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September 11, 2012

Tommy Tuberville

COACH TUBERVILLE:  Little bit about last week's game.  I thought we made a lot of strides in some areas, especially offensive line.  Our two red shirt freshmen guards really played well.  Made a couple of mental mistakes, but it was good to get them on the road and let them understand what they're getting into when they travel.
I thought the entire offense really focused well.  We caught the ball well.  We threw it well.  We had good balance.  We went into the game going to open it up.  Tried to make them loosen up on the defensive side of the ball when we caught some deep balls.  We forced some pass interferences which we'll hope to get.  It's all about technique, running routes, pass interference.
We'll also be able to catch the ball as Darrin did.  He made a textbook catch in the end zone where he used his big body frame and pressed up against the defensive back and made the catch.
Offensively we made some huge strides.  Defensively a little bit more balance.  We came down to reality knowing we had to stop the option and we had to adjust and switch gears and play a better throw being quarterback, more of a wide open offense.  I thought we adjusted well.  We made plays.  We didn't get off the field as much as we wanted to or as quickly as we wanted to in the second quarter, but the adjustments were very good with Art Kaufman and John Lovett at halftime in terms of how we adjusted our pass defense to get us off the field.  We didn't give up much yardage the second half.  But it was good to see us do that.
Now we're to the point where we have to know we're going to take more baby steps than giant leaps in a lot of areas.  The baby steps being focus, understanding that the only way we're going to get better now as we get into each week is technique.  There are some rough areas of technique in the game that we've got to get better at.  We're not going to play much harder than what we played.  The focus is going to be probably pretty much the same.  We're very worried about this game going in, in terms of playing a team that's been pretty good the last few years.
So now we've got to really focus on technique and try to work on depth.  Not just the first and second teamers, but some of the third teamers that might have to play as we get down the stretch.
Players of the game:  Defensive scout player of the game was Brandon Bagley.  Young kid that came in this year, junior college transfer that did a great job playing corner.  Offensive scout player of the game was Keenon Ward from Snyder.  Quarterback there last year, now playing defensive back.  But we played him in an option quarterback position.  He'll do the same thing this week.
Special teams player of the game was Ryan Bustin, five field goals or field goals, a 50‑yarder, which was his personal best, and 7 made extra points.
Cody Davis, defensive player of the game.  51 plays, 96%, 7 tackles and an interception for a T.D., which was obviously the turning point of the game.  And the offensive player of the game, 25 out of 32, 319 yards, 5 T.D.s, Seth Doege.
We had a lot of good individual performances.  It was good to see that we go on the road, and we leave the most productive guy at home for us the last seven, eight games going back to last year.  Eric Ward doesn't even make the trip.  He doesn't practice and we don't miss a beat.  It's good to see Tyson Williams playing, making some plays.
A lot of other receivers, all three running backs continue to get better.¬† Eric breaking that long run was good, and then we made another 99‑yard drive which builds confidence.¬† All of our special teams, we're a little inconsistent in some areas, but we'll even get better there.¬† There is a lot of room for improvement in some of the coverage areas.¬† Our kickoff guy wasn't at his best.¬† We didn't have one kick of all the kicks that was a touchback, and that's big in terms of guys having to run down all the time and getting a lot of contact.¬† We need a few of those kickoffs to go in the end zone to be touchbacks.
We'll continue to beat these guys up, but overall, it's a good week, made a lot of progress.  We have to get back to work playing a team that we played the last two years.  Different coach though.  They're much improved.  Watched them on film against Texas.  They moved up the field, just couldn't get it across the goal line.  Kind of reminded me of us down in Texas.  Made a lot of yards.  Shoot, had the ball almost the entire first half, but just couldn't score.
Did have a couple of injuries.¬† Don't know how those stack up, but it's fortunate for us that we played Texas State and NewMexico back‑to‑back because they're very similar in terms of option.¬† So there will be a lot of carryover for the defense.
On their defense, little similar.  They play a lot more zone than what we saw last week, so we'll have to switch gears.  Do a few different things, be able to run and throw the ball.  Each week it will be more about us than the team that we're playing.  We've just got to get better and understand that there is a lot of room for improvement and keep her focused.  Lot of young guys playing.  Some different guys each week.  I would project that there's going to be different heros each week in this offense because of the different players that we're playing.
Right now we have four wide receivers, and three deep at each one of those, and they're all competing to get on the field, and that makes for a better football team.

