MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Select members of the West Virginia University football coaching staff met with the media on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2014, at the Milan Puskar Center Team Room.
Assistant Coach (Defensive Coordinator) Tony Gibson
On continuing to work on the developing the depth chart defensively
We haven’t gotten that much in depth with it right now. We know what we want to do. We just have to keep evaluating and see where we’re at with it right now. We’ve got to get defensive backs healthy first. (Safety) KJ (Dillon) is a big part of that. Once he’s back, we’ll be able to do some different stuff.
What I want to do is get fresh bodies out there. So if we’re in a nickel package, we’ll bring an extra defensive back in, and maybe take a nose guard out and put more speed in up front – that kind of stuff. We just have to look. We have to make sure we have cover guys first. (Linebacker Brandon) Golson, (linebacker Edward) Muldrow, (defensive lineman) Shaq Riddick – those guys will hopefully all be on the field getting pressure on the quarterback.
On the time table for getting some of the defensive players back to full health
I get the injury report and just go day-by-day. We practice with the guys we have.
I thought he was special last year. For a kid to come in as a freshman and be able to do all the things he was doing for us on defense, he’s a special kid. He’s a special kid and a special player. Yesterday – we went with a little live drill at the end of practice – was probably his best day he’s had in camp so far. He got his hands on a few balls. He had a pick. He did some really good things yesterday.
Senior Associate Head Coach (Defensive Line) Tom Bradley
On the progression of the defensive line in camp
We’re about where we should be in early preseason. They’re at the point right now where some things are starting to run together. We are going to keep installing, putting it in, and eventually it will come easier. Part of the difference is we really put in the whole (defensive package), then we slow down and put in the separate parts again. It won’t be as much as we have. Each week, we are installing new things and trying to see how they look. Sometimes they don’t look good against some of the things our offense runs, but we’re not scheming for our offense. We’re just trying to learn technique.
On if coach Bradley has had to scale back any of his packages from previous seasons
Not at all – it’s typical preseason. This is the way it goes in preseason. The older guys obviously have a better grasp – they have a foundation to build on the younger guys. Right now, (the younger guys) are just memorizing a lot of things. They’re unable to move positions. With the older guys, we’re able to move them around a little bit. They understand the scheme. That’s the one thing we’re trying to do is teach concepts. If you can teach a concept, rather than memorization, you can really go. I know from experience with the younger players that doesn’t work as well. One of things about being a good coach is being a good teacher. I found that out again the other day – everyone learns differently. You have to choose your words carefully. That’s sometimes the hard part – when you’re newer to a group of guys, I don’t understand how they learn. When you’re with a group of players long enough, you understand how they do things. So it’s easier. You know exactly what that kid can do and that kid gets.
We move Christian around. Some days he plays some (defensive) end, and some days he plays some nose (tackle). He plays both ends. We’re not a team right now that’s flipping people – which is easier. If you’re an open end or a closed end, it’s very different. If you’re a boundary or field end, it’s different. What we’re doing is we’re wanting to play both. It’s double learning. When you’re a formation-based team, it’s very easy – you just have one technique. We have two on every one, plus Christian sometimes doubles. We put him in at nose just to keep him fresh with nose, in case we have any problems.
Assistant Coach (Offensive Line) Ron Crook
On the offensive line
I feel like we’re going the right way. There are guys who are coming along and making strides. They still have a ways to go, before I say they’re ready to go and play a Big 12 football game. I like the direction that those guys are going.
On the athleticism and strength of the offensive line this year
I think the strength staff over the summer did a great job developing mental toughness with those guys and continuing to build that. As well as, leaning some guys down and building more muscle mass and giving them a little more quickness and agility. From that standpoint, I think we are a little bit different. That’s me being here another year and kind of developing more of an understanding from them of what I’m looking for.
On if coach Crook changes his philosophies with a more athletic group on the line
You always try to build everything around what your players can do well. However, we’ve got a base philosophy and belief system. We keep working to make the guys work into that as well.
On what this offensive line does well
The biggest thing right now is that they trust each other very well, and they’re comfortable with each other, because they’ve been together for a while now. They are an athletic group. They’ve got good quickness, but they also have good power surges. There are a lot of things that they’re doing well together right now.
