Q: How would you assess Wes Carroll’s play so far?
SS: Well, everyday has just been a process to try to get better. We strive for perfection, so if we fall a little bit short, we’ll still be pretty good. We’ve struggled a lit bit throughout the season thus far, hit or miss, real inconsistency throwing the football. He’s managed the offense well, though. We’ve had had some good drives, some 14-play, 16-play drives, and some of them, not just one. We’ve been able to manage the offense well. But there are times where we’ve gotten guys open and we’ve not been able to hit. But overall, I think he’s done well. He’s gotten better and better. I think he had a solid day at Pittsburgh. That was one of the better defenses we’ve faced this year. He’s protected the ball, for the most part, and I think he’s coming around. He’s learning the offense. He’s getting more comfortable running the offense. And you can’t get that just in practice. You have to play in the games. So I’m glad we had the four games before we’ve started conference play.
Q: How far along are you in learning what he’s comfortable with, and what he does well?
SS: Again, everyday, he’s working on his accuracy. That’s the main thing. We’ve got to be accurate when we throw the football. The reading process in the passing game, he’s gotten better at, so we’re actually throwing to the right guys. Now we have to get the accuracy part. I thought Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh was his best game, in terms of throwing the ball, accuracy-wise. I think there were one or two balls where he wasn’t accurate on, but I think that’s one thing he’s gotten better with. In practice, we don’t want any balls on the ground. We’re trying to complete every pass, whether it be a walkthrough or whatever. And it think that’s one thing he’s gotten better with.
Q: Compared to other offenses, how difficult is this to pick up?
SS: It’s not that hard of an offense to learn. We basically run our offense. We’re not putting any new plays in, week-in and week-out. We’re running the same stuff, just out of some different looks. Once he gets the base down, which he has, we can start tweaking after that. It’s not that difficult of an offense to learn. We’ve picked it up pretty well, and not we’re in conference play, ready to move forward.
Q: What are defenses doing to keep T.Y. Hilton bracketed?
SS: Well, that’s a good question. Wish I knew what was going on. [Chuckle]. We always try to get the ball to T.Y. He’s a good player. There’s just been certain instances when we’ve tried to get him the ball, and whether they put a linebacker underneath and a safety over the top, he hasn’t been able to get clear. It’s not been good for us. We’re trying to get him the ball so he can do some things. We put him in the backfield so he can run the ball, some sweeps to get him the ball. Yeah, we’re constantly making an effort to try to get him the ball. I think the Maryland game, he had the most touches this season. But they have got a linebacker locked down on him and a safety over the top. Saturday, we put him on the outside and they put the corner down on him and the safety over the top, which they haven’t been doing all game. It’s making it harder to get the ball to him, but we’ve got to do some things creatively, motions, to get him free.
Q: How can you get better running the ball?
SS: Hopefully, now that we’re starting conference play, we’ll be able to run the football a little bit better, a feel. Again, we’re trying to get the five guys on the field at the same time, the O-line guys. We’ve kind of been shuffling the guard position. We’ve started three guards this year. We’re trying to find the right combination of five guys. Once we find those five guys, I think the cohesiveness with the guys up front [will improve]. Caylin [Hauptmann] just got here in the summer. Rupert didn’t play much last year. The guards have been shuffled around. The group of offensive linemen, now they’ve played four games together, they’re starting to mesh a little bit. I think the played well in the Pittsburgh game, who has one of the better D-lines we’ll see this year. I feel like, now that we’re in conference play and we have four games under our belt, we’ll start to run the football.