Coordinators' corner: Oct. 14
Oct. 14, 2008
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis
On if McCoy comes up with the dummy signals on his own: The one he used on Ogbonnaya's long run was a possible live signal, and usually, they are. But they work on them in the summer, and when you play your own defense through spring training and fall camp, they have to be constantly changing the play calls. Those guys see them every day and they get used to them. So, they are always changing them through the course of practice.
On the being number one: It's nice to be number one, but it's more important to be number one in January. It's also nice to fly under the radar, because we were in a situation where very few people gave us a chance to win that ball game, and our kids took that as a challenge. Now, there is just a different kind of challenge, and that is being able to maintain your focus and go back to work. That's what we told them yesterday when we looked at the film. Our kids played with tremendous effort, and so did (Oklahoma's). But it wasn't as clean of a game as some that we have played, and of course, part of it was due to the competition. But there were a lot of things we could've done better, and that was what we focused on yesterday.
On if he thought that McCoy would be a Heisman frontrunner after six games: Well, I knew that he had geared himself to have a great year. He was disappointed, like we all were, last year. He had a pretty decent year last year and he completed 67 percent of his passes, but he didn't take care of the ball. He did not take care of the ball as well as he should have. As we went to work in the off-season and the summer, that was a big focus on what we wanted to work on. The other thing we wanted to do was to make sure that he had a great understanding of what each play meant and why it was being called and how we were using it. He's done a great job of understanding that. But to answer the question, no, I did not think that six games into the year, that he would be a frontrunner. I thought that he would have a great year. In fact, I told you guys in August that I thought he had prepared himself for a great year.
On what advice he gives to McCoy about the Heisman hype: [Head coach] Mack [Brown] asked me to bring Colt in last Wednesday, because there were some people mentioning that over the next four game stretch, some people were going to play themselves in and out of that situation. So, I called him in and we sat down and visited about it. He was a little upset with me for even bringing him in and talking about it, because he knows as well as we do that it's a team trophy, and if you win ball games, then it will take care of itself. I told him to not put any pressure on himself and just keeping doing what he's doing. If we keep winning, his stock will continue to rise, as it should.
On Missouri's defense: We just now are getting into the game plan. We spent last night and today getting all of their blitzes and all of their fronts and stunts put up on the board. So, we haven't really gotten into what we're going to do. We did like our 10 personnel grouping that we used in the ball game. We thought the four wide-receiver sets were productive. We thought it put Jordan [Shipley] in a good position to be able to work on linebackers quite a bit, more so than in the slot. We're going to continue to use that formation. Whether or not we throw it 35 or 40 times, we're not sure as of yet, and sometimes the game dictates that. In the second half, we were able to get the run going a little bit, so we didn't throw it quite as much in the second half as we did in the first half. Sometimes, the game itself and what is happening dictates what you do.
On Chris Ogbonnaya's running the past few weeks: He's had the hot hand for the past couple of weeks. You couldn't be happier for a guy like Chris, who has been here for five years and is a tremendous student. He came in as a receiver and quarterback, and he has played all around for us, including fullback. He's just been a total team guy. So, you're excited when good things happen to guys like that. Right now, he's running with a lot of confidence, patience and he's breaking tackles. He's gained some slack in terms of proving who has the hot hand. Missouri is a team who blitzes quite a bit, which we hope we are getting used to. Their numbers say that they blitz around 42 percent of the time. They involve their secondary quite a bit. Ziggy Hood is an outstanding defensive lineman, and he is one of the best in the conference. [Sean] Weatherspoon is very active and they keep him protected on the backside. Their weakside linebacker is a guy you have to put a hat on and work on. They are playing and they are playing well. They play excited and they present some problems with some of their blitz packages.
On the relationship between Colt McCoy and Chase Daniel: They knew each other through the recruiting process and they continue to stay in touch. They both were invited to the Elite 11 last year in California, to be counselors along with [USC QB] Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford and some others. They still text each other during the season. Chase has had a great career, and we thought that coming out of high school, he was an outstanding player at Southlake Carroll. I'm not sure if he ever lost a ball game. It's just one of those things that happened during recruiting, that we thought he was going to be an outstanding player, and he has. We thought Colt was going to be an outstanding player, and he has.
On if it is difficult to play a team that has just come off a difficult loss: I was watching the game Saturday night and I wasn't sure who I wanted to win, because of the question that was just asked. In reality, I'm not sure that it matters. These players work all year long for 12 or 13 opportunities to play. They are prideful young men and I think they get ready to play each week, especially when you are a top program like they are.
On the chemistry between McCoy, Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley: They are neat guys, and they have played so much ball within our system and with Colt, that they have great flexibility and they know where that flexibility can take them. The long pass after Earl Thomas's interception, we called a double-move route for Quan, but the corner really denied the double-move we wanted to use. So, Quan used an inside move and went back outside and that just comes from experience. Younger guys may have tried to force the move we had called and may have gotten pressed at the line of scrimmage. On the long pass that Jordan caught that setup the touchdown, he was trying to clear the middle linebacker and that took him a little longer than what he wanted. So, when he did clear him, he really yanked it hard back to the hash, and that just comes from experience. If he had not cleared the middle, he would have not been as open, and there was experience in Colt's case to sit there knowing what was going to happen. They have a great chemistry with what is going on right now. They work hard and they have been doing a better job blocking. Coach Kennedy really challenged the receivers during fall camp to do a better job blocking than they did last year. As a group, they are doing that much better.
