Mack Brown Monday press conference: Nov. 5
Opening statement: It was just a great game for spectators and it was really similar to all the games weíve had with Oklahoma State since weíve been at The University of Texas. I looked at it a couple of times last week and weíve talked about the games in Stillwater and the games here have been the same. Itís been a 17-15 game here, a 37-34 game here in our first year and then our big comeback that was 56-35. For whatever reason, the games between these two teams have been fabulous and weíve been fortunate enough to come out on the better end in each one of the games. Give Oklahoma State a lot of credit, I think they are a team to be reckoned with in the future. Mike Gundy has done a great job and theyíve got great players. They are still a little thin on defense, so they get out some because they donít have a lot of substitution situations. But they do a great job with their offense. They move the ball and those receivers are big time players. Their tight end was bigger than anybody we had. Their running back is a good player and their backup running backs are great players. So theyíve really done a great job with their recruiting as well.
Their facilities are super and their new stadium looks great. Boone Pickens has really helped them get on the map with their facilities and thatís why they are recruiting better players than ever before. Their fans treated us really well. Iíve never been in a situation where we ate on the training table Friday night before the game of the opposing team. Mike Holden came up and welcomed us and just greeted our football team. They are doing a great job in a lot of different ways.
I am concerned for coaches, fans and staff members after ball games that are really close like that. It was a nasty scene and a dangerous scene on the field after the game where the students were throwing bottles at our players and the security. Iím really worried about it. Weíre going to have a kid get hurt or a coach or a fan, unless we get control of after-game scenes. Itís not just Oklahoma State, it was like that at Kansas State last year and itís been that way at Texas Tech some. I really hope that we donít have a tragedy before somebody in college sports steps up and takes control of the mass crowds and anger after a close game, or even if it had been a great win, it probably would have been the same way. But itís the first time in my 10 years that we could not stand and sing, ďThe Eyes of Texas,Ē with our band without trying to get our players to put their helmets back on. A cheerleader got hit in the head with a bottle and the officers were ducking and it really was a dangerous scene. I hope someone will step up and take the bull by the horns and actually understand that we have a problem after sporting events, whether it is in a gym after a great upset or whether itís at a football game, somebody should be controlling the crowds better and somebody should be on the field making sure we donít have people out on the field during that time. And if we lose a kid, a coach or a fan, then weíll address it, but I just hope itís done before that. And again, thatís not about Oklahoma State. Just about every time weíve been upset on the road, itís happened. A Marshall coach got fired because of it a couple years ago, and there were a couple of students at a Nebraska-Missouri game as well. Last year at Kansas State, it was really dangerous. I do think itís something that needs to be addressed and I hope that people in much more powerful positions than mine will start looking at it.
Again, the game was a great game and itís just amazing that in the last five years, weíve outscored Oklahoma State 41-0 in the second half in 2003, 42-0 in 2004, 35-0 in 2005, last year was a kickoff return and 16-0, and this year was 24-7. This was the first offensive touchdown that Oklahoma State scored against our defense in the second half since 2003. And again, weíll talk about our defensive problems in the first half a little bit later, but our guys have played amazingly well in the second half in this ball game.
In the three biggest comebacks weíve had this year, we rushed for only 57 yards against TCU going into the fourth quarter and we had 119 yards in the fourth quarter and thatís what we thought turned the game. Against Nebraska, we had 116 yards rushing going into the fourth quarter, and we had 248 yards in the fourth quarter. Saturday, we had 141 yards rushing going into the fourth quarter, and we had 166 yards in the fourth quarter. So beating the other team down, wearing them out with the no-huddle offense, and the ability to stay on the field in the second half has really helped us as we continue to get better with this offensive football team through the year. Conditioning toughness, our ability to throw a lot of players out there with depth and the confidence the team is gaining now in fourth quarters really helps our no-huddle offense.
The offensive line maybe played its best game. We had the turnovers in the first half and early second half that kept us from scoring early, but the offensive line did a great job. It was led by Charlie Tanner and he had his best football game. Dallas Griffin continues to play well. He will be here today to talk to you, but he is lost for the season. He hurt his other knee, and not the one he got operated on. His other is hurt and itís a real sad thing for him. But heís one of the top 15 student-athletes in the country and heís had a great career here and heíll be a leader for us. We were fortunate that Buck Burnette and Chris Hall came in and did a good job, because when you lose your center, heís the quarterback on the field, he calls all your fronts and your snaps. We had three on the ground, so weíll have to continue to work in that area, but thank goodness for Chris Hall and Buck Burnette, weíll just have to play better. But Dallas has had a great career, and like Limas [Sweed], they wonít be out there for senior day to play. Theyíll be here, but itís a tough end to both of those college careers.
