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Mack Brown Press Conference Analysis

From Mack's March 4th press conference, via Texas Sports.

General Comments: I thought the scrimmage was really good for a first one. The offense started out a little slow, which you would expect with new young guys at different positions, but they moved the ball much better as the scrimmage progressed and we were pleased. We were excited in the way they looked at the end. One offense was driving the ball at the end of the scrimmage when we quit. Defense looks like it has a chance to be much better. Greg Johnson kicked two or three really long field goals and also punted very well. We are pleased with what we saw.

Almost a total yawner, except for the last bit about Greg Johnson. The Texas kicking game has been pretty mediocre since Phil Dawson left. Here's to hoping Greg Johnson can step in and improve us in that area.
On if anyone is separating themselves after the first week: This film will help with that, we will know more Monday. We scrimmaged a long time and it was really physical and we emphasized the running game more than the passing game even though the young quarterbacks were involved in quite a bit of the passing game. It will be good to watch all of the new players and see especially the four true freshmen, which were out there for the first time.  This will be a fun film to grade.

Sometimes, you learn nothing from a Mack Brown press conference. So far, this is one of them.
On which guys have been jumping out after the first couple days in pads: I think we will have to go back and really study. Henry Melton made some really good physical runs today and has a couple of other days so that will be a hard decision to see how much he plays defense compared to offense because we like the way he looked. He is in better shape, he is running with lower pads and made a couple of really key runs today. Jermichael Finley made some super catches, so we feel like with the loss of David Thomas on the down the field passing game, Neale (Tweedie) and Jermichael are key and Jermichael came up with some great throws today. Other than that we still have some young lineman who have to work some things out. I could tell from behind there were some good things and some others. Frank Okam in the end seemed to be getting more pass rush on the quarterback than at times last year. Again in the scrimmage I'm not sure if that's better that they are rushing against or not, so it's good in a scrimmage like this. We felt overall that the young linebackers seemed to show up some. It will be interesting to see with Muckelroy and a guy like Sergio (Kindle) where they came from today because it's the first time either one of them have been in that setting.

Okay, finally, some meat we can chew on. Who will replace David Thomas? You knew Neal Tweedie wasn't much of an answer, so it's great to hear that Jermichael Finley is off to a good start. From all accounts, he has a chance to be a special player. Count me as interested.
On Sergio Kindle playing outside: Sergio will continue to play outside. Brandon Foster made a really good interception in the end zone that I thought it was a really good play. He also batted down another ball, so he seems to be coming on each day and getting better and it's a shame that Erick Jackson wasn't out there. Of course Ishie (Oduegwu) won't be out there, so we are still thin in the secondary. Jordan Shipley ran a reverse and made a really great catch and looked well.  He got hit really hard a number of times and jumped up and came back and did well, so I think we can pronounce Jordan well.

The linebacker news is pretty cryptic, though it's noteworthy that Kindle will in fact be staying at outside linebacker. I still want to see Robert Killebrew play middle linebacker, and I'll be surprised if he's not the guy. Just a terrific athlete.

Good news for Shipley's disciples, of which there are still plenty. I have my doubts as to how effective he can really become at this point, especially missing Vince's final year. Still, it's encouraging, considering how highly touted he once was.

On the high school coaches being there: We had nearly 1,000 coaches and were able to spend Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with them in our offices and at night. We are leaving here at 10:30 at night and all you do is talk football and study football and then they come to the practice, and yesterday they were all out on the field with us. Today they were up in the stands. For them to have a chance to walk inside the Texas program really like no one else does is really exciting for them and so many of the guys who were here have guys playing for us. It makes those guys play hard and they are really good about going out to dinner with the coach or seeing them after for a meal today.

This is just smart, smart, smart on Mack's part. What a great idea to get so many of these coaches on your side, so that when recruiters come knocking, you've got one more voice telling a kid to look long and hard at the Longhorns.
On the running backs: Selvin (Young) looked better than he did at any time last year including the championship game. I think he has thinned down a little bit more and had a couple of great runs at the end of the scrimmage. Jamaal (Charles), well we all know he is really fast so when he touches the ball he has a chance to go. Jamaal didn't play quite as much as Selvin or Henry simply because we also want to make sure that we are sensitive towards track and that if he is putting so much energy into track we don't want to deplete that energy in a scrimmage because we feel like it might wear him out. We also excused Ramonce Taylor for the rest of the semester so he can spend more time with his academics. He will not be involved with team functions for the rest of the semester. That's why Henry is still doing a lot of both. I think we need to keep Henry over there some because he does so well.

Ah, finally. The news. Ramonce Taylor is being excused from the team for a while. It may seem like a small thing, but this looks like a case of "Shape up or don't return" for RT. Some may hit the panic button, but don't count me in that group. For one thing, with the NCAA beginning to crack down on graduation rates, it sends a clear signal to the team that no one is above being disciplined for totally tanking in the classroom. Ramonce Taylor isn't exactly a backup scrub. He was an important part of last year's offense. Whether RT returns or not, this is a clear signal for Mack that school is to be taken at least somewhat seriously. Get a 2.0, kids.

As for losing RT's production, we're not exactly thin at tailback and wide receiver. Are we better off having him around? Yes. Are we in trouble if we never see him again? Nope. I'm too big a fan of JC to get worked up over this one.

Elsewhere, the news on Henry Melton is encouraging. Eric may not like it, but as someone who sees potential in Big Henry, I'm encouraged. If he does learn to leverage that big frame, he can be a terrific compliment to Jamaal Charles. I wasn't anticipating it, but What To Do With Melton may quietly become one of the biggest stories in the offseason.

On the difference between last year and this year with the running back situation: One of the great things about this school is that you can catch up fast, especially in skill positions.  Linemen are harder to catch up. You see that guys like Derek Lokey and Roy Miller played enough last year that they played really well today around the older guys. On offense even Chris Ogbonnaya made some really good runs and he is playing both fullback and tailback. We feel like we are in really good shape in the running back spot right now.

I'll agree here. See above.
On the quarterbacks: The thing that I am most amazed about is their poise. They have walked into the huddle and they are both talented but they have controlled both the huddle and the team and the tempo. Today if there was a tipped ball that was intercepted, they went right back to work, it wasn't bad body language.  They are both talented, have great arms, are accurate and there are a lot of similarities between the two, but the most impressive thing to us has been their composure. For Jevan Sneed to walk out there and play well for the first time is pretty impressive.

Snead vs McCoy heats up. My gut feeling is that Snead's going to win this job. Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but I'm banking on Mack picking a guy and sticking with it. I just can't fathom a shared duty situation. Actually, I can. And it makes me dizzy. Stay tuned.