BOULDER – University of Colorado head football coach Dan Hawkins held his Eastern Washington week press luncheon Tuesday at the Dal Ward Athletic Center, previewing Saturday’s game against with the Eagles. The following are quotes from the session:
Head Coach Dan Hawkins
ON EASTERN WASHINGTON—“These guys are a really good football team. They have lots of guys who’ve been playing for a long time, and starting, and doing well. They had a playoff team last year. They lost to Appalachian State by only three points and everybody knows what they did last season, and they’re a good football team too. [Colorado State] is a proven commodity and they’re really good. For a little bit it was a ping-pong match, so for anyone to take them lightly is a grave miscalculation.”
ON BRINGING THE MONTANA STATE LOSS UP WITH THE TEAM—“We’ve brought it up, though you don’t have to do it too much. Although in my mind I wasn’t taking anyone lightly I know that. But that provides some recent history. I think the landscape of college football is so different than it used to be. Every weekend you say, “Wow, how about that game,” or “Wow, look at that score;” and that’s pretty commonplace these days, just because of proliferation and development of players in a lot of really good programs. Do I like it? Well, I’m all for more opportunities for everybody, so I think that’s good.”
ON WHAT STOOD OUT INTHE COLORADO STATE GAME FILM—“Just a lot of little things. I thought the defense played a good game, other than that one long pass Colorado State had and getting us on a couple of runs, but you’re not going to shut everybody down. You give them that kick return, we turn ball over, and the score could’ve been a little bit less and more indicative of how are defense played, so I think they did a good job by and large. Offensively we had our moments, but again just a lot of little things, between communication, snap counts, and seeing things.”
ON HOW THE TWO NEW CORNERBACKS HELD UP—“I think they did ok. There were several problems that were more safety issues than they were corner issues necessarily. This is a team this week where everyone gets tested, because they can sling it and they do sling it and have proven that they are good at slinging it.”
ON COLORADO’S PASS RUSH—“We brought in a couple of extra things. We felt based on being the first game and having a little bit of an idea, but not totally exactly an idea, don’t want to get too creative in terms of what you’re doing, by and large some of stuff was working, so RON didn’t get too creative w/ the blitz packages, but mainly it was just a four-man rush.”
ON WHO REPLACES DEVIN HEAD—“You have Blake Behrens, played in there a lot on Sunday, and Shawn Daniels is another guy that rotates in there as well.
ON JEFF SMART ALTERNATING POSITIONS—“He played great. He made some plays that were reminiscent of Jordon [Dizon], not just the run of the mill tackling guys, but the knifing people, getting in there, being slippery. I thought he played great. He’s definitely capable of playing both spots, depending on what defense we play, we’ll continue to slide him around.
ON CU’S UNPROVEN PLAYER’S PERFORMANCE—“They did ok. Nate Solder didn’t play a lot last year at tight end, and this was his first game as a tackle and I think they were much more comfortable in second half. No matter how you put it, it’s the first game, it’s a rivalry game, there are a lot of people there, and you’re on television; all of those things add to your anxiety level. By and large I think they did ok.
ON THE OLD ADAGE THAT “EVERY TRUE FRESHMAN YOU PLAY MEANS A LOSS”—“You guys know me, and I certainly don’t think of life or football that way. We’re always trying to play the best possible people; you just have to roll with it. I think there was one year were we played away, and the team was making a big deal that they were the youngest team in America and so I’d never even thought of it before. So I looked at our roster and wondered where we were; and I think we were either second or third, somewhere like that. You try not to make excuses for it and somehow you have to be better teachers, better coaches, or make packages so that they can do what they do.
ON HOW DARRELL SCOTT WILL NOW AFFECT THE TAILBACKDEPTH CHART—“Again, we’ll lead off with Demetrius [Sumler]. I think such was the nature of the game and how things wore on, in particularly that one long drive that we had.We were trying to get Darrell in a rhythm and he was in rhythm, and the offense was too. So it made it easier to go that way. As we continue to mix things up with packages, plays, schemes, Demetrius will always be a solid part of that. You also saw what Rodney [Stewart] can do too, so we need to be smart about using him as well.
ON JOSH SMITH’S FUMBLE—“That’s one of those things that you coach it, you work on it, and sometimes experience is best teacher. We always talk about keeping the ball “high and tight,” and unfortunately he had it “low and loose”. It was a good hit by the defender, so to some degree that could happen to anybody. But if you have ball up were it should be and you know you’re in traffic and you should cover up, it isn’t going to come out. Runners at this level need to understand that they’re not just trying to tackle you, they’re trying to separate you from the football. And that’s sometimes a little different. People had a hard time tackling Josh in HS, so he’ll learn that.”
