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Hawkins' Press Luncheon Recap

Courtesy: Jordan Edwards, Student Assistant SID
Release: October 14, 2008
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By CUBuffs.com

BOULDER – University of Colorado head football coach Dan Hawkins held his Kansas State week press luncheon Tuesday at the Dal Ward Athletic Center, previewing Saturday night’s game with the Wildcats.  The following are quotes from the session:  


Head Coach Dan Hawkins


On the Importance of Saturday’s Game against Kansas State—“They all are [important]. You’re scrapping to improve, you’re scrapping to have a better season than last year, you’re scrapping to get a bowl game; it’s all of those things. The mountain only gets steeper. People lamented us letting the Iowa State game get away from us last year, and then we were able to beat Nebraska. So they’re all going to be that way.”


On What He Tells His Team At This Point of the Season—“It’s only different, in that I think you just have to make sure your fortification is strong, just because you have a lot of emotions out there. It might be one thing if you are 3-3, but you won last week. I think our message every week has been about trying to getting better, trying to improve, and working on things we can control. Whether it was Colorado State or West Virginia, not getting too high on the elixir and not getting too much in the tank; we know we’re playing great football teams, and there’s more great football teams left on the schedule. You just have to make sure that your guys are getting enough information that allows them to be mature about the situation, and hand and deal with it appropriately.”


On Kansas State QB Josh Freeman—“He is highly underrated, he really is. That guy is having a great year, he just hasn’t had the eye popping stats that some of the other guys have had. Physically, he might cause you as many or more problems than any of the other guys, only from the standpoint that he’s huge and he can run. He had a great game against Texas A&M last week; they actually had a few more planned runs in there, necessarily than they normally do. But he’s very efficient with the ball and doesn’t usually turn it over, he doesn’t take sacks, he’s got a hose, he can run. Like I said, physically, he probably has all the attributes of anybody else.”


On Where to Start Fixing the Offense—“We just have to keep improving. Just our continuity and try to stay healthy, and get on the same page; try to maintain a balance between getting enough game-plan work in, that you can have a chance, schematically, on a Saturday, and then, not confuse your own guys.”


On If the Offensive Weapons are There to Score More—“The weapons are always there. Getting them at the right place and the right time, and like I said, having everybody on the same page, definitely.”


On How to Manage a Quarterback Who Has Been Replaced—“It’s always a tenuous situation. When you say that it’s a kid, it happens in the NFL too. Confidence and continuity is such a huge, huge thing, that if you truly are in a position where you’re going to give a guy the hook, I think you better be prepared to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to go with a change, and we’re good making that change.’ Because it’s very hard to get him back up, it really is. I think you have to be fair with them, honest with them. I think there has to be real tangible reasons as you look at the entire package and kind of go, ‘We have to do this.’ I think if you’re a little trigger happy, I think if you resort just to emotion, that you sometimes have an issue where it may not be all that guy’s fault, but you just kind of feel like emotionally that’s what you should do, even though there’s not a lot of tangible evidence there that says, ‘Yeah, this is all on you.’ So, it’s never easy and it’s very dicey. There is probably very few positions in all of sport that sit on such a small pinnacle of stability as a quarterback; I really believe that. I’ve said this many times before, but that’s why most little kids don’t want to play quarterback; you’re too out there.”


On if He Plans on Using Backup QB Matt Ballenger Like He Did against Kansas—“We didn’t know whether we’d get an opportunity to use Matt or not. We didn’t guarantee him anything, we just said, ‘Hey, there’s a chance you could get in. Be ready, practice hard, get ready to go.’ We told Cody [Hawkins] that may happen as well, and he was good with it. The blueprint for those things is not always cut-in-stone, by any means.”


On the Pace of the No-Huddle Offense at this Point of the Season—“I think it’s been awesome for practice purposes; a lot more plays, a lot more reps. I think we’d love to go faster but also, when you go fast, that limits other things you can do. So there’s a trade-off there. We really didn’t get in to it to trying to prohibit people from substituting against us. There are so many no-huddle teams in the conference that, by and large, people are pretty well adjusted to subbing that way. Depending on where you’re at with the rest of the game, the officials normally are going to hold you up and let them sub anyway; they have to by rule.”


On the Offense—“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. I think Coach [Mark] Helfrich and our staff are doing a great job, I think our kids are doing a great job; we just have to keep battling and stitch up things here and there until all of that comes together.”


