We often hear about service academy offenses. How difficult is it of a challenge to prepare for them?
“Defending option football and conventional football at the same time. That’s what we’ve been studying. Air Force has been very successful. Seven, eight, nine game winning streak. They go back and forth between conventional and option football.”
Your defense is scoring a lot, more than they’re giving up. Is that something that has been emphasized? Is that just guys making plays? How do you account for that?
“It’s a good thing. Very good players and a good scheme and they work very hard at being good on defense.”
Talk about your impressions about Lavert Hill. I know you’ve been happy with him.
“Yeah, been happy with Lavert. He’s asserted himself and played very well. Made the big play for us in the ball game this past week.
“Tyree Kinnel would be another person that I’d spotlight; defensive player of the game; sacks, two I believe; tackles for loss; interception for touchdown; seven tackles total, I believe. Well done. Brandon Watson also had a couple PBUs and played very well. Josh Metellus did good. Up front, I thought Rashan had one of his best games. Devin Bush again, another very good game for him; sack, tackle for loss, PBU. Outstanding game by him. Chase Winovich. Noah Furbush was better. Mo Hurst probably played the best of all of our upfront defensive players.
“So, there was a lot of good. Dodged a couple bullets. As was pointed out, scored two touchdowns on defense, so we’re doing well. We’re good. Attribute that to hard work and good scheme and good players.”
How has Lavert—how have you seen him digest all the information that a young starter has to digest?
“Yeah, doing well. Seeing him digest information very well. Comes from good stock. You’d love to be Lavert Hill Sr., to have Delano Hill playing professional football and now here you see Lavert in there starting at corner, making plays, helping his team win. Lavert Hill Sr.’s probably boring the heck out of the neighbors with how well his sons are doing.”
[Learn how to avoid emotionally hijacking Jim Harbaugh after THE JUMP]
I know you talk about how the competition is always ongoing but is that true once the season starts at the quarterback position or do you not want the quarterback looking over his shoulder and thinking that something could still change.? How do you handle that?
“Yeah. Uh. Wilton’s the starting quarterback and we’re forging on.”
A lot of people talked about Peters early on and we haven’t heard much about him. Is that—
“Progressing. Progressing nicely. You got a follow-up to that.”
“Good. We’ll move on.”
With the offense in general, you talked about that week one to week two wanting to see a big jump there. When you look back on things, did you see it was better? What did you see?
“Moving the ball again. Running game good again. Play-action passing good. Hit some big third-down conversions to keep the chains moving. Touchdown passes. Protection was even better from week one to week two. We’re moving people up front. Turnovers that occurred, and we got coaching fingerprints on the fly sweep that we need to make a technique adjustment there that we will make and we’ll be better for it going forward. That’s the good, the bad.”
That’s with the fumble that—
“Yeah, the fumble on the fly sweep that occurred. That’s a coaching correction, easily fixed. Feel good about making that. Better. Easily.”
It looked like Brandon Watson and David Long had a similar amount of snaps at that second corner spot. How would you assess that and right now is there someone that has an edge?
“Well, they’re both going to play. We’re going to play at times five defensive backs. Both are doing well, as I said. Brandon played well. They’re both playing and happy with each of their playing.”
Are you looking for one guy to take a hold of that second spot opposite Lavert?
“As I said, we play multiple corners in the game at the same time.”
What’s the biggest difference between Ty Isaac right now and maybe coming into the last few seasons? Obviously he’s given you two good games.
“He’s just…he’s progressed. He’s capitalized on opportunities. He’s always—he’s been a good football player, now he’s better, which has been good. He’s taken his opportunity, he’s taken the bit, and he’s run with it. Amount of yards he rushed for. Thought he executed very well.
“Thought he had some things that I would quote as ‘spectacular’ plays; avoiding the tackle for a loss with the free runner off the edge, thought that was significant. His long run on the sweep, he was able to avoid a corner that was unblocked. He had one called back due to a penalty and we had a missed assignment where he had another opportunity. He had two or three opportunities called back or taken away because of execution. I would say he’s taken the opportunity and really seized it. It’s very important for him and it’s showing.”
What are your thoughts on the development of the offensive line and also Kugler?
“Uh, good. As we’ve said, I thought Patrick was really good game one. Thought the protection was very good. In this game he’s doing a fine job of driving the car and making the calls. I think that’s been very good.
“I think our first thought coming off the game was we were a little sloppy at times. We didn’t get into our rhythm. But looking at the film, there was a lot of good things and some of the things that we can improve are easily fixable.”
Donovan Jeter and Luji [Vilan] we had heard a lot about. Have injuries slowed their progress a little bit?
“Yeah, Donovan Jeter has had a surgery. He’s going to be out for the year.”
“Yeah, hopefully back at some point. Not a long-term [injury].”
And can I ask about Grant Newsome and his progress and what the latest is with him?
“Yeah, continuing to get better. He’s running, he’s working out every day. He’s also coaching. He’s a student-coach right now, which has been very valuable. ‘Go Blue’ guy all the way and progressing nicely. Hopefully, best-case scenario he could be back practicing for the bowl game, December, that time frame. May not either. That would be accelerated. You hope for the best and plan for longer but he’s progressing nicely. Great attitude, ‘Go Blue’ guy all the way.”
How much easier is Mason Cole making your life right now. He’s a guy who’s switched spots; it’s not a new position but it’s different. How [inaudible]?
“Well, I mean, he’s been unbelievable. Arguably the most valuable player on the offense. What is his best position? Is it probably center? Yeah, it probably is, but the need was at tackle for our team so the combination of Mason Cole at tackle and Patrick Kugler at center is, in our opinion, better than Mason Cole at center and someone else at center; just the combination of the two spots. It’s been stalwart-like, going from left tackle to center back to left tackle. He’s handled it. Made it seamless, made it look easy. As I said, arguably our best player on offense.”
Oliver Martin and Kareem Walker weren’t dressed. Are they hurt or what’s going on with them?
“No— and I know you guys used to have some kind of dress thing where they’d tell you who’s dressing or not. If you want to spend your time sitting in the press box with binoculars seeing who’s dressed and who’s not, that’s your business. So this’ll be the last time I ever address this, so you know: Kareem Walker and Oliver both working through something. Kareem’s got a little knee [issue], Oliver’s got an upper extremity. Just so we both don’t get emotionally hijacked going forward, I’m not going to address you and the binoculars in the stadium seeing who’s dressed and trying to figure it out. Guys will be working through things.
“It’s just not fair or right for when you’re talking about college players and what they have physically going on or what injury they have, that it’s your business or anyone else’s. There’s no injury report, there’s no dress list. That’s the explanation. It’s not fair to those guys to broadcast what injury they have or what ailment they have. Fair?”
Wilton Speight is two weeks into live reps [inaudible].
“What’d you say?”
Sorry. Wilton Speight is two weeks into live reps.
“Two weeks into live reps?”
Game experience. What does he need to do to improve?
“I think he’s doing fine.”
With Ty, we hear every year about a senior whose light kind of goes on and he gets it and has a breakout year. Is he similar and fit in that mold or does he have progress to make?
“Also, as we said, the opportunity and seizing it a la Brandon Watson, a la several players that get their opportunity as a junior or a senior or a fifth-year senior. I think he’s seizing the opportunity and making the most of it. Good for him. It’s good for us.”