Oct. 30, 2012
LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State football head coach Gary Andersen, along with senior wide receiver Cameron Webb and redshirt freshman linebacker Kyler Fackrell, held a news conference Monday to talk about the upcoming game at Texas State. A complete transcript of Andersen, Webb and Fackrell's remarks can be found below.
Head Coach Gary Andersen
Recapping the UTSA game:
"Last week's game was another great victory for the kids. It's tremendous to be 7-2 and in a spot where we are at in conference. We still have some very important games to play, but it's fun to have important games this time of the year. The next one is the next one. This is a huge game and Texas State is going to come in here and expect to win. Chuckie (Keeton) again I thought last week was extremely solid, did a very nice job and played at a high level. He took what was there. There was not a lot there for him with his legs, but he threw the ball very well down the field and I thought he made very good decisions with the football. So, he was very solid. Kerwynn (Williams) in limited attempts, again, had a tremendous game as well as Joe Hill who also did a nice job in limited attempts. I thought the big play continued to show with them in the backfield, which is great to see. Throwing the ball to 12 different receivers, I believe it was, is a good job by the receivers and a good job by the offensive line protecting them. That is a lot of different sections of the throw game that are coming out when you get the ball to 12 different young men, but it was great to see. So, that was a big positive."
"Defensively, I would say we played very good. I ask them every week to play great defense. When you plan to win that is the number one goal, a great defense and I think that was great defense (against UTSA). The two's gave up an option pass (for a touchdown) on a fumble. Our second offense can't fumble in that situation to put the defense in that spot. That is hard to swallow and that is hard to deal with. The end of the game, we're going to turn around and take a knee. It was a double thought process for me. I'm not a guy who wants to try and run up the score. I think it's important to have a football team that does things with class and getting in and out of games the right way. I believe that is the right way. Also, on the flip side of that, maybe our offense, second-team offense could learn a little bit of don't give up seven points to the other side and maybe have the chance to get seven points on your side. I thought the two's were poor on offense. On defense the two's were adequate this week, which is great to see. Not as good in the run game as we wanted them to be. Offensively, we hit the one screen pass but I thought the defense overall, with the second group was a big positive and a big improvement. Offensively, I didn't see that improvement. Although, I thought Craig Harrison did a nice job of conducting the offense the way he needed to and some young men did some things, but overall it needs to improve."
"The kicking game was good. Nick (Diaz) hit his field goals, which is great to see. I thought the kicking game got us kick-started with the blocked punt, which was executed extremely well by Devonta (Glover-Wright) and his teammates on that play to get the block. Eventually he was the one who obviously got the block, but they were very solid in the kicking game all the way through and in all phases."
On Texas State:
"This will be a big challenge for us. It's a good football team we are playing. Texas State is very good in option football. They are very physical up front and their running backs run very hard, it's a very good scheme. I've coached against their coordinator for years when he was at TCU and I was the defensive coordinator at Utah. When I wasn't the defensive coordinator I was the defensive line coach and I've gone many, many times against him as a coordinator. He's not a good coordinator, he's a great coordinator in my opinion. He uses his players in a very good way. It will be a big, big challenge for us defensively to make the plays, get on and off the field and take care of business. On the defensive side of the football, they'll pressure you at times. They'll come after you at times and get you in unconventional downs, if you will. They are unpredictable, which I think every good defense is unpredictable. It will be a challenge for us because the last couple of weeks we haven't had as much of that situation for us. It's been a little bit more of a predictable defensive scheme, or you think you know what you are going to get on down and distance. There are no guarantees, but this week there are less guarantees. It makes it harder to scheme for. This team will come in here expecting to win and we'll expect to win. I say that week in and week out but I believe this Texas State team has a lot of belief in themselves, they are playing at a high level and they are very well coached."
On Texas State leading San Jose State at the half:
"San Jose made some plays in the second half. I thought they adjusted a little bit. I haven't watched the defensive side, Texas State's offense against that defensive side yet, but I will. I haven't had that opportunity the short time we've been preparing. Obviously it kind of flip-flopped a little bit in the second half. San Jose on the offensive side of the ball had some success throwing the ball and running the ball in the second half and got a 10 or 11 point lead and held on to it. That is kind of how it went."
