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With the team (and fans) still licking their wounds after a poor showing in Dallas, members of the staff and team share their thoughts with the media heading into the Baylor game.
Bryan Harsin on what happened against OU: What happened in the game? We got behind the chains is what happened. First down, second down, we just did not get the yardage that we needed to stay in manageable third downs, and when we were, we were decent. We had a chance to be in that third and three-to-five, third and six. You get into third and 12, we've been pretty good in that area this year, better than I've ever been in that third and 10plus range, but that's a very low percentage down and distance. When you play a good football team, when you get in those situations like that, it showed, and that's what you want to avoid.
One of the key tenants of the offensive rebuild is the Texas coaching staff's desire to get back to being a balanced offense. And throughout the first 5 games of the season, the Texas offense was balanced. While the run game struggled in contests against Oklahoma State and West Virginia, it managed to take enough pressure off the quarterback position and pick up some crucial yards in opportune spots. The balance was a big part of the Texas offense's success on 3rd downs.
Against Oklahoma, all of that progress was seemingly tossed aside by an Oklahoma front that absolutely demolished the Texas run game. With the run game completely neutralized, and relatively no creativity in the play-calling to alleviate that pressure, the offense was left in several situations with 3rd and long.
The task of getting back to a balanced offense and returning to a successful 3rd down team will be easier against a Baylor defense rated 82nd nationally in yards per carry, 123rd in passing yards per game, and 124th (last) in total yards per game and opponent 3rd down conversions.
Whether the offense simply asserts its will against an inferior opponent, or Bryan Harsin manages to open up the playbook with the perimeter run game of Daje Johnson, DJ Monroe, and Marquise Goodwin (a facet of the game largely tossed aside since Oklahoma State), a dominant offensive performance will be a huge step towards moving this team forward.
Major Applewhite on who motivates: I think it lies on everybody to motivate themselves. You have to have some self-motivation, something inside you, some heart and some courage inside yourself. If somebody has to pull something off the internet to get you excited to play football for Texas then you are the wrong person.
A lot has been made of another dreadful start in Dallas against Oklahoma, with questions aboutability to motivate the team headed into the annual Red River Shootout. Personally, I'm fond of folks that take responsibility for their own motivations and actions, and that's what Major is getting at here.
The coaches can only motivate so much before it comes on the players to make sure they win the battle with the guy in front of them. No finger pointing. No scape goats. Just good ol' fashioned ‘Merican "pull yourself up by the boot straps." And the players will get an opportunity this week to exercise a little self motivation when Baylor comes to town.
David Ash on if negative criticism of Coach Brown annoys him: Yes. Yes, it does, because he doesn't deserve it. He's giving everything he's got, and he's a great football coach. He wasn't the one who was playing out there.
The calls for Mack Brown's job have come loud and clear in the aftermath of another Oklahoma beat own, but I think David Ash's comments are more than a player sticking out for his coach. His comments echo the sentiments of Major Applewhite.
Ultimately, the coaches can only take so much of the blame for the performance on the field. Ash has always been a stand up guy, not afraid to fall on the sword, but this is definitely the type of comment you hope to see from the leader of your football team.
Duane Akina on sophomore DB Mykkele Thompson: I thought for a second-year player who has been pressed into action, he had a lot of outstanding plays. He is still growing in a lot of areas and you can see his growth every day that he is getting better. In some ways you can say he is out there a year ahead of himself. With [former Longhorn] Nolan Brewster being medically out and losing him, he would have been a fifth year senior this year, so that probably kicked [Thompson] into the action a little bit early. I'm really proud of how he is competing. He is a beautiful athlete, and I think with time if we stay patient and stay with it, then he will end up having a great career here.
I think there are a few interesting nuggets in that quote from Duane Akina. First, I completely forgot about Nolan Brewster's retirement from football because of concussions. Brewster, who would have seen plenty of time last year in the safety rotation, would likely have been a solid starter in the backfield of this defense. What could have been.
Second, its good to see the commitment to Mykkele Thompson's continued growth as a safety. While many in this space wanted to see the electric Thompson back on offense with the ball in his hands, Akina is sticking to the plan and developing the youngster.
And Thompson is much further along than I thought he would be at this point. In the spring, Thompson was behind the other young defensive backs mentally and frequently out of position. As he continues to learn the safety position, he should be able to convert some of the plays and near interceptions he had against Oklahoma.
Duane Akina on if Kenny Vaccaro is too valuable at the nickel to be moved back: A guy like that you always think about that to be the last responder, but you lose a lot of his on-the-line-of -scrimmage ball instincts and the ability to blitz. What we have asked him to do against [WVU WR Tavon] Austin and [Oklahoma WR Kenny] Stills - he has had some really difficult job descriptions the last couple of weeks. We have put a lot of pressure on him, but he likes that. It keeps him on the edge. It keeps him excited for the next challenge, and he has another good one this week in the slot with 16 [Baylor WR Tevin Reese]. Those are things you consider as a staff, but I just think losing him as a blitzer on the line of scrimmage, in man-coverage, being close to the football, being part of the run defense and getting in is [too valuable]. In my opinion, we have him at the right spot.
Call Vaccaro's versatility both a blessing and a course. A "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario. On the one hand, Vaccaro's ability as a slot eraser (see: Ryan Swope's disappearing act in College Station, and Kenny Stills' 3 catch - 37 yard performance last week) and run stuffer make him invaluable as a nickel corner.
But with Adrian Phillips, Mykkele Thompson, and Josh Turner struggling to clean plays up at the safety position, Vaccaro's sure tackling on the back end could go a long way in cleaning up one of the defense's biggest weaknesses. It will be interesting to see if Vaccaro stays close to the line throughout the rest of the season, or if he's moved back and someone else is given an opportunity to be the slot eraser.