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October 1, 2012

Manny Diaz

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach Diaz. 

Q.  Obviously tackling issues are probably one of the biggest concerns right now.  You can't fix it in six days, but what is your approach this week? 
COACH DIAZ:  Well, you keep drilling what you're drilling.  But now the advantage we have as the games go on, you may start to see trends, you know what I mean?  We can do two things.  We drill.  We can punish and give friendly reminders to make sure we do that.  At some point the bench has to talk.  You have to just not be able to play if you can't tackle. 
I will still say this.  Our missed tackle numbers aren't more extreme than they've been in the past.  What's getting us is the tackles we're missing are causing explosive plays to happen. 
We had more missed tackles last year when he played Iowa State than we have in the last two games.  Iowa State had no points.  The problem is where we're missing the tackles. 
Are we better or worse?  The missed tackles we're having have been crucial.  We're looking for trends and coverages, where they're happening.  You also have to speak to where college football is at right now.  On the plane ride home, we got onto the highlight shows.  What offenses are doing now with the way they're spreading out the football field, they are creating one-on-ones down the field.  They're putting everybody in a run-pass conflict.  What they're doing is putting great athletes in a position where if a tackle is missed, it goes all the way.  That's part of the reason we said number two most points scored in a day. 
It's a little bit indicative of the way college football is right now. 

Q.  Is it cyclical?  Are we going 20 years back? 
COACH DIAZ:  It can be cyclical, like you said.  Every time it comes around, it comes back with a little different juice or flavoring to it.  Certainly the game has gone to a vertical game with throws down the field, usually with some sort of run conflict going on. 
When you have the team that the quarterback can run the football and can spread you out from sideline to sideline, but now stretch you vertically, if you think about it, the West Coast passing offense, which was hot, and the BYU offense was turning to the Texas Tech offense, was still all predicated on get the ball out quick, guys turn around quick, catch the ball, run after catch, that type of deal. 
What has happened, that has evolved from the same formations to now the routes are developing down the field more.  Quarterbacks are doing a great job.  Seven-on-seven.  Everything that's happening, it's where we're at right now. 

Q.  What kind of challenge will this West Virginia team be for your defense?
COACH DIAZ:  It's the ultimate challenge.  Number one, you're playing a quarterback that is not going to have to wait long in April to get his name called.  Great player.  Great wide receivers.  Plays in a great system for success. 
As a player, for me as a coach, it's a game you want to play in.  Thankful it's in front of our fans.  Our fans have a chance to add an impact on this football game.  I would think it's the type of game you want in your stadium. 
That's what you come to Texas for.  You come to Texas to play in these big top-10 matchups.  When you have a challenge like they do on offense, I look at it as an exciting thing. 

Q.  Is it more important to make sure you don't get beat against a team that does go deep so often?
COACH DIAZ:  There's no doubt.  Well, to make it a little bit broader, the key is to not give up the explosive play.  That's what it comes back to.  They can do that by throwing it over your head.  They have highlights after highlights of them doing that to people.  They also can do it because they can throw it short and have guys that can run away from you. 
It's a run-after-the-catch game, which puts the onus on tackling these great players in space.  You're going to miss tackles.  I just watched LSU playing against them.  LSU missed tackles all over the field.  You have to try to limit the damage that they can cause. 
What jumped out about the game this past Saturday they played, they played this last Saturday, both teams scored on enormous chunk plays.  It is really hard to score 133 points in a game without the scores happening so fast.  When it's an 80-yard touchdown this way, 70-yard touchdown that way, the offense gets rolling up.  That's a part of it, as well.

Q.  Mack went into the fact this isn't a team you're going to stop, but you have to take the chances you get.  Expect to give up points, but at the same time take advantage. 
COACH DIAZ:  You have to make great offenses earn everything they do.  Oklahoma State has a great offense, they're not a good offense, they're a great offense.  Everything in their background résumé film pointed to that.  The first eight times they had the ball they only scored two touchdowns.  Touchdowns are what win and lose football games.  Both of those touchdowns, you can't say they didn't earn it because their guys made winning plays to score touchdowns on us.  But we helped them with missed tackles.  
What we saw, in fact after that second missed tackle, we didn't have a missed tackle for the next 40 plays in this game.  I think that stretch went along with the stretch where they didn't score a touchdown from midway through the first till right to the end of the third quarter.  Scoring slowed down for the middle 30 minutes of that contest. 
What you're trying to explain to the guys, number one sort of philosophy, our creed of how we play defense, if you don't give up long touchdowns, play great defense in the red zone, don't worry about surrendering yards.  In this day and age, yards are going to happen.  These offenses are going to get yards.  You will win if you deny them points. 
We won this football game because we got down there four times, scored four touchdowns.  They got down there five times and scored two touchdowns.  They had six trips to the end of the field, and they only got the 14 points off of touchdowns.  That's why we won the game. 
It's not always pretty to watch.  There's a million mistakes we made to help them get down the field.  But if you have the resolve, you can keep somebody out of your end zone. 

