Opening statement: Really good week of practice. Tuesday was about as physical a practice we’ve had since I’ve been here. I was proud of our guys. I think they understand what’s coming. We’ve got a ton of respect for Kansas State and their brand of football, so we understand that this weeks’ worth of preparation is critical to get us ready for Saturday. Shane Buechele did practice today, limited. As of yesterday, early in practice Zach Shackelford rolled his ankle, his surgical ankle. We held him out yesterday, participated limited today, but a lot better. Probably more of a scare than anything on that ankle. We expect him to be fully participating tomorrow and Saturday. (Same case with Buechele? Full participation?) Correct.
On coming back home after being away for multiple weeks: I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t. I think there’s a little added pep in our step this week knowing that we’re home for the first time in what feels like forever. We are playing on Saturday night in our stadium. Playing on a Thursday is never fun, but the benefit of it is that you get that Friday and Saturday after the game off. If you can win, especially on the road, it helps a little bit. I wouldn’t certainly call it like an open week, but it’s a little added recovery. We were able, on Sunday, to put shoulder pads on, which certainly helps knowing what team we’re facing this week. We got a little more physical work on Sunday than we normally do because Sunday’s usually a day right after the game. We were three days removed from the game. Our guys are excited. It’s been a while since we’ve been home.
On what Buechele is doing better than Ehlinger right now: I think he’s getting the ball out quicker in the throw game and more accurately. I think he’s seeing things before they happen probably just a tiny bit better.
On if physical practices are result of K-State coming in this week: I think it’s a couple things. I don’t think it’s any secret that K-State has been and continues to be one of, if not the most physical teams in the Big 12, certainly. That’s a program that we like to pattern ourselves off of in terms of the physical brand of football that they play. I think our guys, after the last three weeks of playing the kind of defense that we’ve played, I think they are really excited to get back out there, especially on that side of the ball, and go do it again and again and again and again. The success on that side of the ball has led to some belief, a little added belief in the way that we do things.
On his confidence in Ehlinger if Buechele cannot go: Great. Sam is 1-1 as a starter with the one loss being 42 seconds away from a win at the Coliseum against USC. I think all of us in this program believe in him and believe that he can win us football games.
On if Ehlinger took first string reps: He has taken quite a few, but so has Shane, yes.
On the Hall of Honor induction, including Nathan Vasher and Shaun Rogers: Both of them were here when I was here. Shaun was on his way out, and the next year Nathan was on his way in. Really excited. You couldn’t ask for two better Longhorns to be represented, and that’s why they’re going in the Hall of Honor. I remember just the sheer physical freakiness of Shaun Rogers. I remember, I think we were in Gregory Gym one time and I saw this 6-foot-4, 330 pound guy 360 dunk. I was like “oh my gosh, I didn’t know human beings that looked like that could do that.” Nate Vasher, just remembering how mature he was for a freshman and how he attacked his craft and really came in on the heels of Quentin Jammer. That lineage of DBs was starting to take shape here. He’s definitely one of the greats that have come through here.
On if the offensive line does better running power, counter, inside zone and outside zone because of it’s prominence in last year’s offense: Yeah, and that’s what we run, too. (long pause, smiles) They had a really good running back last year. I think he won an award or something called the Doak Walker, which is the nation’s best. When you have one back there, that masks a lot of deficiencies. We don’t have that guy just yet, but we’re working towards that. In order for us to run the ball better, it’s got to be a collective effort. We’ve got to have things go right. Offensive football is very synchronized. Again, you could have 10 guys do their job perfectly and one guy screw up and you’ve got a bad play. It’s very interdependent. We run inside/outside zone, power, and counter. Not as much power because our tight ends are who they are, but inside/outside zone and counter is what we make our living on, too.
On if there are guys in position to get more playing time because of a good week of practice: Toneil Carter comes to mind. He got his stripe off today, which was encouraging. Denzel Okafor has had a good week of practice. Terrell Cuney has practiced well, too. I think you’ll see that. Malcolm Roach has had a good week on that side of the ball. I don’t worry about that side near as much. I think it’s interesting when you look at when Toneil is out there with Cade (Brewer) and Reggie Hemphill, and Denzel is out there with Derek Kerstetter, you’re talking about five freshmen that are out there on offense with two sophomores in Collin Johnson and Zach Shackelford. It is a young, young outfit on offense. They’re coming into their own, but they don’t give you mulligans because you’ve got a bunch of freshmen playing. They don’t. We’ve got to get those guys growing up in a hurry.
On Texas’ struggles with Kansas State: I don’t think that’s ever a thing. Every year is different. Every team is different. It’s more of a testament to them and their consistency. They don’t beat themselves. They don’t turn the ball over. They play unbelievably sound, fast, physical defense. They can run the football and chew up a lot of clock. It’s been a formula for them for success for a long, long time. It’s irrelevant this year versus last year versus five years ago. There’s no carryover effect in football.
On KSU’s game versus Vanderbilt: I was surprised a little bit. I haven’t watched a ton of their defense against Vanderbilt because the styles of offense are different. They’re going to defend Vanderbilt differently than they’re going to defend us and our formations and plays. Vanderbilt had a tremendous defensive game plan. I think the final score was 14-7. Obviously K-State continued to play defense. You hold somebody to 14 points, that’s a good day at the office in today’s college football. The thing that stood out was how well Vanderbilt was able to defend them.
On who would go in if Shackelford could not go: It would be Cuney at center and Jake (McMillon) would stay at guard.
On players self-policing and if he encourages it: Oh yeah. I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t watch the TV copy, but if that happened, certainly. If Naashon (Hughes) was supposed to make a play or was supposed to be in a place that he wasn’t, and it affected Malik (Jefferson’s) ability to do his job, then yeah, absolutely. The cool thing is when you do that, as I think was very evident too when our defense and offense for that matter, when we make great plays we go celebrate with each other, too. There’s a real brotherhood forming here. With any brothers, if a decision or an act that they make affects the other one’s ability to do their job, you’re going to let them know it and also make sure that you communicate you have the confidence in them to make sure it doesn’t happen again.