Coordinators' corner: Oct. 19
Oct. 19, 2010
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis
On the evolution of the offensive line: Well, I think by far it was the most complete game the offensive line has played. As we’ve said here every Monday, it’s been close. There have been a lot of times where, you know, four of the five or five of the six were all in really good shape but one guy didn’t have the hat right, and because of it, the play didn’t look like it. We had some of that Saturday. There were situations where we felt like if we had one more hat right, the play might have been nine [yards] instead of three. But overall, they really played well. They did a great job against a quality opponent. They protected well. Maybe the most important thing is we won the ball in the fourth quarter and ground down the clock at the end of the game. And at the end of the first half we were in a situation where we were backed up. We needed to run the ball and we did not want to give it back to them, and we were able to get that accomplished. I was very pleased with the way we played, and that goes for the tight ends, and also goes for the backs running and breaking tackles and seeing holes. So it all works together. But it was no question the most complete job that that group has done.
On the receivers: I would like more completions. We don’t normally talk about balance in this regard, but this week we need to. It was a game where we really felt like the way defensively they were built that we needed to run the ball. We needed to spread the field, run the ball inside, take some shots, which we did. We almost came up with one early in the game to [James] Kirkendoll. We double-moved Marquise [Goodwin] in the first quarter, and then we wanted to get our backs on the linebacker so we gave them some option routes. But obviously, we need more balance as we continue to move forward. There’s no doubt.
On QB Garrett Gilbert maturing during this game: We had talked to him about running more, and yet many of the plays in the game were called draws. We talked to him during the week that we felt he could make plays with his feet that he was not making earlier in the year when opportunities presented themselves. Now, we had not done a bunch of quarterback draws prior to this ballgame, and we also had some things to get him on the edge with run-pass options. I thought he did a heck of a job with that. The touchdown run was on a run-pass option, and it was the same play when we just missed Malcolm [Williams] in the end zone and he didn’t come up with the ball. It was a similar play. We had a couple of different ways to try to get him on the perimeter. But I think he really understood what we were looking for out of the game plan. I think part of that’s maturity. Several of our coaches made comments to me on the plane Saturday that he was moving up and down the sideline, talking to people, being more animated. I think he’s getting more comfortable.
On the leadership from Garrett: I think it’s one of those things you talk about but you can’t give him. They have to earn it. He went out and did that. I do think every time you’re put in that environment -on the road, a big game at home, and you come through - you gain a little more confidence both individually and as a team. It’s contagious.
On Gilbert’s performance in the game: Offensive staff voted him player of the game, so that would say something about the way he played. And I think that if you were to try to take a realistic look, he had a great ball to Kirkendoll that we didn’t come up with. He threw a ball that was really well placed to Malcolm in the end zone under pressure. Several balls he threw away popped to Kirkendoll, so I thought he really played well in total. Sometimes numbers don’t reflect that. We’ve all been in situations here where our quarterback goes 20 of 30, and he didn’t play too well. And yet, numbers say he probably did. I think everybody felt like he played pretty well in the game.
On lessons learned from the game: I think you just have to show the guys, as we have talked before, that this is what we’ve talked about. This is the pad level we’ve talked about. This is the situation. This is all hats being in the right place, backs seeing the right cuts, getting to the secondary. Cody [Johnson] in the grind tempo of coming in and taking it through the back side hole and then realizing he needed to stay in bounds. I thought that was a huge play by him at that point in the ball game. So when you can show them things on film that reflect what you’ve been talking about, it becomes easier for them to understand.
On new things during the Nebraska game: There were several things that we put in the game plan that were a little bit different. Some of the things we used quite a bit during the course of the game, others we just kind of showed and got away from and got back to it.
On the back line being deeper than normal: We played two backs in the backfield on a couple third down situations, which was a little bit different, but that was just kind of an adjustment for the game.
On being close to where they want to be: We’re closer than where we’ve been. I think it’s important for us as coaches and as players to use this as a springboard instead of a destination, obviously. We did beat a quality football team on the road, but at the same time there are other quality teams coming up and we have to continue to grow.
On what he told Garrett: We did talk during the week about how we needed more plays from the quarterback’s feet. I think Mack talked about it in this chair last week. You know, when you play a spread offense, you need some freebies out of your quarterback. We did design some in the game, and we did talk to him about when they’re called, we need [him] to perform. Like all competitors, he said, “Great Coach, I’ll be ready”. I think it’s something that we can continue to use and build on as the season progresses.
