fair point that
Just kind of talk about how your guys are coming along a little bit through three games.
“Yeah, the guys are working hard. You know, we just keep pressing them every week in practice, keep telling them to challenge themselves every day and hopefully it translates on the weekends. They’re working hard.”
Jourdan was saying on Monday that he thinks the secondary could be the best in the country. Is that sort of an attitude that you promote?
“Well, that’s what we want them to think and, you know, certainly the work and what they produce has to match that. But we absolutely want that attitude from those guys. It helps. Certainly their position requires that kind of attitude. They’ve got to have a short memory at that position and put things to the side and go play the next play. So, it’s all about attitude, it’s all about challenging yourself every day and just trying to get better and better and win every play.”
Talk a little about the challenge they’re going to get this weekend.
“A big, big challenge. I mean, those guys [are] 6’6”, 6’5”, 6’3”. Really big receivers, good athletes, decent speed; I mean, they’ve got it all, and they roll in those guys. They’ve got four or five really good receivers that they’re rolling in every down, so they’re going to be fresh. We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us.
“Just physically, when you line Jourdan Lewis up against a 6’6” guy, as scrappy as Jourdan is, that’s a tough matchup. But that’s how we’re going to play it. They’ve got to fight.”
When a guy makes a couple big plays like Channing did last week, what does that do for his confidence and how he’s able to play?
“You know, hopefully. When you do things right you get confidence, and he’s been doing things right. Throughout camp, Channing has probably had the best camp out of all the guys. He’s just worked hard. He had one bad day, had one bad scrimmage in the summer there. Other than that he’s been playing really hard and really well. I think he realizes, and I’m hoping that all of them realize, that you don’t arrive. You always have to get better, because somebody’s chasing you.”
[After THE JUMP: Covering big receivers, the importance of eyes, and seam responsibility in Cover 3]
Four or five of your nine tackles came on Saturday. Was that a game that things just kind of clicked for you? Was it where you were just able to take advantage of an opportunity? How do you view it?
James Ross: “I just view it like basically all the guys out there, we do our best to do what we can on the field at any given time. I just made those plays, but a lot of guys, we’re just running to the ball. Anybody can make a play at any given moment, you know; JD [Jourdan Lewis] or corners, safeties, we all run to the ball at the same time so there’s going to be a lot of assisted tackles.”
How many plays does it take to get the hat? [ED. (Adam)- It says ‘Ball Hawk’; Lewis was wearing a ‘Ball Hawk’ track jacket]
JR: “How many plays? This was in practice, in camp. Got a couple of forced fumbles.”
Jourdan, what was this week like for you, obviously dealing with a concussion and whether you were going to play? Also, four pass breakups was obviously a career best. What did you do and see in that game that helped you out?
Jourdan Lewis: “Just using my technique. Trying to get back as fast as possible from that concussion. Just excited to be out there, obviously.”
Jourdan, obviously a bigger challenge from the BYU receivers, a little bit bigger. What do you see from them on film, and when you’re attacking a larger group of receivers like that when you’re not as big how much do you have to rely on your technique and what do you have to do?
JL: “We haven’t seen much film on BYU yet. We’re actually going to watch film today, so I actually haven’t seen them.
“Commenting on the larger receiver thing, it really doesn’t matter to me. Small receiver, large receiver, it’s all the same. Just using my technique.”
[More, including Ben Braden, after THE JUMP]
News bullets and other items:
- Harbaugh made it abundantly clear that there’s no QB controversy. He said Rudock’s the best QB on the team, and “not by a small margin.”
- Kyle Kalis graded out as the best offensive lineman on Saturday.
- Harbaugh was very impressed with Channing Stribling, saying no one in the secondary has shown more improvement.
- Chesson was the offensive and special teams player of the game, and Lewis was the defensive player of the game.
- Kerridge could possibly play Saturday. He’s “working through something.”
