GPTV: Q&A with Coach Peter Sirmon as Dog Defense Prepares for Brigham Young Trip

Coordinator Peter Sirmon isn’t just looking at this week’s matchup. He’s looking at himself, with regard to play-and-personnel decisions that have struggled to slow opposing offenses. “It’s a coaching thing,” the first-year coordinator said in Tuesday’s pre-practice interview.

What do you see in the Brigham Young offense? “They’ve gotten better as the season’s gone on. Obviously they’ve ran the ball really well of late. I think they’re starting to create a little more or finding their true identity. But they’re playing well right now. To go on the road at Michigan State and play as well as they did, they’re getting better as the season goes.”


How do you defend a quarterback like Taysom Hill? “Obviously he’s been there for a while. He’s obviously a very resilient young man coming back from a few injuries throughout his career. He’s one of those ‘gamers’, you know. I know he’s going to show up. He’s going to run the ball well, he throws the ball effectively.”

“I think they do a nice job in the pass game getting the ball to some of their bigger wide receivers. And then the running back obviously complements the whole thing. We’ve got to do a great job of defending the run and the pass.”


The last 18 drives in two games you guys have allowed eight touchdowns and a field goal, what is happening? “Well, we have to get better. I’ve got to do a better job of coaching and getting the design of the defense to get executed. I mean, it’s really where we’re at right now. And it comes back to me doing a better job of coaching and communicating what we need to happen defensively.”

“And ultimately my responsibility of getting those guys to do exactly what we’re asking them to do in terms of preparation, what I’m calling, what I’m practicing, who we’re putting in the game. So it’s a big task and I have to do a better job. I’ve got to do a better job for the players, I’ve got to do a better job for the University. And do a better job for myself.”


Is it a pass defense thing, run defense thing, entire defense? “It’s a coaching thing. I think I’ve got to do a better job coaching.”


What stood out from the Auburn game the most? “What got my attention is I’ve got to do a better job of calling the game, I’ve got to do a better job of preparing the kids to compete on Saturdays. That’s what comes to mind. It falls on me as a coach, that’s my responsibility. So I need to do a better job.”


What haven’t you liked about your play calling? “When things aren’t as effective as I need them to be. I need to look at what I’m calling, look at what I’m asking our players to do. And do a better job of putting them in position to do what they do best.”


Is this more difficult five games into a season, changing things? “I don’t know if it’s necessarily changing things. But we always carry a ‘menu’ of what we’re taking into the game. We need to do a better job of picking off that menu and a better job in the practice week of getting those guys to execute the techniques exactly the way they need to be executed, and holding them accountable. And then ultimately they need to play like I demand that they practice.”


Is Marquiss Spencer gaining confidence, what have you seen from him? “He’s an inexperienced player that is gaining more experience. I think he flashed a few things of what he’s capable of last week. I thought he did a good job using his hands, playing more physical. The same things we’ve been working on on the practice fields, it’s good that he has enjoyed a couple of reps that he did things the way he’s capable of doing and the things that we have seen on the practice fields. So it’s good for his development that he can keep doing that and keep showing positive signs of getting better.”


When the offense didn’t cash in on Kivon Coman’s interception did you almost feel a letdown on defense? “I can’t say that I felt anything. I thought the first series, you come out and get Kivon’s interception, I thought that was a good way to start the game. We just have to continue to play better throughout the course of the day.”


Coach Mullen said Coman was questionable for this week, how does that change things for you? “Well, it’s football in general. We have a lot of guys we’re always preparing as the week goes along. I think Dan talked about we’ll see how things go in terms of injury-wise. But there’s never any excuse for health or injury or anything else. It’s we’re going to put the best eleven out there every single snap, I need to do a better job of finding the best eleven and do a better job of calling the game.”


Maurice Smitherman got a few more reps, it seemed he’s starting to get in a better rhythm? “Yeah, his injury occurred the first game of the year. So some of those injuries take time. I guess the most important thing is he feels like he’s gaining confidence.”


How would you grade Cedric Jiles’ play the first game back? “You know, Ced came in and he gave us more experience at that position. There’s probably a few plays he would love to have back. But it was good to get him back out. And any time you come off a pretty significant injury there’s just the timing issue of coming out there and getting back up to speed. So we’re excited that Ced is going to be getting more laying time and we’re excited to have him back.”


What have you learned from yourself the first month-and-a-half as a defensive coordinator? “Well, I don’t know that I’ve learned anything about myself. Everywhere in college football is a very challenging job. That’s a great part of coaching.”

“I think the thing that we always need to be aware of is identifying what our guys can do; planning for the development of those players; and just organizing the week, organizing the thoughts and organizing the personnel groupings to go out there and give our kids the best chance.”


Is it possible for a coach to try too hard, the players have been saying that? “Boy, I’d have a hard time saying that would be a negative. I guess anything in life if you’re over the top I guess could be an issue.”

“If you’re asking the question am I trying too hard? I want to achieve, I want to go out there and play the very best that our kids can play. That’s when I wake up in morning and go to bed at night I want to do what’s best by the kids. I want to go out there and represent what we are collectively from a coaching staff to the assembly of the players that we have.”

“So for me to want something too bad, I would have a hard time saying that’s a negative. I want what’s best for the kids. I want to do the very best job by them and for them.”


In another way, could you over-think it talking about play calling? “Well, I think it’s something you’ve got to consider. The same token, I think a wiser, thoughtful play-caller is a good thing. I don’t think you can have necessarily a renegade, we’re just going to throw it out there, I’m not going to over-think it and just hey whatever works, works!”

“But we spend a significant time and hours in film study and preparation and down-and-distances and personnel groupings to put forth a plan of getting the right call at the right time. And then taking into account where we’re at the game, who’s in the game, and what’s the precursor? Because there’s always a story of what’s led you to that particular drive. Are you playing well? Are you playing the run well, are you playing the pass well? Or are you having issues.”

“So there’s always the adaptability factor that is always considered."


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