Texas Head Coach Tom Herman speaks during a press conference as he updates the local media about his coaching staff on Thursday, Jan 5, 2017. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Football

In his own words: Translation of Tom Herman’s spring football press conference

Posted March 6th, 2017

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Tom Herman met with the media for about an hour Monday to talk about the start of spring football practice, which begins on Tuesday.

Here’s a transcription from that presser’s highlights, courtesy of UT. We filled in the blanks of who was asking which question as best we could:

Herman:

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Real quick, (I’m ) really just excited about the start of spring practice, excited to see our guys rather than running around cones actually running routes, covering people. There won’t be a whole lot of physicality, obviously, in the first two practices. The NCAA mandates that we have to be in shorts and helmets. I’m not sure why, but they do. I think Coach Brown once famously said, ‘You don’t tell divers to go practice diving the first two times without any water in the pool,’ no I’m still not sure why we don’t allow them to put their safety equipment on.

So the first two practices won’t tell us much other than the two things that I think are really important. I had a meeting with our coaches, in fact, this morning, and I said the two things that we demand in this program, that we don’t coach, that we don’t teach, that we demand, are effort and ball security, and so everything else, don’t worry about anything else. We’ll fix it. Guy runs a wrong route, goes the wrong way, does the wrong technique, we can fix that. If a guy doesn’t go hard, that’s hard to fix. So we want to see guys that go really hard, defense running and flying to the football, and then on offense, if you touch the football, you’d better protect it with everything you’ve got because it’s the difference in winning and losing football games.

With that, again, really excited to be starting, and we’ll know a lot more about this team, though, once we put pads on after spring break, but at least excited to see the guys running around.

Dennis De La Pena, KBTX: The two things that are obviously very important to you, effort and ball security. Is there another priority?

Not really, other than maybe establishing the way that we practice and why it’s so critical to success and why you have to go so hard in practice in order to win games. That is critical. From a specifics standpoint, I think we’ve got to find some D-linemen. I’m worried about that group through the winter offseason. Didn’t perform very well, and not sure about the types of bodies that we have there, as well. We’ve got to find some length.

And then we’ve got to figure out if our running backs will run over somebody because that’s really important in that position is to play with some physicality. Just off the top of my head, I would say those are two things that I’m going to be looking at very, very closely.

How much in a first spring with a new team is it about this team, seeing what these guys are like on the field compared to seeing them work out?

Yeah, I think there’s two things that go into that, not just finding out but also teaching them what the expectation is here, too. You’re going to find out a lot about a guy the first play you see them and about what’s in there intrinsically and what comes naturally to him. But it’s also our job to teach them what is necessary in order to win championships.

There will be a lot of evaluating, a lot, and I would tell you, I know we get really excited about depth charts around here from what I’ve heard; the depth chart after the spring is not going to be miraculous, although spring is where you start turning some heads and you start earning a starting job, because really at the end — in training camp, it’s about going to win a game and getting prepared for the season. There’s not a whole lot of time in training camp for evaluation.”

Texas #40 Naashon Hughes tackles down California #16 Jared Goff during the game against California at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Saturday September 19, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Are there any position changes that you know going into spring, especially at tight end, and your thoughts on who would be an inside or outside linebacker?

Garrett Gray, we moved him a while back to tight end. I should have told you. Hopefully — he’s probably a year away just from a mass standpoint, to be big enough at that position. Other than that, I don’t think we have any position changes.

Outside linebacker right now, we play so much nickel, especially in this conference, so the feel of the outside linebacker in our defense is substituted for nickel, so right now that would be a guy like P.J. Locke or a guy like John Bonney, maybe a guy that’s got some size and some physicality. And then to the boundary, Naashon Hughes is probably a guy that’ll start at outside linebacker. You know, and then we’ve just got to see the body types. He’s the one that off the top of my head I know will be there. But we’re going to play the best three linebackers wherever that is, and whether that’s a guy that we thought might have been an outside guy that we’re playing inside, so be it. But we’re going to play the best three.”

Texas’ Malcolm Roach (32) celebrates sacking UTEP’s quarterback with Chris Nelson (97) and Anthony Wheeler (45) during the first half at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Obviously you just talked about the defensive line. There are numbers there, so is this more of a conversation around body type? Are you trying to work through it, or do you just not have the effort there?

