USU football head coach Matt Wells, along with senior tight end D.J. Tialavea and senior defensive end Connor Williams, held a news conference Monday to recap the BYU game and preview its upcoming Mountain West home game against Boise State.
Oct. 7, 2013
LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State football head coach Matt Wells, along with senior tight end D.J. Tialavea and senior defensive end Connor Williams, held a news conference Monday to recap the BYU game and preview its upcoming Mountain West home game against Boise State. A complete transcript of Wells, Tialavea and Williams' remarks can be found below.
Head Coach Matt Wells
Recapping the BYU game:
"It was not the outcome that any of us wanted or expected. As you go back and look at it and dissect it, there was a lot of good stuff. We have a bunch of kids that are tough. They didn't quit and they played down to the wire. I'm really proud of them for that. That's the hard thing as a coach as you address your players and talk to those guys, because there was a lot of good in that game, stat-wise and production-wise. If you looked at it before the game, I would say we were right in it and doing what we had to do to win."
"The three things that come to mind are: running the football - I thought our tight ends and running backs came off the football and ran it very well, averaging more than five yards a carry. The second thing, like we talked about last Monday, was containing the quarterback run, which they did extremely well. There was one that got loose and got out, but against a really great dual-threat quarterback in Taysom (Hill), they shut down the run game pretty good. The third thing was that we needed to get in the red zone and score touchdowns, and we did, we just didn't get down there enough. Those are always keys to winning games. The bottom line is we had three turnovers. One of them resulted in points for them, but the other two were great stops by our defense. One of those was near the midfield on our side and the defense bowed up to the occasion on both of those. You can't be an elite defense and give up uncontested throws. Did we play good enough on defense? No, not when you consider all of that. Did we play really well in a lot of areas on defense? Yeah."
"Our defense showed up and played well. You can't have breakdowns in the backend. Those are layups. They are straight, running layups. It's an uncontested breakaway and one was a slam-dunk. There's your basketball analogy for the day."
"Offensively, we've got to throw the ball and I thought that was sporadic. It was good at times and not so good at times. There are things to clean up there. I thought our coverage teams, kickoff and punt unit, did a nice job."
Previewing Boise State:
"Boise State is a well-coached team schematically, effort-wise and fundamentally. I have a lot of respect for Coach (Chris) Petersen and his staff. I've known him for a long time, and have watched and competed against him. I said the minute we got into the Mountain West that they are the program we all want to model ourselves after. From a consistency standpoint, from an effort standpoint and a toughness standpoint, I think they do a great job. They're very sound on defense. Their defensive front is typical Boise State. They're blue-collared, tough, hard-nosed players. They two-gap a lot up front and they do a nice job in their pressure packages, which I would expect to heat up this week. It will be something we're ready for."
"Offensively, I think Joe Southwick is finding his groove. They've got a lot of mojo. They scheme around his talents, which I think good offensive coaches do. They've done a nice job there. Both backs are downhill, physical running backs, and I like them both. They do a nice job."
"It's a big challenge. It will be good to have them in Logan. Our kids will rally. This is a time where we're facing a little bit of adversity with some season-ending injuries. We got one back, Connor Williams is a big shark for our defense. We're going to have to rally around some new guys and it's going to be next man up. There are some guys around them who are going to have to play just a little bit better. We're going to have to have some guys fill in some different leadership roles. We're going to have to play elite defense, be sound and aggressive in the special teams, and we're going to have to play good on offense and take care of the football. We're going to build around whoever the next quarterback is."
On who the new quarterback will be:
"It will be Craig Harrison or Darrell Garretson, we'll look at them both this week. You'll know on game day. That'll be about the last time I answer that. Those two guys are going to work together and we'll see who settles in the best. I think Craig will get better with extended reps. Darrell hasn't taken many reps since training camp, but he had an awful lot towards the end of camp. We'll see where those guys are, we'll see who plays well around them and how they handle the situation this week. We'll split the reps 50/50 today, then see where we're at. I'm going to work it in closed practices the rest of the week and you'll know who the starter is on Saturday night. That's it, I can't tell you more than that. We're going to put a game plan around them and we're going to get as good as we can at it. Our players are going to rally around those two kids."
