TEXAS A&M FOOTBALL WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCEMonday, September 14, 2009 – College Station, Texas NOTE: Audio clips are available on aggieathletics.com. HEAD COACH MIKE SHERMAN TRANSCRIPTYour thoughts on Utah State…”In studying their ballgame, I thought they played a very good Utah team extremely well. They really contained Utah in the third and fourth quarters. They got off to a rough start, fell behind a little bit, and battled their way back, and I thought their kids played hard the entire ballgame. But their second half play was outstanding.” Utah State will come at you with looks that you maybe haven’t seen before. Their offensive coordinator used to be at New Mexico, did you guys take a look at New Mexico and kind of cross-reference that?”Yeah, most of that research was done, and we continued it during the bye week. But most of that research was done in the offseason, knowing who we were playing and that they would only have one game to go off of. We did lot of that in May and June, and then obviously last week as well.” Is Michael Shumard getting a look at left tackle, or what is the latest at that position?”This past week we practiced guys at different positions. It afforded us an opportunity to create more depth and figure out what our best combinations would be. Mike did play a little bit at left tackle. He was out sick on Thursday and Friday, so he didn’t get a chance to do much of it at that point.” Is Danny Baker still the guy there?”Yes.” What else might you have done in practice since we saw you last?”We worked on a lot of things. We spent obviously a fair amount of time going against each other in uncharted, unscripted game-like situations, whether it be strike-zone, red-zone, third-down…primarily those three phases of the game…end-of-game scenarios, last eight minutes of the game. We worked a lot on special teams. So we just kind of ran the gamut of offensive and defensive components that need to be practiced, and try to give us little more experience, and try to make as much game-like situations as we could and see how our kids handled them.” Will you give Coryell Judie some looks at punt returner?”Yeah. He has continued to practice there and catch punts for us. It depends on how he responds this week. Going into the first week I thought he was a little bit leg-weary. He spent most of the summer taking care of his academics. So it’s a matter of us conditioning him and getting him ready to go. We’ve been doing that.” How would you grade out your punter?”I thought it was serviceable, but not a winning effort necessarily. I thought we did okay. We obviously didn’t get a punt blocked. I thought we lacked some consistency there in our hang times and directions. We have to be better there. We’re going to continue to work with both punters, Ryan Epperson and Ken Wood this week, as we did last week, and we’ll see who will be the starter. That will be a game-time decision.” You talked about protection last week as one of the things you wanted to work on. Do you feel more comfortable now?”Utah State brings a lot of different variables. They do a lot of movement on their defense. They rush the quarterback pretty good. I know they didn’t necessarily get to the quarterback against Utah because he was so quick to get the ball off, but they do apply more pressure than we saw in the last ballgame. We have to make sure we are solid in protection. I didn’t think we were really good in the first game. We worked hard on it this week, just like the previous week before we played. But it remains to be seen where we are with that. You really don’t know until you play the game.” Who were some of the programs you studied in the offseason in terms of the no-huddle and the quick tempo offense? Did you visit anywhere?”No, we didn’t visit anywhere. You just have to throw some high school teams on in the state of Texas and you see that on a regular basis. I wanted to be able to run our offense. I talked to some high school coaches on how they communicated to their team. Our offense is a little more…the terminology was very verbose, and also we have quite a bit of plays. So the number of signals we required probably far exceeded most high schools. So we just started working on it and trying to come up with how we were going to communicate from the sideline to the quarterback and the receivers. You just have to look in the state. There’s a lot of great high school coaches and I’ve seen them do it.” Was Lake Travis one of those?”Yes, it was.” One of the primary ones?”I talked to their head coach, he’s an Aggie, and I asked him how they do things. I had some phone conversations with some college coaches as well. I thought Lake Travis does a really nice job of doing that. They’ve been very successful doing that.” Did anyone come in to College Station from the high school and college ranks?”The coach (Chad Morris) from Lake Travis came in, and I visited with him.” Were you surprised how polished your quick tempo was? You guys were really fast and didn’t make many pre-snap mistakes…”We made more mistakes than you’re probably aware of. But pre-snap, you’re right, there weren’t as many. I guess we functioned well there. Our alignments and our splits…and they could have got us a couple times on being set. There were two or three times I didn’t think we were set right. That could have gone the other way too.” What true freshmen do you expect to play this week that didn’t get in last week?”Ryan Swope will see some action this week. It’s hard to say, until you play the game, who’s going to end up stepping out there. I think Swope will be an active participant to start with on special teams. Quite a few freshmen played last week so it’s hard for me to pinpoint anyone necessarily. (Aaron) Arterburn may see some special teams time, (Michael) Lamothe may see some time as a linebacker. Those three didn’t play in the first game and have a chance to play in this ballgame.” Anyone in the offensive line?”