Q.  What does West Virginia do well on offense?
COACH DIAZ:  I don't know they put enough on tape right now to say that they've got a weakness.  They're so dynamic.  Geno Smith, to me what separates the pro quarterbacks, the great quarterback can throw it to the guy even if he is covered.  They can throw you open.  You can't be on the right side and the left side of the guy.  You can't be on top of the guy and under the guy.  The great ones in the NFL, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, if you have the guy blanketed on the right side, you throw it to the guy's left shoulder.  You see that with Geno Smith.  The issue is that puts some strain on your pass defense.  Route A is still the run game. 
They had a big back that didn't play for them last week.  The hammer comes up the middle.  That will be a major concern for us.  They have a good thing going right now.  Don't forget the value that they have older guys.  If you look at all football teams, it's no coincidence that on fourth-and-six a senior made that catch, no coincidence a senior had a sack and an interception.  They have seniors that are making senior-type plays.  You want your oldest guys to be your best players and step up in the big games. 
We have to try to match them play for play. 

Q.  The fact he's a Heisman front-runner far and away, do you like your guys getting up for the opportunity to make a statement because he is who he is, or do you guard about that and just say, Think about your responsibilities?
COACH DIAZ:  I think when the ball hits the foot, his Heisman status will not really have an impact on the football game.  The film doesn't lie.  It's obvious the guy is a great quarterback.  Make a play on him, that's a tape that people are going to be watching.  You want to make plays against great players if you want to prove you can play at the next level. 
I think our guys will understand that and I think that will be important to them.  We can cover their wideouts, their wideouts are going to play on Sunday.  You better cover these wideouts. 
That challenge, the Heisman is more of a hit-and-miss type deal.  I think the pro potential, what they get on film will get the attention of our guys. 

Q.  Do you play closer attention to what Maryland was able to do to them?
COACH DIAZ:  Yeah, you know, you're going to watch everything.  You're going to go back and watch everything they've done.  One of the great things about this offense, the reason why they're so successful, they just do what they do.  They're going to run their plays.  It's an execution game.  They're going to try to execute what they do better than what you can execute what you do.  Because they do a great job, no matter how you cover them, they run away from your coverage.  If you're in zone, they'll find ways to find holes in your zone.  If you're in man they are going to throw the ball the opposite the way you're covering man to man. 
They don't care a whole bunch what you do.  You're always looking to see through the years.  But if you watch them historically, people have played coverage and gotten hammered, people have done pressure, rush three, gotten hammered.  If there was a way, we would all do the way to stop this style of offense.  I don't know that there's one smoking gun.  This is a game where you have to rely on your players executing whatever it is you tell them to do. 

Q.  Where do you feel the linebackers are now?
COACH DIAZ:  Well, obviously our youth and inexperience is showing up.  We're playing in difficult environments, difficult learning environments.  Nobody has any sympathy for our plight. 
I like the guys we have.  I think it's going to be exciting to watch these guys grow.  I'm excited to coach them every day.  But we have to push through these big-game environments.  I think the experience from last Saturday will help them this Saturday because some of the things they saw when they watched the film, they couldn't even believe that that was them on film.  The simplest of chores. 
Like I tell them, football is a simple game that's made complicated by all the things surrounding it, the atmosphere, the offense, the tempo in which the offense is running.  Follow this guy around, okay.  All of a sudden all this stuff is going on that just distracts you. 
They saw that and they just couldn't believe the simplicity of the mistakes they made. 
But I got to coach them through that.  I enjoy the challenge of coaching this group of guys because they all want to get better, are passionate about the game.  Like I said, nobody is going to wait for us to grow up.  We got to do it in a hurry. 

Q.  Is it a bit of an advantage to have just faced Oklahoma State going into this game?
COACH DIAZ:  Without a doubt.  When you look at what we've done this year, we went from Wyoming, this, that and the other to the glorified wishbone, to Ole Miss, which everything was a deception, where is the ball, different formations like that, then we have a week off.  In essence we're playing structurally the same offense in back-to-back weeks.  It's nice to not have to erase the chalkboard. 
The difference obviously is the matchups change, the strengths and weaknesses change, things like that. 
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you. 

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