Head coach Gary Andersen held a news conference Monday to talk about the upcoming Famous Idaho Potato Bowl game against Toledo..
Dec. 10, 2012
LOGAN, Utah -
Press Conference Video
Utah State football head coach Gary Andersen held a news conference Monday to talk about the upcoming Famous Idaho Potato Bowl game against Toledo. A complete transcript of Andersen's remarks can be found below.
Head Coach Gary Andersen
Opening comment heading into game week:
"The kids are prepared. They'll have one more practice here today and then we'll move on down the road tomorrow to Boise. I think there preparation has been very good. The coaches have a good plan in place, like they have done all year long. The kids have wrapped their arms around it and we've had some quality practices, some great practices for the young kids. We'll be between 12 and 13 practices prior to the bowl, which is close to the allotment that you can have. It's been a tremendous opportunity for our young kids to scrimmage and get a lot of individual attention from the coaches, which they haven't had since August. So, that is a mission accomplished there and we'll continue to do that as we go through the practices in Boise."
"As far as the opponent, Toledo is a quality opponent when you're playing in a bowl game. Obviously their record will show they are a very good football team and explosive on the offensive side of the ball. When you sit back and look at them and really break them down, they have a very powerful run game. They are able to run the ball consistently week in and week out, regardless of the opponent. They are able to throw the ball down the field effectively week in and week out, regardless of the opponent. They can run it, they can throw it, and they are very well coached. I think it's a very good offensive scheme and they do a tremendous job of using their playmakers and allow them to make plays. We'll have a good challenge for our defense and we're excited about that opportunity."
"On the defensive side of the ball, they play a mix of coverages, with some zone pressures and some man pressures, so they are a little bit unpredictable with those pressures, which is again a sign of a good coach or coaches that are running their defense. They do a nice job of mixing things up so you can't get a lot of tendencies on them. They're gifted and have a tremendous linebacker that makes a ton of tackles for them, but I think overall they are a lot like our defense, a lot like our offense, and a lot like our football team. There are some very talented players and I think as a whole, they play at a very high level, they like to play football, they are very competitive and they play well as a group."
"Also on special teams they do a lot of things to force you to practice and be ready for. We'll expect a lot of different looks here, which every team does. We know what we are going to get which is a very well-coached, tough-minded football team that will expect to win."
Are there special teams changes with punt blocks, reverses or fake field goals in bowl games with the extra time to prepare?
"Well I think there is a little bit. The more time you have the more you draw stuff on a board sometimes, some good, some bad. But there is always a tweak here and there. Anytime you break it down and you have 12 games, there is a lot to look at. That can be a positive for you; it can be a negative for you as you continue to prepare. You want to make it fun for the kids also. Kids like a chance to block a punt, make a big play on special teams. I think everybody likes to see that and its just another way to prepare and hopefully gives you a chance to win a game. There will be some wrinkles, no question. In all three phases of the game there's going to be some new wrinkles that you have to react to. I think as coaches sometimes you sit back and look and make sure you are getting the playmakers the ball at times too."
On Toledo's returning four interceptions for touchdowns this season:
"I can't tell you I've seen every single one of those exact plays, but I know they are opportunistic on the defensive side. To catch a ball and return it for a touchdown is not an easy thing to do sometimes. I am sure that they spend time coaching it. The kids get themselves in positions and they make plays and they know where to go once they catch it. They are an opportunistic defense and that's why they've caused the turnovers that they've caused and changed some games in a big way with the turnovers they've got on defense."
On Toledo's safety Jermaine Robinson:
"Well he's a good football player. He's in the right place. Whether they are playing middle of the field, what we call middle of the field close with the free safety or they are playing two safeties over the top, he does a nice job of not getting looked off by the quarterback consistently. He finds himself in the right place a lot of times where many times a quarterback thinks he can squeeze the ball in there, but the young man reacts to the ball and breaks and plays very well within his coverages. So, he's a talented kid and once he gets the ball in his hands - they probably look at him sometimes and wonder if he shouldn't be an offensive player."
On the team's schedule with finals, bowl activities, practices:
"Finals are an interesting twist. We are very lucky at Utah State University to have the support and the care factor that our administration has. It's special. From the professors to provost (Raymond T.) Coward and all the support that goes into it. J.T. (Jason Thomas), Brian Evans, there is countless hours of work and organization that has to go in to give kids the opportunity to be able to get it done and get their finals done. Last night, Sunday night, our kids are up here until midnight and there are professors that are involved in giving kids an opportunity to prepare for a final. It's awesome. For them to have that care factor that they have as an administration, all the support through the university through the professors and so on and so forth, is like nowhere I have ever been. I can't say it's an easy process, but it's a process we can get done because of the cooperation of everybody involved. All of the other stuff, second time through is a lot easier. You go through and there's not nearly as many guesses that we're thinking about and how you do things, where do you go with this, where do you go with that. So, it's much easier than it was the first time through."