On What Has Prohibited the Offense from Coming Together as Planned—“There’s a lot of those things, and again, a normal person might say, ‘Well, that’s an excuse,’ and some of those you’re not going to talk about publically. There’s no doubt in my mind that our kids and our coaches are doing everything we can do get them in the right spot to create schemes and to create plays, so we’ll get there. We know what it looks like, we know what it smells like, we know how to get there; we just have to keep battling.”


On the Last Two Games against Kansas State—“Last year was just turnovers; I thought they really just did a good job of getting after us. We had some spurts offensively, I thought defensively we held up for a while and then they kind of wore down a little bit. They had some big running plays and we missed some tackles, and they gashed us; they made some big plays. Two years ago they hit a couple of short throws, we missed some tackles, and they took it to the house. They’ve done a great job against us; schematically and emotionally.”


On Recruiting Junior College Players—“I was a junior college player and I coached junior college. Every situation is different, I do think with the NCAA rules and regulations, the way they’ve gone the past few years, it’s harder. The other thing you get into, for us certainly and for every school, because of the percentages that kids have to meet these days towards graduation, it’s very hard for a young man to come from a community college and meet 60% of the graduation percentage, have 60% of your graduation requirements completed, so that gets very difficult there. Then you have to look at the majors within your schools and a kid’s ability to transfer, so it’s different for each individual institution. Then the other side of it is you have to be able to say, ‘What can this guy bring to the table? How fast can he bring it to the table? How well is he going to fit in?’ So there are a variety of those situations. Clearly for us, the method is to build from the bottom, and I think that suits us and the University of Colorado more favorably. That doesn’t mean that other people shouldn’t; we’ve recruited junior college guys every year and we will continue to do that. It’s just with the NCAA rules, eligibility requirements and things like that; we’re in a different situation.”


On Kansas State Head Coach Ron Prince Recruiting 19 Junior College Players in a Class—“Everybody is a little bit different. If you’re in a different place at a different time, depending on the chemistry, you might do that. But I don’t think that suits us here, it’s just not suited for us, it’s not plausible.”


On Teams Suddenly “Popping” Into the National Spotlight; Like Kansas and Missouri Last Year, Oklahoma State This Year—“There’s so many little things that kind of go into it and you might seem like you’re a long ways away, when in reality, you’re not; and you just have to keep ‘suring’ up a few things here. It’s a mental error here, it’s a strength thing here, it’s some experience, it’s some depth, it’s some confidence; and then, you know, you have those ‘ah-ha’ moments, you have those breakthrough moments. To me, all great things, you have to have that foundation, and then you can weather storms. Not to say a team couldn’t jump up and get after somebody one year, but if that team is going to have sustainable excellence over a long period of time, you have to have all of those foundational things in place. Then it’s all of those corny, motivational things about only being as strong as your weakest link, because your weakest link is pretty strong; so when the one above it breaks or the one next to it breaks, the next one is pretty close. I think that’s the nature of it, the thing you have to always battle is patience, insecurity, doubt, and all of those other kinds of things. But I think if you have a plan and you stay on the plan, work on the plan, and you keep improving the plan, eventually those things are going to come to fruition.”


On the Team Being Fragile and Inexperienced—“I don’t think these guys are fragile, by any means, I wouldn’t say that’s the case. I think a lot of that is because I do think that the few older guys we have, Ryan Walters, Maurice Cantrell, Patrick [Williams], those guys are rock solid, pretty steady guys; I think the staff does a good job with handling all of that. You just have to get them to that next level of confidence, maturity, and experience; provide them with some evidence that those West Virginia and Oklahoma games can come along a little more often.”


On Sophomore OLB, B.J. Beatty, Returning From Injury—“We’ll see what his endurance level is. He made some plays against Kansas and he has a great motor, he’s playing hard and we really missed him early on. Hopefully we’ll be able to get some good production out of him, because we really thought in the spring that he played great and he unfortunately didn’t get a whole lot of time in the fall, because he got nicked up pretty early. We’ll see, it’s not fair to say ‘is he where he was’, because he hasn’t been practicing full speed for that long. We have to keep getting him reps and see where he goes from there.”


On Junior TE, Riar Geer’s Production—“I’m one of those guys who always has high expectations, so I don’t know that I ever have anybody that meets my expectations; I think you’re always a couple steps away. I think obviously, in terms of his stats and all that, it may not be what it was before. I think in terms of his maturity level and consistency, and all of that, it’s probably never been higher. I think he’s a very mature kid and that’s helped us in other areas.”


On Using Tight Ends More As Blockers, Instead of Receivers—“We have [been doing that] a little bit more, we have to some degree; it just depends on what the formation is. Whenever we can get creative, both with the backs and the tight ends to help us there, we’re trying to find ways to do that.”
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