The wide receivers and tight ends blocked down field really well. We had 16 explosive plays, which is just amazing in a ball game. We think that nine is a good game. So those guys continue to make those plays. We did drop a few balls with our receivers, which is something we havenít been doing, and one of the interceptions was a ball knocked loose from a receiver, and the other interception we thought the receiver couldíve taken it away or batted it down. So two of Coltís three interceptions, we didnít feel like were his fault. They were thrown to the right place and thrown well, and the first one got out of his hands on the blitz and hit them in chest, which seems to be something that we should start doing against Oklahoma State, is to get the first two interceptions for touchdowns out of the way, and just do it the first two plays of the game so we get everything established, that it is an Oklahoma State-Texas game and then we go from there (laughing).
Vondrell McGee continues to get better. He had a great run out in the field and he makes two runs on short-yardage and goal line that were really significant runs. I thought the one on 4th-and-1 when we were down 21-0, I think, that was a great run. He got hit in the back field and continued to go forward for the first down. Jamaal [Charles] has had an amazing two weeks. He is now at 2,900 yards rushing and with 330 more yards, he will pass prolific rushers in our history like Roosevelt Leaks, Vince Young and Chris Gilbert, which is just absolutely amazing. Heís got his confidence, heís going north and south, heís protecting the football, and heís become a force to be reckoned with in this offense.
Jermichael Finley had a big day on Saturday. Heís eight catches away from passing Kerry Cash and Bo Scaife and heíll tie Bo Scaife and his six years only after being here for two years in receptions for a tight end. So he and Jamaal will have great places in our history when they great through at The University of Texas.
Colt McCoy is only behind Vince [Young], Major [Applewhite] and Chris [Simms] for total yards for a single season, and he is having a great year. His numbers donít look good with the interceptions, some of them are his fault, some of them are protection and about half of them are tipped balls or dropped balls or balls going through hands. He has been very unfortunate in those areas. But he has also passed Vince Young for career touchdown passes. With 45 late in his sophomore year, Vince only had 44 for his career, James Brown had 53, Chris Simms 58 and Major with 60. Colt is well on his way to breaking our all-time touchdown pass record at The University of Texas. He already has 18 wins and Vince had 30 in his career here. So again, we see that Colt is doing a lot of things. His five fourth quarter comebacks are just unbelievable for what he has accomplished.
This offense will probably be the highest scoring and will definitely have the most explosive plays in our 10 years here except for the 2005 year. What we are not doing is forcing as many turnovers as we want and weíre having too many turnovers. Weíre negative in this time of year and thatís the only reason why this team is probably not undefeated, when you go back and look at what we needed to accomplish to get better.
Defensively for three quarters, we were very disappointed. We missed tackles for 157 yards and we only had one takeaway, which was a great strip by Roddrick Muckelroy, but we didnít even get points out of it. We gave up 35 points in three quarters and we played poorly going into the half and we played poorly coming out of the half. You can give them the advantage of the week off and changing some things offensively, but weíve got to play better on defense than we played for three quarters.
The two guys that turned it around for us in the fourth quarter were Derek Lokey and Frank Okam. Itís amazing when people look at a ball game and say they gave up 35 points and played poor on defense, maybe one or three guys played poor. These two guys played the best game theyíve played at The University of Texas. They dominated the line of scrimmage and they started stopping the running game with penetration and putting pressure on [Oklahoma State quarterback] Zac Robinson. So the two seniors stepped up and took over and just changed the complete attitude in the fourth quarter. They had four straight stops and helped us win the ball game. Weíve got to get better against Texas Tech because they throw the ball as well as anybody in the country.
In the kicking game, give them credit, because they had four balls within the 15-yard line that were killed. But give credit to our offense for having 99- and 91-yard drives in the fourth quarter, which is amazing. Thatís two weeks in a row weíve had a 99, 98 and 91-yard drive for touchdowns. But their punter did a great job of keeping us backed up with field position. We did a better job punting than weíve done but we only got them inside the 15 one time though. So field position was a key for them, so that hurt us. Ryan Bailey has been amazing. I donít think anybody in their stadium or at home thought that he would miss that field goal. He just walked out there and kicked it straight through. In fact, we thought that they would use their timeout, which was smart they didnít because we were thinking they would. Ryan even said after the game to me that he looked over to see if they blew it or if he called it right when he kicked it, because he figured he would have to kick it twice. That just shows you the confidence that he has. But last week, he was significant with his field goals and getting us back in the game and this week he won us the game with a last second field goal.
