Dorrell's Monday Press Conference

Head Coach Karl Dorrell answers questions in his weekly Monday press conference about <b>Maurice Drew</b>, his offense, his beleaguered defense and the various injured...

Head Coach Karl Dorrell addressed the media in his weekly Monday press conference.

"It's a pretty good start for a week, when you have player (Maurice Drew) who makes some offensive recognition like that. I'm really happy about Maurice Drew, and what he's done. But it was a total offensive effort. Just reflecting back on our game, our offense did a great job in creating some run lanes for our rushing game, and had to make some plays to get back into the game. The defense had to storm down and get ourselves back into the game. You don't want to ever have a start to a game that is similar to how we started. Usually when you have a particular start like that you don't win the game. It just showed a lot of character in our team right now. They're believing in each other. And they're really fighting their way through those issues and getting ourselves back in the game at halftime.

"It was a great win. Unfortunately we had a few guys banged up along the way to get ourselves victorious. We do have a bye week this week. We'll rest up and start the healing process with some of those players, and get ourselves ready for another week of football starting with San Diego State to following weekend."

Could you comment on Maurice Drew?

"I havent' seen a performance like that in my career, particularly on the college level. He did a great job. And it wasn't all him. I'll let you know that. Our offensive line did a tremendous job in giving him those opportunities. Our receivers did a great job blocking down field. It was a pretty good effort from the offensive standpoint. I don't want to take anything away from what Maurice did. His performance is something I'll remember for quite some time."

After looking at the film, did anything else jump out at you that you didn't recognize on the sidelines?

"Just the overall effort, in every phase, from the special teams...our kick-off coverage team did a very good job. They busted one kick-off return on us that was 60 yards. But for the most part, we didn't kick it very deep in the game, and wherever the returner would catch it he would only have about 10 yards to work with before he was tackled. So I was encouraged by how hard we covered in our kick-off. We had one punt in the game. That was a 44-yard punt with great coverage. Our concern on special teams was our field goal team. For instance, we had one snap that was a little tight. We didn't get the ball down quick enough and we ended up missing an extra point. Then we ended up hitting one that hit two uprights and going through. It was one of those games where there were a lot of issues that came about during the course of the game that you really don't think about at that time, because you have so much work to do. But as you sit back and evaluate, and see all the things that happened, there are a lot of things that we can definitely clean up. To still come away with a victory was very, very encouraging, after watching the tape."

What's the situation with Craig Bragg?

"Craig has a shoulder injury. It's a dislocation. It will probably be at least three...three to four weeks whether he'll be ready to play again. He might heal sooner than that. That's the prognosis right now. We'll fill the shoes with some capable people. Tab Perry is next in line. Tab will do a tremendous job in helping to fill those roles."

Has Tab been more comfortable or is this bye week really a chance for him to really start going?

"Tab had an excellent football game. Even though he didn't have a catch, the very first TD run, he had two key blocks. He blocked a safety, knocks him on his butt. He falls down, gets up and then blocked the backside corner on that long TD run. He had a tremendous effort in the game. He's into it. It's nice to see it's a team effort. The receivers get all the accolades when they catch the ball, but to see what they did during the course of the game was exciting. That was one of the things I saw on Sunday when we had a chance to review the tape – how hard our receivers played in the game in helping our running game get what it did. So he had a tremendous game and he's excited about his opportunity. He's also excited at some point Craig will be back and we'll be full force again."

Was your heart in your throat in the final minutes?

"I was concerned. Yes, I was concerned. It's one of those gains that you fought so hard to get yourself back into. You don't ever want to be in a situation like that. I was confident our defense could make the play to stop them too. They had no timeouts left and there was 30-something seconds left. There are only so many chances you can give. We called our last timeout to regroup ourselves the last couple of plays of the game and executed exactly the way we needed to execute and keep them out of the endzone. The bottom line is first downs don't hurt you. It's the time that's against them. So to keep them out of the endzone and that's what we executed."

After watching the tape do you still believe the missed offside against Washington at the end was a blown call?

"I don't want to get in trouble. We felt he was offside. We thought he was in the neutral zone at the very minimum and he was offsides. If we hadn't gotten them to jump offsides we would have called a timeout before the 25-second clock expired and made a punt. We executed the play exactly the way we wanted to execute it. It was unfortunate we didn't get the result we wanted, but in the end we won the game."

So you didn't change your opinion after seeing it on tape?

"No, it was exactly what we thought at the time when the play happened."

What's the status of Justin London?

