Sept. 6, 2011
Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin
On the offense:I think first of all, to start with, I thought our No. 1 goal got accomplished. That was to win the game. And that's what we talked about on both sides of the ball, offense and defense. That's always been our No. 1 goal throughout the season. I thought both sides of the ball did a great job. I thought our defense played very, very well, got a turnover in there, and [good play] on special teams. So I think we accomplished that.
Obviously, there are some things when you go back and watch tape, it's never as good as you think, it's never as bad as you think. Probably just from the start for us offensively we want to start faster in the game. You know, being the first time out and having the chance to get everybody into the game mode, you really get a chance to see where we are. I thought we made adjustments well after that third series and started getting things going and guys started to settle down a little bit and just started playing, and that's really our goal. We want to in practice try to recreate the game so when we get out there the game is hopefully easy from that standpoint of just going out there and executing and doing what we did all week long. So I thought we did some good things in there executionwise on just some of our base stuff. I thought we executed some of our funk plays a little bit out there, as well, and did a good job of those.
But overall our goal going into that was on offense - was also not to turn the ball over. We had one there when the second group came in, and we want to eliminate those turnovers. We know if we can hang onto the football, we have a great opportunity to be successful in that game.
On QB Garrett Gilbert: I thought he did well. We had no turnovers at that position. I thought he threw the ball with authority, and there were a couple balls in there that got dropped that I thought were really good throws. I thought he threw the deep ball well. I thought he made great decisions on a short yardage play when he ran the ball. We got held up a little bit, and he just took off and went vertical and got 24 or 25 yards out of it. So those are some really good things. Was it perfect? No. There's a lot of things to still coach off of there, and our standards at that position are very, very high. So we'll go back and look at all those things that we can work on, and we'll go into practice this week and we'll emphasize that. Our goal going into next week is no mistakes. We'll eliminate the ones we made. There will be new ones that come up each and every game. We've just got to make sure they're new ones and we eliminate the ones that we've made.
On consistency of QB Garrett Gilbert being so important: I think consistency for our entire offense is the biggest thing, and yes, him included. Just doing it, being able to take what you've done in practice, apply it in the game, understand what you've learned as far as what you need to do decisionwise, make the right decisions, and that really goes for everybody. And that's what we talked about the offense was just the consistency. That's where we need to continue to build on and get better at this week in practice.
On if the extra motion on offense is contributing to penalties: I think that's one thing that is with the movement, all the movement - there's always a possibility of that. And we try to emphasize that and work on that and make a big point of it in practice. I think seeing that in a game, those guys that had some of those issues now are able to go back and go, “This is exactly what we talked about in practice.” And you practice like you play. So when those things happen in practice again, I think it'll be a more heightened awareness from the players of that can't happen because it is going to get called. So it takes a lot of communication between those players when you're moving guys around. uys are on and off the ball and motioning, we know we've got to be set. They tried to do it right, and we just we ran out of time and didn't get a guy moved in a certain situation. They understood what needed to get done, we just didn't get it done. Now this week in practice we'll correct that and make sure that doesn't happen again.
On if he has unique imagination skills: I would say this: it comes down to what we can do with the players we have. John Harris, for example, he was a quarterback in high school, and John, we had run that play in practice, and he didn't throw it every time. He pulled it down. He threw it away. He made good decisions. It wasn't something we were going to just let him have the ball and just throw it, regardless. So I think it's smart football players. I think it's the talent you have, and then when you've got that, I think there are some things in there you can do with those guys creatively and have a little bit of fun. I think that's what we want to do. We want to have fun, but it all comes down to can we execute it properly and do we have the players and the talent to do that, and I think we do.
On if RB Malcom Brown’s late carries were by design: Yeah, it was. I think just coming out of camp, that was the pecking order going into the game. [RB] Fozzy [Whittaker] and [RB] Joe [Bergeron] had done a great job in camp, and Malcolm has, as well. But that was the pecking order going into the game, and that was what we felt was fair and right and just to do that. And I thought Fozzy and Joe did a great job. Malcolm came in and obviously he kind of got hot there when we started in that second half. Were able to run the ball, and he was a big reason why we were doing that. And so you know, now that first game is over, fall camp is done, leading into that, now it's wide open. Now we've got to get our guys in the right position and how we want to start the game so we get started fast.
