In hindsight, and this has nothing to do with an injury, should Devin Gardner have played earlier in the game on Saturday based on how Shane was playing?
And why not?
“Well, I think you’ve got to give a guy an opportunity to play. Shane prepared very well. We talked about it for several weeks, you know, his preparation leading up to the game. He deserved that opportunity to play and we were going to let him play.”
Doug, what was your perspective on the Shane Morris hit that’s kind of been a question after he had the hit to the head? It looked like you kind of saw him struggling on the field. What were you saying to him and what was your take on this?
“Well, I didn’t see the hit. You can’t see- everything was lost in the field of play and the guys upstairs, you know, it was third down and it was an incompletion so I was thinking- well, they say, ‘We got a roughing penalty. We’re up.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay.’ So the first thing is okay, what are we doing now? It’s first-and-10 from a playcaller’s standpoint, and then I look up and I see Shane limping. ‘Are you okay? Are you okay?’ and he waved me off, [saying] ‘I’m fine.’ Okay. I didn’t know at that extent what had happened, really. You don’t really know because you couldn’t see from our vision on the field and Shane’s a tough, tough guy, man.”
Did you talk to him when he came off the field, and what was sort of his state of mind and clarity at that point?
“I don’t really recall having a conversation other than ‘Are you okay?’ and then you’ve got the flow of the game and everything else that was going on.”
Coach, is it going to be difficult for either quarterback or whatever quarterback you have in there until this offensive takes a few more steps forward in terms of pass protection and things like that?
“We’re all disappointed in our performance. We needed to perform better. We needed to play better. We needed to coach better. That’s across the board, not one position. Like I said, we’ve got to coach better and we’ve got to play better. We’ve got a lot of work to do, obviously. The only thing we can do is go back to the practice field. We went and put some pads on yesterday and worked on some things, worked on some fundamental things to try and get better at every position.”
Do you know who will be the starter next weekend?
“We’ll go through the week and we’ll evaluate it.”
Is it a question of- if Shane were 100% and nothing had happened injury-wise would that still be the case this week, or…?
“We’re going to challenge and compete at every position, like we say every week and see where we’re at and evaluate every guy. We’ve talked about it numerous times, [we] want to create competition at every position. Both Shane and Devin have done some really good things and we look forward to watching them compete and allow each other to be pushed and get better.”
With how, from our perspective- with how long it took for the final decision to made going into last week’s game…first of all, when was that decision made that Shane was going to be the starter?
“Well, I don’t think that when that decision’s made is really relevant. What’s relevant is that our players are pushing each other every day to get better and that we’re putting the best players at each position out there every Saturday.”
[More on Shane Morris and the hit after THE JUMP]
Doug, two parts: is the quarterback, is that exclusive to Shane and Devin? The quarterback battle.
“I don’t think any position on our team is exclusive. That would be- that wouldn’t be what we preach to our players, which is everybody compete. Get better each and every day. We want to challenge. We want to compete. We want to get better at every position.”
The second part of it is how closely have you looked at the offensive line? Are there any major personnel changes that you’re looking to make? Is there any that you feel would be better for the line?
“Yeah, sure. I mean, every week it’s evaluation. Obviously, like I said, we’ve got to get better, so we evaluate everything. We evaluate who’s playing where; what are we doing with them; is the scheme right; do we have the players in the right position to have success; are the players doing the things they’re supposed to be doing correctly? So there’s a lot of this that plays into it, and each and every week you can’t pinpoint one thing. And that’s what we’re trying to do now. We’ve talked about it. Find consistency. Be able to week in and week out do things well.”
Coach talked about Shane deserving a chance to play.
But can you talk about at what point you have to make a decision that we have to try and win the game, and what’s our best chance to win the game when it factors into who’s playing quarterback, and was he your best choice into the second half to win that game?
“Well, I think that every game we play to win the game, and we put the best players out there we feel at the time. Where you get into the point of saying, ‘Well, is another player better than another player at that point in the game?’, that’s all subjective and that’s- if you’ve got a hitter and he strikes out the first two times up and you out take him out you don’t know if he’s going to hit a home run in his third at-bat, so that’s hard to say and that’s a difficult question to ask, obviously. You look at everything, and like I said, proud of what Shane went out and the way he competed.”
Doug, when Shane was down after the hit, did you try and encourage him to stay down to get checked out?
“I couldn’t see what happened. When I saw- it’s hard because everything happens so fast down there. We had sprinted to the other side. Saw the ball. I’m trying to follow the ball, trying to see the routes, trying to see what happens and all of a sudden I see incompletion. First thought is, ‘We’re off’ and then the guys upstairs say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a penalty. We’ve got a roughing. We’re going to get back out there.’ So that, that was…”
After that when Devin lost his helmet, what was the confusion with Bellomy on the sideline?
