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"I was thinking about Labor Day. I've only been out of coaching one year of playing since I was about 14 years old, one Labor Day off. So like Coach McCourt used to always say, Labor Day is for work. So at any rate, it's good to be here. We gave our players, the reason for this change, is normally the players have Monday off, I go through the scouting report for the game but because we have no school, I gave the players off Sunday."
"I thought there were some very positive things and there were some things that we did very well. I think obviously, from a correction standpoint, there are some things that go with execution and being a smart football team that we have to work on. The most disappointing thing is that we left five scores on the field. I think we had four opportunities to score touchdowns that we did not take advantage of. We missed (Mike) Massey down the sideline for a touchdown. We dropped a pass that was a certain touchdown. I thought (Mario) Manningham caught the ball on the two, that certainly would have given us an opportunity on first down there, at the 2-yard line. And we fumbled the football down I think on the 19-yard line. So we had four scorers there that we did not take advantage of, and we missed a field goal. Those are things that certainly we have to do better. I thought our penalties, we had two holding penalties, holding penalties stop drives. We're trying to get into our two-minute offense there late in the half and we had a penalty that cost us some time. We jumped off-sides once. We lined up wrong once. And then of course we had a young player who roughed the kicker down there that he'll learn from, but that's why young players need to play and need to make some mistakes and learn from them. I thought in the passing game, we had problems on (Vanderbilt) stunting upfront. Vanderbilt had an excellent game plan over there and we got better as the game went on, but we had some protection problems in there and we had one sack that killed a drive. We had some bad routes. The passing game, I think is the ultimate team play because you have to be able to protect, you have to have a quarterback that can execute the throwing part of it. But a lot of times when the passing game breaks down, it has to do with the receiver not getting the proper depth, not running the proper route. And those are not always easy things because those routes have to be run differently according to what the coverage is."
"So we've got some things there that certainly we have to work on. I thought the two touchdown passes were extremely well executed. The pass to Ecker, when it works, it's a thing of beauty. But it is a very difficult throw because the quarterback in the particular case on Saturday, you had a linebacker underneath between he and the Ecker -- after the receiver, and he didn't have a lot of room to work with down at the back end of the end zone. I thought he made a great throw, and I thought Ecker made a great catch. I thought the touchdown pass to Mario was well executed. I thought we did a very good job on third down. We were 10 of 18, which is over 50 percent, and I think some of that had to do with the fact that we did not have a lot of third-and-long situations, with the exception of some of the penalties. We had a lot of young players in there that have some game experience, so there's some things to build on, but we've got some things that we have to shore up here quickly for Central Michigan."
"I saw some of Central Michigan's game Thursday evening against Boston College, and certainly they would come out of that game feeling like they could have or should have won the game against an outstanding opponent. Offensively, they give you a lot of problems and spread you out. The quarterback is a mobile guy, did a great job for his first opportunity to play, and Central Michigan has some outstanding players."
On if he feels he needs a #1 receiver:
"No. I think our offense is based on, in terms of the passing game, the drop-back part of our passing game is predicated on progressions. The quarterback has a guy that when he's looking at the progression of the defense, where the safety is, and tells him which side of the field to go to. So everybody has got to be able to execute it. But you know, we've had a lot of great receivers. We've got some talented guys here. I don't think you have to have the so-called go-to guy. But, you know, that's my opinion."
On if the runningbacks must make better decisions in the new blocking scheme:
"I think any running game, you have to have a guy who is carrying the football instinctively, whether you're running gap schemes doesn't matter. There are still reads that have to be made. But certainly, what we're trying to do, I think what most people are doing in the running game, regardless of the schemes you're running, what you're trying to do is separate the defense. You're trying to create separation between the down linemen so that the linebackers have a bigger hole to defend, and when that happens, a guy that has good vision and has good feet, our schemes will enable him to make some cuts. And there is a softer spot in the defense and I think that's what you're backs, particularly Mike Hart, likes. Because there were a number of times in that game if you watched it where the safety is coming down, he's the eighth guy, sometimes he's a guy you can't get blocked. And Mike made their safety miss a number of times. If you've got a back that can make a guy miss, then you're going to get extra yards, you're going to break some plays, and hopefully that's what we'll be able to do. There's no magic in any scheme. It still comes down to having people up front who can get moving on the line of scrimmage, can athletically get on people and sustain blocks, and when you can do that, then you're going to be able to run the football."
