JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - Carson-Newman head football coach Mike Turner held his weekly press conference on Tuesday morning in the Eagle Club Room.
Turner Opening Statement: Saint Augustine's is a very athletic football team, from last year and what they have returning this year. They have talented people in different positions, they have a talented receiver who is an NFL prospect. They have a quarterback who is a good operator for their offense, your biggest fear with him is when he breaks containment. We have to be very conscious of containment, if he gets outside, he is a playmaker. They are solid on defense, their defensive linemen are big, strong, active people. The same with linebackers, they are a talented dangerous football team.
Q 1: How do you defend Sam Boyd's size?
Turner: You have to try and keep a body to him as close as you can. We don't have a defensive back that is 6'4, so we're not going to be able to do it that way, just like anybody else. You have to try and use your athleticism and quickness to keep a body near him. You know that is one of the cats that they are going to go to.
Q 2: What else about D.J. Johnson's skill set makes him dangerous?
Turner: I think that when he gets outside of the pocket, he is a run, pass threat. You try to keep him boxed in, then they'll get in a two-back set and bring in a tight end. They are a sound football team, there coaches do a great job with them and they are sound with what they do.
Q 3: What is your biggest area of improvement between last week and this week?
Turner: One thing that you're always very surprised about is that we did not have a lot of mental busts. Which is a great thing, we still can be in better positions when the ball is snapped, offensively, defensively, and the kicking game. I think that it is a matter of taking some mistakes that we made in all areas that could be game changers if it was a tighter football game. You don't want to get yourself in that position. We've got to block better, obviously, we've got to be better blockers at the line of scrimmage. We've got to come off and attack the line of scrimmage better. I was really grateful to our defense, they didn't really give up a big play there. We had a situation in the kicking game, where it was a sudden change and they responded right and shut them down. Those are the kind of things, you try to set up in practice, but it's not the same as happening in a real game. Then when you see kids that are believing and believing in what they are doing, and they come out and make it successful, that's great for our team. I think that we have to throw the ball better than what we did. Obviously, we have to throw the ball and be more sound with it. Throw the ball to the right person, at the right time, at the right place. That's a pretty simple philosophy.
Q 4: How was it not having pre-snap penalties in the last game?
Turner: It's great because that was a point of emphasis, that you stress all of fall camp. Thursday night before the game, I'm standing up there talking about what we got to do to win. One of those things, was eliminate the pre-snap penalties. We took care of the football, we had the one turnover that was wiped out because of the penalty. Football is a lot like life, what you did last week, not good enough this week. You have to improve, it will be the same again next week and the week after. You don't want a football team that understands what flat-line means. Flat-line means you got to come in and bring the paddles and you're about dead. We want to keep going in a positive direction, keep climbing, keep climbing, I don't think you are ever going to get there, but you sure do enjoy the journey.
Q 5: How do you manage Antonio Wimbush's snaps, so that he does not get tired?
Turner: Thank goodness, Antonio Wimbush is a war horse. The more snaps he gets the better he is. We're doing a thing here, where we call those team's special teams. If you're on those teams then you're a special person to be on special teams, that's the kind of emphasis we want to put on the kicking game. We've got players that are starters on that, that's where they should be. I think that Antonio went pretty good the other night, he got a point where he was gassed. That's called first game, that's not jitters, that's a part of the first game. One of the first things we talked about Friday morning at six a.m. was we got to get our conditioning up. They all understood that, they know that we got gassed and that we need to keep improving our conditioning. There is a point of conditioning and a point of game conditioning, so you have to prepare yourself through the week, so that at game time you keep pushing that pedal down.
Q 6: How does it help the coaching staff knowing that you have a balanced defense?
Turner: First, it does great things for the defensive kids themselves. They are not going out there thinking that they have to play 70 snaps in a row. We are so grateful, so blessed, to have some depth at those positions that we can roll guys, keep fresher in their minds, keep fresher in their legs. It is also the competition part of it, where you go, I better get back in there, and better go, because this guy is doing a good job.
Q 7: How important is the front four this season?
Turner: The front four is important in any defense, the whole idea of the front four is to occupy five or six people, so that the linebackers can make tackles. The other part that we got to get better at is rushing the passer. We've got to get up field and turn the corner and get more heat on the quarterback and make him as uncomfortable as possible. That's part of the position and part of the life.
Q 8: What have you done to make sure that the players stay focus?
Turner: From the time they ate Thursday night to the time we had them back on Friday morning. We watched video on position and then we took them outside, and Johnny Long had them out running bare footed. A different way to run, and a different idea of stretching them out. Then we told them that everybody goes to class, they had Friday afternoon off, they had Saturday off, had Sunday off and then we had an hour and half practice last night at seven o'clock.
Q 9: What do the guys behind Antonio Wimbush need to do to step up?
Turner: Diantae Thomas (Dothan, Ala.) is a young man that transferred in and he is showing great promise. He just needs game experience, so that he is more comfortable. He knows what to do, it's all about thinking fast and playing fast, and he's getting there. Those other guys Marcus and Jared are good solid performers for us. We want to keep four to six running backs that can go out and perform in this offense and keep fresh legs. If we are going to think fast and play fast, you've got to have fresh legs in there. That goes the same for Antonio Wimbush, has got to have a blow every now and then. So we want to keep bringing those guys along and keep their expectations coming along.
Q 10: What grade would you give the tempo of the offense from the Pikeville game?
Turner: I thought that the tempo was really good. You go in there and say we had good tempo, but we got to get better execution. We weren't as sound execution wise as we want to be. We had the one series where we had the ball, which was slipping and all that and we didn't score on the first drive, but then we score the next six in a row. You say that's good execution until you sit down and look at the video and go that needs to be a whole lot better.
Q 11: Where is the pass rush right now?
Turner: I think right now, it's better than it has been. I think that they understand that they got to turn it loose and free will. The other part of that is turn it up the field and rush the passer and make a play. Coach Slade and those guys do a great thing as far as we grade kids in the video, but we also grade there production. Are they being productive, are they making plays, and the object of playing football on offense or defense is to make plays. Just being there is not making plays. I think now they do understand that we have some depth that we can turn loose better. If I go gas myself, the next guy can come in and get some reps and I'll be ready to go.
Q 12: Is there anybody in that Pikeville game that stood out to you, that you would like to see do well the rest of the season?
Turner: I think, the way that they approached that game, and the way that they started that game, and their excitement and enthusiasm, I don't think you can ask much more than that. I think they need to understand the result of how they played, came from that excitement and enthusiasm. You want kids on offense and defense and the whole team to play fast. I thought that we played fast as a football team, when you played that way you are going to give yourself a chance to win.