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July 27, 2011Here are some highlights from Big 12 Football Media Days condensed in one location:
--Emmanuel Acho and Foswhitt Whittaker both took a strong stance when talking about their slogan "brick by brick". Say what you want about the Texas offense but it's my opinion that this defense is locked on leadership.
They are really confident. Not confident as in false bravado but confident in who they are and what they are capable of as a team.
I said on my last 'Five on football and a bonus' that I was going to listen this year and not miss on an Oklahoma St again and Texas impressed me today. With they guys they brought, it's hard to not like them but again, they know who they are and are not bugged by all of the winning conversation revolving around Oklahoma, Texas A & M and Oklahoma State.
Justin Blackmon is a cool character. He is a laid back guy and if Oklahoma State can get anything up the middle on their defense, Oklahoma State will be able to out-score most of their opponents.
Texas A & M's Ryan Tannehill said that the offseason was great for him and he feels he will be much better in the coming year. (Adams)
Some things that stood out to me in talking to Mack Brown ...
--Mack said he thinks the players know who the quarterback is going to be based on how the summer workouts went. But the players weren't picking any favorites.
--Keenan Robinson said he thinks Garrett showed the most leadership in running 7-on-7 over the summer. But he said Case McCoy, Connor Wood and David Ash "all showed flashes and probably have the ability to win the battle."
--So basically, after the first round of interviews today, it sounds like the job is still Garrett Gilbert's to lose.
--When I asked Mack what he's looking for most in making the QB decision, he said, "Decision making. We have to hang on to the ball when we run it and when we throw it, the ball has to go to our guys. We turned the ball over way too much last year. We were 116th in turnover margin and that just blows your mind."
--Mack feels like the very structure of Harsin's offense will bring more balance and ability to run the ball.
"Boise has averaged 200 yards rushing for several years and could get physical when it needed to," Mack said. "We had relied so much on the pass that I think we had gotten softer in the running game. We want that to change." (Brown)
Because Texas brought so many different defensive players, the easy converssation was about the differences between Muschamp and Diaz. Acho and Robinson both said that Diaz's defense will bring pressure from everywhere and one blitz can come at you from 10 different looks.
They almost made it seem like Muschamps defense was really good but they are excited about the options that this new defense will deliver. (Adams)
Mack Brown thinks the biggest help of the LHN in recruiting is pure visibility. Feels likes the kids will be the loser if HS games can't be showed. (Ketchum)
Mack Brown is on the podium right now with the print reporters and said he hopes Texas high school football games will be aired on the Longhorn Network because it will showcase more players than can be signed by Texas and will be more about showcasing Texas high school players and coaches who deserve the exposure. (Brown)
Mack hopes the competition at quarterback was revved up by not naming a starter before the summer. He spoke of the 2006 summer battle between Colt/Snead. (Ketchum)
Mack on if lower expectations are good for team: "Yes. Because you all make our players mad daily." (Ketchum)
Things Keenan Robinson said
-- When asked about Malcolm Brown, Keenan said he likes that Malcolm is coachable and does not disrespect the older players by "trash talking." "That's how Blake (Gideon), Emmanuel (Acho), and I were as Freshman and that's how it should be."
-- Keenan said that Mack has not changed after the 5-7 season. "He is still the same Mack that jokes around with us."
-- When asked about who's leading the pack at corner back, Keenan said Adrian Phillips, Carrington Byndom, and Quandre Diggs.
-- Talking about Manny Diaz defense, Keenan mentioned how the zone scheme works for Texas. "Diaz's defensive scheme brings zone pressure that helps protect the young corner backs and puts more pressure on the safeties. That works with our defense because of our veteran safeties." (Taylor Gaspar)
Great quote from Mack: "Most hotels don't have a 13th floor. That was my 13th year. I should have skipped it and some think I did." (Ketchum)
Mack is also comparing this year's team to 2008 when people were counting Texas out and saying UT would lose 3 or 4 games. Mack said the underdog role is a good place to be.
