All this really sounds good but every team in America is undefeated right now.I think all the Longhorn nation want to see how our game translates from paper to the actual field.
Opening statement: After going through the split practice yesterday, and again this morning, I think everybody is really pleased with the way it has worked. It has allowed us to get a bunch of reps in a very short period of time. I think the first group today was out there for about and hour and 20 minutes, somewhere in that nature. They got a tremendous amount of reps. It's allowed to slow things down with the younger guys in the afternoon and give them a lot of personal attention that they don't get in a normal practice. So that has been a big hit. A couple of things were obvious to me after the first couple of practices. One, our kids are in tremendous shape. They came back stronger, faster and leaner than they were when they left, second thing, tremendous retention. We picked up yesterday morning at a very high level from where we came out of spring training. Those things are really good, and what that tells you is that they worked extremely hard during the summer, not only in the conditioning and lifting part, but also in their 7-on-7 and their team pass drills that they do on their own. I don't think anybody on the staff could be any more pleased with the way the first three practices have gone.
On finding a third wide receiver: Well, you know we've got Jordan (Shipley) and Quan (Cosby), obviously, who have really done a good job. They both are playing at a very high level. And then you've got a group of guys. Malcolm Williams made a great play yesterday in a team situation. You've got Brandon Collins. You've got James Kirkendoll. You've got Dan Buckner. So we've got some really good competition going on there, and I feel like by the time that we break camp, we'll have five or six guys that we'll feel really good about.
On any timetable to find a third wide receiver: No. We're just going to keep working until they emerge. It's great competition, and obviously the young kids have had one practice, so it's really hard right now. They're body will not run as fast as their feet will take them until their mind loosens a little bit, and right now their minds are swollen.
On the passing game of John Chiles: In two practices, we're working on a package that puts Colt (McCoy) and John in the game at the same time, and having said that, John is the number two guy. I told John when he reported Sunday, I said, "We're going to see if you're in shape or not." Because he's getting a bunch of reps at several different places.
On the excitement that comes with a dynamic quarterback duo: It's a lot of fun. And one thing we did is, we sat down as an offense in the spring, Mack asked us to draft a big board offensively. And what that does, it gives you a chance with no regard to position. What that does is it gives you a look at the way we see all the players, and it's obvious that John's a playmaker and we need to find ways to get him the ball. So it has been fun. We've spent a good part of the summer expanding the package that we kind of toyed with last year, and I feel good that we'll have a nice package when we open.
On how the offensive board was put together: In the NFL, they have several kinds of boards. But one they call the big board - it has no regard to position - and then they have a position board. So what he wanted us to do was to draft a big board. So positions didn't matter, just who do you think you would take one, take two? That was a good exercise for us as a staff to see what everybody felt.
On the prospects of Colt McCoy's running game this year: Well I think we have always, since '98, we've come in with a philosophy, we wanted to be able to run and throw the ball. And regardless of whether that was two backs with Ricky (Williams) and Cedric (Benson), or whether or not it was one-back, we've tried to adapt to what we've had. I think Colt surprised himself over the last half of the year with his ability to run the ball. And I think quite honestly, he surprised all of us a little bit, because he's a guy that is a tremendous athlete, and just like in the bowl game, he made several plays with his feet. So we want to continue to use that part of the game, and yet we want to be smart with how many hits our quarterback takes.
On the depth and progress of the offensive line: Yeah, I would like to clarify (what I said at a previous press conference). I do think we have as deep a line as I've ever been around. Obviously there's some separation because several guys have more experience. We have some young guys that have tremendous talent, and they're in that 13 or 14 people I was talking about. I don't think you're going to see in the opening game 13 linemen play, I didn't mean that. What I meant is we're really pleased with our recruiting and with the guys we've brought in. But we don't feel like Chris Hall will have to play five positions in one ball game like he did last year. What we've tried to do is find two centers, three guards and three tackles. I think we'll be able to do that. And if we can play two full teams, that's always our goal is to be able to play two full groups.
On the prospects for the running game: We haven't had pads on, so evaluating backs is always tough because their evaluation is what they do after contact. So that's going to be a little bit slower in determining the separation of that group. We're going to continue to feature the zone. I think five years in a row now we've run the zone over 225 times a season in various ways. Under the center, two-back, one-back, zone read, open side, tight end side, and that will continue to be the feature of the offense is the ability to run some kind of zone.
