third downs, again, we were eight-of-14. We're 43-of-74 attempts, second nationally, at 58 percent on third downs this year. So we've done a tremendous job of staying on the field offensively. We had eight explosive plays, which is our minimum, but we didn't make our goal. That was two runs and six passes.
Red zone. In seven attempts, we scored five touchdowns and had one field goal, and we missed a field goal.
Passing. We were 22-of-29 attempts, 269 yards and a touchdown, 76 percent, which was very similar to what the Heisman Trophy candidate [West Virginia senior QB] Geno Smith ended up with.
Eight different players had plays of more than 40 yards this year, so we're getting the ball in different people's hands, and we are getting explosive plays, which we were concerned about two weeks ago. Sixteen different players have scored. Thirteen have scored touchdowns. So we're moving the ball around a lot, and people are going to ask why this guy didn't get it this week, and why that guy didn't get it. That's not the way this offense is. It disperses the ball across the board. It does a good job with that.
So we need to improve offensively. We did lose a fumble, and I think anyone who saw that lick is just happy that [senior WR] Marquise [Goodwin] is okay. Happy, number one, that he's alive. Happy, number two, that he's not crippled because it was a vicious lick. And number three, could understand that fumble. It was just a tremendous lick, and he is fine and is ready to play this week for our fans that are worried about him.
We were one-of-three on fourth downs. We were three-of-three at Oklahoma State, and we needed to do a better job. Some people will question why we went for a fourth-and-13 at the end of the game. We were at about the 38yard line or something, and the way they're scoring, the way they're moving the ball, if you punt and get them down at the 10 [yard line], they can make up 25 yards, 20 yards, very quickly. In games like that you try to make first downs and you try to score. You don't worry quite as much about backing them up because they're so explosive.
We had two penalties on offense. We dropped two passes, and we had two fumbled snaps. Obviously the last snap was a killer when we had what we thought was a great play called on third down to score, and didn't get that opportunity and then missed the field goal.
We didn't run the ball like we wanted to early in the ballgame. We thought we could run it better than we did. The best offensive lineman performance was [junior OL] Donald Hawkins. The offensive most valuable player was [sophomore QB] David Ash.
Defense, things that we did well, we slowed [WVU senior QB] Geno Smith down on his downfield throws on first, second, and third down. He was 14-of-30, and he was coming in with such a high completion percentage. We did a good job of getting him off his rhythm, and on third downs they were leading the nation at 61 percent in third down efficiency, we held them to 23 percent. On third down he was 3-for-12, which is unbelievable to think we could have done that going into this ballgame.
We had great pressure from our fourman rush. We caused two fumbles and one of them became a touchdown. We had four sacks in 35 attempts. They had only given up four sacks in 181 attempts throughout the year. So we got great pass rush from our front four.
We blocked a field goal. Defensive team is out on the field for that unit, and [senior DE] Alex Okafor got his long arm up there and blocked it. We played extremely hard. We didn't tackle great, but we tackled better than we did at Oklahoma State, and maybe against a better offensive team because they had some guys that could really run.
We handled sudden change well. After Marquise' fumble, we're down 217 [and] the game is about to get out of hand. The defense forces a three-and-out and blocks a punt that leads to a score that gets us right back in the ballgame.
Things we did poorly. We didn't get off the field. We got beat on critical situations. They're five-for-five on fourth downs. Three of those are passes, one of them was a short yardage. But even though they run on an early down near our bench, [and] we've got guys all over him, and [WVU RB Andrew Buie] makes the play. We've got to make those stops when we get in that position.
They had five TDs and seven trips into the red zone. We made Oklahoma State kick field goals, we did not make West Virginia. We did a poor job stopping West Virginia on the last drive. We did a poor job offensively with the last series when we got a chance to score on the 12yard line and win the game, or at least kick a field goal and tie the game. And we botched both. The last drive defensively, we've still got a chance to go out there and stop them, and they rammed the ball down our throats and we didn't do a good job of stopping at all. Those are two series that really, really hurt us.
There was some confusion with our defense on the fourth down play that we got the sack, but we called time-out from the boundary. They had an uncovered guy and an empty set. So if we had aligned properly, coaches wouldn't have had to call a timeout to make sure, and it cost us a touchdown the next play. So we have got to make sure that we line up properly.
