How do you continue to get guys to play physical and defend the option without getting bogged down?
Wilson: "Well, that's the essence the more you coach and the more adjustments you make, the more you think. A great line I said I think a year ago that I heard, I think it was Marshall Faulk at the combine when somebody ran a 4.23, he said, ‘that's great, but the best way to slow a fast man down is to make them think.' That's a part of their offense. They make you play assignment football, they make you think, and I'm sure they're going to come out in some pistol set because it's a pistol option and there's every concept that they can do from the bone that you can do in pistol.
"We're a one back team but basically every play we do is a two back play. We run power, we run down around, we run zone plays. Instead of having a lead blocker, we put them out, they cover the guys. Protections are the same, the runs are the same. So for us it's not different. That's why we can go one back to two back and we don't think it's hard. But defensively, the more you think, the harder it is. That's why when I got here, in my opinion this is the most difficult team we play, and the reason being everything we do this week defensively you throw it away and don't do it again because you want to keep building.
"This game might hurt you three and four and five games down the road because instead of building and going from your week one mistakes and improving, okay, you did this week one but now let's totally put that on the shelf because this is an option team because here's an option team, but it's an option team that's going to have some movement and some gun passes. It's going to be a tremendous challenge, and I'm going to tell you something: It's going to be a game we're going to have to do some adjusting and see if we're smart enough as coaches and players to understand what happened and get lined up because we might get caught once or twice where you don't want to be, and that's an advantage that those guys have. We have the advantage of playing a game. We also have the advantage of playing a game not showing everything we wanted to do, which was kind of by design, as was last year. We had some things back last year, got in a close game. This year some things we're going to we didn't get to. Everybody always has a couple cards up their sleeve, and this week it'll be a challenge to see defensively what we can do because this is a heck of a challenge for us.
You talked about your scout team a little bit. Do you have someone that can simulate their option with your scout team effectively? And the other thing is when you don't have tape on somebody and you're expecting them to do something maybe a little different than they did last year, how hard is that?
Wilson: " It's hard. It was a big challenge last week because you weren't sure what you were getting, new coordinators, new coaches, really what's their personnel. Typically, though, even though it's new looks, most teams conceptually don't get far off with their concepts. It might be pistol midline instead of under center or pistol dive option instead of under center or an offset gun back running a zone read play where still you're accounting for who's got the veer, who's got the quarterback, who's got the pitch.
"And that's where I do think defensively in this day and age I mean, I for years listened to defensive coaches in meetings, and it seems like they're making more checks and more adjustments than the offense does because they're trying to stop every play. And I think some teams that are really getting pretty good on defense are really keeping it very, very simple and being gap sound, where do your eyes go. That's something we've worked very hard on to try to be better is what's the integrity of our defense, what's the structure, and where do your eyes go. And that's with this option, who's got who, are you gap sound, and do you not get lulled to sleep and get your eyes because as soon as you get lulled to sleep and your eyes aren't where they're supposed to, there goes a go ball in the post over the top for a big one. It's a challenge there.
"As far as running it, we do run it during the year, and we have Kofi and Tre do it. We won't do that this week because we need to prepare for us. Typically we always take same type of runner to do it, and then the difficulty is reacting to play action pass because if you have the runner throw, he can't throw so then you put the other quarterback in there and the defense knows, well, this must be a pass because now it's a real quarterback. But we'll see how it goes. We had a very good look last year and we actually didn't play horrible by the way we played defense. We actually played fair defensively against them last year, and I thought we had a pretty good look. But it'll be a challenge. And the other challenge is we don't want to go cracking them like they do all the time, which is legal blocks, but the way they go in, so that'll be a challenge, too.
You've got two young guys at defensive tackle, does that cause you some issues because these guys haven't played against the option?
Wilson: "Yes, and it's a good question. I guess if they're running their midline to the three, he's got to close, which they know. But most of their stuff goes is where the ends closing, or you're playing switch games and ends and backers and safeties and who's got dive pitch and quarterback, and first you've got to count if they're doing things in gun, the offset back or pistol back and all that. But again, those guys up front will play hard. I do think we will have a little bit of a size advantage, and hopefully we can get our guys to play in a way that I don't know what we're trying to do as far as exactly yet because we're trying to start the full go prep, of whether it be you're trying to anchor your gaps or penetrate your gaps. Typically their linemen have been a little bit smaller and they're scrambling and cutting and whacking and all of that. Be interesting to see with our size, how our size matches up and is that an advantage or disadvantage. ‘'
How far along in your preparation are you, because not only did you face them last year but you started last spring prepping for them so maybe the veterans have a lot more experience?