On the special teams being a key area against Texas State:
"Yeah, they've got talent, they've got athleticism and they will do a nice job. So, we've got to kick the ball well, we've got to cover well and we have got to take advantage of opportunities in the kicking game when it presents itself. That will be a big part of this game and again, they are very well coached. You open up the bios of the coaching staff at Texas State and there is a whole bunch of years of football, people at very good places and a lot of success. They've done a nice job of putting together a quality staff and when you go against a quality staff you better look at your weaknesses and fix them or take them away. One of the two, if not you are going to pay."
What did you see out of Cameron Webb at Snow College after taking a year off?
"To be honest with you I never saw him play a snap at Snow Junior College. I went completely off what (Mountain Crest High School) head coach (Mark) Wootton told me. Sitting down talking with Cam and communicating with Cam, knowing what his want-to was, and him wanting to be involved in this program is exactly what I went off of. If you've got a young man that wants to take a shot at being in your program, that has a lot of energy and excitement, love for the game of football and comes highly recommended by somebody who you trust and believe in, you let them in your program. That is exactly what the case was and obviously he's backed up and verified every statement that everybody made on him prior to joining our program."
How proud are you of Cameron Webb from being a walk-on to what he is doing now?
"It's one of my favorite things in college football. To see kids do things that people told them they couldn't or the opportunity didn't present itself. There are a lot of reasons why kids don't get scholarships, it's not all because they can't play, but they obviously haven't had the opportunity. To see a young man that's a walk-on, Cam and the other 14 that we've rewarded since we've been here in the last four years is special to me. That was me; I had to do that too. There is no better feeling that I have ever had in wins and losses and everything I've been through was the fact that the day that I could walk home and say, 'You know what dad? I got a scholarship.' Those kids have had the opportunity to do that and that means a lot. In Cam's case, he's a kid that wants to take care of himself. He's an older young man. It's not easy for him to ask for anything but it's a great feeling as a coach to be able to see a walk-on reach a goal of a scholarship. It's a big, big deal."
In the walk-on to scholarship process is there a face-to-face meeting with you?
"Yeah, to have them be part of the program they come in. They sit down with position coaches. Coach (Kevin) Clune handles our walk-on program initially, so he kind of gets them through the hoops and understands where they are at. He does a great job of laying down the landscape as far as who we are as a program and what we are all about. He brings the kids to the table and it goes to the position coach and the position coach kind of decides. I get involved, but not all the time. I trust those coaches. Coach Clune's been doing this for a long time. He understands what we expect in our program. Nothing is 100 percent, there is not a lot of exact. It's not an exact science in walk-ons or in scholarships, but Kevin does a great job in handling that for us, getting the young men in the program. It's a little easier in January than in August because you get the 105 stipulation to come in to camp. You can have a few more of them in spring practices. As far as the scholarship goes, I kind of pride myself in not letting them know until they are in a team meeting. I want them to learn about the scholarship in a team meeting. Most of the time we can keep the cat in the bag and not let it slip out, sometimes it does. It's a fun team meeting when they get those scholarships."
Is Joe Hill 100 percent now?
"I think he is. He was 100 percent in the last game, ready to go. There is no limp to me, no issues. In my eyes he is 100 percent."
With the screen pass is it something you are seeing in the defense or have you just perfected it?
"I think it is all of the above. Number one, it is the execution. They are very difficult plays to execute. I think the kids have made it important in practice. There is great blocks that are being made on the perimeter. The timing of the quarterback is very good. The timing of the running backs as far as releasing, the timing of the offensive lineman selling the pass, and then getting out into the screen, it's all important. It's executed at a high level and it's a very difficult play to rep, even in practice this late in the year. They are cutting bags, they are not really cutting people, but the kids have been excited about making it important. It makes a big difference. They are executing at a high level and I think it is also getting called by the coaches at the right time, which is a big part of it also."
