Texas A&M coach talks Army

Texas A&M Coach Dennis Franchione talked to the media recently to discuss Saturday's game with Army at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

QUESTION: Coach can you talk a little about how much you have been using the tight ends. How much are you able to do and how much of a benefit is that tight end position as your offense continues to grow?

Dennis Franchione: Well, with the two guys Joey (Thomas) and Martellus (Bennett) that we've got there they give us great flexibility. You guys probably notice that we don't take them out when we split out to four wide receivers. We leave them in the game because of their speed and athleticism and their hands and so we may be in a tight end set or might not be in a tight end set which causes a few problems for the defense in match up. It also keeps them on the field more, and the thing about both of those guys is that the quarterbacks like them because they're a big target and they can find them easily. When they're getting rushed by d-linemen and linebackers those guys are very visible to be seen and I think that's a plus for Stephen (McGee) and our other quarterbacks.

QUESTION: Martellus (Bennett), as flashy as he likes to be, seems to take a very blue-collar approach to his tight end position.

Dennis Franchione: He goes about it as blue collar as he can. I mean Martellus (Bennett) is a good practice player and he's a good worker. I've had some talks with him about raising his level of practice because we are obviously trying to get him to be as good as he can be. I mean he has so much untapped potential ahead of him. We sometimes forget that he's just a sophomore it seems like he's played a lot and been around a lot but he is in just his second year. He's done a great job of blocking when he is in tight, he's done a good job of blocking when he's out wide and you always want your tight ends to be a part of the game plan with those two. The way we are offensively we really are able to take advantage of all of our receivers and maybe because of that they've been benefactors to a certain degree with the number of receptions at this point.

QUESTION: Do you think Martellus (Bennett) will let you into the Legion of Doom if you throw to him more?

Dennis Franchione:: He hasn't sent out any bribes to me just yet but he may.

QUESTION: Can you speak to your defensive line's improvement from game one to game two.

Dennis Franchione: I thought our d-line played pretty good in game one but they definitely took a step in game two and played better. They were more physical, quicker and had total control of the line of scrimmage at times. They had some great bull rushes to the quarterback and took their guy that was trying to pass-pro backwards right into the quarterback almost, and so I'm really happy to see that. This is a group of guys that started playing as red shirt freshmen and went through the ups and downs of the last two years and are juniors now and hopefully are all coming into their own at a good pace.

QUESTION: Do you have any concern that the secondary hasn't been tested enough. Would you like to see them tested a little more so that you can see what they can do?

Dennis Franchione: We have not faced two teams that are great at throwing the football. The Citadel did a nice job and their quarterback played well and they dropped two or three balls that would have helped them. Being ranked high in pass defense can be a misgiving stat sometimes because what that sometimes means is they don't have to throw they can just run on you. That hasn't been the case completely with us either so when you put this entire picture together and see where we were and see where we are you have to feel good about what they've done and how far they have been able to move forward. But as I've said we keep that in perspective as to Lafayette is a rushing team and Citadel is a 1-AA team. We have not faced a premier passing team as of yet. Army is not a real passing team either. They're efficient in their passing game, but the next two weeks after that we're going to be tested and we'll find out what we're made of for sure after those games. Army will be very efficient in what they do and they'll test us in their way but it won't be like seeing 40 passes this week I don't think.

QUESTION: Coach how do you feel about the new rules trying to speed up games.

Dennis Franchione: I don't really care how long a game is or how short a game is. I know we have to have television but that's not my main concern in this world, my concern is the game. It's concerning to me when I see four Big XII teams run 54 plays or less in week one, haven't seen statistics on that in week two. We had ten possessions Saturday night and that's very minimal. One of those possessions was after we recovered a fumble at the end of the game. So really we had nine then I guess, I believe I'm correct in saying that. That's really scaling back in our game. We had a situation happen the other night you all probably didn't notice this. We got the ball back I think right before half with a minute and five seconds to go. I believe this is all correct here. We had the offense huddle, we had the play called because we knew as soon as the referee was ready they were going to start the clock. We sent the offense on the field they're standing on the ball as soon as the umpire will move away from it we're going to snap it. The umpire stands over the ball and they're giving the defense an opportunity to substitute and the referee has started the clock. We lost six to seven seconds right there which does not seem to be the way that our game should be administered. I think a team that's trying to score whether it's us or somebody else, with a minute and five seconds left on the clock they should not start that clock until both teams are ready to go or standing there ready. We can't snap the ball and we're the one needing the time possibly to move down the field. You know, I think the officials and the commissioners are learning the ambiguity of the vagueness of this new rule and I don't care whether we get done quicker or shorter or what TV does. Right now I don't have a very good taste for this rule.

