Oct. 17, 2011
Opening statements: “Well we got back to work yesterday, analyzed game film, started our preparation toward UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso). We actually went out and practiced, had a few more guys in pads than we normally do, got some good work done. Obviously, we’re taking today off as we do every week. We’re finalizing our game plan and will get back to work full go tomorrow for our preparation for the University of Texas El Paso. From an injury standpoint, Paul Madsen, a third offensive tackle for us this season will not be available Saturday. We do hope to have him back prior to the end of the year. Mike Orakpo left the game Saturday; he is day to day at this point. Not sure on his status Saturday.”
On any other injuries: “Additionally, we’ll obviously get some other guys back, hopefully. Nuku (Latu) tried to go, did some, but again he’s day to day. We’ve got a long list obviously. There’s some guys out for the year; there’s some guys we’re trying to get back.”
On Aaron Davis’ injury status: “Again, he appears to be able to go; we’ll know more tomorrow.”
On if Mike Orakpo has to clear a concussion test to play: “Yeah.”
On the decision to practice with pads on a Sunday: “Not everybody did. We just felt like in certain areas we needed a little contact work. Obviously, we always have some contact work for guys that aren’t playing a lot of snaps; we do that every Sunday. Not necessarily guys that are redshirting but just guys like Blake Jones for example, to play some snaps as a second tight end that doesn’t get a ton of snaps on Saturday - suit up and get a little work done on Sunday. We did have a little bit longer practice; a little bit better practice.”
On if any starters were in pads Sunday: “Yeah, there’s a couple guys in there that we needed some individual work with.”
On if he watched the Boise State game tape differently than other tapes: “No. I think we always come in and I personally take a look at all three sides of the ball. Obviously, we didn’t play very well. That’s a very, very good football team. Boise is a very talented football team. Obviously, we helped them a little bit.”
On what he likes about his team and what needs improvements at the halfway mark: “I’d say the thing I like about the football team is the attitude, the effort; it’s really been a great group of guys to be around and coach. They want to do good; they care. When you have those type of teams is the reason you coach. Probably the most disappointing is that we’re sitting at 3-3. I think we could be a little bit better than that. We’re still inconsistent on both sides of the ball. I think when we can play our way into being a more consistent football team, I think we can finish strong.”
On UTEP: “Well I think they’re a good football team. They went in on the road at Tulane and scored a bunch of points and held Tulane down; they dominated that game. As you watch them, they’ve gotten better every week; I would agree with coach (Mike) Price’s assessment. They’ve got speed on both sides of the football and they’re starting to play with more confidence. They’ve been in some close games; they’ve won an overtime game. I’d say they are an improving team; there’s no question.”
On if he thinks his team has improved week to week this season: “No. We’ve been a little bit up and down. I’m never going to use the injuries as an excuse but we’ve been a little bit up and down. For example last Saturday, when you pull Paul Madsen out of there it does take you out of a lot of things, some packages and some other ways you approach that game. It’ll never be an excuse. I looked up one time and was counting and I think there was 15 guys we would have had on the field that weren’t available in the middle of that game and you’re playing a top-five team. Having said that, that’s probably lent itself a little bit to our inconsistency.”
On injuries at the tackle position: “We’re down to our fourth and fifth tackle. We may be down to our fifth, sixth, seventh linebacker in that sense. There’s some areas, defensive line at one point where we had three starters out. There are some areas where it’s concentrated; we haven’t had a receiver or running back injured or quarterback injured. It’s all been in certain spots.”
On if he’s confident with freshmen Mason Hathaway and Ty Sambrailo at tackle: “Yeah I like them. I think they’re a great example of where we’re at. You talk about the fourth and fifth tackle and I think both those kids are going to be outstanding football players, I really do. Are they ready to be in there full time right now? We’ll see. They held up decent the other night. They just have to go. We all know that’s part of football; it’s always the next guy up and you’re never going to stay healthy.”
On if the inexperience at tackle will affect what CSU can run on offense: “It certainly does. There’s no question; it takes us out of some personnel groupings and obviously it affects what you want to do.”
