UTAH STATE FOOTBALL PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES – 09-05-11

Utah State head coach Gary Andersen addressed the media at Monday’s press conference, recapping the Auburn game and previewing the 2011 home opener against Weber State.USU HEAD COACH GARY ANDERSEN: ON AUBURN GAME:”Lots to review. A great battle, the kids fought extremely hard, very proud of that. That being said, as a football team, we didn’t win. So, to say there is no moral victories is an easy way to say it but it is a lot worse than that, its a lot deeper than that. I think that there is a part of me that is on that field that will be there forever, I know that much. That was as difficult a loss as I have ever been around, and I have been around some great victories and some difficult losses, today that tops its now. We will see, the question is where do we go from here? There are things to learn; there is a lot of positives. We controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football in the run game, which is great to do against a quality opponent. We ran the ball extremely well, we stopped the run extremely well. Defensively, if you look at the other bright spots, we were good on third-down. We were bad against the big play, they got five big plays. The bottom line is when the ball got in space against tremendous athletes, which we knew Auburn had, it was very, very tough for us to catch them and a couple, three times we did not catch them. I thought the overall effort was good. Our pass rush against a very talented offensive line, it was young but say what you want, it was the best looking offensive line I have ever seen in my life. That includes some very good teams that I have played in the past. They look the part and how they do down the road, I guess we will see but they are talented group of kids. We need to get better at rushing the pass. We ended up with two sacks and we needed a couple more. We didn’t get the turnovers that we wanted obviously.” “If you look at the offensive side, I think they did a tremendous job. I thought from snap one all the way through we took some chances. Three times, fourth-downs, got two of the first-downs with the offense and got the other one with the fake field goal. So, we knew we had to do that going into that environment, we knew we were going to have to score points. I just thought the offense controlled the football in a very violent, physical nature, which is tremendous for us to see. I thought Chuckie Keeton was fantastic for first time starter as a true freshman. Obviously we felt he was the guy who could go in and do it, but there is always questions with a freshman, especially a brand new freshman walking into that environment. We all know how he played. He played very, very well and we look forward to having him do that many more times in his career.”Special teams wise, we punted the ball pretty well with a brand new punter. I thought he did a nice job. Josh Thompson did exactly what he was supposed to do, he made the field goal, he made all his extra points, snaps were adequate, not great but I think they will be better. Other than that on special teams, punt return, we got a return the one time for pretty good yardage, which is a major point of emphasis for us. We got the ball and got up the field for 10 yards and that is definitely a step in the direction, especially going against those guys Auburn has running down there, they are hard to deal with. Obviously our kickoff team was very poor and overall we had a hard time covering the field and getting down on top of them before they got down on top of us and created space for very talented young men to return a football. That was a negative. The on-side kick, there is a million things you can talk about, go back and forth and this and that. They executed at a very high level with the kick. I don’t know if you would have dropped it from the sky in the perfect spot, it couldn’t have been any better. It was very well executed by Auburn and the kid deserves to be commended for the effort of putting that kick in there in that spot and we weren’t able to be able to make a play. We had our chances after that on defense and couldn’t get it done.” “So, there are some things we can learn from it, we will as a football team. I challenged them this morning. We usually have a team meeting in the morning and we went out on the football field today and talked about it as a staff and I felt like the best thing was to get the team out, put it out on their field, let them understand how close they are to having that logo be known across the nation as a quality football program. That is a driving force for myself, for the football team, for Cache Valley, for Utah State it matters and it matters a lot that people are starting to recognize us, but we have got to recognize that with wins. So, that was a little bit of our team meeting today and it is important to these kids. It is everything to me at the end of the day, to get this thing where it needs to be and very excited about the next game. Very excited to get back out on the field, very excited about this football team in general speaking terms. We will see if we can take the next step. How we back it up is the key, right now. It was a hard, hard defeat.”ON THE ON-SIDE KICK:”It is easy to say and have comments and exactly how you are supposed to do it. If you know anything about an on-side kick, which people that want to comment on it don’t, they don’t have a clue, you are