Oct. 15, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State football head coach Gary Andersen held a news conference Monday to talk about the upcoming game against New Mexico State. A complete transcript of Andersen's remarks can be found below.
Head Coach Gary Andersen
Recapping San Jose State game:
"First of all it was a tremendous victory against a quality opponent. They were 4-1 walking into that game, San Jose State was, and they played Stanford right down to the wire so we knew what we were getting ourselves into. Especially with the last couple of years, our games against San Jose State have been very tightly contested. I thought our kids handled the trip well, I thought they prepared very well during the week especially after a tough loss to BYU. We were able to execute in all three-phases reasonably well. There is always a little give and take when you make that statement, but we had some big plays on the offensive side of the ball. I thought that Kerwynn (Williams) had another tremendous game, which was great to see. He keeps stacking those up back-to-back, he was shutdown a week ago but answered the bell. I thought that Chuckie (Keeton) played very good. His throws were good, he made good decisions on when to tuck the ball and when to throw it away. He really led the offense down the field. Defensively, first of all 13 sacks, I have never been around anything like that in my life. So, that was great to see, it was fun to see those kids have some success and get to the quarterback the way they did especially against such a good offense and a quarterback that has completed 70 percent of his balls throughout the year. We knew we couldn't just let him sit back there and throw it and yet it is hard to bring heavy pressure on him. So I thought the kids adjusted to the scheme very well. I thought coach (Dave) Aranda and his defensive staff did a tremendous job of preparing the kids and the kids wrapped their arms around it and executed it at the end of the day. It was great to see and that is a big victory for us. That is a game both teams obviously needed to have and wanted to get badly to reach the goals that they have set at the beginning of the year. It was a big victory for us on the road, it was great to see the kids play that way."
On New Mexico State:
"New Mexico State, first of all I have a tremendous amount of respect for DeWayne Walker. I think that he is a great person and he is a very good football coach. He has developed a program, we have kind of been in the same situation over the years trying to build a program and keep on fighting through some things. We have the opportunity to talk two or three times a year and he is a very good person. I think he is a very good football coach. We know what we are going to get, they have a pressure defense and they will come after us, they always do. They like to change it up and show you some different fronts, so it is a difficult defense with his background in the defensive side of the football to get prepared for. A lot of man, which is something that we have not seen a lot of this year, so it will be a little bit different for us to be able to prepare for and again the pressure that they bring, pressure in a lot of different ways from a lot of different spots. That is what we are going to face on that side of the ball, it will be interesting to see how they deal with Chuckie (Keeton) with the pressure scenario and the pressure situation, that is something that our offensive staff will have to adjust to as the game goes. On the offensive side of the football they have some good receivers. They want to throw the ball first without a question and that is their mindset. They do a nice job of getting the ball out on time and getting it out quickly. A good, young quarterback and I have spent a lot more time watching the defensive tape to this point than I have the offensive tape, so I cant speak to much on exactly where they are but I just know kids that are in the program from years past. They will be solid and I am sure they will be excited to come up here and play in Logan. That is what I know at this point about New Mexico State."
How do you explain the 13 sacks against San Jose State?
"There were a lot of different looks defensively first of all, we rushed four and played zone behind it, but we rushed four in a lot of different ways. You saw the corners coming, Nevin (Lawson) had a couple of sacks and that was really just bringing four people, it wasn't an all out blitz. It was just pushing the zone coverage back into the field or back into the boundary. Kids were winning one-on-one battles. I thought Al (Lapuaho) played his best game. We were able to win some one-on-one battles upfront and I think it kind of snowballs a little bit for their offense when you take away the first read, you take away the second read. I think our defensive backs played a big part in those sacks because they were taking away the first throws. Many times taking away the zones, or in our zones, dropping into where we predicted he wanted the ball to go and possibly taking away the first read and making him get to his second read. I think that caused some problems at times, but you know the kids did a nice job of executing and making plays. It is a pretty amazing stat. That was a strange statistical game."
Talk about Kyler Fackrell earning consecutive WAC Defensive Player of the Week honors?
"I knew the minute that he walked in here, well I thought that the minute he walked in here that he would be a tremendous football player. It was very hard to redshirt him last year but I am glad that we did at this point. The thing about Kyler is you worry about a freshman handling that, even though he redshirted. He has never traveled before, he hasn't gone to school during a football season, there are a lot of intangibles that you don't always think about, but he has handled them all very well. He is a mature kid and he is a great athlete with God-given ability. He is smart, he understands our scheme and he plays within the scheme for the most part. There are still some bumps in the road as far as getting him in the right spot at the right time, but he takes a lot of pride in it. It is a great accomplishment for him and to have him there as a freshman is pretty special."
