Mack Brown West Virginia Press Conference Recap

Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Highlights from Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown's Monday press conference as the 'Horns prepare to host the West Virginia Mountaineers this weekend.

1. No news is the news on Malcolm Brown, Jordan Hicks, Anthony Fera, and Brandon Moore

The newest addition to the Longhorns walking wounded is running back Malcolm Brown who injured his left ankle in the first half of the game. The Friday addition was Moore, who came down with an undisclosed virus at some point last week.

Mack Brown said that the school may back away from giving much in the way of updates on Monday, since it's so far away. The news, then, is much as it has been in past weeks -- fans will have to wait until the end of the week for a definitive update.

The good news? Hicks is listed on the depth chart this week as a starter. Also, Fera kicked for the first time this season on Sunday, despite some reports that he had been testing out the groin on some field-goal attempts last week.

2. DJ Monroe has improved as much as anyone Mack Brown has seen

It's been a maturation process for Monroe over the last several years, according to Brown, both on and off the field. He's on his way towards graduating after being academically ineligible his first semester on campus.

A kid who is universally regarded as "unselfish" because of his acceptance of his role, Brown said that Monroe is now helping out the younger players get acclimated to college life.

And with four touchdowns in four games this season and several tough runs that featured the diminutive back lowering his shoulder and plowing through defenders, Monroe has never been more productive during his career, even showcasing some rare lateral quickness/shiftiness in taking the sideline on his record-setting kickoff return.

3. The Texas coaches discussed tackling on Sunday night

Brown said that the staff sat down to attempt to solve the tackling problems that have now plagued the team. It seems pointless to say that the coaches haven't worked on it, because it's clearly been an identified issue for some time. After awhile it comes down to players making plays on the field.

The solution at this point seems to be giving other guys an opportunity. Junior defensive back Adrian Phillips is now listed as a co-starter at safety with sophomores Mykkele Thompson and Josh Turner after missing two tackles that resulted directly in touchdowns over the weekend.

However, that may be for motivational purposes as much as anything, since Thompson and Turner have done little to distinguish themselves except not repeatedly miss tackles that lead to touchdowns. At this point, though, that fact is a significant one.

Brown also tried to blame some of the problems on the new rules that attempt to limit helmet-to-helmet contact, which is making players more tentative, in the estimations of the Texas head coach. Not really buying that one.

4. Linebackers struggling

Even though the defensive line didn't make a lot of plays on Saturday night, especially the defensive tackles, who were missing both Moore and Desmond Jackson for much of the game, Brown praised the group for their effort overall.

Not so much the linebackers, who are still trying to adjust to the speed of the game. After starting the film review, all of the young players there were having trouble beating blocks. On one play, sophomore linebacker Kendall Thompson was completely decleated and put on his backside. By a running back. So much for wanting a guy to beat a block -- the coaches would have just settled for Thompson keeping his feet in that instance.

Steve Edmond in particular has been struggling, both in winning battles against offensive linemen at the second level, something that he needs to be able to do given his skillset, and in opening up and running to take the right angles. It's becoming increasingly clear over the last several weeks, despite his big-time interception against Ole Miss, that he is simply poorly-suited to play against spread teams because of his lack of overall foot speed.

Since the game is moving fast, might defensive coordinator Manny Diaz consider playing his linebackers a little bit deeper to allow them a greater opportunity to read and react coming downhill and keep offensive linemen out of their faces a little bit longer. It's a tactic that coordinators started using when spread offenses began proliferating and may be worth trying in practice until the game starts to slow down for them.

5. Vince Young doing better, may be in town for West Virginia game

After mentioning recently that he had reached out to Vince Young to invite him back to Austin to be around some positive people, Brown said that Young and former college and NFL teammate Bo Scaife plan to attend practice this week and will be encouraged to stick around for the game.

Young being honored by Texas fans with a Jumbotron shot during the biggest home game in years couldn't hurt the guy as he goes through a tough period in his life.

6. Defense left plays on field

A missed opportunity for a blocked punt by Mykkele Thompson and a dropped interception by Quandre Diggs were a couple examples of plays Brown said were "left on the field" Saturday night.

Along with the 12 missed tackles, five of which came on kickoff coverage. Two of those missed tackles went for 109 yards and two touchdowns, both of which were on Phillips.

None of this is shocking to Texas fans.

7 .J-Gray emerging as Wildcat option

After Bergeron handled most of the Wildcat snaps to start the season, freshman running back Johnathan Gray got his first look at running the package on Saturday. Brown lauded him as running it like a senior on Monday, so expect to see more of Gray of lined up as the triggerman there moving forward.

Overall, the Aledo product was a major part of the fourth-quarter surge in the running game, providing some further evidence of his ability to translate the vision and feet that made him so successful in high school to the college game.

One of the limiting factors for his playing time during the first three contests was his ability to pick up the blitz, but the coaching staff showed more willingness to get him into the game in third-down situations against Oklahoma State, providing another option there along with senior Jeremy Hills.

8. Receivers now tougher

Brown credited wide receivers coach Darell Wyatt for improving the mental and physical toughness of his group. When discussing junior wide receiver Mike Davis and his clutch catch, Brown pointed out that Davis is not only stronger mentally, but now a better blocker as well.

Davis had said after the game that would have given himself a 50/50 chance of making a play like. Getting down on himself after mistakes was a major problem for Davis last season, according to Brown, who didn't mince words in flat-out saying that Davis wouldn't have made that play in 2011.

9. Brown seemed way too happy reading off the West Virginia stats

He wasn't talking about the decision either, but rather had a big ol' grin on his face when talking about the production by the Mountaineer offense and insane stats put up by Geno Smith.

Nothing to smile about there, coach, unless you want to talk about the West Virginia pass defense.

10. Stats and miscellany

The Longhorns have won 58 straight games when winning the turnover battle...Over the last three games, Texas has scored the most points in consecutive contests since the last three games of the 2005 season...Texas has also given up the fewest negative plays in the country...Senior offensive lineman Luke Poehlmann, who is once again rocking a mullet, albeit a more modest version than the one he rocked during the Ohio State game in 2009, was named the top-performing offensive lineman against Oklahoma State...Jaxon Shipley and David Ash won the offensive MVP honors, while Quandre Diggs was the overall MVP.

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