December 27, 2009

3rd BCS BREAKDOWN for Texas-Alabama

1. Even with the BCS national title game looming, the questions seem to never end for the Texas offense with regard to the Big 12 title game against Nebraska.

"We allowed one guy (Ndamukong Suh) to basically dominate the ballgame," Greg Davis said. "It's hard to get a lot of help on an inside guy. It's a lot easier to get help on an outside guy. But even having said that, I did a poor job of helping our kids.

"I could have done some things that would have helped out. Suh might have been as dominating a player as anyone we've ever played against. But there's things we could have done - slid the line and put the back on the end that would have taken some pressure off the pocket."

Colt McCoy had his worst games against Oklahoma and Nebraska (six turnovers) and now comes Alabama's defense.

"Alabama plays a little bit of the same coverages Nebraska does," McCoy said. "Obviously we didn't play as well as we wanted to in those games (OU and Nebraska). But we found a way to win. A win is a win.

"That's the most important thing. We understand we've struggled a little bit and come through a lot. But now we're in the national championship. It's where we wanted to be at the start of the season, and we're going to do everything we can to be our best."

McCoy said he never once thought of getting in the face of his offensive linemen during the Big 12 title game.

"No. You can't do that," McCoy said. "The entire game you're walking the sidelines encouraging them and saying, 'These guys are awesome. These guys are really good. Just strain and do your job and find a way, and I promise you if we just continue to figure them out, we'll find a way in the end.' You look up at the end of the game, we found a way."

The Texas offense shouldn't lack for motivation considering all the times they're being asked about Ndamukong Suh and Nebraska. By the time they get to Jan. 7, they should be ready to explode.

"We won. We'd like to have played better," McCoy said. "But we knew going in they were going to be solid. We missed opportunities. I could give you five or six missed opportunities that happened that would have completely changed the game.

"We knew going in we wouldn't blow them out. Their defense was giving up 9 points per game. They were solid. But when you get tipped balls for interceptions, when you get the ball ripped out of your hands for interceptions, when you drop a touchdown pass, when you get all these things that happen, it's tough.

"Obviously, yeah, we wanted to play better. But when the most important thing is winning and you win, it's hard to be disappointed. You can be upset at the way you played, frustrated a little bit. But ultimately, when things don't go your way the entire night and you still find a way to win, and you win in a really exciting way, that's awesome. We'll remember that forever."

2. That led to questions about if Alabama's Terrence Cody could be as disruptive to Texas as Ndamukong Suh was in the Big 12 title game.

"He's different," Davis said of Cody. "He is a giant of a man. He's every bit as big as advertised. You would think Casey Hampton if you're a Texas fan. He takes two. It's hard to get movement. But they are different players."

As Jason Suchomel reported in one of his Breakdowns, Colt McCoy is already placing the outcome of the game on the offensive line in what may end up being the most memorable quote of the lead-up to the BCS title game. Here it is again:

"We're going to win this game up front," McCoy said. "Our offensive line, if they can play well, if they can control the line of scrimmage, that's where the game is going to be won or lost.

So if we can get the running game going and open up the quick game and open up a little play-action, we've got a great chance to be successful. I think we've got a great chance to move the ball."

McCoy was asked about the possibility of getting sacked nine times again in the BCS title game.

"I hope I don't get sacked nine times against Alabama. That's for sure," McCoy said. "But I will tell you they are really good at getting pressure on you. I'm sure they watched the Nebraska film. Nebraska brought a lot of blitzes and edge pressure, and I'm sure we'll get a lot of the same stuff.

"But we have time to prepare and get better and get healthy, get our bodies right, get our minds right. We're going to go out there and be the best we can be. We're working as hard as we've ever worked. We're proud of the situation we are in. We're excited for the opportunity that we have to go play against these guys. We're going to give it our best shot."

McCoy said Cody jumps out every time he watches film of Alabama.

"Cody is a solid football player. He controls his gap all the time," McCoy said. "He definitely doesn't have the amount of sacks or tackles for loss that Suh does. They are different types of players. But based on what they do, they are the best at what they do.

"Suh was really good at getting around the guards and getting into the backfield. Cody controls the line of scrimmage. He doesn't let anything past him. He's a big guy who can move. They're both really good."

3. Greg Davis recalled Vince Young having a little extra motivation for the BCS national title game in the 2005 season after finishing behind USC's Reggie Bush for the Heisman Trophy. Davis wouldn't mind if Colt McCoy used the third-place finish in the Heisman Trophy race this year as motivation.

"That night in 2005, I text Vince, and shared with him that he was my Heisman, and he texted me back and said, 'Game on coach. Game on,'" Davis said. "The other night, I text Colt and shared with him that he was my Heisman, and he texted back, 'Game on coach. Game on.' I'd like for him to play the way Vince did. It would tickle me to death.