"He re-aggravated his ankle in the first series of the game and he didn't come back in to play at all during the game. We don't think it's any worse, but he is sore, while he doesn't have any new swelling. So this week will do a great deal of good for him for his recovery, going into the following week.

"We had a couple of guys with shoulder sprains. Dennis Keyes, one of our back-up safeties, was hurt. He's fine. He'll be day-to-day in terms of his progress this week. Kenneth Lombard, same thing, had a shoulder strain. He'll be listed as day-to-day going into this week. Aaron Whittington had a hip pointer. He's listed day-to-day going into this week. So there weren't any other significant injuries other than Craig Bragg, which is a few weeks."

What does the loss of Bragg mean to the offense?

"He's been our most productive player for the last three years. So that is a significant loss. I'm very confident in Tab Perry, and some of the younger players that are playing behind Tab and getting productive for our offense that's needed at that position. It's unfortunate for us, but we have the capable people who can come in and do a tremendous job and fill those shoes."

Three games into the season, has this team lived up to your expectations offensively and defensively?

"We're moving forward. The offense is gaining steps week by week. You've seen that for the last three weeks. Defensively, we're gaining similar steps, probably not at the same pace with the offense is. In their defense, they're playing with more younger players than they are on offense. That will come. C.J. Niusulu came back and played well in the game, and started this last week. He's not even full speed yet. As soon as he's full speed, and we get some of the other players at key positions our defensive production will get better. I feel good about where our defense is going. We're making the steps that's needed to get ourselves improved, particularly our rush defense. We'll have to keep going through the growing pains of a young defensive line, and the new linebackers that are playing."

Why could Washington run the ball so well against your defense? Was it a matter of missed assignments or missing gaps?

"A number of things. It's like any game week where they're going to make some plays on you where they execute their blocking schemes. We'll make a mistake here and there that will prove to be an issue in the game. It's a combination of both. That's really how football is played. Sometimes you go out and block and get everything executed and sometimes you don't. That's something has improved from the previous weeks. We still need to continue to improve as we move forward."

How has Michael Pitre played?

"Pitre has done a tremendous job for us at fullback. He's improved week after week. He had his best game after last week. We're excited about him getting better from a week to week basis. Here's a kid that his freshman year we didn't think he'd ever play football again. He's off to a very good start for us."

When do you start preparing for San Diego State, or do you work on improving other things this week?

"There are a lot of things we can improve on. Ball security particularly, offensively. All of our ballcarriers need to do a much better job in how we carry the ball around the field, particularly catching and running with our running backs. We're going to clean up a lot of issues. There's a lot for us to clean up, offensively and defensively, and special teams. So it's a great week to address those things. We'll start doing some basic game planning on San Diego State late in the week when we get more information on them. There's a lot on our plate that we can surely address to get ourselves to be better going into the San Diego State week."

How has Chris Horton played?

"Chris has been a steady performer for us, and a solid special teams player. He's one of our best special teams player. He's on almost all of them, too. He's been a great safety coming in off the bench and spelling Jarrad Page and Ben Emanuel. He's right on schedule for where we want him to be. He's one of those guys that is a very electrifying type of player. He makes the big hits on both special teams and defense. A lot of our defensive players like his style. He brings a lot of moxy to the table."

Does Kevin Harbour have a chance of playing against San Diego State?

"I don't think so. He's just now starting to run. At the very earliest, it'd be three or four weeks from this point, from what the doctors are saying."

How is Tim Warfield?

"Getting better. He hasn't been able to do much weight-bearing activity. He's doing a lot of swimming and biking. Those are the types of things he can do right now."

Tell us about the defensive line and whether you'll continue to rotate guys...

"We'll continue to rotate many guys in there. We're still young. We'll continue to do that for the rest of the season. I think that's just where we're at. We don't have any strong experience in there, so we have to continue to rotate players in there. We're getting some continuity with some of the guys that are back from their knee injuries. But they can't play a whole game yet. But they're not at the stature to do that at this point in time. So we'll continue that type of process probably for the rest of the season."

Did you think Kyle Morgan played better in the second half?

"He played solid most of the game. He got tired at times. But for him to get as much playing time as he had, it was encouraging what he did. He's still not 100%. This will be a good week to get some of those guys back at full strength. And also they have to continue to get themselves the reps they need in practice to get themselves to play more effectively in our scheme."

Did Brigham Harwell play less against Washington than he did against Illinois?

"He played I think eight plays, which was a little less than the week before. It wasn't of anything he's done or anything like that happened. It was more that we were in a catch-up mode for most of the game. So it was probably an oversight on our part."


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