Losses aren't fun for anyone, but as fans sometimes we forget that no one works harder or spends more time preparing to win than those directly involved. Today's media session was brutal, but necessary to help give answers to the fan base. Doege answering questions about playcalling, and frustration, D.J. Johnson very solemn, and Coach Tuberville answering questions for over 30 minutes (most sessions with him last 15-20.) and getting really in depth about the process of gameplans and the process of play calling. It was very interesting, granular stuff if you paid attention and really listened. I applaud all three for standing up at the podium on a day when that couldn't have been easy.
On the most frustrating part of losing to Texas:
"The fact that we were so close to winning the game. I think we had great opportunities to score touchdowns, and we didn't --had to settle for field goals. I think if we were to convert those into touchdowns, I think it would have been a different ballgame. I think that was hard, just because it seemed like we were so close, we were on the goal line, we were on the 3-yard line a couple times, and we couldn't punch it in, or a penalty happened and we were set back 15, 20 yards. That was hard -- it was hard to do it just because we had the opportunity to win the game, and we just didn't finish, and that's something we had been preaching on as a football team is finish drives, finish in the red zone, finish games, finish quarters, and it just kind of came down to finishing and we didn't get it done.
On how this team responds:
"I think we have a really good football team, and I think what's good about this football team is we really like each other. It's not just a bunch of guys that come in this building and all of a sudden they're a football team. We're a football team out of this building. I think everybody understands that we still have an opportunity, like I said, to go to a really good Bowl game. Maybe we didn't win the Big 12, maybe that opportunity is kind of out the door. But we still have a great opportunity to do something special and a great opportunity to send the seniors out on the right note, and we just need to prepare well like we've been doing. I think we've been doing a great job of practicing and preparing for football games, and we just need to -- when the lights come on, we just need to make plays."
On how much freedom he has checking at the line of scrimmage:
"I don't have the freedom to just check out of any play. But we do have tags such as if we have a run play called, we'll tag it with a pass play, and whether the defense gives us a certain look then we'll go with it, whatever plays best. If the run play is best, we'll run the ball, if the pass play is best we'll run the pass. I can't ever check into a pass."
On what this team could do differently to stay positive:
I think we do a really good job of preparing and a really good job of practicing, so I don't think we need to change anything on that end. I think we need to continue doing what we're doing. I think just on game days, the energy level could be a little better. I think on the sidelines guys can bring a little more energy for the guys that aren't playing, and I think it's huge for us to know that -- and learn from these past three games when a negative play happens to overcome it, and the next series of offense we need to go score, the next series of the defense, knowing we're going to get a three-and-out or create a turnover instead of if we don't do this it's going to snowball on us. I think the past two games that's the biggest disappointment I see in this football team is when a sudden change happens we need to either weather the storm or take advantage of something that's been given to us.
DJ Johnson –
On how much losing to Texas and if being from Austin makes it sting a little more:
"I don't know if it really affects me as much being from Austin. That doesn't really play a part of in it. It's just being a senior and knowing what we wanted to accomplish this season, three losses was never in our sight. We never thought about having those three losses. It's huge. It's a huge impact on us, on me personally, because I know I wanted to get at least one win away from those guys before I graduated. It's a difficult loss, but as we have to do, we have to continue to just move on, go to the next game, continue to play hard, continue to play as a team and play together."
On how he thinks the Red Raiders performed in their 5 games in a row against ranked teams:
Not like we liked. We didn't want to come out this way. We wanted to make sure that we were up. As I said, our goal was to come out undefeated this season. That was the most important thing for us, just to make sure we win each game and play each game. We weren't able to do that. We did fairly well. We did a lot better than anyone anticipated of us, so with that, that's huge for us. We were able to overcome a lot of adversity and a lot of doubts, and people not really giving us a chance. I mean, that's huge in that perspective. But from our perspective we didn't achieve what we wanted to achieve."
