Press Conference Transcript, Sept. 9
Sep 9, 2013
An Interview With: Coach Meyer, Coach Withers and Coach Warinner
COACH MEYER:Great to have him back at that position on the kickoff. Obviously offensively to have our quarterback go down early in the game on that first drive was a blow, but our team responded. It's an incredible case study of arguably one of the greatest that I've been around as far as your backup quarterback is elected captain. I think that would be, once again, an interesting case study.
I wonder how many times that's happened, the backup quarterback is elected captain, and there's no real surprise internally; maybe externally it is, but internally he was one of the leading vote getters. He was a guy that just I was talking to Philly Brown the other day and there's a lot of respect for Kenny Guitonabout everything; the way he handles his business, and where he's come from, once again, around incredible case study what Kenny has done for this program in our brief tenure here.
But the way they played, he distributed the ball very well. He moved the ball around. We have to do better in the open field as far as breaking tackles; I would grade us a minus.
We protected the quarterback much better in this game against a team that blitzed from they got off the bus blitzing; it's one of those kind of defenses. We did a little more six and seven man protection; just means we kept the extra guys in there because of that, and it worked. And I thought overall, on offense, we did a fairly good job.
The champions on offense were Jack Mewhortplayed very well, had some incredible efforts down the field on Kenny's long run. Had a knock down about 35 yards down the field, 30 yards down the field on his long touchdown run. And three explosive plays, he was the key guy that got us to the second level.
Jeff Heuerman is starting to play like Jeff Heuermanagain. He played very well, graded out champion, had one explosive play, two catches, 33 yards.
Wide receivers, we had two of them, Philly Brown, two big plays. Our intent was to get him involved. He had six catches, 73 yards, two big one excellent catch, and the other one, just great technique as far as boxing out a defender. Really that was I've been very critical of the wired receivers, but he's a wide receiver now. He's starting to box out defenders and he's starting to do things you ask wide receivers to do, not just go out there and run fast once in awhile. He's getting better and better.
Evan Spenceronly had one catch but he graded out very high and did a nice job. The Offensive Player of the Game was the old right hander, Kenny, did a very admirable job in all areas, distributing the ball, making the right checks. A lot of what you saw was him controlling the game as far as making checks. That's it.
On defense, I watched it I didn't have time yesterday, I watched it this morning, and we are getting close to the kind of defense that I have a dream of seeing, and that's aggressive. Our defensive line is playing at a very high lively right now. I don't want to jinx them they just are playing they are not perfect at all; matter of fact they are very poor in some things they do but as far as effort, energy, enthusiasm, esprit de corps, that whole unit is playing and I have to give credit to their coach, Mike Vrabel. They play like Mike coaches and I imagine the way Mike played here; it's just high energy, intense, very close knit group.
Steve Miller comes in and gets a sack; and Coach Fickell showed it to the team yesterday, the sideline erupted and Joel Hale was the first one to congratulate them. That doesn't happen by accident. That's because of the leader of that unit, Mike Vrabel, they are buying what he's selling. That's very much a positive right now.
But overall, I thought we played well on defense. C.J. Barnett, graded a champion, graded out very high, first game back. Brad Roby, graded out 99 percent, very high; he had 12 opportunities, made a play at 11 of them.
And then co players of the game, Michael Bennett, I keep telling you he's our best practice player, the correlation between that and performance is obviously very high, and he graded out 90 percent co defensive player of the game, very proud of him.
So I was very impressed with our defense. Just the energy, once again, there's a lot of things we can fix. We are too soft on zone coverage. At times, I thought we were too soft in man coverage, but I liked the philosophy that we pressure I had that written down on the other paper, but we pressured more than we had the previous week.
A couple comments; we are going on a long trip across the country, I can't remember if I have experience doing that. When I was at Notre Dame, we would go play USC, and that was a tough trip. We have got to really manage it well, and we've had many, many discussions with people who have made that trip, as well. We are going to leave Friday morning and make sure we get them acclimated as much as we can. We are facing a team that averages 104 plays a game on offense, so we need all able bodies to be ready to go.
Braxton Millerwill be a day to day decision. I just met with him today. He's feeling much better. Was, a little stiff, which is our trainer and I and him just met ten minutes ago and he's feeling the first 48 hours after that injury is very tough. It's a sprained MCL is what it is.
And then Adolphus Washingtonhas a groin injury, that will be day to day, also. Neither one of them has been disqualified for this game but neither one of them has been cleared to play yet, so I'll keep you posted.
Q. Having coached a little bit out west, what do you think the culture and the passion for the game is out here compared to here or the southeast?
