Mack Brown Wednesday press conference: Nov. 14
Opening statement: It was a fun game on Saturday, and it was a great win for us giving us our ninth win. It was a fun way for our seniors to finish at home. I thought our fans gave them a great send off and they have given us some great memories in their four or five years here and it was a good way for them to finish. If you look at the game itself, if you don't care about defense, what a game it was with people running up and down the field, super plays and fun plays. It was good for ABC. It was something that the Texas-Texas Tech games usually come down to, with a lot of points and a lot of people knocking other people around. We tied the explosive plays 12-to-12 and that was good for us offensively, but they got too many offensively. We won the takeaway ratio two-to-one. We really did much better because we made four fourth-down situations, which are keeping possessions. We also ended up stopping them on fourth down, so there were really six or seven different possessions where we either got back or maintained, because of fourth down situations.
Offensively, it was a very good performance for us. We were balanced and we came out running the ball really well with Jamaal [Charles]. He's in a form right now that's the best I've seen him since he's been at The University of Texas. He's physical, running north and south, taking care of the football and running with a lot of confidence.
It was a really sad moment for us to lose Tony Hills for the year. It was a draw play where somebody fell into his back of his leg, and he has the fracture in his leg. Hopefully he will be back for the NFL Combine and still be a high-round draft choice. We do not think that will affect his draft status. But losing the core of your leadership in the offensive line with Tony and Dallas Griffin over the last two weeks made it very difficult in that huddle. But we are very proud that Buck Burnette came in and played so well. Chris Hall moved out to tackle, and he and Adam Ulatoski ended up being our two most valuable offensive linemen in the ball game because they played so well.
Jermichael Finley continues to play well. Vondrell McGee came in when Jamaal sprained his ankle and really stepped it up and continued to keep us on the field and keep us running the football well. Colt [McCoy] probably had his best game, not only in production but also in toughness and leadership. He just continues to get better each week in that area.
The wide receivers had an outstanding game blocking down field. That's something we're doing as well as we've done since 2004 now, and that's why we are having more explosive runs than we felt like we were having this time last year. Offensively, we had very few mistakes and we had four fourth down conversions, which against Texas Tech you need to in order to maintain the football. We had the ball for over 40 minutes.
Defensively, we tackled much better and we played with a lot of emotion. We had a fast start where the first series was a three-and-out. We held them on a fourth down stop on the goal line, which is like a turnover. We felt like the turnovers led to points. So we did a lot of good things on defense until about six minutes left in the game. It was like we felt like the game was over and defensively, we relaxed and did not play well for the last six minutes and we were very disappointed in the way that we finished. It also took away from the great performance they had through three quarters. With the ability of Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, you cannot relax. And we are not good enough right now to think that the game is over, and it made the game look closer than it should've been.
The kicking game was very productive for us. We had the fake field goal that lead to a touchdown and we had the sky-kick that was called by Oscar Giles and Larry Mac Duff that was on the ground and Curtis Brown got it, which led to points. We also recovered two on-side kicks and I think that [Texas Tech Head Coach] Mike [Leach] felt that with 5:51 left that he needed to on-side kick because they weren't stopping us. We understood that, but we scored touchdowns after both of those. There was only one punt for either team.
Oscar Giles is a father this morning. He and Kim had a baby girl last night. That's supposed to be good luck, I think.
The A&M game is one of the best rivalries in college football, especially in this state. It's about the state of Texas, the high school football in the state of Texas and it showcases our players. This game is a national TV game, so there are more highlights that show how the traditions around Thanksgiving in this state really are. It splits families. There is no question that there are a lot of people who don't speak for the next 10 days and don't enjoy their turkey. One way or the other, it's a game where people are very proud of both schools and we feel like there's a lot of respect from both schools. But we also know how important the game is. I felt like they were more physical than us in this ball game last year. It was very disappointing for us. They ran the ball for 277 yards last year and kept the ball for about 38 minutes. The year before where they ran the option, they kept the ball for about 35 minutes. The physical nature of the game last year was something that got our attention and we have to be much more physical this year than we were at this time last year.
Our guys get really excited about going to Kyle Field because of its history, its tradition and the great fan base that they have there. It's a fun game for us and a challenging game for us, but a place where they really enjoy going to play because they know how hard it is to win over there.
On if the Texas A&M game is a revenge game: We don't get into revenge situations. We're just trying to win number 10 and trying to see what's out there for us at the end. In fact, the kids have been really good because they know they haven't earned the right yet to be talking about anything after this ball game. The A&M game is really important to us and the history of the game shouldn't be something that reflects one hit at the end of a ball game. It's about something more important than that for all these kids.
On the physical toughness of Stephen McGee: Stephen was a great player in high school that we tried to recruit. He was a great passer and runner, and he has great feet. I think Jordan [Shipley] told me that he runs a 4.3 or 4.4, and he is really fast, faster than people would think at quarterback. He's done a great job for them and he's won a lot of football games. You go back and watch the Nebraska game; I think he rushed for a 167 yards. And you watch our game last year, the 98-yard drive to win the game was about him. You take him, Jorvorskie Lane and Michael Goodson, and they are really good at what they do. They also have three NFL prospects on the offensive line and they are a talented offensive football team.
