Sept. 11, 2012
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz
On if he misses living in Mississippi: Do I miss living there? One of the things in this profession is you get to move all different types of places. One thing we try to do with our family is we've enjoyed everywhere we've lived. What I remember about Mississippi is the people were very nice and very welcoming to us because we had a great year when we were there, and I'm sure there will be some familiar faces. Most of the people in the stadium weren't rooting for me when I was there. So there will be some happy faces and a bunch of sad faces and angry faces too.
On Ole Miss: Some of the guys on their football team, I was involved in the recruiting process. We were trying to recruit them to Mississippi State, some of the guys on the team that were on their team a couple years ago. So you've shared the field with them. But as I said last week with New Mexico with the first year coaching staff, you can tell and watch Ole Miss play, and they're a team that's not carrying the past with them. They're playing fast, playing free, playing hard, and they're extremely aggressive on both sides of the ball. They've been aggressive in their offensive play calling, and they do a lot of things to try to create explosive plays. They're always hunting the big chunk play. As we know in this game, you don't have to hit on very many of those to win a football game. So they're a very, very good football team.
On the Ole Miss offense: Well, it's an offense that is really all about deception. It's, as Coach Brown mentioned, there is some carryover from what we've seen the last couple weeks. But it's always about where is the ball going? Everything is disguised very well formationally. Being able to run the ball inside, throw it quick and throw it deep. They can do all those things in all the looks that they present to you. Then they've got a quarterback that's run the show. Bo Wallace has done a nice job. He's got a presence about him, and he's making the plays when you're there. So they have skill. They've got a group of backs that are very good. They've got [receivers] who can go down the field and win oneonones and get the football, and now they have a guy in the middle that can get it to them. So it's quite a challenge for us.
On Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace: You can watch on tape what he's doing when he carries himself. He can make bad plays, good plays for them. What he's also doing is he's not making bad plays disasters. It might be a throwaway or scramble for six yards when he's covered. But he's not throwing it to their team and taking bad sacks and stuff like that. On the flip side, third or fourth play of the game they had a double move, you know, bang. Right on the money. UTEP went into the exact same play at Ole Miss, they had a little stutter going to the wideout. UTEP's quarterback kind of rushed it and set his feet and overthrows by about a foot. This guy [Wallace] sets his feet - and it happened afterwards. They called the play second. [He] sets his feet and throws a beautiful strike for a 50yard touchdown pass to [WR Donte] Moncrief. So you know the guy's capable of making a play which is something that scares you.
On playing disciplined defense: It is, and that's always one of the funny things in the whole triple option conversation. There is never a day when you don't have to have discipline on defense. There is never a day that eye control is not important, because whether you're playing anybody on our schedule, everybody does things to present to you where you have to make sure you're locked in. This is an offense that is just more dynamic. There are more things that they can do. It is our first taste to the fast tempo offense. Lot of things that are similar to what they do weekin and weekout in this conference. Then the added element of going and playing on the road and everything that's there. Every time something good happens to them and the role that comes with that and the momentum that comes with playing on the road and having to fight the ups and downs of the football game.
On how long to enjoy a shutout on defense: What we do as a coach, we have a 24-hour rule. Twenty-four hours after the game, the game's over regardless anyway. But as a coach, win, lose or draw, we come in and coach the film. Because what happens is the film might be 60 or 70 plays long, however it is. I'll use Wyoming as an example. Wyoming there were two plays on that film that we didn't like. Those were the two plays that got in our end zone. Some of the plays that we didn't love. There may have been a bunch of plays we really enjoyed. In New Mexico there were no plays that caused touchdowns, but there might have been ten or 12 plays that we could not stand the sight of. So what you do is you still come in. What great players do is great players fix their mistakes when they don't get punished for them. A bad player waits until they get punished by their mistake to finally fix it. So if we didn't cover the guys we can cover, we didn't play our run depth, but the game didn't punish us. Maybe they didn't filter that guy on the play or run the ball into that gap on the play. Can you fix your mistake without getting punished by the game? That's why you see weekin and weekout in college football where some teams can look like this one week and look entirely different on the up or on the down from week to week. It's a constant state of fixing our film. Our film never tells us whether we won our lost the football game. All we do is watch the defensive plays. Our film from Wyoming had nothing to say whether we won or lost the football game. But the next one was different because there were no touchdowns on it. But we look at what's on the tape.