"I don't think you need that to get motivated for this game. But if it helps a little bit more, great."

Davis said McCoy was fully aware of VY's response to him after the 2005 Heisman ceremony and was repeating VY's words. McCoy acknowledged it might just serve as a bit of motivation.

"I answered (Davis' text) the way I felt," McCoy said. "I thought last year was much more disappointing than this year. I was fine after the awards this year because we have so much more to play for. The only thing I was disappointed about was I couldn't bring it back home for my teammates.

"Every award is a team award and for the most part, I think we did pretty good. So I wasn't upset. I'll use it as a little motivation, but other than that, I know how much more we have to play for."

Did McCoy take any consolation in winning the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, Davey O'Brien Award and Johnny Unitas Award?

"That's sweet," he said. "I couldn't do all that alone, and I brought all those awards back to the team. That's special. And now the most special thing is playing for a national championship."

4. McCoy isn't buying into any recent indicators about teams with a Heisman Trophy winner losing in the BCS national title game, including Sam Bradford last season; Troy Smith in 2006; Reggie Bush in 2005; Jason White in 2003; Eric Crouch in 2001 and Chris Weinke in 2000.

"I don't know. I think the best team is going to win. Whoever executes the best and doesn't turn the ball over," McCoy said. "Alabama is a tremendous football team. I've watched enough film to know we've got our hands full for sure.

"They are very talented, very sound. They blitz like crazy. They come after you. They're very particular in what they do. They're very well coached. There's no weak links in their defense. It will be the best defense we've ever played. Their secondary is solid. They've got guys who've played for four years back there.

"Their front four and linebackers are really good. They mix up their three-down and four-down packages really well. They mix in nickel and dime and constantly mix in new stuff. We've all got to be on our game and be on the same page and communicate. It's very similar to what Coach Muschamp does, but obviously they've got different looks."

5. So how is Will Muschamp helping Greg Davis with any information to be shared after having worked for Nick Saban at LSU and the Miami Dolphins? And what about Major Applewhite's time under Saban?

"Will and I pick each other's brain from the time he got here," Davis said. "We don't recruit as much as the other guys. So when the other guys are out recruiting, he and I are in a room swapping ideas that create problems.

"Sometimes it's amazing what the defense thinks is not a problem is a huge problem. And sometimes what we think is tough, is nothing.

"I said to Will, 'Tell me what I'm going to see in certain situations.' And he said, 'Unless (Nick Saban) has changed, you're going to see this, this and this.' That was before we ever started looking at film. And then when the coaches were out recruiting. We sat and watched the Alabama-LSU ballgame, and we went through it together.

"You have more time. Once we got everything in the computer, Will said, 'I'd like to see what they do against empty. Both of us, like a lot of times, he'll say, is there a good three-down blitz they brought? Or I'll go over and say, 'They like to play this on third-down. Is there a route combination that messes with that?' It's an advantage, but it's an advantage to them, too.

"And everyone has a package that gets tweaked to the players they are facing."

Davis said Applewhite's impact from an insider position has been helpful, but not as much as Muschamp because "Major was on the other side of the ball. But he went up against the Alabama defense in spring training and fall camp."

6. How is the team handling going from big favorites all year to the role of underdog?

"We don't pay attention to it that much," Colt McCoy said. "We understand Alabama is very deserving of the No. 1 ranking. We're going to have to be at our best when we go in there. We expect to win. But we expect to win every game we play. That's our mentality."

McCoy was asked about the similarities between 2005 and 2009.

"It's pretty neat how it's all worked out," Colt said. "We've worked really hard to get to this point and we're back at the place (the Rose Bowl) where it all started for a bunch of the fifth-year seniors on this team. There's a lot of similarities. But this game is going to be completely different from any other game. It's going to be a hard-fought game.

"The similarity between us and the '05 team is we really have fun. As the season has gone on, we really embraced that more and more. That's huge for us this game. We can't make it bigger than it is. We've got to go out there and have fun."

Then McCoy was asked about VY's memorable quote leading up to the battle with USC, "Them guys don't know how many guys we have who are gangsta."

Does Texas have any 'ganstas' now?

"Yeah, I'm a gangsta," McCoy said. "No, I'm joking. You look at that team and this team, there are so many similarities. I don't know why he would say that. And I don't know what you call our team (now). But we're together."

7. Greg Davis said the Alabama defense will be the most difficult the team has faced this season and the most versatile since facing LSU in the 2003 Cotton Bowl under Nick Saban (when Will Muschamp was defensive coordinator; Texas won that game 35-20).

Davis used Bama sophomore safety Mark Barron (No. 4) as an example.

"He is listed as the free safety," Davis said. "Don't be surprised if you see him in the box in the dime or outside in the nickel. Their guys move around so much by different packages, they do a great job of disguising.

