Coordinators' corner: Sept. 1
Sept. 1, 2008
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis
On what he wants to see this week: I thought that there were a lot of good things from the opener. I was really disappointed right before half. It really frustrated me that we got the ball back with over a minute to go and three time outs, and we went three and out and actually put our defense back on the field. So that's an area obviously of improvement. We did a really nice job in the red zone and we threw and caught the ball well. Just want to see more consistency, we had some mental mistakes. Sometimes you have mental mistakes and you get away with them. Way too many penalties, we were fortunate enough to overcome many of them. But as you get closer to conference, those things come up and bite you when they throw you off schedule. But overall I was pleased. What I'd like to see as we head towards conference is more from the young guys. I thought Malcolm Williams stepped up in his first game starting and did a really good job. Brandon Collins will be back this week. We want to see how some of those guys will develop because we're looking for how many players we have that can go in a ballgame in tight situations and feel comfortable about their performance.
On the 'Q' package: I think we used that package four times. In a lot of ballgames we'll use it more. We ran a zone read option out of it to open the game. That gave us a give read. We threw a little bubble (screen). It's a package we're going to continue to use and expand. We had a chance to hit John [Chiles] on a skinny post in the third quarter, the linebacker just got his hand on the ball. There are other things obviously we'll do as the season goes on. But just getting in and out of that personnel and being able to use it more extensively, especially in our no huddle, is what we want to shoot for as we continue down the road.
On the team's chemistry: Mack said when we broke camp that the chemistry of this team has really been a fun group to be around. They enjoy each other and pick at each other. But they have a lot of fun. [Rashad] Bobino is all the time in the dressing room. It's been a really fun group. They work hard together and they enjoy each other.
On Colt McCoy's performance and his potential: I think over the last half of last season, it really became apparent to him, and we felt probably before he did, that his legs are a weapon. His ability to escape trouble and stay alive, the defense hates it when the quarterback can run a little bit because in many things they don't account for him. They cover everybody up and a lot of times the quarterback is unaccounted for. So his ability to make plays with his feet gives us more opportunities to stay on the field, and he's a pretty good runner. I think he had 480 or so yards rushing last season. Other than Vince, everybody would say that's pretty good for quarterback. It's exciting to see him continue to grow and I thought he did a really good job with the football and taking care of it and the things that we had worked in spring training and fall camp.
On Blaine Irby: I was not surprised at all at the way Blaine caught the ball. My concern going into the ballgame, any time you have a guy that has been a spot player, you worry about when he gets extended, when he's out there for any length of time. A lot of times when that happens, production starts dropping off because of mental mistakes. That didn't happen. I was also concerned about blocking because we asked our tight end to set the edge for us a lot times in different things, and all in all, for an opener, he played an extremely open game in terms of starting, he played extremely well.
It's probably early (for the David Thomas comparisons), but there are some similarities. He has really good body control, made a catch flipping his body around. He has really nice hands. He made a third down play with the safety coming over his back. So there are some similarities and hopefully one day he'll be considered in the same sentence as David.
On what he learned about the team after last week: In the red zone, we went 8-for-8, we had seven touchdowns and a field goal, also as many players as we got involved is great. It makes practice better, it makes game preparation better because the more guys that play, the better they do in practice, the better your team morale is. So we had a lot of guys involved, and hopefully we'll continue to be able to do that. We want to continue to use some trick plays. We had a reverse pass open for a touchdown. Actually Colt probably told you, he didn't do as good a job (blocking) the defensive end as we would have liked, or else we think Jordan [Shipley] would have thrown a touchdown to Quan [Cosby]. But they like doing that, I think the fans enjoy those kinds of things. It helps create excitement, so we want to keep doing that.
On the importance of winning in convincing fashion last week: Well nothing is as important as winning, but learning is critical because as we get to learn our players and what they can do, one of the things you'll find out is some guys play eight or nine plays, they need a breather. It doesn't mean anything, doesn't mean they are not in shape. With the adrenaline rush and all that, some guys can extend a little bit further, some guys handle injuries better than others. The first part of the season is always about understanding your team and your makeup, who your weapons are and how you can get those guys involved.
On expectations regardless of opponent: We've really challenged this group and so far they've done a heck of a job. We talk to them constantly about playing to a standard, playing to the standard that we accept regardless of who the opponent is. A lot was made about Coach [Howard] Schnellenberger's comments, our guys thought nothing of that, they really didn't. They wanted to play because it was an opportunity to get the season started off, and that's what you're looking for and hopefully we'll be able to keep it up.
On Chris Ogbonnaya: He has more endurance, he's quicker. The cut he made early in the game to get the ball down to the one yard line, I'm not sure he would have made that same cut last year, or it just wouldn't have been as quick. He's always been a good receiver. But it really helps quickness and it helps endurance. He was carrying a little too much weight last year. We were also talking about using him some as a fullback, so he carried the weight mainly because we asked him to. But going into this offseason, we asked him to drop it back down and we were going to use him strictly in that role. It's really helped him. He did it the old fashioned way, through hard work.