What about J.T (Jason Thomas) being on the road and helping with the process?
"Yeah, we'll have a great support staff throughout. J.T., what he does, not just during bowl games but what he does all year long and his staff is again I think it is as good as there is in the country with the information he gives us. He puts the kids in a position to be successful and then it's important for our kids to care and go get it done, which they do. Getting a degree is one of the most important things these kids do and living their lives the right way is our number one and number two on the checklist. You do that, football will take care of itself."
Did the experience of a year ago change your approach this year?
"Not for me, not at all. I believe in the way we prepare for bowls, number one is to prepare for the opponent and play a quality football game and number two is to make sure the kids are prepared in school and they finish school the right way because that is going to carry them through their lives and number three is to make sure they have fun. I don't know the exact number of bowl games I've been to but the system has never changed and I had the opportunity at Utah to be in charge of the bowl games while I was there. I was always in the middle of the planning. We just tweaked it and tweaked it, three or four times and I think the way we do it is the way to go. There is always a couple things here and there that you can do different, but as far as the base and the core of how we develop ourselves in practice and what we do is the same and it will continue to be, hopefully for more bowl games in the future."
Did you look at a lot of video of selected games of Toledo's or all of them?
"The coordinators have more time because they are not recruiting as much. When you only have two weeks it goes quicker than normal. You have got to recruit and you have got to get ready for a bowl and everything that is in between. So I would say this, definitely every game has been looked at and evaluated and every snap they've played during the year has been seen on tape by the coordinators. On the flip side of that, you really still try and plan on who they have been for the last four games and that is where we put the most time as far as scouting them and preparation is what they have done recently, which we say is the last four games."
Do you see the same excitement it your team this year that you did before last year's bowl game?
"Yeah, without question and if I don't see that than I'm going to jump up real quick and we'll have a conversation about it because its a tremendous reward, its a tremendous accomplishment. For these seniors this year to be able to say they've gone to back-to-back bowl games is something they'll never forget. I never had these experiences as a player, was really never close as a player to having these experience so I know how valuable they are. It's going back to back and there is so much to it, their emotions and their excitement. They're excited again to not just get to a bowl game but for these kids they just don't want it to end. They love being around each other. They have a great time at practice. Their excited about just being able to spend another week together, because this is it. This is our last practice today and it's the last time a lot of these kids - they had their last meeting today here together and it will be the last practice here together, it's the last time they will walk out of the locker room for those seniors. So, there is a lot of emotion that takes place as you go through this week, but their want-to and their excitement to be together, these kids might strap another 13 games together if they had an opportunity, they love playing."
Health wise, how is everybody?
"Kade-O (McKade Brady) looks like right now he is going to be a go. The docs have done a great job of instructing him on how to handle himself. It's not easy with your jaw wired shut, to maintain his weight and I don't know how he has done it but he's done it. It's unbelievable and he's out there practicing and I don't know how he breathes at practice with his mouth shut, I would have a nervous breakdown if I had to do that out there. He's practiced, he has a red jersey on to protect him. The mindset is right now he is the starting safety for the bowl game, which is awesome for that kid. It's been a lot of time and a lot of docs have done a great job and the trainers have done a nice job of putting him in a position to be able to play."
On Toledo's wide receivers:
"First of all, they are down the field threats. They're vertical kids and they can get down the field. They do a nice job of making plays on contested balls. You've got to go up and just because you've got them covered doesn't mean you are going to come down with an incomplete pass or an interception in your favor, because they do a great job of going up and getting the ball. So, they handle that part of the game very well. They understand where they are going, they understand how to stem themselves in and out of zone coverage, in and out of man coverage and when they get an opportunity to catch the ball, they catch the ball and make things happen. It's the whole offense. I would say it is really similar to us when you look at Chuck (Jacobs) and you look at Matt (Austin), that supporting cast makes our top two receivers other than Kerwynn (Williams), makes our two top receivers even better because of the supporting cast. I believe that's a fact with Toledo."
Is Terrance Owens anything like Chuckie Keeton?
"They are both athletic and I think they both have good command of the offense. It's a little bit different in their running styles. One may be a little bit more physical in his running. Chuckie has been taught and asked to make sure he gets away from things, but they will both hurt with their legs. They are very similar in that area. If you give them an opportunity to break contain or you get out of your pass rush lanes in the throw games, or even when you blitz, you can have a free hitter coming and they both do a nice job of avoiding and making things happen when the pocket breaks down. In that way they are very similar. I think they also have an opportunity to hurt you with their mind, with their legs and with their arm. Really all three quarterbacks that you are going to see, possibly play in this game. Both those kids (Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens) have been productive. Their offense doesn't change really at all when either one of those two young men play for Toledo. They do good things. The offense just keeps moving along and their numbers would speak to that."
What about their running back David Fluellen?
"He's a great player. Physical, tough, seems to gain momentum as the game goes on. He's one of the best in the country with the numbers, so he is a force to be reckoned with."
