Sept. 9, 2013
COLORADO STATE FOOTBALL WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE
Monday, Sept. 9, 2013
HEAD COACH Jim McElwain
(on the Tulsa Game)
“Obviously (we’re) coming off another tough defeat. We played a lot better on the road than we have played. We went out and overcame some things, but we really kind of crumbled when we shouldn’t have, especially offensively. It’s something that needs be answered. We’ve made good strides defensively and in the special teams, which is a credit to a lot of the new guys that are playing and playing with confidence. That confidence we need to get carried over into the offense in the production standpoint, especially on third downs. That’s something we’ll keep working on and get remedied moving forward. There were a lot of good things in this game and other plays that you would want back. That’s going to be the case in a win or a loss. The one thing I do know is how much better we are as a football team even though we’re sitting here at 0-2, even though we’re sitting here with not many wins over the past two years. I know how far we have come to get ourselves into position to win games in the fourth quarter where before I’m not sure we ever had been. Now that next progression is learning to take advantage of that situation and putting the hammer down. That’s our next step moving forward."
"Our guys are ready, they’re resilient. I have never, since I’ve been here, heard a quieter locker room—or a bus, or a plane—after a loss as I did on this last game. That tells me they aren’t satisfied and that they are starting to understand what the hurt should feel like when the expectation are to win. That was obviously another winnable game. I do know what we’ve built and what we’re building. That foundation, it’s there. Ram fans throughout the country expect results from the standpoint of wins or losses and that’s what we have to accomplish. I get it. I know the hole that we were in and I can see us digging out. Not to put it on any players. I have to give them the leadership to be able to make those plays. I stand by each and every one of the guys. We’re going to come out and work this week and get ready to face a different type of opponent than we saw in first two weeks especially from their offensive side. A team that came up here a year ago and beat Wyoming and is very capable; we’ve got our work cut out for us. The beautiful thing about athletics, just like in life…every now and then, things don’t go exactly by the script and it’s how you deal with it. It’s still a great time to be a Ram and there’s still a lot to look forward to. ”
(on the need for attention to detail)
“A lot of the details have been taken care of to get us into a position to win. There have been a lot of those things that people don’t see. Human nature is to criticize, not see where those fundamental errors are happening. Details that happen in critical situations…we’ve gotten ourselves into a position where we’re dealing with critical situations, where I’m not sure we had in the past. Those are the ones that become glaring and you can see it especially in the struggles of the fourth quarter offensively. I don’t think it’s a matter of simplifying, just a matter of staying the course. They (Tulsa) are a championship team and they found a way to win…and we found a way to lose.”
(on players learning from their mistakes)
They need to learn from it and actually see it and take accountability. Before it may have been about someone else, but now there’s a lot of head-nodding that’s going on. That’s self-reflection. I’m not putting it on them. We’re learning to fight through what we need to and now we need to go get a win so we can look at the tangible results. The details, especially in those big situations, we’ve gotten ourselves TO those situations, now let’s get over the hump on those. I sit here and see the development from a year, I see our guys playing hard, I see our guys fighting, I see our guys fighting through adversity, and I see it in an environment going on the road, where I don’t think we ever would have been in that game. Those are the things you can see, and when you watch it on video, you can see the effort. You can see it and you can feel the energy. Those are the things…yeah, you can be disappointed. You should be. Discouraged, no. Disappointed, yes. Disappointment deals with the expectations. The discouraged part, when you get discouraged that sinks into your confidence, and there’s no reason for our confidence to take a hit. It should take a bruise, but…and the disappointment is we’re sitting here 0-2 and have a possibility of being 2-0. I take responsibility for that. I’m OK with that, because I’m at peace knowing where we are and what we’ve built. Disappointed, absolutely.
(on facing Cal Poly’s offense)
“It will be interesting to see where our guys are at defensively. They’ll play a new quarterback here who played toward the end of the Fresno game; he brings a little bit of a different speed. They force you to have discipline and to be focused.”
“We have a foundation on how not to do it from last year (against Air Force). These guys are more like Air Force in that there’s a lot of multiple formations. The actual principal of the dive and that type of thing are there, but they aren’t Georgia Tech in that they sit in that. I think what Air Force and these guys have done is expanded it through formations and some of their players. They have a receiver that has a couple 100-yard games, which tells you you can’t go to sleep, because they’re obviously bringing you up and then hitting you. That’s where your safeties really need to be honed in as well.”
(on the different skills that Cal Poly QB Chris Brown brings compared with the injured Vince Moraga)
“He’s a legitimate threat with his feet. He’s a legitimate explosive player back there. Not to take anything away from their other guys. He’s a true triple guy.”