On the downside to the new blocking scheme:
"If you don't block people at all, neither one of them are effective. I think what you're trying to do as a coach is find things that your players that fit what they can do. That's true of the passing game and I think this scheme does give our linemen an opportunity because one of the reasons we wanted to get our weight down up front was that this scheme requires offensive linemen that can move, that have quickness. A guy that I think is really placed to his strengths is Mark Bihl who played extremely well and came on late last season. Mark is a very athletic guy. He's very agile and a guy that can block the nose guard because of the type of scheme that we're running. I think that's the key."
On how he decides which runnningback to use:
"I think the answer is it's very competitive and whenever you get an opportunity to play, what do you do with that opportunity is important. I mean, do you execute your assignment. You do the things you're supposed to do, and granted, (Brandon) Minor certainly -- I'll get into this part of it that I think is extremely important in terms of the college football. We took a study in this game relative to last year, and what we found in this game, and I think it's probably try across the conference in Big Ten games this year, this past Saturday, there were five minutes and 56 seconds of time that elapsed because of the rules change in regards to time. That's why the game ended so quickly. So let me put it in this these terms. At the end of the game Saturday, under the new rules there would have been five minutes, 56 seconds left in the game. And I made this clear last week, I am not criticizing the rules committee. Their change was to shorten the game. But a year ago, I think the average plays per game from the line of scrimmage was 153, and Saturday we had 73 plays, 72, and they had 53. So what does that come out to?
"So at any rate, there's 20-some fewer plays run in the game on Saturday. And I mention that because in that particular game, I would have loved the opportunity the last five minutes and 56 seconds to play some of our younger players. For example, Brandon Minor, Greg Matthews, Jason Forcier, in that particular game, we didn't have an opportunity to do that. But if you take the other side, and I think this is what the rules committee was talking about, if you multiply 12 times six, because it was five minutes and 56 seconds, so it's almost six minutes of playing time that we didn't have, that's 72 minutes. That's more than one game. So it's significantly difference. Now, if you assume that your first team players are going to have to play a full game, that means that in the course of this season, they would play less than 11 games. So, you see, the wear and tear on the players is something that will be different because of the rule change. I think the other thing as you may have noticed, for example, there at the end of the game, I think there was 30-some seconds when the change of possession occurred and we took over. Well, that clock, we had to sprint our team on the field to get one snap. Normally the clock would have changed or it would have been 30-some seconds to go and we could have gotten off two or three plays had we thrown the ball. So as you go through it, I just think that's a change you're going to see have an impact. It's going to impact I think eventually scoring, and I think it will impact the statistics of individual players because you're just not playing this long a game as you did a year ago."
On if he likes the timing changes:
"I like it from the standpoint that I think with the 12-game schedule, and I think going forward, there will be more -- as soon as we get to a playoff, I think for the players, I think it's a very positive thing."
On if the new rules will effect late comebacks:
"I don't think there's any question. I think the change of possession at the end of the half -- because this is when you need to know. Even after a TV timeout, as soon as the guy moves away, we call him, I think the red hat down there who stands out on the field, as soon as he gives the signal, the referee starts the time clock as well as the 25-second clock. So on those time of possessions changes, what we've got was I think there was an average from the time the possession ended, there was 17 seconds before the ball snapped that ran off the clock. So it's a significantly different game I think."
On how many plays he would like to see the offense have in a game:
"A year ago if you took all the Big Ten games, and I want to say that there were 150 (plays averaged), I had that sheet with me, but I think it was over 150 plays a game, both offenses. If you're running 80 plays a game, if you're controlling the football and your defense is playing well, you're going to get, you go to 80 plays. Our defense, for example, they only played 53 plays. So you like that. But normally, in a game that's even, the time of possession, let's say, is even, 30-30, under the old clock, probably each team, really it's a hard-fought football game, you'd get 75 plays a game."
On if he changed practices to reflect the changes in timing:
"It was much quicker than I anticipated. They got that game, and I think across the country, every year is going to be a little bit different. So at any rate, we were talking about how you decide who gets plays, and Brandon Minor, certainly, I think he had three carries, and his three carries did a good job. So you're saying, well, he needs to get some more snaps in."
On why the defense was so effective against Vanderbilt:
"It all started up front. We had great pressure on the quarterback. I think going into that game, I was very concerned about their quarterback. He's a great athlete. I thought we really did a good job. The two fumbles that occurred came from the back side pursuit. I thought we ran to the football, we leveraged the football. In other words, if you keep a quarterback, as he starts to scramble, you have great movement to the ball, if you have great hustle from behind him, then you can control him as far as the big running plays. Now, we're going to be tested by a lot of outstanding quarterbacks and running backs. But I thought we were in good position, and I thought we really hustled to the football. Both times he fumbled football, a lot of times one of their guys is going to recover the ball if you're not hustling to the ball. That's really the thing I liked the best. I thought we did a great job in the running game. It was obvious that Jackson Garrison had missed some training camp. I mean, that guy is on outstanding player, and it was obvious to me that he was not at full speed. So we've got other tests ahead of us, but you can only evaluate us based on what happened, and I thought we did some good things there up front."
