- How to correct the penalties
- What happened on SMU's long touchdown
- Jaylen Kelly-Powell is back
- Special teams questions
[After THE JUMP: So many special teams questions]
[Note: I've been feeling a little under the weather, so thanks to The Daily's Mark Calcagno for providing audio from Wednesday]
(How do you feel about) the position group and how they’ve played in the first three games?
“Inconsistent. I think we gotta be, we gotta always strive to be better and more consistent. The thing about football is, you can always get better, there’s always room for improvement, but I thought when we were good, we were really good. We had some mistakes in the first game, we cleaned them up, played really well in the second game and played pretty good in the third game, overall. If you took four or five plays out of each of those starters, just alignment and stuff, they were graded really high, over a 90. But those four or five plays were in there and we gotta clean that stuff up. But I’m happy, we’re playing hard, we’re practicing hard. They’re in tune, they’re in tune to the gameplan, they’re doing what we ask, so I think I’m really excited about seeing their trajectory and their consistency, better and better.”
What is your message to the guys about penalties and things like that?
“Oh yeah, you can’t have penalties, obviously. So yeah, the message is, we look at the penalty when it’s called, we review the film, we try to learn what we can do better to avoid that. Whether you agree or disagree, it doesn’t matter, it was called. So you gotta be able to adapt your game to make sure that you don’t get those called at all. That’s gotta be cleaned up.”
Is that a technique thing?
“It’s a lotta different things. I’ll use the example of Josh (Metellus) in the Notre Dame game, targeting, right? Did he hit him with his head? No. But did he play through the football? So you can’t — it’s hard to make a split-second decision when you’re coming off the hash, you’re sprinting full speed, the ball’s in the air. Obviously you don’t lead with your head, but at the same time, if he would’ve exploded through the football rather than through the man, there would’ve been no issue. So cleaning little stuff up like that, and fixing it and making sure we can eliminate all those.”
Looked like Josh got chewed out after a push out of bounds on the sideline when Khaleke (Hudson) actually pushed him, what happened on that one? Was that Josh or was that Khaleke?
“It was a little bit of both, and Josh gets chewed out because Josh had his hand under the guy’s shoulder pad, clearly in the white. And in that situation, hey the guy’s out of bounds, let’s get my arm up. Let’s not risk being called — you know they’re gonna call that. That’s just — to me, that’s just stupidity. That’s not a reaction play, that’s not a, ‘Hey, I might’ve arm-grabbed him.’ That’s just, ‘Hey, I gotta be smarter.’ The game of football, they’re gonna call that every time. So he deserved the chewing out.”
How much of a weapon has Will Hart been so far?
“I think he’s had two straight games with over 50-yard averages. That’s big-time, anytime you can flip the field is huge, anytime you can win the field position battle, which we’ve been doing, it’s big. So we’ve gotta keep him consistent and confident moving forward, but he’s been really good.”
Is there something he’s doing differently compared to last year or is it just having that experience?
“Strength, experience, confidence, just kinda all around, he got a lot stronger in the offseason. Got more flexible. He’s just learning who he is, and his drop angles, things like that. Learning how to adapt to windy conditions and directional punting. There’s a whole gamut of things that are clicking for him right now.”
When Foug left, I think people thought there might be some drop-off there, but talk about what Jake Moody —
“Well we kinda, we knew, evaluating him, how strong his leg was. What we didn’t know was how mature, he’s able to come in and just take the job like that. He’s got the strong leg, but obviously when we directionally kick off, when you get conditions there, you don’t know how a young guy like that’s gonna react and be able to do it. But he’s been phenomenal. He’s hanging the ball up there, when he’s asked to kick touchbacks, he’s kicking touchbacks. Our kickoff team’s been great, again, so we’re excited about that unit and his ability to make that unit run and go.”
Is his hangtime pretty similar to Foug?
“Yeah. Well it’s a little bit — Foug was, at some points was able to get it up there … Jake’s consistently around a 4.2. So he’s getting there and he will be there really fast. We’re hoping this year. So he’s been really good.”
On Quinn (Nordin), where is he right now? Obviously he had the field goal last week
“Yeah, he missed one. And like I’ve told you guys before, you’re not gonna make every kick your entire life. It’s how you react and what happens on the next kick. So we’ve been able — that operation and the whole thing, we got a new holder in there, so you gotta work through the operation and make sure you’re good there. But gave them more confidence in each other, in terms of snapper/holder/kicker. So I think he’s good. He’s on a trajectory, gonna keep making all his kicks. We’d like him to make them all, but if he happens to miss one, we need to get back and make the next one.”
What happened on the hold at Notre Dame?
“Just a little high, little inside. Just dropped it. Just a play that you wanna eliminate. You wanna eliminate those plays completely. Will, just slipped through his hands and dropped it.”
