Nov. 23, 2009
Opening statement: I thought Saturday was our best senior day ever. I thought it was a wonderful moment after the game. I really want to thank our fans for staying. Hopefully we can make that at tradition at The University of Texas. I know the guys have to do their job, and I have to do my job, and I know we have to win the game, but I have never seen kids feel better about an experience, especially the last moment in Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. It is an amazing. I also felt like it makes it better for us that that they don't have to be emotional before the game when the folks treat them like that at the end. It was a great moment. I want to look forward to our seniors, and I want to thank our fans, and the other kids for letting our seniors finish, so well at home. It is something we want to see again.
I felt like we were ready to play. We dominated the game against Kansas. Since halftime of OU, we've been a really good football team. We've still got some things we need to work on. We haven't played our best game yet, but we've shown pieces of being a great team, but we've just got to continue to work to put those together. Colt's numbers since halftime of OU are phenomenal. I am glad he became the winningest college quarterback in college history Saturday. That takes a lot of pressure off of him and the team, and now he can go ahead and have fun and play. But if you look at how he has played over the past five games, he's completed 130-of-169 passes for 76.9 percent, which is about what about what he was last year, (and) 1,487 yards. He's throwing for around 300 yards a game, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. That worked out to be 171.9-pass efficiency rating. He also rushed, not counting sacks, has rushed 35 times for 146 yards and that gives him 4.2 yards per carry. He's led the team on 30 scores in 47 drives, 64 percent of the time and 23 of those have been for a touchdown. For his career, he's still completing 70.9 percent and that still ranks at the top of the NCAA. He and Vince are the only two quarterbacks in Texas history to have back-to-back 11-win seasons. If he can add a 12th, which we hope he does soon, he will be the only quarterback in Texas history to lead his team to back-to-back, 12-win seasons.
We feel like this team is having fun. Whatever pressure the team had at the first of the year that was on them, they seem to have that off. They are relaxing and really enjoying each other, and enjoying playing. Our defense played hard Saturday night held the opponent to 13 points. They stopped the run really well and had six sacks. So forcing the sacks against a good mobile quarterback was really, really impressive.
In our kicking game, we did a good job with the kicking return. We blocked a punt; we had a good punt return. Our extra point field goal team was 100 percent with six extra points and three field goals. Offensively, we were 65 percent successful in our running game. We converted on 9-of-15 third downs and really we kind of sat on the ball at the end of the game. Really we were 100 percent in the red zone.
I thought the whole team finished much better. We didn't really like the second half against Baylor even though there were a lot of young guys in there. Everybody that played Saturday night played better the second half. This will be our 80th straight TV game, 11 out of 12 times this year, we've been on some type of national TV. This will be great exposure of the state of Texas and high school players in the state. Because everybody who watches college will be watching this game. We have only had 11-plus wins seasons six times in 117 years, so these guys are making it a special season for all us. Only three times in school history have we ever been 11-0. We have never had consecutive 12-win seasons back-to-back, so once again, they have the chance to do something special. We lead the nation in scoring differential. We are averaging 42.5 points per game, only giving up 13.2. These seniors have won 43 games. The record by the '05 and '08 seniors is 45, so they've still got some work to do.
The things we thought we needed to work on even though we had a big victory - our kickoff return coverage was inconsistent. We missed nine tackles on kickoff coverage. Sometimes it happens when you get guys banged up and are playing different guys out there or you're playing some guys who are a little tired, but we've got to do a better job in that area. We only punted once, and it was an average punt and we covered it poorly. We didn't do a good job in that phase either, and we thought we gave up too many big plays on defense. We gave up a 33-yard play on third-and-18. We gave up a 39 and a 47-yard play. We still need to force some more turnovers. The offense lost some turnovers and had some breakdown in the protection, but overall we felt like it was a good ball game for us.
The BCS and the rankings really haven't changed. We've still a great window of opportunity here because we control our own destiny. We have to continue to play hard and we felt like sewing up the Big 12 South title really takes a lot of pressure off of this week, so we can go play and enjoy the game. It is a national game, a rival game again. It is important regardless of the records of the two teams and what's at stake. This lets us focus on this game and not look at all the other stuff around us.
Injury status right now, Ben Wells is out along with Clark Ford, Mason Walters and Calvin Howell will continue to be out. Aaron Williams and John Chiles will continue to be day-to-day. D.J. Monroe's status has not changed because we do not have any more information than you do or we did last week. We will ask our guys if we can go ahead and start looking at our juniors for NFL evaluation. Any junior that is interested, we will send in the forms for them. They will have to fill it out and get their evaluations back. We are proud that our guys are getting in the mix for several of the top awards in the country.