“Well, the biggest thing was trying to get the time out and get Devin to be able to put his helmet back on.”
In the spirit of, ‘We have to get better and we have to figure better ways to do things,’ just as an outsider it seems to me maybe that one of the things you have to do better is figuring out how injured a player is or figure out when there is an injury possibility like this [how to have] better communication. Do you agree with that, and is that something you guys are assessing?
“Well, obviously player safety is of the utmost [importance] to us.”
And so is there any possibility of changing how the word gets from one person in your team to another?
“You know, it’s protocol and we have one of the finest medical staffs in the country. Doctors, trainers, and that’s their department. That’s not for me, as a football coach, to really get involved in.”
DeVeon Smith: comments on his effort and through that any potential change in his depth chart status?
“Played extremely hard. Was effective. Played physical. Played fast. Very- was very happy with what DeVeon did. Like we said before, we’d like to have both guys play and both guys contributing but it just happened at the point in time where he went in, he ran very hard and ran well so obviously, we talked about it a little bit last week, but having both of those guys productive is very important to our success.”
Were you made aware of a concussion test protocol administered to Shane Morris or did someone say to you that he was cleared or that he was checked for a concussion?
“No, we just follow the- as a coach you just go through the procedure of waiting to be told whether a player plays or not. We assume a player’s available to play until I’m told from the medical staff that he’s not available to play.”
And were you told that he was cleared to play, that he was able to play?
“We didn’t have the discussion. We don’t have the discussion unless a player’s unable to play.”
MGoQuestion: You just mentioned the medical staff. Do you know if they have a standard concussion protocol or if there’s a protocol for when there’s a helmet-to-helmet hit?
“Well, I’m not going to get into all those specifics and all those things. I think that’s better directed to our medical staff and to coach Hoke and that and I’ll let those guys handle that.”
Are you concerned with the lack of production the wide receivers- looked like it was going to be a strength of the team…I mean, other than Devin Funchess, I think he had a few catches Saturday but no one’s really standing out. Are you concerned with that?
“Well, we’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to do better and anytime you’re not producing points is number one. We’ve got to find a way to score points and we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the guys in the right spots and we’re giving them opportunities, and then we’ve got to make plays.
Are you surprised at how many points you aren’t scoring?
“Disappointed. I think that you’ve got to look at where you’re at; where you’re headed; why not; why are we not scoring? That’s the biggest thing. What’s hindering us? There’s a lot of things. We’ve got to do some things differently and we’ve got to play better.”
Why are you guys not scoring?
“Well, there’s lots of reasons. We’ve got to coach better and we’ve got to play better.”
If Shane Morris is injured ankle-wise or whatever so he can’t play I assume it will be Devin Gardner. How do you think he will react to having been benched in a game and then put back in, and was a little bit productive at the end and going forward how do you think Gardner will react?
“I think, number one, Devin’s a great person. And you take football out of the equation and you talk about all this kid’s accomplished and the type of human being he is, first off. He’s a great competitor. He’s a great leader. He’s a great person. Now, I don’t think that anybody, if you saw the week before against Utah when Shane did go in the game later in the game for Devin how he was the fist guy up in front encouraging his teammate, encouraging all the guys on the team but [I’m] expecting nothing but the best from Devin.”
Doug, you sort of touched on every position. Can you talk about the offensive line? Still looking like this is an issue for this team.
“Well, I think offensively right now we’ve got to look at every position and what we’re doing. We’re not getting the productivity we need and I think it would be unfair to pinpoint one position. We need to play better, like I said, and we need to coach better across the board. And some of it comes from you kind of get the effect of too much is not good enough. You try to press, and I think maybe we’re pressing a little bit, trying to reach a little bit and we’ve just got to get back to the basics. That’s why we spent a lot of time on fundamentals yesterday, and you look at the erosion of our fundamentals across the board and any time you have that and you play good football teams you’re going to get beat.”
MGoQuestion: On the few drives that Devin Gardner did play, did you see anything different from him mechanically on Saturday?
“Uh, I don’t know that I would say mechanically there was a whole lot different. I thought Devin came in with a great sense of energy and provided a big boost for us from an energy standpoint.”
Back to DeVeon: he barely had an carries in the second half and he had been productive in the first half. What was the reason for that?
“Well, I just think you look at the flow of the game. It’s kind of a punch-counterpunch game there going back and forth, and we’re trying to establish field position. We were unable to do so. We were backed up several times to start the second half and couldn’t quite get the ball out of there. Then we have the turnover going for a touchdown, so I think it was more a matter of circumstance and then you get behind and you’re playing catch-up and the passing game becomes obviously more prevalent.”