On the biggest differences between the two backup quarterbacks:
"One's a freshman and one's a junior. Until they play a lot, until they play on game day, I don't know what to tell you. I'll give you a really good educated answer in two weeks."
On Harrison's play versus the expectation on Friday:
"He did about the same. He did some good stuff and I think he wishes he had some stuff back."
On being a part of a team losing three offensive starters and bouncing back from it:
"I can't remember one. Three starters, especially at quarterback, tailback and an O-Lineman, that's a unique one. I think our team will rally just fine. I think we have a bunch of tough-minded kids. I think they're individually motivated. I think they're externally motivated by where they are in the standings. They know they're 2-0 in the Mountain West, they know every goal is still out there for them. They know there's only one thing on their mind and that's rallying around a new tailback, a new quarterback, a new guard, and trying to find a way to win Saturday night."
On Joe Hill:
"He had surgery last Friday. It was his ACL and so he's out for the year."
On Sini Tauauve'a's play:
"I think Sini played well at times and I think Kevin (Whimpey) and Tyler (Larsen) played better around him. That was a unit that I was happy with to see the way they rallied around him and all the extra time they spent with Sini. At night after practice they switched off staying and even Thursday and Friday morning. I thought Sini came out and played well. He was calm and focused and so were the rest of those guys. That's a unit. As a unit they played well."
On Connor Williams' return:
"Energy, leadership, production, that's what you get with that kid. What you see is what you get. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. He has been awesome the last five weeks as an assistant coach and as a leader in the way that he has acted. The D-Linemen responded and I think he's gained respect from his other teammates to see his involvement. He's got a no-quit attitude. I love that kid."
On having Gary Andersen at the BYU game:
"It was good to see him. What he's done for me personally, what he's done for me professionally, I won't ever replace or forget it. I owe him a lot. He's done a lot for this program and it was good to have him back. He recruited a lot of these kids. They're his boys, one of them literally. It's a pretty good deal for him. And Keegan (Andersen) played well. He had a good game and kind of showed out for his dad."
On filling the leadership void left by Chuckie Keeton:
"That will remain to be determined a little bit during practice and as we get through game week. We've got other leaders on offense. We've got leaders in the O-Line room. Those guys do that every day. D.J. Tialavea is an emotional, vocal leader. Both Travis' (Reynolds and Van Leeuwen) in the receivers room. We've got other guys who have done it. Chuckie is just a part of that leadership, he's not the only leader on that offense."
On Boise State's defense:
"They've got some young guys mixing in there along with some veterans. They're very schematically sound. Those guys are in the right place at the right time and they're playing good football."
On Nick Vigil and his first career start:
"It's different personnel packages and ways to get him on the field. You can move Kyler (Fackrell) around and Nick can play either inside linebacker and spell his brother (Zach Vigil) or Jake (Doughty) if they need a break. There's already a good rotation there. He has merited increased reps by his production. He played well again in a little more of an increased role Friday night."
On the breakdowns in the secondary:
"Some of it is technique and some of it communication. You have to be in the right place at the right time and understand what the call is and what your responsibility is. You can't get lackadaisical doing it. When you get lackadaisical doing it, either they've got a direct route into your zone or your man. Good teams make you pay for it. They made us pay. They had the right call at the right time. They threw it and they caught it. If it happens on a run nobody knows it. They were both very untimely. Besides that, aside from a few critical third downs where we didn't get off the field, I thought our defense played really good."
On the affordability of losing Chuckie Keeton:
"It's media and outside people that put one kid one a pedestal. Chuckie Keeton is not Chuckie Keeton without Tyler Larsen, without Eric Schultz. Eric and Tyler have played every snap Chuckie has played. Kevin (Whimpey) has played quite a bit, Jamie (Markosian) has played quite a bit. D.J. (Tialavea) has been there every step of the way since the Auburn game, so has Travis Reynolds. Chuckie is Chuckie because guys around him have played well. I also think Chuckie has elevated their game. They have played well around him. Those kids are a bunch of individuals that collectively have played well as an offense because individually they've played well. Chuckie has played very well too. But to say he's the only leader, no way. There are other guys who lead. He's a great leader. It hurts to lose a great leader and a great teammate. You should see the way he acts in the locker room and in the summer. You don't replace that. Other guys are going to have to fill in and they will have to fill in the different roles. A quarterback has to fill in from a production standpoint. There's got to be other guys who fill in as leaders. I don't think there are guys who have to learn how to be leaders, not one bit. Those guys will just keep doing what they're doing."
