November 14, 2010

Mack Brown says he may have made mistake with Iowa St. rant

1. Mack Brown said after Saturday night's 33-16 loss to Oklahoma State that he may have caused the team to tighten up after he "jumped" the players and coaches after the Iowa State game.

And that the team may be playing uptight as a result of that.
Texas has now lost four straight at home in one season for the first time since 1956.

"We said, 'Let's go four downs and not kick any field goals. Let's make sure we attack it because after they relax in the second half, even last weekend, they play better.'

"I don't know why they are just coming out so tight. I don't know what that is. Probably when I jumped them after Iowa State. Maybe I made a mistake jumping them too hard, and they've been uptight since."

2. Players had different responses to Mack Brown's statement.

"I think there's a difference between offense and defense on that," said junior safety Blake Gideon, who led Texas with 13 tackles. "On defense, I don't feel like you can ever get uptight.

"I don't think there's such a thing as trying too hard on defense because defense is all about effort. So I can speak for the defense and say we've prepared hard and played hard, and we're not going to have to be convinced to work hard these next two weeks."

Said James Kirkendoll (4 catches for 71 yards), "I think there was a point where we were a little uptight. But I think we're past that now. I don't think we have much to lose to be uptight. We're playing hard. We're just not making the key plays offensively and defensively. We just have to pull together as a team and finish this thing the right way.

"I think people were thinking too much and overdoing it instead of going out there relaxed and playing. But I think we're doing a better job right now. All we can do is keep working, go to practice and finish this right."

3. The Texas defense got blasted, allowing Oklahoma State to convert 10 of 16 third-down conversions. There was another big-play touchdown given up - on a 67-yard TD pass from Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon.

OSU finished with 532 total yards, a 100-yard rusher (Kendall Hunter had 116 yards and 2 TDs, 5.0 ypc) and a 100-yard receiver (Blackmon had 9 catches for 145 yards and his long TD).

"We tried to mix it during the game," Will Muschamp said. "They're very fast. You've got to stop the run. They're very balanced. We mixed it up through the game. That's what you've got to do against those kinds of offenses."

Texas DE Sam Acho said after the game he though the UT defense played "great."

"We're going to have another great week and play better than we ever have," Acho said. "Everybody's all in. We're all dedicated, passionate and determined. We're going to find a way."

4. The game seemed to turn on a 67-yard TD pass from Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon in the second quarter. Blackmon was covered, stride-for-stride by Aaron Williams, perhaps the best player on the Longhorns' team.

Having OSU's best player beat out UT's best player for a big-play touchdown just seemed to be a massive body blow to a Texas team that struggles with confidence to begin with. It was almost like seeing its best player beat out by OSU's best player deflated the Longhorns' team.

"That was some catch," Muschamp said. "They're good. Good coverage. I'd do it again. They are times you've got to outnumber the box to stop the run, which we did. That play really hurt us in the first . We came back a little better in the screen in the second half. They're very balanced in what they do."

Aaron Williams was a man of few words after the game.

"It was pretty much good throw, good catch. That's all you can say. He's a good receiver," Williams said.

"I was trying to make a play, and Blackmon just had the perfect throw."
Williams said he didn't feel the momentum swing on that play.

"We're not worried about momentum," he said. "We just have to play every snap. We always have to line up the next play. So just have a short-term memory and keep playing.

"Oklahoma State's a good team. We fought hard. Things went their way. We just gotta keep playing."

Williams said Weeden, who completed 29 of 43 for 409 yards and 1 touchdown with 1 interception, was in the zone.

"The coverage was good. The quarterback just threw a perfect ball," Williams said. "He didn't miss any all night. Against a quarterback like that, you just have to keep playing, no matter what the situation is."

Mack said of Blackmon's TD catch vs. Williams, "It just killed us, and they checked to it. I thought Aaron had him covered as well as you could possibly have him covered. I thought he was going to knock the ball down.

"The guy is big, strong and what a great player. He's Michael Crabtree but bigger. It's unbelievable. He's just hard to cover. We rolled coverages to him, and he still got open. So strong and powerful and runs after he catches it. He is explosive."

5. Texas needed something good to happen early in the ballgame because of its fragile psyche and wavering confidence.

So the Longhorns attempt a sky kick on the kickoff and kicks it out of bounds, giving OSU the ball at the 40. The Cowboys marched 54 yards in 12 plays for a field goal.

When the Longhorns took possession with 10:24 left in the first quarter at their own 23, they drove to the Oklahoma State 41 before Mike Davis was stripped of the ball.

Kenny Vaccaro, who played a great game for Texas with 9 tackles, a tackle for loss, 2 pass breakups and an interception, picked off Brandon Weeden to negate Davis' fumble.

The Longhorns took the gift from Vaccaro and promptly drove down to the Oklahoma State 20 before stalling and having to kick a field goal.