QUESTION: With so many offensive weapons, when you are sitting in a staff meeting and setting up the game plan does it become difficult to try to decide what you want to do.

Dennis Franchione: It's really easier, it's just the contrary. We don't have to sit and say okay we want to run this play, so we have to orchestrate this formation to get this guy in position to make this play. We don't have to do that. We can just say we want to run this play and we have confidence in this guy, this guy, and this guy across the board right now that they can make a play at those junctions. Now there's always some match up maybe that you still strive to get. Martellus (Bennett) certainly has advantages on some people but really the advantage is we can spend less time worrying about that. Where as if you only have one or two go to guys you're always kind of moving things around trying to get a match up and figuring out how they're going to match up with you and where you have to move this guy to get the best advantage that you can.

QUESTION: How many times have you had that feeling as a staff in the last five or ten years where you have that kind of offensive talent.

Dennis Franchione: You don't get that very often I don't think, it's pretty rare.

QUESTION: I know there were some people wanting to see the game at West Point. Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages of playing in San Antonio as opposed to playing up north? COACH FRAN: Well I think so. Far more Aggies will get to be at the game and the families of our players will be able to get to the game without airfare. I think we'll have a large Aggie crowd there. I don't know exactly how ticket sales have gone and how many that they have for us. I do think that it's good for us to play in Texas and play in the city of San Antonio for recruiting. Even though we can't invite recruits to the game I think the fact we're in that city is a plus for us.

It's probably going to be almost a neutral crowd it sounds like. If we would have had to go on the road, I don't think we would have had that many up there. I was looking forward to going to play the Black Nights of the Hudson as they say. I've been to the Air Force, I have been to Navy so when I heard they were going to move the game I was a little disappointed until I heard they were moving it to San Antonio and then I was pretty fired up.

QUESTION: Do you have an appreciation for and will you talk to the team about the type of team they're playing. With their history and tradition it is almost a different type of person you're playing.

Dennis Franchione: Yeah, we started that on Sunday. I know as coaches when I started playing Air Force and then Navy I had to understand exactly how to coach in this game and how to play this game a little bit. I think our players have an understanding that that situation is important for them to know because they're going to be a very disciplined team, that's not going to make very many mistakes. The academies make you beat them, they don't lose games, they make you beat them. They are always very sound, always very well coached and very technically good. They are going to put themselves in good position and if we turn the ball over four times like we did the first game, we won't have much chance to win this game I don't think. We are not going to be able to do that unless we can force some turnovers and that's not in Army's nature to do that at all. It hasn't been ours either but certainly it is not the nature of playing an academy that that's going to happen very often.

QUESTION: Is it okay to say beat the hell out of Army?

Dennis Franchione: Well, in the right vein I think it is. Somebody's going to say it this week I know that.

QUESTION: Last week you talked about improving two things, ball security and the blocking from the backs which seemed to be there. Are there two or three things this week that you will talk to the team about jumping out there and improving.

Dennis Franchione: Not as much. I think the issue that we've tried to preach again is to continue to improve overall now. We do want to get smoother in our operations on "pats" and field goals. Other than that there weren't glaring mistakes that needed to be dwelled on. I think the ball security issue is certainly still one that we will address very heavily this week. Our players did a great job of that Saturday but that's going to be an on going process. I could still tell once in a while that we had bad ball security the way we were carrying a few times in the game Saturday so we're not a finished copy on that yet.

QUESTION: Is deep snapper still up for grabs?

