USU head coach Gary Andersen, sophomore QB Chuckie Keeton and junior CB Nevin Lawson talked about this week's game.
Oct. 22, 2012
Press Conference Video
LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State football head coach Gary Andersen, along with sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton and junior cornerback Nevin Lawson, held a news conference Monday to talk about the upcoming game at UTSA. A complete transcript of Andersen, Keeton and Lawson's remarks can be found below.
Head Coach Gary Andersen
Recapping New Mexico State game:
"First of all, it is great to be bowl eligible and a tremendous accomplishment for the kids in the program, the university as a whole and Aggie nation. To be in this spot two years in a row, it's been a long time since it's happened. To me it needs to be celebrated and it was celebrated with our kids on Saturday and Sunday. Now we move on to the next adventure with UTSA. I thought Chuckie (Keeton) was very, very solid (against New Mexico State). Probably the best game this year that he's put together of beating you with his mind and his legs and his arm. I thought he did a great job in all three areas and was very solid. Kerwynn (Williams) was obviously very, very good and it was good to have Nick (Diaz) come in and kick a couple big field goals that were deep ones and really mattered. So, that was great to see. I thought the defense was solid. Any time you give up seven points, you play pretty good defense. The young men on the defensive side of the ball and coaches expect to play great defense. That's kind of how I tagged it with them after the game. I don't know if I would call that great defense that we played on Saturday, but it was very good defense. They will expect to play better this week than they did last week against a very, very good opponent."
"UTSA, what I see, is an offense that does a great job of using the whole field with their wide receivers, with their running backs, with their quarterbacks, with their scheme. They do a very nice job. They've won a lot of football games. It's obvious they know how to win. They play extremely hard on the offensive side of the ball as well as the defensive side of the ball. It's a difficult offense to prepare for, from a scheme standpoint. They are very well coached in that area also, in my opinion. Defensively, I have watched their defense a lot yesterday and today. I think the defensive line jumps out at me. I have a tendency to pull my eye toward the defensive line, but the way they play, their physicality, the pad level, the techniques. I do not know the coach personally that coaches them but I know he is a very good coach just by watching the way his kids play on the defensive front. It's impressive. I think their defense is very well coached. They know where they are going, what they are doing, they play extremely hard and they are in the right spots. That's why their on top of the WAC in a lot of defensive categories. Their record speaks for themselves and their numbers speak for themselves. They are also very solid in the kicking game so this will be a tough opponent for us. It's a road trip, a place we've never been before. That comes with a lot of question marks, but as always the key thing for us on Monday and Tuesday is to worry about the Aggies and prepare for the person we are playing and have great respect for the people we play every single week, which we do this week with UTSA."
Can you go over the field goal kicking process and how Nick Diaz has done the last two weeks?
"Well same thing every kid does, they just compete. They compete, they get filmed and they get evaluated just like the right guard does along from the defensive lineman. It's just a competition and the best guy may win. Does it matter what they do on game day? Absolutely, but I think you need to be evaluated every single day as a Division I athlete. How you conduct yourself and carry yourself on the field and those moments in practice are just as important as the ones in the game. So, he gets evaluated and so does every other kicker and every position, same way."
What has happened the last two weeks for Nick Diaz to win the spot?
"He was better. He was more consistent and did a nice job of kicking the football and hopefully that continues. We will see. He is a newborn in that situation. He has made two long kicks or two good kicks, not pressure kicks. So we will see how he steps up when he's got to kick them, he's got to hit 'em through when we absolutely need them. He has made two and had one blocked. The blocked one has nothing to do with him. It was horrible protection by the tight ends on the right side and that has nothing to do with the snapper, the holder or the kicker. In my mind Nick Diaz is two for two on field goals right now."
On Nick Diaz being the WAC Special Teams Player of the Week:
"It was great to see it. Those were hard, long field goals. He put his leg into it and let it rip."
On how not many kickers start their career with a 53 yard field goal try:
"That is not how we drew it up either, but what the heck. There was a little wind behind him. We had to get him a kick sooner or later. I thought it was important to try and get him a kick where it was a little bit comfortable, where he could jog out there somewhat relaxed. I don't know if kicking a 53-yarder is a relaxed state, but he got it done. It was great to see."
With this game being in a dome, will you prepare by practicing indoors all week?
"Yeah, I think the weather is going to have us do that a little bit, but we will. It sounds like they had 30,000 last week, so it will be loud. We will prepare for a noisy environment and we will be indoors a little bit. We are going to try and get over there on Friday so we can at least run around in it, see it. I just think it's important. These kids are going to spend the rest of their lives watching football games played in that venue. To say that they were there and to be able to be there and possibly get a picture if that is what they want. That is part of the college football experience, to enjoy the trips and the places that you go. So we will see it on Friday and then go play in it on Saturday and hopefully play well."
