Beckman Transcript: Part 2

Part 2 of Toledo Rockets head football coach Tim Beckman's press conference at Media Day this past Saturday. In this part of the transcript Coach Beckman talks defense, special teams and how the Toledo Rockets will prepare for a difficult 2009 football schedule. And what is senior Barry Church's new role? You may be shocked to find out...

Q: You did some team activities over the summer to try and build competition, did you notice the benefits of that in the first practice?
A: I think anytime we, you know we talk to these kids about building a family. Anytime we can get the competition amongst the family and the competitiveness amongst the family that's crucial for success in any program. That's what I've learned in these years, the last eight football years that I've been involved with. It's making this a family and making this through competition an even closer knit group.

Q: Have you noticed it any more from when you first met the guys up until now?
A: No, and it's because we did it when we first got here. As soon as we got off the road from recruiting that first week in February we went bowling. It was like that second week of February. Again, building the competition we had that draft that first week. I think the kids love it. I think the kids enjoy being together, and that's part of what we have here that's special. We have 20 seniors and they're each very involved in being leaders. They're doing a great job right now bringing this family together.

Q: Can you talk about the defense a little bit and any subtle changes that we might see on Saturday?
A: All of last year, it's all different. The offense is different, the defense is different and the kicking game will be different. That's just because we're a new staff. We're going to come in and we want to get after people. We want to play an aggressive type of defense. If you've been involved with any of my defenses, or the defenses that I've been around, that's what we do. We move, we blitz and we disguise coverage's. We do the things that we think are necessary to affect the quarterback. In this game it's so important to affect the quarterback. We've got to be able to take them out of the game mentally. I thought they did a very good job this morning. They were flying around to the ball. They gave a great effort first. We have that motto of trying to create those takeaways and we do it every practice. We had this practice today, we wanted four takeaways and we got those four takeaways on defense. We did a good job with that.

Q: Is it too early to assess the kicking game?
A: Yeah, I think so. I think that our kickers have gotten stronger and the credit there goes to Coach Court and to the kickers for their commitment in the weight room. I see our kickoffs going deeper, and that was a major problem that we had last year. I see the strength of our punters legs has been outstanding. And again, it goes back to competition. We brought in a junior college football player here and it's made Alex Steigerwald better. We brought in some punters and long snappers that are going to make that group better through competition.

Q: You've talked about the element of surprise being a benefit for the new staff, your first game of the year you're going in against a whole new staff. How do you prepare for that?
A: Well, just as they're going to prepare for us. I'm sure they've looked at a little bit of Oklahoma State film. I'm sure they've looked at a little of that school down south's film, and Appalachian State and Marshall, where our coordinators have come from. You've got to do a great job of studying, that's what we've used the summer for in preparing for Purdue. Again, I've played against Purdue before, we know about their talent. The bottom line is, and my firm belief is, it's how the Rockets play and not how the Boilermakers play that's going to matter in this football game. We need to be playing for 60 minutes and making sure the Rockets are taking care of the Rockets and what the Rockets do.

Q: A follow up to that, you also mentioned during the spring that you were going through and playing one game at a time with an opponent for each practice and then playing against that team. It's probably too early for that, but I assume the same thing is going to happen here…
A: No, first meeting we went over that schedule right up there (pointing at a giant schedule poster on the wall). We talked about my first year in coaching with Pat Dye down at Auburn. We ended up third of fourth in the country; we had a great, great football team. I think we got beat in the Sugar Bowl. He taught me that you need to teach your players how to attack that schedule. That schedules up there for a reason. That's everybody's ambition. We want to be at that last date up there on that schedule board (MAC Championship Game), so we talked about that with the whole team in here and where we need to be in each one of these situations. Later on in camp here we're going to get back here to Purdue, they're the first opponent.

Q: Can you talk about the return game a little?
A: I'll tell you what, you can talk to number eight. I've been very, very lucky at Ohio State and at Oklahoma State to coach the best punt returners in the country with Dez Bryant and that Ginn guy that was down there at Ohio State. I've been very lucky to coach great, great players. When I came here the first thing I said was that we're going to make Barry Church go back there and catch punts because Barry Church has the speed and the talent to be a good punt returner. Barry's done a real good job of doing that, but we've also got Adonis Thomas that I see that could be a threat back there. Kenny Veal could be a threat back there. We've got quite a few guys; we're very skilled in that category that can go back there and catch punts. We've also got those two freshmen with Paige and Bellinger.

Q: What about kickoffs?
A: Same deals. Those guys have got to do both. We probably won't have Barry being involved as much in the kickoff return, but that's probably not a surprise to anyone. When you've got someone like a Dez Bryant or Teddy Ginn back deep that sure can be a factor for that offense by getting that first first down. That's what our goal is to average that first first down every time we touch the punt.

Q: Desmond Marrow showed some real promise last year before that injury, I understand he's back to 100%, but what's the rest of the cornerback situation looking like at this point?
A: Inexperienced, but playing with enthusiasm and playing extremely hard. I've been in a situation like this my first year at Ohio State, Malcolm Jenkins had to play as a freshman. They're young, but they're very enthusiastic and they're young men that I think can be very, very good corners.

Read Part I of the interview here.

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