Oct. 24, 2012
Assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Duane Akina
On DB Josh Turner: He made some great plays, and they all will [miss some plays] when they are lining up against a team where you have 90 snaps in a game. But he certainly made big plays. Obviously the interception was another big play where we got points out of. It was a super catch, and he is one of the few guys out there that is capable of making that play. You know moving to his right, having to come back, ball off his body. He did a nice job of rolling. That is the key to that catch. You got to catch and roll and keep the ball up to really convince the judges that it was a catch.
On Turner’s playmaking ability: He does. He has a knack for the ball. We’ve had a couple guys here that have that ability. You know Nathan Vasher had that ability. Aaron Ross, Quandre Diggs has got a little bit of that ability, and Earl Thomas had that ability. The ball just finds them. Josh is that way, and we are not surprised. He does that at practice, too. That is one of the things that really stands out with him. He has some nice natural instincts for the football.
On Turner liking to be pushed in practice: I think that is true, and we really sell that. I think some of the older guys that have been through it and we have had to help through some phases of their game will all say that. The harder I’m coaching you, the better it is because I know there is more to get out of you. When they come here, my big goal for when they leave Texas is that we got everything out of you. If you had a chance to be a great player, I want you to leave here a great player. I get frustrated with myself if I feel that I have a chance to coach a great player and we don’t quite hit that benchmark. That is my job. My job is to get everything out of these kids that they have. If they can be a good player, then lets go be a good player. Josh is certainly a guy that there is a lot more in him. Mykelle Thompson is the same way, and we are out to get it all. It is very nice and very coachable, and I think the guys know what they are getting into when they sign. And they know that it’s a great room, a lot of great players. They have worked hard and to get where they want to get to now, that is a great talent pool. When you are talking about for his position, a safety, maybe four or five make the team. There are 32 teams [in the NFL]. There are 150 of those jobs in the world against all the greatest athletes. So this is a great time to prepare. Let’s not wait at the back end of it. We start preparing once they walk through those doors.
On having Josh only play safety: No, Josh is a unique guy. We stretch him pretty good. He is a safety. He can come in and play corner. That is what he was last year. We give him some nickel work, and he is a guy we give a lot of work to. Our history, we cross-train a few guys so when there is an opportunity for them to go and somebody asks me, “Can he play nickel? Yes. Can he play dime? Yes. Can he play corner? Yes.” We want to check all the boxes while they are here. And some you can’t do that and they are just talented in one area. Usually it is a press corner, bump-and-run guy. I didn’t stretch Chykie Brown as much, but he had a great gift at what he did. I am pleased to hear that now Baltimore [Ravens] is starting to work him into their nickel and Curtis Brown [with the Steelers].
On which position is it easier to switch to-safety to corner or vice versa: You know they are both unique. The corners, the physical strains on a corner and just matching up especially with our style of defense, which is very aggressive. Those guys are on an island quite a bit and many times there is no help. The physical challenge when you starting getting to the safety is there are many more job descriptions there. So the mental challenges are there and the physical challenges, too. The closer you get to the ball, the more physicalness there is inside there. The general rule for myself - everybody has their own philosophies as secondary coaches - is the closer you move them to the ball, the more naturally instinctive they have to be. The natural instinct they need. Is it run? Is it pass? Whose got the ball? All that deception or options are involved. I got quarterback. I got pitch. So I am sure there is an easier one, and it is one of the tricks in the trade that you have to kind of have to feel it out. The toughest decision I had to make with that is with Michael Huff and Cedric Griffin. They were both freshman and alternating at safety. But when Vasher graduated, one was going to have to move to corne,r and I had to figure out which one was going to go - Huff or Cedric.
On views about the Baylor game: I thought they played really solid. You know with a team like that, we took away their vertical throwing game, which was our lead play. The Baylor staff did a great job by late in the first quarter by finding a formation that could get one of our guys in a one-on-one with no over-the-top help. They ran a double move route on Quandre Diggs, who was in decent shape and came off stumbling. It was a tough job description on an NFL wide receiver who is going to be an early draft pick. So once they found it, we had to change a little bit and give him margin for error because we had zero margins for error on that particular coverage. Then from there we did a great job of taking away the vertical throws. I can’t remember what it was when you eliminate all the bubble screens and the back screens. You eliminate that 82-yard throw - what did they say 32 attempts for 168 yards? Which is really what you want to do against an offense like that, which is so vertical.
On the Kansas offense: This is a different offense where now you have to get off the ball because they will run the ball and do those things, which may not have all the vertical throwing game challenges and the one-on-one challenges out there, but it will still challenge your eyes with the play-action pass. So it is a different task. Certainly their staff has got an impressive resume when it comes to moving the football. So I think every game is exciting, but this game, when you are done watching the film it was not quite like the last four weeks offensively where they were all number one or two in the offense. I think Ole Miss was even in the top seven or eight when we lined up on them. It has been a lot of fun.