"I hate it for Chuckie, I hate it bad for him. It's very unfortunate. He'll bounce back and grind. Him and Joe Hill will battle every day. They'll help each other. I told Joe the other day that I feel sorry for him because the wrong guy just got hurt right next to him. He's going to drill Joe. The kid won't give up and they'll come back stronger. I'm sure there's going to be a silver lining in it somewhere, there's not today. There's a silver lining in it for him mentally probably. He'll see the game from a different perspective. Hopefully all that helps him next year."
Senior Tight End D.J. Tialavea
Recapping the BYU game:
"The BYU game, definitely not the way we wanted that to end. BYU's a good team, they played a good game and we can learn a lot from this film. We've definitely faced a lot of adversity but every team faces adversity, nothing goes exactly as planned, so we've got to come together as an offensive unit. Everybody needs to step up and do a little bit more so we can put more points on the board and help this team win more games in the future."
Previewing Boise State:
"Upcoming, we've got Boise State, another great team and great defense. They have really good players that give a great effort. We've all got to put in a little more effort and find where we can get better. We're going to be prepared and we'll come to play Saturday night."
On what he expects from the quarterbacks moving forward:
"I feel like Craig, with getting these extra reps in practice, he's going to be more prepared and confident. I think our whole offense needs to wrap our arms around Craig and give him that confidence and let him be comfortable out there because he needs to trust us. Chuckie (Keeton) and Joe Hill, they didn't make us a great offense, all of us on the offensive unit are good players. We play together and that's what makes us good. One player doesn't make the whole team, so we've got to let Craig know that the pressure isn't on him, it's on all the coaches and players to execute and do their job. I want Craig to be comfortable out there and trust all of us that are out there on the field with him."
Running through the past weekend for him personally:
"It was like a rollercoaster. Coach (Gary) Andersen was back in town because (Wisconsin) had a bye. It was great to see and talk to him, we wanted to put on a good show and we knew we had his support. Going into BYU, I'm a Utah kid, there are a lot of Utah kids on this team, and we wanted to get this win. Especially since it was my last shot at a Utah team, I wanted to go out on top. When Chuckie (Keeton) went down, I think everybody on the team and in the stands could feel how we felt, but we didn't do a very good job of picking ourselves back up emotionally. We lost a lot of energy and it's something that we all can learn from. You never know, every play could be your last play, next game we could lose somebody else, but we've got to learn from this Chuckie situation that we've got to bring some energy to win the games."
On the difference between losing Chuckie Keeton to losing Kyle Whimpey the previous week:
"It was the same scenario. When Kyle went down last week as a team we felt it on the sidelines, but I feel like we did a better job of picking ourselves back up, picking each other up and continuing to play well. This week, it was just another feeling that we need to learn from because we didn't do a very good job. I don't want to say it's going to happen again, but if it does, me and the other team leaders need to do a better job of getting this team going and continuing to play."
On Craig Harrison filling the leadership void left behind after the Chuckie Keeton injury:
"I've loved Craig ever since he got here. I think he does have leadership skills and confidence, and he just needs to bring it out. It's on us to let him feel comfortable being a leader. Chuckie was the starter and everybody looked up to Chuckie, so Craig kind of took the backseat, but I want him to feel comfortable and know that it's okay for him to put the team on his shoulders and be confident when he's out there. This week, when he gets the reps in practice, I hope he feels comfortable going into the game."
On if the setup for the Boise State game changes following the Keeton injury:
"Not at all. If you would have told me at the beginning of the season that we would have been 3-3 going into Boise State I would have laughed at you and I wouldn't consider you an Aggie fan, but it happens. Our goal is to win the Mountain West and we're 2-0 and in a great position to do that."