Yes. All of the above.

The effort as a group has not been to our requirements here in this program. I think the body types, again — I think we’d know a lot more if some of these really fat guys lost some weight, what’s actual — what does their body really look like. Right now I don’t know because we’ve got some guys that are 360, 350 pounds. I don’t know how you move at that weight. So we’re working on it. I’m certainly going to throw our hands up and say woe is me.

The last time I checked, you’ve got to play with a defensive line. The cool thing about tight end is you can figure out formations where you don’t need one, and the game of football you’ve got to play with a defensive line. We’ve got to teach them, and I’ve told Coach Giles and Coach Orlando that, too, that they’re what we’ve got. There’s no waiver wire in college football. We can’t go sign a couple of free agents, this, that and the other. They are who we’ve got, and we need to make players out of them.

Texas #7 Shane Buechele tries to get away from TCU #32 Travin Howard in the first half of their game against TCU at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Friday November 25, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Anwar Richardson, Orangebloods: I you’ve been asked about the quarterback situation once or twice. When you’re doing your assessments and start looking at these guys, what does a Tom Herman quarterback look like?

Competitive. Leader. Football-smart. I’ve seen a lot of guys that are average students that are brilliant on the football field, so not necessarily — you don’t have to be a 4.0 GPA to be football smart. I think you’ve got to be a guy that your teammates gravitate towards, that you make better. You make your teammates around you better through your play and your actions. And then specific to the position, really making great decisions, making them consistently, and then accuracy of ball placement and the speed at which you can translate decision to ball out of my hand is important, too. There’s a lot that goes into it. A lot.

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Brian Davis, AA-S: Going back to the defensive line real quick: Poona (Ford), (D’Andre) Christmas, (Chris) Nelson, all these guys, are they big because that’s what the previous regime wanted, or are they just out of shape?

I don’t know. I mean, that’s the best I can answer.

Davis, AA-S: Do you not see talent there, or is there none?

I don’t know that, either, because, again, football is not played going around cones and in mat drills. Football is played in shoulder pads and helmets. I see some guys that can run and change direction. Now, how good a football players they are, we’ll find out in the 12 practices we get with pads on.

Jenks’ Reese Leitao runs downfield against Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber during a football game at Jenks High School in Jenks, Okla., on Friday, September 16, 2016. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World

Danny Davis, AA-S: Is there an update on Reese Leitao and this football program?

No, the standing is that we’re not a court of law. We’re not into that. So I think we’re going to reserve judgment for once we get some resolution as to the severity, if any, of any crimes that he might have committed. Again, right now it’s allegation at this point. But at the same time, I think if that resolution — and I’ve had this conversation with him and his parents, that resolution needs to be sped up maybe than what a normal court process might be because I’ve got to know something somewhere around the summer as to whether we’re going to allow him to be part of the team or not.

Alex Dunlap, Orangebloods: Just to clarify one thing: When you talked about the F-backer, were you saying those guys would come on the field at nickel or are you actually saying that you see those body types?

Yeah, they would be the nickels and the F-backer would come out of the game.

Dunlap: And then my second question was just about from the boundary side, you mentioned Naashon Hughes …

(Looking to UT spokesman John Bianco) They already got like what an F-backer and a B-back — you guys already know all that?

Dunlap: Do you see Malcolm Roach blocking inside the perimeter?

Correct, Malcolm will be a defensive end. I don’t know if that’s a change or not, but he has been since we’ve been here.

What happens to a guy when you don’t see that effort and protecting the ball? Are they on the bad list?

Oh, yeah, they get — you see hats flying, whistles flying. You see a 41-year-old dude with really bad knees running around and chasing people.

Before you write Malcolm Roach as a defensive end, I’m not sure right now. I’ve got to be honest with you. If maybe you can go grab Todd Orlando, because I know there had been some discussion. I saw you typing away over there. I don’t want to make that statement until I’m sure, so we’ve got to figure out where he’s going.”

Westlake quarterback Sam Ehlinger during their key game against Lake Travis. Ehlinger is a UT football commitment. Westlake hosts Lake Travis in a key district 14-6A matchup at Chaparral Stadium Friday night in Austin on Oct. 23, 2015.
RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Chuck Carlton, Dallas Morning News: As far as what you want to see in your quarterback, do you have in your mind a timetable when you want to have that guy decided, whether it’s coming out of the spring or before the opener?

