Sept. 24, 2013
First off, it was great news to hear that (BYU running back) Jamaal Williams is going to be OK. It wasn't as serious as it could have been. That was very positive to hear and we are all glad about that.
It was good to get the win. Our guys played hard. We played with a lot of passion and a lot of emotion. Our defense was outstanding, particularly in the red zone. The two or three key points to the game - offensively, we did not turn the football over. That was probably the most important thing and the most valuable thing that our offense did for us. Defensively, as I said, was the red zone defense, and that was really good to see. We've struggled in the red zone for a while and in weeks past; it's good to see that get corrected, and hopefully it will stay that way.
On to UCLA. This week obviously is a bye week, but we do play Thursday of next week. So it's not a typical bye week for us where we have the full two weeks off. We will give the players (Tuesday) and Wednesday off and bring them back on Thursday and get going towards UCLA. So a little bit of a different structure than our usual bye week when it's a Saturday game at the tail end of it. We got Ute Pac-12 conference play coming back. We got to get back on track there and we have to find a way to get after UCLA, so that's where we are at.
On Dres Anderson:
Dres has been a big plus for us this year. I've been waiting for Dres to step up and put up those kind of numbers for a couple of years now. I have been bragging on him for a couple of years and this is the year that he has come into his own. He could have very easily had a couple hundred yards in that game Saturday night. He had a couple of drops that would have put him over 200 yards which would have been even more prolific than he already was. Dres is our go-to guy on the outside, and he's performed very well for us through four games, and I think he has even more upside to give than what you see right now. I think he is going to continue to develop. So we are hoping that is the case.
On sweeping the in-state schools:
Yeah, it was an in-state sweep, [the win over BYU] finished off all the in-state games. Having a two-year break in the series meant that we were not going to have the opportunity to play for the next two seasons, so it was important to go out on a winning note. We really emphasized the seniors winning this game and never having lost in the rivalry game. Which is something that has not happened a lot in the history of the rivalry, at least not in the last 40-50 years. As important as anything else was coming off a loss to Oregon State and getting back on track. We did not want to go into this bye week with two straight losses.
On the defense:
I mentioned the highlights of why we were able to win the football game. There were some peripheral positives as well, and the pass coverage was one of those and the way the corners played in particular, and the safeties. Pass coverage always starts on the line of scrimmage. I thought we got after the quarterback well - we had five sacks and missed several opportunities. [BYU quarterback Taysom Hill] is hard to sack. He is a lot like [Utah State quarterback] Chuckie Keeton how he moves around in the pocket. Not quite as elusive as Chuckie but more powerful and harder to get down. When you put it all together with the pass rush and improved coverage in the secondary, I think that is one of the reasons why you saw a low completion percentage.
We still have a ways to go - there are a lot of things to clean up in the secondary, some misalignments, some bad eyes, some things that are very fixable. It was a huge improvement over the Oregon State game, and we need that trend to continue. As long as these guys have the right mentality, the right work ethic and they come to practice and work the way they did last week, I think we will continue to progress.
On preparing for the upcoming schedule:
The pass coverage needs to continue on the trend that it started on last Saturday night where we were making more plays on the ball. I think that is something that has got to continue to improve. We weren't quite as good on special teams on Saturday as we usually are. That is usually an advantage for us. It was a wash at best. I think that is something that has got to improve for us. Offensively we are doing a lot of good things on offense, but third downs we were not good at all on Saturday night. We were 1-of-14. That is not good, and we cannot have that continue. Third downs on both sides of the ball have been average at best all season long. That is something that's got to improve. Both in getting out of drives defensively and sustaining and keeping drives alive offensively.
The Pac-12 conference is loaded with talent not only at quarterback but on the perimeter as well with the wide receivers. We just got to be ready and defensively we have to bring our A-game every week in order to have a chance to compete. It's going to start with our defensive line. I think we are second in the conference in sacks. If we can continue to get pressure on the quarterback, that's going to be a key. One of the other keys to the game on Saturday night I thought we won the line of scrimmage without a doubt with our defensive line against their offensive line. That has to continue. If that trend continues, I think we will be in pretty good shape.
On Travis Wilson:
His numbers have been terrific all season long. He is doing everything we need a quarterback to do. He is taking care of the football, he's very efficient in the throw game, and when he does pull it down and run, although it wasn't as effective on Saturday night, he is a very capable runner. When he does pull that ball on the zone option he is doing some good things for us. So really he just needs to keep everything heading in the direction it's heading. There is no real area where I can say that is his weakness is right now, because right now there is no weakness. Everything is coming together, but there is always room for improvement. As long as he continues to do the things he has done in the first four ballgames, we are going to have a chance every week.
On Jared Norris:
Jared was very productive on Saturday night. He is a physical, tough inside linebacker - a prototypical inside linebacker, as far as his height, weight and style of play. He is one of our defensive leaders, he is a good leader for us. He's inspirational for the defensive side of the ball and keeping people emotionally in the football game.
UCLA has a lot of skill. They have good skill. The quarterback is playing well, the receivers are talented and they are a well-rounded football team overall. They are very good on defense. Right now I haven't studied them in depth yet, but when I had a chance to watch them play -- I saw some of the Nebraska game -- they are a well-coached football team, and they have good athletes.
On big plays:
I think it is a combination of things. First of all, better quarterback play. Our quarterback is playing like we need him to play. The receivers are making plays on the outside. Dres Anderson is doing a nice job with being explosive on the outside. The offensive line has given us time to make those throws. We have a lot of deep crossing routes that we've connected on that require great protection and giving Travis time to get the ball out. So I think it's a combination of those three or four factors that have allowed us to be more explosive, which we needed to have happen.
On Andy Phillips:
Yeah, he has made great contributions to our football team. He is 7-for-7 on field goals and perfect on his PATs. So that has been a big plus for us. That is something that we have really gotten a big benefit from, and his performance as a true freshman, and never having played at any level of football, it's really remarkable what he has does so far. Now we are only a third of the way through now, but every week seems to be the same story, so if that continues, then we've got a heck of a weapon for us.