Mack Brown and his Monday press conference transcript
I’m so excited about the season starting on Saturday with Rice. I remember after the national championship game, [former Texas Rangers owner] Tom Hicks asked me to come up and throw the first pitch at the Rangers game against the Red Sox. And I’d never been to the opening day of professional baseball, and there was such a buzz, such excitement, and that’s the same way with college football.
I love our staff. They’ve been fun. They’ve had great ideas and tremendous energy through camp, and guys have been very competitive, but they’ve enjoyed working against each other. I feel like the players have bought into the new ideas. They’ve worked very hard. It could have been our best camp. Guys were very physical throughout, and we had very few injuries, and it looks like there’s a great possibility that everybody will be ready to go on Saturday night against Rice. Guys came back in great shape physically, and they worked hard in the 112degree heat index throughout the day, and I think it’s made them tougher mentally, as well. I’m very proud of the players, and I can’t wait to watch them play. It seems that they have good leadership to this point, and the chemistry on the team has been very, very good.
Finished camp strong, and the guys are formulating game plans today as we speak. So they did a few things yesterday. We had a light practice yesterday for about 45 minutes. We looked at Rice. We looked at the game plans, but now for the first time they’ll be focusing in on what we’re doing against Rice. And with, obviously the new offense, defense and some special teams changes, we’ll be in a position now where we’ll have to see how much of it we can get in and try to be good at when we start the game.
We’re releasing the depth chart today. I wouldn’t even have a depth chart until game time if it was up to me, but we have to release it for Rice. That’s just something that you do ethically in college football. Each Monday the two teams [ex]change their depth charts. But ours is very fluid. It’s probably changed more during the preseason practice this year than ever before, and we feel like that it can change again by Saturday. I will say that as you read the depth chart today that doesn’t mean these folks will start on Saturday. It just means that those are the guys right now that if we played today would be starting.
We’re really not worried about the starters near as much as we are the first 22 in each phase. We’ve been able to win a lot of games around here because of depth, and we feel like that is the key this year, as well. And this is our youngest staff we’ve ever had, but it may be the youngest team we’ve ever had, as well. And when you start looking at that, Coach Royal used to say something like, “If you’ve got young players, just hope they’re good and young. If they’re bad and young, you’ve got a problem.” If they’re talented and young, you’re in good shape, and we do have some very talented young players. In fact, if we were starting today, we’d be looking at 12 freshmen or sophomores as starters. Seven on offense and five on defense for the game on Saturday.
Finally, as they put these game plans together it won’t be about Mississippi State or Kansas or Georgia or Alabama [or] Boise. It’ll be the Texas offense and the Texas defense, and it should be very interesting because all the Texas schemes have changed much more than at any time in our past.
I’m really proud for [TE] Blaine Irby. What a story. He’s a young guy that two years ago got his knee hurt against Rice. Hurt to a point that he probably would never play again, and now he will go back and be a starter this weekend if things do not change between now and the game against Rice. So he’s gone full circle in these two years. He brings back a lot of maturity and leadership as he gets ready to play this weekend. I’m sure excited about him, and we all want to wish him well and know it’ll work out well for him because he’s worked so hard and he deserves that.
Got a tough three game out-of-conference stretch to start with. Rice came back and won their last two games of the season last year when their quarterback got healthy. They come in here with a lot of momentum, and the way we ended last year they’ll be excited about their chances of winning on Saturday. And then Brigham Young seems to be a great team. They’re looking forward to an outstanding year. They’ve got a great young quarterback that can throw, and we’ve got some young guys playing at corner. And then for whatever reason, we haven’t played very well against UCLA. They’re talented. They’re well coached. But last year they lined up and just physically whipped us. So that’s something that we’ve got to really focus on is not the conference at this point, [but] getting better as a team, working on our depth chart throughout the first three weeks, working on what we can get in out of our schemes, and not trying to get too much in but get enough that we can win with all the new stuff going on and try to have a good out of conference schedule.
We didn’t play well at home last year. It was interesting going into the last year we were 66 and 6 at DKR, and we had played so well here. At one time we won 20 straight. And then to come in and play like we did last year was very disappointing. So we need our fans to come back Saturday and give us a huge advantage at home. We’ve got to start a win streak at home again and get back on track because there’s no way in the world that you shouldn’t play well at home if you’re at the University of Texas and have 101,000 fans that are pulling for you.