It was the 9th time in 10 games that Texas' first trip inside the opponent's 20 resulted in a field goal (or zero points). Texas would fall behind 26-3 at halftime and not score again until a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter (after trailing 33-3).

"When you're kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns, we know that's tough on the defense," WR James Kirkendoll said. "We realize that. We just have to find a way to get the ball in the end zone, whether it's running the ball or throwing the ball. That's what we're really trying to work on is scoring points.

"It's mentioned a lot. It will fall for us. We'll keep chipping away."

Texas played without WR Marquise Goodwin, who was attending the funeral of his great grandmother, Ola Wilson.

6. Adrian Phillips returned punts, and Mike Davis replaced D.J. Monroe on kick returns.

Monroe is gradually disappearing from the offense and this team. He was put back on kick returns late in the game, when Texas was way down.
Phillips threw up his hand to fair catch every ball, even when he had 12 to 15 yards to run on a couple of them.

In other words, special teams continued to struggle and provide no spark for this team.

It's almost become a small victory if a guy can simply fair catch every punt and not turn it over.

7. Teammates say they are not losing confidence in QB Garrett Gilbert, who had an interception against Oklahoma State, but also became the team's leading rusher on the season with 12 carries for 55 yards (4.6 ypc) against OSU.

"I see him growing," Kirkendoll said. "He's poised. Even though the record's not really showing it. As his receiver, I'm seeing him get better every day. Not just in games, but in practice."

Gilbert continues to sound confident after tough losses.

"I think you've got to have a short memory no matter what," said Gilbert, who missed Malcolm Williams running free on an underthrown deep ball. "I feel confident. I have confidence in my teammates. Every day, we practice, and I'm feeling better. We just have to keep focusing on improving every day."

8. The post-game with Mack Brown was sort of sad in the way reporters have come to expect this team losing and thus the questions now are about if Brown was happy with his team's effort?

On the defense:

"We gave up some big plays on defense. We still couldn't force the amount of turnovers we wanted. I thought the defense really hung in there and fought, especially in the second half. I thought Will made some really good adjustments. The defense hung in there."

On the offense:

"We really struggled offensively in the second half to get it starter. I thought in the fourth quarter Garrett made some good throws and receivers caught it a little bit better. I thought the young offensive linemen hung in there and did as good of a job as we could expect out of them in a first-year ballgame."

On special teams:

"The kicking game was better. The punting game was really good. We can't seem to get field position because our punt returns aren't getting what we need. We aren't blocking punts. Kickoff return was still average. Field position was bad throughout the day."

9. Mack Brown told the team after the game their season is only guaranteed to be "12 more days."

"I told the kids that they've got 12 days left of this season, that's all we've got guaranteed. And if they will continue to fight and practice like they did last week, we've got a chance to get (win) No. 5 against Florida Atlantic.

"And then we'd have a great game on our hands between two bitter rivals, us and Texas A&M, which is playing really well. We try to get our sixth win against A&M and then get to a bowl game and try to win seven.

"I didn't want them quit. I want them to keep working, keep fighting, keep growing. It's obviously not where we wanted to be. But you just don't lay down and quit. You keep working."

Malcolm Williams said the thought of the football season ending in 12 days hit him with a sense of shock.

"Since I've been here, I never thought I'd hear there may only be 12 days left in our season," Williams said. "But it's one of those things we have to accept and make it to where it's not just 12 days left and extend our season. That's all we can do right now is play for our seniors.

"It hit me hard. I've never not been able to extend my season, going back to high school. So it's new for me to have the thought process of maybe not going somewhere in the postseason. So I'm thinking about Florida Atlantic and try to work game-by-game. These next two games are all I have right now."

10. Mack said he is still selling the dream of going to a bowl game this season.

"I think it's really important," Mack said. "It's important for the kids to understand they came back and fought and accomplished something at the end. It's important that you get 13 bowl practices because next year's team will still be very young.

"Hopefully, Kyle Hix and a few of those guys may be back next week. Not everyone will be back. It's always important (to go to a bowl game).

"We felt like around here our depth and the fact we go to a bowl game every year and can get the extra practices works to our advantage over other people over the last 12 years."

MY TAKE: The post-game interviews have almost become pathetic and sad, because the coaches and players are still trying and can't come up with any solutions to stop their losing ways.

Now, UT has to find a way to beat Sun Belt member Florida Atlantic (4-5, 3-3) next Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT.

FAU has won three straight.

The Longhorns finish the season against A&M, which erased a 30-14 deficit at Baylor Saturday night by scoring 28 unanswered in a 42-30 victory. It was impressive as QB Ryan Tannehill continues to lead the Aggies' resurgence.

Right now, the odds would indicate UT's season probably is over in 12 days as Mack warned his players tonight.

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