Mack Brown Monday press conference: Oct. 29
Opening statement: The Texas versus Nebraska game didn’t disappoint anybody on Saturday; it ended up like every other Texas-Nebraska game that we’ve had since we’ve been here. In fact, five of the last seven have come down to the last drive of the game and within four points of each other. We have great respect for Nebraska. In retrospect, I really wish we would have asked Coach (Darrell) Royal and Coach (Tom) Osborne to go out for the coin toss because that would have been something special for all of us with six National Championships standing out there at one time. This has been a great series between two really proud programs.
Bill Callahan and his staff had their guys ready to play. It was exactly what we thought. We thought there would be less pressure for them on the road than at home because they’d had a couple of tough home games in a row. We thought because of all the problems they’d had with stopping the run that they would do something drastic to stop the run but we weren’t sure what it would be. They were blitzing 19 percent coming in and I think they blitzed every play during the ballgame, so it was a good risk for them. And I give our offensive coaches and offensive players credit because they had enough patience to hang in there and figure it out and figure out the new schemes and end up scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter. They didn’t get frustrated and they didn’t panic. And our defense and kicking game did a good job of hanging in there until our offense had a chance to figure it all out. And unlike the Kansas State game, we figured out, we hung together as a team and we didn’t turn the ball over.
You could tell Nebraska came in to run the ball and use play-action because they’ve had turnover problems and those are the best ways to take care of the ball better. They wanted to do a better job with their turnover ratio and third downs and they did that in the first half. I thought they did exactly what they wanted to do.
Good coaching staffs at halftime go back and look at successes and setbacks in the first half and try to learn from the setbacks and I think that’s what our staff did, and I give our offensive staff credit for doing a great job the second half.
This has been a resilient team. This hasn’t been an easier year, and things just haven’t happened like they have some in our past, but they’re hanging in there and they’re getting better. They believe they can win, and I’m really proud of them. That was a very, very difficult game to win on Saturday. We didn’t start well. The last five minutes of the half we missed a field goal and (Nebraska) scored on a long pass with 43 seconds left, and everybody says you’ve got to start the third quarter right and we didn’t do that either. Everything was against us having a chance to come back and win, and the guys still did it. And may I say too, some of the Nebraska players told me after the game that our fans cheered them leaving the field like they’ve done for us at Nebraska, so I thought that was a really classy move for whoever those fans were and I know the Nebraska coaches and players appreciated it.
We had 11 explosive plays compared to (Nebraska’s) eight. Obviously we’re happy with the 11, but we’re disappointed with the eight. We’ve got to do a better job of keeping the ball from being thrown down the middle so easily. We only forced one turnover, and it was huge when Frank Okam knocked the ball out of Sam Keller’s hands and picked it up and started running with it, which shows you his athletic ability. I think he’s jealous of the fact that Derek Lokey is playing fullback and he’s trying to get some offensive yards. But we were only able to force one (turnover) and we only lost one also, and that was a tipped ball on a pass that looked like we had Quan Cosby open with an all-out blitz for a touchdown. And we won all three phases of the kicking game.
I’m proud of our rushing attacks. We rushed for 364 yards. As much as that’s been discussed around here for the last couple of years, but it probably won’t be discussed a lot this week, we’ll probably go to something else. We had 545 yards of total offense, which was really good with the slow start we had.
Dallas Griffin was named one of the Draddy Trophy finalists for a national honor scholarship from the National Football Foundation (NFF), which is the highest academic award you can get as a college football player and he was also an outstanding player during the ballgame.
I’m proud of Jamaal (Charles). He has hung in there. He had a couple of very publicized tough plays at OU and he didn’t have as good of a second half at Baylor as he wanted, but other than that, he’s had a great year. He’s already gained more than 1,000 yards. In fact, I looked it up this morning, he’s passed Hodges Mitchell and Eric Metcalf in number of total career yards already in only his junior year at Texas, so he’s more than put his place in Texas history. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy have a better performance in a quarter much less a game. I’m really proud of him and hope that he’ll continue with that same confidence for the rest of the year. He’s got 2,700 yards in his career here and that’s a good start with a year and a half left.