Q.  The status of Cornelius Douglas?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  He pulled an abdomen muscle.  He won't play this week.  We'll hold him out.  He actually did it most of it in practice last week.  He could go if we felt like we're playing a team that's going to throw the ball a lot.  But we're playing another running team, so we need to get him and get him healthy.  I don't even know whether he'll dress out this week, but he stayed in the training room the last two days.  He should be ready to go soon.

Q.  Kennard?
COACH TUBERVILLE:¬† Kennard, groin injury.¬† He's day‑to‑day.¬† Again, to play receiver for us, we have the ability now to say you've got to be full speed, ready to go, practice every day with the depth that we have.¬† So it would be unlikely that he would play.¬† Now whether he could or not, that's going to be a question.
But it's not the importance in terms of there's going to be a guy in front of you or three guys in front of you that are healthy, ready to go.  So that's the beauty of starting to build depth is build competition.  You know if they want to play they have to get out there in practice to get better.

Q.  What have you noticed differently about the defense?  Is it the confidence, simpleization, experience, combination of all three?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  I think most of it, we have experience in some spots.  We have some depth, but I think it's confidence.  You play defense, number one.  You just get lined up to understand your responsibility you can play a lot harder.  We have more speed, but we're using our speed a lot more than what we did last year because there is less confusion.
Last week was a confusing week.  We would get in practice, and we actually practiced in sections.  We'd take an offensive formation and personnel setting and practice against that for five or ten minutes.  Then we'd take another formation and practice against it, because they run so many different substitution groupings with back field sets, movements, motions before the ball, walking tight end.  If we're ever going to get confused, that was going to be it.
I thought we handled it pretty good.  First drive was a little shaky.  It's always a first drive in a game knowing we're going to see something different which we did.  In practice you've got to communicate well on how they're attacking you, which side, how the tight ends block and all these little things.  Our guys are learning how to communicate that to other players.
But it was good to see that after we ran the reverse and fumbled it, our defense has to go out there in a tough situation that made a first down and got down to about the 20‑yard line.¬† Then somebody makes a play.¬† We made two interceptions in this game.¬† Should have had three.¬† Eugene Neboh dropped one right in his hands, and we only had five all last year.
So it just goes to show you we're getting in the right position.  But the whole thing about defense is don't be confused, get lined up and play, and that's pretty much what Art Kaufman's trying to get these guys to do.

Q.  Do you feel like playing longer than 25 yards, you said you guys were in a position.  Are you still able to see spots on film where you think, well, if you're playing a Big 12 team they might have broken a bigger play?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Oh, yeah.  There are a couple times last week they had a vertical route where they had a guy open and couldn't get to him.  Your best pass defense goes back to one thing.  It's pass rush.  We're a little better in pass rush than we were last year because we can keep guys fresher.  But there are some situations that we have to improve on.
We had a problem with that route that they scored on all week against Sam Eguavoen.  He had a problem with that route all week.  Keenon Ward completed it a couple times in practice, and sure enough they ran it in a game and got it in the game.  So it's just the recognition again.  Just getting lined up and understanding what you're getting into and what you've got to focus on.  And that's probably good for us to see.  We didn't execute in practice, and we didn't execute in the game.

Q.  Where does Seth rank in terms of quarterbacks you've had in regards to his ability to throw the fade route?  That is a big weapon for you guys and something he continues to get better at.  What are your thoughts on how well he's been able to affect that in the red zone?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  He's got great touch on the ball, we throw a lot of balls and he's worked with his receivers.  He's got guys that can jump too.  But I've been around some pretty good guys that can throw the fade route.  The fade route started in the '80s where people started to run two deep zones, outside, released on the corner, and tried to run away from the safety that's coming over the top.
We used to run it a lot at Miami with Vinny Testaverde.¬† He was about as good as I've seen throwing it.¬† And you have to have touch.¬† You've got to sometimes understand, too, how to throw it.¬† Who the receiver is.¬† Who the safety is.¬† Do you B‑line it or do you lob it?
There is another throw that Seth's very good at is throwing the back shoulder fade route.  So there are a lot of different fades now.  But he's good at it.  Again, those are things that you have to practice.  And you have to practice with everybody.  The difficult part for Seth this year as we just talked about, we have four receiver positions, and we have three guys in each one of those, and they're all different sizes.  They're all different quickness and speeds, so he's got to know who he's throwing to.  So he'll have to make a lot of adjustments depending on the grouping in the game.  But he's done very well with that the first two games that we've been in.