ON IF DARRELL SCOTT BEING THE NUMBER TWO OPTION AT TAILBACK—“We have all of those guys. I wouldn’t say he’s our number two option, but it just depends on what we’re doing. I was actually trying to play a little bit of a cruel joke on [the media], and I was begging Mark Helfrich (offensive coordinator) to get our package out there with him in it so you would be like, “He started!” But it wouldn’t have been like that, it just happened that he was in that play. All of our guys though are going to be used and be a part of the package.”
ON JOSH SMITH NEVER BEING A KICK RETURNER BEFORE—“You’re seeing the maturation of him. He hasn’t played that much football, he was actually kind of young coming out of high school as it was, so he’s kind of a fenom at some of the things he did as a true freshman last year. So I think as a receiver and a kick returner he’ll continue to blossom because he’s very new and very young at it.”
ON CSU’s KICK RETURN—“In every scheme you’re trying to fit it just like a run play. There are gaps and certain places that people need to be; we’re not just running down in a may lay with people ricocheting around. You’re trying to get guys in certain gaps and positions. When you don’t have that happen, it’s just like a running play; if there’s a breakdown, there is a gap. So it’s a combination of three or four things. But give them credit; they did a good job with it. It started out with the kick being a little low and anytime a ball is punted or kicked right down the middle of the field, don’t go to the restroom, because it is on. When the coverage has to cover all 53 yards it makes things very tough. That’s why most teams are directional kicking teams, and want to ham you in to half of the field a little bit”
JAMESON DAVIS BEING PLACE KICKER—“He’s got a very powerful leg and I think getting him comfortable and used to it is important. He did a nice job on a couple of them.”
ON IMPORTANCE OF GETTING KICKS TO THE ENDZONE—“It’s huge. I always throw out stats; the odds of a team driving the ball 80 yards down the field and scoring it are very, very minimal. We’ve had years in the past where it’s happened maybe once or twice during the year, where they’ve driven the ball 80 yards to score, so that’s big. You want to get them trapped back there inside the 20. When the ball gets out towards the 50, that ratio of points goes up in a huge way.”
GUARD SITUATION—“All of the guys are working in the rotation. There were times where Blake (Behrens) and Max (Tuioti-Mariner) played in there Sunday night too. We’ll just have to adapt and go with it.”
ON NATE SOLDER—“He did well. I think, again, he would tell you he was a bit tentative in the first part of game, but as game went on he got a little more loose and got a better feeling for everything. He’s a very smart guy, very athletic, he’s going be a great player; just getting things to where they will be more of a reaction, as opposed to a conscious thinking about everything is important for him now.”
ON MISCOMMUNICATION WITH SNAPS—“There was a little bit of that and varying degrees as to how that happened. Sometimes it was a communication thing, sometimes noise, you get into a sort of cadence, we might be jumping the gun; but some were totally controllable by Cody, but he didn’t handle them. So it was a combination of mental and physical things. They have to work through that. They have things to work out in the heat of the battle and not just in practice situation.”
ON THE NO-HUDDLE, UPTEMPO OFFENSE—“I thought it was ok. There was a time when we went on that long drive; part of me wanted to use more play clock, but also in such good rhythm that you wanted to extenuate that part of the gamelans as well. Depending on how the score and game clock were, we could’ve milked a little more time. When they drove on their long drive they took a long time. I was watching the clock and thinking, “Wow.” It was kind of like in 2006 where you looked up and the game just evaporated in a hurry.”
ON TV STOPPAGE AFFECTING GAME—“Typically they aren’t stopping you in middle of a drive. I’ve gotten used to it over time, but when you have a drive going and a two and a half minutetimeout, it can kind of disrupt the flow of the game. There were lots of little communication problems. I’m not taking anything away from CSU by any means, but we had a lot of little mistakes. Sometimes communication or taking a wrong step here, vision there, or talking or seeing, just a lot of wrinkles. But it was the first time out of the box for our new offense and first time out of the box for a lot of players.”
ON RYAN WALTERS BEING A LEADER ON THE FIELD—“He’s just been a real blessing. He’s a very mature young man who has been through a lot. He has a real passion for this place, he’s way more than a player and we hope to get him as a Graduate Assistant when he is done here, because he’s that type of guy. He’s a really, really good leader.”
ON BEING ABLE TO TEACH SOMEONE TO HIT HARD—“I don’t know. Can you? Yeah. It’s a combination of things; it takes a lot of courage. We had a small guy on our team once who really understood how to use leverage, he had a way of just gathering himself and getting below the other guy, but a lot of it is that Ryan (Walters) is a full speed player, but I don’t know if you can teach that.”