On how important the next game is to set the tone for the rest of the season:
"It's the next game. I mean, every game is like that. There's not one game that goes by where we're not thinking that it's around a game or it's an important game or the biggest game of the season. Like I always say, if you lose one game, that affects the season. Every game we go into, we go into with the mindset that this is the biggest game because it's the next game and it's the most important game because it's the next game, and if we lose this game then we're one step further away from what we're trying to accomplish. So yeah, we're going into this game and we're going to make sure that we go in there and prove to ourselves that we're still capable of doing what we wanted to do and prove it to the rest of the world."
On how not to let Texas "beat you twice" :
"Well, there's not a whole lot you can do other than talk about it and try to get a good game plan in and try to get everybody focused. The seniors yesterday, they were obviously down, and as we talked as a group and then as a team, it's one of those things that we can -- if we can fix the problems, we can control it. So we don't really worry about who we've played. We haven't done that all year long. We worry about what we do and what we can do and where we can get better." We know what we need to work on and the things we need to get better at. This will be a different game also this week playing at 11:00. That's a tough game to play. The fans are usually not usually as quite as into it as they were the game last week, so we've got to do a lot of motivational things from the standpoint of coaches and players and seniors and get everybody upbeat early in the week, forget about last week and go to this game and try to play much better than what we've played."
On how the playcalling from the previous game is evaluated:
"On Sundays we take every drive, whether it's nine drives, 10 drives, 11 drives, and we go pretty much through -- we don't go play by play unless we feel like it was a point in the game where it was a deciding factor. But we go runs, passes, right, left, deep, how many screens we ran, how many draws, then what side did we run, right or left. We do that mainly for self-scouting, but we also do it for how we set other plays up, did we do it the right way. We look at formations, did we put enough formation into the boundary, personnel. So we do all of it; we go through every bit of it in terms of trying to dissect what we called was right or not. Neal calls the plays, but most plays are called two or three plays in advance of what you do because you try to set things up -- any offensive coordinator worth his salt is a guys that knows what he's going to call, he plans it for the next drive, what formation he wants to run, what personnel, what has worked in the past, do you want to go right or left, and we go back and look at that. Did we change enough, did we get in too much of a pattern. So it's all broken down scientifically, and then we put it all in a computer and we keep it -- in other words, if we start from the 20, if we start from the 30, if we start from the 40, we keep numbers in terms of field position of where we started the first play from, and so a lot of it goes -- I mean, it's way over my head in terms of just thinking about it. But I can understand it a lot more by looking at it on paper, and that's the reason we put it on paper."
"I know everybody complains. I complain about run-pass ratio sometimes, and we do keep run-pass, right, left on the sideline where I can look at it. I'll ask them when the defense is on the field how many runs we've had, how many passes, how many deep throws, have we thrown enough to Eric Ward, have we played enough tight end sets, two backs, all those. Neal gets criticized more during the game than he does afterwards because I give him my input. So do the other offensive coaches. So it's all looked at very thoroughly as you go through a game as well as going into a game and after the game."
On the process of putting a gameplan together:
Well, we put the game plan together, and you have two of them, you have run and pass, and then you break the pass down, whether it's play action or drop back, and you do the run, whether it's a one back-run or a power run. You break it down. And we watch film and put it all together, and you have Chad Scott that's pretty much in charge of the running game along with the offensive line coach during the week because you can't watch it all, and then you get all together on Tuesday before you go to practice starting tomorrow and then you kind of put the running game together, what are the best plays, what the offensive line coach feels like the best play, what Chad Scott feels like the running backs can do, whether it's short yardage or long yardage. Same thing in the passing game with Cumbie and Mainord, and then Neal kind of -- he kind of goes back and forth and puts his two cents' worth in, as well as I do, and then you get that in, you run it all week long, practice it, then you get in the game, and I don't like anybody talking on the phones with the coordinator calling plays. Worst thing you can do is have a head coach and assistants hollering in your ear because I've done that before, I've had to call in and you've got to actually do it yourself. It's got to be one guy, one thought, but the thoughts of other people come whether it's time out or whether you're off the field. And so what we do is the offense comes off the field, they sit down and we go through every play and every defense that we saw against that formation, what they ran. Defenses are called versus formations and down and distance. So we go through that and we talk about the -- why that worked or didn't work, and we critique it and break it down, and okay, do we need to run the ball more, do we need to pass the ball, do we need to play action more the next time we get the ball, do we need to go after a corner, do we need to go after a linebacker. There's a lot that goes through it. Offensive coaches do not watch the game when the defense is on the field nor does the defense watch when the offense is on the field. All your work is done between. But when the offense is on the field, there's one guy that makes the decision.
