Can you talk about Steve Paskorz?"He's a young man who has great hands and is starting to understand the offense. I watched the Titans game last night for about five minutes and saw a young man by the name of Lamar Hall, that I coached at Texas, and caught the ball in the flat and he's playing in the pros and Paskorz is a similar type to Lamar Hall. So he has a bright future ahead of him."
What did you see of him that made you think he could work out on offense?"We watched him on the scout team and he was extremely physical. He ran around and had great initial quickness, good balance and body control, so we said hey, why not try him and brought him over one day after practice and threw about ten balls to him. He caught all ten balls and turned up field. He has good eye-hand coordination and is a physical guy so he's getting a little playing time this year and does some good things as he gets in there and plays."
What has James Aldridge improved on?"I think fundamentally his work ethic. We came into a situation in which we didn't feel as though we were running the ball with as much power as we should have. We brought the two power backs in and sat down and talked with them and said we're just going to have open competition again today and let's see who shows up. He started to excel that day and has been getting better each and every week."
When was that exactly?"Oh, I can't remember – four weeks ago."
Do you think he feels a little urgency because he's older than the other two backs?"I think he understands the importance of the game. He has a lot of playing experience and he continues to get better each and every week. You watch him in practice today; he had a really good day. I'm happy for James because he is really playing well."
How patient has James been and the other two as well?"You have to understand to be a team player. They understand. If you ask them who's going to play, they'll all say, ‘We are all going to get a shot.' And you say who's going to get the most reps and it will be the guy who gets the hottest. Whoever gets the hottest in the game is going to get the most significant reps. If your reps are diminished due to you not playing as well, then you have to understand to be a team player."
Can you talk about Jonas Gray?"Jonas Gray is a guy that I talked to you guys about previously, and I continue to tell you that Jonas Gray is going to be a really good football player. He is a young man that is learning the game. It's a totally different game coming out of Detroit and it's just a total different football game for him. He's getting better each and every day. He excels in individual. On scout team, I go and watch a few of his plays on the scout team and he is starting to understand his reads a little bit better and realize that you can't just be a cut-back player. He's going to be a good player down the line."
Can you talk about how you game-plan?"Game-planning - every week is a different week depending upon what they do front-wise; depending on fronts, coverage; depending on the various blitzes which they run. We try to make sure that we match our protection through the various blitzes. We carry a staple of protections every week and every once in a while if they give us something different, then we'll add a couple different protections. Run game - we try to have a core of runs, as I explained to you, we went into that off-week and realized there were certain things we were doing really well that we weren't running enough of. We started to run more of those plays this past week, as you see, and we're just going to do the things that the young men do best."
Is this a similar philosophy that you've had in other places?"In a few places."
Were there some places that were different and maybe just run your system?"You look at Texas which is having a great deal of success. Texas has a core of passes and a core of runs. You may get two or three different concepts a week or you may have core passes and you may run five of them one week. You may take out two and run another five or another three the next week, but they have a core and you get a lot of reps at those plays over and over again. When you watch Greg Davis plan, he does a tremendous job and the players understand and the quarterback, Colt McCoy, is throwing it at a higher percentage rate right now. He understands his reads no matter what the coverage is because he gets so many different reps of the same play over and over again."
Do you feel like you're getting into a rhythm in your short-yardage package?"We're getting better as you can tell. We have recently gotten better each and every week. We're doing a little bit more of what they like to do and what they are capable of doing and what our offensive line is capable of doing. We don't change formations very often. We may have three or four different formations but we try to keep things consistent and we may throw two or three different runs in or two or three different passes. However, we haven't had to use the passes that we put in."
Do you think the mentality of the offense has gone from thinking we can get it to now knowing that we can get it?"I always talk about a young man's psychological disposition. When you have a lot of self-confidence and you have a lot of confidence in the guys around you and the things which you are doing and having success at it, you continually get better. You feel like you can't be denied. And I think when all the young men line up, they say, ‘We're going to get it.' So far lately we've been pretty successful at running those plays."
How much does the no-huddle, spread offense help the running game?"When you spread guys out, it creates running lanes for you. At the same time, with the various audibles we have in and guys start blitzing and coming in off the edge at different angles, we have certain audibles to get us in different plays. I think Jimmy's knowledge of the game and understanding where the trouble is and how to get us out of trouble is what is making us a lot better in the running game also."
What are some of the things you have to be aware of against Pitt this week?"Phil Bennett in the past has been a big blitz guy. However, he is a 22 percent blitz guy at this point in time. So you always have to be aware of his past. Coach Wannstedt hasn't been a big blitz guy and with Coach Parmalee on his staff previously, we talk about those things from the past in their Miami days. We just have to prepare for the things we see on film and also some things which Coach Bennett has done in the past from his days at LSU, K State, and SMU."
So they're getting pressure from their front without blitzing?"They're getting pressure from the front four guys. Those front four guys are really good and they do a great job of putting pressure on the quarterback so you don't have to blitz as much."
What happened in their Rutgers game?"Over-aggressive safeties and balls being thrown over the safeties' heads. With the corners outside and what we call match coverage, the corners have an outside leverage. The quarterback doing a great job of throwing the ball across the field and completing the big pass. They only completed 14 passes on the day. I'm not sure of the number but I think six of them were big plays. So if you have six big plays over 20 yards in the pass game, that's a pretty good day."
How will they adjust to you?"They may play guys off. I don't know if Barry will play off. Barry plays with a lot of confidence and he's a really good corner. So we'll go into the game and we will find out."
Does it feel weird preparing for a team that gave up 54 points in their last game?"Not at all, because they're a pretty good football team. I think Coach Bennett does a really good job and they are a sound football team. You watch number 40 at the Mike linebacker, the way he comes up and supports the run and the way he uses his hands. And number 86, the way he flies around, scrapes over the top and runs under blocks and still makes plays. They are a technique and solid football team. It is a challenge for us and we look forward to the challenge."
Can you talk about Michael Floyd and his development and the freshman record he set and what kind of achievement that is?"I have no idea about records. The only thing I know about is one game at a time. I can't tell you what the record is. Michael Floyd is a young man who gets better each and every week. Michael Floyd gets better each and every week because of his relentless work ethic every day that he comes to practice with."