On if he wants to spread the carries around or go with a “hot hand”: I've done it all ways. I've had three backs rotate through, I've had two backs, and I've had one guy that was the only guy that we had. With the talent we've got, I don't think that you want to just sit there and let one guy just pound it the entire time because you've got some really good running backs sitting on the sideline waiting to go. So we have to manage them as far as here's a series for you, “here's a couple of series for you, here's a couple of series for you, where are we, who's hot here, let's go ahead and give him the opportunity to get back in there, he's got a little bit better flow right now”, and still spell on him as we go with bringing guys in in certain personnel groups. Certain situations are going to give those guys enough break [periods.] But we've got some great backs, and we've got to utilize them. We just have to do a great job of managing that.
On BYU’s defense: When I was at Boise we played them in '03 and '04 and [BYU head coach] Bronco [Mendenhall] was the defensive coordinator at that time. They play relentless. That's the one thing about BYU, they go out there and they play hard. They've got a great Dline. They're physical up front. I think their front seven is as good as I've seen, Dline and linebackers. They do a good job in coverage of mixing up where they're helping with safeties, and they make it difficult from that standpoint. And that Dline, because of that, they're expecting those guys to get to you and expecting those backers to get to you. But they're very well coached on defense, and they play relentless. They just have a standard out there they play to, and so when you play BYU, you're playing four full quarters in that game, and you've got to expect that.
On if the offense knows that the game will speed up:
They see that on tape. I thought the first game, coming out of fall camp, even though you're playing your defense over and over and over, it's still the speed of the game on both sides of the ball. To play another opponent, to play somebody that does a little bit different scheme, a little bit different moves, in that first game you've got to get used to that. So we're able to go into this game now and talk more about game speed now that we've been through a real game together. So they're going to know going into this one now, all right, they can see those guys up front. They move pretty good. Now in practice we maybe don't have that same speed up front, but we've got to practice at the tempo we're expecting from BYU. So that's what we have to do this week in practice.
On if the various packages affect QB Garrett Gilbert’s play: No, because we talk about it. I think that's something that we discuss before the game is there will be certain plays that he's going to be in on and some of these will be in these situations [and] some of them are going to be random, just when it's called. But if everybody knows what the plan is, then that's just how we operate. David [Ash] is a guy that we feel is a very good football player who's done a great job in camp ever since he's been here through spring and a guy that can go in there and do what he did. He provides a different element for us offensively. The opponent really determines the type of package he's going to have and how much we can utilize him. [David’s] experience each game is going to help him prepare and get ready for the next game, so we feel like he can handle a little bit more, and we'll do that.
On WR Jaxon Shipley: Well, I think Jaxon is a special player, and not just because of what he does on the field. When he got here he instantly made an impact in practice just by the way he plays. He just has one speed, and it's full. When you're out there on the practice field and you're seeing that day after day, that's inspiring. And so I think that's where he really made his first impact. The second, he's very smart. He comes from a football background, and he came in understanding the game and knew a lot of little tricks of the trade, and so he's able to pick up on stuff very quickly. And that's how we were able to get him involved. He's doing some things for us and some different packages and we're moving him around and he can handle it. So for a young guy to have his type of work ethic, to have his knowledge of the game I think is pretty special.
On how much offense he held back: Going into each game you have a plan of what you want to utilize, and as the game flows, that plan continues to change. And so there were some things that we didn't get to. We've got some overage left over from the game, and so those things that we didn't utilize we'll try to implement into this game plan or push back for another one. But we have all hands on deck. It's just a matter of how the flow of the game is going and what we need to do, or maybe some plays were successful that we want to come back to and repeat, and that takes away from utilizing some other plays.
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz
On not getting sacks or any turnovers on defense: If a genie game out of a bottle and said we won't get a touchdown [scored on us] all year but have no sacks and interceptions, I'd have to just make do with that. No, we have to look at it, and it's always hard defensively. Sometimes the stats are misleading. We didn't sack the quarterback, but they were not going to let us sack him. The ball was out off threestep timing for most of the game. I think they threw the ball over 70 yards in the first three and a half quarters when the game was still our starting defense. I think they threw the ball for seven yards three times and two of them were out of bounds on fades. So they weren't going to test us down the field, which was smart. They were keeping the ball out of harm's way. But I think they averaged 2.4 yards per pass attempt, which is pretty unbelievable. Now, we have to go in and make sure our kids aren't freaked out because they put pressure on themselves. They want to make plays. They have to understand they are making plays because if our presence makes them throw the ball fast and allows them to throw for 70 yards, we are winning, even though personally I'm not getting numbers that maybe people were expecting of me or I was expecting of me. So we felt good about our pass defense.
