home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


December 31, 2011

Jeff Casteel


THE MODERATOR:  I want to introduce Jeff Casteel, the defensive coordinator for West Virginia.  You now have been here for a few days in South Florida.  How is your team adjusting to getting ready for a Bowl game?
COACH CASTEEL:  Well, I think they're obviously excited.  We got a chance to practice for the first time yesterday, so they're excited to get down.  The weather is nice obviously, and they got their sweat going.  It's warm for them.  But they did a nice job yesterday.

Q.  I guess if you could start talking about the safeties, losing Terence.  Last time we talked, we didn't know that Terence was going to be out, how that's going to affect you guys' game plan going in and with Wes and I guess what you're doing safety wise?
COACH CASTEEL:  Well, we're still going to work Wes and Shaquille, Shaq Petteway, and go with those guys.  We'll still work those two kids the next two or three practices, and they're both going to play.  That's what happens when you get an injury; a kid has to step up, and the next guy goes.  I know that they're excited to play.  We've been through those situations before, so those guys will be ready to go.

Q.  Do you lean more on guys like Eain and Darwin who have been there in the lineup all year to help bring those guys along this week?
COACH CASTEEL:  Yeah, I think the key is letting the kids get in and get settled in.  For some of these kids, obviously this is a big game for them.  Once they get in and settle in, they're going to find it's no different than any of the other games that they've played.
But our kids will‑‑ our leaders will settle those guys down, and they'll be ready to play.

Q.  Could you talk about Sammy Watkins, what makes him so good and what you guys need to do to try to slow him down?
COACH CASTEEL:  Well, he's really fast.  He's really athletic, great player.  Probably the best kid we've seen, I think.  He may be as good as there is in the country as a freshman.  He has the ability‑‑ and they do really a great job of getting him the football in a bunch of different ways.  Obviously they're going to throw him the ball, but he'll get it as a running back, and they're going to screen him.  They'll throw the ball down the field, and he goes up and gets it.  But I think his speed and athleticism are really what probably separates him from guys.
And what we can do to stop him is‑‑ I mean, we're going to have to know where he's at, but the problem with Clemson is they have three or four other guys you'd better know where they're at, too.  They're going to present some challenges.  They have a quarterback that I think really does a great job.  Tajh does a wonderful job of moving in the pocket and keeping things alive.  He's really talented.
We'll have our hands full trying to defend all those guys, and Sammy is probably at the forefront of our thoughts.  But there's three or four other guys that have the ability to give us problems.

Q.  When you first came to West Virginia, if I'm not mistaken, you didn't start with a three‑three stack, right, and then you went to it the second year; is that right?
COACH CASTEEL:  Yeah.  We were more of an eight‑man front.  Rich wanted us to get into the odd front, so we learned that, went and learned that from Wake Forest, and we've been in it for the last whatever‑‑

Q.  Can you talk about the evolution?  Coach Swinney said yesterday some guys dabble in it, you guys are committed to it.  Can you talk about the evolution of that defense at West Virginia?
COACH CASTEEL:  Well, I think when we first came here, Rich‑‑ we thought that we'd be able to maybe get a niche in recruiting where we were having to go and recruit some of the three technique, so we thought it might be easier to get the tweener type kids, linebacker, the 6'2", 185‑, 190‑, 200‑pound kid and let them grow into 230‑, 235‑pound kids that could run.  So we tried to get a niche that way defensively along with Rich bringing in the spread and trying to get a niche offensively that way.  It's kind of grown from that.
We can morph into a lot of different things, I think, out of it.  So it's been good to us.  Over the last eight, nine, ten years we've been fairly consistent.  So it's been good for us.

Q.  Can you discuss Shaq Rowell's progress from the start of the year to where he is right now and what kind of role you see for him in the game?
COACH CASTEEL:  Well, he's played a lot for us the last couple ballgames, and he's really developed a lot.  I think, again, it would have helped us to have him in the spring a little bit.  He was raw, but he's a big kid, played well for us in the South Florida game, and we'll need him to give us reps Wednesday night.

