Sep 9, 2013
On the Game versus ECU, FAU’s first Conference USA Game
We did a lot of good things. You can’t get caught up in statistics, but statically it was a dead heat - offense, defense and special teams - very comparable in every statistical category. What we didn’t do well was take care of the ball and we had a costly mistake on special teams and that is something we pride ourselves on. The other thing, as a coach, you look and we want to be able to start faster. As good of a defensive football game as we played, our worst series was our first one. We let them go 80 (yards) on us and get up. Right away you are spotting them and you feel like you have to press a little bit to come from behind. We fought like crazy to get some momentum back at 7-6 and then we gave up the long touchdown run. The way we start has to change and then the little things, take care of the football and do better on special teams.
Was it a week of progress, from week one to week two?
No doubt we are a better football team. We still have a long way to go, but our players are committed, our coaches are committed and we will keep moving forward. We knew this was a tough stretch entering the season. The schedule just worked out that way. We started with Miami, South Florida on the horizon and in between you pitch in the team that is probably favored in the eastern division of our conference. So, it wasn’t an easy road for us, but you can’t worry about that. You have to go one game at a time.
On USF and the carry over between Taggart at WKU and USF
A little bit. I guess if you look at our game (FAU at Western Kentucky in 2012) defensively there is a little bit of a carry over what he is doing offensively, but we are a different team too. We have a different approach schematically and probably more defense available to us to play those big sets that he likes to run. I think week two for them was the type of game they want to play. They were right there with Michigan State, deep into the ball game. They were executing very well defensively. They are a very good defensive football team. Offensively, they were picking up chunks of yards, but hurt themselves at times. They had some big plays in that game that were called back. They showed great improvement from week one to week two and are a talented football team.
On Quarterback Play and the Rotation
Well, everyone wants to talk about quarterback play. We look at it differently. When you start slow there is a certain level of frustration. Some of the mistakes were on the quarterback, but some were on the receivers – the depth of the routes. Things like that as the game went on we became a little lax in the discipline of our execution. I also think we have a young inexperienced offensive line. We have a number of new starters there. It is nice to bring along a fresh new quarterback when you have great experience up front. When you are in experience up front and at quarterback it is a tough chore. Those guys have to grow up quickly. I think there was improvement all over the offense. I just think the consistency needs to get there. We can’t have the individual breakdowns. Everyone wants to talk about the quarterback play and yet I look at it more deeply than that. It’s a team and there are mistakes happening at all 11 positions. The tendency is to say it is the rotating quarterbacks, they are not in a rhythm, but that is not always the case. The quarterback might be the one taking the blame for it when there are other guys who are not doing their responsibility.
On the offensive line and its progress between week one and week two.
You have to be careful when you talk about grades. A guy could grade well and still have made a number of mistakes. The mistakes we made are glaring. It’s not about the grade over the game as it is the inconsistency of play. It is one guy breaking down or another guy breaking down that hurts all five. Four might be doing their job and one isn’t and it looks like they are not doing their job as a unit. We can definitely get better. There are things we can improve upon upfront to make our offense more competitive. You can fix it by coaching, but with all the different opponents we are facing you can’t hit it all. Both games we got looks that we weren’t expecting. Guys have to be able to adjust on the fly. I think you can prepare them and coach them to adjust on the fly. Be more rolls-oriented and less man-oriented but ultimately they are going to see things on Saturdays that you weren’t able to show them during the week. You have to be able to make adjustments on the fly. They might be able to get you once, but you have to make the adjustments on the sideline and be able to implement those changes on the field. At times, we made mistakes, were able to fix it on the sideline and still make that mistake again. Those are the ones that are frustrating to me. You can’t be mistake repeaters. If you see something new and it gets you once, make the adjustment, expect it next time and execute it better the next time. The offensive line will only get better as we go through the season.
On the wide receivers
We have experience there and yet ultimately what happens and it is no unique to these receivers is that you struggle early on in the game and you start to press. Suddenly, they are trying too hard to get open that they aren’t running their route as it is coached to be run. In the passing game, so much is about timing is involved, at times that affects your throwing game even though it is not as evident to the fan. I don’t want to say that they are mistakes as much as pressing at times when you really don’t need to. They just need to run their routes on the correct rhythm and things will be fine.
On the Defense
Defense played well. They are growing and still have a lot of improvement to make. I think once they sat through the film session they understand they played well. They played ok, probably well enough to win that game. And yet, they can be a lot better. There is improvement that can be made on that side of the ball as well. All over the team we can get better. We are going to work hard to do that.
Are you surprised with the play of the defense?
I’m not surprised. I expected a lot from our defense this year. I still think we could be more consistent, defensively. At times, I think we could be pretty darn good. At times we let our own mistakes hurt us. I think we can keep getting better, but not pleasantly surprised I expected that kind of improvement from what I saw in the spring.
Did the defense play well enough to win?
Well, we didn’t win so they didn’t play well enough to win. That is something I learned early on in my career. Coach Snyder (at Kansas State) always said a good defensive football game can be when you hold them to 40 and you scored 41. If you only score 14 you better hold them to 13. That is defensive football week in and week out. I don’t want to get into well enough to win. Well enough to win is winning. Again, I thought the defense played really well at times. I don’t ever want to start the game like we did. I thought our first series was our worst series. We have to figure out a way to start faster and not spot them seven and feel pressed to come back.