I thought Larry Mac Duff and Oscar Giles did a great job of changing up our kickoff strategy and philosophy by going with sky kicks. We had the ball on the ground three times and nearly got all three of them, and they called a fair catch at their own 20. They are really explosive with their kicking game, so we thought that was a huge break for us and Hunter Lawrence kicked them really well and it changed field position. And it was another game where we got no breaks, none what-so-ever. So we felt like we overcame a lot on the road.
Texas Tech has done a great job with Mike Leach and Graham Harrell is another in the line of great quarterbacks at Tech, and they throw the ball as good as anybody in the country, or the best, and they do it each week. Michael Crabtree just broke a freshman record for receptions and he is just an amazing football player. Ruffin McNeill is a guy known for a long time as their defensive coordinator and he is doing a great job with their defense after their change after the Oklahoma State game and they basically shutdown Baylor last week. I think they held them to 280 total yards. Itís another in-state game where a lot of our players know their (players) and a lot of friends are involved. It should be great for senior day. It will be a game that should come down to the end like the last two, I think thatís what this team is going to do.
Weíve asked our team to start faster and theyíve refused to, so I guess weíll just have to go to something else. They just play better in the second half. I guess weíll just have to start the game faster by telling them itís an 11:30 game.
On if he knew when the momentum switched to Texas: I thought when they ran the reverse on 4th-and-3 and we got them for a 10 yard loss, thatís when I thought our guys knew that it was for real because we werenít making any stops. There were wide open guys, we were missing tackles, and we werenít getting any pressure on them. And for us to win to match them, we thought we would have to match them offensively for a while, but we werenít doing that because of the turnovers. So our offense got hot and with that stop, I thought that sent a message to our bench and our team that we were okay, so letís keep going. The mind is a powerful thing, and I do think our kids thought that we would win the game. But sometimes it can be dangerous. It can be if you think that they are ahead and that weíre going to be fine. You can run out of time or not make a play, but I thought that was the play in my estimation that turned the game.
On what changes he will have to make against Texas Tech: Today is the day to regroup and start over. We get a semi-injury report yesterday but a lot of times they will have to wait to see doctors today and get MRIs and get checked out. So we really wonít know until the morning tomorrow who will even be able to practice tomorrow.
On Deon Beasley: We think that Deon needs to play more. I think he was the difference in that ball game when he came in. Their two receivers are as good as anybody in the country and their tight end is as well. You take those three guys and they are huge. Their receivers were blocking our linebackers some. Bowman is probably 225 or 230 pounds and can run a 4.4, I mean that guy is amazing. Dez Bryant is the same way, they are just huge. So we knew we had some mismatches there, but Deonís play at the end of the game on Bowman where he times it perfectly and jumps up and strips it out of his hands, I thought was another game changing play on the third down that really helped us get back in it. But Deon is really growing up and heís maturing and getting more confidence and weíll probably have to play 14 defensive backs with the way they have been throwing it. But yes, he does need to play more in our estimation and heís been doing very well.
On the defensive backs being one of the main focuses in practice this week: Yes, weíve given up too many big plays in the last two weeks. Weíve done a better job of that up until the last two weeks. I think Nebraska threw for 405 yards against Kansas, so both of these teams are really good. And at Texas, we have a disease where we donít give credit to the other teams. So I have to look at that too. They give scholarships at Oklahoma State and Nebraska and theyíve got good players, but at the same time, we just canít have people wide open. And when we go back and look at it, when there is a deep pass that is wide open, it is always blamed on the defensive back. It could be that weíre not getting enough pressure on the quarterbacks, nobody else really has on Oklahoma State, but we didnít either. We didnít get pressure on Nebraskaís quarterback and we only had one sack. It could be, like in the Nebraska game, our linebackers werenít getting their hands on their receivers and letting them get downfield and too deep. So the guy should not have been in the middle of the field that easily and quickly and itís underneath stuff. So there are a lot of things that happen and the finger goes to the guy standing back there that runs to go tackle him after heís wide open, but itís much more complicated than that. Weíre not pleased, the defensive backs are not pleased, the defense isnít pleased and the defensive coaches arenít pleased that we gave up too many yards, and weíll have to play better than that against Tech. Tech gets their yards against you if you play great, and if you donít play great, theyíll score a million.
On Graham Harrell: Graham is a great player and he is a coachís son. His dad is one of the great high school coaches in the state. In fact, walking back with Jordan Shipley, who did really well on Saturday again in getting well and is helping us, he and Derek Lokey were walking and I asked them if theyíve talked to Graham and that we were going to talk to him right then. Thatís one of the things that happens this week, is that the kids go back and forth and thatís what makes this game so emotional.