We did have a hands to the face penalty on a third down-and-16, another time we get off the field, and you just don't get off the field. That would have been another punt for them that we made a mistake.
The ball hawk awards: [senior DE] Alex Okafor caused two fumbles. [Junior DE] Jackson Jeffcoat [had] one fumble that he recovered for a touchdown. [Junior DT] Chris Whaley with a fumble recovery.
Hard hat award went to [senior S] Kenny Vaccaro. Most valuable player on defense went to Alex Okafor, but I thought he and Jackson both showed tremendous quickness off of the corner.
Some people said after the game that I said I was disappointed we didn't stop the run better, and that's true. Someone else said, “It seemed like [defensive coordinator/linebackers coach] Manny [Diaz] and Mack weren't on the same page with the same plan.” We were. We had to stop [WVU senior QB] Geno Smith, and that's what we wanted to do. What both of us wanted is when the numbers are such that you're trying to do a better job of stopping the pass and the run, it doesn't mean you can't stop the run. The numbers are equal, you can still stop the run for less yards than we gave them, especially on the last drive. So that was my point after the game.
Special teams, things we did well; we only had one punt for 47 yards and we had a net 44. We're still very high in net punting. We had one punt blocked by [junior CB] Carrington Byndom. Offense got the ball at the 50yard line and led to a score. We blocked a field goal, as we said earlier, by the defense. And there were three kickoff returns past the 45yard line, the great kickoff return by [senior WR] Marquise Goodwin.
Things we did poorly; we missed a 41yard field goal that would have tied the game. Kickoff coverage was poor to start the game. They had a 41yard run, a 68yard return, and after that they had four returns for nine yards total. But we tried to kick it away from them, and they were going to get the ball in [WVU senior WR Tavon] Austin's hand. He was either going to run to the other side and catch it, or they were going to pitch it to him because he's such a dynamic kickoff and punt returner. But we held him to one punt return for three yards.
Special teams player of the game was Marquise Goodwin for his run on the kickoff return.
Big 12 [Conference] is doing really well. We're the only league with eight teams with one loss or less. Big 12 has the top three offensive teams, total offensive teams, in America. We have seven of the top-25 in scoring. We have five in the top-five in scoring defense. The Big 12 has six of the top nine quarterbacks in passing efficiency. It's just unbelievable how well people in this league are throwing the ball.
Total offense leaders - Oklahoma State is No. 1, Baylor is No. 2 and West Virginia is No. 3. We've played two of the top three offenses the last three weeks. Pass offense leaders - Baylor is No. 1, West Virginia is No. 2, Oklahoma State is No. 3. We've played two of the top passing leaders the last two weeks, and we'll play a Heisman Trophy candidate again this week.
Injury report – [freshman FB] Alex De La Torre and [sophomore WR/TE] Miles Onyegbule [have] sprained ankles, and they're out for the game. They sprained them on the kickoff returns. Everyone else will be evaluated this week, and we will give you an update on Friday.
[Oklahoma] played really well against [Texas] Tech, beating them 4120. We know how hard it is to win out there. [OU senior] Landry Jones, we're facing another Heisman Trophy candidate this week at quarterback. He's 32- 9 as a starter. He's tied with [former OU QB] Steve Davis for most wins in school history for a quarterback. He's one of three players in the Big 12, and one of 23 in the NCAA history, to throw 100 TD passes and then throw for more than 13,000 yards. OU has got a really good football team. It's always an exciting game. They're playing hard on defense.
We'll have the Torch Light Parade, I think it's at 8:30 on Wednesday night, and we'd like to have our largest crowd ever. Should be an exciting week again, and our guys have to get over the disappointing loss to West Virginia and get excited about playing OU.
On the defensive performance against West Virginia: I thought as bad as it looks to give up 48 points and lose, I thought we did make some improvements this week. Because West Virginia could be as good as anybody in the country. We don't know how, if they'll play week to week, we don't know how will their defense hold up? Is their kicking game good enough? But they could be as good as anybody when you look at what they did, and with their experience on offense, with nine seniors.