Q.  Has his progress mostly been technique, learning the defense?  Where has he come the furthest?
COACH CASTEEL:  Technique.  Again, he's still learning the game a little bit, but Kirelawich has done a really a great job with him bringing him along technique wise, but that's what it is.  He's a zero nose, so he's not going to do a whole lot other than try to demand a double team.  But that requires a lot of technique.

Q.  A lot of people have said it's sometimes hard to know exactly how your team is going to perform in a Bowl game because of the long layoff and you guys are going to be off obviously more than a month before you kick it off.  What are the biggest challenges when you have that much time off?
COACH CASTEEL:  Well, I agree with that, and I think that's‑‑ it's tough.  I think you worry about your tackling, obviously, and the timing.  A lot of times‑‑ sometimes you come back and are a little bit better than what it was when you left off a month ago.  But it's a layoff for the kids, but I also think that they need some time to heal up, and it's a fine line of trying to keep them interested and not overdo it, especially early when you're doing a game plan and those type of things.
But I think our kids are‑‑ have been focused and have done a good job.  Our practices have been good, and there's been good effort in them.  The focus has been good, so hopefully that will translate into playing well Wednesday night.
But you know, again, when you're off a month, month and a half between games, who knows what's going to happen.

Q.  Have you learned from past Bowl experiences certain schedules of certain things that work better than other things?
COACH CASTEEL:  You know what, I think if anybody had a perfect way of doing it, everybody would have copied it.  This is a copycat profession.  Everybody would be doing the same thing.  Nobody would lose a Bowl game.  But I think it depends upon the kids.  I don't know that there's any perfect way of doing it.  But you have to have‑‑ number one, you have to have really good football players, you have to have really focused football players, and you have to have some strong leadership from your football team, and I think those will matter more, those things matter more probably than what a schedule does.

Q.  A lot of turmoil over the last year with the coaching staff and the turnover to Dana and obviously a very strong personality.  Can you talk about the coaching staff's adjustment to Dana's personality as a coach?
COACH CASTEEL:  Well, I think that from a defensive perspective, we're doing what we've done at West Virginia for eight, nine years, so I don't think any of that has really changed a great deal.
In terms of offensively, the up‑tempo and those things, I think we were accustomed to that.  We had done that when Rich was here, and we did it with Coach Stew, also changed the tempo a little bit.  So I don't think any of those things have really been that big of an issue.

Q.  When Tajh Boyd‑‑ I know you're obviously familiar with him from watching and when he was originally recruited to West Virginia.  What makes him such a special player and what makes him so dynamic out there?
COACH CASTEEL:  Well, he obviously has a strong arm, and I think he really does a great job in the pocket, avoiding things and keeping plays alive.  He's athletic, he's a big kid that can run, and they will use him to design runs in short yardage or get down in the red zone.  So he's a kid that can do everything, throw the football and also make plays with his feet, really a strong arm.
He's got great confidence, I think, and he's really played extremely well down the stretch, which‑‑ and you can see the confidence level with him.  And again, he's got a strong cast of guys to spread the ball out.  He's really a good football player, and he's going to continue to get better, and you can see him improve as the year has gone on.

Q.  Today Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins is scheduled to practice after his car accident.  How much does that change your game plan if he goes or doesn't go?
COACH CASTEEL:  Well, I mean, obviously he's another outstanding player for them.  If he can ‑‑ we're going to assume that he can play.  It's unfortunate that those things‑‑ that that happened.  Hopefully the kid will be okay and be able to play.  But we're assuming that he will play.

Q.  I heard one of the reporters that covers Clemson, we were talking to him last night, and he said they like to run the power game and throw to the tight end, two things you love to hear, right?
COACH CASTEEL:  Right.  I mean, they have an outstanding‑‑ they really have two outstanding tight ends, and again, they have the ability to spread the ball out throughout their offense, and they're very balanced in what they do and they're unorthodox in what they do in terms of formations and the way they deploy their kids and try to gain numerical advantages against you defensively.
They're a challenge.  They're a challenge not only because they're very skilled; they're a challenge because of their scheme and the way they attack you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297