CSU and Arizona are the only schools in the nation to start true freshmen at offensive tackle in the same game. One of those players, Ty Sambrailo, has made some key blocks, including on the touchdown pass to Matt Yemm against No. 5 Boise State Oct. 15.
Oct. 25, 2011
Opening statements: “Well with regard to last Saturday, we’re obviously disappointed. We’re still playing inconsistent football in just about every phase. We were hoping for a fast start and they bust a kickoff on us. We covered fairly well all day but we let them get the opener out pretty well and a quick scoring drive and we obviously couldn’t answer; went down and had a chance to answer and couldn’t do it. There were some positives, obviously some negatives. We’re not playing consistent in any phase. But I like our kids; I like our attitude. I think we’re playing hard. So our focus shifts obviously this week. We’ve got to tighten some things up and obviously play better in every area to give ourselves a chance on the road this week.”
On if he went with a more involved Sunday practice for the second consecutive week: “Yeah a little bit. We try to tailor our Sunday practices by position. Our goal is to get a spring ball or two for the young guys; that’s been going well. Last week I probably made too big of a deal out of it but we took some pads out and did a little individual work and some other areas like yesterday. We kept Pete Thomas out and did some footwork things with him that I think will help him. Basically, same Sunday practice.”
On if the same mistakes are being made or if different things are occurring each week that are contributing to the inconsistency: “Defensively, it’s always going to be tackling and we didn’t tackle particularly in the secondary well and allowed them to bust some long runs. We knew going in we’d have to hold that running game down and we didn’t do a very good job. There are some areas that keep popping up. Our protection again, we’re shifting some guys around on the offensive line with all the injuries, but we gave up seven sacks. When you do that, a sack is a potential drive-killer so when you have seven of them, about half your football game could be gone with that; we’ve got to tighten some things up with that. We’ve got to look at the offensive line where we’re going to play guys. Obviously, we can’t do everything that we would normally do with the healthy guys in there. Those are the areas that seem to pop up more lately that we’ve got to correct.”
On if he anticipates more line-up changes, after moving Weston Richburg to tackle in the fourth quarter and replacing Ben DeLine with Chad VanderMolen: “Yeah we’re looking at all those things. What you said, happened Saturday night; we felt like that gave us the best chance to be successful. There’s probably some more areas as we go through the day that we will talk about.”
On if that opens up competition: “Well I think there’s always competition. If somebody’s not playing well, we’re going to give the guy behind him a chance. I’ve always said that since I got here; that’s the way I envision a football team. It’s competitive daily for your job. You’ve got to produce out on the practice field. With the offensive-line thing you’ve got to look at what’s best, who you’re playing, what you are going to keep in a game plan. Like I said, we’re going to reduce that quite a bit and then say, ‘where do guys go; who gives us the best chance in those spots’.”
On if he simplified things on the offensive line due to injuries: “Well we did a little bit and then obviously we struggled so we’ve got to really narrow down. You’ve got two redshirt freshmen tackles and all along there’s quite a few reps that (Joe) Caprioglio and (Paul) Madsen and (Jared) Biard had and they’re not playing now, so it does kind of limit you.”
On if he has cut down plays because of the offensive line: “You’re asking a real quantitative measure; I don’t have the game plan in front of me but, yeah, we’ve got to knock out a lot of stuff, particularly on offense. We’re relatively new on the line.”
On what differed between moving the ball well on the first possession at UTEP and the rest of the game: “The problem with us compared to them…we’ve got both backs averaging 4 yards a carry. What we didn’t do, is we didn’t get the explosives (long gains) and that’s when you look at us we’re successful. It’s one thing to run for 3, 4, 7, 4, that sort of thing. What you need to do is 3, 4, 7, 21 and we’re not getting those (21-yard carries) for a lot of reasons. To be a good run team that’s what you’ve got to do. I’ve said all along, I like what we’re doing coming off the ball. Obviously in the San Jose State game we weren’t as physical as we wanted to be but we’re getting on good people. We’re playing physical football, our pad level is good, our backs seem like they’re trying to slam it in there. But once in a while you’ve got to get past a safety and make something happen like they did to us.”
On if the limited number of big runs has been due to the running backs or blocking: “Well it’s a combination of a lot of things, the timing of a run, your perimeter blocking, the back being able to square a guy up the right way once he gets to the second level. So there’s a lot of things involved. I think we only had one explosive run in that game.”
