Press Conference Transcript, Oct. 14
Oct. 14, 2013
An Interview With: Coach Meyer, Coach Withers & Coach Drayton
COACH MEYER: Quick comments. I think I did not give you our against Northwestern, Joey Bosa was defensive player of the game. Mike Bennett graded at champion. That's all we had on defense. On offense, Marcus Hall was a champion. Andrew Norwell graded out as champion; Jeff Heuerman at tight end, and three receivers again, Evan Spencer, Devin Smith and Philly Brown. Player of the Week was Carlos Hyde. Bradley Roby was special teams player of week, and I think we had some all conference awards with those guys.
We had a bye week. I think we managed it well. Once again, I evaluate that every year on how we do after bye weeks and we gave them some rest, six tough games back to back night games, back to back primetime games against ranked opponents. I told them we would take care of them if they won, and they did a good job.
So now the issue is, we went Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday last week. They were in at 7:00 AM this morning for meetings and we go Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday this week in pads. So that's our plan.
And a very good Iowa defense. Just because I don't know a whole lot about Iowa other than I did coach against them in a Bowl game awhile back and they are the same as they have always been on defense, real stout, real firm against the run. I believe they have not given up a rushing touchdown, I read that somewhere, and I can see that they are very good. So just a big game.
Q. You've never had a running back go over a thousand yards but Carlos was real close last year and what if he didn't miss three games
COACH MEYER: I'm tired of hearing that, man.
Q. I know you are. And it looks like he's on pace this year despite missing three games.
Q. Is it a change in philosophy from your earlier coaching days?
If someone wants to question whether we run the ball effectively, I think we fairly, over, what was it, 12 years, you know, we run the ball really well. Just in recruiting and all that other nonsense, we can't anticipate guys missing games for whatever reason. Average per carry, would I like to think we are always in the top, certainly in the conference on average per carry. So thanks for bringing that up today (Laughter).
Q. You've had quarterbacks go over a thousand
Q. You've had quarterbacks go over a thousand yards. Is it safe to say you adjust
Q. So Braxton is the only one?
Q. And so you adjust to your personnel is that the best way to classify?
I think there's no doubt, I love having big backs. It's finding them and making sure that they are powerful, fast guys and we got one with Carlos.
Q. Halfway through the regular season, just what's your sense of where this team is, as far as what your expectations are, what's left ahead of it?
I mean, those are we've got to find a way to win this Saturday, and it's not easy. We've been in here for two weeks trying to figure out how to run the ball against this defense. They are Top 10 in scoring defense, or I think Top 10 in rushing defense and very good players and all that.
I think water cooler talk and good conversation is, where are you, how is it going, what's the future look like wait a minute, we have a really good practice today and some people laugh when I say that stuff but the mind set is that I like this team, I really do. They are good people and they are guys that play hard, I love the fact that the emotion that I see in the locker room; at times, very relatively minor, minor issues I'm dealing with. I really like this team.
Where are we? I don't know. We are 6 0 and doing the best we can to get first downs and stop people. And I can feel sometimes pressure mounting on players when you streak; you start hearing about streaks, you start hearing about that. And it's my job as a coach and our coaching staff is it's all about today. There's some teams that do an incredible job of that.
I think Oregon does an incredible job of this tight end got in trouble and left or something and next guy up, go play, he's gone. And I think that's every coach's focus is just get to the next day.
Q. You spoke so glowingly about last year's seniors and their leadership. How is this team's leadership?
But, you know, I'm not saying it's great yet because they are still only halfway home, but through the first half the season, they have done a very nice job. There's good chemistry, good alignment and good leadership right now.
Q. Coming off byes, you've been very successful, is there anything you can pinpoint as to why that success has happened?
Q. You've said you've watched film some games on Saturday, how much football did you see? Who did you see, and as a coach, do you start at this point when you do have a bye, thinking about where you stack up nationally as you sit there on Saturdays?
Q. When Ryan Shazier came up with the idea to switch a couple weeks ago, did he come up to? How does that work?
Ryan, he's one of the most incredible young men I've always been around and he's been raised that way, too, he's got a really wonderful family. When Ryan comes to me like that, I'm like, settle down, what's the best thing to do and how does it affect our numbers and all those things.
Ryan, that's one of about 50 ideas he always comes up with, but it's all pure you know, pure ideas and caring in its pure form, which is kind of cool.
