Sept. 24, 2012
LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State football head coach Gary Andersen, along with sophomore linebacker Zach Vigil and senior running back Kerwynn Williams, held a news conference Monday to talk about the upcoming game against UNLV. A complete transcript of Andersen, Vigil and Williams' remarks can be found below.
Head Coach Gary Andersen
On UNLV game:
"I've watched quite a bit of film on them on both sides of the football and on special teams. It was a big win for them last week versus Air Force. They played well and scored points when they had to score points. They jumped out early then it got real tight, built up a 10-point lead, so it was a back and forth game. Offensively, they want to run the ball first. They have a powerful and physical run game with two very good backs that are a little bit different, but they are both powerful kids that run the ball well and bounce the ball to the outside quite a bit. They've made some big plays in the run game when it's been bottled up. They have good vision and bounce it outside and made some big plays. They also throw the ball down the field and take some shots, which is normal with Brent Myers. I have known him for years, the offensive coordinator. It goes way back to the Northern Arizona days when we were together on that staff. So, it's a take a shot, play-action and boot game, and they have wide receivers that can make some big plays for them. They play with confidence and they play with some physicality on the offensive side. Defensively, they are an aggressive defense up front. I think they've got some good players. They run to the ball very well and have done a nice job of that as far as where they've gone through the season. From what I see on tape, I think they are gap sound. They understand where they are going and you'll have to earn your way down the field, they are coached well and do a nice job on special teams. It's their first road game, so they are getting on a plane for the first time. Four home games in a row, I just found that to be interesting. Not that it is a big deal but that is a long time to go through a season and then get on a plane and travel. I am sure they will come here very excited about the opportunity to play us and we are very excited of having the opportunity to play UNLV."
Does it surprise you that Kerwynn Williams was named the WAC Offensive Player of the Week?
"No, 200 yards rushing and the game that he had. I thought Zach Vigil had a great game too on defense, so I assume that vote went down to the wire. It is great to get him recognized. The other two guys Zach (Vigil) and Tyler Bennett were also recognized through another source. I think that the three young men that we put up this week for players of the week all got some type of recognition which is great. For Kerwynn, it is a great thing for him and unbelievable day overall. He made some big plays when he had to in that game and broke them out of there. I thought he was solid the whole game as far as running between the tackles."
Can you comment on what the Western Athletic Conference is doing this preseason with all the wins?
"Yeah, the main thing I will say is that, `I told you so'. It is the same thing I said at the media day. I told the media that there was going to be good teams in this conference, it's a tough conference and it is going to go right down to the wire, and it is not a surprise to me at all. There are good coaches, there are good players, and there are programs that have developed over the last three years. There are still some teams that may not have the wins that they wanted, but they are playing hard and are good football teams. That is my statement on that. This is going to be a crazy WAC schedule when we all get to that point and there are good football teams."
When you look at Kerwynn Williams, how has he evolved as a player in his time at USU?
"The first thing about Kerwynn is his unselfishness. Kerwynn his first year came in, didn't redshirt and we believe in doing that to what we think will be special players. We are doing that to some special players that we think will be special players down the road, this year. He helps those young men understand that. Secondly, last year, I am not going to say it was a tough year for Kerwynn, but it could have been a tough year for Kerwynn. He is sitting behind Michael Smith and Robert Turbin, and would have been very easy to redshirt Kerwynn Williams. When you have a starting running back who has had a torn ACL, and how he is coming back off that is still clouded, and you have your second team back that has a toe that he is basically been told that he will never play football again. It is hard to not have a third back that can sit in there. It all worked out, thank goodness for Michael Smith and Robert Turbin, but Kerwynn Williams didn't get the opportunity to play a lot last year and didn't bat an eye. He is a team player first, he is very unselfish and didn't think about himself in that situation, which a lot of young men would've and it would have been very easy to. On the field, he has developed into really the leader of the offense. When he goes out there he has high expectations. The way he carries himself, from the time as a freshman to a sophomore and junior, he has evolved. He has gotten bigger, faster and stronger. He understands Division I college football and how to prepare himself, but his mind was right when he walked into a football game when he was a freshman. He was brought up very well and he is an unbelievable competitor. He has evolved but he came here as a fierce competitor."
