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Hawkins’ Press Conference Recap

Courtesy: Nick Bernal, Graduate Assistant SID
Release: October 09, 2007
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By CUBuffs.com
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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 Baylor and previewed Saturday’s showdown against the Kansas State Wildcats. Redshirt freshman quarterback Cody Hawkins was also on hand to field questions from the media. The following are quotes from the session:


Head Coach Dan Hawkins


ON KANSAS STATE ATMOSPHERE—“I think it will be tremendously louder, tremendously wilder, a lot more people, a lot more noise, a lot more excitement (than previous road games).”


ON THE ATMOSPHERE AT BAYLOR—“It certainly wasn’t as loud as some other places we’ve played.”


ON BEING MORE FIRED UP FOR A ROAD GAME—“The good teams always get fired up. The good teams get fired up and it doesn’t matter if you’re home or away or who your opponent is or when it is. They see an opportunity and they maximize that opportunity; that has been my experience anyway.”


ON THE BAYLOR GAME—“I think, again, that there was some frustration but it was that we were just a hair away from some big plays. It wasn’t like ‘Oh you missed that pass’ or ‘Oh you missed that block,’ it was more ‘One more guy and we return that kick for a touchdown’ or ‘One more guy and we return that interception for a touchdown.’ Just one inch further and we’d have gotten a blocked punt or one inch further and we’d have got the fumble on the return. There were just a bunch of those plays in there where you go ‘Oh my gosh we were just so close to it right there.’”


ON KANSAS STATE KICK RETURNERS—“Yeah, that is probably fair enough to say (that they are the best kick returners CU has seen). They are one of the better teams we’ll play, I like the way they play. They play hard, they come after you in every phase, and they do a great job of limiting mistakes. I like the way Ron (Prince) coaches his guys and the way they play. They definitely have an atmosphere about them.”


ON KSU QB JOSH FREEMAN—“He’s done a nice job, I’m sure he threw some interceptions last week that I’m sure he was not happy about but he’s played pretty good football. Particularly for being a young guy, he’s a big part of what they do on offense. Both from the standpoint of throwing the football but also it is hard to get to him. He’s mobile and even if you’re lucky enough to get to him you better have somebody big tackle him or you are not going to get him down.”


ON FREEMAN’S TOUCHDOWN TO INTERCEPTION RATIO--“I don’t know, I’m sure it is youth a little bit, I’m sure as he learns and gets better he will grow from that.”


ON WHAT IT TAKES TO RETURN A KICK FOR A TD—“It is usually 11 guys going full speed, doing one small technique correctly. People aren’t taking plays off or taking plays for granted. It certainly helps to have personnel, to have somebody who is fast or elusive with the ball, but when you have a program like theirs, they have a combination of good guys and guys who bust their fanny to get it done.”


ON WR/PR CHASE MCBRIDE’S AVAILABILITY—“There is a chance he’ll be available, there is a chance. We just have to see how he comes around.”


ON THE TEAM’S REACTION TO THE NEW PRACTICE BUBBLE—“They were excited, they really were. It was great to see the smiles on their faces. Whether it is a win or a new facility you just continue to see this program grow and things develop. It was fun to see the looks on their faces.”


ON KSU WR JORDY NELSON—“He can do it all. They will hand him the ball, they’ll throw it to him underneath and let him run, they’ll throw it deep and he makes tough catches in traffic. He is a really, really good player. He is big and physical but he can get in and out of his breaks. He is a really good player, he really is. They will do a variety of all those things with him.”


ON HAVING SIX KSU GAMES TO STUDY RATHER THAN JUST ONE OR TWO—“Well every week you are putting together everything they do, so you are getting some statistical input from every game they put together. So the more games that you have, the more statistical validity you have in that. Everyone always has new wrinkles they throw in there for you, something to throw you off.”


ON KSU DEFENSE—“I think the thing that really sticks out is how aggressive and physical they are, and I mean all of them. They come off the ball and come after you, they can run and they have good size and strength. They are very sound in all of that.


“It is a little bit different in terms of how they come after you. Some of the things you are doing against an even front team you aren’t going to be doing against an odd front team, so it is just a little different.”


ON KSU DE IAN CAMPBELL—“Again, all of those guys, and I don’t know about the hype—I’m not into the hype, I just watch tape and all of those guys can make plays. He’s probably made a few more plays than those other guys but they all do a nice job. It is hard to block them; they are always playing downhill on you and coming hard.”