“Whaddaya got? I’m ready to go! I’m excited about my team!”
Can you talk about what you’ve seen out of BYU? What impresses you most about their offense?
“Well, good receivers. Big receivers. Good quarterback. Big, physical team on both sides of the ball. Very athletic. They play extremely hard.
“I think this will be a great test for our team. Very excited about the competition this week and what’s in store. It’ll be a great gauge for where our team is at right now.”
Now that you’ve had a chance to look at the film, what did Ty Isaac do that got the running game going versus maybe somebody else, and how- I kind of asked you about this a little big Saturday- but how big is it that you can have different guys that you can throw in there if one guy is not playing well and one guy is playing well?
“Well, I wouldn’t look at it as throwing guys in there. I mean…we’ve got football players that are hungry, that want to be in there, that are improving and making contributions to the team, and there’s something about not just throwing a guy in but strategically putting a player in to be successful. That’s the way I would phrase it.
“Ty did a nice job. We talked about it. I think he’s an improving player and still has some work to do. You know, he’s going to miss one and then made the big one. That was great to see.
“The offensive line is improving. Offensive line is getting better. Probably the guy who made the biggest jump is Kyle Kalis. Graded out for the ballgame 90% [or] a little above 90% along with Graham Glasgow, who’s been consistently very good and been our best offensive lineman. Kalis is ascending fast, so it’s great to see that. The other one is Ben Braden is playing better. Still has work to do, but he’s improving as well. Thought Mason Cole and Magnuson both improved. They’re playing more physical and they’re finishing. They’re really making an effort to finish right now. So, all five of those guys. What’s helping our running game right now is them and the contribution by the backs, but also the receivers.
“The receivers are making a real effort right now to block downfield. They’re blocking in the box, they are coming to get safeties, and they are blocking sometimes 30-40 yards downfield. Jehu Chesson was our player of the game offensively and on special teams, and a big reason was he contributed to the passing game, contributed to the running game, contributed putting points on the board, and his blocking was making a real effort at it. Along with all our receivers…Amara [Darboh].
“There’s a lot of things contributing to us improving in the running game.”
[After THE JUMP: Dennis Quaid comes up and if that doesn’t get you to read the whole thing I guess we just don’t have a similar sense of humor]
Ty, can you talk about how well blocked that touchdown was that you had, and how good it feels to contribute after transferring and waiting to have moments like this?
Ty Isaac: “I mean, it went like it did in practice for the most part. Everybody got their assignments, did their jobs, and it opened up.
“As far as contributing, obviously it feels good. I’ve been here for a year without playing, doing a lot of practice squad stuff. I know that stuff helps the team, but it feels a lot better when you can put it on the scoreboard and help your team win.”
With De’Veon struggling to get going, with the run game struggling to get going, how critical is it for you guys to be able to bring someone else in and kind of change things up for the offense?
TI: “I think that’s the nice part about just us having such a deep running back room. If one guy’s not going somebody else in the room is going to be able to go. So, maybe it’s not De’Veon, it’s not me; you have Drake [Johnson], Derrick [Green], Ross Taylor-Douglas. I mean, there’s a lot of guys in there that do a good job.”
Can you talk about the performance- offense, defense, whatever it is- regarding first half versus second half? You guys came out well, put some points on the board, and it seemed overall a little more of a struggle in the second half. Was there something missing in your regard?
TI: “Missing? I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure they were in their locker room making adjustments so we didn’t do the same thing we did to them in the first half but I feel overall the defense played well. Obviously it wasn’t a perfect game, but we’ll go back, look at it, clean it up, [and] next game try to do a lot better both halves.”
[After THE JUMP: “I think the identity we’re establishing is that we’re going to hit you in the mouth, regardless of who you are.”]
Guys came out and looked strong with the numbers they put on the scoreboard in the first half. Anything that comes to your mind that you can turn to and say, ‘Hey, here's some things we definitely need to work on’ now that the game’s done? Second-half performance seemed to be a little off compared to the first from what I could see.