Is Kerwynn Williams one of the most explosive players you've had at Utah State?
"Yeah he is and it started with the kickoff returns early in his career. You know you look back and I think it was the first touchdown last year versus Auburn when he blew through there and that was against an SEC defense that can run and there was no one that could catch him. There was a couple more of these this last game against Colorado State. Kerwynn is a fantastic young man and he is a great football player."
On the `White Out' versus UNLV:
"I just think it's fun. It is important to involve everybody. We talk about it all the time, it truly does take everybody to truly build a football program, to develop a football program that is a consistent winner and it is not just the players, it's not just the football program itself, it's not just the administration and it's not just the fan base. It takes everybody and we are in such a lucky spot here as a football team to have a community that cares so much and wants to be so involved. It is just a way to get everybody to do something just a little bit different and be on the same page and I think it will be pretty neat. I think it will be a special situation for everybody and it kind of started out through the HURD (USU students) and they kind of wanted to be able to do it. Trust me, when the HURD speaks I listen. They wanted to try something different, so we kind of evolved it into a `White Out'. It will be fun for the HURD, it will be fun for our players and hopefully everyone that comes in. I think everyone has a white t-shirt, so hopefully we can get all the fans in a white t-shirt and away we go."
What has been the key for the great start by the defense?
"Great players, that is the number one thing, and I think they've been consistent. They've practiced consistent, they believe in their coaches and it's important to them. They are flying to the football and tackling well. All those things come into play and at the end of the day they are putting themselves in a position to be able to make plays. There is a lot of them rolling in and out of there, even in the first quarter you see a lot of bodies going through substitution, whether it is the linebackers or the defensive line. The last thing I would say on that is I think it is an unselfish crew that is not counting their reps, they are making their reps count and when they get in there it is kind of a race to the football. I'm proud of the way those kids have played. It stung them a little bit, the first team defense, when the second team got in there at the end of the game and (Colorado State) rolled down the field, whatever it was 90 yards on however many plays. It is hard for a first team defense to sit there and play for three quarters and however many minutes and then let the two's go in there and really let us down. That is not good. I have lived in that spot before and it opens up some eyes of some young players hopefully. The fast start of the defense was great. The poor finish of the two's was highly disappointing in that game."
On Colorado State getting seven explosive plays against the defense:
"Yeah those runs that bounced out on the back side against Colorado State, that is highly concerning this week when you watch UNLV. I've watched the Air Force game and I watched the Northern Arizona game, that is the only two games I've seen so far, but I bet there are five runs that were bounced out and went 30-plus yards. Those runs that hit us last week, they are going to be there (against UNLV) and they are going to be tested. We are going to have to tackle the guy because he will bounce it out that back end. If you don't seal off the backside of the defense, you will have a big problem."
Are you concerned with the third quarter play of your team?
"No, not on defense. I think the defense has been solid all the way through. Offensively last week we had two interceptions back to back and the defense gives up six points on short fields, that is a good defense. That doesn't bother me a bit. If I know Chuckie Keeton, I don't expect a repeat performance in that situation at all. However much that bothers everyone, I promise you it is times 10 bugging Chuckie Keeton. I don't expect that to happen again, but I thought the defense bowed up and did a nice job in that situation. Offensively, we were able to answer on both of those turnovers with touchdowns, which was a great answer by the offensive side of the football. Offensively, I think we found ourselves a little bit (against Colorado State) and we're a little bit more consistent. I think the offense still expects more as they move forward."
Can you comment on momentum in football and how your team has been able to regain it in games this season:
"The biggest thing is Division I football games are hard to win and everybody likes to talk about momentum. I think it goes deeper than momentum. I think when an opportunity presents itself to make plays you have to make plays. Whether it is on offense or whether it is on defense, that is what swings momentum, that is what swings plays or swings games, is the plays that kids make when the opportunity presents itself. That is what they live for is to make those plays at special times in special moments. We've been able to hold that off. This team has been consistent. I think they have been even-keeled, I think they prepare the same way, and I think they are loosey-goosey, if you will. They are going to have fun, they are going to have smiles on their faces and I want them to be that way. I want them to be that way on Friday, I want them to be that way on Saturday and I think we prepare like that. We don't prepare like it's the end of the world, it's a football game. We have a lot of expectations of ourselves and we want to play well but we want to be loose minded and put a smile on our face and fly around. I think these kids do that and I think it helps them in those situations. The other thing is I think the coaches do a great job of preparing them. This is the best coaching staff overall that we've had from top to bottom. I think the kids believe that and I think that they respond to their coaches at every position. That is a big positive but at the end of the day, they are the ones responding to the adversity and making plays as a team."