ON KSU BEING THE MOST PHYSICAL DEFENSE CU HAS SEEN—“You know it is hard to say because Florida State was very good, Oklahoma was very good and Kansas State is very good.  Is there somebody better? I don’t really think so, but you can put them in that category.”


ON KSU COMING OFF A LOSS TO RIVAL KANSAS—“I do expect them to come out with their horns out, I think that is Ron’s mentality a little bit. They will bounce back and they’ll be ready to go.”


ON TALKING TO TEAM ABOUT KSU’S MENTALITY AFTER LAST WEEK—“We talk about that a little bit, we always try to give them a little bit of a flavor of what they can anticipate. Again I think you have to be careful because you don’t want to externalize a bunch of things.”


ON WR KENDRICK CELESTINE’S ABILITY TO ADAPT—“Football is kind of a big thing for them down there (in his home state of Louisiana), that has helped him for sure. He’s a guy who really wants to do well and like all of our freshman you never know exactly how they are going to respond. I think they all have done a pretty good job, really, considering the amount of pressure that is put on them early on.”


ON KSU BRINGING AN EXTRA DEFENSIVE RUSHER—“Yeah, they will. They are an odd front team (3-4 defense); they will generally bring at least one guy extra but that is the nature of their defense; that is how they play. They are an up field defense so it isn’t necessarily the guy they are rushing but people getting off of blocks.”


ON KSU’S OFFENSE COMPARED TO BAYLOR’S—“It is quite a bit different in nature, I don’t think they are what I’d call a spread offense. They are more like we are in having a multiple formation offense in getting the quarterback under the center and doing those type of things. Where as Baylor is much more out of the gun and spreading guys out, less two back and having a true tight end, those type of things.”


ON WHAT PLAY FROM THE BAYLOR GAME HE MOST WANTED TO SEE ON FILM—“The one play...oh man...that is hard to say. I don’t really look at it like that, but it was nice that our offense took the ball down and scored on the first series, it is always nice to start fast, that was good. (WR) Dusty (Sprague) made a lot of plays on that. I thought there was one drive that (TB) Hugh (Charles) got a lot of tough yards and ran hard, that was impressive. The defense had a lot of great moments as well, so I don’t know if there was a single play.”


ON HIS MIDSEASON GRADE FOR THE TEAM—“Again, I’m one of those guys where you are never there and you are never not there. I always tell our guys that the average ought to be good, your average performance ought to be good. I think we are getting there and getting used to that but there are a lot of games to be played.”


ON WHAT THE TEAM HAS DONE BEST THIS SEASON—“I think the biggest thing that they have done is adhere to the principals and philosophies of what it is that we are trying to get done.  I have been very pleased with their leadership, toughness, work ethic and their ability to start fast and finish. All those things that we talk about that are so important, not only in football but other things. That, to me has been awesome and that is why we have played better. Clearly when you have your sophomore season (as a coach) you have a little more experience and your guys have a better understanding of what is going on and that helps.”


ON WHAT HE WANTS THE TEAM TO IMPROVE ON—“Well our turnover ratio is still not good. I think offensively the last three games we have been playing pretty good. We had a few glitches there early on and our offense has made tremendous strides, as has our defense, but I think our offense had been a little bit behind. I think if you look at the body of work our offense has done the last three weeks or so has been pretty good, pretty consistent. But we’re always working on turnovers and trying to get to that next level and that is why I say when you get to a scenario, like that Baylor game, where you say ‘Gee wiz, we were so close to blocking that punt’ and those kinds of things you’d like to just get over the hump a little bit, special teams wise.”


ON PRACTICING IN THE BUBBLE TODAY—“It is the greatest day in America right now, you kidding me? I’m a sunshine boy. I would hope that we won’t have to (practice in the bubble) in the fall. For the most part last year, with the exception being the week of Oklahoma, we wouldn’t have had to. We’ll see, it is there if we do need it, and we’ll have to go in there a little just for field space. In particular, the kickers will probably go in there and knock it around a little bit.”


ON SCOUT TEAM—“I really mean this, part of the reason that we are better is that our scout team has been getting better. We do a lot of service team work in practice and it is interesting because a lot of the defensive guys, to some degree, would rather go against the scout team versus service because they are giving them a better look and they know what is going on. That has helped us all the way around, we have been way better on scout team and I don’t know if it is one guy over another but we have a number of people who have stepped up and that is part of learning how to be a good football team. Those guys are understanding and appreciating it, and that is hard. You’re playing somebody else’s scheme every week and coaches are yelling at you and players are yelling at you, you aren’t getting a lot of rest but you have to keep coming.”