On having so many blocked kicks this season:
"It is an emphasis. I will say this. I think the more athletic you get, the more youth in your program is involved in special teams. They wrap their arms around an opportunity to make a play in special teams and become more active in special teams, which leads to a blocked kick or big returns, whatever it may be. I think coach (Bill) Busch has really done a nice job of putting kids in position to have an opportunity to take a step forward and affect the team in a positive way. That is what's taking place."
Who stepped up this week and helped on special teams because of some of the injuries?
"Yeah, we had to take a couple extra young men on this last trip. Really, for the most part we had three or four kids that were playing three or four positions, if you will. We took a couple of the young men on the trip to get us to 64 because we lost three just boom, boom, boom in the middle of the week, which was big for us. Some young men had to come in and adjust to positions. Cade Cowdin was one young man that had three or four different spots he was playing. Devonta Glover-Wright was another one who had three or four different spots he was playing. Dee Hamala was an option quarterback all week long. He was UTSA's option quarterback all week long, then he turns around on Thursday night and gets the call to load up his travel sweats and away we go and come in and learn special teams. That's a credit to this team and what they are about, it doesn't affect them. Adversity has been something they have handled very well. It's hard to lose three young men in one week as far as not being able to go and helping them through their injuries, but then adjust the game plan in a short period of time, and the kids handled it. I am proud of them for that."
On Utah State Athletics doing well in all sports:
"It's fun. I haven't been able to get to a volleyball game yet, but I'll get there. I was able to get to the little bit of the soccer game yesterday and there was a lot of people there, a lot of excitement and you are exactly right. There should be a lot of excitement. I think it's competitive and it's fun to see the success. I know our guys are excited to be there and watch the success of the other teams. I think the teams are excited to come and watch our success. It's a great time to be involved in Utah State Athletics. It's a great time to be involved in Utah State as a university. Anybody that can't see that is crazy. We are all very lucky to be here, every coach, every student-athlete. We are in a great place at a great time and we are all very lucky to be here."
On playing Texas State as a first-year Division I program:
"I think they are prepared for it, looking at them physically, looking at their ability to recruit, looking at their new stadium. They've obviously been planning for this for a number of years. It doesn't just happen overnight. They've got a great recruiting base, which we all know Texas is. They've put together a quality staff, so they were well prepared for this move. Just look at what they've done in Division I games. They've played a tough schedule and they've played well. I'm telling you, we'll have our work cut out for us in this football game. This one will not be easy."
On Texas State being a little more mature of a team:
"Yeah, I would agree with that. The thing you watch about UTSA is how hard those kids played. They never quit, they love what they are doing, and there is a lot of belief in the direction that they are going without question. Right now with Texas State, they may be a little bit bigger or what have you. They may be a little more seasoned maybe from what I see initially on tape. We will see how it all works out."
Senior Wide Receiver Cameron Webb
Recapping the UTSA game:
"Like you guys saw, it was a good performance on offense, defense and special teams. We kind of started out a little bit slow, but when that punt was blocked is when we started syncing together as a team. It all started with the offense moving the ball consistently. The run game was established and the passing game started opening up. Then the defense getting stop after stop, having them punt the ball on a consistent basis and then just taking advantage of field position on a couple of those muffed punts, which allowed us to scoring consistently."
Can you talk about getting your first touchdown of the season and what that meant to you?
"It was just good. I've been waiting for it. Right when I caught it, I slipped through the backer. Chuckie (Keeton) hit me and I just saw green from there. Like I've said before, it's not really about stats for me I just want to get those quality wins."
Is it hard to be back there to catch a punt all by yourself?
"It is definitely not easy, especially when your back there by yourself. I mean, I've got McKade Brady back there but his job is first force just to protect me. It's a hard job back there, especially when you've got people coming full speed. Reading whether you should fair catch it or if you have enough space to make a play and realizing that you got to catch them all. So, it is definitely a hard job."
On scoring 40-plus points in three consecutive games, what's been the turn around since the BYU game?
"I just feel like all cylinders are sparking right now, from the offensive line, Chuckie (Keeton) back there, running backs, all the receivers. We had 12 people who were able to have a reception against UTSA, we're just spreading the ball. Our personnel, we have tons of different personnel. We got Kerwynn (Williams) and Joe (Hill) back there, both speedy running backs. I just feel like we are all in sync right now and it's just a little bit easier to move the ball now."