The wide receivers had 13 knockdown (blocks) and that helped us with the explosive runs. On a day where they don’t get as many passes or the passing game is not going as smoothly, you’ve got to have some big knockdowns downfield to have 80-yard runs and they don’t get the credit for it, but it sure happened. So I’m proud of them and I’m also proud of Colt (McCoy). He had three explosive runs. I thought he was really patient and he showed a lot of leadership and toughness during the ballgame. We’re really, really proud of him. His record is now 17-5 and that’s a little bit skewed because he was ahead 7-0 when he came out at Kansas State (last year), so he’s really 17-4 as a starting quarterback. I looked back and Major Applewhite is 22-8, Peter Gardere is 25-16 and James Brown is 25-13, so Colt (McCoy) is also putting himself in a great place in Texas history.
We played well on defense Saturday. Especially in the third quarter when we were in some trouble there were about six three-and-outs in a row. When the ball was tipped by Nebraska’s defense and intercepted, (our defense) took it right back and gave it to our offense and they went 98 yards and scored in three plays. We only forced one turnover and we need to do a better job in that area. We felt like we’ve got to manage the end of the half and the start of the third quarter better than we have and really also the end of the game. The last drive we let them have some short passes and then (Nebraska) took it down and scored, so we may need to put more pressure in those situations.
Sergio Kindle had his best game, Derek Lokey and Frank Okam dominated the line of scrimmage and Brian Orakpo seems to be getting better every play.
Our punting game was really, really good. Justin Moore had three punts inside the 20 (yard line). One of the reasons it was a hard game to score was because Nebraska had four punts inside the 20 (yard line), so it was a field position game with a lot of wind. We missed the one field goal but we made three. And Hunter Lawrence had two or three touchbacks at a time in the game when it was really important.
Oklahoma State may be the most improved team in the country from the start of the season until now. They are just running up and down the field. They’re a fun offense to watch and it will be a great challenge for us this week. Mike Gundy has done a great job – probably as good as anybody in the country. We’ve always had great games with them. (Dantrell) Savage is running the ball really well and he’s one of the best rushers in the country. (Quarterback) Zac Robinson is taking over their offense and he’s running and throwing, so he’s really fun to watch. (Wide receiver) Adarius Bowman may be the best receiver in country; he’s leading in yards and he’s great player. Their rushing offense is number five in the country; they’re rushing for 256 yards (a game) and their total offense in number 10 in the country, gaining 487 yards and they’re scoring 35 points a game. Their defense blitzes 49 percent of the time, so we should have gotten a lot of work on that last week. This should be a week that we’re ready for more blitz. And (Oklahoma State’s defense) is very athletic and they’re one of the more athletic defenses that we’ll play.
Like us they’ve been kind of even in the turnover ratio, but they’ve only allowed seven sacks this year and I think that’s because they’re running the ball so well. It will be a great challenge for us and it’s an ABC game at 2:30 p.m., and our guys are excited because they know we’ve got a chance to finish really well here. This team has fought through a lot of adversity. We know the last three teams are really good and we’re going to have to play really well to win, and we’ve got to take them one at a time but the guys just continue to fight.
On the challenge of playing Oklahoma State: Well, they’re really good. And they’ve done a great job up there like (Texas Tech) and Kansas State, and every time you go on the road in the Big 12, it’s tough because the environment is tough. Also most of (Oklahoma State’s) kids come from Texas, so they’re excited about playing the Longhorns.
On seeing more road victories this year in college football: Well we are, and I saw something in USA Today a couple weeks ago that said only 60 percent of the home teams are winning now and that’s really down from 10 years ago, so I’m not sure why. A lot of kids feel more pressure at home than they do on the road and home crowds are getting tougher. You know you’re best fans travel usually because they’re pumped and a lot of them are usually parents. Home crowds don’t yell as much now as they used to and some crowds across the country, not just ours, boo more, so I don’t know if (playing at home) is as big of an advantage as it used to be.
