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Hawkins' Press Luncheon Recap
Release: October 28, 2008
By: Jordan Edwards, Student Assistant SID
Photo Courtesy: CUBuffs.com

BOULDER – University of Colorado head football coach Dan Hawkins held his Texas A&M week press luncheon Tuesday at the Dal Ward Athletic Center, previewing Saturday game with the Aggies.  The following are quotes from the session:  

 

Head Coach Dan Hawkins

 

On Playing Texas A&M at Kyle Field

“Coach [Jeff] Grimes coached there and we know it’s one of the great places to play in the country; a lot of tradition, a lot of noise. I have been there, but I haven’t been there during a game.”

 

On How to Prepare for a Tough Game, After Losing the Week Before

“The same thing we’ve been doing every week. You’re always trying to tweak it here and reinvent it there, and hang together; it’s a blistering process and it’s a blistering schedule. In the course of life, you’ve got to be able to keep yourself manageable and hang in there. There’s always going to be pitfalls, there are, and I don’t think you can look at an Oklahoma or a West Virginia and say, ‘Hey, we’re there.’ You can’t look at a Montana State or Missouri and go, ‘We’re not there.’ It’s always a process of being on the way, and I think that’s really what is kind of at the crux of part of what we do here. You’re always trying to get lined up better, you’re always trying to tackle better, see things better, signal better, communicate better; all of that. We know that each week, every team that we play is going to provide you with a unique set of circumstances, and you have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get going.”

 

On Who Colorado’s Defensive Impact Player Is

“I think Ryan Walters; you know if you look at tackles, that guy has played pretty well. I think Brad [Jones] has had a really, really productive year in there. I think all of those linebackers have played pretty decently in there; but I think Brad, probably in terms of production, is up there, and Ryan as well.”

 

On If OLB Brad Jones Is a Vocal Leader

“I would not say he’s a vocal leader. I think he is a leader and he’s an intense kid, and I think he carries a lot of respect and people listen to him. I wouldn’t say he’s necessarily the vocal leader, but Jordon [Dizon] wasn’t either.”

 

On Keeping the Team Unified

“We meet every Sunday. We meet every Tuesday, we meet every Friday, we always meet. That’s always a constant theme with us, all the time, even in the off-season. You’re always talking about where you’re going and where you are, what you have to do to get there. Very few times are we spending time going, ‘Gosh, aren’t we great,’ or, ‘Gosh, aren’t we miserable;’ that’s just not the focus of the program. Yeah, we had a meeting Sunday and we’ll have a meeting today, and we’ll have another one Friday; we do that every week during the season.”

 

On the Routine the Team Keeps When Playing on the Road

“We change it a little bit; it just depends on what the travel is, to where we’re staying or that kind of thing. We do a little bit differently this year than we did last year, just because it’s a little more efficient for us to do things here. You can practice at home; you can actually do some functional things, without people watching. The other thing I think that’s really helped us, is that it allows our guys to go to school Friday morning and not be on the road. But there will be a few little tweaks here or there. We try not to be too stagnant, too stale; but there are some functional things that you need to get in. You might put in a walk-through, where you didn’t have one before. You might have another film session, where you didn’t before; that kind of thing.”

 

On Playing on the Road

“Anytime you go on the road, I think everything gets that much tougher. It throws you out of your routine, it throws you off a little bit; you’re not sleeping in the same bed, you’re in a different time schedule, there’s different weather. You just have to draw yourself closer to the center of your focus, just because so many things are different, and you can’t let the travel or the food, or the bed, or anything distract you. Obviously, when you get into the other team’s stadium, there’s a void of emotion and there’s an overwhelming emotion when the other team does things well, and there’s practically nothing when you do well. So those are things you have to just draw yourself closer to what it’s all about and not worry about whether the chicken is made exactly like you want it, or the plane was a little bit late, or your bed was a little bit stiff, or the bus ride took a little bit longer; those are things that you just have to become a little bit more fortified there. I don’t care whether it’s basketball or football, it’s harder to win on the road, no matter where you are; it’s harder to win on the road, that’s just a reality.”

 

On Not Letting the Team Get Too High or Too Low

“It’s interesting, I was looking at the USA Today, and they were talking about [Portland Trailblazer’s Rookie Center] Greg Oden and how he’s finally going to get a chance to play. That was one of the recommendations that a lot of guys told him, just relax and have fun, and smile a little bit and it will be okay. That’s always my job, I think, is trying to get these guys to stay balance and stay focused on what’s important; again, whether it’s good or bad. One loss is not a season make, one loss is not a career make; I think you really have to take a lot of stock in life. That is the nature of competition, that is the nature of throwing yourself out there; and if you don’t dare to do that, you never have the highs of Oklahoma, you never have the lows of Montana State. You can play it safe and you can sit out on the sidelines and not throw yourself into the fire, and have a pretty average life. But the highs and lows come when you risk; sometimes you gain, sometimes you lose. People have to take stock in that and understand that. There’s a million motivational speakers out there making money, telling you how Walt Disney failed and Abe Lincoln failed; that’s just the nature of it. When you risk, when you dare, when you compete, you have to understand that all of that stuff is wrapped into one and you’ve got to be able to handle it.”

