Gary Barnett: To review the A&M game, we played a pretty complete game. Offensively, we really hit on all cylinders. We did a lot of good things.
My only disappointment was probably the punt coverage on one play. And then I guess that our twos would've kept them out of the end zone there at the end.
But we got to play a lot of guys. That always makes practice better on Mondays and Tuesdays, and we got some good experience for some players, as well.
I think everybody knows Alonzo Barrett's status. It's probably six weeks before he can play again. And Daniel Sanders is probably a minimum two weeks, probably three weeks out. We'll have to see on him. Other than that we came out of it fairly healthy.
I felt like we gained some confidence coming out of that game. Of course it sort of sets up this one for us in Texas.
I think the biggest difference I see between this Texas team and the Texas teams we played over the last four years is they're playing really well as a team. In the past, you wondered if there was enough footballs to go around for all of those guys. Now, just the orientation of the game itself, the option aspect of it, seems to lend itself more to the team concept. And they seem to be playing really well as a team. Especially on offense.
Vince Young is just a wonderful football player. He seems to be everything that you want in a student-athlete, from talking to Mack Brown and watching him.
Their offensive line is impressive. As I watch those guys, they impress me more than any one unit.
Jamaal Charles is playing like a guy who really wants to make a name for himself.
I think probably Vince Young's growth as a passer has taken them to another level. You could see it last year, especially in the bowl game. You can't make him one-dimensional anymore. You can't take the run away and make him throw because he's throwing so well. That just makes him really hard to contain. He's such a big guy, and such a tremendous athlete. It looks like he can just take the game in his own hands and change it.
Defensively they impressed me going into the (2004) Michigan game, and coming out of that game, I wondered if they'd take a step down from last year with all those guys that they lost. But they're right there where they need to be. Aaron Harris is a terrific football player. All four guys in the secondary are really solid. There isn't a weakness in their defense.
And that's why they're No. 2, or No. 1, depending on how you voted.
We're playing a really good football team. Mack's done a great job of recruiting and getting those kids to play together. He's got them right where you want ‘em. They certainly handled Oklahoma. You watch the Ohio State game, and you could see them grow as that game went on.
It's a great opportunity for us. We look at it that way. We're coming off, obviously, an important win, a game that gave us a lot of confidence. Our team's been growing in confidence and maturity in the five games that we've had. It's a good test for us.
We've been on the road now twice. We've been in two hostile environments; we're going to go to another one. We've been in the heat, we're going to go back to the heat. I think they're expecting 90 degree weather. It's 40 here today. So it'll be a little bit of a challenge.
But all of our guys are looking forward to it. We've got a lot of guys from Texas. All of us have been looking forward to this game.
Q: Seeing they beat Oklahoma for the first time in a while last week, do you think this Texas team is grounded enough to take that in stride and know they need to take care of business this week?
GB: I think so. It's a veteran offensive line. When you're around the workings of a football team, if you've got a veteran offensive line, they pretty much can take control of your football team. Those guys are veterans and I see that happening with them. They've got a lot of young guys playing at the skill positions, but I think the offensive line sets the tone for the Texas football team.
Q: How do you match up with them?
GB: Right now we're playing pretty decently. But for us it's going to be a heck of a test. They're a little more physical and bigger than Miami was, but have the same kind of speed. It's good to have played that (Miami) game, going into this one.
Q: What's the benefit of having played a mobile quarterback just before this game?
GB: You have a lot of carryover in practice, really from the last two weeks. Bernard Jackson simulates that quarterback for us in practice, and our guys have worked against him now three weeks in a row. You get better when you do that. You get better at chasing him.
Q: How much catch up will you guys have to do after yesterday's practice was short due to rain?
GB: We lost about an hour's worth of work yesterday. We'll just have to try to disperse it over the next three days.
Q: Did the video system (which broke down Monday) get fixed?
GB: We got it on last night about 8 o'clock. So we lost three or four hours of video work, too.
Q: You've faced good players over the years; have you seen a player in recent years who can take over a game like Vince Young can?
GB: That's a good question. He takes it over in every aspect. I go back to the (2204 Texas vs.) Michigan game, which I thought was one heck of a football game. I watched him single-handedly decide they were going to win the game. That's what it looked like to me. When he cranks it on, there's nothing you can do. You're in for a fight. He can turn a whole game around.
Reggie Bush, to me, is the most dynamic player in college football because he can beat you in three different ways. But I'd say Vince and Bush are in the same category as far as taking over a game.
Q: How does he done that?
GB: I don't know. I think it's just his competitive nature. He makes plays. He makes plays with his feet or his arm or his character. He's just one of those players.
Q: The way your team has played the last two games, you couldn't be going into the Texas game under better circumstances.