On a 4-2-5 defense: I think probably made more is brought up about that than probably what really is. I think in this day and age, football has changed now. The most common personnel in offensive plays now is 11 personnel, one back, one tight end on the field and three wideouts. So what people have done, you have two choices. You can say, you're a 43, but they'll put a nickel back in the game. You might have played 425, 60 percent of your season and adjust to that. Or you can say you're a 425, then on a third of the plays where you might get only two outs in a game, you might put an extra linebacker in the game. It's just a guy. It's a body for body. It doesn't usually change the way the four deep linemen play or the linebackers play. Like I said, 425, 34, whatever it is. People talk about the arrangements too much. The difference is how they play. Are you attacking style, or read style? To me the spread offense goes to throw. The spread offense goes to run. Everybody can see that. People generally don't understand an attack style 425. The way the [New England] Patriots play their 34 defense is dramatically different than the way the Houston Texans have the 34 defense. So that's what is usually harder to see for the casual fan.
On playing the first road game: Well, number one, you have to make sure your inexperienced players can handle all that goes into travel. It's really a 48hour experience. It goes from when you wake up Friday morning, you have to pack differently. You have to make sure your tube of toothpaste has less than three ounces, that type of stuff. You know, again, with the airplane, the travel, going to a foreign hotel that you haven't been in, and understanding why we're going. Then the added element in this game is because we're playing so late at night, we are not going to Memphis to go sightseeing. We're not going to stop at Graceland. We're going with the intention of trying to win a football game. So the older guys will be more into that. The younger ones it will be more of an issue. Last year our first trip was out to L.A., so we have time zones and a lot of things. So it is important to handle the trip and understand why it is we're going in the first place.
On it being hard to stop a balanced offense: It is. And everything you do, you have to be able to handle the run and the pass. But what you look at is how they're achieving those yards and how they're achieving yards is they're achieving them in big chunks. Two long touchdown passes to make it 140 this past week against UTEP. It's what we talked about. The difference between week one, week two, is no wrong plays, no wrong touches or passes for touchdowns. Again, you're going against an offense that's probably trying as hard as anybody we play to create long runs or passes for touchdowns. So that will be a major factor in this game.
On DS/DB Nate Boyer: Nate's a guy that everyone on this football team respects. Everyone in this football program respects Nate Boyer. People commonly try to make similarities between this game that we are associated with combat. Obviously, it's almost an insult to do that to real life combat. But Nate is a guy that's been in both arenas. Still understands it's hard work going through twoadays. It's hard work going through the offseason program. Understands the ups and downs that our players go through. Then can balance it with this other part of his life where he understands that the stakes are real when you say things like team work and camaraderie and accountability and dependability. Those are just things that you put on the wall. Those are things that cause life and death to occur. When he speaks, everyone on the football team listens. He's been through the best training program there is. He's been coached by the best there is because our military forces have got the playbook on how to create the ultimate fighting force in this world. They can't go 111. They have to go 120 every year, and Nate's read through that playbook. He's been in that game plan. When he comes to us and he speaks, everybody in this program from top to bottom listens.
Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin
On the process of distributing the ball: We go into a game and we have multiple personnel groups a lot. It's to get guys opportunities that deserve to be in there. It's to get guys in the right spot on particular plays. It's funny because sometimes in this offense, one week you're going to get a bunch of balls coming to you, and one week - and granted the defense now they see the same film from the previous week too, and go we've got to try to stop that. So the plays that [RB] Malcolm [Brown] was in on, the run pass options is what they are. So we end up getting a box count that we need to throw the ball outside or check the play or they give us a look to throw a perimeter bubble screen out there and then we have to take it. It's nothing against anybody that's in there. It's not that we're trying to get him the ball. It's a matter of this is what they showed us. Really, I think that is because of the scheme that the defense had as well. They see Malcolm in there. He had a lot of carries last week, was productive, and I think with any defense, let's make sure they're not running the ball down our throat. Force it outside in the perimeter and see what they can do out there. So that is just kind of the nature of how things work out in those situations and the rotation that the backs are in at that time. Malcolm understands that. He was in there for 20some plays, had a screen in there. Had a couple of screens thrown to him. I think our guys get that. They understand the nature of how we do things offensively and how it works. They understand it's a matter of time and they'll get their opportunities as well, but it's a team effort. It's a team effort and like [WR] Marquise [Goodwin] being a guy that played really well in that game, had a couple of catches. But some things he did without the ball in his hands is what really made the difference in how he played for us.