Q. What's your situation with Jordan Hall in particular?
Q. You mentioned last week, almost like you're trying to get Dontre Wilson to push through, I don't know if it's a freshman hump but you want more from him. Where are you at with that in the bye week; did you come up with anything? And how much of that relates to the whole team sort of pushing through this middle of the season and pushing on?
There's other ways that we can be creative in getting him involved and not necessarily say, by the way, when he's in, we're handing the ball on a stretch play or running a wheel route. That's kind of what he's been doing. So we are working hard, because he deserves to play, works hard. You know, this time next year, he's going to be a rocked up, 350 pound benching guy, we hope. So that's what he's not, yet.
So there's a blocking and Kenny running inside zone, sure. Is he great at it? Probably not because he's not big and strong at yet so those are the areas everybody uses that Percy Harvin term, that Percy was a 400 pound benching guy that when he blocked you, he blocked you.
So that's where we have to get with him. And the answer to your question, we did work really hard on that last week and it's still in progress.
Q. I know punt return coverage is something you've been very proud of this year. This week you go up against the player statistically best in the nation in punt return. Wondering what has made Martin Manley successful there?
But they are a hold up team, and not to get too much detail, but you asked, they drop people back and they get some double teams on your guys running down the field. So there's two ways of returning punts, we don't do it we come after people, we give the appearance we are coming after people and then lock on; they don't do that. They drop back and try to get double teamed. It's a very good scheme but it's a return scheme, does that make sense? And a very good player.
Q. Don't be afraid of too much detail. I'm wondering, too, you've talked about how your best teams play like they have had something taken from them. Does this team have that chip on their shoulder?
Q. Before you clicked back on Saturday, how did you feel like your team stacked up with the teams you were seeing?
And every once in awhile you play football against a very well prepared team and they take away from of the explosiveness and that's what happens. It's not necessarily what they did, what Clemson did wrong; it's what Boston College did right and we run into the same things, scholarships, too, very good players and well coached teams. That's something I want to be if I had to grade us, we are not explosive from first to fourth quarter.
Q. Braxton Miller, what did y'all address with him from the standpoint of hanging onto the ball last week, do you think you got the message across obviously it was only a couple times but they can be huge.
Q. Pass defense was alarming going into last week because you said coming out, what have you all addressed specifically with those guys, because clearly the pass rush seems to be getting better and I don't know if it is or not, but what did y'all address?
We really spend a lot of energy and focus on the run game, and stopping the run game; and my challenge to them is without sacrificing that, how do we get that same focus into stopping the pass game and last week we did several things that we are going to continue this week.
Q. Playing Kenny in games how much do you still is that still on the table?
Quarterback is a very complicated position, especially how and when do you pull them out and when do you put them back in, those type of things. So he's on call, ready to go.
The wonderful thing is that I don't have Uncle Kenny coming into to see me all the time asking me why he's not playing. So a lot of respect for Kenny and his family, the way he's handling our situation. Are we handling it right? I don't know. I mean, I'm sure we'll be judged on that every week.
Q. When you mentioned complicated, is any part of it like Braxton is not used to getting taken out he's never
Q. Another Braxton related question. How did you manage him during the off week, maybe less reps in practice, anything like that? Just if further moving along the healing process?
Q. I apologize for interrupting, I just wanted to clarify on Curtis Grant, obviously you've said very difficult situation, is there any inclination as you sit here today, will he be back this week, is he hoping to play?
Q. Talk about the balance that you have to walk between being aggressive but not wanting to give up big plays, I'm sure it's a tough balance that you have to walk. Can you talk about that a little bit?
So you have to be smart, you have to have a plan, and obviously if you're blitzing and you want to blitz, you don't expect them to pick it up or backs protect so they can hurt your secondary. So that's part of the plan of going in and blitzing; do you blitz on the early downs; do you blitz on third down. So there's a lot that goes into it.
Q. You seemed to mix it up, against Northwestern, you played some soft coverage but Grant had his game changing interception, so how often do you guys feel like you mix up your coverage within a game?
But yeah, that was a game changing play because we were in press and they weren't expecting us to be in press and threw the ball out there. So, yeah, you'd like to be able to do it a lot.
Q. With that in mind, do you think y'all are a good press coverage team when you look at it? Is that when y'all are at your best?
