Sept. 7, 2011
Assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Duane Akina
On going up against an older BYU team: There’s probably a great age difference between some of the guys we’ll have lined up and the ones they’ll be going against. I’ve been through this before. This was a great rivalry of ours back when I was at the University of Hawaii in the eighties. They’ve got good size at the wide receiver position. They’ve got an experienced quarterback, and a good strong run game that is going to set up the vertical throwing game for them as they continue to pound and pound. So challenging our eyes and our patience back there - those would probably be the biggest concerns for us.
On last week’s win: We had a nice solid game a week ago. We’ve got to put another one together and see how can we handle some people saying some positive things about us. That will be a major challenge for us this week.
On complimenting his players after last week’s game: I think they realize they’re young and a lot of their better football is still ahead of them. I have reminded them of that. I think they are a real solid group. They really understand what their potential is and that were not close to the finish line for a lot of these guys. Even some of the guys that have played here before – [S] Kenny [Vaccaro] and [S] Blake [Gideon], they still understand that there is a lot more out there for them to improve, too.
On any negatives from last week’s game against Rice: There really wasn’t much. We did the things that we really laid down that we needed to do. We needed to take away the vertical throwing game. That was something that we thought, and it’s going to be the same thing here [against BYU]. We can’t give away offens[ive] chunks. We would have liked to create better field position. I’m sure that has been mentioned before. For our offense, we want to put them on a shorter field, so we’ve got to get more three-and-outs [and] get off the field. And that goes with the special teams too. We need to do a better job with our punt return unit. Many of the defensive backs are on that. So there are lots of different phases of the game that we can be better in, but there was not one particular thing that I think we really stressed this week for the secondary.
On BYU’s use of their running backs and whether that will change the defensive game plan: No it doesn’t. It’s been their template ever since back in the eighties. When I can remember breaking them down, it has always been a major part of who they are. So that creates some match ups that we need to be aware of, and knowing where some of their personnel is setting up at. But they’re a package. They’re a well-coached unit, very disciplined, so it will be a great challenge for us.
On if the confidence level is even higher going into this week’s game: You know, I think they’re confident, and I think it’s justified right now. But we’ve got to make sure that it’s not arrogance. Sometimes that can sneak in there, but I have not seen any of that. I think because of the competition that is back there. It’s a very competitive unit. You can’t relax because the guy behind you is waiting for his turn. So it’s really a great room to be part of right now, and I’ve been fortunate over the past ten years that it’s been one of the strengths of the room. There has been tremendous competition in there. And it’s healthy competition because they’re good friends. I think you see that as defensive backs continue to come back and encourage the younger ones, and I’m proud to be part of all that.
On having WR Marquise Goodwin return to the kick return game: We’d like to do that. As he works to get his legs back under himself and I know [co-offensive coordinator] Coach [Bryan] Harsin is working to find how he can be added into the offense. And we’ll continue to work to see how we can add him on the special teams. I’m excited that we have a weapon like that coming off the edge.
Co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Major Applewhite:
On having WR Marquise Goodwin return to the team: It’s great to have Marquise back. He’s a great person. He’s devoted to what he does, whether it be on track or on the football field. So to have that personality, a little bit of an upperclassman in the wide receiver room, it’s great to have that leadership back. Obviously, it will take a little time to get used to the system, but anytime you can have somebody back that has that kind of maturity and type of playmaking ability, it obviously helps you.
On if having Marquise back will cut into RB D.J. Monroe’s role: Monroe is more of a tailback, Marquise is more of a wide receiver. But obviously their speed is something we see as a positive, so they will be used in some similar roles. Obviously in the passing game Marquise will be featured in some things, and in the running game D.J. will.
On if there are certain expectations for how many plays Marquise will play on Saturday: You’ve got to find a reduced role. You can’t throw the whole playbook at him. So it’s kind of up to him what he’s able to retain in three or four days of practice. We’ll determine what he’s able to do on Saturday.
On if it’s difficult to find so many different roles for so many different players: I think that’s the fun part, I really do. I think that’s the fun part of being an offensive coach - finding out, “How do we get the ball to the end zone this week?” Or, “How do we get the ball to the end zone this year?” We’ve got a different style quarterback, a different style running back, wide receiver, o-line, and that’s the enjoyment of being the offensive staff. Whether you’re offensive line coach, quarterback coach, linemen – it doesn’t matter. How do we piece together a game plan that features our best athletes? Sometimes it can be difficult when you’ve got so much talent, but for the most part we understand when too much is too much and when there is not enough. So that’s just that balancing act you’ve got to have as a coach.
On if there were any real surprises from his players in the first game: No, no real surprises. I think it was just interesting to watch our whole offense. I know Bryan [Harsin] talked about just the overall consistency. I think you can get out there in practice and over the course of 28 days you run against the same front, you block the same guy, you run man-to-man routes against the same corner. Then all of a sudden you get out there on game day and that corner plays you a little different, or that defensive back plays you a little different. His body, his leverage is different. His ball-get-off is different. So you’re kind of getting your sea legs out there. So everybody, at every position, when Bryan talked about consistency it was just getting that game speed and a new opponent as opposed to blocking the same guy for 29 practices in three weeks. So did any of them surprise us? No, I think they showed us that they could execute what we gave them.
On if it was designed to get RB Malcolm Brown his carries in the second half: The design for us was to rotate him. We had a rotation set. He was getting ready to go in at the second quarter, and we got a late series there. We were getting ready to go two-minute [offense]. Obviously when you’re in two-minute, you want to put more of your pass protectors in so [RB Foswhitt] Fozzy [Whittaker] took the last series. We wanted to get him those reps, so that’s when we came back out in the second half and we said, “Right now your series is going to start.”
On changing the order in which players play: It’s not etched in stone. It’s not a manual. It changes week to week. Certain plays are featured. Certain protections are featured. Certain formations are featured, certain runs. Certain runs fit this guy better than that one, so this guy has more of a role this week. Certain protections fit another guy better so therefore his role maybe increases or decreases. It’s fluid. I don’t know how to describe it any other way. It’s fluid and it changes, and it changes throughout the course of the game based on the guy’s performance. I think you have seen it. It doesn’t matter how old you are – fifth-year senior or true freshman, we will play you. If you can help our team win, we will play you.
On how to prepare for what is expected to be a very physical game against BYU: You have to show them a lot of film, a lot of tape. We showed these guys against quality opponents. Ole Miss, an SEC team. Florida State last year. Just show them against quality opponents. Oklahoma. We all saw them play Oklahoma up there in Jerry Jones Stadium. So we know that they’re a formidable opponent.
On BYU’s personality as a team: I think you always look at the head coach and you see the personality that they have. And their coach obviously has a very strong personality. A tough personality, and usually the team takes on that head coach’s personality.
On where BYU gets their toughness from: I think it’s a combination. They’ve got great coaches, and they’re very disciplined. They really pride themselves in being a tough ball club. They obviously take a lot of pride in being an older, mature group that focuses on execution and discipline and not being out of place or assignment. So I think that if you look at BYU, you’re looking at older, mature guys. But not just older and mature guys - guys that understand their role. They understand the important things about football, which are simply playing hard, being tough, finishing and executing.