Probably within into a week of training camp. Yeah, there will not be a starting quarterback named after spring ball. We’ll have an idea and we’ll have that conversation with those kids, too, on where they kind of stand, but I think it’s important that they at least have the ability to go win the job in training camp and really win the job over the course of the summer in terms of leading their teammates. Like I said, not a whole lot of time for evaluation in training camp, but that one will probably go five to seven days maybe into training camp. But then I want the guy, whoever we do name as the starter, to know that this is his team, too, for a couple weeks before heading into the game.

Steve Habel, Horns Illustrated: Who has emerged as really the true leaders in the offseason? Anybody specifically stand out for you?

P.J. Locke definitely is the first, and only set of parents that I’ve actually called to personally thank them for sending us a marvelous human being. He’s a great leader. I don’t know if the kid can play football or not, but he’s a very vocal leader on the field out there in all of those drills, and then we literally have an academic meeting every single week, once a week, usually on Thursdays, where we go over every single kid in front of the whole staff, and for the last three weeks, I mean, it’s been glowing reviews for him. So I picked up the phone and called his mom, called his dad and said, thank you for raising such a good son.

I think probably the other vocal leader right now that stands out is Naashon. The kids listen to him. Again, I don’t know if he can play football, but the kids seem to gravitate towards him, and he seems to be very comfortable expressing himself in front of the team, as well.”

Cedric Golden, AA-S: Your upperclassmen have been through the ringer here. When you look in their eyes, what do you see?

I think in our first team meeting, I think I said raise your hand if you played on a winning football team at the University of Texas, and there were like three hands that went up. So that’s a little bit shocking. But at the same time, I think they also know that we’d better try something. It’s probably even less immediate pushback than when we got to Houston. When we took over at Houston, they were 8-5, had just beaten Pitt in a miraculous comeback in the Armed Forces Bowl. So I think there were some kids there that still kind of looked sideways at us when we told them to do certain things. But here I think our guys are embarrassed, and they understand that change is necessary in order to achieve some results.

Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News: On that note, in this program, whether it’s football, basketball, whatever sport over the past several years, there have been several coaches who have talked about the attitude of the players saying “We’re Texas.” And that has been an issue, that people in this program expect that because “We’re Texas,” certain things are going to happen. Is that something you addressed with them, that you’ve noticed so far?

I haven’t felt it as much, again, because I think they realize that that was probably a big root of what three straight seven-loss seasons were, and so they understand that that’s really not how you’ve got to go about doing things. So I haven’t felt it as much. The lore of it has lived a little bit, but I think just the way we go about our business as a staff, too, there’s just no room for any of that. It gets stamped out in such a hurry around here that it really has no time to breathe.

UT defensive end Breckyn Hager, right, celebrates the win over Texas Tech at AT&T Jones Stadium in Lubbock Saturday November 5, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

When you talk about the defensive line, I know you don’t sound happy with that group. How much concern is trying to get that front line right?

Yeah, I mean, not to — I think your question is valid, but I mean, everything is a concern right now. It really is. We don’t … we could go out and by practice 10, they could be the best position group. I don’t know. I’ve seen things like that happen. But it is a concern knowing the league that we play in, but I also know we’ve got four defensive coaches that are as good as there are in the country that — (pause) I was going to say something funny. I’m not going to. I mean, I’ve seen Todd Orlando make chicken salad out of some lesser parts, so I have a lot of confidence in that staff and what they’re able to do with whatever talent that we’ve inherited.

Chip Brown, Horns Digest: Breckyn Hager, the guy started five games, second on the team in tackles, led the team in sacks. What do you see for him starting out in the spring? What intrigues you about him?

Intensity. You know, the guy goes really hard, which is probably not a surprise to any of us who’s ever seen his dad play. So I’m excited for Breckyn. I think this will be — it’s an important spring for everybody, but I think it’s important for him to solidify a major role, whether it’s starter or not starter, and on defense you’d like to be able to roll some guys in and keep them fresh, especially in this league, in the up-tempo offenses that have kind of made this what this league is known for. I love his intensity, though. He wants so badly to cut his hair, too, so hopefully we can … I don’t know if you guys … he said he’s not cutting it until we win the Big 12 Championship. Hopefully we can get his hair cut pretty soon.