ON WHAT KSU HEAD COACH RON PRINCE HAS DONE FOR THE PROGRAM—“I think he has a lot of passion, a lot of desire, a lot of fire. He is a personable guy, he does a great job of motivating his players; you can see that on film and their style. They play hard and they get after it and do what they are supposed to do and that stuff shows up. I think every coach who has ever coached football loves it when the other coach comes up and says your guys played hard. I don’t know what it is in your business but in our business when another coach goes ‘Your team plays hard’ you are thinking ‘Alright, that is a big deal.’”


QB Cody Hawkins


ON MIDSEASON GRADE—“...My grade right now is 4-2 because that is what our record is. Obviously our job is to win football games and put enough points on the scoreboard to win. We are either getting that done or we are not. There are obviously some things that we could have done better and should have done better, and there are some things that our guys have responded to and done well. Obviously I think our biggest grade is our record right now.”


ON GAINING COMFORT AS THE SEASON GOES ON—“I think that I have always been pretty comfortable with the guys around me and the scheme that we play, but there is definitely a learning curve your first couple of games. You start to get used to things and things start to slow down. I think during the Florida State game I started to realize I was getting a lot more comfortable with things. Then the Miami-Ohio game, the Oklahoma game and the Baylor game just felt more comfortable and now I just feel like I’m playing football again. I’m not as worried about what the other team is doing; it is just how well our offense is executing.”


ON WHAT HE WOULD LIKE TO IMPROVE ON PERSONALLY—“Wow, taking care of the football, score more points, converting on third-down is always huge, so bringing up the third-down efficiency a little bit, managing the clock a little better and being a little more of a vocal leader. I have always been a pretty vocal kid but I kind of had my feelers out the first half of the season. I wasn’t really trying to call people out and trying to stay quiet and not talk too much, but I think that is part of my deal. I like to talk and get people fired up and communicate with people. As I continue to get more comfortable with the guys on the team and my role on the team that will have to step up as well.”


ON THE KSU DEFENSE—“They play an odd front which is three down lineman and four linebackers, but all of their linebackers are about the size of D-lineman so they stack a lot of big guys in the box and they play hard. They blitz a lot of different guys, any of their four linebackers will blitz, and usually they bring at least one on every play sometimes two or three. Their secondary does a nice job of rallying and making plays, flying around and making things happen. I think they are very well coached and they play hard. Obviously you saw what they did to Texas and they played really well against Kansas. From watching the film, Kansas wasn’t really doing anything; they just busted a couple of plays on them which was unfortunate. I think they are a very strong defense, one of the better defenses we’ve played. They are pretty different from anyone we’ve played so far and that is going to pose some challenges for us but I think that we will respond. They are the first true 3-4 defense that we’ve played, I mean a lot of teams will play a variation of that in passing situations but that isn’t their main deal.”


ON WR DUSTY SPRAGUE—“...Dusty knows every position on the field so he was playing more roles in the first half. On that first reception I got flushed out and he stayed alive on a scramble drill and made a play. It just so happened with our down and position on the field that he was our Z (receiver) and he ran a cake route which resulted in a touchdown. On another reception he had, we call that “Creek,” he was the inside receiver and just because he’s a big body and can get down the field. Because (TE) Tyson (DeVree) wasn’t playing Dusty is probably our biggest receiver right now.”


ON KANSAS STATE’S MENTALITY—“We definitely know it is going to be really loud, probably the loudest we’ve played in this year. Arizona State had a lot of people but I don’t think their crowd really got into it like a lot of these Big 12 schools do. I have heard Manhattan (Kan.) is a crazy place to go because there isn’t a whole lot to do there but on game days the place really livens up and they get a lot of energy in that stadium. We know they have a really aggressive defense and a really aggressive team and with the coaching staff and the youth that they have on that team there is a lot of excitement. I think we have to go in there and make plays to keep the crowd out of it, whether that is keeping the ball on offense or making some plays on defense. Keeping the crowd out of it is important when you play in a place like Manhattan.”


ON PLAYING AGAINST THE KSU DEFENSE—“I think the kind of defense that they play they get fired up when they are on a roll and you just have to stay and keep executing and move the ball. You will get a lot of defenses who get real excited and then get some tendencies like blitzing all the time or they will get real conservative when they are doing well. But I think Kansas State does an awesome job of mixing it up. Unfortunately against Auburn they turned the ball over a few times and that really hurt them. I didn’t think Auburn did much against Kansas State on offense and Texas definitely didn’t and I think that is a testament to their defense and how they play. They respond well to adversity and success.”

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