Dorrell's Monday Comments

Head Coach Karl Dorrell's weekly press conference has some excitement this week when he makes the big announcement about the new starting quarterback, Matt Moore. Read all the details -- and more about Dorrell's intent for the offense..

Head Coach Karl Dorrell answered questions from the press Monday.

Opening statement: "We're in week eight of our season. A very tough matchup with Arizona State. I've mentioned even in our Pac-10 media day in the summer that they had one of the better quarterbacks in the conference. He seems to be playing pretty well right now. Offensively they're moving the ball as well as anybody. Defensively, they seem like they're doing a good job of making opposing offense work for it. I think they're hitting on all cylinders right now. For us it's imperative that we improve in our areas we need to improve and put together a very good game plan for this coming opponent.

"I'm also making the announcement that Matt Moore is the starting quarterback this week. I think he is back to 100% of his skills, both physically and mentally. Drew Olson did a great job for us in terms of helping to keep things together and generate some wins for us. Matt I think, given a full week of preparation against Arizona State, will do a great job of getting back to his role as a starting quarterback."

What's Rodney Leisle's status?

"Our most significant injury is Rodney Leisle, but it's not that significant, but it's the one that caused the most concern. We thought that his injury was significant at game time. But with further testing done, which came back negative, they think it's just a deep bruise. A clavicle shoulder bruise. His availability will be determined day to day.

"Jarrad Page played. He's still not 100%, but I'd sure guess he'll be better this week than last week. Other guys just had dehydration issues during the game, like Brandon Chillar, Ryan Boschetti and Junior Taylor.

"On Matt Ware, we'll see whether he's capable of playing. For him, it will be determined by practice time, what he can do with running and cutting off of that ankle. Right now his prognosis looks decent. But he needs to do the work on the field to see whether he can play or not."

Why did you make the decision now about Matt Moore starting?

"I think the grand scheme of things it was just a matter of time until that was going to happen. I think I wanted to make sure that he was fully capable of assuming the role that he had at the beginning of the season. We got him in sometime in a couple of game, but we didn't play him in last week's game, given the nature of the game. I wasn't comfortable doing that. But I think when Matt Moore does best is when he assumes the reps of a starter in preparation. I think he'll be ready to go this weekend."

Did Drew Olson's performance Saturday influence your decision?

"I think that's the first thing that anyone looks at, including myself. But I don't think that was the biggest, most signficant part of the decision. I wanted to make sure Matt was at the level in both his mental and physical nature as what he was before his injury. Getting used to the brace, doing some things in practice, throwing and timing – that all became a factor as well. He plays best when he gets reps. Any starter plays best when he gets reps. So to me it was a decision that we think is in the best interest to get where we're trying to head to in the final five games.

Despite Moore thinking he was ready, did you wait until you thought he was ready?

"That's my coaching opinion. I believe the kid always feel confident in his own abilities. I still felt he wasn't quite where he should be for him to be productive for us. The last three weeks of practice, particularly the reps he did as our #2 quarterback, with that we're hoping that the increased amount of reps in preparation for a game, he'll be ready to go."

Was it hard to make the decision?

It's hard. It was a close competition to begin with all the way through camp. Both of them are very capable quarterbacks that can win. I'm not taking anything away from what Drew has done for our offense. I told them both, it isn't the last time for anything, because of how close that position has been. They keep pressuring one another, and that's the good thing about their nature and the level they're at right now."

When did you tell them?

"I told them this morning, indididually."

Did not getting the majority of reps in practice contribute to your decision not to use Moore in last week's game?

"Yes, because, given the nature of the game, even though we led through almost the whole game, it wasn't at a comfortable pace to me to make a change. We did something similar to that against Arizona where we put him in, and I don't know if it was productive for our offense to do that at that time. Just given the situations we were in, I thought it was important to keep with what we had. We did that across the board, even our defensive line, we didn't substitute in a lot. We played our main people a lot because of the nature of the game."

What are some of the aspects of Moore's game that makes him more capable?