Brown: If he played, could he get a look at middle?

Actually, that’s what we’ve talked about is both getting him a look at that B, boundary outside linebacker, may not have enough mass to do that, but he’s a decent pass rusher from what I understand, and then, yeah, middle linebacker would be the other spot.

University of Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando answer questions from the local media about his strategy for the Texas Longhorns at the Moncrief Athletics Complex, UT campus at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.
RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Ezra Siegel, The Daily Texan: In terms of Coach Orlando making chicken salad —

The recipe? I don’t know. (Laughter.)

Siegel: His scheme and coaching aptitude, what allows him to do that?

Well, I think that’s really important as a staff is that you mold and conform your offense or defense around the players that you inherit, not the other way around. It’s not, oh woe is me. At Ohio State, for example, maybe the most proud of a year that I’ve been, not the national championship year, was when we went 12-0 in our first year there, and we showed up and the leading returning receiver had seven catches, and we wanted to be — philosophically, we wanted to be a balanced offense, but we had a true sophomore at quarterback that really didn’t know a whole lot about the forward pass, and we had very inexperienced wide receivers. What we did have, we had a big, strong offensive line and a guy by the name of Carlos Hyde, and Braxton (Miller) could run, so I think we finished second in the country in rushing that year, like 315 yards a game. Now, we only threw it for 150 or 120 maybe, but we went 12-0, and then you recruit to your philosophy.

So I think that’s probably the thing that Coach Orlando and his staff do the best, is they figure out what are your players’ strengths and let’s put them in position to exploit those strengths, and then let’s go recruit to a certain scheme or body type or whatever you’re looking for. But you can’t just go palms up and say, aww shucks, we don’t have the type of players, but we’ll figure it out. These are the players that we do have.

Cedric Golden, AA-S: These guys don’t play in a bowl game, had a lot of time off in the winter. How out of shape was this group when you guys got started, and how do you feel about where you’re at today, fitness-wise?

Not awful. That goes back to, again, I think the guys were embarrassed. These guys knew that they had to work out over the winter. But there’s a lot. You can lose your in-shapeness in about a week, you know. Look what 20 years of losing your in-shapeness has done to me. But they responded very well, and they’ve recovered pretty well from some really intense lifting sessions. We squat on Wednesday, and I mean, guys have made unbelievable strides in the weight room. Some of the guys were — when we tested them, their one-rep max on squat is now what they’re doing for a set of three or more. Some guys are even — if my one-rep max was 475, just the other day they did a set of three at 495, where six weeks ago they could barely lift 475 one time. So I think they’ve recovered and their bodies are adapting pretty well. But I wouldn’t say they were awfully out of shape when we first got here.

Texas coach Tom Herman speaks during a press conference as he updates the local media about recruiting and incoming players during signing day at Moncrief Athletics Complex on Wednesday, Feb 1, 2017. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Chuck Carlton, DMN: After 15 practices are over, what do you want to know about these guys and what do you want them to know about you when the spring is over?

I want them to know what champions practice like. I want that to be fully ingrained. There’s a famous quote by Michael Jordan, when he talked about how he made practice so intense and so difficult that the games were easy; in a two-sentence quote, he used the word “practice” I think seven times in two-sentence quote, and I think that’s — our guys need to understand that games are not won and lost on Saturdays or Fridays if you’re playing Texas Tech or Thursday if you’re playing Iowa State. They’re won and lost now, in training and in preparation.

What do I want them to know about me? We don’t miss. We don’t ever — winning championships is exhausting, and toeing the line is exhausting. But we as a staff are going to make sure that if a drill says full speed through the cone that it doesn’t matter if it’s the 800th rep of that or if it’s hot or if you’re tired or if you’re sore, that if we say full speed through the cone and you don’t go full speed through the cone, then there’s going to be consequences for that.

Again, that’s exhausting. You feel like the police out there at times as a coach. But you have to set the expectation level early when developing a culture and developing a program, and I would hope that after 15 practices, they know what that expectation is.