(on starting QB Garrett Grayson and the offense; would he consider a change during this week’s game)
“I’m not putting that performance on the quarterback, as much as, as well as the people around him. But at the same time, that’s a position that you need to generate something for your offense. We’ll see how it goes. But he’s our starter and we’ll go with it from there.”
(on whether that means Garrett Grayson is on a “short leash”)
“I don’t look at it as a leash as much as I look at it as, ‘let’s produce. Let’s be productive and we’ll go from there.”
(on Conner Smith)
“Last week Conner was the backup and we’ll see how the practice goes this week to determine who that’s going to be. I thought Conner last week did a couple things…I felt like he kind of had a pretty good week of practice so we were going in with him as our ‘2’ last week and we’ll see where it goes this week.”
(on Rashard Higgins and Charles Lovett)
“Rashard struggled in these first two games, there’s no doubt about it. I don’t discount his talent. I don’t discount that he’s going to be a really good player for us. We have to find some consistency, especially at the X position. He hasn’t given that and he’ll be the first one to tell you. He feels horrible about it and that’s the competitor he is. Maybe that also lies on us making sure he’s not playing slow or tentative (not) knowing what to do or how to do it. We’ve got to do a good job of getting him prepared. Charles will try to go full today. We’ll see. Right now he’s got to get… His mind says he can go right now, and he’ll let us know that.”
“(Joe) Hansley ran yesterday. Still can’t push off real well, I guess. He will not practice today. I would still think that Tyree (Simmons) will return punts, and probably get Joe back as a holder. I think that Joe’s body will tell him when he is ready. We’d like to get him back there to hold for us. Donnell Alexander, all indications are that he will be back for us. He has a lot more movement; still not as good as you want. Those are the guys there, and as I look at it from the game, Jasen Oden had a little bit of a shoulder thing. We’ll see how tender that is. Calvin Tonga also had a little bit of a shoulder thing, so we’ll see how serious that is. Jordan Vaden had a little bit of a thigh contusion and he’ll be a little stiff, but we expect him back.”
(on Jordon Vaden)
“He’s been working his tail off. My biggest thing with Jordon has been consistency in his life. He’s starting to understand that a little bit more. I thing he stepped up and did a great job blocking. He’s been our center on kickoff return and that might be the hardest position to handle on that kickoff return but I think he’s handled it great.”
(on whether he would change practice routine this week)
“I think we just need to buckle down. We have to get a good look out of our scouts, and we have to get a good look when we go goods on goods. Today, base install like every Monday; little bit of red area, little bit of blitz and a little bit of play-action. Tomorrow will be a heavy first, second and regular. Wednesday as normal, and then Thursday. Consistency is huge, and we’ve evaluated if we’ve had too much.”
(on progress not translating to wins, and is it a reflection of how damaged the program was)
“I’m not going to be the guy who say’s ‘it’s someone else’s fault.’ That’s not me. It’s my responsibility to get them where they need to go. I’m not ever talking about the past. We’ve got to step it up.”
(on whether he’s superstitious, and whether that played a role in shaving his goatee)
“I probably just got tired of looking at that ugly mug. You know, there are some things that I have always had a routine about. So, maybe subliminally for me it’s more of a fresh start.”
(on coaching to finish games)
“The emphasis of what we do at the end of practice is very important. I thought a year ago, we actually finished two games pretty good towards the end. This is a whole different team. The fact that we got ourselves there, don’t be shocked that we’re there. That should be an expectation. I think some of those drives we killed ourselves with penalties. We had a holding call on one, and obviously a loss of down on another. When we do get to those parts of practice we need to emphasize (that) this is the time. No matter what is left in your tank, this is the time where you need to really go. When you watched us play in this last game, you guys were there, it was a little warm. And I never saw our guys in any way look (tired)…they played hard. So I didn’t see that as a factor, which I think credits what they’ve put in. When your tank is a little empty, that’s when you need to dig deep and go.”
(on the running game)
“We did get some explosive plays, and that was good to see. We did miss a couple checks that we’d love to have back. I thought Crockett Gilmore did an unbelievable job blocking at the point of attack, he really had a good ball game.”
(on whether Crockett Gilmore has a different role in the offense, or is it how the game has progressed)
“I think it’s where it’s progressed. In the last game there were five specific ‘get-it-tos’ for him that…they took it away. One I’m sure he would have liked to have back; he should have ripped through the inside shoulder and he would have had an easy catch, and one was on the touchdown throw to (Jordon) Vaden. I think he is really playing good. He was our offensive player of the game for how he played in that game.”
