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Hawkins' Press Conference Recap
Release: September 18, 2007
By: Nick Bernal, Graduate Assistant SID
Photo Courtesy: CUBuffs.com

BOULDER University of Colorado head football coach Dan Hawkins held his weekly press luncheon Tuesday at the Dal Ward Athletic Center. He recapped last week’s game against Florida State and previewed Saturday’s showdown against the Miami University (Ohio) RedHawks. Junior center Dan Sanders and freshman wide receiver Josh Smith were also on hand to field questions from the media. The following are quotes from the session:

 

Head Coach Dan Hawkins

 

ON FLORIDA STATE—“Have you guys ever read The Alchemist?  One guy in here has read The Alchemist?  You have to read it, I don’t want to ruin the book for you, but it is about a boy who goes in search of his personal legend and as I go through my personal tenure here I often feel like that boy. It was a very magical evening, I want to give the students and the crowd and big round of applause—I thought that it was extremely electric and everything that is really magical about college football. It was great, we have to continue to do that, we did the Buffalo Roundup, coming across campus with the cheerleaders and band and there were a ton of people out there. It was great, our guys were really fired up about that, it was tremendous. I thought it was one of those games where you guys had asked me last year if I was disappointed or frustrated and I said ‘No I wasn’t,’ and I really wasn’t. That’s because last year, I really felt that by and large we were doing what we could do, and that was the reality of it. The great thing in the locker room after that game was that it was the first time that I told our guys I was disappointed. I said I was a little disappointed, and they were too. Not that there wasn’t some of that last year, but clearly, you always have to be careful when you use your words. It’s not that I think we should have won that game, but we certainly could have, certainly could have. Our guys definitely felt that, and clearly for our defense who continues to make great progress, really with the exception of two plays they played great, they really played great. I have to give them a tremendous amount of credit. After that then it’s if you make a field goal here or there, I think we had a 14-play drive and got nothing out of it, and we have been pretty good in the red zone this year and I think we were 1-of-4 on Saturday. One of the things I keep telling our football team is...I have seen 16 points scored in 20 seconds before. I’m telling our guys on the sideline, you know 16 and 20, I’ve seen it and they’re going ‘We know, we know.’ I think they are kind of thinking we were a play or two away, and it was great to get [freshman wide receiver] Josh [Smith] out there, he adds a lot to the mix. [Senior tailback] Hugh [Charles] is getting healthier—clearly when you are 216th out of 119 teams in rushing you clearly have to work to do there. The five guys, seven guys up front and the guys that are carrying the ball need to work on that. I think for our passing attack to come out of that game and be able to say we just threw for 300 yards against Florida State will give them some confidence that way. We’ll get [sophomore linebacker] Mike [Sipili] and [sophomore defensive lineman] Chris Perri back in the mix this week and that is only going to help fortify our defense. I really have the feeling with these guys that clearly coming out of the Georgia game last year it was a feeling of being desponded, where as coming out of this game its more of an energizing feeling of everyone saying ‘You know guys, we can play with anyone on the schedule, you know that and we’ve got to maximize our opportunities.’ I think the guys were a little more energized coming out of that game.”

 

ON MIAMI, OH—“This game coming up, I think that Miami is similar to us in the fact that they are playing some young guys and trying to find their niche and trying to settle in on a quarterback which they seem to have done. They’ve struggled a little bit and had some injuries, but clearly a team with great tradition and are used to winning. They are very good in the kicking game and are a very good football team. We really have to throw ourselves back into the fire but I think our guys are really energized to do that. Hopefully we can get our crowd to come back again, get our students to come back again, our fans to come back again. I’ve always said that, to me, college football is 1:00 in the afternoon on green grass and that is a very special time. We want the crowd to be electric again, that was a huge boost for our team and the university as well. Clearly, we left some things on the table, but at the same time we made some emotional strides there.”

 

ON SOPHOMORE DL CHRIS PERRI—“He’s got a big time motor, he plays hard and he can come off the ball. He’s a very aggressive defensive lineman, very strong, can run and he is really going to compliment our defensive front. I mean we’re doing a great job up front right now, defensively, particularly [nose tackle] Brandon [Nicolas] and [defensive tackle] George [Hypolite] in there, but he will bring more of that to the table. He’s a big motor guy.”

 

ON MIAMI’S QUARTERBACKS—“He [sophomore quarterback Daniel Raudabaugh] came back and played well for them against Minnesota, they brought him in this last game against Cincinnati and got some production. That doesn’t mean the other guy [senior quarterback Mike Kokal] wont play, but my guess is that we’ll probably see more of him [Kokal]. I think he’s a little bit more of a thrower, the other guy is a little bit more of a runner, and not to say he can’t throw but he’s a little bit more of a runner.”