"He has his own unique qualities, which are the reasons he won the job to begin with. He's taller, has a strong arm, has good vision down the field. We're just hoping he's playing at the level he should be. I'm comfortable where he is right now that he can step in and generate a spark for us to get going."

Have you been considering the change for a while?

"I think it was ongoing for weeks. That's always been in the back of my mind. I'm trying to evaluate and keep things moving in an orderly fashion that I think is in the best interest of our program. So it's been in the works for a while. Drew has done a very good job. In certain games he was 66% in completions and has done good things. To me, from where we think we're at with Matt he's ready to go."

Do you think you have to tighten up the cushion on your coverage when facing the good quarterbacks you'll be seeing in the next several weeks?

"Sure. Those are things we've discussed. They're good quarterbacks that have tremendous vision. They can try to find a weak spot within any defense and try to exploit it. These next five games are going to be tremendous challenges for our defense. So we're going to need to tighten up the ship, so to speak, buckle down and play solid defense, particularly against some very good offenses."

The run to pass ratio was 2 to 1 in last game. Do you expect that to change with Matt Moore at quarterback?

"Again, we're striving for balance. We're going to try to do some things to generate offense. We'll always try to run the football, but we'll try to do a better job of mixing things together. To answer your question, we'll probably have a better mixture."

Was Drew Olson upset?

"Like most competitive kids, no one takes that bit of news with a smile on his face. He's understanding, but competitive, and is eager to prove that he can get the job done and do the job. His response was exactly what I expected, which was of a competitive person."

What was Matt Moore's response?

"Both of them are team players. Both want to do what's best for the team and want to win. He sees this as an opportunity to come in and provide something to our offense. For him, he's excited about the challenge. But both have the same mindset. They both want to do what's best for the team."

Should Brandon Chillar be up for the Lombardi Award?

"That's up to you guys. Right now he's playing lights-out football for us. He's been one of the key ingredients to why our defense is having the success it's having. He's up there among the leaders in the country in tackles. We're just hoping he continues the pace he's on because he does a great job for us."

Did Keith Carter play?

"No, he didn't play. We're hoping he will this week. We did prepare to have him ready to play this past week. From the magnitude of the game, we weren't able to get him in. We had him in some of our muscle sets and we didn't do any of those sets in the game"

Olson has had seven weeks of experience starting now. Do you think you'll go through some experience growing pains with Matt Moore now?

"He's now had three more weeks of practicing. And that was part of the week I waited to get him back in the fold of things. We'll see. We're going to give him a full week of preparation and our anticipation is that he'll come out and play well."

What did you see in the film of practice that contributed to the change?

"They're two different styles of kids. He's starting to feel comfortable being back in the system again. That's something I was looking for, feeling comfortable being back in the saddle again."

Will White get more carries from the tailback position than he did against Cal?

"We package certain things for all three backs. His role was probably increased more at fullback last week than it was at tailback. He'll still have those carries at tailback from time to time, and those things can change from a week to week basis. We'll just see how the game plan ends up this particular week."

You ran the ball 82% of the time on first down. Is that what we can expect going forward?

"I hope not. That was something that was glaring for me, too. We'll be more balanced. That's what we're trying to do, be more balanced in all of our given down situations. Other than obviously third and long. But we need to create more balance and we're striving to do that."

If you could use Keith Carter more as a receiving tight end, would that enable you to do move Marcedes out to receiver?

"That would give us more flexibility to do that. Keith would have to be fully back in the fold for that to happen, and I don't think we're ready to do that at this time."

Did you have any outside pressure to make the decision about Moore?

"No."

With Matt's ability to throw the ball down field, will it open up the offense more?

"It could. Was that the decision why? No. Both of those guys have unique qualities. They're different from one another. We're heading back in the direction we had at the beginning. And we're hoping that's going to be the right ingredient for us in the last stretch of the last four or five games of the year. Drew threw some deep balls and connected on them, so I can't say he wasn't good at them."

What are some of the advantages Matt Moore provides?

