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November 10, 2010

Mack Brown talks about evaluating coaches, Gilbert, more

With all the turmoil Texas has experienced this year, there's been talk coming in from all directions that the UT program could be in for some dramatic changes after the season is over. Everyone around seems to have an opinion on how things should be fixed, and anonymous sources have come out of the woodwork to foretell changes on the UT staff.

Depending on how the season ends, it would certainly seem to be a very real possibility that their could be some staff turnover, be it voluntary or by Mack's decision. Mack said, to this point, he hasn't given consideration to what, if any, changes would be made. That thought process will begin once the season is over, he said.

"None," Mack said when asked if he's given any thought to off-season coaching changes. "I constantly look at the big picture. It is something that I have to do but at the same time, during the season you are tired. This season, I have been mad for about half of it, so when you are tired and you're mad, I have been told that you never make decisions.

"What you do is you research information - take some time after the season to look at it and see exactly where things are. I do it every year, good and bad, and then you try to make the decision that's best."

After past seasons of struggles, particularly early in Mack's career when Texas was having issues beating OU and winning the Big 12 South, there were rumors that attempts had been made to force Mack's hand. The rumor mill (never confirmed) had some of UT's most powerful alumni asking for Mack to make changes on the offensive side of the ball.

That same type of speculation has already popped up in 2010, but Mack said his situation is different than most and it's his call and his call only on how he handles his staff.

"The hard thing and the good thing for me is that I am in a position because of (AD) Deloss (Dodds) and (UT President) Bill Powers that they let me make those decisions," Mack said. "Nobody at Texas makes them for you, and that is better. Sometimes they make that decision about the head coach. I am fortunate that I am not in that position right now.

So how will the issue of potential change be addressed? Mack said earlier in the year that his job is to evaluate each position and decide who is getting the job done. If one person's grouping is not cutting the mustard, he must make a decision. He reiterated that formula on Wednesday.

"You look at production. You look at the guy's position. You look at what he has done with it. You look at how it is working. You try to figure out from my standpoint, not who is mad at who and who is pointing fingers, but you look at why it wasn't productive. You look at if one player wasn't productive or a group of players weren't productive, you try to figure out why" Mack said. "Then you fix whatever it is, and that is the way that you do it."

Of course, if Mack was to take the advice of the Longhorn fan base, just about every coach on the team would be gone and there would be constant turnover in every single year. Mack, though, has to be a bit more level-headed with his decision-making process, and he has to take into consideration such factors as recruiting and staff continuity.

"I think that the biggest thing would be that people just want you to fire somebody. You want to make sure you are right. These coaches are great coaches," Mack said.

All that being said, Mack knows he and the entire staff have not performed at a satisfactory level this year. He was asked earlier on Wednesday how he would grade his and his staff for their efforts in 2010.

"I said, 'An F.' We're not winning, and that is what we are supposed to do," Mack said. "In this business if you don't win, you are not being successful. Period. So if you ask me what my grade should be right now and what our coaching staff should be, I think that it is an F. We have not been as productive as we should have been with these players, and that does not sound good. It's not pretty. But it is factual."

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Garrett Gilbert's habit of squinting when receiving plays from the sidelines has been a constant topic of discussion for Longhorn fans, so much in fact that it's become a bit of a running joke among fans who have wondered if Gilbert has issues with his vision.

"No. No he doesn't," Mack said on Wednesday.

Gilbert's play has been far from stellar this year, and every time takes a step in the right direction he seems to follow it up with two missteps. The coaches have stuck with the sophomore through it all, and in listening to Mack talk, it sounds like the staff will ride Gilbert out with an eye on his future development.

Gilbert turned the ball over five times last week, which had fans calling for Case McCoy to get some work. Mack noted that not all the mistakes were entirely Gilbert's fault, citing two tipped passes, a breakdown in protection on one ball when Gilbert was getting rid of the ball and another pass in which Mack thought the wide receiver should have made a play on the ball.

Tipped passes have plagued Gilbert all year, but Mack didn't seem to worried about the issue.

"Colt (McCoy) had a bunch of passes tipped his second year. You never know why, but there are always opinions on that," Mack said.

Averaging just 19 points in its last seven games, the pressure on the Texas offense is immense and it continues to grow each week. Mack said he understands people's frustrations and he's not shocked, but he didn't sound like a guy who is convinced that wholesale changes are necessary.

"What happens when you are struggling is everybody blames the offensive coordinator, the head coach and the quarterback," Mack said. "That is it. If you get online this weekend, whatever school like Texas loses, they want the offensive coordinator fired. They want the quarterback benched. The second team quarterback is always better than the first. It is 100 percent. It has not changed.

"A lot of people have been critical of Greg Davis. One thing that he has done a great job of is bringing young quarterbacks along, and I do trust that."

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With Texas returning to the suddenly not-so-friendly confines of Royal-Memorial Stadium to host a hot Oklahoma State team, Mack once again asked for fans to be vocal in their support of the team, much the way they were when Texas played Baylor. Yell at the coaches if you need to, Mack said, but support the players.

"You can get mad at the coaches. We get paid for this, and it's our job. Yell at us and boo us but pull for the guys," Mack said. "The guys are still trying … They're pulling hard. They're trying to finish strong here."

The crowd's reaction during tough times not only can go a long way towards helping the team play better, it can also help out in recruiting.

"It sends a message to the recruits. We've got one of the top recruiting classes in the country. They're going to watch very closely to see how they're treated and how they're going to be treated and how you're going to treat them on days that aren't as good as we've had," Mack said.

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A quick injury update …

Tre' Newton will be out this week after suffering a head injury against K-State. No decision has been made on Kyle Hix (also a head injury) and a final announcement will not be made on Hix until Friday.

Aaron Williams is practicing and will play after missing the K-State game.

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If Hix is unable to go, Paden Kelley will start at left tackle. Thomas Ashcraft has also worked in at tackle along with starting right tackle Britt Mitchell.

"Mac (McWhorter)'s just having to piece them together now," Mack said.

The silver lining? Having to play so many young lineman will have the team better prepared for next year. Same goes in the secondary, where Carrington Byndom really impressed the coaches with his play last week.

"For the guys on the offensive line to be put in the position where they are right now, it is tough. Trey Hopkins is playing great. He is really going to be a super player for us down the road," Mack said. "Paden Kelley played really well Saturday night, so we will want to see him continue to get better now that he is out there. Mac McWhorter will have enough confidence to put him back out there."


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