Offensive Line Coach John Latina
What is the one area that you want to see the line improve upon the most?"Physical play; just to be more physical in both areas running and pass - more running than pass, but you still want to be more physical in the passing, too. In general, we are still working on being more physical as an offensive line."
Which game would you use as a model for that?"I think it has gotten a little better each and every week. We ran the ball better against Stanford. I think it is getting better week by week, and we just have to continue on that track. Every game you have a different entity. Sometimes people gear up to stop the run and that makes it harder to run the ball. Sometimes they have a physical front or physical linebackers. You still want your kids to play more physical no matter what they do."
How would you evaluate the pass protection?"Anytime you give up some sacks, you haven't played as good as you wanted. Sacks to me are like a team goal, and obviously starts with the line. You have tight ends to protect and you have running backs to protect and the timing of the routes. There is so much that goes into the protection of the quarterback. At times we have done (well), and at times we have had breakdowns, but you always need to improve."
How would you evaluate Sam Young to this point?"I think he has progressed very quickly. Obviously, when you have played as much as he has played, you should see that kind of progress. So he has progressed nicely, and as a young player he has taken a lot of snaps so far this year. But he is still a young player and a true freshman. You expect him to continue that process and I would expect that to happen throughout the rest of the season."
What young players are you taking a look at this week?"All of them. We really have a group of old guys and a group of young guys and nothing major in between. All those guys we brought in last year, we are looking at hard and giving them a lot or reps and giving them lots of opportunity in various parts of practice--whether it be one-on-one or two-on-two or team seven. Whether they play right now is not really the most important thing. The most important thing is to get them better each and every week, and they are getting a lot of reps, which is a good thing. They are getting a lot of team reps and scrimmage reps and that is good for them."
Would you talk about the decision to play Matt Carufel?"All those kids are getting better. Early in the year they were real freshmen, but now they have been in the system a little bit and getting reps so it's becoming a little more understanding. We just feel that we are going to need some young guys to finish this year out, and we probably felt that he was the next guy that needed to do that for us."
Offensive Coordinator Mike Haywood
Could you talk about the success Darius Walker is having as a receiver?"I think Darius is starting to understand, along with the other backs, coverages a little bit better. And when you understand where the openings are and how you can be successful against different defenses, and giving the quarterback the opportunity to dump the ball whenever the receivers are covered."
Is that a veteran thing that enables him to expand his perspective because he is more comfortable?"I think certain backs are a little bit better than others, and I think all of them are progressing at a good pace and understanding. If you get matched, you have to separate--understanding which way you have to separate depending upon the play that is called. I think all of them are getting better at that."
Who is the best back that you have coached that understands the passing game? Is it Darius?"I have been fortunate to have great players in the past, and I think the backs we have now are competing and working hard enough to reach some of the talent of some of the guys that are playing in the NFL right now that I have coached."
How can Darius still improve in that regard? What is the next step for him as far as the passing game?"I think it revolves around all backs because we have to get better as a corps in pass protection. There are different types of defenders that you go up against, and you have to understand the different moves of each one. One may be a bull rusher, and one may be a dancer and a swimmer, and the other may be a dip-and-rip guy. You have to understand when a certain defender is coming. This is what he is going to do and this is how I'm going to handle this in my pass protection. I think it is important that guys progress along that pattern."
Has not knowing exactly what to do hindered some of the freshmen from getting on the field?"I think it is a learning process and guys mature differently. Some mature a lot faster than others. I think we are becoming more comfortable with them because of the things in which they are exhibiting in practice, which gives us a little more confidence to put guys in the game in critical situations. It has been a joy to sit up and watch some of these guys play."
The offense seems to be more productive these past couple of weeks. Why is this?"I think the more you play with guys, the more continuity you get and the better performance you are going to have as a whole, as a unit. I think our guys are starting to work well together and play a little more consistent and understand every play is just as important as the other. Giving 100 percent on every play is key."
How does this week benefit the younger guys?"I think the practice schedule we have gives a lot of the young players an opportunity to compete, which will build more confidence in each individual coach so you know this guy is able to play. Some guys are stepping up and are having an opportunity to compete a little bit more."
Just what are you looking for in these younger players?"Steady and constant improvement. It may be in the knowledge of the offense or it may be in technique or fundamentals. From a running back perspective, it is reading keys and understanding who the free defenders are, or it may just be in pass protection. From an offensive line perspective, it may be route technique from wide receivers and tight ends and running backs. You are just looking for young men to improve on a consistent basis because they are getting significantly more amount of reps than they have gotten over the last two and a half months."
Receivers Coach Rob Ianello
How would you describe the pace of the bye week?"You don't have the ending at the end of the week. You don't have the intensity at the end of the week. So as you go through the week here, you get to spend time researching yourself and get time researching your opponent, and you get time to prepare yourself to go out and recruit. So there are three facets that go into the bye week. So when we come to work, we are still here early every morning like I have been as if we were playing this week. At night you might get a chance to go home a little earlier and see your family, which is a definite positive. You get a chance to get your battery charged a little bit as a coach after playing six straight games, and I think it has been a real positive."
The younger guys are getting more reps this week. What are you looking for in these guys?"We are looking for someone to jump out a little bit. We are looking for somebody to compete and show that they have grown in their experience here so far. If we can get guys to do that, it will be good. You are always competing to put guys on the field. You are always building your depth on the team from the bottom up. You are building your depth at your position at receiver from bottom up. So if we get some of the guys who haven't played as much to continue to develop, to continue to get better, to make us say, ‘hey, we can put him in the game and not miss a beat and we could put him in the game and we would be okay.' That's what we are looking for and the more repetitions you can do and the more experiences a guy can get at a position, the better they will be. Because you are taking a younger guy, a freshman or a sophomore, and maybe he doesn't have as many snaps as Samardzija or McKnight, and now you are giving him those repetitions, those repetitions, those repetitions, and that can only be beneficial to them. This is a great opportunity this week to do that."
How many young guys are getting looks this week?"When those other guys aren't practicing out there I have 10, counting scholarship and non-scholarship, so all those other scholarship guys are getting work."
Defensive Line Coach Jappy Oliver
Do you think Morrice Richardson will move back to linebacker in the future?"You never know. You just try to get young people or anybody in a position where they can help you as soon as possible, and that is what we kind of diagnosed for this year."
Are you happy with progress in the pass rush to this point?"We are never happy (laughing); I'm a coach. We got some productivity this last game, and we just hope we can keep it going, that's all."
How many of the younger guys will you be taking a look at this week?"We'll be taking a look at all of them and we hope this week, just like yesterday, we want someone that will kind of separate themselves. It's not like we are not practicing those guys as it is all year long, but now we are really taking a good, close look at them and still hoping because we still have the rest of the week to go for some of those guys to separate themselves and put more confidence in us."
Did anyone separate themselves yesterday?"Not exactly, but we had a couple of guys do some good things. But as a whole they are kind of progressing the same way."
What are your thoughts about the bye week?"Coaches, players, we all love the bye week, especially when it comes at the appropriate time. It is time to regroup and maybe get a little ahead on our next week's opponent and obviously as coaches, we will be doing some recruiting. So it works and is definitely a different pace."