Is this defense where you want them to be or can they get better?
"They can get better. I've never been on a defense that can't get better. If we look back at last week and we did a lot of good things, I don't think we were as sharp and snappy as we could have been, they just weren't flying around quite as much as they were the first three games. You will see that on tape and they will see that on tape and recognize it, but we are playing hard. I thought our pass rush at times was just okay and I give credit to Colorado State's offensive line, they blocked us and they did some good things. We need to put more pressure on the quarterback. There are some more straining plays out there and when we talk about those straining plays, it's that extra effort play, it's an extra dive, it's an extra backside tapping off the top of the defense or whatever it may be, the things that the kids know. I think that we can get a little bit better at that and they will have high expectations of what that next step is for them on the defensive side. They are playing at a high level but I know that they expect even more."
On UNLV not giving up very many sacks:
"Their offensive line is good, they have five returners back from last year. Their tight ends are good blockers and their running backs are good blockers. The scheme is set up for them not to get into a lot of third down and long situations and they have not. They have converted pretty well on third down; I believe they are 53 percent or something like that. Brent (Myers) is their offensive coordinator and he is going to do a good job of putting them in a position to be able to move it down the field control down scenario and get a manageable third down. They've done a nice job of that."
On UNLV being balanced with their attack:
"They are throwing the ball well. They've got some good wide receivers out there, their backs catch the ball and the tight ends catch the ball. This is a good football team and we will have our hands full with these guys. When our kids flip on the tape they will gain a real respect of UNLV when they start watching some film on them this afternoon. They are solid, they are physical, they are tough-minded and it looks like to me, they are enjoying playing football. I want to look at the other team and see if they are enjoying what they are doing. They enjoyed last Saturday night, it was good even when it was tied in the end and they were behind early, they were enjoying the football game. They will be ready."
In terms of moving people on special teams, are you where you want to be or do you still have more room to go?
"There are a few tweaks here and there. We'll continue down the road with the coaches the way we have over the past week where we have individual meetings with every position coach and every position coach is involved in kickoffs. So kickoff and kickoff return we've got nine coaches, and punt and punt return we've got nine coaches. So, that was the biggest change we made last week from a coaching standpoint and we will continue to do that. We will even amp that up now on Monday and we will spend 10 minutes of individual time on kickoff return today, things we haven't done in the past. It is just an emphasis. One thing that is really interesting about it is the relationships that some of the position coaches get with young men that they don't see as much. They see them during January when we work out together but during the season they don't see those kids and they've built some relationships. To me, that is enough of a reason to do it right there, for the kids to be able to get to know some other coaches and be able to be coached by them. We will continue to move down that line and we will continue to put in the young kids as they answer the bell."
Sophomore Linebacker Zach Vigil
On UNLV game:
"I have just barely scratched the surface on the film on UNLV, but from what I have seen they can throw the ball, they can run the ball well, and the offensive line looks good."
What adjustments as a defense do you want to make coming off of the Colorado State game?
"The biggest thing for me was we were really flat, it felt really flat out there. Like Coach Andersen said, we weren't flying around how we normally fly around. So that is a big thing that I want to help us do, is make sure that our intensity is there when we play this Saturday."
You guys did give up more big plays than you have previously this season:
"Yeah, we have and we have got to fix that. Nobody played a perfect game on defense, there are a lot of things that we can work on, footwork and hands and technique and stuff like that, that has got to get better."
When you get sacks does that mean that the defensive linemen have done their job?
