Monday Presser 9-7-15: Players Comment Count

Adam Schnepp September 8th, 2015 at 10:00 AM


[Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

Jake Butt and Amara Darboh

When did you know going into the game that you were going to have an opportunity to really have a big production day?

JB: “I mean, I think with the way our offense is set up it’s not just going to- each play isn’t just designed to just get one guy the ball. Really, anyone can get the ball on any given play. I knew there’d be opportunities and plays called where I’d have a chance to get open so I was just trying to catch the balls that were thrown my way.”

Talk a little bit about the process of a new quarterback and receivers getting to know each other and the little things that make the difference in a pass route or a football game.

JB: “The process started really the day Jake [Rudock] got here. His locker’s next to mine in the players’ locker room and we started just playing catch, and all summer we’d do our player-led practices, 7-on-7 and 1-on-1s and just running routes and we started to build the chemistry there. Jake’s had some success at other schools and stuff, so he knows how to get it done.”

AD: “Yeah, true. We were just trying to get the timing down throughout camp and summer, like Jake said. Just tying to get a feel and he tries to get a feel for where we’re going to be at and put the ball in the right spot.”

What did you see out of Grant Perry in preseason camp to know that he was going to be able to help you, and after the game- Coach Harbaugh just said there were a couple routes he didn’t run very precisely that led to interceptions- what do you say to him to make sure he doesn’t get down on himself?

AD: “With the first question, he was a guy who was very focused. He would always ask questions and took good notes and he was a guy that you could tell he understood football even though he was a freshman. And then with the mistakes and stuff, I told him after the game just go out there and pay attention to details and try to do the routes that you did in practice and don’t let the crowd or the atmosphere change the way you play.”

[After THE JUMP: Jourdan Lewis and Willie Henry]

Jake, I think it was on the very first series on third and three you went up for a four-yard pass for an easy first down. On third and short or in short yardage situations do you feel that your role increases, that you’re an especially big part of the offense then?

JB: “I’d like to be targeted. I like my matchup versus a lot of the linebackers and stuff. Whatever the play is called in the huddle, I’m just going to do my job, you know, and if the ball comes my way my job is to catch it but we have a lot of great playmakers too on the edge that are going to have great matchups versus receivers, so whatever coach Fisch dials up we’re going to have to execute.”

Going back to the chemistry thing with Rudock, seeing him spread the ball all around and make 25 completions on the road…you guys obviously would have liked to win, but does that give you confidence knowing your quarterback’s going to be able to target the open man and make plays as opposed to- that’s been an issue the past few years.

JB: “Absolutely. Jake’s just a really smart guy, and we run a pretty complicated offense. I mean, we could be calling two or three plays in the huddle at any time and Jake always gets us in the right play, the right formation, gets everything squared away and then he just understands how to make reads. He could really teach this offense to anybody he knows it so well, and I think that really works to our advantage.” 

AD: “I agree. Jake’s really good at reading defenses and seeing and knowing what guys are going to be open on what side of the field and go through his progression, and I think that helps.”

Jake, when you’re in the kind of traffic you were on that touchdown catch what are your thoughts when the ball’s in the air and what are you doing to try to shield off those other guys and go out and get it?

JB: “Yeah, I think, again, that goes back to the summer. Jake really just understands coverages and I would tell him if the linebacker or the guy guarding me has his back turned to me it’s almost like he’s not even there; he can’t see the ball in the air. So, if he puts it up high…and he did. I kind of just locked in on the ball and it was one of those if I can get my hands on it I’ll come down with it.”

There were times it took the running game a little while to get going. Were you surprised that there were 43 pass attempts? Does that seem a little high to you given what you’ve been working on?

JB: “You know, not really. I trust the coaches. I think they’re going to make the right calls, and credit to Utah. They were a really, really good defense. They have a great front seven and returned a lot of guys with experience. They played hard. But I just trust the coaches.”

Do you guys take a lot more positives out of that one than negatives and what does it say about the team that here you are, you just had a pick-six and essentially the game has been sealed but instead your team came back and scored a touchdown to put you in a situation to win?

AD: “Yeah. Even though we did lose there’s a lot of positives in the game and obviously there’s things we need to work on. I think the drive at the end does show that we have the capability of doing some good things this season, so I think we just need to be more focused and pay attention to little details.”

JB: “Yeah, we fought from the first whistle to the last. That’s one thing, that no matter how many mistakes we played or made or how many good plays we had we just kept a level head the whole game and kept coming back and fighting even harder that next play.”


Jourdan Lewis and Willie Henry

Chris Wormley said that in the first half the defensive line played really well, and in the second half not only him personally but you guys as a team kind of hit some lulls, or low points. What are your thoughts on comparing the first half of play to the second half?

WH: “I can agree with that to a certain extent. I fee like we most definitely had a better first half than second half. I feel like we left a lot on the field  just as a whole, the D-line as a whole. I felt like the D-line could have made more plays than we made in the second half that we probably would have made in the first half being fresh. I feel like we went out there and gave it everything we had.”

Any reason specifically?

“Nothing I can think of that was a specific reason that we fell off in the second half. We just weren’t finishing plays, I guess.”

Coach Harbaugh after the game mentioned you guys having trouble with the up tempo at times. Can you describe what was happening there and how you counteract that in the weeks to come?

