Interview with Defensive Coordinator Neal Neathery:
Is there a feel of renewed energy with the defense?
We talked about it, it’s a new season. Right now in our season we’re giving up six points a game, we’re forcing four turnovers a game. That’s how we’re seeing it, it’s a new season.
What do you see from La Tech RB Kenneth Dixon?
He’s good. He’s really good. He plays harder than anyone on the football field. He is angry with ball. He’s really difficult to bring down. He’s got skills, don’t get me wrong, but the guy plays really hard.
You’ve done well against Dixon, how have you done that?
He had about 130 yards last year. I think we’re 0-2 against him. So I don’t know how well we’ve done against them. We pride ourselves on our run defense, that’s something you we want to be good at. It’s only good enough if we get a W.
How does QB Jeff Driskel get most of his rushing yards?
There’s one or two draws in there. Most of it is zone read. He’s just a really good operator in that system. He’s reading it. He’s pulling it when he’s giving it to him. He’s not necessarily a burner but he’s really efficient, he gets it, he’ll make you miss. You definitely have to defend the quarterback run on the zone read.
What’s La Tech’s o-line like?
Big, really big. It’s the same crew we saw last year, there’s really not that much difference. They play a lot of guys. This is odd. They move their o-line around like the way we move our d-line around. Guys show up all over the place. You usually don’t see that on the o-line. It’s a big challenge for our d-line. It starts there. It’s a big challenge for them and they get excited for that. To have a chance, we’ve got to win upfront.
You played better on third down, are there things you are doing differently?
To be frank, we weren’t playing Oklahoma State or Arizona, we were playing better, and we’re getting better every week, but our competition is what it should be. Hopefully we can continue to have that kind of success.
Kevin Strong played some Defensive End, is that new?
He’s played some end, that’s been more in our heavy package where we think they’re going to run the football. He’s played all four positions on the line throughout the course of they year. That’s just us trying to get him on the field more. Now he’s a full-time guy for us but we still move him around a little bit.
Does Safety Michael Egwuagu have that “It” factor?
Oh yeah. Absolutely. We saw that when we recruited him. He’s got a lot of the it factor. You can say it’s all coaching but you’re lying. He’s just got a lot of the stuff you can’t coach, just instinct, he has a good presence to him.
Do you feel like between Egg and Nate Gaines, you have some play makers?
You’d like to think we’ve get a lot of plays out of those guys. They’re a little more athletic than what we’ve been playing. They’re very athletic and very instinctive. That could be fun as we progress and they get more experience.
Do you think Rover Safety Mauricio Sanchez will play this week?
We’re hoping so. He was out there the last two days. We’re hoping he’ll be able to play.
Who are some of the players that played well vs UTEP?
Egg and Nate graded well. Egg has been consistently high, then it turned into a ton of production. Nate played his best football game. CJ (Levine), it was remarkable what he did. He wasn’t even in the picture two weeks ago then all of a sudden he’s basically out there the entire game. He played really, really well. I’m very happy with our safeties. Drew had his best football game of his career here. He played really well. He just stepped it up a little bit. I think the timeout put some passion in him. Not that he didn’t have that before but it was an extra dose. It was his best football game since he’s been here. Then Bennett, they didn’t complete anything on him.
You decided to burn CB Jacolbie Butler’s redshirt, why?
He’s been playing really well (in practice). We’ve gotten a little thin with guys getting beat up with the positions that you need on special teams. We had a long about it as a staff then with him. We decided that was the route to go. We hope to see him work in at corner as we go forward.
Is there anyone else you might consider doing that to?
I wouldn’t foresee that right now but it’s a very long season.