On CB Quandre Diggs having a short memory: You got to let it go. If you are going to play corner, you are going to have plays like that. That is just the nature of the business. Last year was just an incredible year on how we played. Sometimes, even as aggressive as we were to average five yards per attempt is incredible. I think we were second in the nation in giving up explosives. But sometimes it’s that fade ball is just a little wide. It’s not a perfectly thrown ball. Sometimes we have had great coverage on field, but it is just a well-thrown football. We watch tape against some teams and there is somebody popping wide open, but the quarterback doesn’t see him. Its tough, and we understand it is a difficult job description. I got to help them as a coach. Sometimes you got to be tough on them and others you just got to grab them and hug them. If you are asking your players to do something that is just a real difficult task, as a coach you have to be able to see that on Saturday and make the adjustment. Anybody can see it on Sunday, but you got to be able to see it on Saturday.
Co-0ffensive coordinator/running backs coach Major ApplewhiteOn the running game:
I think those guys in general have a competitive pride about them. They were upset about the loss the week before, and we did a better job. We did a better job as backs and the wide receivers, tight ends and offensive line, everyone blocked better so the run game is going to look better. Everyone had something to prove, and this is just something they have to capture and bottle to go in each game with. On freshman RB Daje Johnson:
He will have some stuff out of the backfield and some stuff at wideout. Anytime you’ve got a guy that is that explosive, you’ve got to find a way to put the ball in his hands. Sometimes in the passing game coverage dictates that the ball goes elsewhere. It is harder to get the ball to a certain guy in the passing game, so sometimes the best way is to just hand it to him. On Kansas’ defense:
Compared to last year, they are very sound in what they do. They have great coaching, you can see that. They line up well. They understand their leverage. They understand how to take on blocks. Their coverage is good outside, and they’ve got tough, strong, stout linebackers. Up front they are playing a four-man front this year instead of a three-man front. What I see is I see them playing harder, number one, and I see them in position more to make plays. On the difference in practice coming off a win versus coming off a loss:
The guys have done well with it. It’s funny when you come out here as a player and then as a coach, you don’t see those things because you were part of it as a player. But there is always a little bit of a hangover after a win. The thing you have to fight at this place is you have to fight all of the negativity. At the same time, you’ve got to fight all of the [people saying], "You’re great. You’re great. You are back on track.’" You’ve got to throw all that stuff out that [the media] writes or says, that your parents say, that your friends say, that your teammates say and stay pure of mind and focused on what you have to do. That is the bottom line, and that is what we talk to them about. You’ve got to wipe that stuff off, good or bad, and stay pure of mind as to what we are doing and what we are trying to get done. On stayin focused for Kansas:
What we talk to our team about is right now we are not good enough to sit there on the schedule and look at it and say, "We are going to beat them, we are going to beat them and this one is going to be hard." We are not at that stage. Every week we have to show up and play. If we don’t play well then we are capable of being beat. We’ve got to have to have the mentality of a blue-collar worker that we are going in there, we have a job to do - I don’t care what it is - and we are going to go and get it done regardless of the opponent. We talked to them about nameless and faceless opponents. It doesn’t matter [who they are], this is their structure and this is how we have to block it. It could be the steel curtain or it could be whoever over there, but we’ve got to get ready to play those guys. On the changes in intensity level at practice and how that affects running backs:
I think most coaches will tell you if they are honest that when you start flying around and you are full contact in the season you start to worry. It’s a double-edged sword. We are helping our team learning how to play with a better pad level. We are helping our team to be more physical at the point of attack. The defensive players are getting better in terms of their tackling. The offensive players are getting a better feel for the pad level that they are going to have to block. The running backs are getting a better feel for the pad level when they are going to be approached by a tackler. So there are a lot of positives about it, but then the other side of that is, what if a guy gets hurt? There is some risk-reward in that, and we’ve got to balance that. It is something we talk about a lot in staff meetings and balance out how much of this are we going to do today. We are three or four days away from the game so how much are we going to do on Wednesday? How much are we going to do on Thursday? Personally as a running backs coach, I like to take those shots because I can’t in certain areas of practice emphasize pad level enough. The only thing that is going to teach you to get your pads down is when someone is coming at you. On freshman RB Johnathan Gray’s first career touchdown:
They loved it. They were all teasing Johnathan. They were like, "You better have gotten this because if you got dragged down at the three or four [yard line], [sophomore RB] Joe [Bergeron] was going to score." He’s the trash man. He picks up all the loose trash. It gives those guys just a little extra incentive to score from far out.