 

On Trying to Earn a Post-season Berth In a Bowl Game

“We’ve talked about it a little bit, because it is out there and they’re aware of it, they know. It’s just like winning a game, there’s a tangible thing there that you’re trying to accomplish and try to do. That certainly is part of it. There’s an old saying out there, we must fight not in the hope of winning, but in keeping something alive. I think that’s it; can you live by your principles and hang in there, even though maybe things aren’t going your way? Can you stick to your foundation and see it through the fire? Normally if you do that, the tangible things show up; but I think that’s probably the most important thing.

 

On How This Week’s Game Effects a Bowl Berth For His Team

“It’s big, I mean we’re getting down to it. We’ve got very few opportunities left to win enough games to get into a bowl game. Certainly, even as Kansas found out a couple of years ago, six wins didn’t get them in. There are no guarantees in life, we have a lot of big games and a lot of really good teams, so we have got to make steps fast.”

 

On How Colorado Matches-up With Texas A&M

“I think they’re a team that’s really getting better. I think their quarterback is really getting better; they’re moving it, and obviously, primarily through the air. But I think they’re kind of finding their selves a little bit, [they] had a nice game last week. Physically, how do we match-up? That’s always hard to tell, it really is, until you see it in person.”

 

On Texas A&M’s Offense and Sophomore QB, Jerrod Johnson

“That’s a little hard to describe exactly, they were just functionally different on offense last year than they are this year. [Johnson] can really sling it, he can really run around, he’s like a lot of the guys in the league that way. They’ve probably been finding their way more throwing the football, than they have been in the past, where they’ve been more of a running team that way.”

 

On How He Managed the Team’s Spirits, After Losing to Missouri

“I thought our guys were pretty good, they really were. Again, I think that’s just because we always try to be fairly levelheaded about things. Clearly, you point things out, you’re not naïve and you don’t ignore certain things. It was not a great outing for us and not a great job by me, that’s the reality of the situation; but I don’t think our guys were in the tank.”

 

On if the Team is Improving

“In a lot of ways, yes. Again, I look at the Kansas State game and like I said before, that might be one of the greatest wins I’ve ever had in my career, based off of where we are and what we’re doing. To be able to play against those kinds of teams, given where we’re at, to win that football game. Kansas State got back on track and I told our guys last week, and you guys probably watched that West Virginia game; after they beat Auburn, who has got some players, and go, ‘Uh, we beat that team. We beat that team.” I definitely think in terms of the things that really count, yeah. But given the schedule that we have to play, you’re up against it every week. It’s very hard to say, ‘We’re going to keep limiting this team less and less yards, or getting more and more yards.’ I think where are identity is right now is that we’re scrappers. We’re scrappers and survivors, and are going to hang together, and keep clawing and scratching.”

 

On What to Do to Help the Offensive Line Improve, Thus Improving the Running Game

“There’s always a water mark there, between simplifying. You can get real simple, but there are issues with that too, because then people are going to zero-in on you. You try to walk the fine line between going, “Okay, what are the plays that we can block? What are the plays that fit in with our backs? What are the plays that the defense will allow you to run? What can you effectively communicate and get done?’ You have to look at a lot of factors in there and balance that out. I think Coach [Jeff] Grimes has done an awesome job with that, and putting our guys in the best possible position to move the football.”

 

On How the Experience of a Quarterback Dictates Defensive Schemes

“Each team has a different personality and they protect differently. They have different ways of trying to combat what it is you do. So it’s not always the experience of the quarterback, it might be how they do it. In everything we always do, we try to provide some measure of pressure. The reality is, in some schemes and the way some people do it, it’s very, very hard to get there. You can do it to kind of disrupt things, but counting on sacks as a regular part in some schemes is very hard to do.”

 

On Blitzing Missouri QB Chase Daniel

“It’s hard to get to him. One, they put him deeper than other teams do. Again, he’s got full command of what’s going on; and because of the nature of their routes and the way they time things up, if you watch all of the film that Coach Collins and those guys watch, very few times you get there.”

 

On How Colorado’s Freshman Are Handling the Season

“I think they’re doing okay, they really are. As a parent and as a coach, you have to help them make sense out of their existence; you have to help them make sense out of the season. That’s where when you beat a team like West Virginia, you have to say, ‘Okay, here’s what happened. Here’s what went on, and here’s what we need to do to sustain or get better.’ It doesn’t mean you’re overly elated one game and in the tank the other game, and I think that’s a lot of it. When they see stability and they see continuity, and they see functionality and reasons, that becomes the glue; because nobody is abandoning anybody, nobody is throwing anybody under the bus. They have a real sense for what it is we’re really about and where we’re going, and how all of that takes place.”

 

On the How the Freshman Have Matured Over the Course of the Season

“I definitely see a very consistent bunch. I’ve said this before, I love our guys, I really do. I love right where they’re at, I love the way they look at you, I love the way their body language is, love the way they bounced around on Sunday. Talking with those guys, their shoulders are back, their eyes have got a twinkle in there and all of that stuff is awesome.”
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