 

ON THE TEAM’S ATTITUDE AFTER FLORIDA STATE—“Yeah, I think emotionally it was just a very different feeling and again it’s with no disrespect to anyone else, they are Florida State and athletically they are going to be as good as anyone you play. Like I said, the feeling to me, after Georgia (14-13 loss in 2006) was disappointment but this was much more a feeling of ‘Wow, can play one more quarter? That to me was a positive sign by those guys.”

 

ON MIAMI’S TRADITION—“Yeah, when you’re in coaching you know about that. Then certainly when I was at Boise and you’re in that ‘non-BCS’ category and they are talking about the better teams in that category. They have been in that category for a while and they are always talking about the Boise State’s and Miami-Ohio’s of the world and like I said, I’ve just been in that situation many times and those guys will come with their horns out.”

 

ON MIAMI (OHIO) AND BOISE STATE’S COACHING TRADITION—“It’s like anything else, it starts speeding off of itself and when you have a great program you generate a lot of great football coaches out of it. People are so enriched and it is such a successful program that it breeds other guys out of it.”

 

ON BIG UPSETS THIS SEASON—“You know, I was talking to our team about this and I was kind of going ‘How can you be 1-2 and think you’re the prohibitive favorite. I don’t see how that can happen, and I don’t think our guys will think that way because I certainly don’t. So I don’t think there is any reason for us to think all we have to do is show up. I think we know we have to go out and play better then we’ve been playing or we’ll get beat again. You can’t go out and rush for two yards on 57 carries and expect to win the football game. We’re normally a pretty good football team at creating turnovers and we aren’t right now, and we need to improve that. For any team that is 1-2 you can’t just sit back, you have to go to work.”

 

ON FRESHMAN TB BRIAN LOCKRIDGE—“He has a lot of speed, but he also has a different style in that he’ll pour it up in there and has no trepidation about that, he’ll just throw a rock on the gas pedal and go. He’s kind of like an energizer bunny, the guy just has a tremendous spirit about him; he reminds me a lot of [former defensive end] Abe Wright in terms of that. He is a guy who will return a punt, catch it, run all the way down, hand it to the punter and be standing there before you even know that he just ran 100 yards. His biggest asset is his speed but that is also complimented by his attitude and his style; he’s not afraid to put his pads down and hammer it up in there, even though he isn’t the biggest guy.”

 

ON THE RUNNING BACK POSITION BATTLE—“You know you’re looking for somebody to step up and be the consistent guy, and be consistently productive and make the most of those carries. They all bring a little something different to the table and then sometimes it’s like a good band when you get the right bass player and you’re right there and that is a little bit of where we are at.”

 

ON SOPHOMORE LB JEFF SMART—“He has really stepped up, in a lot of ways. I am not surprised because I always believe that of all our guys, that within any great team or organization that great things can happen. I do think he is a product of one, he runs well and a [he is a] smart guy. I also think he is a product of our staff teaching and reaping the whole roster rather then just a few guys. Clearly he has made the most of his opportunities, with other guys being dinged up a little bit. To his credit, and this is the sidebar, when you coach guys, he was mostly playing behind [senior linebacker] Jordon [Dizon] then when [junior linebacker] R.J. [Brown] [was injured], he was able to step into R.J.’s position. He has had some work there but not a bunch and I’m always talking to our guys about opening their eyes and experiencing the world and understanding what’s going on next door to them. I’m always amazed sometimes on punt team when they’re a guard and you move them to tackle and they have no idea what the tackle does even though he does relatively the same job you do. To me that was another pleasurable thing in being able to see a guy slide over there, no big deal. I’ve been paying attention, I’ve been watching and now he’s playing great.”

 

ON DEFENSIVE SPEED—“Speed is obviously a premium, we always laugh a little bit, and actually I saw [former linebacker] Greg Biekert’s brother downtown last night, he’s a policeman. He was saying that if Greg played today, he’d probably be a defensive lineman and that is kind of the case. As you see these teams start to put spread offenses out there, the premium is on running and he can run.”