On BYU: This is going to be an absolute brawl. Everyone talks about Heaps, and historically BYU has been known for their passing game, but this version right here is coming down the hill. It is a “buckle up your chin strap” and tell the equipment guy to have extra shoulder pads on the sidelines because there may be shoulder pads getting busted up. They represent their head coach, I think his mentality. They're a physical football team, and they're going to come here to get after us.
On how he thought the defensive line played: I look at more how we played versus the pass, how we played versus the run, because a lot of times if there's something we're doing, the blitzing we're doing, we sort of tie into one another. I thought versus the pass game I was excited about the way we played. Versus the run game I felt like we were a little tentative, and that's kind of like what I said here last week. We had to go get the game mistakes. With a lot of movement and as multiple as we are up front, when we got here in the spring, we sort of you're a little tentative at first as you're learning and as you're thinking, but then they got the hang of it in practice and now we're getting going and going fast. The same thing happened on Saturday. I felt like up front we were counting our advance steps a little bit instead of just letting it go, and that affects our run fits, because every play versus the run is building a wall, and it's hard to build a wall when you're tentative. Everybody is a brick in the wall. So I think the players saw that on film. I think that's not a surprise to me, as annoying as it is, for game one. Happy we got through it, but that'll be a big point of emphasis in terms of improving that this week.
On getting to know the guys better after a full game together: What I really liked on Saturday was that nobody on our sideline flinched and nobody blinked, and it was like what we talked about. We did not go into that game with a mindset of trying to win, again, using the analysis about firstround knockout. That's what I liked. That's what the team is going to have to beat. We're going to battle. We're going to have to grind with people and make the play to win the game at the end. And that's what we did. I thought it was a great team effort, and I think everybody understands the method that right now that what it’s going to take for us to win football games. Our attitude was very good.
On the cornerbacks playing well: They did. Not a surprise to us. We anticipated that from what we had seen in practice. But all three of those guys, [Quandre] Diggs, [Carrington] Byndom and [Adrian] Phillips, they were really good against the pass, but with what Rice was doing with the bubble screens and things like that, they were solid at the point of attack. They were aggressive, and that's just the type of people they are. It was nice to see them carry what they had done in practice out on the field. I thought our secondary as a whole played very well. Even when we made mistakes in the front seven, they erased our mistakes. The first thing they have to do, they got the giant eraser. If we make mistakes, they come in and erase it, and we go live to play another down. And if we do that, then the worst thing that ever happens is we get in the red zone, and if we can fight in the red zone we can win.
On what he wants to see against BYU. Well, it's going to challenge our manhood for sure. They'll do that probably the first play of the game. We're going to have to improve our run fits to be sure, and I think that'll happen as we get more comfortable in the scheme. But I think the team is going to understand our formula for winning, which is if we can get after the run, we can make the turtle come out of its shell. That's a little bit why we had a hard time pressuring Rice. They never really had to expose their quarterback, and they chose not to expose their quarterback to our rush. If we can sort of hang in there with BYU and put them in some long down and distance situations, then we have a chance to be aggressive and get after them a little bit.
On if BYU’s offense resembles Texas’: There's no doubt, yeah. There's no doubt they're multiple formation wise. They have great variety in their run game. They fool people. They'll attack you inside. They'll attack you outside. We do have the benefit of practicing against a similar attack like that every day. But at the same time they do some things that are unique to them, and then it ultimately comes down to it's a players' game, and they've got good backs that run hard. They've got fullbacks that want to block your soul. They are mean, aggressive type people, and it'll be quite a challenge.
On playing ten freshmen on defense: Yeah, ten freshmen. Usually as a coach you're supposed to ask questions because we can tell you what's going to happen. When the ten freshmen rolled out there we had no idea. We were watching that together. But you know what was really neat, they went out there after our own turnover, and that's a situation we really strive we take a lot of pride in, sudden change, go put the fire out if something like that happens. They went out there, and Rice called a play that's designed to score a touchdown. They ran the tailback on the “wheel” and they wanted to score a touchdown on that play, and I think we had an entire freshmen secondary in the game and freshman at linebacker, and they covered everybody up and made him go to his third option which the guy ended up dropping. When you see guys do that type of thing, the freshmen got a threeandout on one of the drives they were in, it's encouraging. But again, you never know what to expect when they go in there. And then they got the turnover, which was a really neat moment and a great moment for [LB]Cody Ramirez who's a really hardworking guy on our football team. And that's the type of thing he'll never forget.
On if FB Chet Moss has moved back to linebacker: Yeah, Chet is with [LB] Demarco Cobbs going out. We just felt like we needed more numbers at that spot, so we're giving him some run at linebacker. And I think he'll be able to help us here down the road.