On playing in College Station: I think away games are more difficult than home games. I don't think it's more difficult to play there than at Kansas State, or (Texas) Tech or Oklahoma State. You go anywhere in this league, it's a tough deal. It's hard anywhere we go. We've probably played as well there as we have others. The 2007 team didn't play well a lot of places. Two weeks before up in Stillwater, we were down 35-14 in the fourth quarter, so that team was more used to ups and downs than this team. This team has been a really good road team, and the only time we had issues was with food was in 1999, and we quit eating there. We've learned since then. We would have handled it differently.
On emotion in 1999 and now: I don't think it will affect these kids now. They were 10-11 years old and probably don't remember a lot about it. I thought the '99 team; I probably didn't help our team very much because I was so emotional about it. Everything Thanksgiving for the rest of my life I will pray for those families and friends of the ones that lost their children and friends. You never get over that in my estimation. You move forward maybe, but you don't forget it. You don't ever just say, "Oh, I am fine. I've moved on." That is just a mistake to think that you can do that. I have to think that every Thanksgiving, those family members go back after this horrible tragedy and hopefully have good memories of their children, too. But as a parent at that time, it really shook me up. As I said many times, I wasn't even sure we should have played the game that year. Maybe it all worked out better for the families because there was some celebration. We will not talk about it as a team. Some people say (Texas A&M) will play better because it is the 10th anniversary, but they are going to play good anyway. This is the Texas and Texas A&M game. Sometimes, we all look for these reasons when we play good. It's enough. These kids want to win and that's really important for all of us.
On senior night: That is one reason why I was so happy Saturday night is that the guys had a wonderful experience at home. They played better on the road this year than they have played at home, so they were really looking forward to the challenge of a big crowd on the road. They had fun in Stillwater because it was the largest crowd in the history of their stadium. Going to Missouri was fun, their crowd and school history. We had a great crowd up at Baylor. I think it was one of their top four crowds in their history. I think this is a team that has just enjoyed that challenge and I don't think there is any more fitting way for them to finish this season than for them to be challenged in College Station on Thursday night.
On Texas A&M at home and on the road: Mike (Sherman) is doing a great job. The games have been on the road and when they had some turnover problems and had some bad things happen early in ball games. When you watch them, they played great at Tech, and they have come home and played well all year. The game you look at is Oklahoma State. That was an even ball game in College Station right until the end. I think Mike has done a great job.
On how different they look: Which is the good one Jekyll of Hyde. They will be Jekyll Thursday night. We won't see Hyde. Hyde goes away. They are talented. They've got tremendous skill, and they continue to get better each week. I think it showed they way they dominated Baylor last week. They can run it and beat you and they can pass it, which gives them the balance that can make it tweaked.
On tradition of the Texas-A&M rivalry: I really admire them because they have so much pride. What Sally and I learned when we got to Texas, what we learned about Texans, is that they really love their state. They are really proud of what they have. That is something that not every state has. We also learned that they care about their families and that Texans are tremendous parents. I have never seen kids hang out with parents as much as I have in this state. It is just amazing. We have never seen the state flag out as much as we see the Texas state flag. At The University of Texas, we have a lot of traditions that we love. Some people might think sticking two fingers up instead of saying hello is strange. We don't say hello anymore, you do "hook'em." Same thing for A&M. The traditions at these two universities are important. They are very prideful. I'd give both universities credit. Not coming from Texas. I give a lot of credit because there are a lot of schools around the country that wish they had the pride of these two schools and that's what makes the game so special on Thursday night. I think it's also a chance, not only to showcase high school football in the state of Texas, we'll showcase these two institutions and these two universities and the difference in the rivalries between the others you see, (is that) these two schools have respect for each other. They pick at each other and they make fun of each other. There will be a lot of burnt orange in the stands in the Aggie section. It's because they are married to each other. They have kids at both schools. So it is a fun week. It is a week where people pick and each other, but it is still about the state of Texas.
