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December 27, 2011

Mack Brown, Jeff Tedford give last word on Holiday Bowl showdown

****Let's get some newsy nuggets out of the way. Mack Brown said he is thinking about moving DE Greg Daniels to TE in the spring to take a look at that.

He also said DT Chris Whaley has had back spasms that have kept him from working at TE in bowl practices, and that Whaley will probably only play DT in the Holiday Bowl.


***Mack also said he's "grateful" for the appreciation and relationship he has with DeLoss Dodds after Dodds proposed a contract extension.

"DeLoss visited with me a couple days ago," Mack said. "Number one, I thought how grateful Sally and I are to Texas and the administration - DeLoss (Dodds), (Texas president) Bill (Powers), the regents and our fans because they've been so great to us for 14 years.

"Unlike so many places across the country, we've never had a rift. We've been honest and up front with each other and share with each other. And I'm so excited they are considering extending the contract because I want to be here for a long time.

"Last year was a time in my life when I had to make some hard decisions about myself and about our program. And we actually did start over, and I've never been more excited about where we're going."

Dodds said he's like to extend Brown's contract by at least two years to 2018 when the regents meet in February. Mack said he doesn't have a date set for how long he wants to coach.

"I've always played it by ear," Mack said. "After the coach in waiting thing, that's the first time I'd ever thought about what's fair to Texas and what's fair to Will (Muschamp), and we didn't have a date.

"With Will being 38, I thought Will could stay a long time and be a lifetime defensive coordinator at Texas and then take the head job. But none of us thought it would be two or three years. Will got so hot, it just didn't last long.

"Last year, because we didn't play well, and I didn't think I did a good job. It's the first time I've had to sit down and say, 'What are we doing here? This isn't what we want for Texas or for me or our staff or anybody else.

"What Sally and I decided was we are going to go back and give it our best shot for as long as we can do it, and make sure we give Texas our best."

Mack, who turned 60 this year, was asked if he could see himself coaching into his 70s like Bobby Bowden, the former coach of Mack's alma mater Florida State.

"I don't know," Mack said. "Right now, I'm just having fun. Sitting here at 60, I feel healthy and feel great. I love this staff. I've really enjoyed this team with as weird as it's been. And obviously not what we want with numbers on the field (in terms of wins).

"But I've never felt better with where we are off the field. We're making more progress, in my estimation, than what we're seeing in numbers."

Mack said the team chemistry is headed in the right direction.

"The seniors this year really reached out to the young ones," Mack said. "Last year we had some older ones who really resented some younger ones playing. We had some griping. We've had minimal griping. We've had very few problems. Our academics are in the best shape they've ever been.

"The kids' attitudes are good. Bennie (Wylie's) got them working so hard in the off-season. They're practicing hard. So it's been a very easy year to coach except we wanted more wins."

***Mack said he plans to keep his family members off the sideline in this year's Holiday Bowl.

Chris Jessee, Mack's step son, nearly picked up a live ball during the Texas-Arizona State Holiday Bowl in 2007.

"Chris will be in a seat," Mack said.

***The quarterback position for Texas has been a riddle this year. But it sounded Tuesday like Mack Brown was saying don't give up on David Ash.

Brown talked about how Ash got very little reps in the spring as an early enrollee freshman and as the fourth quarterback during 7-on-7 in the summer (behind Garrett Gilbert, Case McCoy and Connor Wood).

"I talked to the guys about how much work David got in the summer and they told me, 'The older guys barely let him throw at all,'" Mack said. "So Bryan Harsin really feels like with the spring and summer, a lot of progress can be made with the quarterbacks we have coming back."

***As far as the game itself Wednesday night, it obviously is going to come down to how well Texas can run the ball to take pressure off the quarterback position.

Mack continued to talk about the progress of Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron.

Whether they are 75 percent or 100 percent, they are both going to get a lot of work.