"He is a little taller and has a stronger arm. He probably has better vision because of his height. They're different in terms of athlete, body type, and all those types of things. Again, Matt hasn't had as much extensive playing time, but we think he can do some good things for our offense."

Since the Cal game had some unbearable heat, how much has conditioning been a factor for you this year? And does it help when you have your defense out there for so many more plays than your offense?

"We really work hard on conditioning. The ratio that our offense and defense was out on the field is 20 plays apart. I think that was the biggest factor as anything. We weren't on the field as much as we should have been on offense, and the defense was on too much. Ideally, if I had my choice, I'd rather have my offense on the field for 70 or 80 plays, and have my defense on the field 50 to 60 plays. But games don't dictate that. It was flipped the other way. Our defense plays hard every snap. To play that many snaps and go full speed, that's tough. You're hoping to get three and out, or five and six plays and out."

Will you be more involved in the play calling now?

"I do have a play caller. But I'm naturally an offensive guy. What I think I do best is, given that Matt is back in the saddle, that we're doing the best things we can do for him to help us. So I'll probably oversee everything and make sure we're doing everything that are in our best interests to be successful."

Will that be different than in previous weeks?

"It will be this particular week since this will be his first week back since week one. So I want to make sure we're off to a good start with him doing the right things for him."

Could the game plan change because of Moore?

In general, it doesn't change much. No matter who is the quarterback, Drew or Matt, we'd try to utilize what is the strength of that particular quarterback. And that's what I want to make sure we do in this particular week."

What was your assessment of Pat Norton's play?

"He played pretty well. The reps he had in the game, he played well."

What is your assessment of the chances that Ware and Leisle play?

"We don't practice today. The get treatment today. Then I'll get another report after they get treatment tomorrow morning. A lot can happen between now and tomorrow morning, as to how questionable/probable will be. I would say both are questionable right now."

Has it shifted back now to Tyler Ebell being the featured tailback?

"You say featured back, but in our minds we don't really have a featured back. I don't think a running back will get 30 carries a game. That's not how we're built right now."

White's carries have decreased while Ebell's and Maurice Drew's have increased...

"We're trying to do a better job of packaging those three and trying to do as much running game from the three different players. So to answer the question, he's not de-emphasized than in any other given week. It's just what the game plan involves."

Are you satisfied with your offense?

"I'm not. I think we've showed signs of doing some very good things. The thing we struggle with is consistency. We haven't been able to be consistent enough in certain series in games. If anything, that's the biggest thing that has hurt us this season. That's something as coaches we need to put our kids in the best situations we can for us to be more consistent. We're at that part of what we're trying to evaluate, and increase our consistency."

Have you been happy with the performances of Chris Kluwe and Justin Medlock?

"Overall they've both played pretty well. I'm pleased with both of those guys with their first time out as starters. They're doing a fine job."

Other than because of injury, could you foresee subbing Olson in for Moore now?

"The given situation will have to dictate that. As coaches that's something you don't want to think about, even though it's in the back of your mind. But that's not something you're gearing up for that to happen. The situations of something like that will dictate what we'll do."

Did you contemplate starting Moore in the second half of the Cal game?

"The game was so close. I believe the game was 7-3 at halftime. There was no reason to panic at that time. So, no, I wasn't close to doing it at halftime."

Did you see the hold on Ebell's 82-yard run?

"I did not see it. And I was looking hard for it. That's unfortunate, too. That's 82 yards of hard-earned offense that was turned away. It was called on one of our linemen. From what we saw on tape it was a legal block. It was just one of those discretionary calls that didn't go your way. Holding occurs all the time. It's just – when do they want to call the flag? On this play, within the guidelines of how an offensive lineman should block, he was within the guidelines."

You think there is ever an issue that a hole opens up so big that an official merely believes there has to be holding?

"I don't know. That probably might play into what an official thinks. I've never asked an official that particular question. I'll remember to ask that in an official conference. That is a good one: ‘How come that whole is that big?'"

Are you going to stay with your subbing policy for the defensive line?