On the seemingly decreased significance of the sack statistic: Well, we did a study on sacks about three years ago, and it's still pretty significant. When you look at what has happened here in 10 years, we've averaged right at 35 points a game, which means we score somewhere about 34 percent of the time we get the ball. You throw a sack into that mix and that number of 34 percent points drops all the way down to two percent. Now obviously a lot of sacks come on third down and you have to leave the field. But overcoming a first or second down sack is really tough, because now you're behind the chains and you've given the advantage back to the defense.
On the separation among the young receivers: Just beginning with Malcolm Williams, he's got really good size and really good strength, and when you play people that press, that becomes a bigger factor in terms of releasing and what they try to do with you. So I would say his size and strength would be something that jumps out at you. Brandon Collins is an extremely natural catcher, and that's the thing that you see when you watch him practice. When we've watched him practice, we've noticed a very natural ball catcher. James Kirkendoll is a guy that is going to be exactly where he's supposed to be every play. His consistency is something that we look at. Sometimes we'll leave the field and I would say to Coach (Bobby) Kennedy, "I didn't notice James a whole lot." You go in, you put the film on and he did everything exactly right. Maybe the defense didn't direct the ball to him. So he's been a very consistent guy. And Dan Buckner obviously has natural ball skills, and he is natural at taking the ball at the highest point. You hear from little league on up to the pros, receiving the ball at the highest point. Some guys do it more naturally than others, and he has shown the ability to not be afraid to go up and use his hands as opposed to trying to let the ball come down and catch it.
On if there is one aspect of the offense he wants to feature more this year: The biggest thing that we talk to the offense about, and I know you all don't like to hear this, but it's not a cliché, is that we had way too many turnovers. Colt turned the ball over through interceptions, some of it was buzzard luck, but sometimes you make your own luck too. The big thing with him is you don't have to make every play. Sometimes the defense wins, and when the defense wins, either we need to check the ball down to the back or we need to punt the ball and play defense, ball security with the backs. We turned the ball over too many times last year. Then we're constantly talking about explosive plays. So we have worked really hard in the off-season and we've started camp, we're trying to make that a normal part of what we do so when we do call those plays, it's just another play that we've worked a thousand times. And sometimes you're going to pick up explosives because of what the defense is doing. You're playing a team that uses a lot of pressure, then explosives typically come because you get a 1-on-1 situation, your guy wins and you have a big play. Other teams that are a bend-don't-break style of defense, explosives are harder to come by because that's their style in those situations. And in those situations, we have to be more creative in trying to manufacture some of those explosive plays.
On the possibility of a three-headed attack at running back: Like I said, by the time everything shakes down, we'll probably have two with a third that can do a bunch of different things. Usually those things work their way out. Fozzy (Whittaker) has an unbelievable level of quickness. He would remind our fans somewhat of a Hodges Mitchell where he's got the ability to jump laterally and pick up speed up really quickly. Vondrell (McGee), even though their size is really similar, is a little more of a downhill, move the pile kind of guy. And then Chris (Ogbonnaya) has just been here forever and he knows it about as good as anybody. He's tremendous in the blitz pick-up game, he's got great hands, he's got the ability because of his high school training to go outside and play some wide receiver from the backfield. So they all bring a little something different to the table, and it's our job to feature what they bring.
On the relationship between Colt McCoy and the young wide receivers: It's a process, there's no doubt about it. That's why the summer throwing is so critical because when we're not out there, they can just work on individual routes over and over and over again, and then the little subtle moves that each receiver has, the quarterback gets a sense of those kinds of things, exactly where they're going to be. The important thing for a quarterback is trusting that the receiver is going to be where he's supposed to be. We ran a play-action pass today and Colt threw a sideline to Jordan Shipley across the field against tight coverage, and the ball was out of Colt's hand a lot longer before Jordan came out of his route. There's no question there's a chemistry there. "I know exactly where he's going to be, exactly when I can release this ball." When you're dealing with the guys that have not done that as many times as they have, sometimes the quarterback holds the ball just a little bit to make sure he's where he's going to be, sometimes the receiver is a little bit slower, and that reaction time now that the defense has to react to the receiver is greatly expanded, because the ball hasn't been released as quickly.