On seven MAC teams going to bowl games?
"Well I would say this, I watch them and we get a lot of chances to watch them and they get a lot of chances to watch us. Whether it's Thursday night or Friday night, or whatever it may be. I have a ton of respect for that league, I think that it's very similar to the WAC - the competition especially with the top of the league. They've got a lot more teams in the bowl games obviously, but I think that league has well-coached, tough, hard-nosed kids throughout. We saw the same thing last year in the bowl game with tough-minded kids that love to play football. So, in that area I think all the teams are similar within the WAC and in the MAC. You get a kid that may have a little bit of a chip on his shoulder and that is the kind of people we love to coach."
On former Aggies in the NFL doing well:
"Yeah, it's awesome to see those kids. The Aggies are kind of all over out there and who knows what is going to happen Bobby (Wagner) here at the end of the year, he straps three more games together and he can have some special awards coming his way as a rookie. Robert (Turbin) I think is gaining momentum. The bottom line is in that league when you are given an opportunity you better take advantage of opportunity and they seem to be doing that as well as Curtis (Marsh). I think if Michael (Smith) is given an opportunity he'll continue to do that also. It's fun to see those kids and fun to get their text messages when they play well. They are pretty excited about it."
On Toledo's Dan Molls:
"I told the offensive staff when I met with them, he reminds me of Bobby (Wagner). He is always around the football and he is a very good tackler when he gets the opportunity to make plays. He is sideline to sideline, he is behind the line of scrimmage, his intensity is motor. It sounds like he is kind of a self made guy, tougher than nails. I believe they said his GPA is off the charts, he is 3.9 or 4.0 or whatever he is. They are very proud of what he has done on the field and off the field and they should be. He is a tremendous football player."
Would you call their defense vulnerable?
"No, I don't think so. I think it is a lot like a lot of the defenses that you play. When you 've got a high-powered offense and what they do on offense they sometimes put you in some bad spots. Defensively, they've kept themselves in some games and you look at the numbers - there is times when their offense has won games and there is times their defense has won games for them and there is times their special teams has won games for them. You watch them on film and they are very well coached and they play with great effort, that is obvious to see. If you are playing in a bowl game and playing at this level, you are playing against really good players on both sides of the football and in all three phases of the game."
On their red zone defense:
"Yeah, they definitely bow up when they get in the red zone. When they are on offense they want to find a way to get it in there and when they are on defense they want to find a way to force you to kick field goals and they've been good in that area."
Do you have a favorite moment from this season?
"Yeah the favorite moment would have been when it was fourth and two and we finally realized the ref finally told me that we made the tackle and the (Louisiana Tech) game was over. To have the WAC Championship finally in hand was without a doubt a great moment. The other moment I would say, it wasn't a favorite moment at the time, but it will be in mind forever was just the way they came out to practice the Monday after the BYU game. That is something that I will never forget. I remember walking up to T.J. Woods after that practice and looking at him and saying these kids, there is something special to them. I am not a guy who even likes to think that, let alone say that during the season, especially after a tough loss to an in-state rival, but they came out and their want-to, it was in there eyes. It wasn't anything they said, it was just how they carried themselves and that is a special moment now for me. On that day, it was a tough day, but those would be the two that just come out."
"One more thing I want to be able to say is there is a lot made about jobs and things that are out there that we've all gone through the last two weeks. I think it is very well noted at this point that there is some assistant coaches, I am never going to say schools, I'm never really going to say names, but there is assistant coaches here that have made decisions to stay at Utah State. Very similar to the situations that we went through the last couple weeks. That doesn't get well documented out there in the media and the press and I don't want it to in any way, shape or form. But I do want to say that you have a bunch of assistant coaches here that have had some opportunities they've turned down. It is just a credit to Utah State, it's a credit to the kids in the program, it's a credit to Cache Valley that these coaches want to stay. It's a WOW, if you knew all the facts to it, there would be kind of the same things, the same looks I got like you are nuts. But people don't understand how special this place is and the direction that we believe we are moving as a football program. As a head coach, I think it is important that I note that and I am grateful they want to be here and the kids in the program I know are grateful. I think it's good to let you know that there are assistant coaches in this program that are making decisions to stay with us when there are other opportunities out there for them."
Was it the players who got the #12 on the helmets for Danny Berger?
"Early on there wasn't a lot of information, as we all know. I just felt as we came out to practice the day after, two days after I guess, when he was starting to make progress that that was something that we should do. Because it is not just a football team, it is not just a basketball team. That is one of the greatest things about this university is how close the student body and we are with the community and the athletes in general, how close they are together. There are special times that you can reach out and just be part of it and that is all we are doing. It looks like he is going to be fine and it was great to see him at the basketball game, but to still wear that on the back of our hat is our position of support. Many prayers were said on this football team for that young man, I promise you that much. The relationship that is here at the university is special, so it is something we want to do."