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp
On the positives and negatives from Saturday: Well you are obviously upset with breakdowns and miscommunications, and we had our share. But, I'm very pleased with how we preformed in a big-time game, especially the young kids and how they preformed and how they stepped up during some opportune times. You always look at the film and there are always wins, losses and draws. The good plays take care of themselves, and you have to correct the negatives. That's what we really look at, and we're very technical with what we look at. We understand that we sometimes ask them to do too much, or we ask them to be in the right spots, or we put them in a bad situation schematically. Those are the questions we ask, and after looking at the film, we felt good about what we did, we just have to have a cleaner execution of what needs to be done on the field.
On the progress Earl Thomas has made: I'm very pleased and he's done a good job. His development has come from off the field, from a maturity and classroom standpoint. He's really worked at the game of football and understanding formation recognition, schemes, why they are doing what they're doing and why we're doing what we're doing. That's what a lot of young kids have a hard time learning. They just line up, memorize a call and play. That's not what the good ones do. He's really coming on in that category, and he's got to continue doing that with consistency and performance, because those are the hardest things for a young player.
On the challenges the Missouri offense pose: Chase [Daniel] has got a deep launch point and he is an outstanding football player. He's got a quick release, gets the ball out and he understands their scheme and feels comfortable with what they are doing. He's completing close to 80 percent of his passes and he can hurt you with his legs when he takes off running. [Derrick] Washington has done a good job for them being their back. Going into the year, I don't think they thought they had one, and he has stepped up and down a good job for them. And of course, [Jeremy] Maclin and [Chase] Coffman are very difficult match-ups, because of their size and speed. Coffman has got great hands and an uncanny ability to get open. Maclin is just a guy you always have to be aware of, because he's a "take-it-the-distance" type of guy. But, you have to be able to tackle in space when you play these teams. You have to be able to make plays in space, because they are going to create some one-on-ones due to what they do. We have to affect the quarterback by rushing three, four or five guys, and when we go after him, we got to have opportunities to get him on the ground.
On learning from Oklahoma State's defense: They did a good job of mixing, being multiple, doing different things, changing gaps. There is no question it was effective in the game, so it's something that we'll obviously study very hard.
On handling Missouri's offense: You have to limit the explosives and tackle in space. We gave up too many big plays Saturday against a good football team. We put our offense in too many difficult situations to answer, which they were able to do on that particular Saturday. We have to limit the explosive plays and change the vertical position. We have to tackle well in space against this team because you're going to see a lot of screens, a lot of intermediate passing game that tries to create one-on-ones. If you miss a tackle, it's done.
On Brian Orakpo: I hope he keeps doing it. He's a good player, he's worked awfully hard in the offseason and he's a good kid. He's been very receptive to everything we've asked him to do. He's just a guy that goes out with his lunch pale every day and goes to work. We give him a couple different rush lanes to do and he's very receptive to that, understands what we're trying to do with it. He's a good player.
On not pushing the players too hard amidst a tough stretch of conference play: I think as a coach, that's your job. I think Coach Brown is very cognizant of when you have to pull back a little bit and when you press the metal. I think that's something that we'll discuss through the week and throughout the season, when our kids need a little bit of a break because they need to be fresh on Saturday. That's a tough call. You look at your seniors and your older guys, how they're holding up. Generally that's pretty reflective of where the team is and they're usually pretty honest with you about where they are physically and mentally.
On the defensive performance against Oklahoma: I think the biggest thing Saturday was we didn't blink. We kept playing. I didn't feel on the sideline anybody was blinking. We were ready for the next series. We understood that we gave up the first drive. They did a good job of executing. We had two three-and-outs, gained some confidence back and then we give up the next two touchdowns, one on the tempo drive and one on the bust. But I didn't ever feel like our kids didn't believe they were going to win the game. That's been the most pleasing thing.
On how Missouri differs from any other team on the schedule to this point: Pattern wise, they've got some different combinations you'll see. That's what you have to get ready for, the adjustments they make in the game. I think that you'll see a little more screen, possession passing game, as opposed to some other things we've seen. They do stretch the field vertically, but more of a West Coast, lateral passing game, especially in the early downs. But they certainly do stretch the field vertically.
On facing high-octane offenses every week: We've preached from day one that it's a 60-minute game. We have to play for 60 minutes. There are going to be peaks and valleys in every game, there are going to be ups and downs, there are going to be high times and low times. Let's just make sure we keep swinging and keep playing because we have enough good players, we're going to be fine. Offensively, we're just playing outstanding football right now. It's a credit to Greg [Davis] and our staff and our players. Defensively, we've kind of assumed that, "Hey, let's just keep playing, we'll keep ourselves in the game and when the game is on the line, we'll just make plays." We want to be dominant but you also have to understand with some of the offenses that you're facing, there are going to be times when they make some plays. You have to tip your hat to Oklahoma. They're a good offensive football team.