On where CSU goes defensively: “We started out tackling and flying around pretty good, and the last three games we’ve not been as effective, so we’ve got to play a little stouter up front. You can always talk about missed tackles but I’d like to tackle you in a little-closer quarters; I’d like to have some help; I’d like to have a defensive lineman coming so it’s a one-way go. There’s some things that help tackling; not just the guy wrapping up. Obviously, we’ve got to get the ball-carrier down better. We can’t allow them to run the football like UTEP did the other night.”
On what is not transitioning from practice to games: “What I tend to believe is if we go out and put in an honest day’s effort, we’re enthusiastic, we play hard, execute our technique out there the right way and do those things, you’re going to have some of these, but over the long haul you’re going to improve. I think we saw that in our passing game. Did we throw it very well against UTEP? No, but it’s been going like this (gesturing upward) if we keep doing what we’re doing.”
On if protection caused a poor passing performance against UTEP: “Yeah, I thought Pete (Thomas) got a little bit rattled in there. We weren’t necessarily giving him the best area to work. As a quarterback, sometimes you’ve got to earn your money; if a guy’s on your lap or you don’t have clean feet you’ve still got to find a way to deliver the ball. But we’ve been working pressure periods every day since I’ve been here. We’ll continue to do that; I think that helps the quarterback in that area.”
On if he wants Thomas to become more of a running threat: “No. I think he’s done a nice job to make something happen when he’s got an opportunity; I even think he did a little bit the other night. If we call a pass play we’d like to keep that progression alive as long as we can. We’re better off. To give you an example there was one time in the second quarter where he could have taken off but he dumped it to (Chris) Nwoke and I think we got 9 yards, second-and-1. Nwoke or Raymond Carter is going to do better than Pete Thomas past the line of scrimmage. But there are times he’s shown us this year that he can help us moving around.”
On if Thomas has become more patient: “That gets better and better I think at quarterback even from your 11th to 12th year in the NFL. You just get better at that stuff. We can help him. We’ve got to rep some things better in practice; there’s some drill things we can do different. Those throws can be very effective. Gartrell (Johnson) was unbelievable with that; when Billy Ferris would lay that thing off to Gartrell, it was as good as throwing it 20 yards down the field half the time. Again, you’re talking about a second-year player without a redshirt (Thomas); that will get better as we do it.”
On Thomas’ checkdowns: “I don’t know about everyone else’s offense but we rarely get to a fourth (checkdown). An inexperienced quarterback goes one to two; that’s what Pete did last year. Usually, in a drop-back offense, it’s going to be one to two and then you’re going to have to create a little space to get to three. A lot of times, you are going to have to move to a find a way to get it to your third guy because it’s getting to that 3.1, 3.2 (seconds) and things are all breaking down. The more work you do in a pocket, the more live pressure periods we do, he gets better at that and he will continue to improve.”
On UNLV thinking that this is a winnable game: “They have had a week off and are at home.”
On how he approaches this week: “I look it at it as a road game where we have to get better this week, and an opportunity to get a win.”
On if he knows which quarterback UNLV will play: “No, I don’t. They obviously made the switch before the game last week up in Wyoming so we will prepare for both.”
On difference in UNLV offense depending on which quarterback plays: “They are a little bit different, but no. That (running) back is coming on and we obviously have to get a little stouter with the run. They spread you out a little bit.”
On UNLV wide receiver Phillip Payne: “He is a big part of what they did last year. He is a big-time receiver, obviously, and like you said, he has the length that if you’re not playing ball well, he will snatch it from you.”
On K Ben DeLine and K Chad VanderMolen: “Well, Ben got hurt (bruised knee) the week before (vs. Boise State) so we anticipated playing both of them, or anticipated kicking both. I wasn’t even sure that Ben was going to be available for the game and he was. As we got rolling, we thought he might kick off a little better so we used him there so we will see how healthy everyone is and how they are kicking out there. I was glad we had another option.”
On the blocked FG attempt: “It was slow; the timing was slow. At that point you say, ‘Maybe the injury is having something to do with it.’ Chad (VanderMolen) looked like he was kicking good in warmups and we thought Ben was still a little better on the kickoffs.”
On if he expects Ivory Herd to travel to Las Vegas: “No I don’t at this point.”
On finger-pointing on the team: “I don’t think there is, to be honest with you. I saw Momo (Thomas) with that quote; I think he was just alluding to that we don’t want to do like last year. We just want to stay together and our football team has done a great job with that. In fact, Momo was in my office yesterday and we were talking; it had nothing to do with that. He is a great leader right now. He had really worked himself into that role on our football team. I think what he was trying to say was that we are not going to point fingers; we are going to stay together and look at ourselves, which we all need to do. Obviously, this is a tough time and we have to find a way to get the win.”