Those two guys have come a long way. Again, I’d hesitate to say they’re ready to play in a Big 12 football game. They’re coming a long way, and they’re going in the right direction. I develop a better understanding of what we’re looking for, what we’re trying to accomplish, and then you throw in all of the stuff you see in preseason camp. From a defensive perspective, they’re getting a lot of looks at a lot of different things.
Assistant Coach (Special Teams) Joe DeForest
Karl’s a quiet leader. When he does say something, people listen. He’s more of a quiet leader with work ethic, intensity and those types of things. That’s how people follow him other than all of the “rah-rah” stuff. People respect him, and when he’s on the field he gets things done.
Karl came in as a true freshman. He came in and played as an All-American. (Sophomore cornerback Daryl) Worley saw that and (freshman cornerback) Dravon Henry
is sort of following the same lead too. It’s up to Dravon as to how far he goes. He’s very gifted athletically, but he needs to work mentally. If you mess up in the back end, its six points you give up.
On how Joseph has improved since freshman year
The little things in the game that as a freshman you just play on instinct he has really improved. I think he understands my teaching progression, and that I want him to learn the positions in the room. Once you get to that point, especially when you know where the stress points and strengths will be, then he can grasp everything. As a freshman, you can’t get that information out yet.
He is grasping things around him, offensively and defensively, where he knows what’s going to come next He can work on that now.
On Big 12 Preseason award
Karl has bigger goals than just being an all-conference preseason. He has goals beyond what anybody could name him. I know he’s honored, and I know it makes him feel good, but I think that he is so focused on building on what’s going to get him to where he wants to be. Whether it’s after this season or after college, that’s something that he really works on.
Assistant Coach (Running Backs) JaJuan Seider
On maximizing the slot position
We are starting to get to the point where we can teach all of them. It goes back to being a football player, not just a specific guy. You don’t want to just be a running back. We hope that we can get them out there in the slot, catch a ball and make a linebacker or a safety miss them. We’re just trying to get these guys to understand the position.
Guys are emerging. It’s so early in camp that the biggest thing is keeping the guys fresh. When you make those type of decisions early, you see guys fall back. If you don’t name them, then they keep pushing and pushing. During camp, you never know how things are going to transpire. We have guys making big plays left and right. It’s not just one guy, which is a good thing. It’s a plethora of them.
Everyone will contribute in some kind of way. Sometimes blocking is more important than the running play. Sometimes you need to get a receiver free or something. Those are big plays to me.
He knows if he doesn’t, then he won’t play. You shouldn’t have to motivate a guy to do what they’re supposed to do. To me, that’s doing your job of being a running back. We’ve been blunt and upfront with him. He worked hard during spring. He did a really good job in the spring and the summer. It’s universal through the room. I think that (redshirt junior running back) Dustin Garrison
and (redshirt junior running back Andrew) Buie might be the toughest guys out there. They have the experience, and they’re veterans. They learn from each other.
On last week of camp
I won’t let up. That’s my job as the coach. Yesterday in practice, Dreamius and (sophomore running back) Wendell Smallwood
busted a 67-yard run in practice. I made them come right back and try to do it again. I’m not going to let up, and they’re sure not going to let up on me because they want it.
Assistant Coach (Offensive Coordinator) Shannon Dawson
On the vertical passing game
The risk of reward is high. You can have a 50 percent success rate with that. The rate isn’t that high, so you just have to keep working and working. There’s a fine line between taking shots and wasting plays. You have to pick and choose. You don’t want to sit there and waste plays if you’re not great at it. We’re getting better, though.
On game planning
Until the week of preparation for the first game, we’re just doing install days. There’s no planning until that last weekend going into it. We’ve always done it that way, whether it’s the right way or not. There are some people who start game planning in the summer. We’ve never been in that mentality. We’re trying to get good at what we do, and then when we get closer to that week, we will watch them. We will filter out stuff that isn’t good about what we do versus them and the other way around. We won’t start game planning until next Friday.
On deciding who starts
We’re going to have to work on that on receiver. We will identify them closely. The way we’re using running back, specific individual skillsets might be different. Eighty to 90 percent of our game plan will be general. Fifteen percent of the game plan will be specialized with individuals. There will be a margin of things that are like that, but the majority will be things that they can all do.