Q. In a situation like this with Braxton managing this with him, this injury, is it as simple as if he's healthy enough, he'll play, or is it possible that you would maybe hold him back at this stage of the season to err on the side of caution?
Q. The times he left games last year, what happened on Saturday, is there anything in your mind that there is any durability questions with Braxton?
So I just think we have to have always have Plan B ready. Now when Plan B is in the game, that means Plan C is not too far off, and that's one that we are working on, as well, right now.
Q. Players today, saw the National Championship Game and probably the Rose Bowl itself; do you think going out west is what it used to be to people in the Midwest, players in the Midwest?
I would imagine it is. I don't know that. It's a great question, though.
Can we explain it or does it impact us? It doesn't impact us and I can't explain it. So I think at the end in the end, I think everything's going to work out, the best teams will be up there.
Like you said, Kenny was managing really well. It was the kind of defense where management was really the key the whole game and getting us in the right stuff at the right time and Kenny is really strong at that, so there was no conversation about that.
Q. Did Braxton on Saturday say anything about, I'd love to get back in there, or since then?
Q. Is Cardale the next guy, is he Plan C at this point?
Q. That's J.T. you're talking about?
Q. Has he made tremendous progress? Just talk about him a little bit.
So he has made progress; how much, he's been running scout team really for us, so I haven't watched him that closely.
Q. Run 50 more plays than you have in two games how do they do that and what is the biggest challenge for your defense?
So I have not studied them at all on offense yet. I will, usually that's later in the week, because I spend all my time on kicking and offense. I talk to my defensive staff and rotation of defensive linemen to keep them fresh, because they will wear you out. After a while pass rushing, other than running pursuit, where sideline to sideline, pass rush is the most exhausting thing for a defensive lineman.
So just keeping them fresh, so we can at least when they do drop back, try to get a hand or two on their quarterback.
Q. Your team has changed since a year ago, and Cal has had some changes of coaches. How much would you watch last year's game as you prepare for this one?
This right now, obviously, I would say it's a new staff, they shot their gun Northwestern is a big game, so they are not going to have a new defense had some injury issues at safety, too.
So I think last year's game will be no impact at all.
Q. You have two games to watch this year, are you still looking elsewhere at what they have done or just zoned in on what they have done
So much of it is personnel based but already we did the summer preliminary scouting report, you always do on the first three opponents, and so we did a summary report on Cal, so I'm sure there's some carry over but we'll watch some of the cut ups from Louisiana tech.
Q. Philly Brown was a running back in high school, and he was a quarterback when he was recruited here, just talk about his evolution as wide receiver, you talked about him boxing out.
Philly has done a great job. His evolution as a leader and performer in the weight room, the way he's taking care of himself, the way he's mentoring young people, he's falling into that category of guys that have made a 180 and the way he handles his business academically, I'm a big Philly Brown guy right now, and I was not at all. I say that, and I say that in good faith that I really appreciate what he's done.
His transition, he's legitimate, he has a wide receiver maybe playing again after this year and if you would have said that at this time last year, no chance. So I really like what he's done. It's more what he's done with his work ethic and who he is. I'm very proud of him and I'm sure his family, they can see the difference, as well.
Q. When a team does something occasional, like you did with your two point conversions, or what Cal does with their formation where they have the offensive lineman and the fullback, how long can you spend preparing for something like that because they only do it a handful of times yet they seem to be counting on unfamiliarity to get something done.
That's really something, ever since we got into couching, you have basically on Tuesday, now that you're in work week, you have Tuesday and Wednesday to practice, and you have injuries that you're dealing with. Washington probably won't practice on Tuesday, so he's going to miss all those reps. Tuesday is all first down, normal situation. And then on Wednesday it's all red zone and third downs. And if you're going to spend your time working on stuff, then you're taking away from fundamentals and taking away stopping their five base plays and offensive rush and pass, and it's just a pain in the rear end.
So they have to work on the field goal and they have to work on this Aztec formation. There's a lot of reasons to do it. One is to get a big hit, which is we did, and the other is just to drive them nuts as far as what they have to prepare for. Those are the same issues we deal with. That's why I think college football is unique. I have talked to coaches who were maybe in the NFL, you don't see this kind of variety of stuff. I think the creativity in college football is real. you have two work days
Q. Is it all spent on preparing for the opponent or do you spend tie any time tweaking what you do?
Q. Just wanted to ask, going back to the California game from a year ago, the two long runs, did your defensive staff use those as maybe teaching moments or was that game maybe a moment where your defense began to evolve into what they are and what they are trying to be?
If you ask me, I can't tell you the defense, I can't tell you the play, but I'll just tell you it was very, very poor tackling and very poor leverage on the football. Those teams, if you watch our teams play right now, I think Luke and Everett have done a really admirable job teaching that and you can see a big difference.