We would like to continue to improve on press and be a good press team. But again, if you're pressing in three deep is different than pressing in cover one or blitzing. It's a total different deal.
Q. After looked like he dropped into deep third or something, what was going on there? C.J. rolled in and stuff and they popped a play, I guess my point is, what did y'all work on this past week to sort of tighten those kind of things up or what was sort of the emphasis?
Q. Do you think last week, do you think your guys have sort of gotten kind of shored things up they needed to get fixed? What's your feeling going into this week?
We have got to shore up trigger and tackle. That's what we're working on, trigger and tackle. The coverages are what they are. When you're playing three deep, the outcuts, a lot of times are going to be there, and now you have to tackle them so that's probably the biggest thing we worked on is trigger and tackle this week.
Hopefully it continues to get better. But he's a senior. He's played a lot of snaps. He understands that role at strong safety. So it gives us the opportunity to play a guy with some experience.
Q. If you can just kind of put on your co defensive coordinator hat, at the start of the season, the perception was the secondary would be the strength, front seven is very young. Seems like the defensive line in particular has played very well, the secondary struggled. What's your take on the overall defense?
So in that ballgame, you saw a lot of seven guys in the box, when they had two backs, eight guys in the box, which puts a lot of pressure on the corners, especially those guys, especially those guys.
So I think our philosophy is obviously stop the run, you know and knowing what the issues are on the outside part. Now, do we want to play some more man to man, yes, we want to continue to play more man to man. That's going to help those corners I think take away some of those short throws because we can go get up on them and cover them a little tighter.
I don't think there's anything about weakness I just think we've got to tackle better. We've got to trigger better in three deep zone and continue to press more, cover tighter coverage on the outside, don't give up seams down the middle. The ball is not being thrown particularly down the middle. It's really from the hash out, so we just have to tighten ourselves up a little bit.
Q. This time last year after the Indiana game you had the refocus or whatever the word is; how do you feel about the defense now compared to then?
The key is first and second down. We are a really good third down team, one of the best in the country, I believe. And first and second down, that's where people are trying to make their money against us throwing the football and we have to continue to get better on first and second down.
Q. Iowa is balanced with running and passing, can you talk about what they do and what you have to do to stop them?
So that's what he does and it doesn't changed and it hasn't changed. So we have to stop the run, the zone run game. We have backs that are capable, hard runners, tough physical offensive line.
So we have got to stop that, and then we have got to be good obviously on first and second down with the play action pass, and the quick game. They throw a lot of quick game passes on first down.
Q. You've won 18 in a row; does that mount at all, that pressure to maintain that?
Q. Talk about their running game in particular, the Weisman kid seems to be a tough, hard running guy. What have you seen from him on video that stands out about him?
You know, the key is, when you're a good offensive line and you're running and you're pushing those defensive linemen, that ball can get to that second level in a hurry if somebody doesn't fit a gap properly and now you have issues of a big back in the secondary.
Those are the things that obviously we have to be we have to build a wall in the run game and make him stop his feet so we can get the back side pursuit there.
Q. Watching video of him talk about just him particularly, is there like an "I don't want to quit" mentality there
So yeah, I think it is. I think the running back typifies what the staff is; he's a tough kid and a tough runner.
Q. How much confidence does it I didn't have your running backs to run behind that offensive line and what is that offensive line doing so well right now?
Just really forces that running back not to worry about first level of the defense, just trust that their players are going to get their job done, and now they can kind of just read through that first legal and kind of take a peek and see what's going on at the second and third level of defense.
Any time you're able to do that as a running back, it allows you to anticipate your reads a lot quicker, and it doesn't happen unless you have that confidence in your offensive line, so that is why we are getting the explosives and the nice chunks of yards right now in the run game is purely because of the offensive line. So it's been phenomenal for us this year.
Q. When you studied them, is there something they are doing in particular that's really good, and especially playing a very good run defense this week?
So they are just rocking off the ball, very confident in their targets, and once they get engaged, they are moving people, and that is a great formula for productive running.
Q. Carlos running with the scout team what was the benefit on or off the field for him going through that work?
But things are not very clean, so now you're forced to really enhance the skill set of playing on contact, playing through contact, spinning off of things, and you know, staying true to your footwork and your landmark. For that, it is a positive. It is a negative in some respects, too, because it's not clean most of the time. You get a back that comes back to a starting offensive line that sometimes he's hesitant; he doesn't quite have the timing together.