 

ON TEAM MATURITY—“Definitely, I think a lot of it is that; we’ve been talking a lot about fortifying our guys’ mentality and they are starting to totally get into this learn, get better, put it away mentality and that takes a certain amount of emotional maturity. Not only as a coach but fans and players alike, and I think they are starting to get a handle on that whole process and not getting hung up on losses and that is hard. Obviously you have some programs around the country that people are wondering why they are in the position that they are in, or you have some people aren’t suppose to be doing well and they are. That takes a certain level of emotional maturity when everyone says ‘Why are you 0-3?’ or ‘Why are you 1-2 when everyone thought you were going to be 3-0?’ and putting that to bed and moving on. I think our guys are starting to understand that process, but it’s going to pop and we all feel like there is a lot of moving forward going on. I know the idea is to win the football game, and I know that and that is definitely what we’re about, but at the same time if you keep doing the right things and moving forward those things will happen.”

 

ON MIAMI—“I think that Cincinnati is really coming on, they have a lot of mojo going on and again I think you’re dealing with a Miami club that has been a little nicked up and are playing a lot of young guys. They’re going to make leaps and bounds too as they start to get healthier and their young guys start getting more reps and they settle their quarterback situation. They’re program has tremendous tradition and when you have tradition you have that emotional background that allows you to keep pushing forward, and they will.”

 

ON PLAYING A TRIPLE OVERTIME GAME—“I don’t know, it was pretty painful against Baylor last year. Well I think, having the guts to stay in there, I think you get a little steely-eyed because you’re going ‘The game’s supposed to be over but now we have to go again, the game’s supposed to be over, you go again, the game’s supposed to be over, you go again.’ That shows some resolve in there for your guys. I don’t know, again Cincinnati is playing really well and they’re getting a lot of confidence. Then again I’m not one of those guys who subscribes to what happened last week or the decal on the helmet theory. So if they get a few wrinkles going, get some continuity, get some guys healthy, get the freshman going, get more experience it’s another week for them.”

 

ON MIAMI’S DEFENSE—“They’re a 3-4 group, they’ll zone pressure you a lot, play some quarters, play some halves.  Not unlike a lot of teams in modern football that way, they have one linebacker who their leading tackler, a defensive lineman that is leading them in sacks and I think their best DB has been dinged up a bit; I don’t know where he is at right now. They do a good job, they’re very fundamentally sound.”

 

ON THE STRUGGLES IN THE RUNNING GAME—“It is one of those things where you just tweak a few things in terms of maybe you cut a few things out or you look at your formations. You might practice in a different way; we went live in our running game last week and we’ll do the same thing this week. You really just have to keep banging it and by and large what usually happens is there is one minuscule break down, whether it’s five guys or seven guys and the back, one guy has an issue which makes the whole play look bad, which isn’t always the case in the passing game.”

 

ON FRESHMAN OL RYAN MILLER’S PROGRESS—“He’s a big, strong, physical guy. He really is, he’s a tough guy. The thing with Ryan is getting him consistent because so much of college football and pro football is blocking fronts because you aren’t just going forward anymore, going in a certain direction. For him, learning the different nuances and being effective in that way...If he were just lining up and going on a board against a guy he’d be great like that, but that doesn’t happen a lot. His pass protection is getting better too, there again it’s not just you block the defensive end, sometimes you have to block a safety, sometimes you have to block a ‘backer and sometimes you have to block against a twist so there is a whole other aspect to that.”

 

Junior Center Daniel Sanders

 

ON HIS NICKNAME ‘GIRTHY’—“My freshman year, when I first got here I was at the first workout and I was working out in the summer time. I came to the workout and Matt McChesney, a senior defensive lineman, was looking at me and he was like ‘Dude, you’re a pretty big guy, you’re real ‘girthy,’ you have a lot of size on you. We’re going to start calling you ‘Girthy’ from here on out, and from that point it has stuck with me the rest of the way and everyone has called me that since then. I weigh more now though.”

 

ON THE MOVE FROM GUARD TO CENTER—“Being the center is a lot of fun, you get to touch the ball now and again.  It’s nice to get to run the whole offensive line, everything comes back to you and what you need to do to get the offensive line going in the right direction, making sure everyone is blocking the right people. So you have to watch a little more film and pay attention more because you have to know the offense a little better then the other offensive linemen. That way I can help everyone else out when they have questions and need help during the game or practice.”

 

ON RUN BLOCKING—“Every time so far, we have taken turns making mistakes on each one of the plays. Whether it is taking a bad step, blocking the wrong guy, blowing an assignment or just not finishing a guy and blocking him the whole play...What we need to do now is continue working on the basics and get going downhill so that we can get this run game going.