***If Texas can't run the football, it's going to be a long night for the Longhorns, because Cal's defense, coached by DC Clancy Pendergast, is underrated.

I covered Pendergast when he was the secondary coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 2001 and 2002. Pendergast went on to become the DC of the Arizona Cardinals (2004-08) when they were in the Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He does a great job of disguising by using multiple fronts. And Pendergast has a veteran group on defense with a lot of experience in the front seven, anchored by Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year LB Mychal Kendricks.

If Texas can run the football, Cal will be in trouble. If Texas can't run the football, the Longhorns will probably lose. Point blank.

***People have asked me if Cal wants to be at the Holiday Bowl, and they do.

The Pac-12 programs love beating up on the iconic programs like Texas, which trails only Michigan (894) for all-time victories (857) in college football history.


The question for Cal is the same question for Texas - what are the Bears going to get from the QB position?

Cal coach Jeff Tedford is hoping his offense can pick up where it left off the last four games of the season, when Cal went 3-1.

Cal RB Isi Sofele averaged 22 carries for 143 yards with three TDs rushing in wins over Washington State, Oregon State, a 31-28 loss at Stanford and a 47-38 win at Arizona State.

Bears QB Zach Maynard completed 68 percent of his passes with 5 TDs and 1 INT in that stretch.

That's more consistency at the QB and RB position for Cal than Texas had over the final four games, when the Longhorns went 1-3.

"It was Zach's first year in our offensive system," Tedford said. "He always showed signs of being a good player, but we started off with a tough schedule, playing at Washington, at Oregon and USC in weeks 4, 5 and 6.

"But I think a lot of the early signs were of a quarterback trying too hard. And once he learned how to manage the football game and understand he didn't have to do everything on his own, then the maturation of our run game helped take some of the pressure off Zach as well."

***Tedford loves him some Keenan Allen, Cal's 6-3, 205-pound, sophomore WR who is All-Pac 12 (89 catches for 1,261 yards and 6 TDs).

"I don't see everyone in the country, but I would take him first pick any day of the week," Tedford said. "He's big, he's physical. He has great range. He has great body control. He can run. He has great feel for the game.

"When you talk about the guys who have 'it.' He has it. He understands the game. He understands the nuances, all the attention to detail that goes on in a football game. He's just a guy who is a student of the game and very, very talented.

"Big, physical, fast and loves the game. Loves to compete. You'd love to have all your guys like him."

***The coaches - Jeff Tedford and Mack Brown - have met before, when Tedford was the offensive coordinator at Oregon under Mike Bellotti against Texas in the 2000 Holiday Bowl.

Tedford said Oregon was lucky to come away with a victory because of all the talent on Texas' side of the field in that game. Chris Simms threw 4 interceptions in UT's 35-30 loss to Oregon (and had receivers dropping passes in the end zone at the end).

It was a game in which Oregon QB Joey Harrington, who now works for the Longhorn Network, caught a throwback pass for a TD.

"What I remember is I don't know that you could have played a team as talented as Texas was that year," Tedford said. "The two inside guys were Shaun Rogers and Casey Hampton. Texas had Quentin Jammer. They were loaded. We were fortunate enough to score enough points in that game to win.

"Chris Simms was the quarterback with that big, tall receiver ? Roy Williams. They were loaded. I remember that. We were very fortunate to win that game.

"There was a scout who came over to our practice from watching Texas, and I said, 'How'd they look?' And he said, 'You don't stand a chance.' I said, 'Thanks a lot.' But it was a great football game. Joey Harrington played a great game, and we were fortunate to win."

***Mack Brown said, "We're healthier than we've probably been all year."

"Not everyone is 100 percent. But right now, we feel like everyone here is healthy enough to play in tomorrow night's ballgame.

"It's such a young team. But we do feel like they've handled it well with good practices and attention to detail.

"Both of these teams have had good seasons, but neither one is at the standard we're used to. So I think you'll see both teams excited about tomorrow night."



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