Brad (Hawkins’) play against Notre Dame in the end zone, he’s been a receiver, is that one of those teaching moments where you say, just high-point the ball like you’re going to catch it?
“Yeah, there’s a lot of things that go into that. It’s seeing the formation, seeing what’s coming at you off the bat and getting your depth right away, and then Tyree (Kinnel) didn’t help him on that one. Tyree jumped outside on the receiver, let the receiver inside, so he didn’t help Brad. Brad didn’t see the formation, didn’t get deep enough quick enough, and then didn’t play the receiver. He played the ball. He was looking at the ball instead of playing the receiver and then playing the ball. … It’s a combination of things and it’s just being in the moment, first time, Notre Dame, literally the first time he stepped on the field. First time he’s stepped on the field as a safety ever, in his life, he was a receiver all through high school, all through his prep school. So, and he’s very encouraging. He gets better every single day. So, we’re very excited and encouraged by him.”
Even in the second half, he was a totally different player in the game?
“Calmed down, settled down and knew, ‘Hey, I gotta go. This is me going the whole time here.’ And was definitely a different player, for sure.”
How hard is it for those guys you’ve matched up in the slot on those slant patterns and stuff like that?
“Yeah, it’s hard. There’s a lot of space there. And we do things to try to help ‘em out and stuff, but that’s something where you’ve gotta get ready to go. You’re a big physical safety worried about the run or the middle of the field and all that. And all the sudden, you’re on a guy who’s a lot of times their quickest, fastest guy on the field. And you’ve gotta cover, so your technique has to be perfect. You gotta have a plan when you start and you have to realize, they’re splitting what we’re getting — what you’re getting there, too. Those guys have a lot on their plates — they line up, they’re in man, first down, what do they do on first down? What’s the split of the receiver? What routes am I gonna get? All those kinda things have to go through their minds, and then they gotta revert back to their fundamentals in coverage. So it’s a difficult thing, but it’s something we really work on, and we work on it every day.”
Especially the penalties, when you’re coaching them after a game like that, there’s a fine line between being overly aggressive and (committing penalties), how do you stress — I mean, they shouldn’t back off, right?
“No, no, no. We’re gonna be aggressive and we’re always gonna be aggressive. But we need to understand when to be aggressive, right, like the Josh penalty out of bounds, the (Jordan) Glasgow special teams penalty out of bounds. When do we lay off? When do we be aggressive, because it’s on the field of play? And when do we don’t? Those two penalties, you gotta lay off, there’s no excuse. The other ones, and the pass interference, you gotta get your hands on early and be aggressive, cause in college football, you can get your hands on when the ball’s not in the air. But then you have to understand the route progression. When in the route is that — when is that ball gonna be in the air. When do I have to disconnect in terms of getting my hands on? When is he playing the ball and how do I play the ball? I can’t hook a guy, I gotta play through his hands, I gotta get my head back. So there’s just moments when you have to understand when that ball is coming and that penalty can be called.”
Does it surprise you, a lot of these guys played last year, does it surprise you that that didn’t click right away?
“For some of them. These guys, they’re going 100 miles per hour and sometimes it’s the 30th, 40th play and they’re going hard, they’re a little tired and they’re going so — they’re so locked in that you just gotta teach ‘em that, in a split-second, you gotta be able to react and know the situation that’s coming.”
Don (Brown) talked about Jaylen Kelly-Powell being one of the guys he really liked in the fall, are you hoping to get him back soon?
“Yeah, so he’s back now. He is back. He looked 100 percent yesterday, finally, so it’s been — he’s been out about three weeks, almost a month, and even last week he played a little bit. But he wasn’t his normal quick, explosive self. But I was really encouraged by his practice yesterday, you can just see with your eyes that he feels good. So he’s a guy that will hopefully get back in the mix quickly here.”
You’ve watched a lot of Nebraska film, Jim (Harbaugh) said you had to go back and watch UCF a little bit, too. You’re assuming that (Adrian) Martinez plays?
“Oh yeah. We gotta prepare for both, obviously. We’re assuming he’s playing. And then looking at UCF and just seeing all what they’re gonna do and prepare for all of it. There’s a lotta stuff those guys do on special teams, you look back at all of them, they have different pod formations on this field goal. They have fake punts galore. They have formations — they do a lotta different stuff now. So it’s a week of preparation where you gotta be locked in and ready to adjust down on a lot of things they do, and it’s similar to their offense, right? They do a lotta different things, they put receivers in the backfield, get them out of the backfield and different mesh and pick routes and stuff like that. Lotta quarterback run. So it’s a really, really good week of preparation in terms of our mental preparation.”
The big play of last week, was that just a miscommunication for the touchdown, the blown coverage?
“Miscommunication, yeah. It was just corner and safety weren’t on the same page, really. And switching a call when the snap’s happening. They ran that play right before and right after, same stack and everything, it was not an issue. It’s just one of those moments.”