Have you reached that full potential as a team, or is there more room to go?
"There is always more. You can never say you've reached potential when every day you strive to get better and better. I feel we're at the direction to just continue to grow and get this offense to be where it needs to be."
How fun is this offense with Matt Wells, a former Aggie himself being the offensive coordinator?
"It is good. Last year we ran that rock. I mean, we ran it constantly. So, being a receiver and blocking every play wasn't the most fun, but now we're starting to spread the ball a little bit, equaling out the run and pass. So, it's a lot more fun."
It seems that Chuckie Keeton is comfortable throwing to you. Do you think that you and him have something going there?
"I feel like he has a little connection with all the receivers. I feel like he knows what they are good at, where they like the ball. Of course like with Matt Austin, if we are in the redzone, the ball is going to be a fade to him. He's just got a good connection with all the receivers, I feel."
Talk about your football career starting back in high school:
"We go from Mountain Crest being able to win a state championship there my senior year was a great experience. Then I went to Snow College for a semester before going on my mission, then coming back and doing another semester. Then I took a year off, and I thought I might be done with football and then I got an opportunity to come up and walk on here. So, it has been a long road, but definitely worth it."
You made the jump to Division I football yourself, how do you relate to Texas State players making that jump this year?
"It's just a lot faster. You are going to get those athletic players everywhere you go, but on a Division I level it is more consistent that every one of them is that level of ability."
Can you talk on the confidence level of the team right now?
"It definitely feels good. It hasn't happened here at Utah State for a while. I just feel like we're in a good sync as a team right now. Everyone is definitely excited. We are still hungry of course and we want to finish out strong, we still have three games left, conference games. It's our goal to go 6-0 in the WAC and win a WAC Championship and we're going to keep working hard week in and week out to get that goal."
Redshirt-Freshman Linebacker Kyler Fackrell
On Texas State being the top redzone offensive team in the WAC and USU being the top redzone defense in the WAC:
"Hopefully we can keep them out of the redzone, first off. We've shown the ability this year to bend but don't break on defense. We sometimes allow teams to kind of march down the field on us, but then we bow up in the redzone. Hopefully if they do get into the redzone, we'll be able to bow up and keep them to at least a field goal."
Texas State plays the option and their quarterback runs the ball well. Does seeing an option like last week help you for this week?
"Even New Mexico State helped because they ran the option and had some success against us just because we weren't sound with it. We'll be sound this week and everybody will know their job. I like playing option teams. It kind of simplifies things. It's more complicated in that you just have to know your assignment, but it simplifies. It's easier I think to play against an option team because they are more one dimensional, but we will see."
Coach Andersen has talked about this defense elevating into something great, what do you think needs to happen for that?
"I'd say every play just keeping our focus better. Even against UTSA, there were plays where guys had their eyes in the backfield and not on the guys they were covering. There were missed assignments still, like there is every week. We just need to kind of sharpen up. I would say the biggest thing is getting more turnovers. Getting more turnover attempts and trying to strip the ball. That's been a goal all year and I don't think we've met our goal of three turnovers in a game once this year. I think that is a big step we need to take to go from good to great."
How did you think the defense did overall against UTSA?
"I think we did well. They were in a similar situation against San Jose State at halftime and then they came out and scored 27 in the second half, so they were more of a second half offense. We were able to hold UTSA down pretty well. There were some long pass plays and there were some breakdowns, even just on the option that we have to eliminate, but we played pretty well."
On his interception:
"They had completed that same pass play a couple of plays earlier. I broke on it a little bit faster than the previous time, but I wasn't in great position. It wasn't any kind of crazy athletic play. I was just kind of going out with him, I was right there and the ball was thrown to me."
Can you talk about the confidence level of the team with the success this year?
"I think it is really high. I think we've always had confidence, even after the losses. We've been right there and we feel like it's just been ourselves making mistakes or not taking advantage of opportunities. Our confidence has always been high, but certainly getting on a win streak builds your confidence even more. We're not getting complacent. We're still going to work hard but we have confidence that whoever we play, we can beat."
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