On if he’s had to use redshirts despite his wishes: “Yeah, right out of the gate we were down two tight ends coming out of spring. Blake Jones might have redshirted; we just couldn’t have done that. I don’t know if there’s any definitive, concrete, ‘This guy would have, this guy wouldn’t have,’ because it’s like you talk to these young guys in high school that you’re recruiting now and you can’t guarantee they’re going to redshirt or not. It all depends on the health and how guys are playing and that sort of thing. But, yeah, probably. Probably there is a lot of guys, Aaron Davis is another example; we got down to the seventh, eighth linebacker. We would have liked to redshirt him but we couldn’t.”
On who will be backup at tackle: “(Weston) Richburg probably can go out there. Brandon Haynes can take some work out there; we’ll see what he does. We’re trying to redshirt A.J. Frieler. There’s some decisions obviously. Like I said, it’s that way at quarterback where we’re walking a fine line with, ‘We could do this, we could do that.’ We’ll see who stays healthy.”
On if this week is the cutoff for redshirt decisions: “We’ve got to do what is best for the group. That’s how this game’s played. It’s not about me or you. It’s about us. We’ll always try to do what’s best for our football team.”
On if his comments about the back-up quarterback position is an indication that he’s not comfortable with M.J. McPeek: “No. It’s more of an indication of how I feel about Garrett Grayson. I think Garrett has really come on and done some nice things. Again, if something were to happen to Pete (Thomas), we’d have to say, ‘Who gives us the best chances to win? How much time is left in the year?’, that sort of thing.”
On UTEP’s offense: “The running back has kind of come on. Defensively, they lock you down at corner and they do a nice job. They’re a good football team; we’ll have to obviously on the road bring our A-game.”
On the vertical passing game: “I think obviously we didn’t execute as well as we wanted to. I’ve said this all along and since the week before the Utah State game you can see a different approach in how we practice out there in the passing game. I think it has continued to show through the bye week. I think we’re getting better and better. Obviously we didn’t connect on some things against Boise but we’re doing the right thing in those areas and I think we’re improving.”
On if he’s satisfied with Pete Thomas’ play thus far: “Yeah. There’s a couple throws he’d like to have back. But I think for where he’s at as a true sophomore, second-year player, he’s done some really nice things for us this year. He’s going to be really good. We’re satisfied; we’ll just keep going forward.”
On his experience against UTEP: “Yeah, I think we played down there (when he was a CSU quarterback). I believe we played down there. I can’t remember. Guys keep asking me about that. I know with coach (Sonny) Lubick we used to play down there. Obviously they were a member of the WAC.”
On CSU’s historical success against UTEP: “Hopefully that continues this Saturday.”
On what the game plan will be against UTEP’s use of three quarterbacks: “Well I think we’re doing that right now. Obviously, you run a kind of a formation personnel run-pass ration, break down what each guy does. I couldn’t tell you a complete answer as we speak; that’s what’s going on right now. We’ll see what they do and what they do well that sort of thing. Defensively, we’ve got to fly around and tackle and in terms of game plan you want to take around what people do well.”
On whether Saturday is a must-win game: “It could be. I think so. We talked about that in the locker room after the game. Obviously everyone was disappointed, but I said a tell-tale sign would be what we did on Sunday and Tuesday. Just the way we approached Sunday I was really happy; got in here, got our work done. You’re right; there’s got to be a sense of urgency; we’re sitting at 3-3 and we’ve got six games left. We’d all like to be 4-2 but it is what it is. There’s still a lot of football left in this season.”
On UTEP’s use of four running backs: “They’re a little bit different. The one guy has some size and power to him. They do, they’re like us I’m sure, they’re looking for who’s hot at times. If one guy doesn’t jump out at one spot, and I’m not saying this is what UTEP’s thinking is, even at quarterback they’re going to play some guys; makes everybody happy, makes everyone want to compete. You can see that as a real positive.”
On UTEP’s Joe Banyard: “He’s done a nice job; there’s no question. He’s physical; he’s a real strong back.”
On Raymond Carter still being listed as first on the depth chart: “I don’t even know if we view a guy as the starter. A lot of the time it’ll be based on the first playcall, anyway. Ray and Chris (Nwoke) are going one and two and Derek’s (Good) getting in there when we can.”
On if the biggest challenge is getting the back-up players game-ready: “Yeah. I think the tackle is a perfect example. I think Aaron Davis is a perfect example. I love Aaron Davis; I think he’s going to be a tremendous player. He reminds me a lot of Myke Sisson, Myke’s redshirt year. Sometimes guys aren’t as good as you want them to be early on in their career. The offensive-line thing is really an issue in terms of, regardless of how strong or good and tough and all that is, there is so much technique in that position. Guys usually don’t play as early as our two tackles are playing.”
On if that has affected the practice schedule: “Yeah. That’s why you limit a little bit of what you do because if you run a certain run play and it’s Paul Madsen, who’s played a lot of football, then he doesn’t have to see every defense. With young guys you have to put a lot of different looks in front of them. There’s only so many reps out there.”
On if he will go with a more simplified plan this weekend: “I don’t think simplified is the right word but volume is probably less.”
On if Hathaway and Sambrailo are learning quickly: “Yeah I think they’re doing good. Right when that happened in the game (Madsen’s injury) there was a lot of thoughts running through our minds as an offensive staff on what can you do and what can’t you do. Looking back they held up decent. That was a good defensive front they were playing against. I think they’ll be like any young players, like Pete Thomas last year, they’ll get better and be more comfortable with every snap.”
On if he’s seen improvements already in Hathaway and Sambrailo: “Yeah, we were king of rolling them both in and out of there all the way back to the CU game. When you know where one guy is, you can kind of get a chip. It’s easy when you know where the one guy is but when both are out there it does change some things.”
On how valuable a game in Texas is for recruiting: “Yeah, I think it matters. I think it matters just having it on the schedule because we’ve got some West Texas kids that when you recruited them, they know their family can see them play. Yeah, it’s good. Anywhere you recruit it’s good exposure to get a home and home with somebody in that area.”
On how crucial it is to limit the big plays on defense: “It always is. Defensively, you’re always looking to take the ball away but secondly you want them to earn everything and not get it in large chunks. The same thing we’re always trying to do on offense, it’s hard for anybody to go the length of the field so if you can get some large chunk plays and alter field position that’s always a good thing.”
On how important Pete Kontodiakos can be in altering field position: “He has this year. He’s really altered field position, even when it’s not the yardage like at Utah State, where he just put that thing up there for a lot of seconds. He’s altered games. He didn’t punt the ball very well in the opener; we didn’t kick the ball very well in the opener but he’s a very, very talented kid and we’re getting a lot of good things from him.”
On the importance of special teams this weekend: “It’s always real important. You look at the game last week. We said this after: We were up with Boise in all those categories and they outplayed us and obviously it made a difference in the game. It was lopsided but it made a difference. We need to; our special teams needs to be an edge for us. When you have a dangerous return man like they have, you have to make sure you cover and get in your lanes and do the right thing. We always tell our kids it doesn’t matter if you’re a tight end or a linebacker; that play on special teams is more important than anything you do on the other side of the ball. Those things; there’s a lot of plays in that area that can be game-changing plays.”
On if he believes in not kicking to certain players: “Yeah, eventually. I don’t know that this is the case; we’ll talk about that with Larry Lewis, but yeah there are times. We tried at TCU a couple years ago and we didn’t want that. We shanked one over there and paid the price. You watch Devin Hester and I think everybody second guesses kicking the ball to him.”
On the new association between the Mountain West and Conference USA: “I don’t know enough about it. I don’t know if anybody does. I haven’t seen the information put on paper.”
On if he likes the approach of this as a must win game: “Yeah I do. I saw that and you got to think, ‘Yeah, it is.’ I like it, a real sense of urgency when we hit the field tomorrow.”
On if there is a danger in thinking this is a must-win game: “You always are at the risk of if you lose too many in a row or win too many in a row. Where’s your confidence? Where’s your momentum? That’s what we always try to say. If we drop one let’s try to get one back. This is the first time we’ve dropped two in a row all season. Earlier, when we lost, we bounced right back. Hopefully we can bounce right back now and string together a couple wins. Yeah, we need this game; there’s no question.”
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