On the second scrimmage
Most reports from the first scrimmage had the defense winning the battle between the two sides, forcing multiple turnovers. But defensive coordinator Manny Diaz admitted Sunday that the second scrimmage didn't go as well for his side of the ball.
I felt like we were not as clean as we were the first scrimmage," Diaz said. "And what I mean by clean, I though we were a count off. We were where we were supposed to be, but I thought our reaction time in some ways was half a count off. What we found when that's the case is that interceptions turn into pass breakups. We had some pass breakups that might have been interceptions. Pass breakups turn into completed passes.
"Tackles for loss turn into three-yard gains, which no one thinks that the offense getting three yards is a big play," Diaz said. "But for us, when we could had him at minus-four, that's a seven-yard loss on our part. That totally changes the dynamic of the series."
On the run defense
Diaz said that the nature of any practice was that one side went home upset. And so he left the scrimmage upset after the Longhorn defense allowed the offense to run the ball well, though Diaz said the overall outlook for the season was good.
"There's been an imbalance between our first-and-second-team defense in terms of giving up run yards," Diaz said. "We're trying to sell our plan to win. If we're hard to run on, and we don't give up big plays, the worst thing that can ever happen is that they end up in your red zone. And then if you can out-tough them in the red zone, you're hard to score on. (If) you're hard to score on, you're hard to beat."
Young group at cornerback
Diaz actually said the Longhorns' cornerback group, which is comprised all of freshmen and sophomores, might not be the youngest corner group he's coached. He also said that he's awfully high on the talent and moxie of the Texas crop.
"I like the group of kids we have out there," Diaz said. "They come to work every day. They are extremely competitive. That sounds almost cliche, but that's what that position is all about. That's a fighter's position because you have to be half crazy to play out there because there's no margin for error."
Chris Whaley adding versatility
Diaz had plenty of positive things to say about the former running back/H-back and his transition to the defensive line. Now weighing almost 280 pounds, Whaley has given the Longhorns depth at both defensive end and defensive tackle, and Diaz said he was happy with what he'd seen so far.
"He is absolutely in the mix," Diaz said. "I tell you the neatest thing about Chris is that he's a good athlete, you say 'well, jeez, that's a grown man pushing (against him) in there', and he doesn't flinch."
Finding the right guys
Diaz said that his quest to find the right 22 guys is probably about halfway complete. He said the Longhorns are probably just about to figuring out their top 11 and moving from there.
"What I tell the guys is this: 'You've got to prove to your teammates that, if I tell you to go in, the rest of the team doesn't look at me like I'm some crazy man,'" Diaz said.
He also said that he was telling the players of the need to be ready, regardless of what the depth chart says. He said he showed the defenders Mississippi State's season opener a year ago, when the Bulldogs lost a first-team cornerback and a first-team WILL linebacker on the first three drives. The second injury was compounded in that the Bulldogs were already without their second-team WILL, also due to injury.
So the Bulldogs were forced to turn to their third-string WILL, who played a whopping 50 snaps in the game.
"You have got to get ready to play in a football game," Diaz said.