Unfortunately, you do.
It was a tongue-in-cheek remark on the heels of Texas 25-22 thriller at Ohio State, but the Longhorns woeful kickoff coverage is no laughing matter. The coverage was so "very, very poor" Saturday that Browns remark is indicative of the fact that it was better that Texas failed to score on the final series, and thus pin the Buckeyes on the Longhorn one-yard line, than it was to risk a kickoff and the kind of yardage that Browns not-so-special coverage team had been surrendering.
You hate to nit-pick following one of the biggest wins in program history and, arguably, the biggest of the Mack Brown era. ("The Rose Bowl was different because it was at the end of the season," Brown said.) With the win in Columbus, the 2005 Longhorns have put themselves in the drivers seat for the BCS title game, but would have lost that lofty perch if their virtually impregnable defense hadnt kept bailing out its shoddy KO coverage, giving QB Vince Young one last shot at the game-winning TD with 2:37 remaining.
Thats why the emphasis during Mondays practice, during a week when Rice comes to town for its annual paycheck, is to fix Texas on-going coverage woes.
This is a summary of Texas adventure in kickoff coverage at the Shoe:
San Antonio Holmes returns Richmond McGees kick 36 yards to the OSU 36.
Holmes returns McGees kick 47 yards to the OSU 49.
Ginn returns McGees kick 18 yards to the OSU 25.
Ginn returns McGees kick 46 yards to the OSU 47
Holmes returns McGees kick 26 yards to the OSU 31.
Ohio States average starting field position on kickoffs alone (i.e., not counting the shortened field following three turnovers) was approximately its own 38.5-yard line.
"Theyve got the two best return people in the country," Brown said, "and theyre going to do that against other people."
Its just that people have been doing that to Texas long enough, and thats why Brown is determined to fix the problem by the end of the week.
"This is going to be a huge emphasis for us," he said. "Im putting my entire defensive staff on this. Im assigning each coach to a couple of guys. This will be a huge emphasis during Mondays practice."
Its just that Brown has been saying that since January 1, when Michigans Steve Breaston set a Rose Bowl-record 222 yards in returns. The Wolverines average starting field position was their own 45.
"It should be easy to fix," Brown said. "Thats why its been so frustrating."
So, whats the problem? Typically, it has to do with "one or two guys" busting an assignment, Brown said, but that "its usually a different guy" every game.
"Sometimes theyll run and down and theyre afraid theyll run by (the ball carrier) and theyll stop a little soon. Or, another guy doesnt hold properly and another guy runs by because he should have grabbed him. Weve just got to continue to work on it."
Brown was asked if McGee was capable of kicking it out of the end zone.
"Well...," Brown hesitated, and then said, "No."
As far as backup PK Greg Johnson?
"Greg has kicked it really high but not out of the end zone," Brown said.
One of the things that players said coaches learned at Arkansas last season, when the crowd noise reached ear-splitting level, was to rely more on hand signals to call plays from the sidelines throughout the game. Likewise, one of the things coaches learned at Ohio State was to apply the same principle on special teams. That lesson was learned on Ramonce Taylors near-safety when he barely crossed the plain of the goal line before calling for a touchback in the second quarter. RT could not hear Tarell Browns instructions to down the ball in the end zone.
"Tarell told him to stay in," Brown said. "It never occurred to us that he might not be able to hear. After that, we told Tarell to go back and grab him so he would know where he was."
A relaxed Mack Brown joked with the media that he considered labeling it a designed play.
"I was going to tell yall that it was a one-man reverse," Brown smiled. "(RT) was aware enough to know that he was in trouble. He broke a tackle in the back of the end zone, circled right and then outran the containment guy. I thought for a while he was going to go all the way. It was a 35-yard gain and a great kickoff return."
Saturdays game vs. Rice is set for 6 p.m. on a Fox Sports Net telecast.