(Stephen) Barrera has a chance possibly to help out at right tackle. Patrick Lewis has played already, but may play a little bit more. Rhontae Scales has been taking some snaps at the number two left tackle position, so there’s a chance he can get in to the game.” How are Scales and Barrera progressing?”What we have to remember, at that position in particular, it takes a lot of maturation to get ready to play. They’re progressing, and they’re doing well, but actually putting them in the game and knowing what to do in the split-second time, without any previous work before the three weeks of preseason and then also this past week…it’s a different ballgame when you’re playing it out there on the field and have to hear everything and understand what’s going on. I think we just have to just throw them out there and see what they’ll do at some point.” Talk about Ricky Cavanaugh and the game he had in the opener…”I thought Ricky played one of his better games against New Mexico. He was very physical. His pass coverage was much improved, which I felt at times last year he was a little lost at times in space. He’s made a lot of progress.” Charles McMillian being a Bryan High guy and a Utah State grad…can you talk about what you saw in him that made you want to bring him on this staff?”Well, I didn’t go back look at his Bryan High tapes before I hired him. If I had, maybe I wouldn’t have (laughing). I thought they do a good job defensively up at TCU. That’s a starting point. You want to get someone off a staff that does well, and I think TCU has played great defense over the years. Actually, an NFL friend of mine, a scout, had been through there and saw him coach and said ‘Hey, if you’re looking for a young coach, he’s someone you may want to consider.’ So I brought him in, interviewed him and liked what I saw. It didn’t have anything to do with him being from Bryan/College Station, Texas. It had everything to do with the fact that he’s a very knowledgeable, high-character person and a good football coach. So the interview came about because of an NFL friend who told me about this young coach, and then when he came on the interview I thought he was impressive.” Do you see him as a future defensive coordinator somewhere? I know all your guys are active but he seems particularly active on the field…”I do. I think we have a number of guys on our staff, young guys, that are future coordinators and head coaches. They all desire to be at that point someday and certainly have the talent to be there.” How much better of a player is Von Miller than last year? Is that just because of the new position?”No, I think he’s gone through a growing-up period that’s helped him become better in a lot of areas. He still has a little growing up to do, but he’s come a long way from where he was a year ago. That plays as much as anything in his development. Scheme is scheme. We try to utilize him and highlight his talent, but at the same time he’s taken hold of that and ran with it. If he hadn’t done that then the scheme wouldn’t have mattered. But I think we are putting him in a position to make plays. I felt going into the offseason that we were going to be a young football team, and anyone who was a playmaker we had to get them to the forefront. He was one of them. We had to just see what he can do. Obviously in the spring he really came on gangbusters and has continued to. Once he has a couple of games under his belt and if he continues to have success, there will be other issues he’s going to have to address as far as the attention he’ll probably be getting in relationship to protection.” Can you talk about the Utah State quarterback and the problems he’ll present you?”(Diondre) Borel is a very competitive kid. He has very quick feet. In that whole conference over there, he’s probably one of the better if not the best runner. In order to win this football game you have to contain him. He’s got a good arm. They struggled on third down in the game against Utah, and they also had some protection issues, which contributed to that. It wasn’t all because of him. But corralling him is going to be a major task for us. He can break one the distance on any play, just take off and run. He’s someone we have to know where he is at all times obviously. Because he’s in the pocket behind the center, it’ll be easy to know where he is, but we have to be able to contain him when he starts to run around.” Does he remind you of Robert Griffin at Baylor?”Not as big as Robert, but has that type of quickness that Robert has.” The Utah State defense is known for running a lot of man coverage. Do you expect the receivers to have big days?”You know, it’s funny. Man coverage, every receiver says he always wants man coverage, but if you can’t win it’s a problem. With man coverage, it presents different issues than zone in the sense that you are almost always hitting a moving target as a quarterback. You aren’t sitting down in zones and between defenders, which is an easier throw than a target that’s always on the move. So the ball has to be pretty accurately put on the receiver. Anything behind him could be picked off. So it’s important for us as receivers to come in to this game and play this game fast, and the quarterback be accurate. Man sounds like, yeah, it can be a big day, but if you’re off, or if you’re not in sync with your quarterbackyou’re your receivers don’t know how to beat man coverage, then it could be a long afternoon as well. Because when you’re playing man, you’re usually bringing an extra defender or two, so there’s not a whole lot of time to look downfield and make decisions. The ball has to come off pretty quick. There’s give and take on that.” You had 14 penalties in the opener, is