Wilson: "Yes, with so many guys back, but again, we don't go back a lot. The nice thing to me, we did practice it once a week or twice a week a few plays to keep it fresh in their minds. This year we do get it early. We'll kind of flush it and get it back to defensive development and offensive development. At the same time, it's a challenging offense, but again, there are teams and they're making tweaks because I think San Jose held them to 140 some yards, and I think they had 178 yards against Army with a 10 man front if you read their articles and listen to that stuff. It's a run oriented deal. Again, we had great opportunities in the game last year. We take the opening drive down and we got the ball on the first drive on the 10 yard line. We had a miscommunication, our back goes the wrong way, we get off schedule, kick a field goal. There's a four point swing there.
"We give a pick six, there's seven more points; there's an 11 point swing there. Let alone at the end of the game when we can't execute a four minute drive properly, we give up a touchdown and then throw a pick. So again, those errors get magnified in this game because there's not a lot of opportunities. But again, a lot of guys back. You try as hard as you can to get the speed you're talking about, and it's difficult. But at the same time everybody talks about they're going to have a hard time figuring us out, the way we throw and run and catch and the speed we do it at. It is what it is. They've got a heck of a team; I think we've got a pretty good team, too. It ought to be a lot of fun. It ought to be a great let's crowd and get this place rolling.
Talk about your quarterback play
Wilson: "I think, again, Tre started well, and after the throw I said let's give Nate a shot, and then Tre started to say, hey, took a shot here, I don't know which side. They checked it out, thought it was a bruise. But then we scored, scored fast, punt return, boom, it was 42 all of a sudden, so do we need to go out and take another hit? We'll see how they practice. Again, you sit there and look, they both played pretty well, and then by the time Cam got in, he had a drop. He had a competitive play that could have been caught. He should have been 4 of 7 or 5 of 7. As a matter of fact, he actually had a touchdown opportunity when we kicked the field goal; we had a receiver run the wrong route, or we probably would have scored a touchdown. He was like, hey, there it is, where you at, and he got stuck waiting for a receiver that ran a young guy that ran the wrong play. His numbers don't look good, but he was probably in our world 4 of 7 or 5 of 7 by where he put the ball. We'll probably see them all. We'll just see how they practice. I thought they all looked sharp last night (at practice), and like I say, I don't think it really matters, I don't think it's a problem. Like I say, I think we've shown the quarterback has got a chance to play well, and he'll need to play well again this week for us to win, whoever it is, whether it is one, all, multiple. Whoever it is, they'd better play well for us.
On Navy's defense
Wilson: "Different than last week but similar, some three man front, but last week those guys put seven guys in the box, made it difficult to run, left you one on one all day. They're not going to leave you one on one. They're going to play a little bit more fringe guys where I'm halfway playing the run and halfway rallying the pass, so getting hats on some of their edge players are difficult. That being said, it's more of an umbrella soft deal. They make you snap it again, again, again, again, saying you'll get off schedule. A procedure penalty gets you a 1st and 15 behind the chains hurts you; a dropped pass that gets you 2nd and 10, gets you behind the chains, hurts you; a MA, a guy goes the wrong way, penetration 2nd and 12 hurts you because you're not going to get as many drives. They know what they're doing with Coach Green. Shoot, I'm a GA when he's at NC State with Coach Sheridan back in the day. Tremendous defense, rock solid, play well, and their defense works with their offense and their kicking, and that's why they're in bowl games every year.
"It's not just the O, it's how they play as a team, and they're a tremendous, solid winning team, and for us to win this game we'll need to show that we're a complete, good team because our defense is not going to shut them down, and our offense is not going to outscore them. This is a game where you win this game as a team or you lose this game as a team, and last year as a team we lost because we screwed up a couple opportunities, had a pick six, had a chance to get a couple stops. We didn't do it. We'll see if we can win as a team this year because they win as a team.
How is Shane Wynn after the hit he took last week
Wilson: "He was doing all the running, and I think he's already been cleared by that impact test, and I think he'll go tomorrow and should be good, I've been told. He was out there every day. We were texting Thursday night. He said he's the toughest guy on the team. I said, my little kid says quit faking it, you're good, let's roll.''
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch