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November 5, 2012

Manny Diaz

Q.  Coach, you saw on the sideline everybody kind of made a bigger deal when Carrington blocked that kick.  Just the step that you guys took on Saturday?
COACH DIAZ:  I think everybody was really excited.  It was a great football game.  What you would expect between two ranked opponents.  You're going on the road that's very difficult to win, historically.  What's needed is a game that we started out well.  They made the push, which you would expect them to do.  So what it does is it really touches your team's character, because somebody was going to have to find a way throughout the course of that game.
They had the ball down by two.  We got a stop.  The offense went down there and scored, and they get the ball.  To make the play there, to keep it a two‑possession game, that's what you want to see.  You want to see your guys come through in those type of situations so the coach absolutely makes you very proud for your players.

Q.  What about the way you handled Seth Doege?  He had thrown 30 touchdowns.  You held them to a couple of field goals in that situation?
COACH DIAZ:  Yeah, a lot of the credit there goes twofold.  One, we denied them the big play, which we talked about is something that we had to improve on and we have over past few weeks.  Then, secondly, it came down to the red zone defense.  Sometimes that came down to one of our goals.  We have to be tough in the red zone.
When the ball is up in the air and it's one of their guys and Carrington was in situations that presented, that's what it came down to.  It came down to a fight for the football.  The credit goes to Carrington for outfighting for guy to get the ball out.

Q.  Was it a relief for you to see your defense do what you know they're capable of?
COACH DIAZ:  Well, I was happy to win.  I don't know if relief would be the proper emotion for that.  But all that being said, we came in yesterday and had a very, I would say, fiery meeting because our standards are still so much higher.  There is still so much more improvement to come.
So, again, as a coach, what we're trying to do is try to find a way to win the football game.  So we were delighted that our players persevered and found a way to win the game.  But we still can't stop our push to try to improve.

Q.  How much of the improvement we are seeing is just natural because the guys had more games under their belt now?  There's also been talk of keeping things simpler on defense.  Where do you attribute the improvement?
COACH DIAZ:  I do think that we're getting better because we're playing more.  But we have guys that are getting more at‑bats and haven't mentioned they've been making more and more positive plays, week‑in and week‑out.  Over of the course of the year, I don't know if we can be more simple than we've been since the Ole Miss game.  But it's just a matter of part of it, the simple thing.  The offenses we go against are not simple to go against.  They present so many problems and so many questions.
So part of it is getting an idea of what they're doing.  Okay, yes, I've seen that before.  Three weeks ago I had not seen this play or this motion.  Now we're starting to come around the curb again and see things same as, and I think that helps our learning.

Q.  You said you all had a meeting.  The guys are still motivated.  They don't need a whole lot.  But Kenny said after the game it's 7‑2, and it still feels like he's lost every game, like the world is against you.  Did you ever get a sense they were using that as motivation?
COACH DIAZ:  Well, there is no question that this went from the very first meeting we had back in August was we were going to talk about that our room was going to be sort of our little dome.  And the opinions that were going to matter, are the opinion that's came out of that room,  whether it was way, way the extreme good, or way, way the extreme bad.  And we really had focus on what was real, because there's so much said in both directions about our defense.
This is one thing I'm most proud of the players.  They've done a great job all year of staying on point, focusing on what's actually happening, what is actually fixable, which is themselves and us and just getting better at being us.
That's why yesterday nothing changed.  There was no sitting around, congratulating ourselves yesterday.  It was, hey, look at all those plays that we need to fix.  Let's just keep going about it.  Let's keep going about fixing what we have to fix.

Q.  Speaking of the improvement and seeing them get better, how much does that impact the entire defense if he can keep playing the way he did?
COACH DIAZ:  Yeah, he's making better plays week‑in and week‑out.  The impact is you're going to feel it because it helps solidify you and the middle of your defense.  If you can be strong up the middle, that is kind of where, in any sport, that's where it all begins.
Steve is playing better.  He's making more and more exciting plays week‑in and week‑out which is helping his confidence.  He still has it ton to improve, but it's been fun to see his growth.

