Mack Brown Spring Press Conference - The One Where He Says Lots of Candid, Interesting Stuff; Shocking Us All

DJ discovers split ends

Interesting stuff from Mack Brown's recent press conference courtesy of the always helpful Texassports.com. He was surprisingly open and his musings reveal some of the mindset of the new staff and the kinds of conversations they've been having in the coach's offices. Give it a read, as it's well worth your time.

[WR] John Harris will rejoin the team for practice today. [LB] Demarco Cobbs will rejoin the team for practice today. Sheroid Evans will be out there full speed today as well.

Welcome back. Harris is a physical blocking presence outside and a reliable pass catcher who can throw touchdowns when we trickerate. Cobbs is our starting SLB and a Diaz favorite, but he needs reps. Sheroid is the fastest guy on our team in shoulder pads and I know our coaches are eager to see what that he looks like at safety, nickel, and on special teams.

DJ Monroe will finally be getting his reps at WR...

He needs to be outside. That's who he is. And to do that he's got to catch better. He runs 10.3 100 meters. So it makes sense that that's his place to play. So we've told him catch better. I mean, you just need to do that. It's really important. So work really hard. You're fast. You're great with the ball in your hands in space, but we can't hide you if you've got one play.

This is good news for our offense if DJ can improve catching the ball and it certainly helps to disguise some of our DJ packages. It's also revealing of our plans for Gray. We're clearing out the depth chart at RB. Put sprinters like Goodwin and Monroe - as incomplete as they may be - on the field with Shipley and the new attitude Mike Davis and you're asking some questions that an opposing DC may not be able to answer.

I liked reading this:

Right now we have some good young ones coming in. I told the entire team Sunday night, when we met, that you've got seven days to get your spot. And like last year, we played 18 freshmen. So if you don't have a spot leaving here, we're going to put freshmen in your place. But what we will do is put up on the board after the spring game who we think can beat the best teams we play or all the teams we play. And that doesn't mean he's a starter, but if he can give us 20 plays, can give us 12 plays, he'll be in that group. If you're not in that group and you're not significant in special teams, then we're going to put a freshman in your place. And that's going to be your fault now.

Okay then, Mack. Bring it. That outburst is a little like to seeing your mother jump on a motorcycle after grinding out a cigarette on a Hells Angels' forehead. Awesome, but unexpected.

Dominic Espinosa thoughts...

Dominic Espinosa has done a really good job. He's smart. He's getting stronger. Hurt his shoulder senior year in high school. Didn't get to lift that spring. Then he had an operation. So he really hasn't lifted at all the last couple of years. So he's above 300 pounds now. So he's getting stronger.

Good to hear. Longhorn Scott and I had a recent phone conversation in which we were trying to figure out the pervasive "Dominic Espinosa is killing this football team!" meme, when guys like Hopkins and Walters struggled just as much as he did. Not to mention Trey Allen. Or the QB position. Or our RB's constitutional soundness. Espinosa is young. He's getting coached and he's able to lift now. He'll improve.

Mack had some thoughts on OL philosophy that were promising:

'07 is when we started getting trouble some on the offensive line. And we quit redshirting guys on the offensive line. We had to start playing them. And we haven't been as consistently good across the board two-deep since then. And that's what we've gotta get back to. We've got a decision to make with Kennedy Estelle and Curtis Riser when they come in.

A-fuckin'-men. I've been beating this horse for some time. Good to hear Mack take a couple of whacks at it. Suck it up, realize that OL age more like wine than may flies, and stop robbing Peter to pay Paul for our previous developmental sins.

Akina has some love for Duke Thomas...

But Duane likes the fact now that even Duke Thomas, he thinks may get in the mix, because he's done so well in the first eight days at corner. He's been really impressed with him, and we think he's shown maturity beyond his years at walking out there and playing corner for a guy that didn't play there much. So we've really been impressed with his attention to detail, his toughness and his maturity

Pretty remarkable how Quandre Diggs, Adrian Phillips, Duke Thomas, and Mykkele Thompson all basically played the same Do Everything And Win The Game For Us position in high school. Not to mention John Harris and Miles O. Our recruiting process is now more about overall athletic ability and personal attributes of competitiveness and toughness than worrying about how many reps they got in a narrow positional area. ATH-O-LETE isn't a dirty word.

A bizarre rule change that I hadn't heard about yet. Check this out...

And then the second rule that changed, we met with the officials for an hour yesterday as a staff and this is one that disturbs me and I feel like we should talk about it and I may not get it all right, but if you lose your helmet next year, you have to stop playing. You can still play in your initial contact with the player in front of you, but you lose your helmet, you can't continue to play somewhere else. So if I'm a defensive end rushing the passer, supposedly I can rush him, but quarterback steps up, I can't continue to rush or it's a penalty. If you lose your helmet, you have to come out of the game for a play, regardless. So your quarterback could lose his helmet on the next to the last play of the game and he's out for the last play.

I can't think of any injuries associated with this, so the remedy seems odd. A lot of players play without their chin straps properly buttoned and there are an alarming number of helmets coming off on any given play, so perhaps that fashion goes by the wayside. Or the NCAA realizes they made a stupid rule that has no impact on the real causes of concussive head trauma.

Linebacker play:

We want those guys to show up here in the last seven days. Steve Edmond and Jordan Hicks have really had a good eight days. Jordan's had his best eight days and Steve’s just gotta keep playing more. Steve's got some unbelievable ability but still has to keep playing.

Regarding Edmond, I don't recall Mack being this exuberant about a player that hasn't started a game yet, but it's pretty clear that Edmond has some early returns that suggest he'll win the election for AssKicking Mike. Can't wait to see him.

Mack on five year scholarship proposals solving the problem of programs running off kids....

The way I feel like is we explain to the parents it is a one year scholarship that's renewed every June. But if your son, if he has a felony or flunks out of school or doesn't try at all, he'll be gone for the first two and the third one we're going to try to help you get us make him try. Other than that he'll have his scholarship.

Most Texas transfers occur because the player's ego doesn't align with their actual play. I've yet to hear a Mack Brown ran Player X off story. Similarly, the medical scholly can be used as an honorable discharge so that all parties can move on.

QB game managers...

What we'd like to do is have a good enough team that if the quarterback's not having a stellar day we can still win. And the last four or five years we haven't been that way.

Glad we had this revelation.

How about Bergeron's stature?

His weight has fluctuated between 238 and 241, and he hasn't lost one ounce of speed. And some of his high school teammates came to one of the junior days and saw him and said; My gosh, he looks like he's really lost weight. I walked over and asked him. And he said, "I'm 241. I've actually gained weight." But he's lost body fat

Injured vs. hurt...

Cedric Benson against Michigan, the first play of the game, hyperextended his knee and the doctor said, "I'm not sure I would play if I was you because you're a first round draft choice." [Benson] said, "Tape it up, I'm going to play. " He went back in and played every play. That's the attitude we want to get on this football team. had too many guys in my estimation hurt. We've had too many guys that will miss a game or miss a practice. So we're putting a tremendous amount of emphasis on who is out there every day, who is consistent every day, who gets ready to practice every day and who is excited about playing every day

You may remember me writing about this a week ago. Was this message targeted to any players in particular?

I quit paying much attention to Brown's press conferences some time in 2002, but this one struck me as candid and direct with regard to a number of subjects. I heard some really encouraging things that suggest he's been doing some thinking on program direction. I like what I heard. Is this the offseason making me an easy mark or is Mack getting all transparent and extra butch?

What do you think?

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