Kirk Bohls, AA-S: Speaking of that, you’ve been around winning programs for the last two stops in a big, big way. From what you’ve seen so far, do you see this team able to make up that kind of winning team?

I don’t … I don’t know. Again, there’s so much that you can’t glean from running around cones in shorts. This game is — if they ever take the shoulder pads and helmets off of us on Saturdays, this would be a whole different game and I’d probably go sell widgets somewhere. But it’s a game that’s played with shoulder pads and helmets for a reason, and I’ll be able to answer that question probably a lot better after the spring game than I could right now.

A lot of questions and conversation about numbers. You mentioned the numbers at Ohio State, when you had the weapons that you did. Looking at what you have right now even before getting onto the field for spring drills, have you and the offensive staff discussed the kind of balance and kind of numbers you’d like? Does that go into the conversation, or do you not have a feel for that?

Yeah, we don’t, because I think that’s part of the evaluation process is, okay, who are we going to be, what are we good at, and what are our strong suits. If it’s running backs, do we play two running backs at the same time maybe and don’t play with a tight end. So there’s got to be a lot of evaluation going on in spring practice. But I do think — and again, I’m going in the way-back machine twice now with one quote from Coach Brown and another from my mentor Greg Davis, that balance doesn’t mean 250 and 250. I think balance is winning the game the way the defense dictates you having to win the game, because a defense can always line up with more people than you can block in the run game, and they can line up with more people than you can throw against in the pass game, and so if they’re going to line up to stop the run, can you beat them throwing the pass. If they’re going to line up to stop the pass, can you beat them running the football.

So I think that’s what balance means to me is the ability to have enough strength to you that — or maybe it’s like Ohio State, maybe it’s we can’t pass the football that first year, but we’re going to find creative ways to run the football so that we can equate the numbers, so to speak. So I think that’s what we look at the most is A, what are our strengths? What are we good at? And then what’s our identity based off those strengths? And then being able to hopefully win a game running or throwing the football.

Brian Davis, AA-S: A Moncrief question. Are there any updates on when we might start to see the construction dust accumulate?

I’ve been asking Fernando that for a while.

Davis: How are things coming along with just kind of staff hires? Do you have your eye on some more what would be new positions here, to bring some other people in?

Yeah, the Moncrief — I know they’re meeting once, if not more, a week. I think the locker room obviously is the biggest part of that piece with the locker room, the graphics and wall design, the weight room and the training room. But part of the locker room is actually building 120 lockers, and so we’re not going to just start ripping lockers out if we don’t have lockers to replace them. So I think that’ll start happening in a few weeks to be honest with you, and the wall graphics certainly within the next few weeks, and the weight room, I think, and training room will probably be a summertime project.

Davis: Do you have a number yet, total renovation number?

No, I’ll get you one at some point when we’re done. And then staff hires, I think we only have one open job left, and that is a new one that’s a program assistant in recruiting, so we’re actively trying to fill that spot. But other than that, everything should be — with the hiring of Bob (Shipley), other than that last position in recruiting, everything is kind of —

Davis: You‘re fully staffed?

Correct. Yeah.

Danny Davis, AA-S: Are you comfortable with Matthew and Josh Covey as the third quarterback, or is Jerrod (Heard) still in the mix?

I don’t know. I think Matthew and Covey will be the first two that get the looks. With Covey being a guy that’s actually somewhat impressive running around the cones, he’s an athletic dude, which is kind of what you want from your third quarterback is. He’s your third quarterback for a reason, so maybe he can add a dimension or get you out of a game running around a little bit back there, which hopefully he can provide. But I don’t think Jerrod — to do what we’re talking about doing with him like we did with D’Eriq King at Houston, you’re talking about an eight- to ten-play package to just get you out of a game, and so we don’t want to fill his bucket up with that in the spring and take reps away from Matthew and Covey to show us what they’ve got. But if Merrick and Covey can’t be that third guy then in training camp, we’ll start introducing a few things for Jerrod. But we want him to focus on being the best wide receiver he can be and worry about the third-team quarterback stuff when we need to.

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts after defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Roger Wallace, KXAN: You sent out a tweet last week regarding the guest speaker at the high school clinic. Is there a back story to getting Bill Belichick here, and what does it mean to have him?