Again, we were disappointed we gave up the rushing yards and we didn't stop three fourth down passes, and the one fourth down run. The other one was a fourth-and-six inches, or a fourth-and-one on a quarterback sneak. But we had our opportunities. We had double coverage on some of the TD passes that they threw. We've just got to make those plays that we didn't make on Saturday night and keep getting better. When you're as young as we are on defense, you've only got two seniors playing, you can get better and you can get better fast.
I thought we made some improvements even though unless you're looking for improvements, you wouldn't say when you give up 48 points that you did. But I thought there were improvements on Saturday night. They didn't look as tired against the uptempo offense. We substituted a lot. The younger players are playing better. Some of the younger linebackers played a little bit better in there than they did against Oklahoma State, and we're seeing a lot of fast guys so that's not going to stop here for a while. But I do think we're making progress on defense.
On using freshmen in games: Oh, I think there's a lot said because we didn't use one player one year in an Oklahoma game, so that builds a reputation for a lifetime. We didn't play [former RB] Cedric Benson about 27 years ago, and that lives as a fantasy world for people that we've never played a freshman. We've played more freshmen the last two years than anybody in college football. The fact is, we thought that when the NCAA started allowing freshmen to come in in January, and then even more so in June, it gave you a better chance to get them ready to play. And now we're playing a lot.
I was really pleased with [freshman DT] Malcom Brown the other night. Malcom Brown and [sophomore DB] Mykkele Thompson made a lot of progress the another night. Mykkele had his hand on a couple balls that we'd have liked to have intercepted that might have been a game changer, but he's playing better over the last couple of weeks. But Malcom Brown looked like he belonged. He stepped out and made great plays. You're seeing the same with [freshman RB] Johnathan Gray. I mean, he made a super run, [and was a] leading rusher in the ballgame.
So a lot of freshmen are getting to play more, and we're hoping some of those freshman receivers can step up and rest some of our guys. They played more the other night, and we're trying to get them in the game, too. Old guys on this team are sophomores. I think last year we played more freshmen than anybody with 18. This year we're tied with two other teams, that's Auburn and Ohio State, who are playing 15.
On how he feels after a loss: I don't feel guilt. I feel disappointed. The fans gave it their best. I feel disappointed for them that we didn't produce. Our coaches get over there at 6:00-6:30 in the morning. They stay until 10:00 at night. They busted their tail and they fought their guts out, so I feel bad for them. And mostly the players. We had a chance. We had an opportunity the other night to take a huge step and be probably a topfive football team this morning, and it was down to five minutes and 42 seconds where we could have won the ballgame. And we've won those in our past.
So I get really down and sick after games. I told the players last night, “I expect you to have a 24hour window that you take, win or lose, and move forward.” And I've got to do the same thing. And I told them, I get down because of them. I'm okay in my life. I've done enough. But I want them to win, and as hard as they're working right now and the way this team deserves to win, I was really disappointed for them.
On Saturday’s AT&T Red River Rivalry game: It should be a great matchup, where last year we laid an egg in the OU game because they played much better than we did. There were a lot of turnovers, and we were out of the game before we even got in it. And I thought the guys kept trying and kept fighting. But we're both coming into this with a loss. I think in my estimation we could see a conference champion with one or maybe two losses this year the way this league is, because there's so much parity in the league. So this game is really important - not just that it's the OU game, but that it matters in your league play and league championship play. And I'm pleased with our offense. We obviously needed to score from the 12yard line, and that was the, quote, “big problem” the other night. [Sophomore QB] David [Ash] is really managing the game well, and he's handling pressure well. The last snap, [the play clock] got down closer [to zero]. He usually lets it get down pretty close - that's what a young guy does - and he and the center got off communication. The ball was snapped a little bit before [Ash] wanted it to be. I mean, those are things that happen with young teams. You've got to get rid of that. You can't have that in a critical situation. We made the critical play at Oklahoma State, we didn't make the critical play the other night.
On the emotional aspect of playing in the AT&T Red River Rivalry: Yes, this game is so emotional. And both teams will play like it is the most important game of the year, whether it is or not in anybody's minds because of the buildup and the history of this game, and the two schools, and the way the fans feel about this, and the nature of the State Fair. They came to the schools, and one of the reasons they came is for this game. The hype in this game you have to handle, especially a younger team. Secondly, you have to handle the momentum change in this game. For whatever reason, it goes back and forth, and it's crazy, and it's always been that way. And the other thing, usually the team that wins handles the ball the best. When we've lost and when we've lost badly, it's been because we've turned the ball over, and last year was no different.