"Kids respond when you tell them they aren't any good and won't do anything," he said. (Brown)
--When asked about the LHN airing high school games, Mack Brown said that he does not think it gives Texas an unfair advantage. "High school games have been broadcasted nationally for years. Broadcasting them on a specific network is no different than how it has been done before and does not give Texas an unfair advantage." (Taylor Gaspar)
Mack said he thinks the DT rotation can be five deep - Kheeston Randall, Ashton Dorsey, Calvin Howell, Greg Daniels AND Desmond Jackson.
Mack is hearing good things from the players with regard to Desmond Jackson's strength and work ethic. That's a great sign. (Brown)
Tim Brewster was in the house working for Fox Sports and he had nothing to say but great things about Texas and his hope for a quick turn around. (Adams)
Keenan Robinson's comments about Diaz's penchant for using zone pressure will be huge in protecting UT's young corners.
Keenan talked about how Diaz is not afraid to drop UT's athletic defensive ends (Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor) into pass coverage - even to cover hook routes over the middle - to provide underneath support for the corners.
Texas' safeties may have more pressure and responsibility in coverage, but as Robinson said, "we have experienced safeties, so they can handle that."
Keenan sounded like he has a lot of confidence in Diaz.
Robinson gave an example of how Diaz is trusting in his players. Diaz will blitz linebackers or safeties and trust his DEs to drop into coverage and get the job done.
"Coach Diaz knows we have to get pressure, and he's got some really creative ways to get it," Robinson said. (Brown)
Quick Emmanuel Acho one on one Notes
--Said the running backs are the hardest working group during the summer.
--Desmond Jackson is a humble worker. He's one of the strongest players on the team benching 455.
--Quandre Diggs will be one heck of a player as well as Adrian Phillips and Carrington Byndom.
--Jordan Hicks is healthy but was limited in 7-on-7.
--When asked about how it felt when Muschamp left he said he was really bummed since Muschamp came in at the same time as him. But Diaz sat him down and told him he has to trust him. (Taylor Gaspar)
Quick Blake Gideon one on one Notes
--Diaz has given more freedom on the field for the older players to make calls.
--Adrian Phillips is very multiple. He's a safety by trade but is great at corner.
--Carrington Byndon maybe one of the best coverage guys on the team.
--Quandre Diggs is the most mature for his age. He's not going to be intimidated by bigger guys. (Gaspar)
Mack Brown said Texas will do a week of all access for the Longhorn Network leading up to the opener.
Mack joked that he didn't know if he should hold a meeting where coaches didn't say much when the cameras are rolling during meetings and then hold another meeting right after the cameras leave when the coaches say what they want.
"I don't know," he laughed. "All I know is ESPN paid $300 million for access and we have to give it to them. I didn't cut the deal. BUt I'm part of the deal. We can't let it be a distraction. I've told the players they will get more exposure than any players on any team anywhere. And if they aren't doing well, it will be negative exposure." (Brown)
Mack definitely repeated more than once that he compares this year's team to 1998 and 2008 in terms of the questions surrounding both teams before the season and the ability of both teams to put a chip on the shoulder and get after it. (Brown)
Blake Gideon said Kenny Vaccaro had an incredible summer.
"That guy can play six positions on our defense," Gideon said. "He may be the best cover guy we have. He can play both corners. Both safeties. Nickel and outside linebacker. And he doesn't care about stats. He just wants to line up and hit somebody and contribute to a win."
Gideon also had high praise for Quandre Diggs, the freshman CB.
"That kid has a chance to have his picture on the wall one day," Gideon said. "He had an interception in 7-on-7 where he went up and grabbed it and pulled it down with one hand.
"Everyone went running out on the field after that one. It stopped the action. That's for sure." (Brown)
Quick Notes from our 1-on-1 with Bob Stoops
--When asked about the Longhorn Network airing high school football games, Stoops said that he does think it gives Texas an unfair advantage. "Everyone needs to have the same recruiting rules and it isn't the same if they are allowed to broadcast guys high school games. We're not even allowed to put a guys picture on a video board let alone broadcast their games. Either everyone does it the same or they need to change the recruiting rules so everyone can broadcast games." (Gaspar)
--One of Oklahoma's biggest holes to fill is at RT, where OU lost first-team All Big 12 starter Eric Mensik. One of the guys vying for the job is 6-6 Lane Johnson, who had been a tight end, then moved to defensive end and now has bulked up to 305 pounds.
