Nov. 21, 2011
Opening statement: "We're on a little different schedule this week being our university is off of school; no classes. So we're going to use today, the extra day, to prepare for the Air Force Academy. We'll be out on the practice field at 1 o'clock. We'll try to get four practices in this week instead of three. With regard to last Saturday's game, we obviously made too many mistakes to come away with a win. A lot like San Diego State, I was pleased with the effort and the physical type of game we played. There were a number of things you can take away from that game that were positive. I have a lot of respect for not only Troy Calhoun and the job he's done, but for the Air Force Academy. We've had some tremendous games here in the past and anticipate this being another one. Also we try to spend some time talking with our kids about the respect we have for the academy outside of athletics, what their purpose is and how they defend our country and provide us with a way of life. Always have ever since I was a player and assistant coach and now as a head coach, always respected the way they went about business. I know our team does as well."
On the value of the extra day of practice: "It's real valuable. As you guys know their offense is very different from anything we see the rest of the year. The challenge is not only on your defensive game plan and getting ready on a one-week notice but also trying to get a look team to simulate that. I know that's always the biggest challenge on both sides of the ball when you come into the Air Force week is getting the players the look they need to get ready for the game."
On who plays as scout-team quarterback: "Well, we've got a number of options. I think we're going to experiment and see. No matter who you have it's hard to simulate that timing and speed and that sort of thing; it's different."
On how eager he is to get his first win over Air Force: "It'd be great. There's no question. They beat us the last three years. Troy's done a good job. They've got a good football team, a good football program. I think we're headed in the right direction and this would be a nice win for us."
On playing Air Force in a game that would makethe Falcons bowl-eligible: "I think it makes it an extremely important game for them. Our approach and so forth is not going to change just because they have something riding on the line. We've got to prepare well this week and we plan on playing a very good game Saturday."
On playing the spoiler role against Air Force: "It's all about us and getting better this week. We'll try to do the things we have to do to play our best game on Saturday."
On the quarterback situation: "Well I liked some of the things Garrett (Grayson) did. Obviously he started; Pete (Thomas) was not available. Pete is day-to-day as it is now. I do not believe he'll practice today but we'll have him out running around and see where he's at. That will have a lot to do with it. Garrett's our starting quarterback. Like I've said all along, I was going to play Garrett (over the final three games after using his redshirt year)regardless of Pete's situation; I want to make sure he gets the chance to play. I think we owe that to him. We'll just see if Pete is available."
On if he'd like to clarify whether Grayson will start Saturday: "I say that because I don't know if Pete is available this week.We're going to prepare Garrett to be the starter. You can't get two guys ready. We'll see where Pete's at over the next few days."
On if he would split first-team reps between Grayson and Thomas if they were both available: "No. I've said this all along, I don't think you can get two guys ready. You've got to get a guy ready. It's a lot like those NFL backups; it's their job to take it all in and do their best without reps to get themselves ready in case they have to go in. It's not like at other spots where you plan on playing a couple guys; we're not doing that. We're planning on playing a guy and getting a guy ready."
On how much last week helped Grayson: "Big progress. He hasn't been in that role, period. Through spring ball, through fall camp, he's not been in the No. 1 role to get the majority of reps. What he had to do against San Diego State was different than what he had to do against TCU."
On what he liked about Grayson's play at TCU: "I don't think it was too big for him. I was concerned going in to aroad game. Going against TCU's defense on the road knowing you're the starter, that can affect your psyche. I like the way he approached it. I liked the look in his eye during the game. When we had to make adjustments it didn't seem like it was too big for him. Just his overall demeanor. He's an accurate kid like Pete. He brings some things to the table with his mobility and we tried to use that with some designed runs. I thought he played well. We turned the ball over and I'm sure he'd like to have that ball back. He's a talented kid and he's going to get better and better."
On how Grayson has helped himself: "He's done what you'd like everyone to do regardless of their role. He's had some reps and when he's had a chance to perform he's performed well. He's produced on the practice field and that's what you're looking for at every spot. He came into August camp as theNo. 3 quarterback. He's earned his way into theNo. 2 slot and now with injuries into the starting spot, you'd like everyone to approach it like that. One day you're theNo. 3 corner and things can happen. You could make a couple plays in a two-minute period and you practice well, and all of a sudden you'reNo. 2. Then a guy gets hurt and you're out there playing. Good teams have that type of depth and that type of competition."
On if the quarterback situation is a dilemma: "No. I'd like to have that at every spot. I'd like to have players where we're thinking, `Wow, there's two guys worthy of starting; who do we play?'. It's a good problem to have. I guarantee you this: It'll bring out the best in both of them."
On if the quarterback situation will help Pete Thomas: "Well I'll tell you one thing about Pete and I've liked this about him since the day I met him: If there's a guy that doesn't need to be pushed, it's him. I've liked his approach and the way he goes about trying to be the best player he can be. If you're asking me if I'd like to have two good quarterbacks, I'd like to have five. I hope Conner Smith can give them a run for their money in the spring."
On if Grayson brings new excitement to the team:"I think new had something to do with it. I think sometimes whenyour quarterback runs the ball, that can be a fun thing for guys to see. I think just going in and playing well against a very good defense has a lot to do with it. Ultimately guys get excited about good players making good plays."
On Grayson's yards per completion: "That hit me as much as anything.No. 1, trying to run the football against that defense. You come out of there asking,`Were you able to run the ball against that defense and were you able to get some explosiveness in the passing game in yards per attempt?,' which we've been lower than I've liked this year. Anytime we can get that type of big-play capability when we throw it, it sure helps a lot of things."