Q.  Going back to defense, how has that affected you?
COACH TUBERVILLE:¬† Bruce Jones will be starter, who we played last week.¬† Bruce played most of the game.¬† He's got a lot of quickness.¬† He's a 40‑inch vertical jump guy.¬† Not the tallest guy on the field, but he's got speed and quickness.¬† He's a junior college transfer that's played more than some of the other guys, but we've got Jarvis Phillips, Derrick Mays, we've got some guys now that have played, and I'm saying he's going to start.¬† Just depends on how he practices this week.
Coach Lovett's going to play the guy that's most focused and what's going on.  He's not started for us, so he can handle that kind of pressure going into a game where he's going to be singled up quite a bit because we're seeing an option team.  But it's good that we've got some options to go to.

Q.  You've seen him two weeks in a row, but because it's such an oddity in today's game, can you talk about defending the option?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, it's different because it's assignment football.  It slows you down.  On the snap of the ball, you're not attacking the line of scrimmage much.  You've got to work more lateral, depending on what the guy in front of you does.  You've got the fullback coming through first, and you've got quarterback, and you've got the pitch guy.  So it makes you think a lot more.
Some teams you can lineup and just attack the guy in front of you, use your hands, get off the block, and you're the pass rusher trying to make the play.  Well, the option really they just try to dictate what you can do.  You have to understand why NewMexico went to it.  You're building your team back.  Coach Davie is going in and looking at the best scenario of what they can do to control the ball.
For instance, you go to Austin, and the main thing is keep the other team off the field.¬† They can't score a lot of points.¬† They did a good job that first half.¬† I think it was maybe 17‑0 at halftime, and they knocked on the door a couple of times.¬† So it gives yourself a better chance sometimes when you don't have the type of athletes that you might be needing to run an offense that you might want to.
But they're good at it.  They've gotten better.  I know their quarterback got hurt.  I don't know his status, so we'll prepare to play.  We've played against him the last two years.  We know who he is, and we'll prepare mainly for the formations is what you do.  You prepare for formations.  You prepare for all the shifts and motions and try not to get out of position.  Because what they do is try to get you outnumbered, out of position, and get an angle on you when they're running the option.  A lot of people have had success with it over the years.  Of course, as I said earlier, it's probably good that we're seeing it two weeks in a row where we can kind of have a little carryover.

Q.  What is it that Coach Davie has brought to that team that they haven't had?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  He brings experience.  There is nothing like the experience of being a head coach and understanding how to build a program, set a program up, recruit, hire coaches.  He's hired some good coaches.  Some guys that are really going to help his team.  He had a lot of guys leave the team when he got there, a lot of players.  That usually happens when you have coaching changeovers because of personalities and philosophies.  But he understands.  It's not like bringing a guy in that's never been a head coach before just looking around at what do I do next?  He understands how to get the guys ready.  He won the first game by a lot of points.  There is a lot more excitement there.
Watching the film this year and watching films we've seen in the past, there wasn't a lot of confidence going on.  But you can tell these guys are having fun.  They lost last week.  They knew it was going to be an uphill battle.  But they did battle them, made a lot of plays and kept themselves in the ballgame a lot longer than probably what a lot of people give them credit for.

Q.  Could you imagine being out of the game for over a decade and then coming back to a program that had obviously hit rock bottom?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Well, you never know what it's like until you've done it.  I talked to him last year after they started spring practice and stuff.  There were a lot of holes he was trying to fill.  But coaching is coaching.  He stayed involved in it, even though he hadn't been coaching, he's been around it and being an a announcer and traveling and talking football.  So it's like riding a bicycle.
Coaching gets in your blood.  I'm sure that's the reason he wanted to get back into it.  I actually took his job at Texas A&M when he left there and went to Notre Dame with Lou Holtz back in 1994.  I took his place as defensive coordinator at A&M, so I've known Bob a long time.  He's a good coach, and he'll do a good job there.  He knows he's got his hands full in recruiting as we all do, and getting your philosophy built.

