Coordinators' corner: Dec. 19
Dec. 19, 2011
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz
Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin
On the running backs: The nice thing about the bowl game is you have time in between the next game. Our guys have had an opportunity to get themselves back and healthy. We had all the guys back out there running around. Everyone is on the practice field, and we have some more time.
On the running game getting back to what they were before the injuries: I think so. I think that is where we need to get back with our philosophy on offense. We want to be able to run the football. Obviously, we have all of our guys healthy. That helps our stable of backs and being able to rotate guys through there and having fresh legs on the field. That is an important thing for what we are doing.
On RB Joe Bergeron developing into a fullback next season: No. Could he do it? Yes. That is the thing. All those guys, the running backs that we have, are all a good size that could do those types of things we want at the fullback. That might be something that you can mix those guys up with that personnel group, but no. The way Joe has played and what he has done at tailback and Malcolm [Brown] and all those guys. It is what we have asked them to do, and it has been very effective for us when those guys are all healthy. That is a position he is going to continue to develop.
On having three main running backs: Yes, we can definitely use that many backs. You will have one of those guys in there, just looking at the future, you will probably have a guy in there that will be a situational guy. You will have some things to design just for him. If the other two or three guys are healthy, then they are rolling through so they can get into a rhythm.
On how to get RB D.J. Monroe more involved: Kind of with what we have been doing. Some of the schemes that we have utilized him in, we continue to do that. We just have to do more of that. You look at what he has done when you get a chance to go back and look at some of your stats at the end of they year before you go into the bowl game, and he is a guy [where we want to] get the ball in his hands. It is about finding creative ways to try and do that and allow them the opportunity to get in space. That is where he does well. It’s just how we can do that and get him the ball and those ways, whether it’s throwing it or handing the ball off to him. We got to figure it out.
On the season WR Jaxon Shipley had and the impact it had when he was injured: Ship [Jaxon Shipley] is obviously really talented at the wide receiver position. He provides you the skills to do some fun things. You saw him throw the ball, and he is a smart football player. So you can move him around and put him in different positions. The most important thing about when Shipley wasn’t out there was just him in practice and what he had shown in fall camp. He’s a guy that provides a spark for those three days of practice out there. I think his practice habits were a big thing and some guys picked that up. Those were missed. When he got back out there, you could just feel the competition, the practice, the style of practice. And things like that improve because of the way he does things.
On Jaxon Shipley’s practice abilities deriving from him being a coach’s son: It probably does. He came in with those skills and that mindset. It is infectious with everyone else when you see him out there, and he is making plays on top of that. We believe that is the way you prepare, and that is why he is successful.
On the quarterback situation: The one thing about bowl practices is that you spend the majority of that time early [on], on just yourself. Both those guys have repped equal amounts. It is about development, not just at the quarterback position, but at every position. Those guys have gotten a lot of reps. [We are] going back to some of the situations we were in during the season and trying to recreate that and correct some of those mistakes. Both guys have done a good job. Now that we start to get into the preparation for Cal, and we have done that, but really start getting into just focusing on that at this point. We will balance that out a little more.
On seeing quarterbacks Case McCoy and David Ash’s potential after coaching them for a season: I don’t know the ceiling necessarily, but I know how to talk to them in meetings better, what type of concepts they really grasp well and how they are going to react in certain situations, good or bad. That is just being together, and I’m sure the same [is true] for them about me. What is the response going to be in those situations, and what are we really trying to get out of this on this particular play or on this field position? What is the best thing I can do and what can’t I do? What can I absolutely not let happen on these situations? Those are the things you talk about. That is just from being together and the experience has really helped all of us. I can see it in these bowl practices now. As we have had more time to sit back and talk about the season and talk about scenarios and just really talk shop more than anything, and just get more familiar with what we are trying to get done. I can see those guys really starting to click, and it shows in practice. A year of experience in a new system with a new coordinator and new coaches around is going to help everyone tremendously when we get back out there. Really in the spring and through these bowl practices. You can see how this is going to effect us in the spring already.
On experience being the biggest factor for the quarterbacks: Absolutely. You can do all the fundamental work. They are going to get bigger, faster and stronger but getting out there on the field, especially at that position, is something that you can’t really train a guy for. You can go through scenarios on tape, but you have to get out there and get in the fire. They have done some really good things, and we have done some bad things. Now we have to build on the good things and go back and look at what we did poorly and why. We have done these things in practice, and they have improved on those areas. That will continue through spring, and I think just that experience of playing in some of these games has really helped [them].
On what his tone is for the quarterbacks going forward: Especially in these bowl practices, we use this bowl as a springboard really into the offseason. What is our standard? What are our expectations? They have changed. They have changed each week. Now we know what we are doing, and we know how to do it. We know where we are going, and we know how to prepare. Now we are setting the tone going into spring at this point in practice. How we want to practice. How we practice. How we prepare. [We really are establishing] that mindset. It has changed. It really has out at practice there. I see guys who have done a better job. We are in and out of the huddle better. We are getting up there and getting set. We are making plays. There is energy on the field, guys are talking to each other and communicating. It is a different vibe out there, and it needs to be. It really does. It needs to be in order for us to continue to improve. That has to carry over into the offseason workouts and the spring.
On what jumps out to him about Cal’s defense: Schematically, they do a very good job of mixing up their fronts. In the run game and the pass game, the way they mix guys and the different looks up front provide you with three different schemes you need to prepare for on each particular play. They are very multiple from that standpoint. The D-line is as good as we have seen. The linebacker and number 30 [Mychal Kendricks] are as good as we’ve seen. Those guys play very hard. They are physical players. In the back end, they mix it up and do enough between man coverage and zone coverage that as a quarterback you have to really pay attention to your fronts and how they tie into coverages to help yourself out and try to see whether you are getting man or zone. It’s a good variety. Each team, as you go through their entire season, they played each team a little bit different. So they had a different game plan for each team. Now you sit back and decide what team did they play that was most similar to us? How did they play them and what are their thoughts on some of the stuff that we’re doing? You are playing that guessing game a little bit.
On TE Blaine Irby not returning and where the future of the tight end position lies: He has done a great job for us this year. With the guys that we have coming back, we continue to build with those guys and what we are trying to do. What I think at the tight end position with some of the things we are asking them to do, the offseason is really where it has to happen in the weight room. Those guys have to have a great offseason lifting and running, getting stronger and getting bigger. I think those guys understand that. They know what we want to get done, especially in the run game on the edges. Every one of those guys coming back has the ability in the pass game and will continue to improve in that. We have to help ourselves on those edges run game-wise and that will open up their opportunities in the pass game.
On sophomore DE Chris Whaley’s progress at tight end: He’s doing fine. At this point, you try to give him a concept to go out there and work. That is what he is going to be able to do through bowl practice is just get better at this. That will continue through spring. We will play with that a little bit because the one thing is, we have a lot of guys on this team that fit that tight end mold. Where are they in their particular situation at their position? There are things like we did with [OT/TE] Luke [Poehlmann]. We tried to do a couple of things, and it expanded from there. His role on the team changed dramatically because of him being able to do that. It has really helped him get on the field. There are other guys in that same type of scenario that we can utilize. We just have to find the right one and make it fit.