“I was pleased with the way our team played. They did what we asked them to do, and that was take care of business. Started fast. That was a key for us in the game. We wanted to improve in that area, and we got our hands on the ball defensively. Our secondary players were breaking on the football, intercepting the football, and that happened on the first possession. UNLV put us in good field position.
“Our offense took the ball down, drove, and put a touchdown on the board with the pass from Jake Rudock to De’Veon Smith. So, a lot of good areas. It felt like we improved today as a team and got the win and yes, there will definitely be things to improve from, get better at, and coach, so all those things are positives.”
After last week why do you think the run game with De’Veon struggled a little bit, and how important is it that you can go to someone like Ty [Isaac] and spark that with a different back?
“That was a fantastic run by Ty Isaac. We didn't block it right, and…it was not blocked the way we drew it up. Missed a block. I thought it was going to be a tackle for a loss, and Ty did a real good job somwhow. He swerved, he avoided, he made a tackle miss, avoided another and was off to the races. It was the darndest thing I've seen in a long, long time but very good for us. Ended up being 90 yards on the drive and a 70-some-yard carry by Ty Isaac. That was good. I thought…
“It was a swirling wind. We struggled a little bit to pinpoint some passes. We had some guys open but didn't hit them. But, again, played pretty well. Pretty good, fundamental, solid football, penalty free– not completely penalty free, couple costly ones. But overall, yeah, I was pleased with the way the team played.”
What were your impressions of Jake Rudock today? He threw a pick. How concerned are you with five picks in three games?
“His job is to win football games, and as I said it wasn't an ideal day to throw. There was a swirling wind quite a bit the whole day. But yeah, thought he did a good job. Managed the game well and for the most part the offense was moving darn near every time we got the ball. And, as I said, there's things to get better at and improve from and coach, so a week of doing that.”
[After THE JUMP: “‘Satisfied’ is not a word I’m ever going to use. It’s never a word I’m going to associate with football.”]
To the turnovers with Jake [Rudock]: is that a concern, or something where you don't see him do it much in practice so…?
“Well, the first game, obviously we never want to play with three turnovers. Three interceptions in that game, and then this past game with the sack-fumble and the interception. So, I guess you'd be accounted for five, which is tough because of the fact that a lot of things go into all of those. The one that I was most disappointed on probably was the sack-fumble because that was the most avoidable. He had an opportunity to kick it out there when he was hot and he held onto the ball there. But the others, you know, we’ve gotta- I think he played very smart football this past week in comparison to maybe one or two plays at Utah that you’d probably like to take back.
“But no, he's not a guy that's been prone to throw interceptions. So he's thrown four, which is two right now a game. If he can have a few games with zero he'll get right back to his average. If you throw one a game you throw 12 for the year. If you could get a few games with zero you get that number down to about six or seven, so he's got to do that. He's got to strive for that number to get to about somewhere less than 10 for the year and try to double the touchdowns. You'd like to get to a 2 to 1 ratio there or more, so we’ll look for that. But yeah, I think that he's smart with the ball. Doesn't take sacks. Only one sack in 76 pass attempts, so that's exciting.”
What would you consider an optimal performance from your quarterbacks?
“Yeah, well, he was close with 70% completion. I think if you could get to that number every week you’d be awfully happy. I think the interception was the second to last pass he threw on the night or day. So, you know, that was unfortunate in that situation. He certainly didn't have to cram a ball in there up 21 points, so he could've walked away from the game – had a couple touchdown pass opportunities.
“Went kind of to a different side, which they were some opportunities there that… So I'd love to walk away with A couple of touchdowns, a 70% completion, and no interceptions. Sign me up for that. And he had that one sack which was avoidable, so we could've gone two games without a sack, which is a credit to all 11.”
[After THE JUMP: Checkdowns, rub routes, and playcalling logistics]