Q.  Coach, do you sense your team is having fun?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, I noticed before the game I had guys walking around with a look on their eyes of having fun and shaking each other's hands before the game.  Usually when you've got a young team like this, everybody's kind of watching out for yourself, kind of nervous.  Am I going to do the right things?  You had Jason Marrow walking around and talking to the offensive line.  I noticed other guys vocal in the dressing room.  You have to have all of that.  You have to have your leadership within, a sense of pride.  A lot of people have got these kids upset because they were predicted to lose this game, which we rightly could have lost the game.
They could have taken offense because of how the game went last year and how we were playing.  It's not like we didn't think we had a decent football team, so it was good that they showed a little pride of, hey, we're going to prove to people we're a little better than what they think we are.  So I think they made a point.
It was good to see we came out strong early instead of easing into it like we normally do.  So a lot of lessons learned.  To answer your questions, they are having a lot of fun.  Practice is never fun, but they try to make it as fun as they can.  They understand what they've got to do to get better.

Q.  Confidence is a good thing, real good thing.  But there is an edge sometimes they get too confident before they've really faced the stiffest test.  How do you regulate that?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Well, what we do is we don't just show positive, we show the negative.  We did a lot of things wrong in this game.  A lot of individuals did something wrong, made a mistake, running a right route versus a coverage or a guy not using the right pass set.  We had a couple of holes on special teams which can get you killed in a big game like we have in a conference coming up here in the near future.
We try to be as positive as we can early.  But when you're winning, that's when you want to be negative.  You want to be as negative as you can in terms of teaching, and watching film, and showing the little things to get better.  There are a lot of little things.  If you think that just winning is going to get you to where you need to get to, you're badly mistaken.
So yesterday when we watched film or Sunday when we watch film, we all made it a point to show all of the little thing that's we did wrong.  We praised them, we patted them on the back.  Won the game.  Our emotions were there.  We focused.  But let's look at all these things that we didn't do right and we could have done much better.  So I think that's how you handle it.
Actually, we criticize more when we win than when we lose.  I think that's a proper approach because I think you can learn more sometimes when you're winning than you can when you're losing.

Q.  Moving back to film and having a chance to see it, what areas did you guys make strides in from week one to week two?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  I think just consistency, especially with our offensive line.  We saw a lot more defensive looks, twists, stunts, blitzes in this past game than we did in the first game.  I thought the first game we were a little timid, too.  We've got to be the aggressor.  We've got to be more physical up front with our guys up front on offense and the same on defense.  We can't be afraid to make a mistake, I think.
We're in the mode right now of teaching a lot of these young guys little things.  So they're thinking and not playing.  I want them to play first and then think.  When they can get it right and do it in that area, then they've got a great chance to have a lot of success.  We don't want to make it so complex that three out of every four plays that happens there is a chance for no success.  So it's a lot on the coaching too.  How you coach, and how far you want to go with them.  We're not even close to being as good as we can be, but we're not going to get better unless we get better at those two things.

Q.  What is Javares McRoy's status this week?
COACH TUBERVILLE:¬† He's practicing.¬† He's ready to go.¬† I don't know whether we'll‑‑ again, he's one of those that I think he might be third or fourth on one of those depth charts last week.¬† He didn't have a good week in the classroom or practicing, so we left him at home.
We told Zouzalik it was his job to win or lose on returns.¬† He did a good job.¬† The thing about returns is you've got to have a guy back there that's be going‑‑ I'm not looking for a guy that's going to win a game for you in terms of running back or punt.¬† I'm looking for one that will save you 30 yards and let the ball hit the ground and roll to the one inch line like it did before.¬† That will get you beat quicker than scoring a 60 or 70‑yard return.¬† So Javares has every opportunity.¬† So he'll be back out there this week running routes and trying to make plays.

Q.  Coach going into next week, as far as the team combined can give a grade?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  I'd say probably a very low B in terms of potential.  We've got a lot of room for improvement.  But I don't want to grade them in the Cs because of their effort.  When you give a team a C grade, a high C or a low C, effort is involved.  I think if you give great effort and you focus, you can work your way up pretty high.
We're a long ways away from being the best technique team that we can be.  So if we can ever work out of the B category and get to an A category, that means we're playing hard, a lot of focus, lot of effort, and playing good technique, good football.  We're not playing great football yet.  We're just playing good football, and good football is not going to win a lot of games this year.  We're going to have to play a lot better than good.  We're going to have to play in some places over our head.

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