[Rice head coach] David Bailiff is an good friend and an excellent coach that runs a multiple spread type offense. They’ll be up tempo with it. Sam McGuffie is a great running back that transferred in from Michigan and gave us some problems last year, and he gained nearly 1,000 yards [for the season]. They’ve got four fifthyear guys back on the offensive line, and the other guy is a junior. They’ll be multiple on defense. They’ll be a 43. They blitz about 20 percent of the time. They move all the time, and we’ve seen a lot of movement in practice, so that should help prepare us for Saturday. Most of their blitzing comes in the red zone. They did lose a great safety, Travis Bradshaw, with a careerending injury, but they have eight starters back on defense. And again, a defensive line with all seniors, so they’re experienced in both lines of scrimmage and have a great punter.
As far as the new rules are concerned, the wide receiver blocking rule has changed. If you’re outside of the tackle box, as such, and you’re blocking back toward the ball, you cannot block low. And that’s a safety rule, which should take care of some linebackers and the defensive backs playing inside. Even a cornerback that may be lined up in inside. If you’re head up, you can block the guy low. Anything inside of you anymore you cannot block low.
Secondly, one that concerns me a lot is the unsportsmanlike rule has changed now, and if the official thinks that any player going in to score has unsportsmanlike conduct, he will throw the flag and the penalty will be marked off from the spot of the flag. So if he scores a touchdown they’ll call it back, much like our Quan Cosby last second score in the Ohio State game at the Fiesta Bowl in the BCS. He knew it was man coverage. He dove across the in line. He was flagged. We got the penalty on the kickoff. Now, that play would be called back. There wouldn’t be a touchdown. The clock would be running. We didn’t have a time out left. We probably would have lost the game. So I think the officials are really going to have to do a great job of calling that penalty because they could very easily cost someone a game, and then go back on Sunday and say that it wasn’t a good call. So it has now become the most costly penalty in college football.
And lastly, before I open it up for questions, there’s a ten second runoff rule now right before the end of the half and at the end of the game. If you saw the Tennessee/North Carolina bowl game, there were some things that happened within the last seconds. Now at the end of the half or end the game, if you’re within ten seconds of the end of the game and you don’t have a timeout and the offensive clock is running and you either have 12 on the field or you have a motion penalty, the ten seconds will be run off and you’ll lose the game. So you will not have a chance to have another play.
So now strategically, we’re probably going to have to hold a timeout. So you’re probably going to use two per half and keep one in your pocket because if you have a timeout in your pocket and they say the ten second rule means the game is over, you can call timeout and save those ten seconds. Obviously, if there’s 18 seconds it goes down to eight. That’s going to be a rule to change all of us because you never know, you don’t plan on a motion call and it could definitely happen. And it’s only if the clock was running on the previous play. So even if the clock is running offensively and you get up to spike the ball and your formation is wrong or somebody jumps off sides and there’s nine seconds left, the game is over. And you don’t have an opportunity to kick your field goal unless you have a timeout in your pocket. So it’s a very, very difficult those two are very difficult rule changes. The other one makes it harder for the receivers to block because now if they’re blocking back inside on a linebacker. they’re going to have to stay up on a 230pound linebacker and that puts them in a more difficult spot.
As far as the depth chart is concerned, as I said, it’s changed. It’s changed daily more than at any time in my career, I think, not just here at Texas. And we have told the guys that we’re watching it very closely, and that this does not have anything to do with who will start on Saturday. It only has to do with if we played today who would start today. But the coaches are grading every play every day, and I think the players that you talk to today will tell you a lot of guys with some stripes and some great moments here have been put on second and third team. But we’ve got to make sure that we find those 22 in each of the three phases, and right now we do not have 22 that we feel like can line up and start for us in each of the three phases. We’re still working on that for Saturday.
Unlike in our past, we’ve normally practiced on Monday after an off day or the opening game of the season. We practiced light yesterday. We’re taking off today. We’ll have our regular Tuesday, our Wednesday [and] Thursday practice leading into the game on Saturday.
Kicking game is key in an opening ballgame because usually kicking game and turnovers determine the game, and with our turnover ratio last year, we have worked so hard to make sure we’re protecting the ball better and at the same time that we’re forcing turnovers on defense.