"In some defenses, if a player is lined up here, they are bringing this. That's not the case with Alabama. They move guys around so much, they are able to disguise different things. They are as versatile as any defense we've seen since LSU in 2003. Very pro oriented."

Davis said Bama and Nebraska have different defenses.

"Alabama blitzes 32 percent of the time right now," Davis said. "Nebraska is a little more designed for man-to-man. Bama a little more designed for zone.

"Will (Muschamp) said they believe in what they do. And they should. There's a reason they are 13-0. He said they will copy certain pressures because they probably have them. He said that's what he would look for, rather than how they line up. Nebraska wasn't going to line up in three-down. Alabama may play the whole game with three down linemen."

8. Greg Davis was asked about the 'calling card' of a Nick Saban defense.

"Multiplicity would be one," Davis said. "Most of the people we play, the three-down (linemen) is a third-down package. He may choose to play three-down every snap.

"Whatever formation you put on the field, they can play three-down. And then they've got their four-down packages. Being a little unsure of what you're getting on normal down and distance, that creates the confusion.

"Man-to-man would be the second thing that comes to mind," Davis said. "We played them in the Cotton Bowl back in 2003. Obviously, there have been changes, but the similarities are the same: multiple blitzes.

"When you look at their blitz package, one of the blitzes everyone runs is what we call 'Virginia,' a mike-sam blitz. They've run it three times. Some people have run it 30 times.

"When you put their 80 blitzes into the computer. The most they've run one is six times. So you have to decide which blitzes to prepare for, knowing you're going to get big-time blitz on third-down. "

9. So what changes will Greg Davis employ as a change of pace for Alabama?

"There's always the possibility of some changes," Davis said. "At the same time, we're 13-0 and aren't going to overhaul ourselves in a month. But we do have to be smart enough to tweak some things that may not look like major deals to the public but are designed to help out with tremendous players on the inside.

"The last drive against Ohio State (in last year's Fiesta Bowl), I think there were 14 plays and all 14 were run in August. There was not one snap on that final drive that was a new play.

"But against Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl the year before that, there were several things we did in that ballgame we had not shown.

"But it's not like you do something dramatic like start running the mid-line option. You're just doing little subtle things to help gain an edge over a player or to take some pressure off of a player."

10. There are TWO THINGS I'm sticking my neck out and saying MUST HAPPEN for Texas to win the BCS title game:

(1) Using the up-tempo and even jet tempo offense early in the game to get a rhythm because Texas has THE BEST 2-minute offense in the country, and it sends an aggressive message in a man's game against a nasty D;

(2) Colt McCoy must be aggressive looking to run the ball when he can because he outnumbers the Bama defense as a runner.

Texas did a lousy job of doing both in the Big 12 title game, and it will doom them on Jan. 7 if they don't incorporate these two components. (OK, it wouldn't hurt to throw one deep to Marquise Goodwin or Malcolm Williams on the first drive, either.)

So I was heartened to hear that Colt is already dialed into the fact that he's going to have to be a factor with his legs for Texas to win the game.

"I'm going to have to be a passer and runner to take advantage of what they do," McCoy said. "They're very effective at what they do, and it's going to be tough."

And Davis and McCoy sure sound proud of the team's 2-minute offense (UT has only scored 79 points this season in the final 2-plus minutes of the first half this season). SO USE IT IN THE FIRST QUARTER ON JAN. 7

"We work on it a bunch," Davis said. "The first day of fall camp, we actually have a two-minute drive at the end of practice. Obviously, everything's not in on both sides of the ball.

"But just the idea of moving around with the clock, timeouts, etcetera. I think it has become a little bit easier with the no-huddle.

"Back in 1998, we had to work on it a lot more specifically than we have to work on it in 2009 because we function in no-huddle so much. In 1998, no-huddle was only used in that situation.

"I think our quarterbacks have been poised guys. And I think they're poised because we do put them in those drills a lot. We put them in the situation against air. We put them in the situation against scouts. We scrimmage it against ones.

"We try to take advantage of working that situation, especially early in the year, where the world might question why we went up-tempo against a team when we are up. But that's to work on it, to get your kids in the mindset of getting out of bounds. We've been fortunate in that we work on it a lot, and the no-huddle has helped."

Colt McCoy said the team's 2-minute offense is one of the signatures of the Longhorns. SO USE IT IN THE FIRST QUARTER ON JAN. 7!!!! AND IF IT FAILS ON A DRIVE, COME OUT AND USE IT AGAIN!!! (DON'T GET TALKED OUT OF YOUR GAME PLAN!!!)

"One thing is we practice ones-versus-ones in practice," McCoy said. "We really work on calls and situations, very game-like things. The other thing is your attitude. We trust in each other and believe in each other. No one on this team ever thinks we're going to lose. We always compete until the very end."

BONUS NUGGET: Hope everyone is having a very happy holiday. More Breakdowns coming this week!

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