out manned by one, regardless of how you scope the field. They are going to have one more than you on that side and they potentially have more than you on the other side. They line up with two kicks, it unbalances the field, period. So, they have got an extra person. Now, your ability to define in a very quick moment, when the ball bounces and skips and pops up in the air and now you have take you eye from the football that might have been coming right at you in 10 yards and you have got to fall on that football and recover that ball. Is it coming too hot? Is it going to be a sweet hop? What kind of a bounce am I going to get? It is my job to be able to get on this thing and win the game, or do I let it go through? In that instant, now when the ball skips and gets up in the air the way it did on that kick you have got to completely shift gears. Now you have got to take your eyeballs from that kicker on that ball right over to number one, two, three and four who are running straight at you as fast as they can and they have got a 10-yard run at you, and make a decision that fast to be able to get on the right guy. Who is the right guy? They have got one more than we have got. It is real simple to sit back and say well I will take the first guy. OK, that is easy. So, strap up the cleats and we will put you out on the football field and we will let you make that decision and see where it goes. Did we execute it correctly, no because we didn’t get the ball back but they executed it perfectly. They had an opportunity to make a play, we did not. The young man who was in the spot to go get the ball, again I go back to it. You think he can sit up and look up in the air 30 yards or 20 yards up into the air and know that there is a guy barrelling down on him and that guy is running this way to catch a fair catch running at him and he knows where the ball is. He has no clue. So, don’t put that on the kids. If you do, I question you as a person, that is enough. That is all I have got to say about it.”ON KICKOFF MISCUES BEING CORRECTABLE:”Yes, it is and there will be, from a personnel standpoint I think we will try to tweak it and get the best young men out there as we go. You go back, and again you study the opponent that you are playing and when you have got 300 and some odd days to get ready for them you make a lot of phone calls. It was made very clear to me on many phone calls that the difference in the SEC is the speed. When I say speed I am talking the 18 year-olds that are in the program, the 17 year-olds all the way to the seniors that are in the program. They are fast and it is very, very difficult to prepare for that speed if you will, when we are doing what we do in practice. We can’t strap rocket ships to the back of our guys that run down on kickoff scout team, its impossible. So, they executed very well. Can we fix it? Yes, we can fix a few things and we can tweak a thing here and there but again they are very, very talented and I know Jay Boulware very well, I worked with him in Utah, the special coordinator of special teams in Auburn. He thinks that they are pretty special on special teams and they were on that day.”ON KICKOFFS THROUGH THE END ZONE:”Yes, some guys can kick it through the end zone and some guys can’t. Their guy can apparently can kick field goals from their 30 yard-line. He has got an unbelievably strong leg and to be able to do that is special. I don’t care what kind of leg it is, but you watch college football and 20 percent of the balls are going back and not being returned. So, you are going to return some balls and to say there is enough kickers in this country to go out there and have everybody kick the ball eight, seven yards deep every time, no, that is not happening. Would we like that? Yes, we would love to have a kicker that could kick it out of the stadium every time and start on the 20 but I think Jacob Haueter can be better. That is our goal is to kick it as deep and as hard as we can, but it didn’t happen. We will see when we get back into the mountain air and how he handles as we progress, but you have got to cover kickoffs at the end of the day. You have got to be able to cover some kickoffs and tackle some guys.”ON WHEN HE KNEW CHUCKIE KEETON WAS THE STARTING QUARTERBACK:”Well we believed he was our guy, probably, really not until seven, eight days before kickoff. It was not until really that last weekend where we felt like he didn’t hit a wall which was important as we went through camp, we kind of sat back and waited for Chuckie to plateau, if you will. Or maybe it was because of the scheme, because of the change of environment, there is number of things that you look at and especially at his position to see how he handles it. He was never phased, not one time. Not even quivered. One of the big saying we say on this football team is don’t flinch no matter what happens and Chuckie hasn’t flinched. He hasn’t flinched since the first day he walked on this campus. He has done a tremendous job. That was really the defining factor, the defining moment as we went through camp. When he went through 90, 80 percent of camp and was still just cruising along, whether he had a good day or a bad day.”ON NOT PLAYING A TWO QB SYSTEM AGAINST AUBURN:”Yes, 14-7 against Auburn, I would say you probably sit right where you are at, play the quarterback that was playing, especially the way that he was playing. The plan was to play two quarterbacks, but the game obviously dictated that to be different. You can’t argue with the success that Keeton had in that football game. So that is why we did not play Adam Kennedy.”ON GIVING CHUCKIE KEETON LOTS OF RESPONSIBILITY IN THE GAME:”On the options, there were a couple of times on the fourth downs where he may have been able to pitch. More so than us putting the ball in his hands at that point, that is Chuckie Keeton putting the ball in his own hands. He looks at it as ‘away we go’ and pretty impressive as a freshman when you are looking over at 90,000 people and the defending National Champions and say, ‘I’ve got this thing.’ He pretty much made those decisions on the option to be able to keep it. That is obviously his mindset, and he felt like he could outrun an SEC safety for a touchdown on fourth and five and he did.”ON PLAYING KENNEDY IN THE FUTURE:”Right now it is Chuckie. He is our starting quarterback, with what he did and if Adam gets the opportunity to come into a game in certain situations, that is college football. That is where it sits and right now after one game, we have a freshman quarterback who did a tremendous job in one football game. He is our starting quarterback.”ON IT BEING MORE DIFFICULT FOR KEETON WITH TEAMS ABLE TO PREPARE FOR JUST HIM:”No, if he plays like that, he will make it more difficult for everybody else to have to deal with him. If the offense plays like that, you have got to look at what Chuckie really did at the end. We say that he managed a game, he threw bubble screens, he threw tunnel screens, he got the ball out in to space to people very quickly, allowed the wide receivers to get in the way and block people. The running backs ran very, very well and the offensive line performed at a high level when we were in our play action game and we were moving things around. So, game manager with some athleticism and you saw him get out of there one time. I mean they run off the edge crystal clear clean and Chuckie scoots around and runs for a first down. The other time in the red zone he does the same thing, there is nothing there, they cover the thing up very well and he is able to break out of there for a first down. He won’t be a good quarterback that you are going to sit back and deal with because of his athleticism. Do people turn around and see what you are doing scheme wise, who knows but we will also change. We walked into Auburn knowing dang well that you line up and we are going to block that guy on the edge of the defense, who is probably a first-round draft pick, it is going to be hard to sit out there and do that, so why do it. That is why we wanted to see if we could run the ball inside and be physical and we were able to do that and that opened up some things in the offense. So (offensive coordinator) Dave Baldwin and the offensive staff did a tremendous job.”ON AUBURN GAME BEING BEST OFFENSIVE LINE GAME SINCE COMING TO UTAH STATE:”I would say that. The information that has come back to me from the people that we played on that day, they would also reflect that and the people that have watched that tape and as they prepare to play Auburn next week reflect that as a dominant force. That football game was Utah State’s offensive line’s ability to play for four quarters an SEC defensive front. That was good, it was a good start. Like I say, Chuckie Keeton and the offensive line, it was a great job one game and we have got to keep going.”ON GETTING MORE VERTICAL IN THE PASSING GAME:”When we can get past a guy that we can get past, then yes. We will see how we can stretch the field vertically as time moves on. We got down there a few times, third and 20 and Chuckie converts it to Xavier Martin. It was a nice job, Stanley Morrison hit the seam, got himself moving down the field pretty good on that one. We will see how time goes and how we progress but I think we will have the ability to throw the ball down the field when we need to. I think you are going to see us be a powerful football team initially and being able to run the football it is an identity that we wanted to try and get here for two years and really haven’t established it until this game. We will see if it holds up.”ON ROBERT TURBIN, MATT AUSTIN AND STANLEY MORRISON’S FIRST GAME BACK:”All three played well if you are talking about all three of them. Again, Robert Turbin has really been healthy since spring, he has been back ready to go. I thought Robert got his feet wet in camp and I expect big things out of him, the big explosive play didn’t really come from Robert in that game. The opportunity didn’t present itself. He got the yardage when he needed to, I thought he stuck in there hard, he blocked really well and kind of let the offense come to him on that day. His big moments will come, I really believe that. Matt Austin was very productive, caught the ball when we threw it to him, got the first downs, made big catches like we know Matt can do from practice. It hasn’t happened in a lot of games because he hasn’t played a lot of games for us. That is who Matt Austin is, very good hands, good route runner, physical. He is not going to run away from people but he will get open and if the ball is in the air he is going to catch and contest the ball. So, I am happy with him. It is great to see Stanley out there, making plays. I think Stanley really gained some confidence when he got whacked around a few times, one time he got caught up and twisted pretty good, the brutal face mask that they ended up calling it. So that is a good thing but I think that was