On asking sophomore QB David Ash to make game-winning plays: Yes, but I think he scored 45 points. I mean, he's second in the country in passing efficiency. And third downs, we're second in the country. He's doing well. I'm excited about him. We're asking him to win the games now, and he's doing what we're asking. Made a great play [against WVU] with his feet.
On having a stretch of really competitive games: I think it's great for the fans. It's great for college football. This league has gotten hard. I mean, you'd better play well every week. I mean, like I said, you look up, and the best quarterbacks in the country are in this league. The best offenses in the country are in this league. There are some really good defenses struggling in this league. It's a fun time for the fans, and coaches are having to coach hard. We'll come back next week. You're going to say, “Is Baylor a big game? Are they good on offense?”
On the Big 12 having potent offenses: You start looking, everybody in this league has improved. And you add TCU and you add West Virginia, it just made it even better. There's just so much speed. The poor punters aren't going to letter. We punted once the other night, [WVU] punted once the other night. It's amazing. I looked, I think we've been able to return four punts this year. And the fact that the NCAA moved the kicker back is affecting more games now with kickoff return than it did last year. There were a lot more balls kicked out [into the end zone]. I think OU has kicked 13 of their 28 out, and I think we've kicked 11 of our 40 out. So there's a lot more kickoff returns than anybody ever thought, and we're seeing more squibs and sky kicks. It was interesting, as much criticism as we got for a sky kick, West Virginia had three of them. I wonder if their people are critical of them. Probably not.
On the progression of OU senior QB Landry Jones: Just matured. I thought he was very much like [Texas sophomore QB] David [Ash] when he first started. He was unsure in that ballgame, and David was last year some, and [junior QB] Case [McCoy] because this was the first time they had been in that ballgame. This is a hard game for a young quarterback. I mean, usually when they get in it, [former Longhorn QB] Colt [McCoy] handled it well. [Former OU QB] Sam Bradford handled it well. Most young quarterbacks have not, and thank goodness David has been through it once. Landry just keeps getting better and better and better each game, and his stats are unbelievable. Here we are two weeks in a row playing against a Heisman [Trophy] candidate.
On what he has learned over his career at Texas about the Red River Rivalry series: I think the thing that you learn, and [special assistant to head coach] Bill Little said that when we got here, it usually goes in cycles. Because the fans of the losing team are so hard on the kids and the coaches that they get a little bit uptight. Then you've got to figure out how to win it again, get it back, and then the ballgame is the same way. It's just a game that goes back and forth because whether we like it or not, it's one that is really, really important to the fans. And therefore it's important to the coaches and the players because they live with this game. Most of the recruits on both teams have been to this game and watched this game very closely since they were freshmen in high school, sophomores in high school. So they've all been to this game, and it's just something that I think builds up in their mind that it's a huge game. I'll never forget [former Longhorn TE] Bo Scaife as a freshman, standing out there before the game hyperventilating. I said, “Are you okay?” He said, “Yeah. I'm hyperventilating. I've never been this excited in my life.” And I thought, I'm not sure that's good.
On if he realized the magnitude of the Texas-OU game when he was offensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 1984: No, because I wasn't from here. I thought the TennesseeAlabama game was probably bigger. At that time it was the OklahomaTexas game for me, but then I remember asking [former OU head coach] Coach [Barry] Switzer before the year, “What do you have to do to keep your job here, and what do you have to do to make everybody happy?” And he said, “You've got to beat Texas.” I said, “What about Oklahoma State? They're in your league. Texas isn't even in your league.” He said, “Doesn't matter coach. You've got to beat Texas to make it work.” And I think they still call school off on Monday after they win. So it's that big at that school. And I remember in '84 Texas was No. 1, Oklahoma was No. 2, and it was a tie ballgame. We went for two [point conversion] and missed. And then they had the [former OU safety Keith] Stansbury interception in the end zone that was called incomplete, and I think [former Texas QB] Todd Dodge was the quarterback and [former Longhorn K] Jeff Ward kicked the field goal to tie the game at the end of the game. At that time you didn't have a playoff. It was raining so hard and I was so mad at the Cotton Bowl because the turf stunk, and you couldn't even stand up, and you were running sideways. We were trying to run sweeps and options the first half and we couldn't, and we were an option team, so we had to run north and south the second half to have a chance to win the game.