that something you got cleaned up last week in the open week?”I don’t know if we did, because until you play the game and find out if in fact you did, you don’t know. I would never have expected, the way we practiced, that we’d have 14 penalties, because I didn’t see that degree of penalties in practice. But it happened. I’m hopeful that we’ll be better in relationship to that, but I can’t honestly say we are.” Do you wish your program was on TV in September, and is that a little frustrating that it’s not going to be?”I don’t worry about that necessarily. I think any coach wants his program to be highlighted from a recruiting standpoint. We certainly had an opportunity in the first ballgame, and because of schedules and what not we couldn’t get it worked out. I think it’s probably helpful in recruiting, when people see you on TV more so than not. So I would say yeah, but again, scheduling and TV stuff I don’t particularly lose any sleep over that. I’ve got enough things I’m concerned about right now.” You think TV will come soon enough with Big 12 play?”Yeah, I think so. We were on TV a few times last year that I wish we weren’t (laughing).” Do you have to coach the rest of the season a little differently because you don’t have a bye week now and have 11 games in a row?”That’s a good question. You know, we as coaches overanalyze everything. You have everything laid out how you want to do it. I think you have to be careful in the bye week, because you’re just coming out of preseason, that you don’t beat the guys up too much and put yourself in a hole, knowing that you don’t have a break later on. I try to spend a significant amount of time in addressing the issues of this bye week and how we are going to practice. We challenged them but I don’t think we just killed them. My big thing is to practice fast. We’re actually getting off the field a lot sooner this year than we were in the previous year. I monitor how much contact they have and how much we’re asking them do to in practice, how many reps they have, so to make sure they don’t wear down. In relationship to the rest of the season, 11 weeks of nothing in relation to a break, I think I have to be smart come midseason on how we are practicing. We will definitely have to cut back some things so as not to wear them out.” Speaking of things to do, how is the voting going and how much time does it take each week to vote in the poll?”(Laughing), Again, you agree to do things and gosh dang it does take time to think about it and what you want to do there. I have an assistant, Gary Reynolds, who kind of puts together the information for me so I don’t have to do the research. You want to make sure you put together an accurate vote and a fair vote. It does take a little bit of effort.” Greg Hill and Quentin Coryatt are going into the A&M Hall of Fame this weekend. Do you have some memories of those guys?”Yeah. Quentin Coryatt obviously I remember him as a freshman/sophomore, and him out on the scout team just beating the heck out of people when he wasn’t able to play his first year. When he wanted to he could just kill anything he wanted to kill at that time. He could be very frustrating when he was on the scout team, for me as a line coach, trying to have some success on a Thursday and he’s blowing people up. So that was a little bit frustrating. I guess you remember things how they affect you (laughing). As far as Greg Hill, I remember his first start was I think the LSU game. He goes into the week I think third, or fourth, or fifth back, and we lost a couple of guys that week in practice for whatever reason. He just got elevated to the starting role and had a breakout game. With Greg, I remember telling him…he liked to talk just a little bit too much sometimes for my liking. I told him, ‘You just need to run. Go run.’ And he did. He ran. He ran well.” How much time is Ryan Tannehill going to see at receiver this week?”That all is predicated on the game and the situations we might be in. Again, like I said last week, I think I walk a very fine line with that. Fortunately Jerrod is a pretty durable guy, but at the same time it doesn’t take much…we had an incident in practice a week or so ago where Von (Miller) made an inside move on our tackle, and kind of stumbled and tripped and ended up on Jerrod’s legs. Against another guy, he might have torn an ACL, but Jerrod is so dang big and strong he was able to maneuver his way out of it. So at anytime you could go to your number two quarterback. I have a lot of confidence in Ryan in that role and how much we wouldn’t have to drop off a whole lot if he had to play, other than just the experience of playing. So like I said I think I walk a very fine line with that. At the same time, you have a very competitive athlete on the sidelines that wants to play in the game. He played a lot last year and contributed significantly to whatever success we had. It’s difficult. It’s a difficult call for me. I can’t give you an exact number.” So is Von the modern-day Quentin Coryatt?”I think he still has something to prove before we can anoint that. I’m a head coach now, so he listens to me a little bit better than Quentin Coryatt did when I was a line coach. I remember telling the defense, in relationship to Quentin Coryatt, and I always say it with great respect, love and admiration for Quentin Coryatt…In every Aggie function I was at this summer and since I’ve been here, we show an A&M highlight tape, and it’s always Quentin Coryatt’s hit. I said to our guys, ‘When are we going to replace that hit? It’s been long time coming, and somebody has to step up and replace that hit, so we don’t have to dig into the archives.’ With no disrespect to Quentin Coryatt and what he accomplished, I would have hoped by now we’d have somebody who had replaced that. Obviously we haven’t just yet, although we may be getting closer to that.” ADDITIONAL QUOTESDEFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOE KINES”The first thing that pops in your mind when you think about Utah State’s offense is their imagination, and how they do some good things with their formations and personnel groups. They have a quarterback who is not only fast, but he has that make-you-miss move. He’s a courageous runner, hard to tackle. In one series, they went from wishbone, to empty, to one back, to two backs in the backfield. How they move their formations around to how they use their personnel is really a classic thing. They really do a nice job with that. The running back ran hard in the opening ball game. He showed some signs of really being a great back. Their formations and how they spread you out will be the thing that’s hard to handle on Saturday.” On Coach Charles McMillian… “I’ve told him several times, he’s a brilliant young mind in football. He’s got a good grasp of coverage, and how to do things on the back end. Then you throw (assistant coach) Van Malone on top of that. We’re fortunate to have both those guys working in the secondary, but Chuck’s future…I’m at the down end, he’s at the up end. He’ll go a long, long way.” On the increased tempo… “That’s about where the game is right now. Speaking defensively, you have to get lined back up and go ‘right now’. We used to sit there to see what was on the field, what personnel group was on the field, down and distance, add all of it up, multiply by three, divide by four and make a call. But you don’t do that anymore. I think the thing that has helped us is practicing that way. The game changes, it used to be all power, it’s not all power anymore. The power is that you get mismatched.” JUNIOR QB JERROD JOHNSONOn the offensive line… “I think they have a feel for each other. Last year we had a lot of guys interchanging, but from the last game, they know each other a lot better. They understand each other a lot better, and they are a better cohesive unit. It makes me happy. We’re all on the same page, and that gives me more confidence in those guys that they’re going to do the right thing.” On Utah State… “They are really athletic. They are a man team. Any defense that prides itself on man to man coverage has to be really athletic to have confidence in that. They have some good athletes out there so it should be tough for us, but it should be fun and exciting.” On what he gets from watching other teams in the league on TV…”Defensively I watch their blitzes. DVR has done wonders for me. Sitting at home, I just try to watch what blitzes they are going to bring on third-down situations and different tendencies like that. From a quarterback stand point, I watch how they are completing their passes, how they are running their team, and on the same note, what routes worked against their blitzes.” SENIOR DB JORDAN PUGHOn Utah State…”The first thing that comes to mind when you say Utah State is speed. The difference between them and New Mexico is the speed of their perimeter guys. The quarterback, running back, and the receivers they have are all talented. The major factor we have with them is slowing that speed down, and containing that quarterback, that’s big for us this week.” Could this game prepare you for down the line…”Every game is like that, from the first one to the last one. You can’t worry about the Big 12, because you have to take the steps to the Big 12 with the non-conference games. This game right now is what we are focused on, but it could propel us into a great season.” On Coach McMillian… “He’s a great coach. He’s energetic and fiery at times. He knows what he is talking about, and he wants the best out of all of his players. I’ve played safety, nickel, corner, whatever, I’ve played it all, and he can coach it all. Just being with him last year, my knowledge grew more than anything.” SENIOR OL MICHAEL SHUMARDOn the up-tempo offense…”It took a lot of conditioning to get up to that point. In the spring when we started to run that, (Coach) said to get up to the ball fast. In the first practice we weren’t doing it fast enough and he kept encouraging us. When we finally got it right, I was holding my breath and going over to the sidelines to grab a whole bunch of water, and that was only the first series. I thought this was going to be a long year, but they did a great job of conditioning us and getting us ready for that. It really wore the other team down last week, and hopefully we can wear our opponents out like that consistently and it’ll give us a great advantage.” On the difference in the O-Line from last season to this season… “I think together we are a lot better group. We understand each other. We get along a lot better. We have a lot more cohesiveness, because of how bad we thought we did last year and all the criticism from the media. We have a chip on our shoulder, and we’re all in this together to get better.” SOPHOMORE WR JEFF FULLEROn the up-tempo offense… “If you’re in shape, I think it benefits us a lot. It wears on the DB. There were a few times where I lined up and I wasn’t tired at all and the DB was gasping for air. It helps when you catch the ball, so they have to come to you instead of you going back to them.” On Utah State’s man-to-man coverage… “I watched a lot of film on them. I’m going into this game pretty confident, and just ready to go out there and have a good time. I love press-man. Being a big receiver you have to be physical off the line. That’s what you pray for, press-man coverage. We went press-man against our DB’s last week just to work on it a little bit. The thing is they do press-man without the pressing, and I was going against Terrence Fredrick and some our DB’s who are pretty physical off the line, so hopefully I can do better against Utah State.”
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