Two years ago it appeared that the Texas Longhorns’ long history of success had hit a bit of a road block. Even coach Mack Brown admits he didn’t do his job very well and had to refocus heading into last season. It certainly wasn’t all roses, but the team finished with an 8-5 record and a victory in the Holiday Bowl. In Texas has regained some of its swagger, is 4-0 after beating Oklahoma State last weekend and has moved into the top 10 in some of the national rankings. Exactly where the Longhorns stand will be known after Saturday, as they face the high-powered offense of West Virginia.
Mack Brown joined 790 The Zone in Atlanta with The Red Zone to discuss the progression of quarterback David Ash, Texas’ success up to this point, facing West Virginia and Geno Smith, his team’s play defensively, the status of the Big 12 right now and the culture of college football.
On quarterback David Ash taking a big step in Saturday’s victory over Oklahoma State:
“I think, watching them grow up as players, and then when you’ve been a head coach for 27 years … watching them grow after they get out of school, whether it’s in the NFL or with their families. … David Ash has made as much progress over the last two weeks as I’ve ever seen anybody make. He managed the game well in the opener against Wyoming, kind of came to a different level the second half against New Mexico and then just played great at Ole Miss and again the other night. We didn’t even want to call timeout on fourth-and-six because he was on a rhythm and he had just made a good throw on third down. … We just said, ‘Go boy.’ And he did a great job.”
Are you pleased with this team’s success so far, particularly given its youth?:
“I really am. We kind of hit the bottom there two years ago. We didn’t play well and I didn’t coach well, quite honestly. … So I went back to work last year and we were better — had some injuries, really young, didn’t make a couple of plays in key games, but very easily could’ve won 10. Now this year we’ve got four or five seniors, so I really think that our team is down the road.”
On what he sees from West Virginia and quarterback Geno Smith:
“He’s a great player, and from what I can tell, I’ve been even more impressed with him as a person. He’s handled interviews well, he’s handled his team well, he does not get frustrated. He’s a guy that’s fast enough that he can run and beat you. He can avoid the blitz and beat you. He’s got maybe one of the best, if not the best, receiving cores in the country. … They’re the kind of offense that everybody that touches the ball has a chance to score, and that’s what scares you to death.”
It looks like your defensive front should be able to get some pressure on the quarterback:
“We’ve lost a couple of guys up front. We haven’t tackled as well at linebacker, so we need to pick those things up. … This will be a great test. Guys come to Texas for this kind of game, and especially defensive coaches. Manny’s done a tremendous job for us and we’re so excited about where he’s at and what he brings us. Last year, we were young on the outside and we could cover it up. Right now, we’re young on the inside and we haven’t done as well at times, but we’ve played really good situational defense with the turnovers.”
What are your thoughts on the direction of the Big 12?:
“I think the conference is stronger than ever before. Every team in this league has a chance to win, so there’s a lot more parity right now. We have the first three total offense leaders in America; we have four of the top eight. … And West Virginia and TCU are still undefeated after five games and won their conference championships last year, so I think they’re two great additions to the league and will make it tougher on all of us.”
On college football’s situation right now where every week seems to be a big game:
“It’s getting more like the NFL, because parity is out there and it just keeps coming. The way spread offenses are and the way tempo offenses have become, everybody can get a quarterback. … Everybody can get three fast receivers. Everybody, then, can start spreading the field. … The offenses have the upper hand right now and it’ll be really interesting to see if it swings back.”