"We're going to stay with our policy. We did not substitute very much in this game. Our ones played 31 straight plays at one give point. We don't like to do that. Just given the nature of the game, it could have been broken either way if we would have done some mass changes like that. I think our philosophy is still to play those young guys. A year from now we're not going to have those older guys, so those younger guys have to get used to playing."

Were you pleased with the play of Kevin Brown and Asi Faoa in replacing Leisle?

"They did well. I think they've gotten better each game, particularly the young players. The more game experience they get the better they'll be."

Is Matt Moore better at checking down his progressions?

"I think they're both pretty equal doing that. Remember, Matt hasn't played in a while. I'm assuming he'll be able to do those things he was doing beforehand and hopefully better with the last few weeks of practice. It's something we've always stressed, to find your check down. We'll continue to stress it. It might just be a vision thing, to be honest. Sometimes in the game Drew had a couple of balls batted down right in front of him. It can be a number of different factors. But both have really tried to find the check down when their primary read isn't open.'

Does preparing for Cal's defense help you prepare for ASU's?

"Sure does. Their scheme is very similar to Cal's scheme. Pressure-oriented defense, and they can disguise where they bring their pressure from, weak or strong. That's why their scheme is pretty good. There is carry-over from what we did last week. The nature of both of these teams, their defenses are very similar."

Without being so fast, how has Dave Ball become so effective a pass rusher?

"That sound more like a professional scout type of assessment. I think he's fast enough. He's proven he can rush the passer. He's been able to do that consistently. He's a football player. Sometimes when you make measurements on a kid – height, weight, speed, jump – that doesn't measure how good of a football player he is. And I can tell you that Dave Ball is an excellent football player. I don't make football that complicated. The kid can play."

What's your assessment of the play of Justin London?

"He made player of the game this week. That was his best game. His presence on the field, in making tackles, leadership, and flying around, it was probably his best game to date. It's great he's coming into his own at this time of the season, and hopefully keep building on that type success for him."

Who will start if Leisle can't?

‘We haven't decided who will start if Rodney doesn't start."

Are Leisle and Ware experienced enough to play without practicing this week?

"It's hard for us as coaches to make that determination. We'd rather them practice and do some things for us to get a better feel whether they'll be effective for us on Saturday. In my experience, when kids don't practice and try to play, they hurt you more than help you. They need to practice, to get some work, and give us a better feel where they're at physically."

Is that different than the NFL?

"It's more a philosophical issue. I think there are some coaches that don't mind operating under that philosophy. Plus in the NFL they pay you. I guess I'm probably more old school. You need to practice to be effective to play."

Have you been doing more evaluating of your personnel recently?

"You're getting the picture of where you are in the Pac-10 now. Everything you're doing now is of the utmost importance. In everything you do. So you worry about the moral of your team, their physical condition, you worry about whether they're in mid-terms right now. All those things that can affect your performance. It is definitely a different gear right now. And you have to be sensitive to all of those things for our athletes to be at their best. It's time to fine tune as much as you can."

How do you get your team to focus on just the game ahead?

"I try to tell them not to read the papers. They continue to do that. Just to stay focused with what we're doing. They know how I am. They can read me like a book. They know that I'm one way, focused from week to week. So, we'll just keep staying within the framework of what we're doing but hopefully getting a little better."

What are keys to the ASU game?

"Their offense is very powerful and we have a great challenge with our defense to try to slow them down. On the other side, offensively, we have to be more productive than we've ever been. Really start kicking into gear on what we need to get done on that side of the ball. Our special teams have been good, but we have to continue to get better. We have to make sure we can get a snap for a field goal and put it through the uprights. All those little things you probably never spend as much time in any given week, but they all matter now. It's just a matter of fine-tuning what you're doing."

Will you change your defensive plan to pressure ASU more?

"I'm sure we'll have a wrinkle or two. But our defense has been pretty good with what we've been doing. It will be hard to do any wholesale changes from what we've been doing. We've been fortunate enough to get enough pressure on the quarterback with a four-man rush. We'll keep trying to operate our system and do it better."


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