Thanks, guys, have a great day.
Q. When you look at last year's Cal tape, I imagine as a defensive coach, probably not an easy thing to see. What were your impressions and how confident are you that you guys are beyond the problems that you had last year?
I think this offense is totally different than last year's offense. You know, I think Coach Dykes is more of the fast paced, get the ball out quick type offense, so we have to have a little bit different plan than last year's plan. So I think it's different, I mean, obviously I don't think we even looked at last year's tape.
Q. Along those lines, did you find yourself looking at a lot of previous stops, or are you more zoned in on the first two weeks or is there a balance between the two?
Obviously they have a young quarterback, so the young quarterback is probably not as immersed as the quarterback from LA Tech. He was pretty talented.
Q. With that in mind, they are averaging like 90 something plays a game, how do you prepare for that this week against a team that's going to run maybe 25, 30 more plays than y'all have been seeing0, unless they are designed, anyway.
Because when you run the teams like, this they really don't care what you lineup in a lot of times. They are just going to run plays. They are just running plays. Now if they see some kind of look they don't like, they will stop to the sideline to get a different play, especially with a young quarterback.
We get that a little bit from our offense, so that's helped us through camp and throughout the spring, so that helps us a lot with that. But I think just design in practice, so we can get those looks and be able to get our calls real fast. We have to be real simple in how we call it and just get lined up and play ball.
Q. What is it about their young quarterback, obviously leads the nation in passing right now, passing yardage and did you see them pile more on him this week than they did last week?
Q. Talk about Vonn Bell's progress, I know he's doing really well in special teams; do you feel good, with two starters that you can play, how close is the competition between Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell?
We'll probably need two stars this week to play. So the more reps we can get him, the better we'll be down the road, injury wise and depth wise overall. He's growing; he's growing in his spot. I think Tyvis is ahead of him by a ways.
Q. And the depth in general at safeties, nice luxury there, CJ misses the first game, you have guys like Ron you can stick in there; can you talk about the depth at safety?
Q. Speaking of Vonn Bell, your relationship with him was well documented in how you approached recruitment with knowing the people that are close to him and all that. When you talk about the entire scope of just how you guys have you seen the entire staff take that approach under Coach Meyer's guidance? How have you seen the staff grow?
Q. When a team will run a play a handful of times during a game like Cal does with their sort of jumbo wishbone, how much time can you spend preparing for something like that? Because they only do it a handful of times, and yet, it seems like they are counting on you being unfamiliar with it to sort of do something with it.
Q. How much time can you devote to in practice when it's something they only do a little bit?
Q. Playing with a freshman quarterback, does that allow you to be more aggressive than how you may call a defense, particularly up front and especially when you get guys like Roby and C.J. back to make you confident in the back end?
Q. There are some coaches out there who don't like this up tempo style of football. Do you think it's bad for the game
Q. Offensive guys like it.
I think it gets a lot of guys on the field offensively. It's good for the offensive game. It's good for recruiting, I'm sure, as far as skill guys. Defensively, part of the time, just like anything else, wishbone, you know, the run and shoot, now this; it will come back to two back, one back, pretty quick.
Q. Talk about the two starts in this game, are you going to be in the dime a lot?
Q. Do you like what you guys can do
Q.Obviously you're worried with this year and this offensive line, and what you guys are doing now, but knowing that you have four starters on the offensive line, what are you looking at in practice with the young guys who you're going to need down the line, and are you trying to get them in games whenever you can to get some experience for the backups early in the year, if you can?
So we have a plan in place to develop players, so that next year, the next wave of guys are ready to go, and so that plan is in place. But yeah, part of it is what we did in training camp, they have got a lot of work there and they get a lot of work in practice, too, because we rep the second unit quite a bit, and then I rotate them in the first unit during practice, as well.
So, yeah, there's a plan in place for player development and to get guys ready.
Q. As you guys looked at Kenny Guiton's game and stuff, did y'all skip a beat? Did y'all miss a beat with him in there? Give me a summation of what you guys saw as you looked at it offensively.
So at that point in time, playing against San Diego State, the key was just stick with the game plan, stick with what he's practiced, and know that if we need to make adjustments as we progress, he's a smart player and he understands and can make adjustments, but really, we didn't plan on changing anything.
And you even saw, I mean, Kenny had that long run; I mean, that was a play that obviously had been designed for Braxton and we still called it with Kenny and he broke it and scored.
So we didn't really change much in that regard. But yeah, he just brings yeah, there's a lot of confidence. You don't feel like all of a sudden half of the game plan page is eliminated because your second team quarterback goes in. We feel like that he's still very capable of executing just about everything on there. And obviously nobody is the same. We are not trying to say they are the same guy.