On what Central can do defensively:
"I think there are some similarities between the two. I thought we had on the right side of our line, Alex (Mitchell) and Rueben (Riley), we had a couple of problems in there. What I really liked was as the game went on, the same stuff -- and I think what happens in the passing game here, too, the difference I think in early season games, there's very few people any more in practice hit the quarterbacks. They just can't afford to, when a guy is vulnerable and he's got his hand extended throwing the football, if you're hitting him, you can have some serious injuries. So the good news is that that's what you need it do to keep him healthy. The bad news is as you go into an early season, it's the first time where they are live, and getting adjusted to that is it takes some time. We had one sack over there that came off the back side on a stunt that Jake (Long) and Tyler (Ecker) were responsible for, and we had a miscommunication there. We had a guy come free. Every week, you're going to get good players over there, and you're going to get things that cause you problems. You're going to get some good things. So you're not going to stand back there in today's football all day long. It's just not going to happen. That's part of what should enable us to be better this week."
On Central DE Daniel Bazuin:
"I think he is an outstanding football player. He is tough, he's competitive, he's been around up there a long time. I was talking to Mike DeBord about him yesterday. Mike went to watch him play in a basketball game. He said he was an outstanding athlete. I think he's going to be a guy that plays in the NFL."
On Rondell Biggs:
"I can remember, Rondell Biggs was one of the last guys that we signed in his recruiting class. It's a great story because he played linebacker, and what I liked about him is that he just had a knack for getting to the football. We didn't know if he had the movement. We suspected that he would end up being a down player for us. And his first two years here, he really struggled because he had not gotten big enough. He wasn't strong enough to compete against the offensive linemen, but he persevered. He's a resilient guy. He just kept working. Last fall as a starter, those first five games or so, he played extremely well. He's been in a very competitive situation this fall and spring with Tim Jamison. Tim was banged up some, so Rondell played extremely well. You know, that's great news for our team. He's a guy that is always where he's supposed to be. He's a smart player. And he's developed into a very good football player, and if you've met him, he's a quality, quality guy."
On why some guys have a knack for making big plays:
"I think a guy that has great character, and by that I mean a great work ethic, he's mentally tough because he doesn't always look at where he is today. He looks at where he's trying to get to. And he doesn't let anything interfere with his development. He is always working towards what he wants to become. He's not satisfied with where he is. I think you can call that what you want, character, passion. But I think it's the intangibles; that so often people think it's all about talent, the measurables, how fast a guy runs, how high he jumps, all of those things. All you have to do is look at the NFL cuts every year and there are always guys that shouldn't be cut but do because of a lot of reasons. It's so different in college except that a guy doesn't lose a scholarship but he loses position or he doesn't play as much as people think he should. Well, there are reasons for that."
On the possible return of Steve Schilling and Justin Boren:
"I'm hoping that both of them will play. But at some point it comes down to how much of the season will be gone when they get back, and more importantly, where they are physically. When you miss, in Justin's case, he had the great benefit of being here for spring ball. So I'm hoping that he will be able to come back and get back into a position. Steve was not here for spring practice but he did have a full training camp. I think he probably runs well. He's as athletic as any offensive lineman that we've had here, and Boren is remarkable in terms of his development and his preparedness to play as a true freshman. Both those kids, because a lot of times what you lack as an offensive player up front, you just don't have the strength. And I think that's another area where because of what we're doing up front in terms of the running game, the blocking schemes, you get so much repetition, so it's easier for a young player to play. I'm hoping both of them will be able to come back."
About blocking the gunners on punt returners:
"Darnell Hood did a phenomenal job on the other side. Normally you're faced with what you'd like to be able to do is match up two guys on two guys, because now it gives you an opportunity to do something with those other two players. When you put two players on the gunners, then there are some other problems you have to deal with. But certainly that's a part that we have in our scheme. A lot of times if you watch film, you think you've got a good match up. But you get to the game and sometimes you look out there and you say, that guy is better than we thought he was. But we had an opportunity for a great return there on one kick. Steve bobbled the ball, caught the ball a little too high on his shoulder pads. Certainly we had problems on the one side."
On Alex Mitchell's performance:
"I thought he did a very, very good job in the running game. And I think he got better as the game went on. He's a young player, but he's a powerful run blocker and I thought he did a very good job in the running game. The passing game is always the most difficult part of it. I think for a young player because it happens so fast. If you watch him on film, he looks bad on a couple of those pass stunts because if you take one step in the wrong direction, it's over. What I did like is that he got better and he adjusted as the game went on."
