Texas football head coach Mack Brown took time on Reporting Day to answer questions at a press conference before meeting with his team as they begin their march towards the 2013-2014 season. Brown emphasized the importance of offensive balance, team depth, and an eye towards a faster pace. With 19 starters returning, Brown believes this is a team that can do just that. Below are excerpts from the press conference:
On the decision to open practice to fans this week:
“Our staff felt our team is at a different point than they were three years ago. We started things over. We've got nineteen starters back. We've got an older football team. A lot of juniors and seniors in it. We've had basically the same schemes the last two years and most of the same coaches, so most of what we'll do at the first of the week is go back and review all the schemes that we've been using, and after this week we will start putting in some new stuff. But the first week is mostly conditioning, fundamentals, and making sure that you go back and do the things that you were doing well at the end of spring.
We also feel that our fans have been really good to us since we've been here, especially in the last three years. We'd like to give them a look at who we are and what we're doing, understanding that people have cameras and will take pictures and maybe get some video out there. But our coaches are fully aware of that and they were all on board that this is something that we should be doing at this time. It's good timing for us.
On David Ash's growth as a player and similarities to Colt McCoy and Vince Young:
The biggest thing from David is he's had two great years to learn; some things really positive and some not as good. He's gone on the road to Oklahoma State and won a really great game. He overcame a 4th & 6 right at the end of the game. He went to Ole Miss and had a tremendous night. He had a great comeback where he didn't do well early against Oregon State and played well in those situations. He had Kansas where he didn't play well and couldn't come out of it. All of those situations have prepared him to be more experienced, more mature, and more confident because he knows now he can overcome a poor start. He played against TCU hurt. He probably wouldn't do that again.... He knows now he can make plays with his feet because he did against Oregon State. The pass he made scrambling against a free rusher, where he hit Johnathan Gray down the field, are things that he hasn't done before and that Colt (McCoy) and Vince (Young) did so well. So we feel like that's a part of his game that we saw develop in the spring.
And most importantly, the ability to lead the other guys. He understands now that they're watching and that he is the guy, and that when he speaks they're going to listen. So he has to make sure he says the right things and also has to be the hardest worker on the field. He's got to be great, he's got to be tough, and he's got to make plays because they're not going to listen to him unless he does that.”
Where Tyrone Swoopes needs to improve
“When we left spring practice, he wasn't that confident in the ability to run the team and call the plays at the line of scrimmage. One of the things we'll have to look at is if he's not ready to do that, do you slow down the flow a bit when he's in the game? But David thinks he's had an outstanding summer and that he's ready to do those things. He would have a more limited package than Case or David when out there, but we want to see him be able to protect the ball, make the right throws and reads. We want to see him run it because he should have the ability to run like he did in the Spring Game with his feet. He didn't do it much in the spring but did in the Spring Game because it was live, so it was easier for him to see. We just want to see him have control of the offense when he's out on the field and people are trying to blitz him.”
On Jordan Hicks' leadership role on defense:
Jordan is confident, very smart. They (His teammates) believe in him. When he says something, they follow him. And we think he will be a key to our defense this year. We've already told the guys that Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan haven't been healthy all the time, so don't say we can't succeed if they're not out there. That's not going to fly. Somebody else has to step up and be ready to go, but we're obviously better off if Jackson and Jordan are healthy.
On Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley's probability to play:
Yes (they will be ready) but a lot can change in three months. The trainers will keep some guys limited the first coupls of weeks but by game time they should all be ready.
On current personnel decisions:
“We still don't have a depth chart. When you get out there for practice you'll see three teams. We've got more depth so we'll be working three groups instead of two. We will not be having split practices this year because we're going uptempo and it will be a faster pace, and we did not feel like we had enough personnel to split the groups, go uptempo , and be out there very long. For instance, David (Ash) will work with the first group, Case (McCoy) will work with the second group, and Tyrone (Swoopes) will work with the third group. Sometimes Tyrone will work with the second group and Case will work with the second group. Jalen Overstreet will still play some quarterback because we have to have a fourth quarterback prepared.
On potential NCAA changes to redshirt freshman eligibility:
We have proposed through AFCA that there would be a situation where guys could play four or five games in their freshman year and not cost them a year. So if you had a situation like Jalen's did in the (Alamo) Bowl game last year and you had to play a freshman in one game, it wouldn't cost him his year.
On Jalen Overstreet and Daje Johnson positions:
Jalen Overstreet will start at tailback with the other three tailbacks, so he will be with Larry Porter in the beginning of practice the entire time. We're thin at tailback and he's fast and 217 pounds, and has shown the ability to run the ball really well. He will also work like Daje Johnson out at slot. Daje will work some at tailback as well. They will be interchangable.
On Duke Thomas and Chevoski Collins' positions:
Duke Thomas will start practice in the secondary. We still hold the right to use him some on offense if we need him but Chevoski Collins will start at receiver and he will work there at first. He might also get some work at defensive back but those two guys will start at those sides of the ball to start practice until we get a little further.
“Duke's smart, he's fast, and he's tough. That's why we feel he has the ability to play both ways. He's got really good hands and we feel like the upside for him at corner is really good as well.”
On injured players:
“Some guys will be limited as we start practice tomorrow. We will protect some of the older guys because of their injuries... but all of those guys are supposed to be well by the time we start practice to prepare for the actual games, at least two weeks from now. We feel everybody on our team at this point, except Deoundrei Davis, will have a chance to play in the first ballgame.”
Emphasis on the running game:
“I feel like that you need to have a running game and you need to be able to use it when you need it. It doesn't mean you use it every game but there's games where you have to be able to run the ball well. We'll continue to strive to improve in that area. We've got an older offensive line and older backs. We will be better in that area and want to stay balanced, but we may not be balanced all the time.”