One-on-One with Bill Clay

GP: Talk about the youth on the defensive line, a lot of those guys played against UCLA.
Clay: Maurice Cummings played a lot in that football game. Nathan Peterson played in the game. Jerry Don Bray and Marque Fountain started the game, but those two youngster played a lot and got valuable experience at that end position. Inside is where it is still an ongoing process in finding the guys that are going to make the plays. We've got a lot of guys that are playing, but we need more guys that are going to make plays. Clay Coe certainly played well against UCLA and he made a lot of plays. I was really pleased with the way Clay played. A guy who had been really up and down that I was pleased with the way that he played in the game was Efe Mowarin. We're still in the process of XLK maturing. Cody Townsend didn't play and I'm sorry about that. We needed to get him in the game. It's a long season, so you will see a lot of guys playing, young guys in that defensive line.

GP: Victor DeGrate didn't play much, but when he was in there he made a presence.
Clay: Victor will be a presence when he has all the ducks in a row. I expect someday that Victor will play in the NFL. He is still a young kid and gets emotional and his eyes get distracted and they may come out in a formation that he misidentifies, and that's been a little thing for him early. Rodrick Johnson is a guy we hope we can play a lot. Both are big, 6-3, 250 pounds. We will get him in more. We will get them in this weekend (against Tulsa).

GP: What did you think after watching the tape? What are you trying to get done as far as areas of improvement?
Clay: You constantly work on fundamentals. I've always believed that the most improvement that you will make all year is between game one and game two. Game two should be a lot better. One, we had some runs after catches that I was not pleased with. There were several missed tackles and there were some missed leverage and misplaying of blockers on the screen. We've been working a lot on the screen. Our Sunday night practice was a spirited practice and focused on stopping the screens. Every day we spend significant time on taking the ball away from an opponent and tackling the opponent in different situations. Tackling is something that you constantly work on. When you have younger guys on the field, and I don't mean this as an excuse, is the understanding of making good tackles, getting off blocks and the understanding of how you fit on a blocker and where you have the leverage on a blocker.

GP: What about the Tulsa offense?
Clay: They put up a pretty good smoke screen out there by using different sets. The biggest concern we have is with us. We feel like we can be a pretty good defense if we don't make mistakes with our alignments. Going into a game with a team like Tulsa that uses as many alignments as they do then we are very definitely concerned about that and making sure we don't make any mistakes. We have been burning the midnight oil with the players and as a staff to make sure that doesn't happen. When you look at their personnel, James Kilian is a good passer and is also their top returning runner too. He's carried 130 some times for over 600 yards. They have good receivers and they use their tight ends a lot and in many different ways. They will have four tight ends on the field at one time and that is something very unique to them. I have never seen that anywhere else before. They will do that and it take a little bit of time to get into what they are doing with that personnel and make sure your kids understand it, not just learn it.

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