And some things were different than I remembered. The biggest impression I had for the passion for both schools was that our bus at that time rode right down the middle of the State Fair, and fans were shaking the bus. I mean, it was scary. Coach Switzer kind of looked at me and said, “Now you see. You get it now. You understand that.” At that time there were bonuses for Texas win at Oklahoma. So there, I understood at an early age what the game meant.
On if there was an interference at the end of the 1984 Red River Rivalry game: Now it wasn't. Then it was. [laughs] I'm glad we won now. I was mad at that time. Coach Switzer thought it was interference, [former Texas head coach] Coach [Fred] Akers did not. I think that's the way it is. But you can't talk about that. The Big 8 would be mad at me, and it's gone. I don't know who gets after you on that one. [laughs]
On sophomore DB Mykkele Thompson moving up the depth chart: Yeah, I think it's much bigger to you than it is to us. We thought about not even having one because everybody makes such a huge deal out of it. Because after a loss they want heads chopped off, some of them do. That's just part of the deal. Adrian played better the other night than he did the week before. He missed spring practice. He's coming off of a shoulder operation. We're still going to need him in nickel and dime. He and [sophomore CB] Josh [Turner] are still going to play. But we've said all along we're going to play the guy that plays the best in the ballgame. And Mykkele made more plays in the ballgame this week, and had a chance to make a couple more. Mykkele was more physical than he's been. So we felt like that across the board that's a move that we need to make.
We don't know about [sophomore RB] Malcolm [Brown] for this week so [freshman RB] Johnathan [Gray] and [sophomore RB] Joe [Bergeron] are listed as costarters at tailback. They'll be checking Malcolm today. We should know more tomorrow. Some people said, “Why did you release it so fast last week?” They were putting it in a cast, so he wasn't going to have the cast off, a walking boot cast, which they do a lot. And if a guy is going to be out, we've told you he's going to be out. Didn't mean it was any worse than we would have thought. But [freshman FB Alex De La Torre and sophomore WR/TE Miles Onyebule] have sore ankles. They're not going to play this week. They're in boots.
[Junior LB] Jordan Hicks, those other guys, [junior PK Anthony] Fera came out well. So we think [Fera] will be better today than he was Saturday night, we think, because he made some progress and got more confidence. He hadn't been able to kick all year, so it put him in a tough spot on Saturday night. And we'll evaluate Jordan Hicks, but he's much closer now, so we'll get to do that. And [junior DT] Brandon Moore we feel like will be fine.
On if it was frustrating WVU put up so many rushing yards against the defense: Yeah, it is, and what we've been able to do, you've got to stop something. And if you had asked me last week, and you did, “Can you stop [WVU senior QB] Geno Smith?” I'd say, “No, but we're sure going to try.” So the defense never gets credit for what they stopped. What was disappointing to the defense and therefore to me, and that's players and coaches, is we put people in positions to stop their passes. And we were very successful at doing that except for three fourth downs and in the red zone. And if you're going to commit those numbers, you're going to have to give up something. Now, where it is different - we didn't want to give up that many long runs, and I will give [WVU head coach] Dana [Holgorsen] credit. He's got a Heisman Trophy quarterback. In their history sometimes they're not very patient with the run. They will throw it. So he stayed more patient on Saturday night than I've seen them do in the past, and I'm sure part of that was because we had trouble on the run against Oklahoma State. But more against West Virginia, we had a plan to try to disrupt Geno Smith and try to take him out of the passing game and give - you don't give runs, but take lesser players to stop the run. If we had dominated the run and he'd have thrown for 805 yards like he did last week, you all would have said, “You knew he was going to pass it. Why in the world did you put two on each guy?” And the trouble Saturday night, we had some people doublecovered that they completed the ball, and that cannot happen. I mean, I thought the plan Saturday night was what we needed on defense, but we've got to play better. When we're doubleteaming somebody he shouldn't catch the ball. And [Smith] threw some darts and made it. And when we've got lesser numbers inside, it doesn't mean it can be a 20yard gain every time they hand it off. We have to have some people make some tackles, too.