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March 13, 2012

Dan Quinn

DAN QUINN:  It was good to have pro day here with the guys and be involved with them, as well.

Q.  What are your expectations for Damien Jacobs who comes in obviously older and experienced and can help you perhaps right away?
BRENT PEASE:  Yeah, the expectations for a guy who comes in as a junior college player, obviously they're coming in to provide a service where he can come in and play right away.  That's the thing we talked to him when we were recruiting, hey we want you to come in and compete and it's the SEC and at a place such as this, so the expectation for him is, number one, let's come in and learn the system and let's help your skills develop and see how far we can take your career and go from there.
My expectations going into the spring is let's learn the system and let's play with the technique that we want to do here.  The off‑season program is for him get stronger, get in shape, push it hard, get to know your teammates, and now as we get forward to spring practice, the next step for him is learning the system and playing within that system to play it really well.

Q.  How high a priority is upgrading the pass rush, and how much of that can happen schematically and how much just by having a bunch of guys who played last year back?
DAN QUINN:  In regards to pass rush, I think it's going to be both ways.  Some schematically related, some.  Is there going to be some different schemes in terms of pressure package and that kind of thing, absolutely.  And the next part of that, I think, will just be helping the players here improve, and that's really what our job is all about, and one of the parts that you really like about coaching, and certainly in college is helping the guys develop, and that's one of the things that I'm most looking forward to.
So through the spring, one of the first things you do with all the players is you make a profile tape of them.  Usually the things that you've done well, usually the things that you need to improve on, and here's the things we have to do in the off‑season to do it, and now through the off‑season, whether it's getting stronger, working technique, that kind of stuff, now as you're getting into practice you can really put it into motion.  So I'm anxious, we met with the guys yesterday, saying, okay, now, we've all talked about the things we need to improve on individually.  I've talked to them about the defense, about the things we want to improve, now let's go do it.  And certainly pass rush for a number of guys was something that's going to be really unique, all the different things that go into it.

Q.  Dan, how can you improve the turnover margin because it seems like so much of that is right place, right time and luck?
DAN QUINN:  Yeah, there's really two kinds of turnovers.  There's one that I'll call a conscious effort.  You strip the quarterback, you've got a big hit on the running back.  Then there's some that are just an unconscious effort; there was an overthrown ball, you picked it and you did.  We've got to do a much better job of the conscious effort, making a big emphasis on taking the ball away.
As coach had talked about, it's something that we address a lot.  So what did I do this off‑season that was an important part for me, to call some other clubs and say what are some of the things you're doing that you guys played so well to get the ball away.  I talked to the guys at San Francisco; they had a terrific turnover margin this year so important for me to reach out.  Are you doing anything different.  I got clips from really good TV copies of examples that were shown into practice.
We're given a points system for how we're doing for each forced fumble, each interception, each takeaway, and we use the term ball hawk, and those are guys that can get a rip or a strip, a batted ball or an interception.  We call them rips, strips, bats and picks, so it's kind of a culmination of things.  It's awareness for the players, and I emphasized it, and as Will said, if you can do the same thing you'll get the same results.  So we're going to challenge, do some different drills for it, and we're going to improve in that area.

Q.  One of the things that you talked about last year was you had to develop more push up the middle, be able to collapse the pocket and be able to stuff the run.  How has that improved?  And talk about how that will be emphasized in the spring.
DAN QUINN:  Sure.  When you talk about in the run game really stacking in the middle, and that's where you want to be really strong, whether you're playing in a 4‑3 defense or a 3‑4 defense.  Some of that is scheme related, okay, in this team we want to play some more 3‑4.  We'll play both this spring.  Pushing the pocket and trapping the quarterback in the pocket is something that you do as a four‑man rush, and it's something that we drill when we go against the offensive line.  We'll go their five against our four, put a quarterback back there, and we've got to keep the guy in the pocket.
There's drills that we're going to do this spring to help develop that.  It is a mindset and guys working together where you and I would work together to make sure this guy doesn't leave the pocket.  That teamwork is really what makes good defense, where the linebackers and the front and the secondary, they're all tied together.
That connection is something that I thought the team did a good job of as we went through of building that, and it was something going into this year, the trust factor is there.  We know what some of the guys can do, and now it's time for them to take a bigger step and go do it, so I'm looking to forward to getting started with it.

Q.  What are the challenges that Sharrif Floyd faces when you're playing end and tackle and shuffling between the two, and isn't it tempting to just leave him at tackle because that's where he's really suited probably?
DAN QUINN:  I think he does a good job.  In the run game, he's really effective at defensive end, as well.  One of the real challenges when you're playing two spots is just the learning of it.  At defensive end you'll have certain blocks that will come that won't happen at defensive tackle, and certain pressures that we'll have, you'll have a different responsibility as a tackle or as an end.  So sometimes there's some double learning in that way that you'll have to train at, so that's one of the real challenges for a guy when he plays two spots is just learning how to play two different positions.  In other words, it was like a tight end playing running back.  Some of the routes are different at running back than they would be at tight end if that would be a good analogy.

Q.  Can you talk about why you chose to stay here as opposed to when you were approached by the Bucks?
DAN QUINN:  Just kind of a personal philosophy.  I'd rather not touch on that publicly.  I'll just kind of leave it at that.