GB: Like I said, we're growing in confidence and we're playing better football. This is a completely different game for us – the feel for it is completely different from what it was a year ago, even though it's on the road. We're going to take a pretty confident team down there. Even four years ago when we went down (during conference play), we didn't know who was going to play quarterback. We went down there and turned the ball over early and really cost ourselves. But I think we're a more confident team going down there this time than we were then.
Q: Does this team resemble the team that won the Big 12 in any way? Most good teams get better every week?
GB: I think most of our teams have. The next year, in 2002, we did the same thing. We did it in 2003. Last year, we came on at the end of the year. That seems to be how we do it.
I don't know if I'm quite ready to say it's got the same feel, but it's pretty close.
Q: How much of a factor is it going to be that many students from here are going down to the game because it's fall break?
GB: Anybody in those stands that isn't wearing orange is going to help. Trust me. That's a fun place to play, but it's a hard place to play. It's very loud. I wouldn't say it's totally intimidating, but it's a pretty hostile crowd.
Q: Can you talk about the play of Texas defensive lineman Rodrique Wright?
GB: Really, that whole front four is pretty good. And he's playing really well right now. We've just got to play well up front. Offensive line is always a key. If we can play well up front, it enhances our chances.
Q: You hear differing opinions about Young's future. Do you think he can play in the NFL? Or can he star in the NFL?
GB: I think he can make an NFL team. I don't know (what position) he's going to play. Somebody else will have to make that evaluation. But he certainly is a great athlete. He'll play on Sundays and you'll be talking about him.
Q: When you walked away from that Miami game, players seemed to have a sense of anger about not playing better. Did that game prove to your guys you could compete with top 10-15 teams?
GB: I think you just need some validation. That game sort of validated their confidence, and validated what they thought. I think that's why we went to Oklahoma State as confident as we did, and into A&M as confident as we are. We can do some things in practice, we're running off the ball. We're doing some things we haven't done in a couple of years, and it's mostly because of confidence.
Q: But was there a little tiny doubt in the back of their mind maybe how good they could play?
GB: I think the fact we had two weeks to think about them creates some doubt. We had two weeks to sit there and watch how good they were. I don't know that our guys had that, but I know in my case, I had too much time to watch those guys.
Like I usually do, on Sunday I don't think we can beat any of them, and by Thursday I think we can beat them all. I didn't feel that way about Miami, necessarily. We were still looking for ways on Thursday night before the game to find an edge. But we went down there and played them hard. That's the one thing our guys took from that – if you just go play them hard, we're good enough to play with everybody. We just can't make those mistakes.
Q: Do your linemen feel like they played Miami to a draw?
GB: Yeah, our line came out of that game very confident.
Q: Did you beat the Longhorns on the recruiting trail for any of your players on this team?
GB: I don't think so. Mack always says every team he plays in the Big 12 is loaded with Texas kids. He can only take 25 a year, so every team that plays them is mad because half their kids didn't get recruited by Texas.
Q: Are you closer with Mack than most coaches?
GB: Yeah, he's probably the coach I'm most close to.
Q: Why do you and he hit it off so well?
GB: I think we have a lot of philosophical things in common. I think our wives have a lot in common. I appreciate the way he treats kids and people. I've never for a minute they would do anything wrong or illegal down there. I have a great deal of respect for he does everything. Other than that, we just happened to hit it off.
Q: Did you call him after the Oklahoma game?
GB: I called him last year. We talk three or four times during the season.
Q: Last year, their blitz pressure was a big factor. Do you think your offensive line and protection scheme is better designed for that this year?
GB: They're a little bit different team than they were a year ago. And we've played some teams that have pressured us and handled it pretty well. We've only given up six sacks. When they brought pressure Saturday night, Joel just took care of it.
But this is a little bit different thing. They pressure, but not like they did last year.
Q: They don't just bring everybody?
GB: They haven't. They might Saturday, but they haven't so far.
Q: Obviously Texas is a good team. But why do you think they're No. 1 as opposed to USC? (Barnett has voted Texas No. 1 in this year's Coaches' polls)
GB: What I saw in the Rose Bowl, and what I knew was coming back on that football team, and where I saw Vince Young, I just felt like that team, with its schedule and everything else, has the best chance to be No. 1. I think USC is a great football team. But I had to choose one or the other, and I took Texas.
Q: What would you do if you had Mack Brown's budget?
GB: I'd pay my coaches more. Build an indoor facility. Get more computers (for the study hall).
Q: How much involvement do you have in the play calling? Is there a filter set up, or do you give them an idea of what you want called?
GB: Sometimes I do. If I've got a feel for something, then I do. But nine times out of 10 I do it as a suggestion, not as an order. Normally, it filters through me.
Q: Do you use veto every now and then?
GB: I have vetoed.
Q: That game Saturday, how much of it was you and how much of it was Shawn Watson?
GB: Oh, it was 99 percent Watson.
Q: What was the one percent?
GB: The tight end delay.