So there are certain plays you might stay away from, but 90 percent of that game plan is still in play when Kenny is in the game.
Q. They ran a 3 4 last year and have gone to a 4 3 this year, does that fit more what you guys like to see? Just talk about switching up and going against a different front this week.
But again, you do have to shift and you have to adjust, so they look like they are predominately going to be a four down front. I think our kids will have great confidence in how to block that, and so just go back to that just changes up a little bit for the offensive line fundamentals, blocking three man versus four man fronts so, that's something that we'll work on this week. It doesn't change a lot for other players outside the O line.
Q. You referenced the ability you've had maybe to build some depth; when you go back to when Corey has surgery, did you have any concern then about the time line for getting him back the decision to miss camp or early season games, how did you respond to that initially when it was laid out?
So I think we are right where we thought we would be at this point in time. But it does, you know, get some other guys involved in the process, more reps and so forth, because we monitored how much he did in the off season and how much he did in training camp to make sure.
Q. Has he been a guy who has been pressing to get ahead of schedule or coming out after 17 plays in the opener, for instance?
But we also had kind of a pitch count for him, and we knew what that pitch count was, and when he got to his number, we said, you know, what do we want to do here and we got him out of the game. And we put a good player in backing him up in Jacoby, so we are fine there.
Everything has progressed there fine and he's 100 percent, and had we needed to play him more than that in the first two games, we could have, but the situation was such that we didn't feel like we needed to and that we could move forward and not do that.
Q. Can you quantify how important Corey is to that offensive line? Urban has referred to him as the apex, being in that position
So he does that, and he does it very well. He's a very smart guy. Studies the game, understands conceptually what we're trying to do. So, you know, having him out there and his knowledge base and the fact that he's physically talented and a good football player; that combination, you know, it's great to have him. You know, so it just makes you feel like you know you're going to be on the right page.
Now, you know, in hindsight, Jacoby Borenis a 4.0 student here, and he's really smart, too, so he isn't putting us in the wrong calls or anything like that. He just didn't have quite as much experience.
Q. Has he continued to improve in what ways has he
The only thing that set back some of that progress has been battling through the injury and not working as much as you would like, because he's doing rehab. But you know, he's a very gifted player who, you know, gives us a great chance in the middle to open holes and run the ball inside. He's good at what he does.
And the players, you know, there's camaraderie amongst all those guys, because there's four seniors and he's been the apex and so they let him run the show up there. You don't have the other guys trying to tell him, no, no, no, and trying to override him and make the calls for him.
I mean, he's the head of the show and he runs the show and he does a good job of it, so it's good. So they like having him in there because they know that he'll put them on the right plan.
Q. You mentioned that Braxton and Kenny are not the same player; playing the same offense, how do the guys around them adjust? Do the offensive linemen have to adjust differently when Kenny is in there, because Braxton may do A, B or C; whereas, Kenny may do X, Y or Z?
I just think like anything, you know, when one of your marquis players goes down, the mentality of every guy that's on the field is, I've got to play just a little bit better. I've got to be a little bit more locked in, do a better job to help pick up any slack that may be there. And not that there is a lot of slack, you know what I mean. I'm not trying to insinuate that. What I'm saying is that everybody, when a good player goes down, has to pick up their game a little bit.
I just think that Kenny is so charismatic; he has leadership skills and guys like him, they are ecstatic to go out and block their butt off for him.
Q. How has the move of Billy Price to offensive line gone so far? I know talking to him in recruitment, he wanted to play D tackle, but he's playing O line, how's that going?
It's been real smooth. I mean, he's a natural there, just so we're clear on that. He's a real natural there. It's not like there's a lot of work to be done, just keep him our system and continue to get stronger and understand how to play at this level.
Q. In a perfect world, would you like to redshirt him so you could get two years between him and Jacoby at that position?
Q. Decker obviously was singled out a little bit in the opening game, had some problems. Last game he was quiet, which I assume was a good sign
You know, nerves, whatever, pressure, tried to play outside of himself. He looked more like what I saw in August in the second game, and he settled in and he played a solid game. You know, really was very productive.
So what he did against San Diego State is what we thought we would get out of him and hopefully he'll continue that trend. He bounced back he had a couple bad plays. He didn't play awful, but the problem is if you're a corner and if you get beat twice in 70 plays, that's a bad game. If you're a tackle and you get beat twice in 70 play, that's a bad game.
Hopefully everyone understands that, because when you get beat at tackle, the quarterback goes down on the ground. When you get beat at corner, it's a touchdown. That's the thing is he didn't play, you know, grade out at 50 percent in the first game. He had a few bad plays against a really good player.