(on offense not developing)
“Obviously it’s really frustrating for myself. I think we have done a great job of adding some guys to the mix. Obviously the consistency in which we need to play is not there. That’s a minute-by-minute evaluation every day for what we’re doing. We’ve got to do a better job, no doubt about it.”
“Garrett would be the first to tell you (that) part of that is generated from that position and we’ve got to get better play there. Again, you can print that and it will sound like I’m blaming the kid. I’m blaming myself. It’s not the kid, it’s myself. He’s put it some places (where) other guys have to step up around him. From a technical standpoint, he missed two run-checks that hurt (but) got us into six other ones that created big plays. You know what, that’s not good enough. You’ve got to be 8-8, not 6-8. Just like in the pass game, he missed one hot, which is unacceptable. On another one, the guy would still be running if he didn’t throw it at his feet. That’s a matter of re-setting your feet and making a throw.”
(on what they learned about the offense’s struggles from watching the film)
“Putting ourselves in the situations, and being hardcore on what those situations are. We need to do a better job. At the same time, your plans need to be distributed to the guys executing the plan. They can all see it, it’s there, but the translation of the plan needs to be much better and more precise for us to be successful. That comes from being an educator and a teacher and we need to do a better job, especially with those newer guys.”
(on whether Dave Baldwin calls all the plays)
“He calls the plays. He does a good job and I’m not second-guessing him, and have never second-guessed him.”
(on Garrett Grayson taking blame)
“Garrett is accountable. He sees it. He’s not one of those guys who see something different; I have coached those guys before. We have had two opportunities, so let’s see what we can do with this third one.”
(on whether he likes if guys call each other out)
“I think it’s more of taking the accountability when it’s you. I think there were times before when guys were looking for an excuse. It’s all part of the accountability factor. I think it’s being able to recognize when you may have done something wrong.”
(on Cal Poly’s running back Kristaan Ivory)
“Those quick hitters that everything is based off of in this type of offense, and then his ability to get outside and stretch the field with speed is something that you can really see is evident. It’s fun as a coach, I enjoy seeing what they do. It’s pretty fascinating with the parts they have in there, and they have gone out and gotten some skill. In that offense, that’s really the key.”
(on working on Cal Poly’s triple-option in camp)
“We worked on it (the triple option) for the three opponents that we’re going to see that run it. From a principal standpoint, there are different guys, so we have to prepare for each one differently.”
(on seeing option attacks and learning from mistakes)
“I think so. We did miss some plays against Utah State (in 2012), but their quarterback can really make you look silly. With Air Force (last year) I was more disappointed with the effort more than anything.”
(on defending the triple option)
“Go back and look at the stats that Georgia Southern put up against us when I was at Alabama. It’s more of the approach that your players need to take and that’s, do your job. That’s really what it’s all about. I should be fun for the fans.”
(on rush defense playing well)
“I think that this one gives you a different set of concerns. I think that our linebackers are playing fast, and that’s going to be huge that they can get out where they need to. And obviously the run support by the corners. I would be remised to not mention how well our corners are playing right now. I think they are really competing, and they need to be a force on the edges when they need to be.”
RS-So. SAFETY Trent Matthews
(on the unique nature of facing Cal Poly’s triple-option attack)
“It’s another opportunity to see something different; a different opportunity to be more communicative on defense and to execute better. “
(on how much they can draw from having faced a similar attack from Air Force last year)
“It’s going to help a lot. Secondary-wise, we need to look at what we can do to execute and know what keys to look at. I know the coaches are going to coach us well on that, so we just have to be prepared.”
(on importance of secondary watching for passes over the top)
“It’s the corners and the safeties. Our job is to always have ‘deep.’ If it’s the corner one time, it’s the corner. If it’s the safety, it’s the safety. It’s all of our responsibility.”
(on the difficulty of having to come up in run support against triple-option, but watch for pass)
“Coach Mac believes in both of us and put us in our starting positions for a reason, so if he’s confident, I’m confident.”
(on his interception at Tulsa)
“I always told my coach last year I had a lot of missed opportunities, and I told my team I wasn’t going to let them down this year, that I would catch them. This whole offseason, even after practice, I’m always on the Jugs (machine), catching at least 100 balls, so when I get that chance I know I’m confident. That pick showed me that I can catch them. I was happy for the pick, but I wasn’t happy for the loss. When it comes down to it, it really doesn’t matter for the picks, I’m really more concerned about the loss.”
