Texas Coordinators Talk Midway Through Fall Camp

Some notable quotables from our triumvirate of young Turks. Some good nuggets in here.

Provided by as always by the good people at Texassports.com.

Manny Diaz

I really enjoy listening to Diaz, primarily because he hasn't learned to be a cliche factory yet and his views are informed by internet stat nerdery. This is Huckleberry's dream DC.

Defense 101

We sort of have a plan for success involving being tough to run the ball against, not giving up big plays, being great on possession downs and third downs, and being great in the red zone. They're starting to see that if we're hard to run on and don't give up big plays, the worst that can happen is the ball ends up in the red zone. If we can toughen up in there, we're hard to score on and if you're hard to score on you're hard to beat.

Perfect distillation of what defense really is. Stop the run, don't allow cheap scores over the top, get off the field on 3rd down, field goals in the red zone instead of touchdowns. Unfortunately, doing it is harder than describing it.

On Depth Charts

I mean, what difference does it make? In reality, how we rank our players on August 1st or August 15th or September 1st, to me it's really irrelevant. Because once the game goes on, things are so dynamic. The least important thing on defense is who runs out there on the first play of the game because we intend to play a lot of people.

This tempers my eagerness for a depth chart. It also tells you that he approaches defense as a numbers problem, not some eternal quest for the ideal starting 11.

Gotcha Theory

This separates great defenses from good ones:

We feel like there are some times where we can get the offense in some bad downs. When we do, we have to capitalize. Then there have been times where we've had some gotcha downs and we let them off the hook. A play gets run right into the middle of a blitz or something like that, and it's a play that no one notices because the back spins off a tackle and falls forward for two yards and its second and eight. What we're trying to teach them is how this all relates to the game because it would have been second and 14. The difference for an offense between second and eight and second and 14 is monumental. Once we get them behind the chains, now we've got them in third and long. We're trying to teach them that we don't want to make big plays because it's cool and it will make people like us on campus, we want to make plays because that wins football games. Putting the offense in negative situations wins football games.

If you haven't read this article from our friend Peter Bean on Burnt Orange Nation, it really gives you an understanding that this isn't Diaz spouting basic coaching platitudes - he actually knows all of the conversion probabilities for down and distance in college football games. And lots of other stat nerd stuff. And he's conveying it to the players in ways they can grasp. Manny is one of us.

Major Applewhite

Major is a baby-faced killer and a borderline masochist. I love these quotes on creating what I term 'positive insecurity.'

Security, Comfort, Entitlement

You use the word uncomfortable. You want to make them a little bit uncomfortable from the standpoint where you just can't rest on their laurels. You can't sit in the shade, and I think that's been apparent. There's been fifth-year seniors that have been starters that have seen freshmen or sophomores go ahead of them, so they've had to fight back to get those opportunities back and get those positions there. That's healthy, and that's what you want to do as a team and a coach. You want to create an environment where you're guys feel like they've got to produce to their potential every single day to earn their job.

Amen.

...it's a great thing to see them stressed. You want to see them stressed out. You want to see them worry,”Is my job safe?”, because that puts them back in the dorm room, back in the play book. That keeps them in the meeting room a little longer after you leave as a coach, studying more tape. I think it's very healthy and very natural. If you have a 105 football players that feel comfortable about their role on the team and this is it and it's set in stone, you're not going to achieve very much. So we want to put them in that environment, add a little pressure and see how they respond to it.

That quote, more than any other, explains why Mack Brown badly needed a reboot.

Bryan Harsin

Bryan Harsin always amuses me with his candor.

What Would Prevent Us From Playing Freshman RBs?

You know, I don't know. I think, obviously for running backs, if you're turning the ball over, like any other position, that's huge. Not knowing your assignments, which those guys have done a great job with that...They've got the vision. They've got the instincts. And you just cut them loose as long as they're heading the right direction and hanging on to the ball, they should be okay.

Football is hard! Harsin's bewilderment that there's anything special that would prevent you from playing freshmen RBs cracked me up.

Love this next quote because it shows you Harsin's basic philosophy - find things you're players are good at and don't worry about how they fit some Platonic ideal of a position:

“Okay, what's this guy's specialty going to be?” We still haven't gotten to, really, the game-plan part of things, but we'll get down to where we have certain guys doing certain things and that's how they're going to work that week in practice. And when they get into the game, they're specialized in that area and they're going to feel a lot more confident going into that particular play because that's all they've done.

For this reason, we may have more talent on our roster at some spots than we currently believe. Harsin doesn't define DJ Monroe or DeSean Hales in terms of position so much as Stuff They're Good At. That's a really important distinction. Our old coaching staff often had very Platonic notions of some necessary set of requirements at every position and if you didn't have a check in one box, you were unplayable. Harsin, to put it bluntly, thinks that's madness.

That said, all coaches love a multi-tool who does everything well. And that's why they love Joe Bergeron.

On Our Diaper Dandy RBs

Brown and Bergeron are both big, and they are both powerful. But it's interesting, they're both very quick. They both have great balance. I think that's what you've seen on tape. Both of those guys have done a great job at taking shots and keeping their feet, and they're taking some hits.

Big backs are a dime a dozen. Big backs with vision, skill, and quicks are not. That's why both Bergeron and Brown need to watch their weight like 1970s Pan-Am stewardesses. Gain slow and don't lose what it is that makes you different.

**

Anyone else enthused after reading this press conference?

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