On this week after such an emotional game: I think the most important thing is preparation. I’ve always felt that way. When you invest in yourself during the week with your film study, with the way you practice on the field, then it’s hard to turn loose on Saturday. So I think the preparation during the week - it’s already started from last night and this morning - I think that’s how you continue to play at a high level.
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp
On what it meant to see everything come together after so much preparation: The two weeks off obviously helped in preparation for that offense, because it is so different. That was a big part of our success. But it is always pleasing for a coach to see it carryover from the practice field and meeting rooms to the game. And that is what you saw on Saturday. It was a lot of work and preparation on our players’ part, and great execution. I’m really happy for them more than anything. I’m going to be fine no matter what.
On if focusing on players not overcompensating will still be worked on in practice: I think so. We’ve been a little victim to trying to do too much at times. And you can’t take away from a player’s aggressiveness and trying to make a play. But again, you have to play smart, you have to play within the scheme, and within the defense of what we’re trying to do. And I think we’ve been victim of that early in the year in some situations - not all the games - but having guys trying to do more than what they need to do their job. And that is something as a coach, that I need to do a better job of making them understand what their job is and what their description is on each call.
On what it means for the team to have fun: The fun is in winning for me. The rest of it I don’t really like. When you win, you have fun. We can talk about all this other stuff. But I get nothing out of a loss. I really don’t. Fun is in winning football games, and that is what it is all about for me – preparing these young men each week. And preparing them for life - school, social, spiritual - that is really what we are here for.
On how similar Iowa State’s quarterback is to Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez: Austen [Arnaud] is bigger, obviously. He’s very well put together, and is a guy that has played a lot of football. He has been an on-and-off four year starter for Iowa State. Won a lot of football games, [and] a couple bowl games. He’s a guy that is really a dual threat quarterback as far as being able to run the zone read, and being a mobile quarterback, getting on the edge and being able to be accurate in the throwing game. So we have our work cut out for us. There are some similarities, but some obvious differences.
On how important it is to take away a team’s best asset: There is no question that you always want to make someone play left-handed. And that is what we try to do in every game, and it doesn’t always work. We attempted to outnumber the box, and if you watch the film that is what we did against UCLA, but they made plays and we didn’t. So you go back and watch that tape. We go back and look at things that our opponents look at, because that is what offenses are going to try to take advantage of. That day we were unable to do it, but other than that we’ve been able to do it for the most part this season.
On what the defense will try to take away this week: I think they’re balanced. They are not a team that is strictly a run-oriented team. They’ve got great balance with the quarterback. I think they do a nice job offensively, but it all starts with the run for me. When they’ve had success, they’ve been able to run the football. So it all starts up front stopping the run, and then affecting the quarterback from there. We’ll put a lot of pressure on our secondary like we do most weeks.
On if the defense has jelled: Well, I think a little bit of that and a little bit of opportunity. We have some guys who have gotten to play a lot of football, and it’s hard to take an experienced player who has been very productive and look at another player in other situations unless it’s for fatigue issues or to try to get some guys some reps, which we try to do. There are times when through practices, as a defensive staff, you’ll see the light come on for defensive players. We try to invest so much in practice in playing guys, and some of the young guys don’t really understand that yet. Some of the older guys don’t either. If they practice well, they’re going to play well. I may be young, but I’m very old-fashioned as far as that is concerned. The way you prepare is normally how you will play on Saturday.
On maintaining the coaches’ practice intensity from the bye week: I don’t think I’ve ever changed. It’s open week, week seven, eight, three, or spring ball - I don’t think we change a lot. That is why to me you don’t treat games as big games or insignificant games, you treat them all the same. That way guys don’t see an ebb or flow of your personality each week. It’s the same thing each time. I can’t wait for our meeting tomorrow morning. I’m looking forward to it.
On if there is a need to speed things up this week without a bye: No, we’re back in a normal game preparation, and our players understand that. Tomorrow, we’ll work on first and ten, second down, a little third down, short-yardage, [and] goal line. Wednesday, we’ll go to third down and red zone. Thursday, we’ll work on moving the field and all the situations combined.