On the importance of the running game against a passing team: Itís very important. Time of possession is important. We thought those things this week against Oklahoma State, and it did make a difference in the fourth quarter. We looked up at halftime and they had the football for 54 plays to our 29. And when you turn the ball over and donít have three-and-outs, youíre not going to touch the ball. And that happened in that ball game and thatís one of the things that canít happen in that ball game. We flipped it in the second half, and we were just so far behind in field position that you canít let your defense stay out there for 54 plays in a half. Oklahoma State had the ball for 87 plays and if youíre not careful, Tech will do the same thing. The two times that Tech has beaten us, both times they had 90-something plays. You cannot let them have that many plays. You have to force some turnovers. Theyíre going to get their yards and their points, and they never get shutout because they are just too good. So your players have to understand that when they make a good play, you just understand it and go to the next one. But at the same time, we have to do a better job with staying on the field offensively.
On Michael Crabtree: What scares you to death is that he looks like the two at Oklahoma State. He is big, strong and we donít have anybody in our secondary that looks like him. I mean he is big and a great blocker and he just knocks you down. He is just like [Nebraska wide receiver] Maurice Purify. Brandon Foster had Purify covered perfectly in the end zone but heís only up to about his chest. And thatís what Michael does, and they just get the ball to him so quickly and he is a strong runner after the catch. Youíve got to try to keep these guys in front of you and then youíve got to tackle them really well when they catch the ball. You have to try to turn it into a physical football game, because if we tackle as poorly as we did last week, weíll have a lot of problems.
On his scheme going into this week against Texas Tech: Well Oklahoma State is fifth in the country in rushing and what they did was totally change it against us and threw it every time. They threw for 430 yards and we managed their rushing game pretty well. Itís just that we mustíve thought that passes werenít legal, because they threw it up and down the field. Tech will hurt you with screens and draws. They arenít going to run it much, but unless you can stop their ďrushing gameĒ theyíre really going to hurt you with both their passes and screens and draws. If you can make them throw it down field, then you have a chance, but if they can stay balanced against you, they are going to give you a fit. Mike Leach has done an amazing job. Weíve all studied and looked at it, and I donít know how they do it. They throw it better than anyone in the country and they do it every year, and no matter who their quarterback is, they always throw it really well. You have to give Mike Leach credit, if there is such a thing as an offensive genius in our business. I wouldnít think that if you went to West Texas with all that wind and threw it every play, and heís done it and made it work.
On if Texas Tech has changed their offensive scheme: They havenít changed it at all, and itís exactly the same. Thatís what makes you mad because every year you look at it, itís the same plays, and they just put in different guys. They are really good. I saw Wes Welker last night (playing for the New England Patriots) and it made me nervous just watching the game.
On Chris Hall: The Chris Hall that you see is every day. He is amazing. I saw a shot of him after the game and he was saying, ďIsnít this fun?Ē Chris had originally committed to Oklahoma State but when Les Miles left, he changed his mind. He got a big hug from me after the game as he was leaving. Chris Hall is one of the reasons that we are winning. He and Colt McCoy, Quan [Cosby], Jamaal [Charles], and these kids have been so resilient. Theyíve been scrappy, tough, and it hasnít been pretty all the time, but they always think they are going to win and they are amazing to me. You are disappointed in all the obvious things that went wrong, but what you are proud of is the attitude and confidence of this team is so different from the Kansas State fourth quarter, and that makes you feel good as a coach. If you can get the attitude turned, the confidence and the ability to keep fighting and clawing and scrapping for a ball, then you have a chance and that is what this team has done. They give themselves a chance every week because of their attitude and not because of what weíve done.
On what he wants to see be done about the fans after close games: The most dangerous thing to me is the fans on the field after a game. I think itís dangerous for fans, and I know itís dangerous for coaches and players. Iíve been amazed at the character of some of our players not hitting fans that were drunk and pushed them leaving the field after the game. In fact, the security was nervous about me, because a lot of fans run up to the coach and push him. Iíve had people spit in my face, Iíve had people push me and tear my clothes, and I think itís out of control. I know the SEC is trying to do something by fining people at basketball and football games. Iím not sure if I wouldnít put a huge fine on. We all say we canít control it, but thereís nothing we canít control in life. We have to take strict measures to do it. With the students throwing bottles, I guess you have to put security up there and arrest them if they do. I know this, if a football player hit somebody after a game, heíd fined, heíd be suspended, and heíd be arrested for assault. And for kids to throw those bottles at our kids, and the officers and be able to walk out of there with nothing happening to them, people arenít treated the same. I think if you make a mistake, you should be punished for it and most kids make mistakes, no matter who they are.