"Lane has a chance to be really special," Stoops said. "He was starving himself to stay around 260 at tight end, then starving himself to stay at 275 as a defensive end. Now he can eat and has gotten up to 305."
--Landry Jones went on a mission trip to Haiti during the off-season and said it helped him appreciate everything in life. He said it was especially profound in the wake of LB Austin Box's death.
"Box's death has brought this team closer together," Jones said. "It was a devastating loss for this team. But we have rallied together in Box's memory. He was a blue-collar guy who worked really hard at whatever he was doing. We need to keep that spirit going forward."
--LB Travis Lewis said Florida State has been talking a lot of trash since OU's 47-17 victory over the Seminoles in Norman last year.
"They are giving us a lot of billboard material to chew on," Lewis said. "To quote Bart Scott, 'Can't wait!' I can't wait for that game. Let's settle it on the field."
--Travis Lewis is not shy about trash talking.
"I do it all, but when I get a guy down, I like to kick him a little bit, kick a little dirt on him," Lewis said. "But I'm not afraid to run my mouth."
--Stoops has very high hopes for LB Corey Nelson.
"He's very instinctive and had a great spring," Stoops said. "If he keeps progressing the way did in the spring, he will really help us out."
--Stoops almost had the exact same thing to say about RB Brandon Williams.
"Brandon is big, strong and fast," Stoops said. "Nowe we have to see if he can do all the rest of it - like take care of the ball, pass protection and being a great worker. If he does, he can get on the field pretty quickly."
--Stoops hasn't narrowed the running back committee at this point. But it includes five names, including Jermie Calhoun, who is coming off reconstructive knee surgery as well as Roy Finch, Brennan Clay and Jonathon Miller.
--Ryan Broyles said Nebraska's Prince Amukamara is the best CB he's faced in college football.
--Landry Jones said his biggest off-season priority was working on his footwork and making sure his body is pointed at the target when he's throwing the ball.
--Baylor coach Art Briles said he has never had his teams elect captains.
"I don't want to single out four guys to lead when I might have the chance to have 40 guys lead," Briles said. (Brown)
Quick notes from OU LB Travis Lewis 1-on-1
--When asked about everyone sleeping on the Longhorns, Travis Lewis said "We're not sleeping on them. We definitely don't under estimate those guys. When you go into a game like that anybody can win. Regardless if we're 12 and 1 and they're 1 and 12, they can win that game. We probably respect them the most, and they respect us just the same and that's why it's such a great game and such a great rivalry."
--On Cory Nelson, Lewis said he's good. "Our motto here is if you can play and no matter what your age is, if you're good, you're going to get on the field and he's a great... His greatest gift is that he is a sponge, he soaks everything in. His ability to soak everything in is just another thing that makes him great."
--When asked about his on field personality, he said his teammates would say he's outgoing. "I definitely don't shy away from opening my mouth. They (my teammates) wouldn't describe it as elegantly but they would probably say outgoing."
--When asked if he researches his trash talking for his subjects, Travis said no but once he gets them down, he keeps at them. "I'm not that crazy and intense, but once I get them down I like to kick them a little bit and shove their face in the dirt. Football is a violent sport and I think trash talking goes along with it." (Gaspar)
I just spoke with someone from a local Austin TV station and he told me that when he asked Turner Gill about Darrell Wyatt, Gill snapped "I'm not going to talk about him." (Gaspar)
Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said because he is breaking in a new QB, RB and two new WRs, "it might be up and down on offense to start the season."
But Tuberville likes Seth Doegge at QB. Doegge is a coach's son who is "passionate" about football.
"Football better be important to you if you want to be the best you can be, and football is important to Seth," Tuberville said. (Brown)