Talk about Austin Franklin and how New Mexico State likes to throw the ball:
"We recruited Austin Franklin and we know all about him. He is a good kid, a good football player and that is definitely their go-to guy. You have got to try and equalize him. He is going to get his touches because he is the centerpiece of that offense. They are going to want to get the ball to him and the quarterback is going to want to get the ball to him and he should want to get the ball to him because he is a tremendous player. You have got to try and take him away at times and you said it best, pressure on the quarterback is the best way to disrupt any throwing game. It is the most annoying part to an offense and an offensive coordinator and to a quarterback if he doesn't quite understand where you are coming from and kind of get the clock in his mind going fast. So if we can do that again it will pay big dividends as we move through the game, but that is two key parts to their offense that we have got to get pressure on them and we have got to look at Franklin."
Did the offense feel like this San Jose State game was a statement game coming off its performance at BYU?
"I don't really think it was statement game, it was a big game and so was the BYU game. Again, my hat goes off to the way that BYU played and we had some opportunities to make plays down the field and we didn't. At the end of the day that was the issue, I didn't see the Oregon State game but I know that Oregon State had some plays and they made them. There were three of four plays they made on offense and I am sure that it swung that game their way. We were not able to do that and in the San Jose State game we were able to do that, I think our kids right now control themselves very well. They look to the next game and prepare and that is what I felt like they did against San Jose State. They don't get real emotional on Monday's or Tuesday's, they are business like and for a young team that has kind of been our (method of operation). When we get to Friday we become very light-hearted and squirrelly. That drives some coaches crazy but I kind of like it. That is where they're at. They will be good."
Do you look at this NMSU game as a trap game, coming off a big win and breaking school records?
"I am always on guard and I am paranoid. The way I state that is every week, these kids know me well enough now that if I sense anything at all that is negative, I am going to address it right out of the gate. They know that I hope I am wrong when I am making those statements to them. I will address that with them today and I hope that I am wrong. I think it needs to be thrown out to them especially as a young crew that needs to keep their sword sharpened. Monday it doesn't need to be as sharp as it needs to be on Friday, but it has got to start. We cannot take a backseat. I will educate them on it, but they have handled it well all year long and hopefully they will continue to do that."
If you win Saturday you are bowl eligible. I am sure that was one of your goals for the season. Does that add motivation for this game?
"Yes. We walked out at the very beginning and we wanted to be able to get to a bowl again and obviously becoming bowl eligible is a big part of that. We want to win a bowl game and we want to get in a position to contend and play and win a WAC Championship. It is round eight for us and that is what it is. It is a 12 round fight with a possibility to play 13, and we are walking into round eight and we will see exactly where we sit. We have put ourselves in decent position at 5-2 and to be bowl eligible with a bunch of games left would be a big accomplishment for this group of kids."
You and Coach (DeWayne) Walker took over your programs the same year and it seems that they are heading in two different directions. Have you thought about that?
"No, I haven't really thought about that. I have got a ton of respect for DeWayne Walker and the way that his kids play. I am grateful for the success we have had as a program. I'm sure we are both surrounded by good kids. He loves his kids, I love my kids and it is hard, it is hard to win. If you don't wake up everyday and think that you are blessed to be in a position where you have the opportunity to be around good kids and a good place and have an opportunity to win football games as a head football coach, you better take another big deep breathe and look at yourself in the mirror and understand that a lot goes into it and it is not about you. DeWayne Walker is a great guy and I have known him now for four years. He is pushing hard, he is grinding through it and I know this, our team has had a heck of time competing with them ever since we started this three-game series with them. Walking into game four it has been tight every year and I sure that it will be again."
How thin is the line between success and being on the hot seat?
"It's very thin. It's scary for families of coaches and players. At the end of the day, head coaches are usually the ones who come out of it with the next-best opportunity. I think about the kids first and the assistants second. Any decision I make is always revolving around them first. Players first, assistant coaches second, and maybe it's bad to say, but myself and my kids and my wife are always third. It's hard when you lose those games that can change people's lives."
On Kyler Fackrell stepping up to replace Bobby Wagner as a player and leader:
"I would go into the inside linebacker spot first and say just how well (Zach) Vigil has played. He and Jake Doughty have done a tremendous job replacing Bobby and Kyle (Gallagher). Cade Cowdin has come in and done a great job alongside Tavaris (McMillian). The ability of the four inside linebackers to be able to play the way they've played is exciting. But Kyler (Fackrell), as a freshman, to come in and be able to both physically and mentally hang in there is giving himself a chance to make big-time plays. He's showing up. He's a steady kid who doesn't change, day in and day out at practice. He's one of those light-hearted guys who just has the look of 'Yeah, I've got this,' all the time. He's a special kid."