On pressure for the Texas A&M game: We do feel like that at times, there has been a tremendous amount of pressure for this game like 2005, for whatever reason since OU, we didn't handle it well. We were beating people and having big scores, but we weren't playing like we were having fun. I've talked to Urban Meyer some about that. Once you get in the locker room, you sigh and go, "Phew. Got another win. Gosh I am glad no body got hurt," and start thinking about next week. You forget to have fun and that's another reason I got to see them have some fun Saturday night. But really since the second half of OU, they have turned it loose and have really enjoyed this the whole time. They are relaxed. They are having fun. This morning's practice was unbelievable with the spirit. I thought that coming off of Saturday night, we might be kind of tight. We did ask them how many of them wanted to play in the NFL. And of course all of them raised their hand, and I said the Cowboys played Sunday and they have to play before you, so if you want to play in the NFL, don't talk about short weeks. I don't want to hear it. I really think that now they get the deal. I think this group really matured last year when they saw what happened. We didn't play as well as we needed to at (Texas) Tech. We lost control of our destiny and the system does crazy things. We're sitting around trying to figure out what the Colorado-Nebraska game and what the Kansas-Missouri game means to us. That's more difficult when you're sitting there hoping that you don't have a dog in that fight and you're hoping one of those teams wins. Someone told me a late field goal by Nebraska to beat Colorado might have knocked us out last year. I can't even figure out who to pull for anymore when you get there, so you'd rather just win.
On how to prepare with a shorter week: Everything is quicker, and we tell them to get in bed. We're telling them we want to see them in the morning because we are trying to get them further away from game day, so you can rest more from Wednesday morning to Thursday night. That is more of the change, and they have Monday afternoon classes, so we couldn't have practiced anyway. We also feel like our coaches worked on this game plan year round. That was not much of a change. The same staff that was there last year is here this year. We have all of the films broken down. It is more of a change of the coaches because you don't get Monday, you don't get really Monday and Friday, so they were over here early yesterday morning and late last night and then got back this morning around 4:30 or 5, so it is probably a bigger change for them than the players. I think the players like it because a day off rests their bodies and minds. A day like this will allow them to have Thanksgiving at home, so they'll actually be at home Friday and Saturday and will come back Sunday to get ready for the (Big 12) Championship game. So if we were playing Saturday, they would actually have no Thanksgiving. I think they'll like it more than the coaches.
On TCU: I know Gary very well and like him as a friend and respect him as a coach. I think he is as good a football coach as there is in the country right now. When we played them two years ago, they were really good and watching them this year they are really good. They can run, they're going to play great defense, and able to put pressure on the passer and will be really balanced on offense. They should be able to run the ball and play action to get it deep and Gary is excellent in the kicking game. I think TCU better pay him a whole bunch of money to make sure he stays. I think he is as good as anyone in the country.
On second half of the Oklahoma game: That game is so huge around here because in the past few years the team that has won that game has a chance in the end here and has a chance for some really big stuff. We really split it into three seasons, and the A&M game is the last of our third four-game seasons, but really and truly, our season is kind of set up before OU and after OU. It restarts both our teams because they are on the national scene so much and I do think when you get that one behind you, and we hold things for that game, the kids knew it and we knew it. I think it was just a restart of the season and since then; they have had fun and played well.
On it being easy to motivate players for rivalry games: This is a game where they know each other. The problem with this week is they know each other and they text each other all through the week and talk to each other all the time. Out of all the other games we play, they have more buddies on the A&M team than any of the others, so they pick at each other like family. So you have to be careful that it doesn't get chippy during the week. I think we had a penalty one year over there and (former Texas A&M RB Courtney) Lewis ran the ball and they didn't make a first down. Vince (Young) was coming out and slapped him on the helmet, and it was his teammate from high school, and he was picking at him, and the ref threw the flag on Vince and Vince said, "Coach I just said hey big boy, you didn't make it. I didn't say anything rude to him. We're best friends and hang out after the game." It is that kind of week. We like their staff. Mike Sherman, I've got great respect for him. My gosh, he coached Brett Favre and he's won games for the Packers, and he's been a tremendous offensive coach for years and now he is a head coach. He's done a great job and we're really excited about it. Both teams need to be good in order to get publicity for the state of Texas. I always thought there's enough good football in this state that we should have good programs like Florida, Florida State and Miami had all at one time. At least three out of the four teams in the state are in the top 15 and the top 10. It would be fun to see it become that way again.
On the Texas A&M QB Jerrod Johnson: It all starts at quarterback. He's tall. He's smart. He's fast. He's accurate as a passer. I think he is completing 60 percent of his passes for 24 touchdowns and maybe five interceptions. He hasn't thrown many. He can beat you with his feet and if you have a quarterback that can beat you with his feet, then it changes your pass rush technique and it changes your ability to blitz because he can get free. You saw Saturday night, Todd Reesing has great feet. It just amazes me how he ducks and dodges. He's like a little gunslinger. He can throw it from the hip and can be so accurate with it. This young man has a lot of the same. He is very impressive.