On how much better he expects Grayson to be this week having started last week:"I think just another step forward. Anytime you're at quarterback I think every time you get a chance to play the position you're going to improve a little bit. You're going to process things faster. You've going to see something new. This is a new defense for him, a little different structure. There will be some things that he'll see for the first time."
On if the team will play more loosely now that there is no pressure to be bowl-eligible:"I don't know if we play loosely. I've just like the way we approached the game. I like our travel all year long; guys have been real business-like. Practices have been productive, so I don't think that is going to change at all. I hope it doesn't. I hope we go about business the way we have been lately."
On Raymond Carter's performance amidst the emergence of Chris Nwoke:"Raymond really played well in that football game (at TCU). We were just talking about that in the team meeting. Obviously the big play, anytime you can score and create an explosion for your offense, that is good. I thought Raymond ran the ball with some power and some authority and hit some holes and did a nice job. We have said all along, Chris (Nwoke) got into a little bit of a groove there and we are trying to feed Chris the ball, but we are going to need Raymond. He sure stepped up; I thought he did a nice job.He works as hard on the practice field as anyone. I am proud of Raymond Carter, no question. He is a fun kid to coach. I really think he has done a nice job for us."
On if Elijah-Blu Smith will return this season:"We would love to have him but it's not looking like he is going to be back this year."
On how Smith has been a help to the team while not playing:"He is a positive kid. He is another one who works hard and does the right thing. I think having Blu around is a good deal for us."
On his evaluation of Mychal Sisson's first game back from injury:"I thought he did good. That was just courageous, the whole story. I asked Myke to speak to our football team prior to the game, just because when you start to build a football team, the immeasurables, the productivity of a guy who plays is one thing, but the want-to that Myke Sisson has is maybe as much as I have been around. The guy just loves the game and would not be denied this season to come back and play. It is really a neat story; I'm glad he is going to get to finish this out."
On Sisson's experience being an asset:"It is valuable. Look at him against TCU;early in the game he's making a play. Those are things you miss and he has brought those to the table every game he has played since I have been head football coach. I remember the very opening ball game coming off the edge against CU down there, it was like, `Who is this guy?'. He can just make plays. Our linebackers are playing good but you miss that. We have missed that all year and now we have it back. I am happy for our football team but I am more happy for Myke Sisson."
On Shaquil Barrett's progression as a linebacker:"I have said all along, if there are much better linebackers around, show them to me. He has really played tremendous all year long. He is learning. too. He is a true sophomore and this is his first year in Division I football, playing in the middle is relatively new to him, and he is in a new defense. He is really going to be something."
On the program's depth:"I think we are fairly dinged up, but there are a lot of guys who have started a lot of games. If we just keep recruiting and bringing those types of kids into the program, I am very confident that we can get CSU football back where it belongs. We obviously are disappointed in the record this year. Certainly there are some games that we could have, should have, but nobody is going to give you those wins. I told our football team after the game, we are a good football team without a good record and I believe that. I believe this is a very good football team."
On Air Force RB Asher Clark's success inthe Falcons' offense:"It surprises me. Everybody knows that if you don't stop the fullback, it is going to be a long afternoon. It is the quarterback that usually does all the damage. If you could pick where you want the ball a lot of times, you are hoping they kick it out the pitch guy and the halfback. Troy (Calhoun) has really put his signature on that offense. There are a lot of wishbone principles but there is a lot of other stuff going on, a lot of ways to get that halfback (Clark) involved. He is a good player but they are using him well. There is a lot of productivity coming out of that spot, where in past years there may have not been."
On Air Force's past success against CSU throwing the football:"I have always been intrigued as a player and a coach with that offense. I think it is fun to watch.I think it is fun to look at. I have spent time in the offseason watching their offense, just because it intrigues me. When they can throw it, they are awfully difficult to deal with. They have had years where they just don't have a guy in there that is proficient enough in the pass game, but they have one now and they're hard to stop when he can throw the football like that. They burned us in that area; it is something we really need to be aware of."
On the problems the Air Force offense will give his safeties:"You have to read your keys and do the right thing. They try to trick you, obviously, but you need the safeties to not let the ball get behind them and you need them involved in the run game. That is difficult."
On if he has been happy with his cornerbacks' run support:"When you look at the guys, Momo (Thomas) had the big stop at Utah State, Shaq (Bell) has done nice job all year. When we have tackled, we have done well on defense. When we haven't tackled, and again, tackling is not just wrapping up, it is getting a lot of guys there and making it close quarters and getting more than one hat on the ball."
On being thankful during this week, for what he's most grateful:"That is a good question. I think we all should ponder that. I am very, very thankful for my family and having the opportunity to coach this football team. It is not often in life you have the opportunity to do what you want in the workplace and I have been able to do that. I wanted to coach in the NFL and I had that chance. I wanted to be a head football coach and I had that chance. I have a tremendous amount to be thankful for."
On his Thanksgiving plans for team:"We are going to give them some time off because I want them to be with their family. We have some things going on."
On if out-of-state players get to go home:"A lot of those kids go with them (to the homes ofColorado natives)."
On the practice schedule this week:"We are going to go at 1 p.m. today and tomorrow and then 9 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. Once we hit Friday, we will be on our game itinerary."
On injuries:"We came out of the game at TCU pretty good. I don't think Paul Madsen is a 100 percent but he played. I am sure proud of what he is doing. There are some nicks, bumps and bruises, that sort of thing, but we didn't lose anybody."
On Weston Richburg playing tackle with a broken hand: "That was an event for him; he did a nice job, though. He is a tough guy. Weston certainly plays the game the way it is supposed to be played. You talk about a team player, a guy who can cast that up and go out there and play on the edge against those defensive ends, that was admirable. He will have the cast on for the rest of the year."
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