On if he would be surprised to see another game transpire like this one offensively: Yes, I would be surprised. If both of those guys only had two carries in a game, I would be very surprised. That's very highly unlikely to happen. But I do think it is the nature of we didn't have the ball that much in the first quarter. We didn't have that much in the first half. We came out to throw the ball more in this game. We had a plan to go throw the ball and get it outside in the perimeter with some of the pass game and kind of get that going as well. So just the nature of the game plan, the limited amount of plays that we had, kind of played into that factor that we were going to throw the ball a little bit more. That we just didn't have that many opportunities. They did a nice job of hanging on the football and chewing up the clock and those type of things. It is what it is. It just works out that way. I'd be surprised if we get into another situation like that where we don't have that many opportunities or those guys don't touch the ball that many times. It's just kind of the nature of the beast, so to speak.
On spreading the ball around: We've got quite a few guys with [WR] Jaxon [Shipley] and [WR] Mike [Davis] and [RB] Daje [Johnson], and our backs and Quise out there. There's only one ball to go around, so we'll figure out how we'll try to do that. Who is going to get more touches in the game. It really comes down to scheme as far as what we're going to see defensively, and how we can utilize these guys in different roles and those type of things. But we'd like to spread as much around as we can and let all those guys have opportunities because they're all play makers. It comes down to sometimes you set it up to have that happen, and it gets taken away. The quarterback's got to make a decision to check it down. There were several situations in that game. We checked the ball down to [RB] Joe [Bergeron]. Checked it down to [RB] Jeremy Hills which are plays that had opportunities to go outside, but they played it. They covered it. The quarterbacks made good decisions in both those situations. You try to come back to it, and hopefully have another chance to get it, but that's just the way it works sometimes.
On WR Marquise Goodwin as a contributor without the ball: I think that's our whole emphasis as an offensive unit, not on the field but off the field. It's that team chemistry, that bond and understanding it's not about one person, one play. It's about everybody on this team and everybody doing their job. He's a guy we know is explosive. He's a guy with experience and has done a lot of things for us. Here he is out in the perimeter, blocking, hitting guys down field, and playing to the whistle and doing everything we ask him to do when you don't have the ball in your hands. Rightfully, receivers don't come here to block, but in those situations we have to do that, he's out there doing it to the best of his ability. That's what we ask those guys when they do run the ball or they're in those situations is to maximize their opportunities out there blocking and holding up outside. He's the reason why Mike on the touchdown scored. He maintained that block for four or five seconds of just fighting that guy. And Mike was able to wiggle behind him. It was all because of Marquise out there and getting in the end zone.
On facing an ‘attacking’ defense: You have to attack back. They're an aggressive front. They have very good Dline men. Those guys are fast. They get up field. A lot of those sacks will come from the Dline. Not so much the pressure. Just those guys getting up field and getting around the tackle. So we've got to do a great job of understanding the speed that we're about to see and practice that way this week. That is the biggest thing. That will be an emphasis is making sure we're practicing at the mindset and with the speed we plan to see with those guys, because that will be the difference from what we have seen. Those guys will be a faster football team all around. So it really comes down to that and your mindset going into the game. It comes down to guys helping each other out in pass situations, the backs or whoever else can help with those situations, the tackle and interior guys. Then the quarterback's doing a good job of understanding the urgency they need to have in the pocket. Ball needs to be out, ball is not out. You're hanging in there. The ball needs to be out of your hands somehow, some way, throw it away or get up field and run. So that will help us eliminate sacks in those situations.
On QB David Ash: He's made good decisions. He's made very good decisions in our run game with some of the checks and things like that that we have to do and getting us out of bad situations. He understands that. It's a growing process. Not perfect by any means. Is he there yet? No. That's our motto in our room is we're probably never going to be there. We're always striving to be better every single week. We have a high standard in there. So his deal is all about getting better. How do I learn from this last game? What were the mistakes I made. How do I correct them? What is the game plan this week and how do I maximize that? And that is his mindset. If he continues to do that, then I feel good about it. He keeps that mindset of getting better week to week.
