Irish Eyes Transcript: John Latina

Offensive Line Coach John Latina spoke with the media following Tuesday's practice.

After watching the film of Saturday's game, what jumped out at you?

"Just a lack of execution, that's the biggest thing. The execution wasn't nearly at the rate that we need it to be to win games. That's what we have to work on this week to improve a great deal."

There was a big emphasis on physicality during the camps. How would you rate that after watching the tape?

"We weren't nearly as physical as I like to be. To win games at this level and the schedule that we play, I said it before and I'll say it again, that's an ongoing process. It wasn't nearly what we wanted it to be, but that's something you keep focusing on. You have something that you are not really happy with, you just focus on it and continue to put an emphasis on it and get better at it."

Can you give a reason why the line didn't play as physical as you had expected?

"I don't know if there's a good point or reason other than we just didn't play physical. We didn't play as physical as we wanted to, and we had worked hard on those things and it didn't come up. We played three guys that had never started before and maybe that's the reason. I don't know, other than the fact that we are going to go back to work and try and keep getting better."

Will there be more pressure on you and the offensive line this week because of having a quarterback that has never started a game before?

"I don't look at it as pressure. We have to go out and do our best that we can do. That's what you're striving to do, and if you worry about those things, then you are taking the focus off things that are really important and that is getting your guys better, getting them prepared mentally and physically. If you are sitting there worrying about pressure and all those things, and I understand the question, that does not enter my mind."

What's the procedure for recognizing and calling out the blitz and who calls it?

"A lot of times, you can't call it out. You have to react to it. Defenses are good at disguising it, and they aren't going to show their hand. The ones who do it well aren't going to show their hand and you have to recognize it as the ball is being snapped, and your first step or two of the play, you have to recognize it and react to it. Sometimes they tip their hand, but people who blitz a lot work hard not showing their hand."

Is it up to all five guys then to make calls?

"It's up to all 11 guys. It's an offensive deal. I'm the offensive line coach and I'm most focused and worried about those guys, but when you have a team that blitzes you a lot, you have to have all 11 guys to be on the same page."

When did these blitz schemes become more complex; would you say within the last five to ten years?

"They are a little bit, but they are more prevalent. Everybody's doing it. Before, you would have very few people doing them. That was a successful thing that was in the NFL that filtered into the collegiate level, and I see more and more people in the college level doing it. Everybody is doing it, but to what extent and percentages are different. Everybody's doing it so you have to work against it and you have to prepare against it and hope you have it where you are ready to go on Saturdays. I think it was gradual but over the last five to seven years there has been a gradual increase. Coach Weis can tell you more about that because he coached in the NFL. I never did, but it just filtered down and the more people you see do it there; we all visit people and we all go try and learn and get better at our trade and that's what happens."

How do you get guys to react to the speed of the game during practice when there is such a difference between the two?

"You have to show it to them. The whole key to it is you have to show it to them versus every play that you have in the game plan and every protection you have in the game plan. You have to show it to them multiple times and you have to try and get it to the speed of the game. When you are working against show teams, especially the first game of the year, that's always the coach's biggest concern, is the speed of the game. In this case, is my line ready for the speed of the game because no matter how you practice, the speed of the game is a lot quicker on Saturdays than it is on Tuesday, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. That's where inexperience can kind of bite you a little bit too. When you have a bunch of guys that have played a lot, they at least understand the speed of the game. That's what we have to keep working on."

How long has it been since you had to break in three new guys as starters on the offensive line?

"It's been awhile but, you know what, I don't worry about that. My whole focus is taking individuals and getting them better individually. Even though it is the ultimate team sport, you have to break it down to individuals and make them better individually and then collectively you become better. So that's where we are right now. We have a game under our belt and there's a lot of things in there that you can learn from and make every kid a little better mentally and physically, and that collectively helps your team."

How much can you improve over the course of a week?

"A lot, especially when guys haven't played many meaningful snaps. I think it could be a tremendous amount and, in fact, there's an old saying that coaches have said for a hundred years, the most improvement you make is between game one and game two. We're saying that and I'm sure Penn State is saying that. The whole key is to let it show on Saturdays."

Will there be a significant change for the offensive line because of a new quarterback this week?

"No, absolutely no. Will we all of a sudden get smarter overnight, no. I know what I know and that is what we are going to teach. Those kids are going to learn, and it's worked before and it will work again."

Did you see much improvement in today's practice?

"Yeah, I did. I saw a little sense of urgency. I think our linemen realize they have to improve greatly, and I think they understand it's going to take hard work and it's going to take hard focus to work; take every rep focused and every rep has to be meaningful and you can't take a rep for granted when you don't play well. I saw some of that today, not that we were perfect, but it was better. Obviously, we'll go back upstairs after I'm done here and watch the tape and analyze it. As a group, I saw a little more sense of urgency and focus, and I think I had a little more sense of urgency too. I have to be a leader of that group."

Does your approach change this week when it seems there is much to improve upon?

"Obviously, you have to be the ultimate teacher. You've got to show them every little thing that they have to improve upon and why you do it a certain way and the importance of doing it a certain way. Then you have to go out and implement it from the blackboard and from the classroom to the fundamental work; then from the fundamental work to the group settings. That's the challenge."

Are you rougher on them this week?

"Not anymore than I normally am. As a coach you have a certain style and once you get over and beyond that style - these guys have been around me for two years, they know me and they know when I'm upset and they know when I'm not - they know when all that takes place."

When you watched the Penn State tape, what stood out about Josh Gaines?

"Obviously, they have a good football team; they have been good for a hundred years. He is a good player and he has really good speed. It looks like their defense is fast; they fly around to the ball and they are well coached. Their coordinator has been there for a bunch of years and they have been in that scheme for a bunch of years and they recruit to that scheme and all those things are in place because they have been there intact so long. He is a talented guy."

How concerned are you about the speed of Penn State on the outside?

"When you watch Penn State, you always know they are going to be a physical defense. They have been Linebacker U for a long time. They have really good linebackers, and they always have. Their front four is a little bit younger, but they are very talented guys. They have good speed off the ends and they have physicalness inside."

Do you expect Penn State to blitz more than usual?

"Anytime you don't do something well in a particular game, you feel a little bit exploited and you work hard to fix that problem. They have that film so I'm sure they're looking at the film just like we are looking at the film to analyze ourselves. Anytime as a coach when you feel you didn't do something well in the game, you feel like you have to get it corrected now. You have to get it corrected today because people will exploit that. So there is a sense of urgency for those things."

How different will it be to put together the plan this week when there will only be one quarterback compared to last week with three quarterbacks?

"We all sat in a meeting room and came up with a plan that we thought was best to win the game last week. Obviously, we didn't execute it well enough to win. We have started to put a plan together and today is the first day of practice. We'll go back and watch the film and you may throw some things out that you didn't like and you may add some things that you wish you may have had. The plan, I don't think is close to being finished yet. We go in there as a staff collectively and put a plan together with the direction of the coach and we're all in it all the way."

Is it easier to prepare the line for one style of offense compared to two?

"Our job is to do whatever we think as a staff we have to do to win the game. Is it easier? I don't know, I guess Saturday will tell us, right? We'll find out."

How difficult will communication be with 110,000 people in the stands?

"I personally have been there a few times in my career, but not since they have expanded their stadium, so I'm sure it's like any place that has one-hundred-some thousand people. It's not easy to play. We're going to have to show up and play; it's not easy. In fact, it's never easy. In fact, playing on the road sometimes is never easy no matter where you play. It will be a challenge and something we have to prepare for; our kids have to and we have to as coaches handle it and deal with it the best way you can." Top Stories