"My position coach, coach (Kevin) Clune says half of a blitz comes from getting a great pass rush and beating the offensive lineman or who ever was blocking you, and that is how you get your sack. Other sacks develop from pushing the pocket and the quarterback escapes at the right time for the defensive player to make a tackle, so sometimes yes and other times it is just making a play and making things happen."
How cool will it be to play in a `White Out' as a player?
"I love playing at home and the fans really get into it. It has been awesome, so with everybody in all white it is going to look really nice and it is going to be exciting to play in."
Did you feel like the defense had this much potential before the season started?
"We definitely felt that way, but we can also get better from what we have done right now. Early on this season we knew we were going to be good, we just didn't know how good. After watching film from the Colorado State game, we played a pretty good game defensively but there are a lot of things that we just left out there like hustle plays and things like that, that could have been better. So we can always get better."
How does it feel to be filling the shoes of a Bobby Wagner?
"Let's not get into that, Bobby (Wagner) is a great player and we all know that. I am just doing what I can to help the team. We have other great middle linebackers like Tavaris McMillian, Jake Doughty and Cade Cowdin, and they are all stepping up and playing really good football right now."
Senior Running Back Kerwynn Williams
On UNLV game:
"They seem to have a pretty good defense from what I have been watching. They fly around to the ball and I know that their linebackers come down hill really well. I think it should be a good game and I'm excited for it. I have been waiting four years to play UNLV."
Could you have gone to UNLV?
"They didn't offer me a scholarship."
Did you want to go to UNLV? Did you grow up a UNLV fan?
"I wanted to go anywhere that I was going to get a scholarship and could play. I am happy where I am at now, I am glad with the decision that I made and it turned out to be a good one."
How have you felt or reacted to sharing time with some of the other running backs who came in after you?
"You just have to know your role, I think that is the biggest thing that I could probably say to anyone that is a young player, know your role. Know that you could either get a lot of playing time and be excited about that, or know that you can get a little playing time and you just want to do whatever you can to help contribute to the team."
Are the coaches calling plays that allow you to be explosive or are you just making the most of those situations?
"I don't think they call any specific plays just for me, or anything like that. I just think I happen to be in the right place at the right time and when the opportunity presents itself I just try to jump on to it."
On being the WAC's Offensive Player of the Week?
"I'm very honored for that and I couldn't have done it without the offensive line. They have made it really easy for me with the way they were blocking all night."
Elaborate on the progress of the offensive line through the first four games?
"I think they have definitely made a lot of progress, we kind of had a set back last week against Wisconsin, where we weren't able to run the ball as well as we had the previous two games and they came back last week ready to get after it in the run game and I felt like they did a good job."
Do you feel like that was a statement game for you as a feature back on this team?
"I don't feel like it was necessarily a statement game, I try to prepare the same way going into every game and try to be prepared for the opportunities that are given to me. I was just ready to go out there and get after it and re-establish the run game because I knew that we were kind of down from the week before."
How is the team going to improve in short yardage situations?
"We definitely have to go back and look at how we are approaching things on that. I don't think we really have a problem on third and one, it was definitely discouraging on the goal line to get stopped those three times down there where they did a good job of holding us up. I feel like we definitely have to go in and watch film and see what we can do better on that to kind of mix it up and keep the defense on their toes when they are on the goal line."
What are your thoughts on the `White Out' for this weekend?
"I think everyone is real excited about it. I think the town is buzzing about it and they did a good job of getting the word out so everyone knows it is going to be a `White Out' this weekend and I am just excited to see all the fans out there. I love playing at home and it will be good with everybody out there in their white shirts."
Is your dad really a huge Aggies fan and tries to spread it around Las Vegas as much as possible?
"That is definitely true. Both of my parents come to every game, so it is exciting to see them at every game. They have been there since forever. They have been watching all of my games since I was a little kid. They have always been there and no matter how much I play, whether I play a little or a lot they come to the game regardless. It is definitely fun to see my parents there and he is a huge Aggies fan."
Is he excited to have you guys play against UNLV?
"I don't think that he is any more excited than usual. My dad, I don't think he can get anymore excited than usual. He is always excited to come watch us play. He will watch my little brother's game on Friday and then he will be up here to watch us play on Saturday."
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