(on how he feels about the defense overall)
“I feel like we executed (well), we just didn’t do what we were supposed to do in the fourth quarter. I’m disappointed not only in myself, but the defense, but what we did after the game (was) we came together in the locker room as a brotherhood and told each other we’re going to keep together and (be) more sound because we’re all we have. The more we come together the better we’ll be. What we did wrong was we just let down in the fourth quarter and championship defenses don’t do that. We just have to be more attentive to what we’re doing and execute this week.”
(on whether it’s frustrating to have those crucial letdowns in key situation, while otherwise playing well)
“It all comes down to practice and holding each other accountable on every play. That’s the key.”
(on the reasons for those letdowns)
“Looking back at the film, we just had too many missed tackles. But coaches harped on us having better communication than the first week. We looked at the bad things, but I feel like there was more good than bad. Once we saw that we felt better. This week it’s more about ‘let’s just work on us. Let’s get better at tackling and at the little things.’”
(on how the team stays encouraged despite the two losses)
“Coach Mac brought it to our attention before the season started. He said there’s going to be adversity during the season. There are going to be games that will make you mad, but being discouraged cannot stop you. We’ve challenged each other to know each other better this offseason and I feel like that’s taken us a long way. I feel like I know my team better than I have, ever, so when we slip and fall we know how to get back up. That’s what we’re trying to do right now. I’m proud of my team win or lose, but that’s a part of the game. I’m not discouraged. I’m more encouraged than anything. I’m taking it all in and looking at it week by week. This week it’s Cal Poly.”
(on whether he feels this team is closer)
“This year we have a couple guys playing who are a pretty young. I really don’t look at it like that, but like I said, we lost. We’re close and I know we’re getting better, so we’re going to try to do our best job to try to take this win, especially at home, against Cal Poly.”
(on what it will take to close out a game in the fourth quarter)
“Just attention to detail. Starting (today) I’m going to harp on it with our defense, just get them together and say we need to pay attention to detail. If it’s having your right foot down, if it’s looking at the tackle instead of the guard, for safeties is it the quarterback’s shoulder, for corners it’s his footsteps. Little things like that can change the game just by that much. That helps, so that’s what I’m going to harp on this week.”
Sr. TACKLE Jared Biard
(on changing the results)
“Just sticking with the plan and staying consistent. We’re executing out there. It’s just really small things that are causing us to slump. Like Trent (Matthews) hit on earlier attention to details throughout the week.”
(on the season so far)
“I think it’s frustrating. Personally, it’s my senior year so I’m going to have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder every time we play. I took it pretty hard in Tulsa, because we had a couple three-and-outs in the fourth quarter that I feel we should have kept driving the ball more. I take the full blame; I just wish we would have had more production in the fourth quarter.”
“I don’t question any of the play-calling or anything like that. You just take every play separately and do your best job on it.”
(on if he thinks offense should be further along)
“Yes. I think we’re right there. We’re still at that point and I think we’re a lot further along than last year.”
(on if he thinks the team is different on game-days)
“I think we have some young guys out there that have some maturing to do. But other than that we don’t do anything differently than we normally do. I am speaking personally, but on game-days I tend to be a little bit more emotionally invested and a little bit more angry or ferocious. It’s part of the game to stay focused. Football is an emotional game.”
(on keeping guys positive)
“That’s where a lot of the senior leadership comes in. Guys have to talk to each other and keep each other’s heads up and have those tough conversations. It’s just part of being an elder statesman.”
(on finishing games)
“It’s a mindset. We run a two-minute drill every practice. We also have four-minute situations in practice. Coach McElwain will throw those situations out there periodically.”
(on translating practice to a game)
“We translate that the same way you translate footwork. Same way you translate everything, really. You practice it so you can translate it to the game.”
(on Garrett Grayson keeping his composure)
“He keeps his composure very well during games. He keeps a very good composure, he’s very encouraging. He’s very encouraging to the wide receivers and to us up front. He’s calm, cool and collected in the pocket and on the sideline.”
(on Garrett getting attention for losing)
“That’s part of playing quarterback, you going to get a lot of attention. It doesn’t have to necessarily be your fault. Again, these losses have been on the offense as a whole and on the teams as a whole, not on just one guy.
(on the team not fracturing)
“I guess you could say impressed. I never expected fracturing to occur because of the way we have treated each other over the last couple years. I know for a fact we have each other’s back no matter what.”
(on taking more from a loss)
“To me, a loss is a loss. You can try to find a silver lining; but to me a loss is a loss. You just have to put your hat on and go to work next week.”
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