On if it was a plan heading into the season to utilize the tight end position more in the passing game:
"I feel like as an offense we don't have those breakout stars that we've had in the past with all of our NFL talent so we have to do it as a unit. Whether it's running back, wide receiver or tight end, I feel like our coaches are doing a great job spreading the ball out and making the defense prepare for anything. Whether it's Joey DeMartino getting 30 carries a game or the outside receivers getting 10 balls a game or the tight ends, I think it's the coaches using our personnel well and the players just making plays. If you keep making plays, the coaches are going to keep giving you the ball, so I think it's both."
On Keegan Andersen getting multiple deep catches against BYU:
"That was something that BYU probably didn't have an answer for that we probably could have gone back to. I think its stuff like that where tight ends can bring that type of play to the game. Since we showed that on film, that's something that Boise State has to prepare for and spend more time on and teams down the road have to prepare for as well."
On if he feels more heat now that the tight end position has showed to be a key in the Aggies' offense:
"Yeah, I think there were a few games where we went to the tight end and we found success, so some of the teams are keying in on that now. I wasn't really surprised because it's on film, but that's where we need to utilize our running backs, get to the edge, an come up with some different schemes to expose the defenses keying on the tight ends."
On Boise State's defense:
"They play with great effort and are a great defense, we're not going to overlook them at all. As an offense, we don't really need to worry about them, we've got to worry about ourselves. If we execute and do the things that we do well then we'll be able to put up some points and win."
On how far the program has come since he first arrived at Utah State:
"My first season, I think we were 4-8. A lot of people felt like we were doing a lot better. Now we're 3-3 and it's very disappointing. It's something that we've changed in this program that we expect to win every game. We expect to fight to the end and not have any big-time losses. We are 3-3, but we still have all of our goals in front of us and we can still have a great season. It's our job to focus in on this game, get the ball rolling again and get some momentum."
Senior Defensive End Connor Williams
Recapping the BYU game:
"The BYU game was obviously a huge disappointment. You always look forward to those in-state games and throughout my career here they have always been really close, hard-fought battles. It seems that not a lot went well for us that night, but we're going to bounce back and correct our mistakes. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season."
On Boise State's offense:
"They're a big-time effort team. The offense as a whole is a lot of technicians. They're very committed, hard-working guys, so they're a lot like us. It's going to be a hard-fought battle."
On how he felt playing again after being injured:
"It was bittersweet. I was really happy to be suited up. Going through warm-ups I was really excited, we got to one-on-one pass rush and my tendon totally popped, but I got it taped up. I couldn't miss that game so I played the whole game and I was really excited to be out there. I had a lot of energy and pent-up aggression to get out. I was happy to be out there against BYU, but it was definitely a bittersweet night given the result."
On if the tendon popping might actually have been a good result:
"The doctors said the injury is like a cousin to plantar fasciitis. Initially, it didn't feel too good but the doctor explained to me that it was actually a good thing that it snapped and it might continue to pop but it'll get better in time."
On injuries piling up:
"We have a lot of real close teammates, Kyle (Whimpey), Chuckie (Keeton) and Joe (Hill), all going down with season-ending injuries. Those guys are leaders and hard workers so a lot of us will pick up the slack and play harder for them. Hopefully, we'll honor them with the way we play and the result of the season."
On stopping the run against BYU:
"We did a good job shutting down their run game. They got a couple lucky breaks, but for the most part we did a good job shutting them down. We didn't expect them to throw all that much and (Taysom Hill) ended up throwing pretty well."
On if he considers the success of BYU's passing game to be partially his fault:
"Yeah, we always say a defense is a big puzzle and every person is a piece of that puzzle. There might be a big play and the average fan might say that it was the DB's fault, but maybe the line could have gotten more pressure or the linebacker who was blitzing could have gotten there sooner. When there are defensive breakdowns it's a team failure."
On Boise State's offensive line:
"They're a real solid group up front. They're technicians and hard workers so it sounds a lot like our line up front. I'm looking forward to the challenge on Saturday."
On Joe Southwick and other key offensive players for Boise State:
"They've got a real solid running back and their quarterback is a solid leader and he does a good job with their offense, so it's going to be fun playing against them for sure."
On if he sees the margin for error for the defense being a little smaller now:
"Obviously, when you have key players go down the rest of the team has got to pick up the slack. Defensively, offensively and on special teams, we're going to have to be more sound. I don't doubt our crew, I think we'll be able to pull it off."