Dennis Franchione: It is.

QUESTION: Who's your leading candidate right now?

Dennis Franchione: Somewhere between Corey Gibas, Chris Smith and Cody Davis I would say at this point in time. Were probably going to need this week to evaluate how they do and make a decision by the end of the week.

QUESTION: When you get in a goal line or short yardage situation do you feel like you're playing with house money when you've got a guy like Jorvorskie Lane?

Dennis Franchione: I don't know if I have ever thought of it in those terms. I like the guy that we're playing with down there because it's going to usually take more than one to get him down. If you can get a hat on a hat you've got a good chance to get a first down and if you miss a block he still maybe able to get you a first down and generally whenever contact occurs he's probably still going to fall forward and get us a yard most of the time. Good teams are going to have some big guys too; but I certainly like having him back there in those situations.

QUESTION: Is it wrong to think of him just as a short yardage guy?

Dennis Franchione: I think it is wrong. I don't think you should look at him that way. That's not how we play him. We look at Jorvorskie (Lane) as a starting tailback just as much as Courtney right now. We feel like we have co-starters there and though there are some plays we may not always want to do with Jorvorskie as there are with Courtney there are a lot of parts of our offense we're not afraid to do it all with him. We don't think of him as just a short yard acknowledge back. He's a very good zone read runner. That's one of his strengths. Sometimes when you run the zone read like we do speed is not an advantage. Sometimes being a little slower to the hole is an advantage and one thing we tried to do with Mike Goodson is slow him down. When he gets the hand off he is going 100 miles an hour and I've said with Mike let's go about 90 then when we see the crease lets go a hundred and with Jorvorskie that is more of a natural inclination of his or an instinct in his running style to be able to do that.

QUESTION: With three backs that talented do you think that moving into conference somebody will have to sit or do you see it as an advantage to be able to shuttle guys in and out.

Dennis Franchione: I don't know if you ever have enough tailbacks. I remember one year in New Mexico we went into the season and we had three outstanding tailbacks. By the fifth game the fullback was playing tailback because they were hurt. Courtney has had his injury problems over the years and has missed some games from time to time. Jorvorskie is always going to take some punishment in a game and deal out punishment so he's always going to be put in that situation so I don't really see it as a problem. If it is a problem its a pleasant one to have that we have options. There was one year we had Courtney (Lewis), Keith Joseph and Chris Alexander and I think that was about it. We were limited at tailback and that was a concerning year because if we had had an injury or two it would have taken it's toll on us and fortunately we didn't. One thing I have always felt like is, especially when you play this kind of schedule, that you can use all the tailbacks you have, fresh tailbacks are like pass rushers. With tailbacks the more they carry the better they get and that's something we have to think about and talk about as we move along here if they all stay healthy. For instance when we coached LaDainian (Tomlinson), his best runs were going to be from carry 24 and above and he just got a better feel the more he carried it, where they were going to have seems and places to run and some backs are like that and right now our backs are not getting that many carries. I think eventually some of them will. Who it is remains to be seen.

QUESTION: It seemed like on Saturday that Courtney had his stretch then Jorvorskie had his stretch and Mike had his stretch. Was this partly by design because you wanted to let each of them have a stretch and get some rhythm?

Dennis Franchione: It was, it was. It worked out well in the sense of instead of always going in and out. I don't know if Michael played until the second half but it did let them play and let us watch them and get a feel for the game and that is something that I think we wanted to see and just kind of put in our memory bank as we move forward.

QUESTION: Mark (Dodge) has been wonderful in dealing with everybody, but he's had to tell his story so many times do you think it will be good for him to finally put all of the September 11 questions behind him. I'm sure he would rather be concentrating on football.

Dennis Franchione: Yes, you're right. I think Mark (Dodge) would much rather talk about a quarterback sack or a good tackle he has made. He had to relive that memory plenty of times. You wish he could have relived it once for everybody and then moved on but he didn't have that advantage. To his credit he handled it very well and in a classy way and did not let it, to my knowledge affect his practice or his playing time or anything like that.

ArmySports.com Top Stories