But Carlos Hyde, having played with this offensive line for the last couple of years, he knows them and they know each other inside out. He was able to make that adjustment from the scout team back over to that starting team, and get a rhythm rather quickly.
But I think mentally, it was an unbelievable advantage for him, because No. 1, being a starting tailback a year ago and having to play a backup role and a service role to this football team on the scout team made him hungry, made him extremely hungry; made him not take for granted the opportunities that he has in front of him. So that was the biggest lesson, I believe, for Carlos.
Q. We were talking with Tom Herman last week and I asked him what's one of the things y'all want to get better at offensively during the break, and he said one of the things y'all have studied is you're a better team when you're hitting receivers on the run as opposed to maybe some of the hitches and bubble screens y'all have been doing. How much did y'all work on that and what do you see coming out of that, maybe sort of more of an emphasis on hitting guys on the run?
Iowa does a phenomenal job of playing great discipline defense. We know where they are going to get lined up, but we are going to have to be very, very smart on running our receivers through their zones because they are a very physical football team. But usually you get the receivers on the move a lot more versus teams that play man coverage when you're trying to separate and create some space and things of that sort.
Wisconsin does Iowa does that a little bit, so it was just really calling the right play at the right time, and, you know, but we are going to practice that, because our receivers are at their best when they can catch another move no doubt.
Q. You are our offensive expert this week we get to talk to. What are you doing best on offense now do you think, halfway through the season?
Everybody is focused in on doing their job and their job has a major effect on the success of a football play, and nobody is sitting there worried about another man's responsibility within that play right now, and because of that, we are playing fast; when one dimension of our offense gets taken away, the next steps up strong. It's just a trust factor that we have for one another right now and that's what has got us with a good rhythm right now.
Q. When you're playing against a team that's Top 10 in defense against the rush, do you guys take that as a challenge that this is somebody that you really have to be at your best against?
So, you know, we are a football team that likes to run the football. We like to think that we have an offensive line that presents that to us.
So to sit there and say that we are going to go into this football game and not run the ball because Iowa is pretty good at it is not real. We are going to run the football and we are going to trust our offensive line to get engaged. We are going to trust our running backs to play through contact, and, you know, we'll win some and we'll lose some. We just have to maintain patience in that phase of the offensive scheme.
Q. Following to an earlier question, what are some things midpoint of season that you have to do better now on offense?
So those are things we need to continue to improve on is we feel as though we still need to continue on throwing the ball a little bit better. I just think we need to complement this entire team a little bit better as an offense.
I think there are times where we are clicking on offense and that's good, and it may or may not be the case on the other side of the ball, and what is it that we have to do as an offense to support the other two phases of our team, you know and those are things that you figure out and you don't quite have a pinpointed answer; it changes from week to week.
Those are things that I know Coach Meyer is constantly looking at the big picture and how does the offense better serve the defense; how does the defense better serve the offense, and special teams is in the mix, as well. Those are things that we are constantly trying to figure out and constantly trying to improve upon.
Q. I don't know if you would agree with the premise based on what you've said, this offense has been a passing offense one week, you've been able to pound the ball, is it tough to adjust the identity, especially for running backs, when you go from a game like north western where you guys were pounding the ball to maybe this week where you might have to throw it?
It's a whole part philosophy. So we teach them the big picture, okay, and my veteran backs can pretty much right now sit there and look at film, which I'm sure they are today and they are looking to see what the system of Iowa's defense is.
And they are going to see those big defensive linemen doing well at junction point two gap and they are going to see linebackers flowing to the ball really well and they are going to see safeties supporting the run, and they are going to know this those situations, we are going to have to take some shots and throw the ball down the field and they are going to see where there's some times where there's great opportunities to run the football.
We try to teach them that on the front end. I would honestly say the veterans probably get it, they understand what it is we need to do at given times. The younger guys probably have absolutely no clue. But that's why we get paid as coaches. We try to put our players in the best situation possible and we take control of that and we've got the trust of our football players right now.
Q. Can you shed more light on Jordan Hall's situation?
So we took a week off, we gained a week with the bye week, which is a bonus. He's feeling much better right now, and we have plans for him to practice this week.