JL: “It was fatigue, so we just have to get ready for tempo teams in practice. We’ve got to practice tempo, and that’s what coach Durkin’s talking about us doing every day. As long as we get used to tempo we’ll be able to defeat it.”

Jourdan, you talked in the offseason about wanting to elevate your game and be a number one cornerback and a guy that’s shutdown. You were matching up with Kenneth Scott for most of the game; he only had two receptions. How do you feel you did, obviously with that goal in mind?

JL: “I mean, I could have did better. I could have picked off two balls that I had the opportunity to have and didn’t. Got to capitalize on those opportunities, so I don’t think I had a good game.

“If we don’t make those plays his stats don’t matter to us. If you’re not changing the momentum of the game- if you’re not making turnovers- it doesn't really matter.”

Jourdan, BYU won a game on a Hail Mary this weekend. How much do you guys work on Hail Marys? What’s the philosophy of this coaching staff for how to defend those?

JL: “We work every situation every single day, so a Hail Mary is always at the end of practice. So, we work Hail Marys and how to execute those plays.”

Willie, you obviously went up against a mobile quarterback on Thursday. You’ll be facing another one on Saturday. The experience of trying to tackle Travis Wilson- how does that prepare you for Seth Collins?

WH: “It’s all about staying in our pass-rush lanes and pass rush and contain the quarterback. Make him become a pocket passer. Suffocate the pocket. Don’t give him lanes and holes to run through and make him stay in the pocket- something he might not be comfortable with. You’re dealing with a freshman, so let’s take the game and change the game to him and not let him be mobile and make plays on his feet, which he’s good at doing.”

Coach Harbaugh didn’t have any problem singling out guys who needed to step up their game. What’s his approach after watching film and teaching what needs to be done better?

WH: “I feel like everybody could have had a better game. A lot of people- like he said, he left two plays out on the field. I know I left a couple plays on the field. We’ve just got to execute better as a team. When we do that and leave those plays that can change the game out hopefully we’ll have a better outcome than we did Thursday.”


oriental andrew

September 8th, 2015 at 10:23 AM ^

Love the humble and self-effacing attitudes and candor.  Can't help but to think that this flows down from the head coach himself. It's great to hear these guys hold themselves accountable for their performances and striving to get better each week. 


September 8th, 2015 at 10:44 AM ^

"So whatever coach Fisch dials up we’re going to have to execute.”

Wait, so is Fisch calling the plays? Drevno is the OC. I realize Fisch is the passing game coordinator but I'm not sure how that works. Does Harbaugh choose run or pass and then based on that one of them chooses the play? That seems it'd be incredibly awkward.


September 8th, 2015 at 10:59 AM ^

I'm thinking with the crazy Harbaughffense being learned by the offense as quickly as they can pick it up, they're having trouble simulating tempo.  Sometimes they took a looong time to get to the line.  They did get the plays off though, and there were few moments where I went ARGH ARGH with the situational playcalling (actually none TBH, just a few "I would've done differently" probably as a result of hindsight).

Anyway, to practice against tempo, you need to be capable of tempo.  Scout team can do only so much.  It was kind of frustrating but their effort didn't leave me with the impression that this'll be an ongoing concern.  A lot of those conversions weren't "whoa tempo" and someone's out of position by ten yards, but Utah's slippery QB getting out of tackle attempts that could've been better but weren't whiffs either.  It all looks fixable.

Gustavo Fring

September 8th, 2015 at 11:05 AM ^

To compare Malzone's ability to step in and run Harbaugh's offense (given he's a true freshman and a low four-star) to Barrett (redshirt freshman who was the top dual-threat qb in his class) or Jones (more experience, more physically gifted than Malzone)

The Mad Hatter

September 8th, 2015 at 12:06 PM ^

So basically they're saying that everyone knew Jake was going to be the guy from the minute he stepped on campus.  Interesting.  I'll be shocked if Morris doesn't transfer after this season (assuming Rudock starts all year).


September 8th, 2015 at 12:22 PM ^


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September 8th, 2015 at 12:37 PM ^

(I'm paraphrasing) That he and Mario Manningham needed to get on the same page. So I suspect Harbaugh may be calling people out whenever their play is not what the coach knows their capable of, O.W.K.A. stepping up thier game.


September 8th, 2015 at 1:51 PM ^

By most standards he played a heck of a game, and the key thing is that he didn't biff a play he could make by trying to make a play he couldn't.  INTs are great, but I hate CBs who fall down and let the receiver run away because they stretched too far for the ball when just being in position breaks up the pass.  Your first job is to prevent the offense from moving forward.  CBs aren't good if they get INTs, they get INTs if they're good.  Don't skip Phase 1 (lock down your assignment).

Well, Lewis has the "lockdown" part down pat, so INTs are the next step for him, and he really does look like he's on the cusp of turning a few of those PBUs into INTs.  So as long as the pressure doesn't get to him, if he's still got room to improve, I'm OK with him being hard on himself.


September 8th, 2015 at 2:07 PM ^

Am I dreaming or are the players more open under Harbaugh than under Hoke? It would make some sense; when Harbaugh goes on the record with more detail and openness about the performance maybe the players are given license to do so as well. 

Generally really loving in particular the way the guys are assessing their games and hungry to do better. Fantastic attitudes!