On why Mithcell played right tackle late in the game:
"Because we told him that's where to play (laughing). He does what he's told to do. He's played throughout his first two years there, we played him at both positions, and I think he could be a very good tackle. But we wanted to get Justin Schifano some sacks in there. Justin's done a very good job and is a good player, and it gave Alex a chance to play some tackles. So we were at a point in the game there where we wanted to give him an opportunity to play."
On the free safety battle between Brandent Englemon and Ryan Mundy:
"I think we've got two good players there. Part of our thinking here early in the season was the fact that was to reduce some of Ryan's playing time simply because of the injury from a year ago. But he came out of there feeling very, very good. I would say the competition was pretty even throughout the fall. I really like the way Ryan is playing, and played a lot of five defensive backs in the game and will in many situations. So in my mind, Ryan Mundy is a starter on defense."
On Terrance Taylor's first start:
"I think he did okay. I sat down with Shawn Crable two weeks ago, I sat down with him and said look, the thing you've got to yet find out as we get into this season is the difference between being a starter and being a backup. It's much more difficult because from a mental standpoint, and certainly the physical standpoint. So Terrence is in that same bind. What you have to see in the young player is what kind of stamina he has, how he's able to handle playing 70 snaps. I mean we were only on the field there 53 snaps. So there's going to come a time when we're going to be out there for 70 plays, and that doesn't mean any of those guys up front are going to play 70 snaps, but you're going to have to play more snaps, and that's really where the test comes."
On using both punters against Vanderbilt:
"I thought they were okay. Zoltan did not hit one, and you'll know when he hits it. I'm sure he was nervous. But a lot of times he did get the ball high in the air, and he had a couple that -- he's got such a powerful leg, if you're playing up and he hits it short, then you're going to be able to catch the ball. But if you're not positioned correctly back there, he's going to kick it over your head. So when he starts to kick the ball, when he's a little bit more comfortable, and I think Vanderbilt rushed every punt, which was kind of a surprise to us, because last year, they had been predominately a return team, but they rushed every kick. He did get some pressure and I thought he did a good job, but I don't think he kicked the ball like he's capable of or he has this fall. I think part of that is being a young player. But Ross did a good job. They both bring something different, but Mesko, certainly, talent-wise, he's special."
On if he'll use of cut blocking in the zone scheme:
"That depends on the defense. Because Vanderbilt was playing, their front is what we call more of a breeding -- in other words, the defensive linemen were taking a step and playing the block and looking at the football. We're going to get into some defenses that are going to penetrate and get up the field. That's when the cut blocking, that's when you cut. I think it has a tremendous potential. And this is really the key, the play-action passing is designed for those teams, you may have a quarterback you watch on film and/or a safety who has taken, who has the deep middle of the field, and as a coach you are always saying, you've got to react to run. Well, if you get guys that are reacting a little bit, you watch on film and you see a safety that before the ball is handed off, you start at the deep middle, all of a sudden he stops and he's starting to come forward. Now, you're trying to find ways to get the ball behind him, throw the ball over his head. I think the most important part of the passing game off the run action is designed to get the -- there's always a safety at the tight end responsible for the side support when the tight end blocks. When you get hard-run action, if the offensive linemen are coming off low, if it looks like a run, now you've got great potential to hit big plays on the passing game. If those linemen stand up, then the smart secondary and linebackers feel that, now they don't support, because they know the difference. The key to getting the passing game established there off the run is the fact that it looks just like a run as far as your linemen go. It is really the linemen and the back in terms of the fundamentals of play action and them executing what they are supposed to do."
On pulling out the transfer papers to motivate players:
"Those are all fabrications...fabricated stories. (Laughing). Well, when I reach a point where a guy is not coachable or he's not willing to do the things that he needs to do to be successful. So if a guy isn't going to class, the first thing is he's going to have to come down and study early in the morning where I can watch him. Or, I'm going to call his parents. I'm going to spend a lot of time trying to make him understand that there are fundamentals of being successful here, and it starts with being where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there. You know, Shakespeare, you've read him. But when you reach a point where a guy is not cooperating, then when I tell him that I'll help them transfer, I'm serious on one hand because the message I'm sending to him, hey, you're not going to be successful here, because you won't do the things that you told me you would do when I recruited you. So if you're not willing to do it or if his attitude, if he's always complaining instead of being motivated to get better, and competing, then yeah, I tell him, what I'm trying to say to him is that, maybe you're better off somewhere else. There are always examples of guys who have had to leave because they would not do the fundamental things it takes to be successful here."