On the two injuries with the UTSA kicker and quarterback who didn't play this last week:
"I haven't really watched a lot of them on offense yet. I've been watching the defense and that is where I have been the whole year. It's not just this week, it is kind of where I've tried to focus. Not that I have all the answers, trust me I'm just kind of the guy sitting in the corner learning, but trying to help the offensive staff with some formations and how they adjust to things. So, I haven't seen a lot. Talking to coach (Dave) Aranda, it didn't sound like the offense changed drastically with the new quarterback. It sounds like it is definitely going to be the new quarterback. Like I said, with the throw to the option, the speed of the wide receivers, I suspect their offense will stay intact. It's a good offense. These guys have won a lot of football games this year and played very well"
How will going to Texas effect your recruiting?
"Texas is an area where we recruit, so it is big for us. We have a couple of coaches in Texas and I think the ability for us to go in there and hopefully play well is important. Moving into the Mountain West Conference, this is what we are obviously recruiting into in the future. You don't get into Texas a lot to play, but you get close. We will continue to recruit it, so it is important for us. I am sure as we move through the years we will bump heads with UTSA in recruiting. To say you played well against somebody is an important part of the recruiting process. Every game is big, especially now that every game seems to be on television. It's seen, so it's always important to play well."
I know you were good friend with coach Robb Akey, how disappointed were you to hear the news of him being fired?
"Very. The biggest thing for me is people don't understand what a guy like Robb Akey put into Idaho. It's emotional for me, I'm not going to lie. When you put your life, basically, into a job like you have to in Division I football, especially some places were you just have to give everything you got every single day. I think that, I'm not saying anything bad about other coaches, but I know that there is not another guy out there who gave more to the school he was at than Robb Akey. I know that for a fact. It's hard to deal with. It's hard for me to deal with, let alone him."
You talk about your defense going from good to great and what needs to happen for that?
"Consistency. I think the last couple of weeks we need to play better in zone coverages. I think we've been great a lot this year. You sit back and look at our numbers, the numbers I tag on great defense is very difficult to attain and they are right there. They are almost 3.0 yards per rush, 6.0 yards a play, our pass defense efficiency is very good, so overall the numbers say they are a great defense right now. If you stop it, the season is over with, you stamp it and fold it away in a file, you look at that and say that is a great defense after eight games. They won't be overall ecstatic with what's gone on in some of those zone coverages the last couple weeks, some missed tackles. So, it's our jobs as coaches to work on the things that we need to work on. I think that New Mexico State did a nice job last week of using the bye week to take advantage of some of the things we hadn't seen. The kids adjusted to it. I thought the coaches adjusted to it. My hat goes off to the good coaching staff at New Mexico State to take advantage of some play calls that they had to put them in a good spot."
Did you call that early time out or did Dave Aranda call that?
"I called it. You get into those big situations early in the game and there is a lot of communication. All the talk that you get on the headphones, I think it is important to remember that there is so few seconds to pass that on to kids in between plays. Sometimes you can take a big deep breath and have two minutes or three minutes to sit back and talk about it. Those changes are not easily made but your chances of making those changes are much better, especially early in a game. We'd a lot rather get in a spot where we increase the kids opportunity to make a play. They had us moving around a little bit, there is no question. The fly motions and some man coverages and some communications and things. I'm not going to sit here and take credit because of a time out in any way, shape or form. The coaches communicated some things and it all worked out. The bottom line is the kids digested the information that they needed to and were able to keep them out of the end zone all day long."
What about Brian Suite's injury or any other injuries?
"I think Brian will be absolutely fine. There are a lot of concerns this time of year and we will continue to practice extremely smart. We are a very young team, which I've said probably a thousand times this year and also we are not a very deep team. It's critical how we as a staff handle these kids and really in the end it is ultimately me, that I make sure I get them back fresh. We will get them out as quickly as we can to keep them fresh mentally and keep them fresh physically. I think some guys are gaining ground on some injuries and we are maintaining in some spots where we absolutely have to maintain. The kids have a big responsibility in coming in and practicing sharp and clean and crisp when they are in a short period, the last four weeks of the season, which we are in right now. We need to be smart and they have handled it there."
Sophomore Quarterback Chuckie Keeton
On playing UTSA in the Alamodome:
"It is definitely going to be an amazing experience, it is the first time that I am going to be able to play at home and on top of that most of my graduating class is at UTSA. So it is going to be a lot of fun, hopefully it is going to be a great atmosphere and hopefully we can come out with a win."
What do you see from UTSA?
"We haven't really looked at them to much yet, but from what I have been told they have one of the top defenses in our conference right now and so it is definitely going to be challenge, but at the same time we have to worry about ourselves and get ourselves prepared to play our type of football. Hopefully that kind of outshines their defense."
What effect did the BYU game have on you as an offense?
"I think that helped just because I think that gave us a challenge and it kind of showed where we were and at that time we weren't up to par yet. Ever since then we have been just thinking through our assignments and trying to be a little more thorough throughout the week in our preparation, and it has definitely showed in the past two weeks. I think if we keep it up that we can have something special at the end of the season."