On Ash’s mindset to avoid mistakes: Some of those situations, there is no hesitation. There are still things we have to clean up with some of the routes and angles and things like that. Everybody's got to be on the same page. I don't think it has anything to do with hesitation or worry like that. He wants to take those shots. The thing about it is I think defense as well are trying to stop those type of plays. He's got to understand that. They'll play a certain way. He can get a guy down field or keep the guy across and keep the corner deep on him. That is the right situation to not throw it in those situations. That's really his job. I thought he's done that. We've called those plays that have had some coverages out there, and he's had to see how they play it, and they played it right in a couple of situations. Not all of them. But he's made the right decisions. There are a couple he'd like to have back that he should take shots on. So that's all part of the developing and learning process for him.
On RB Daje Johnson: I tell you what, he's obviously a fast football player, he's physical and can do a lot of different things. What I thought was he was confident in what he was doing. That told me he's prepared. For a young player to go into a game and look like he did as far as his preparation and going into it, not coming out of the huddle wrong or going in the wrong direction or messing up on anything, that's what fired me up the most. That just told me in the last week of his preparation time, he spent time studying what he needed to do and he expected those plays to be made when he got the ball in his hands. You could see that. So that fires me up from the coaching standpoint that he is prepared going into games, and that's going to allow him to be able to do more and to have success in his first game playing. You want those young players to have success, so that continues to inspire those guys to get better each week and want to do more.
On the younger players staying focused in their first road game: One thing you have to be able to handle are distractions and adversity on road trips. That doesn't mean even mean in the stadium. That's a broken bus, your room's not clean, whatever. There are just things that come up on the road that you just have to kind of expect and be able to deal with it, not get overwhelmed by any of it. The rooms are too small, the meeting rooms, whatever it is, there is always something in there. Obviously, the environment we're going to go into will be a hostile environment. It will be loud. When they make plays, there is going to be adversity. When that happens, it will get louder and louder. We have to understand that and prepare our minds for it. We're all we've got. We've got to stick together in this game and understand that they're going to make plays and the crowd will be against us. Just keep playing and doing what you've been doing and not let it affect you.
On the development of the offense: I would say we're in the development of the offense still week to week. That is just what it is. You know, every week presents something different. We're going to throw it more, we're going to run it more. Sometimes you get in the game, and it switches on you by what they play. That's a constant battle that we go through each and every week. But I like where we're at when we're running the football. I like where we're at when we're passing the ball. We've had explosive plays and good completion percentages. Knock on wood, we haven't had the turnovers in that category, which is huge for us. We've just got to keep working in that direction. Those are the things that you've got to start somewhere. You've got to start being consistent at some things. I think we've done that in those phases of the game, the other stuff because of that will open up. Every team's got that mentality. Don't get beat. Don't give them anything. Make them earn it. We've got to be good at those intermediate to short throws and not just the deep ones, because if they're not going to give it to us, we're kind of hurting ourselves if that's all we're talking about. We have to be good at taking what they give us and be efficient when we get it.
On playing on the road: Playing in the games we played away, having that experience away from home, each venue is different. I know it's a loud, hostile environment, and that's what we expect, and that's what we'll prepare for. But it comes back to offense, 11 guys doing their job, worrying about that. Don't get too caught up in the emotion of what's happening around you. Just play the game. That's all you've got to do. Be smart about what you're doing out there. Take care of the football and let the rest of it work out.
On DS/DB Nate Boyer:
I think Nate is a guy that every time you listen to him talk, he's got the respect of the team and coaches and all that. That's the nice thing about this football team. It's not about who scores all the touchdowns or who makes all the tackles that's the leader. It's really not. The leader is a guy that can influence other guys around him and he does that. Whether he plays, how many plays, it really doesn't matter. Guys can look to him for advice. Guys can look to him for maybe how to handle some adversity because there's a guy that's been able to handle some situations that are pretty adverse. So that's what he provides. He's very mature. He's good with the players. So that's what I've always respected about him. When he talks, I shut up and listen and really take in what he has to say, because I really appreciate what he has to say.