 

“We thought we were going to be able to keep running the ball well and continuing to get better each week, and as you have seen we have taken a step backward. So we need to work even harder this week and work harder then we did last week so that we can run the ball effectively this week.”

 

ON BAD SNAPS—“It’s just part of the deal of playing center. It’s on me to get the ball back there right so when it doesn’t happen it’s on me personally, and I just need to take care of that myself and make sure it doesn’t happen again. The shotgun snap isn’t that tough, it is just that you have to think about what you’re doing each time and if you don’t you will end up rushing it back there or flicking it too high or too low. It is just a mental thing that you have to think about it to get it done right. It really isn’t too bad, you just have to practice it each day and the more you do it the better you get.”

 

ON THE FLORIDA STATE DEFENSIVE LINE—“They have been the best we’ve seen so far, they are all very good athletes and they are all really fast. Each of them was very good at what they did and if you made a mistake they would take advantage of it, so you had to be very good in your technique and go as hard as you can and try to out-hustle those guys because they were hustling hard on every play until the end of the game.”

 

ON HAVING SUCCESS AGAINST THE FSU DEFENSIVE LINE—“I think it helped us as an offense line in the sense that now we know that we can come out and play with those guys, and we blocked them the way that we did. We knew we were good but this kind of solidified to us that we can block anybody if we can block them. All we have to do now is start taking care of ourselves, doing what we need to do and stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”

 

ON THE DIFFERENT MENTALITY AFTER GEORGIA AND FLORIDA STATE—“They were both real good teams, the same type of team, very good defenses. I think that last year a lot of guys were surprised that we stayed with them as long as we did, where as this year a lot of guys were saying ‘I can’t believe we lost this game, how did we do that?”

 

ON BEING 1-2 AND THE FAVORITE GOING INTO SATURDAY’S GAME—“I don’t know why that is, I guess just because of conferences and that type of thing. To us though we feel like we’ve been stopping ourselves so we just need to quit stopping ourselves in games because that is what has been beating us.”

 

ON PLAYING EVERY SNAP WITH THE SAME FIVE OFFENSIVE LINEMAN—“We aren’t too worried if someone goes down because we all work together so much and watch film together that we’re all basically on the same page on everything. So even though we have this starting five together and we’ve had success so far, if someone else did get put in we’d be on the same path and keep rolling together.”

 

ON MIAMI’S DEFENSIVE FRONT—“They move a lot, they do a lot of zone blitzes and they are very hard-working players. They hustle on every play and they are going to be tough to stop.”

 

ON THE FRESHMAN OFFENSIVE LINEMEN—“Every day they improve and they continue to get better and better and when they need to they ask questions to us older guys. When we don’t know what to do we ask [offensive line] Coach [Jeff] Grimes and he’ll explain to us what we need to do.  They work hard every day.”

 

ON HAVING THREE OFFENSIVE LINE COACHES IN FOUR YEARS—“It was a little difficult at first, but what you learn that you have to do is with each coach you just have to come in and play hard each and every time. You have to re-prove yourself to the coach and once you do that you just have to start doing what you’ve been doing in the past that has been working for you.”

 

Freshman Wide Receiver Josh Smith

 

ON GETTING HIS FIRST REAL PLAYING TIME—“Actually, I really felt like the hits weren’t really that big at all, I felt like I was really protected out there. There wasn’t anything I didn’t think I could handle out there.”

 

ON THE OFFENSE’S PROGRESS—“Yeah, I feel like I we’re coming on at a great rate as a group and that we’re starting to minimize our mistakes and stuff like that. For me personally, it’s just a feel, I had about two real days of practice last week and I just tried my best to do my job against Florida State and I am pleased with that.”

 

ON PERSONAL HEALTH—“I’m not 100 percent, I feel like I’m doing extra to try and catch up with the guys and stuff like that. I also feel like I’m not far from getting back to 100 percent, I feel like I’m working gradually and I’m almost there.”

 

ON THE TEAM’S ATTITUDE—“I think the mood of the team is that we feel like we should have won that game, I mean the defense held them to 16 points. We know that we are better than six points on offense and we know that we need an earlier start. We did a lot of things right, the mood is just something I can’t explain. I mean we have a really good attitude, it is something I don’t think you can really coach, we know we’re young and we’re going to make mistakes it’s just learning to minimize those mistakes. We get over our mistakes very quickly and move on; I think we just found out a little too late that we could move the ball on those guys.”

 

ON PERSONAL IMPROVEMENT—“Studying and focus are the two main areas I think I can improve. I think I am going to bring speed and focus to every game, and my speed is there I just need to increase the focus.”

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