On the depth chart being more solidified after the first game: It's still up in the air in some ways. Obviously guys have started and played well, but we're still looking for a third receiver. I was really pleased with the way Malcolm played in the ballgame, but Brandon Collins had a great camp. So there is still a battle going on there. Using John [Chiles] in the Q package as a receiver, that has a bearing on the mixture. And as you get guys hurt, it's going to continue to change. But it's a whole lot closer to being solid now than it was a week ago.
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp
On the defense's performance against Florida Atlantic: I thought we played hard. I thought we played with effort and passion and tackled pretty well for the first game. We missed leverage on some balls here and there; we obviously on our sideline missed a tackle. Other than that I was pleased with the effort and tackling and some hard hits.
On what he requires from his defenses: As long as they play hard and as long as they play with effort, we'll deal with the rest and that's what they did. They played with some passion and some energy. If we can do that, we're going to have some success.
On his excitement to watch the defense play: I said early in the week I was excited about watching those guys play, and I was. I don't feel any different after watching the film. They obviously did some really good things at times, some things we've got to correct, some things that going into the game we knew there would be some mistakes, that's part of it and you've got to live through and grow through it. That's what we're trying to preach to the kids, let's be technical in our approach about the film, what happened in the game and let's make improvement for the next week.
On the importance of learning as a coach: We learn every day, I learn every day, and I know the players do. You learn more about what buttons to push with certain kids, and not just in a scheme standpoint, in what they can handle. We're going to continue to install, game plan week by week and hopefully give them a little bit more this week and hope they handle it well. We learn every day with what our kids can do, what they can handle and I learn from them as a coach. Different guys you've got to coach different ways and you've got to be able to reach them somehow.
On the personnel on defense: I've always felt confident in our personnel. I have a lot of confidence in the kids to go out and execute the plan and play with effort. As long as they do that, again the effort's on them, the execution's on me.
On his love for coaching: I enjoy what I do, I like what I do, I like coaching football. I enjoy the preparation through the week with the kids and the players and the coaches. We've got a great staff here, Coach Brown and our defensive staff, Mike Tolleson, Oscar Giles and Duane Akina. I enjoy the excitement of Saturday afternoon and playing the game. That's why you coach.
On UTEP: I think first of all Mike Price has always had an outstanding offense. Everywhere he's been they've put up big numbers. Last year Trevor Vittatoe threw for over 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns against seven interceptions. He's a guy that can stretch the field vertically throwing the football and also can be very accurate in the short areas, completing right at 65 percent in 10 yards or less passing range. Moturi the receiver had 65 receptions last year, was first-team Conference-USA, 13 touchdown receptions. They're going to spread the field on us. They'll be primarily a one-back team. They are an explosive football team, two tight ends that are very quality tight ends. They have a Rimington Award candidate center. Three starters return on the offensive line. Our work's cut out for us each week. We just want to improve from game one to game two, and we look forward to the opportunity on Saturday night.
On what the defense can improve upon this week: Crisper tackling, better communication, less mistakes in some areas. I think as long as we're able to, after the game, sit down and say we limited those and we took a step forward, continue to play with the effort and passion and the physical toughness and the physicality that we want to play with.
On whom he wants the players to play for: I want them to play for each other. I want them to play for the guy they sit by and the guy they line up by. It's their team. It's not our team. I want them to impress each other. Peer pressure is much better than coming from a coach, and I think that it's important for those guys to impress each other.
On how he thinks the late start time will affect the team: It doesn't matter who we play, where we play or what time we play, let's line up and play. We'll play in a parking lot if they want. It makes no difference at all. Whatever game time they decide, that's when we'll play.
On comparing across games: I have a hard time ever comparing one year to another or one game to another. I think we're going to coach the guys we've got, we're excited about them, we're confident in them. I think we've got a good talent pool of players to choose from, and we're excited about where we are right now, we just need to improve from game one to game two. Making comparisons from score to score or year to year, I think, are very hard for me to do.
On the importance of intensity for a defensive player and Roy Miller: I think at all positions you have to have that. I think you can have a little bit of a more aggressive mentality up front and at linebacker as opposed to maybe the secondary. You want all your defensive players to play that way and play the way Roy (Miller) plays and to approach the game the way he plays. You look at him from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, he's always the same guy, he's always on an even keel, straight. It's important to him, in the classroom, on and off the field and everything in how he approaches life. He's one of those fun guys to coach.
On the defense's performance against Florida Atlantic: I think that the two most productive players we had were Roy and Rod Muckelroy. I think both of those guys we expected to play well and they did. We had a collective effort outside of that with our front four. I thought they did a good job in the running game for the most part and did a good job of pushing the pocket for the most part. I know you guys love sacks and we didn't get any but we had nine times we hit the quarterback and 13 pressures. I was pleased with that part of it and in the second half we settled down in the secondary as a group, as a whole. We had more formation recognition, we understood where we needed to be, the calls we needed to make. I think we had better awareness on the back half as the game slowed down for them a little bit.
On Aaron Lewis: Aaron played 16 snaps inside and 14 at defensive end this past week. He'll be fine. He played well for us this past week. He plays with a great motor, good pad level, he's a good football player, played a lot of football for Texas. We're excited about him.