Yeah, no real back story other than tracked his cell phone number down, and I had spoken to him a couple times on the phone, I believe, when they were drafting Elandon Roberts. So just kind of introduced myself to him over the phone, and we started talking about Elandon because of what a special player he is in terms of his work ethic. I mean, you’re talking about a seventh-round pick that had been a one-year starter in college that works his way into the starting middle linebacker job at the New England Patriots as a rookie, and you don’t do that just on talent alone. So we talked about E-Rob for a long time, and I just kind of, “Hey, Coach, by the way, we’ve got a clinic on April 7th, would you be free?” And I could tell he was probably looking on his phone or something, and I don’t even know where he was. I think I woke him up at 10 o’clock in the morning or something like that, but he can do whatever he wants; he’s a five-time Super Bowl champ as far as I’m concerned. But he looked at his calendar, and he said, it looks open right now. Let me check with my assistant or whatever, and within a couple days we had confirmed it. Excited as all get-out. That’s a big one.

Chip Brown, Horns Digest: Talking about the field safety position, how important it is, who would start out there in the spring, and as far as the push-back that you experienced, is it more or less than what you thought it would be here, and was it from any certain group?

I don’t know the field safety. I think we’ll see who Coach (Craig) Naivar jogs out there, who he thinks, and Coach Orlando thinks. But again, just because they jog out with the first team tomorrow doesn’t mean anything in my opinion. And there was less to be honest with you, less pushback than I thought because of what we had to go through at Houston. These guys have been — I’m not ready to anoint anybody yet, but it’s, it has been one of the pleasant surprises of the first three, four months here has been the amount of buy-in that we’ve gotten so far.

Texas’s Chris Warren III looks to escape a tackle by UTEP’s Will Hernandez(76)  at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Cedric Golden, AA-S: Chris Warren has got more skins on the wall than any other running back. Would it be presumptive to say he’s leading that, and what do the other guys bring to the table?

Again, you guys keep trying to bait me into saying who’s the starter and who’s not before we jog out.

But Chris has been impressive. He has been, in the off-season drills. I told him — in fact, and I don’t mind sharing with you, I kind of pulled him aside during one of the workouts, and I said, you have been a very pleasant surprise, and you’re going to make a lot of money someday playing this position if you put your pads down and run through somebody. So I think our challenge to him is to prove that toughness and durability this spring. But I do, I think … I’ve never seen a 255-pound kid move and bend the way that he moves and bends. It’s a pretty cool thing to watch. But again, football is not played running around cones.

The wide receiver position seems like you have a lot of numbers there. Are you satisfied with what you see there, and do you think there’s a possibility to have a great four or five wide receiver set if you need it?

It’s the first time really ever, not just as a head coach, maybe ever, that the majority — we went through our champions grading in the classroom, in the weight room. Everything you do, are you worthy enough of being called a champion, which means you get to eat really cool stuff tonight, and we break the year up into quarters, so the winter conditioning was one quarter, then you’ve got an opportunity to earn that again in spring practice, and we’ll have one at the end of the semester, then there’s summer conditioning, and then there’s the season, and so each opportunity is an — each one of those quarters is an opportunity for a kid to kind of grade a champion. We probably shouldn’t have very many in March, and we don’t, and I’m not panicked. If we have this few in July, I’ll be really panicked, because again, you can … even if it’s not your fault, you know, like a kid like Andrew Beck, great kid. You can’t participate in the winter and offseason, you can’t be a champion. So any little one miss here, one miss there, you’re done, you can’t do it.

I said that leading to your question about the wide receivers, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a wide receiver group have over 50 percent of their position group as champions in the first quarter of a season. So that’s telling. That means they’re buying in. How good a football players they are, I don’t know, but I like the fact that there is some experience in that room, and it seems to be some decent kids, too, that are willing to work hard.

Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News: What do you think are the biggest obstacles to sort of coming in and establishing your own culture since a lot of guys have been here through the last regime, so what’s that process like?

