Post-Scrimmage Quotes

April 5, 2014

Head coach Skip Holtz

“Coming out of practice 11 and really our first scrimmage where we ended up getting about 120 plays in today which is good and which is what we wanted. We got about 40 plays with each group so we could get a great evaluation of where we are. A lot of guys haven’t really been hit yet this spring like the Kenneth Dixons and most of the ones haven’t done any real live work since the end of last season. I think it is great to get out here and get some rust off.”

“Looking at it initially, defensively we can run around. We have some athletes and some guys that can do some different things. We gave up a couple of big plays defensively – which you don’t like – but then you look at it and say that our offense is starting to get a little bit better and execute a little bit more. It will be a great growing experience for our defense but they will run around and one thing is for sure, they will hit you. They are a physical group and I like what I am seeing right now out of the defense.”

“Offensively, we took a step forward today. I think we took a step forward and we have been getting better and better. Most of the offense is starting to be put in – it is not all in yet a large part, maybe 75 percent of it is. They are grasping it and we are really trying to go at a slow pace so we can execute what we are calling out there. It is not about what you call but about being able to execute it. Probably the thing that encouraged me the most is how the quarterbacks are starting to read the defenses and keep the ball out of danger. We did throw the one interception today where we hit Tony Johnson right in the sternum and he took it back to the house but outside of that I thought that the quarterbacks did a pretty good job of protecting the ball. They made a couple plays on the perimeter and we dropped some balls on the perimeter. We are missing big play opportunities. It is still not where we want it to be but fortunately the puzzle is starting to take a little bit of shape. I like what I saw today, I like the progress that we made.”



On the offensive line:

“I thought today was their best day. We made a point about it being the first live day where it is not just leaning on each other and thud, no one is just on the ground. It is about playing the game. We talked about it  - the only way you are going to get better at playing football is by playing football. You can go in the weight room and you can prepare for it, you can lift and run and do those things to get ready for it but the only way to get better is to play the game. I thought the offensive line did a nice job today where they created some holes and got some push up front. They are starting to come together a little bit more.”

“Some of the senior leadership, guys like Richard Greenwalt, really stepped up. I can’t say enough about Mitchell Bell and the way he has been playing. He is doing some good things. Tre Carter is another senior up front and all three of those guys are starting to take some pride about being the senior offensive linemen and being the leaders of this group.”

“The thing is that is still scary is our center is still a hit or miss proposition where you have to make some pretty acrobatic catches at quarterback just to get a play off sometimes with where some of the snaps are. We have to get better at that especially if we are going to be a spread football team.

On the quarterbacks limiting turnovers but still being inconsistent with accuracy:

“They just have to keep getting better and better at it. There were a couple of hot routes that stand out in my mind as being way off but I think we probably dropped more balls than we threw inaccurately today. I don’ thtink we caught the ball very well at receiver. It is just a matter of them feeling comfortable with protection, being in the pocket and with all the blitzes that are coming at the quarterbacks, feeling that pressure but still being able to operate at a slow process. You hear all the time that the more experience you get, the more the game slows down for you. The more the game slows down, the easier it is to execute and operate. I think every rep they can get, they can get better and better. I thought today was a step in the right direction for the quarterbacks.”

On offensive plan to be up-tempo:

“Right now it is hard because you don’t have a lot of numbers. We are out here with the threes and we don’t even have enough offensive and defensive linemen to scrimmage (11-on-11) so we tried to do it in a pass skell mode. We don’t have the numbers to go at a warp speed mode but we certainly have the ability to do it. Right now in the spring, we felt like we needed to huddle and that would be a big part in what we are doing to try and build leadership. It gives those guys an opportunity for those guys to come together for leadership to really start to be established and to start to gel as an offensive line and as an offensive unit. We have done a lot of huddling but we will still be up-tempo and be able to run at a fast pace like we did last year.”