Q.  Is there anything to the 11 a.m. kick being different from the 2:30 or 7:00?  Why you haven't started strong in those 11 a.m. games this year?  Or do people make too much out of that?
COACH DIAZ:  As a coach, we'll always look in our eyes what it is we're doing in our preparation.  I speak back to Kansas.  In Kansas we went out there and got a three‑and‑out and scored.  It seemed like we did start well.  They had 30 yards in the first quarter, then we had a poor second quarter.
So I think sometimes the credit has to go to who you're playing.  But at the same time, it's our responsibility to make sure that we're ready to go.
Anything, as a coach, you have to be responsible for your players to make sure they're excited to play.  We have a lot of respect for Iowa State.  Iowa State is a much bigger problem than 11 a.m. whether we're playing them at 7:00 a.m. or 7:00 at night.  They present enough problems.  So we have to make sure that they have our full attention, which I know they will.

Q.  I remember last year you were very complementary of Steele Jantz.  He's had a roller coaster ride there and now appears to have the job back.  Do you see some of the same traits you saw last year in him?
COACH DIAZ:  Yeah, because he still presents‑‑ number one, they have the quarterback run game with him.  They're continuing to feature him more and more with more dynamic ways to run the football with him as a runner, which puts strain on your defense.  Then secondly is just going back and watching the tape.  We almost couldn't sack him if we were pulling flags last year.  He's so elusive.  I don't remember how many times we did sack him, but we could have sacked him three or four more times, but we just couldn't get a hand on that guy.
So again, be disciplined in your rush and your coverage, because he can create explosive plays with his arm or with his feet.  What we have found is when the defense gives up fewer explosive plays, the chance of winning goes up.  The more explosive plays he gives up, the harder it is for us to win the football game.

Q.  We've seen Magic Mike Davis look like Lynn Swann and Michael Irvin on Saturdays.  Does your defense shut him down or make the magic disappear during the week?  Does he still give your defensive guys fits in practice?
COACH DIAZ:  I think it's been fun to see what Mike Davis, his improvement as a football player.  I think sometimes that's where it gets lost.  These guys come in with really high expectations, but it's still a matter of just improving.  What you do as a freshman, you need to find a way to improve on it as a sophomore and go into your junior year.
What's been neat to see in practice and in the games is Mike starting to make some of those big time plays like he did at the end of Oklahoma State, Kansas, and certainly on Saturday against Tech.  But that's kind of how a college career should go.  You kind of learn your way.  You flash early on.  Young guys are normally more inconsistent than older guys for various reasons.  But it has been fun to see Mike develop in practice.  Then you see him carry those type plays in the game.  Certainly our team need it's, and it's been fun watching him step up to that role.

Q.  Was it just me or did Duke Thomas get a lot of PTs?
COACH DIAZ:  Yeah, Duke got in there.  He's been helping us on special teams and is now Coach Akina feels comfortable putting him in defensively in the corner for us.  He got in early on in this past week.  He's a diligent worker, hard worker.  He listens to every word that comes out of Coach Akina's mouth and tries to do it exactly the way he's taught.  He was a great player in high school, and did everything at Copperas Cove, and just one of those guys that we're excited about his development.

Q.  Major is going into the Hall of Honor this week for UT.  Can you talk about him and how cool it is to have that honor?
COACH DIAZ:  It is certainly neat for Major.  I know he'll be proud of that.  I know he'll be more focused on getting his guys ready to play.  I think it's been fun watching the job that Major has been done, getting his improvement and seeing the improvement that Johnathan Gray has made throughout the year, and dealing with the loss of Malcolm and Joe Bergeron's improvement.  He's on our staff, does a lot of things, wears a lot of hats for us.  And any recognition he gets is well deserved.

Q.  Do you remember watching him in college and those Major miracles he performed here at Texas?
COACH DIAZ:  I'd be lying if I said I saw a lot of it.  But there was‑‑ that would have been a little out of my area code at that time.  I think there was a chance though that Major was on a visit at Florida State when I was there at a time.

Q.  When your defense goes out and starts with a three‑and‑out, how much does that affect the tone of the game for the defense?  Offense talks about getting off to that quick start.
COACH DIAZ:  It really is.  It's a great confidence boost to the defense to go out there and get the three‑and‑out to start the drive.  We've done that three straight weeks.  We've played of course better the last two than we did three weeks ago.  I've been around great defenses that did that.  I've been around great defenses that didn't do that.
But certainly when you get on that field because of the dynamics of the game, if you can kick to them, get to three‑and‑out, you sort of steal that first possession.  If you get a good punt return and send the ball up to the offense in positive territory and then sort of get that 2 for 1 at halftime.  From a game strategy, it's an important aspect of the game.  Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't.  But it's important for our confidence when it does.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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