Q.  What are the expectations now for Matt Elam going into this year?  What do you expect him to be better at?
DAN QUINN:  One of the things in going through with Matt, I thought that he can improve on is tackling.  He's a very physical player, and we use him in run support.  We use him at nickel.  He's a good blitzer.  Those are one of the things ‑‑ he can really improve at taking the ball away.  He's got good ball skills to do it.  We're going to put him in that position at safety and at nickel, so to me as a safety you've got to be a really good tackler.  I think that's one of the areas of emphasis I wanted for him coming into the spring, and then just his attempts at the ball where he can get more interception, more rip attempts.
He's one of the guys, as you know, I've talked about Matt before, he can really be a ball hawk.  I think he's got all the right stuff about him to do that.  So this spring that's what I'm looking forward to seeing him do.

Q.  With pro day being here, what do you think Jon Bostic needs to do over the next 12 months to put himself in that conversation as a top draft pick?
DAN QUINN:  For me he's an every‑down linebacker, and one of the things that I think when you see as a linebacker how many knock‑back physical hits as an inside linebacker that you put on tape, and that's one of the things we addressed with him, just like we did all the guys.  What are some of the things that I need to see you do differently this fall, this spring, and for me his physical style of play was one that we're challenging Jon on, and I'm anxious to see what he's going to bring.  He has got a very high football IQ.  He runs well, and I'm anxious to see him take the next step as a player, and I think he'll do that.

Q.  Last year Will said this was a soft football team, questioned some of the mental and physical toughness.  What do you plan to do differently this spring to try to set a different tone for this season?
DAN QUINN:  I think the off‑season program was the first step in that, and that's what you're trying to do.  Let's face it, everybody in the country is talking about being a tough, physical team.  Who wouldn't want to be on a tough, physical team?  We all would be.  How do you put that into action?
And I think it starts in the weight room.  For me, the strength and conditioning program, a lot of people say, well, it's injury prevention.  There's something that you get accomplished when you go through a physical off‑season program that you come out the other end and you feel a little stronger, and you feel a little more ready to take on a different role on the field.  And then when you get out on the grass it's the competition, and I think that's one of the really exciting things about coaching at a place like here that there's some really good competition on the other side of the ball.
I think you gain something from that as a player when you have to go against a certain player, whether it's covering him or taking him on at the line of scrimmage or in that physical element.  So that's one of the things that I'm looking forward to is competition going forward into spring practice.

Q.  Getting back to the turnovers, could that have been a result of it's the first year and the guys are kind of worrying about not blowing their assignment maybe?
DAN QUINN:  You know, I thought of that, as well, and thought, okay, are we just worried about‑‑ which is an important part of football.  But I really stressed to the guys, hey, this is a part of our game, and it's an important part of our game, just like affecting the quarterback is, taking the ball is part of our defense.  So as we're moving forward, I kind of felt that way, as well, but I really think, hey, it's all‑encompassing.  It's part of our program.  It's how we do our business here on defense, so it has to be part of what we do well.  And I think there's some things on defense that we do do well, and that this year was not one of them.
So that to me has been a huge emphasis going into this spring, and I'm looking forward to seeing that tide turn to where now, okay, we're playing good, solid, technical, fundamental hard‑nosed football and we're taking the ball away.

Q.  In other words, if you did try and strip the ball you blew your assignment?
DAN QUINN:  Yeah, I didn't want it to be where we were going off the ball and just doing your own deal, but I want to play just really good fundamental football, and then when I get a chance to get the ball, I'm doing that, as well, if that makes sense.

Q.  When you look at the film last year, you guys finished ninth nationally, total defense, and most‑‑ I guess most people would say it was a good defense but not a great defense.  What are the one or two things that maybe have to go into taking that next step to becoming a truly elite defense?
DAN QUINN:  Yeah, and I think that's the real challenge, to say how do we go from here to take the next step, and one is going to be takeaways, where we're getting more opportunities to give the ball back, where we have an intimidating style of play, where we're taking the ball away and you're playing an aggressive style to give the ball back to the offense.  It kind of sets the tone of the offense, hey, these guys on defense, they fly around, they get the ball off you.  That's one.
And the second element for us is creating more big plays where we can affect the quarterback better, and to me those are the two things that I want to do a better job of this spring, and that'll hopefully lead into the season for us is taking the ball away and the style that we do it in and affecting the quarterback more.

Q.  How do you get them‑‑ you keep mentioning the word intimidating.  How do you get these guys to become an intimidating unit?
DAN QUINN:  I try to just show the example that we're doing it.  One of the things I've said to the players, just being through some draft meetings through the year, there's a term called, for scouts, traits.  This guy has traits of a good player.  There's flashes.  Okay, you can kind of picture what it would sound like.  There's a player who shows traits of doing some things really good some of the time.  Well, when you start doing it all the time, that becomes your style.  And I think that's one of the things I mentioned to some of the players and to our defense.  We had traits of doing some things good.  Well, traits is a dangerous word to me as a coach who is evaluating those players saying, all right I want to see players who have that as a style, and to me that's one of the real things.  We've shown some traits of some good football.  Now that has to be our style and what we're about, that aggressive, fundamental hard‑nosed defense that we want to put on tape.

Q.  Coach said he needs to see more out of Earl Okine.  I'm wondering, what do you think will get him over that hump to become a great player, when he starts doing what?
DAN QUINN:  I think when he starts doing it on a consistent basis.  You know, just kind of like I used the word traits, there's times when Earl can flash some really good things, so consistency over time, doing it right over and over again, that's one of the things you're looking for as a coach as a guy you can trust to say here's how he's going to do it and you can count on that every day of the week.  And to me that was a guy like Willie Green, who just you could count on him to do it right.  And I thought, here's a really good example of a guy who when we talked last year some people played two positions, he started some games this year at defensive end, he started a Bowl game at linebacker, he worked out at two positions today, and that's a guy who hopefully will have a chance to move on and certainly helped himself by playing two positions, being more valuable where he had a bigger role to sell for himself.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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