On biggest schematic change on offense:

“There is probably more of a running game involved and that game evolved. We have not had a tight end or a fullback in our offense at all and the way that is evolving. It is hard to make that transition. When we got here in year one, we didn’t have a tight end or a fullback and there is not a lot you can do. You have to play the cards you are dealt when you first get here. We have gone through a recruiting year now and when we get to the fall, hopefully we will have some bigger bodies, some mid bodies where we have the opportunity to be able to secure and edge and do some things. When you have a running back like Kenneth Dixon, you want to be able to do some things to get him running downhill. Probably how much more multiple we will be in the future rather than a year ago is probably the biggest difference.”


Offensive Coordinator Tony Petersen

“I thought it was a good scrimmage, actually it probably was one of our best practices all spring offensively. We took care of the ball better – Ryan made a bad read on a play and through a pick – but we didn’t put it on the ground as much as we have. The quarterbacks did a better job of taking care of the ball. I thought we did well for our first tackle scrimmage.”

On the biggest difference in quarterbacks:

“They are just getting more comfortable with their reads, who they are throwing to, the receivers they are playing with, playing full speed and getting the reps. The game starts to slow down a little bit every time you go out there at quarterback and they are doing a better job at it.”

On Ryan Higgins needing to be more consistent:

“Ryan’s biggest problem is his consistency level has to rise, which I think he is doing right now. He will keep getting better at that. We can’t have the plays that lose football games for us and that [Higgins’ pick-six to Johnson] was one of those plays. He had one today and we can’t have it; we have to eliminate those plays and keep raising his level of consistency.”

On the offensive line:

“I think they made a big step today. We are playing with three-to-four new guys up front. We are young again, as far as experience. They are all meshing and getting better. What Manny [Diaz] is doing over there [on defense] is a lot of movement and pressure. It is tough on us right now but it is going to make us a whole lot better down the road this fall.”

On receivers dropping some catchable passes:

“We had a couple drops and they [the wide receivers] have to make their plays. They have done a pretty good job with that but we can’t have drops. As long as they will do that and the quarterbacks take care of the football, we just have to get the line meshing right there we will be okay. I am confident we are going to have a good offense this year.”



Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz

“I thought they did well. There’s always going to be things you are not going to be happy with but overall they battled the whole way. I thought guys ran at the ball and there were some good licks out there which is always good to see for the first scrimmage.”

On the position group that stood out the most:

“It is hard to say for just watching the first time through. I will say this at all three levels of the defense you saw enough guys that have playmaking ability. I think we have defensive linemen that will make things disruptive in the backfield, I think we have linebackers that can fill behind them and play some pass coverage responsibilities and I think we have defensive backs that have good predatory instincts. On the flip side of that, there are still things on all three levels that concerns us as coaches and we are still a far way off from being a finished product.”

On the linebackers, particularly Tony Johnson:

“Tony has had a good spring. Ever since we got back going with offseason workouts, the way he has been training himself, the way he studies in meetings, the way he talks in meetings, he has just stacked one good day on top of another throughout this spring practice. It was exciting to see him make some plays out here in this setting and I think it will do wonders for his confidence because he will be a guy that we will rely on to make things happen next year.”

On the back seven (linebackers and secondary):

“I think the first thing is one of the main tenants of our defense is we didn’t allow any long passes or runs for touchdowns. There were a couple of plays against our second unit that weren’t up to our standard but that is the first thing. That is what makes you into a bad defense immediately and I thought we did a decent job of that. I didn’t see too many major coverage busts where we just left someone free and wide open. We talked about building our house from the ground floor up and you have to build a foundation. The foundation before you make good things happen is you don’t get yourself beat. I thought what I saw in the back seven is we didn’t do a whole lot today to get ourselves beat.”


LB Tony Johnson

“Today was a good day. We are just working to get better, trying to get the offense better and trying to get the defense better. Everyone is out here fighting for a spot and we are just trying to get after it.”

On linebacker position battle:

“I feel like Nick [Thomason] is a great linebacker and we have a lot of great linebackers. We just have to fight and compete and may the best man win.”

On strong end to last season carrying over:

“Just my determination.”

On the interception return for a touchdown:

“All I saw was the end zone and my men blocking in front of me. I knew as long as I saw them in front of me, I knew I could make it.”


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