Oh, it’s — I don’t have any other word except “exhausting.” It is every second of every day, never letting up. I got hit with the stomach flu last week, just kind of a funny story, and I mean, fever, chills, sweats, and it was, I think I’ve missed now three practices or workouts. I missed one when I had pneumonia, missed one practice at Sam Houston State, missed a practice at Ohio State when my son Maverick was born, and then I missed Tuesday morning’s workout, and I’m actually rooming with Coach (Yancy) McKnight. I just said, man, I can’t — I’ve got stuff coming out of my body that I don’t want to be any more graphic than that, I said — but it was like 4:30 in the morning, I said, “You tell the guys, though, make sure they know I’m not out playing golf with some booster or something like that.” But it takes something like this to keep me from a workout.

I tell you that story because it is absolutely exhausting to change a culture and to keep your thumb on the human nature side of it, because again, as we’ve talked before, human nature, we all gravitate to what’s easy and what’s convenient and what’s pain-free. We all do, especially 18- to 22-year-old guys. But we’re asking them to do things that are self-sacrificing and painful and inconvenient and really, really hard. So in order to do that, you just can’t miss. You can’t miss an opportunity to correct a mistake, or else those mistakes, they grow. We’ve got a saying, everybody. Look, Coach, you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. I know. I know I am, because if I don’t or we don’t as a staff, we’re going to look up one day and we’re going to have a whole bunch of molehills and we’re going to have a program full of molehills. You’ve got to stamp them out as soon as you see them, and you’ve got to change young men’s way of thinking, and that’s exhausting, but the rewards are unbelievable.

Chuck Carlton, DMN: In terms of putting your offense in, this group has had — even a guy who’s been here for six years has been through six different coordinators, six different systems in those six years.

Is that true?

Carlton: Yeah. From that standpoint, is that a special kind of challenge putting your system in?

I think it actually can work to our advantage because these guys know there’s no — at least shouldn’t be a whole lot of automatic retention of anything, because it’s been so new every year that if we call this a table and in that language they called it a platform, I mean, the fact that he can translate that into table automatically should be a little bit easier, and so I would think it would be to our advantage that these kids have gone through so much change, and they don’t have any major memorization issues because you’re really unlearning an offense that you’ve only known for whatever, 12 months.

Texas’ wide receiver John Burt, center, and Reggie Hemphill-Mapps walk off the field after falling 45-40 to Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Brian Davis, AA-S: Shaka mentioned earlier this year that his guys, they felt the weight of playing at Texas and tried to play up to the name and all that stuff. You say you feel like your guys have been embarrassed. Can you explain that a little bit more? How can you really tell without them, how can you tell that they’ve been embarrassed and they know that what they’ve put out there is unacceptable?

I don’t know. It’s a theory, but it’s one from 20 years of coaching and seeing different teams and how they respond to new cultures, and to have this little amount of push-back tells me something. I mean, I’ve got to read something into that, and that is, I would imagine, my theory is that they’ve been embarrassed. No one has physically told me that or anything like that, it’s just I get that sense that — in just daily interactions and casual conversations that that is somewhat the case.

Yeah, I don’t — we all came to Texas for a reason. We knew what we signed up for, players and coaches, and so to feel any kind of weight is good. I mean, as Coach Brown said, Tom, it can be the greatest job in the world because there’s tens of millions of fans that care very passionately about what you do every single day — and Tom, it can be one of the hardest jobs in the world because there’s tens of millions of fans that care very passionately about what you do every day. I think our players know that, too.

But there’s no … to use that as an excuse for any kind of level of play, I mean, that’s a whole separate department. You know, that doesn’t, should never affect how you play or how you prepare.

Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson exits the field after falling 45-40 to Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Anwar Richardson, Orangebloods: I want to ask you about Malik Jefferson. What have you seen out of him as far as the offseason goes, and do you need to see more?

I’ve seen a guy that’s gravitated towards his position coach and really taken his position coach’s words to heart and tried to do the things that Coach Orlando is telling him to, and that’s — he’s got to be a little bit more vocal. I mean, he is very well-respected for everything that he does representing our program. I mean, he was just at a leadership conference or something in Indianapolis, right, for the NCAA? I mean, the kid is … he’s a phenomenal kid. But we asked him, great leaders aren’t always liked by everybody, and stop — don’t worry about being liked, worry about being a great leader and being vocal and being demanding on your teammates, and he’s done a really good job growing into that, and hopefully we continue to see more of it throughout the spring.

Video of the entire press conference can be viewed below:

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