Have you been surprised at how easily you have been able to break big plays the last two weeks?
"It is somewhat a surprise, but at the same time we look at film so much and we are game planning for big plays. With that being said, we also have to execute it and that just comes from a big care factor out of our guys. A lot of it has to do with our offensive line, we have five great guys upfront and they pave holes and they give me a lot of time to throw the ball."
Did you know that the first play from scrimmage was going to be that screen pass to Kerwynn Williams?
"No, not necessarily to him, but at the same time we still had to play the play and I had to read it out. Kerwynn made a good catch and a great run. A lot of it had to do with our offensive line, they were out there kind of like elephants on skates, whenever they get in the way and take out some defensive backs its a beautiful thing."
So you had other options on that play and choose to throw to Kerwynn?
"Yeah, I definitely could have thrown it to a different receiver, but Kerwynn was the guy to go to and it paid off for us."
How many family and friends do you expect to be there on Saturday?
"A lot, I really do. My mom's entire half of her family is out there, they are in Galveston and they told me that they are going to make the trip up to San Antonio. So it is going to be a lot of fun to see all of them and I know that they are going to bring a lot of energy. I mean my classmates should be out there as well so it should be good."
Have you ever played in the Alamodome?
"No. It is kind of funny because that was always where the 5A state championship was, so it has always been kind of like a dream for me to play at the Alamodome. So I will finally get my opportunity."
This coaching staff seems to get the team ready to play regardless of the opponent:
"Yeah, Coach Andersen really helps us out, he says that a Division I football win is always hard to come by. We have definitely found that out, we have been in a lot of close game situations. This year we have been able to stay on track, not play to high and not playing to low, and just finding ways to get wins this year. It has definitely helped us out as far as a mindset type of thing, where we can't take anything for granted and we have definitely found that out."
What do you think you have improved on since you started at the beginning of last season?
"I have definitely cracked down a little bit more on listening to my coaches a lot more. They have given me a lot more responsibility as far as throwing the ball down field or getting a little bit better reads, a little bit more complicated if anything, and I mean that comes from a lot of trust and it allows us to get the ball into our playmakers hands. Whether it is down field or a short pass, it helps me out when I throw the ball to Kerwynn for three yards and he runs for a 76, that is always a good thing for me. I mean it is definitely a big trust thing from last year to this year."
Have you consciously worked on making better reads and improving your technique?
"Yeah, it is certainly something that I have been working on. Even though we had some good balls last game there are still some fundamental things that I need to work through. Hopefully I can fix that today, tomorrow and Wednesday so that way I can be ready for UTSA."
Talk a little bit about your big run against New Mexico State?
"It was kind of funny because they played a specific defense just for that one play and wound up kind of hurting them. They were playing man and our receivers did a great job because they were able to just run them off. That is what Travis Reynolds did and that is why the corner had his back turned the entire time and he kind of waived me on just trying to set up a block, and once I got past him I was still looking around to see that no one was catching me. It was a great feeling to score."
Junior Cornerback Nevin Lawson
On playing UTSA:
"Against UTSA they like to run a lot of option, sideways football and get the ball outside. They are going to be a good opponent for us to play against. We are going to watch a lot of film, prepare and get ready for it."
The UTSA coach said that he feels like his receivers are the best group on his team:
"We haven't watched any type of film on them yet, but we definitely know that they are good receivers, but at the same time we have to worry about ourselves and prepare this week in practice and get ready."
Every week it seems like the best players in the league are lining up across from you:
"Definitely. It is always a good thing to go against quality opponents every week and at the same time we have just got to be ready for the challenge, and I am pretty sure the whole defense will be ready to play."
Do you like it when they call a blitz that you get to come on?
"Definitely. It is always good when they call your number. Coach (Kendrick) Shaver said that we should always take it personally when they call our number to go on a blitz to make a play for our team."
Talk about Will Davis and his role in the secondary and his improvement from last year to this year?
"Will is definitely a good player. He comes to work everyday and we help each other. We focus on the techniques that we need to focus on and mentor each other as a whole cornerback group to stay focused and work with each other. Will definitely improved this year knowing that he is going in as a senior and this is his last year. He really worked hard this off-season and it is showing right now on the field."
You almost had a pick on Saturday, what happened on that play?
"From watching film, I knew that they loved to do a lot of out routes and the first play they threw the ball at me was an out route, so I just knew it was coming so I jumped it and I thought I had hit but the ref's said that they came up with it. So I just let it go and moved on to the next play."
Talk about how the defensive feels as a unit?
"This defense is basically like a brotherhood. We play hard for each other and it is definitely a pride thing because we know that defense is a big part of our team and what we do. We definitely have to play with each other and play for each other. In the red zone we always have to bow up. You can drive it down the field but that doesn't mean that you are going to score. We definitely take pride in the red zone, that is definitely where we have to stop them from scoring."