On if he thinks his team will begin finger-pointing: “No, I really have a good feel for this football team and these kids. Like I have said all along, it has been a lot of fun being around these kids; they are good and they are good players. I know we will push through this.”
On which position group needs to be more explosive: “Well everybody does, but we have to tackle better. Ultimately, someone is there to make the play but we are not getting the ball-carrier on the ground. Even if they block it well, what might be an 8-yard, 12-yard run can’t turn into a huge touchdown and that is what happened the other night. We have to stop that.”
On injury updates: “I will know a lot more tomorrow. I don’t have the list in front of me but we will see. Paul Madsen jogged yesterday; I’m sure he will be in a red jersey but we will put him through some individual (drills) if he feels like that is something he can do. Then, you just progress through the week a lot like we did with Nuku (Latu) awhile back. All of a sudden, he came out in red and felt pretty good so we progressed him through the week and felt like we could get some snaps out of him. That is where Paul is; day-to-day is the best thing with him.”
On LB Mychal Sisson: “I don’t know. We will know more when it’s red-jersey time out there and we tape him up and let him run around a little bit. We will probably be able to then set a time where he would come back. I don’t think Myke Sisson will be back this week. I think Myke, in his mind, is thinking TCU. Probably after the bye (week), we will run around and see where we are at a bit.”
On importance of getting off losing streak entering a bye weekend: “You know, I used ‘must-win’ last week. This week is a must-win; we need to get a win. I reminded our football team that we had Philip Rivers in this offseason and he was talking to the team during one of the mat drills. I think he was referencing school and life in general, but he had a good line. He said, ‘All I ever think about is winning the next rep; that’s all I ever think about.’. We talked about that as a football team yesterday and I think it’s probably applicable to what we are doing right now; there is a lot of football out there and we can talk about this and that, our record after the bye and home games and all that. What we really need to do is win the next rep out there Tuesday and see if that can’t build into a nice practice Tuesday and then Wednesday and if we do that, maybe it gives us the chance to win a couple plays Saturday night and who knows, we might get a win.”
On winning the game as opposed to practice reps: “If you don’t win them out there (pointing to practice field), you’re not winning them Saturday.”
On if Chris Nwoke will start Saturday: “We will talk it over with Larry Lewis but I thought Chris did some nice things. But I thought Raymond did some nice things when we put him in there, too. We are kind of settling into a two-man rotation so it is not that important to me who starts. I just like to see who is in the groove. I like what Chris did; I think we left some yards on the table there. I really like what Raymond did; he had fumbled the week before and we had taken him out and I thought he went in and looked good.”
On alternating halves between the two: “Like I said, there are some things that Chris is going to do, regardless of who starts, and there are things that Raymond is going to do. One time Raymond is in there and you say, ‘I like the way he looks; let’s talk about getting him in there a little more,’ or ‘Let’s keep Chris in there.’ That’s generally the way it works until someone takes charge.”
On who would get the ball in a crucial situation: “There are very few of those types of ‘must’ plays. A majority of the things we do, either one can do. Then with those, you try to make it look like something else. If it’s something that Raymond is specifically doing in that alignment, you better be doing a few things, not just that one thing.”
On becoming more creative due to injuries: “Like I said, with the offensive line situation, the volume has been reduced severly. Weston Richburg has never played tackle and he lined up as a tackle in the fourth quarter. He is a pretty talented guy, he looked pretty good out there. It is just the nature of what we have right now.”
On possibility of pulling redshirt off of A.J. Frieler: “It is. That thought actually crossed my mind last Saturday night and I remember thinking that looking at next year, you have (Joe) Caprioglio and (Jared) Biard back, and the two guys that are playing right now. You could red shirt Frieler next year. That thought crossed my mind but we decided to put Weston out there. We will have those conversations.”
On Pete Thomas’ in the pocket: “Big guys are always, at least never for me, they are never as compact as you would like in the pocket. You would like to think that a guy could almost operate in a phone booth back there. It is hard for big guys and he is a tall kid; sometimes things get a little more elongated and you don’t want that.”
On if Thomas needs to change his mindset going into games: “The thing he needs to do is take care of his business now. You get through that progression and at 2.7 (seconds), not 3.1. You get on your progression and get through it and get the ball out. Obviously, we need to do some things to help him, protection-wise.”
On if Thomas is getting through that progression faster this year: “He is. But it’s, ‘How much faster? Are you getting through it faster every time?’ Those are the questions, and you will get better; you will get through it faster and more consistent the more you play. I’m sure of that.”
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