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September 17, 2014

Dave Clawson

DAVE CLAWSON:¬† Just coming off the Utah State game, it was a very mistake‑prone first half.¬† We gave up three turnovers that led directly to 21 Utah State points, which really at the end of the game proves to be the big difference in the game.
Defensively overall I thought we played well, but we gave up some big plays, and we had a chance to get back in the game 29‑21, and then we gave up a five‑play, 75‑yard drive that really kind of took us out of it.
Offensively we continue to struggle.  We struggled in the first half.  In the third quarter we came to life a little bit and probably had our best drive and our best quarter of football of the year.  We're still struggling to run the football and get any offensive balance, and that's something we need to continue to work hard on and improve.
Now we're looking forward to playing I think a very improved Army football team.  Coach Monken has installed his brand of offense there, which combines some very traditional triple option concepts but also some spread concepts, so it's a very difficult preparation week, and defensively they zone blitz like crazy, which is going to put a lot of stress on our offensive line.  So we've got a great challenge ahead of us this week.

Q.  I want to ask you about your quarterback, John Wolford.  Just curious through three games, what are some of the things you've liked that he's done so far, and what are some of the things he can get better at?
DAVE CLAWSON:¬† Well, again, when we've given him time, he's proven to be very accurate.¬† I think he's very tough.¬† He has taken quite a bit of hits and it has not impacted his fundamentals a lot.¬† I think he still hangs in the pocket.¬† He still keeps his eyes down the field.¬† He certainly has shown the ability to buy time and make some plays with his feet.¬† Just from Saturday we got a little loose with the football, and if you lose the turnover margin, and again, it was 3‑3, but two of our turnovers we had a pick six and we had a fumble recovery they had for a touchdown, and the other pick led directly to a touchdown, so that's 21 points off of turnovers.¬† That's an area certainly we've got to get cleaned up.
We're certainly not explosive enough on offense that we can spot people 21 points.

Q.  What have you liked or disliked about his demeanor after some of these mistakes or big hits?  Obviously he's played very little college football so far.  How do you think he's responded?
DAVE CLAWSON:  I mean, he responds the way you'd want a competitor to respond.  He doesn't take that he's a freshman as an excuse.  He's upset he didn't play better at Utah State, but he's a competitor, and even in the fourth quarter, I thought he was continuing to play hard and do everything he could possibly do to try to move the football team.
We're putting way too much on him right now. ¬†We're one of the worst teams in the country right now at running the football.¬† Because of that, we're very one‑dimensional with a true freshman quarterback, and that is a tough recipe for success.¬† We've got to find ways to run the football and become more balanced and not put so much on our young quarterback.

Q.  Since you're playing Army this week, how do you feel about your run defense going into that game?
DAVE CLAWSON:¬† Well, overall I think we've done a pretty good job defending the run, but Army is certainly a very unique challenge.¬† The triple option stuff, and not only what they do but who they do it with, they really have some big, powerful backs.¬† Their fullback is probably, I think, 236.¬† Their two pitch backs are 210‑, 215‑, 220‑pound guys.¬† Their quarterback is a three‑year starter.¬† And it's not only the scheme but it's the personnel.¬† These guys are physical backs that can push the pile and break arm tackles.
Whenever you play a triple option team, it's always a tough week, and even more so when you get back from a trip on the West Coast.

Q.  I'm just curious, it's an odd situation that the two teams played last year so the players might have some familiarity, but both teams have new coaches and staffs.  Whose advantage is that?
DAVE CLAWSON:¬† Well, I think we're both‑‑ I don't know if it's either advantage.¬† If you look at both rosters, obviously we're both new coaches, so we have new systems installed, but we only have, I think, 10 or less than 10 starters back from last year's team, and Army is really in the same boat, so both teams last year were both senior‑heavy teams.¬† With the exception of their quarterback and their backfield, they've got a lot of new starters up front.¬† They've got a lot of new starters on defense, and we're playing with a lot of younger players, as well.
I think both teams right now are on a very steep learning curve with new coaches and young, inexperienced teams.

Q.¬† I was going to ask you about the running game.¬† Is that a function‑‑ have you got to find a back that can do it, or is it a function of what's happening up front?
DAVE CLAWSON:¬† Well, I think, number one, it starts up front, and right now it's been hard for us to even evaluate the play of our backs.¬† We just have not‑‑ we've given up a lot of penetration in the run game, and with a lot of our run schemes, you want to press the line of scrimmage, and we're not even getting to the point of pressing the line of scrimmage.¬† And then at times when we maybe do have it blocked correctly and we do have a seam, our vision and cut isn't what it should be.¬† Again, a lot of these problems aren't completely unexpected.¬† We graduated our starting tailback last year and the No.2 and the No.3 guy were dismissed from school the week before we got here.¬† At tailback right now we're playing a converted receiver, a true freshman and a converted tight end.¬† Again, they're getting better.¬† They're working hard, but it's certainly a work in progress, and we're nowhere close to where we need to be.

Q.¬† I wanted to ask you about the coaches using time‑outs sort of at the last second to ice the kicker right before the snap comes.¬† As a coach do you like that strategy?¬† Do you think it's something that can work?¬† Is it something you've employed, just your thoughts in general on it?
DAVE CLAWSON:¬† Well, a lot of times when it's a game‑winning game‑‑ sometimes I use the time out just to make sure that we have the exact block called that you want to have.¬† A lot of times with your PAT field goal blocks that you're very concerned with playing fakes and making sure you're sound against a fake or a roll‑out, and a lot of times when it's a last‑second kick and the kick can tie the game or win the game, you're a little less fake conscious, and that's not a block you work on as much.
I think sometimes you just want to make sure that you have the exact block called and everyone knows exactly what they're doing to execute it more so than just icing the kicker.
Sometimes you get a feel for the tempo of the game.¬† If they have‑‑ if they're rushed to do it, you don't want to help them and let them settle themselves, but if it's a normal play, I think you want to make sure that you give your players the best chance to execute a block.

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