On Will Davis' improvement and how that has impacted the secondary and the defense:
"I think it's been big. He's grown up and when he walked back in here in January, he was a different kid. When I say that, I mean simply because he understands Division I football. He's been through a season but had never been through an off-season with us. For a kid to get an off-season and a summer really helped him. When he walked in here in January, he meant business. He's always been a tremendous student, he takes care of business, but football also became important to Will. He learned that simply being the most talented on the field didn't always bring success. It had to come through film study, him working daily on what he wanted, and using his God-given abilities the best he can. It took preparation and most of it was mental. He's worked hard. It's meant a lot to the defense. It's made us have the ability to change things up a little bit because he comes inside and plays the nickel spot. When you have the luxury of having an outside corner that moves in and plays the inside corner, mentally he can handle that. Nevin Lawson and Terrence Alston have done a good job of that too. Those are a special group of corners individually. Most teams would trade us corners-for-corners in a second. They've handled it well, but Will has really done a nice job. I expect him to have a great game this week because it was not his best outing last week."
On mission-age change and its impact on recruiting:
"It's been our stance from the very beginning to get kids out on missions as early as we possibly could. This just bumps up the process by a year. Three kids in the state who we've been recruiting are all late-mission kids and they would have to sit out for a year. It gets hard to be able to recruit those kids because the rules have changed with letters of intent. Now they'll go on their missions when they're 18 and don't have to sit around. It made it a cleaner process for us. Some other schools would rather play them for a year then send them out, but our stance has always been to play first, then come back and have five years to play. By that point you're 21 and we can redshirt you as a sort of insurance policy."
On becoming a Seahawks fan and Bobby Wagner and Robert Turbin's success:
"I didn't see the game last night and didn't even get to see the SportsCenter deal, but I'll talk to Bobby today and shoot a text to Turbin. I'm happy for those kids. They seem to be gaining momentum, probably finding a little bit of a comfort zone playing at that level and understanding what it takes to play in that league week in and week out. They're both having a great experience and they both love it. They love their coach, which is always fun. They're excited with the direction they're moving, and they got a big win yesterday."
How does former Aggies' success in the NFL impact your team?
"It makes a big difference. I was talking to a couple of scouts in San Jose who were talking about Michael Smith and how great of a kid he is and what he's done for Tampa Bay. We've got a good number of kids running around in the NFL and I believe we'll have two or three more this year who will have the opportunity to turn around and put on an NFL helmet. It helps in a lot of different ways. It brings more people to understand who we are as a program. Every single time our logo gets recognized we become stronger in recruiting and everything we're trying to do as a program. It takes us all to reach our goals."
On the excitement level of alumni and fans in the Salt Lake area:
"It's a great base of people. One thing I know is that Aggie fans are loyal and faithful. They're diehard fans and they want to win in the worst way. The ones who are very loyal come good days and bad days. It's fun for me to have them feel some success in football. I think we're gaining momentum everywhere that we go, and we should be. I think the athletic department is gaining momentum. There's a big hole in the ground right outside our offices that is going to be one of the best weight rooms I've ever seen or been a part of as a coach. The direction a lot of the teams are heading, like the women's soccer team, there's a lot of momentum. That credit goes to the alumni, to Mr. (Scott) Barnes and President (Stan) Albrecht. They've done a great job of putting us in the position to grow and move forward."
On not looking too far ahead, getting too excited about the potential of the rest of the season:
"I can't look past 1:45 today to get to the team meeting. I didn't take a deep breath in the San Jose State game until I took my headset off with about 30 seconds left. It's a tough drill to win games. We have not earned the right to look forward, to look ahead. We need to stay humble. We need to understand what got us here, which is a hard working group of kids. We need to understand that every game in Division I football is unbelievably hard to win and is highly contested. Every team has good players and we're going to learn that again this week. I will not look ahead and I don't believe these kids will look ahead."
On being 3-0 against future MWC opponents:
"When you look at the people we've played, Colorado State is going to continue to build and get better. I think UNLV is close to turning the corner. I have tremendous respect for San Jose. They're going to win a lot of games and I expect they'll be in a bowl game by the time the season is over. It's great to be in that position, but every year is so different. Different kids, different dynamics, so we'll see. It's a good conference."
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