On McGee running the ball more than he throws it: It just depends on what you are trying to do to win because he is a team guy. Even Colt [McCoy] this year knows that we have to run more than we did last year because of who we are, and he has taken that on his shoulders to win. So Stephen can throw it when he needs to, but they have been an option football team that's very physical and dominating the line of scrimmage and keeping the ball away from the other team. Their punter is very good, so they have been able to play the field position game and make it hard on other teams.
On how gratifying it is to see Jamaal Charles improve throughout the season: The reason that you coach is to see young people make progress and feel better about themselves. To have Jamaal have the expectations that he had to start the year, then have the tough games at Central Florida and against Oklahoma and have to endure some criticism, and be able to handle all of that, listen to his coaches, go back to work, not get angry and selfish that we played Vondrell McGee more, and now end up being one of the best backs in the country, it is really gratifying to see him so happy.
On the Texas A&M option attack being successful against Texas: >Well two years ago, we didn't think Stephen was going to play and that they weren't going to run the option. So we totally planned on something different and them throwing the ball. So we were grabbing and holding on there because we weren't talking about the option responsibilities. And last year, we didn't play very well. I thought they were more physical than we were and played better, and I don't know why. But it was disappointing. That was one of the more disappointing games we've had since we've been here because it cost us a chance to play Nebraska for the conference championship.
On if Texas A&M's rushing attack is different this year: No, they have a 295-pound running back, a guy who runs a 4.2 outside and a quarterback that runs 4.3, which is all good. They moved the ball so well against us last year with 277 yards rushing. I don't think they are going to change anything against us. What we'll have to do is to continue to improve and tackle better. This team has played great at times, and we still haven't played a full game as well as we can play as a team with all three phases, so that is our challenge for this team. It's not really about the other team, it's really about us, because we can still get better. The great thing about this team is that we're 9-2 and they've overcome so many things, but we still aren't where we need to be. There are a lot of things that can improve over now and next week. That's our goal this week, is to go back to our fundamentals and tackle and pursue better and don't have moments where you feel urgency. We can't have moments where we play great and then other moments where you don't play as well. We have to be consistently good for an entire game and that's where we are trying to get.
On Dennis Franchione: Dennis has done a great job while he has been at A&M and he is doing a great job coaching now and I have a lot of respect for what he has done. This time of the year, there are rumors about everybody. It used to be about football, recruiting season and the spring season and now we've added one where they talk about the coach. That's just part of the business. Dennis has a great staff and they have done a great job and we respect what they have done a lot.
On summing up the year: We started very poorly and we were inconsistent. We had a really good game against TCU and Rice. There were times that we played really well. We gave up way too many yards rushing to Central Florida. It was to a good back, but that didn't matter. Against Arkansas State, we had a chance to blow them out, but instead we just stood and watched, so we didn't finish the game offensively like we should have. Then you go to the two losses and we felt like we did some good things against Kansas State, but in the fourth quarter when we had to make plays, the two kicking game mistakes absolutely killed us and offensively, we fizzled. But since that time, we have been a pretty good football team. We played some good games and I think a lot of people put us in the casket, shut the top and put us down for dead, but this whole bunch keeps coming back. You really have to like the fact that your team keeps getting better and that they've hung in there, fought, and haven't given up. I didn't know who this team was, and we didn't have an identity early in the year. Right now, they are a scrappy team that's resilient, confident and still can improve, but they know that they can win. I'm really proud of them and the way that they've come back, and that is what life is about. We all have some bad days where we get knocked down, but the ones that get back up make it, and this team has gotten back up. I'm really proud of them.
On if the team's resolve is a reflection on him: Short-term winning is really important to us and to all of us. It measures how successful your team has been. For a coach and coaching staff, 10 years from now, the way the players are living their life and the lessons they've learned and the fact that they'll call you back or write you a note to say, "thank you" is really what you coach for. I know that sounds like coach talk and sounds phony, but it really is true. But one of the problems with losing is that you get fired and you can't be around the kids and help them. Another problem with losing is that the experience is not as good. It's harder to get the players to listen to you when you lose, and it's harder to teach them the lessons of life that you want. Somebody asked me on a teleconference interview if I was happy, and I've been happy for nine weekends and I've been upset for two. And even if you win an ugly game, you can fix it easier than when you lose. But when you lose, you lose part of yourself, your team, they lose a part of their confidence and part of their experience. I think if this team can win two more games, they win as many as the 2005 seniors, which is the most we've ever had. That's something they can carry for the rest of their lives. And what they have to understand is that they still have two more games. We'd hope three, but something has to happen for us to get into a third one. They have two more games to be remembered like this for the rest of their lives, and that's a tremendous amount of pressure on them. But life is about pressure. It's about how you handle your family and you handle the bad days in your life. Good days are easy, but handling bad days is what you have to do to make it and that's what this team has done. So there are no better lessons. I'd rather not have bad days, but that's unrealistic to think that they are not going to.