Now, Neal will ask me, run or pass, Coach. If this play doesn't work, if it's 3rd and 5, do you want to run it, do you want to pass it and I'll give him my thought. But then he gets the last call. He knows a lot more about it than I do because I'm over on the defensive side and a lot of times I'm not even watching the game, I'm listening to the defense and trying to help them. There's a lot of thought that goes through it. It's not just let's run this one this time. There's a lot of knowledge that goes into every play that's called. And then again, he's got to try to set them up. You've got to set up play action, you've got to set up run, and you set it up with formations and you try to get them lined up in a way that you can take advantage. Texas did a good job of moving tight ends, formations, moving, and you saw us, we were running -- we were just trying to get lined up. That's their philosophy of offense is trying to get you lined up wrong and get gaps. I don't care about getting people lined up wrong. We want to know where they're at and we want to be able to block them and make the play work. it's easier for me to sit back and -- after the offense comes off the field, Neal, what did you call that play for. It's easy for me to say that, but it's a lot harder I'm telling you when you're there calling and you've got about 30, 40 seconds to make that decision. That's the reason we go freeze a lot of times. You'll see us line up, we'll get down and we're all looking at the formation and we'll have one guy in the press box giving Neal the front and one the coverage, and Neal, they're going to be in zero coverage, they're going to bring five, and then he'll call a play. We'll match a play to that. That's what you look on your call sheet. It's more than just run pass, it's a lot more complicated than that.
On the thought process of whether or not to kick a field goal or go for it on 4th down:
Yeah, we kind of look and it's kind of like being out in the middle of --for instance, there was one time we were around the 35 or 40 yard line going in in the first half, and I decided not to go for it. You've got to look at the momentum of the game and how you're playing, and do you need points, do you need motivation, do you need the momentum. So like the second half we went for 4th and 8, and in the first half we didn't go for a 4th and 5. So there's just -- you just have to kind of go by your feel of the players and do they need a boost, do we need to get the fans more involved, do you need to get the momentum back, is it getting away from you. I think a lot of those little things go into it.
But kicking field goals is a little different. When you drive, for instance, 60, 70 yards and you get down and you've got 4th and 3 or 4th and 4 you have to take points most of the time because it's a huge blow to your offense to come out empty, and it's also that for your defense. It's more mental than it is anything else. That's kind of how I do it. I've looked at how several people do it, and it's just kind of a feel thing of when you want to kick an onside kick or run a trick play. There has to be a feel in terms of what the sideline is like and how the momentum is going and do you need that extra shot of adrenaline.
On why Tech wasn't able to run the ball against Texas when other Big XII teams were successful:
"I don't know. The other teams, of course we looked at all of it, and a lot of times when people ran the football, they caught him at the right movement in terms of they run a lot of twists and things, and for some reason we didn't catch them in as many twists. They didn't twist as much in this game as they had in the past. That's really what got them in trouble against West Virginia. They were trying to rush the passer and they were just handing off to 13 and he was just running right by them. We didn't run it quite as well, but we're not as good a running team as some people, either. We don't live and die off our running game. If we get 150 yards a game that's pretty much what we would have hoped at the beginning of the year. If you don't live off that, we're not an offensive line that's going to get in a three-point stance and knock you off the ball, that's not going to happen until we say we're a running team, we're going to be a passing team second, but we don't want to do that. We think that the players we've got, we can do better throwing the football. And if you say we're going to go in that game and we're going to run it 80 percent of the time because we hadn't stopped the run, I just --that would have never worked. Just the mentality of what we do and our running game is not much of a power running game. And then when we lose our fullback and tight end the two, three previous weeks before that, that's hurt us, also. We do want to be a running team. We want to run the ball close to 50 percent of the time. But our big plays and our winning is going to come from throwing the ball and throwing it down the field."