On the benefit of having a close win against Nebraska: Anytime you win a hard game it’s better to me than a blowout. Everyone will be critical of how we played for three quarters this week and that helps our team. Media and fan driven negativity really motivates our team better than praise. It’s amazing to watch that for 10 years, but that’s really the truth. Everybody will be talking about how great Oklahoma State is this week and how we’re going to get beat and that’s a plus for us. Very few teams that are behind at halftime end up winning and very few teams that are behind at the third quarter ever win, and that’s what was so pleasing to me about this staff and about this team. We hung in there pretty well, and that’s a good thing because it helps your team, it helps your staff and it builds confidence. Come-from-behind wins are the best thing for a coach because you know your team believes that your staff can make adjustments and you know that your team is tough. It makes you feel so much better about a bunch when you know they can fight through and that helps you in life. It’s what this whole premise is – it’s not just about sports – it’s about overcoming adversity in life, kicking back and fighting through like we all do every day. It’s a great message to people across this state that when you get in trouble, you can fight out, and I thought that was the resilience that this team showed. We wouldn’t have done that during the beginning of the season, so this team has really grown up and we’re getting back a lot of things that we had three years ago that we lost after the National Championship for whatever reason.
On running backs coach Ken Rucker and Jamaal Charles: They’ve got a great relationship. And Coach Rucker has had a tough year too; he just overcame cancer and wasn’t even supposed to be out there (on the field). And I’m hard on Coach Rucker and I’m hard on Jamaal (Charles) when we’re not running the ball well, so they both really pleased.
On the team’s confidence: This team has been so resilient. They’ve had everything happen to them, people have been more negative over seven wins than I have ever heard before and there have been so many injuries. They haven’t gotten any credit for anything, so this is getting to be a tough team. They like each other and it kind of pulls the walls closer together. Nobody is going to give them any credit and that’s okay, we just hope they keep winning. They’re getting tougher and understanding what it takes to win. And like I said, most teams would have panicked and most coaching staffs would have panicked on Saturday because the game wasn’t going well – down 17-3 in the third quarter – but this is an experienced staff that hung in there with the players and the players trust the coaches. I thought it was a great win, and you don’t see that very much across the country.
On the look of the offense for the rest of the season: I don’t know. I haven’t talked to the offensive staff much about it this morning, but we’ve been a staff that has had to do whatever we needed to do to win. We’ve run for more than 200 yards (in a game) before this year, and Iowa State for example we knew Gene (Chizik) was going to stack the line of scrimmage so we threw (the ball) every time. We’re just into winning. This bunch isn’t good enough to just (throw or pass). We’ve got to be balanced and take what they give us and continue to work to just win. We are not consistently good enough to do anything except just keep fighting hard. If we play well, our last three (games) will come right down to the end because that is just the way this year has been.
On QB Colt McCoy: The thing that’s happening with Colt is that he’s running so much better. He’s scrambling and he’s making plays with his feet better. He handled the pressure of Nebraska better than he handled the pressure of Kansas State. He didn’t let it beat him down and get to him. He kept fighting back and ended up stronger in the fourth quarter than he was in the first. And we didn’t have any clue that (Nebraska) would (consistently blitz). They’ve never ever blitzed as much as they did. And Colt really hung in there with patience because it wasn’t an easy day for him, and he did a lot of it with his feet and that really helped us. And he showed that we can run zone-read with him and not just John Chiles and that really helps our offense, so we’ll continue to do it.
On WR Quan Cosby: Quan has been great. He’s a better leader than he is anything else. He’s a great leader to the other kids, he talks to them, he’s fun, he never panics and he never asks for the ball. I noticed he’s moving up on the charts as one of our top receivers in school history. And at the same time, he had a bunch of blocks on the long plays when Jamaal (Charles) ran down the field and he made a catch that you just don’t see on a regular basis. So he’s really a good player for us, and we’re very fortunate to have him.
On Oklahoma State blitzing 49 percent: We should have a better feel that they’re coming this week. We were ready for the blitz against Nebraska last week, but we just didn’t expect to see it every play. We had a drastic change in play selection in the second half from the first half just because they kept coming and coming. So our plan will be more for an all-out blitz this week, and when you have that, obviously you have to adjust during the ballgame.
On his 100th win: It has shown great consistency with a lot of good coaches and players over 10 years, and thanks to DeLoss (Dodds) and all those players. I’m going to try and get a letter out to every kid that’s played here during these 10 years to thank them for all they’ve done because it’s been a lot of hard work. There have been some tough games, but a lot of good games and super memories and it’s been fun, and for a guy who constantly sells team all the time, it would be really, really selfish for me to act like I had anything to do with it more than any other coach, any other player, or DeLoss, so it’s easy for me to understand that’s been a whole lot of people working hard.