probably a good shot for Stanley to take and get up and realize that hey I am OK and away I go. So, those two young men with Matt Austin, Stanley Morrison and I would put Michael Smith on top of that, to see them out there in that environment was awesome, because nobody thought they could do it. They defied the odds to get out there and I hope it lasts for 12 games and I hope it lasts to the bowl game and continues on, but those three young men have defied odds and it will help them for the rest of their lives and it will help some of the other kids on our team for the rest of their lives.”ON VERY FEW DROPPED PASSES:”I think we had two. We caught the ball well. Wide receivers caught the ball well, I think we had one drop at the tight end spot and one drop at the wide receiver spot if I remember right. They made plays when they had to, very, very, very impressed with the way they blocked. I thought they did a nice job of locking up on some very talented football players.”ON DEFENSE, SECONDARY VS. PASS RUSH:”It is always going to be on the defense in general speaking terms. Overall, the first big play, we had a blown coverage. I am not going to say that is on the secondary, that is on me. I obviously didn’t do a good enough job of letting them understand where he was supposed to be or how he was supposed to be there. It is simple coverage, we probably run it a lot, but we didn’t run it good on that snap. We should have been there and ultimately it is my fault for not having him in the position to be able to understand his job description well enough. That was the one big play for their first touchdown. The third and 15, you can say a lot of things about it. We can learn from it, I am not going to get into what the offense did or how the offense did this or whatever. The situation is the bottom line, we had a chance to execute and get out of a third and 15 down there and put them in a fourth and 15 and we didn’t. We ended up with a tight end run free on a wheel route, it is a couple of young players back there but again it is not a young players fault, it is not an old players fault. If we don’t execute in that spot and that one was not a missed assignment, it was, put it this way, a veteran doing a nice job for Auburn that put them in a nice position to make a play and hopefully we can learn from that.”ON WEBER STATE COMING WITH SAME FEELING OF ‘WE SHOULD OF HAVE WON THE LAST GAME’:”Yes it is, I am sure that they all feel, everyone in that program probably felt like they should have won that game and beat a Mountain West school. They had a lot of opportunities to get that done. You watch them on tape, they are physical, they run well and we are excited to take care of the Aggies, is what we are excited about, getting back on the practice field. Regardless of who we are playing in the next game, we will be ready.”ON WEBER STATE’S QUARTERBACK:”Yes, he threw the ball well. I thought he did a nice job and their offensive line was very productive the way they ran the ball consistently, from the first snap to the end of the game. They ran the ball with a physical presence and controlled the line of scrimmage, their tight ends did a nice job blocking. Their wide receivers made plays, made people miss, they caught some contested balls that Wyoming kids were right on top of and Weber was able to catch and contest the ball and then turn it into a big play for them. Overall, it is a great challenge for us as a football program. In my opinion Weber State made a statement for themselves on the kind of football team they are this year by the way they played against a Mountain West Conference school. That is not a football team either that is going to sit back and say, it was just great to be there and be close, I know the head coach just a little bit and that is not his mindset. So, neither will his team feel that way.”ON RON MCBRIDE AT 70 YEARS OLD BEING ABLE TO CONSISTENTLY PUTTING OUT COMPETITIVE TEAMS:”Don’t ask me, because I am not doing it, I promise you that much. Probably because his wife wouldn’t let him in the house if he came home everyday. That is probably the easiest way, I don’t think Vicky would let him in the house consistently. He has a great passion and I learned so many things from Mac when he was my position coach and then I worked for him. He wants to be around kids and I talk about it all the time, how long can you turn around and do this, but the love I have for kids, the passion I have for kids and the want to. I don’t know how I am ever going to let go of it either and Mac can’t let go of it himself. For him, it is not about wins and losses, it really isn’t. Every year he looks at another senior class coming up and he looks at the kids he recruits and he looks at the opportunity to really to change lives. I learned that from him and that is my deep core belief and that is my belief as to why Coach McBride is still coaching, not for the practices, not for the wins and losses but for the kids. That is why I think good coaches, that is who a good coach is deep inside.”ON WEBER STATE’S OFFENSIVE LINE:”Yes, they are physical kids and he is not the easiest guy in America to play for, I promise you that much. I don’t know if he has simmered down at all, but I doubt it. He wasn’t the easiest guy in the world to coach for either. Those offensive lineman are going to play hard and he is going to put a high emphasis on that, there is no question about it.”-USU-

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