AL GOLDEN BEFORE THURSDAY'S PRACTICE
How did Stephen Morris take the decision?
“Stephen is a great kid. He’s a hard worker. He’s just going to keep putting his head down and going to work. He’s not a guy that pouts. He never has been. Those two have been exceptional in the way they’ve handled the entire competition. Unlike many other positions, theirs is played out publicly and they’ve both done a great job with it.”
Going back to basics now?
“Yes, you’re exactly right. We’re just trying to improve our team right now. We have so many things we need to improve. We’re trying to find some continuity in our lineup. Because we haven’t had continuity in any of our lineups for two weeks. Hopefully this gives us an opportunity to have some opportunity and coach guys at the position they’re going to play in the game and improve our game.”
Can the depth chart change before Ohio State?
“Sure. It can change. You can ask me that question three weeks from now and I’ll say the same thing. How they practice is who starts the game. How they play in the game and who finishes the game. We had that happen at a lot of positions the other day. Obviously Streeter was on the field at the end of the game because he really performed well during the game. But Streeter didn’t start the game. There’s a great example right there of our methodology occurring in the game.”
Jacory, what made him earn the starting role?
“He earned it in training camp, his body of work, his experience. And clearly there were some things in the game the other night that I think his experience and his maturity would have helped immeasurably. That’s the decision we made and that’s the decision I informed them both of yesterday morning.”
What changed your mind?
“You said you’d let them compete over these three days of practice? Watching it two or three times and looking at the whole team, the needs of the whole team and clearly having a chance to sit down with all the coaches, too. It was a combination. In many respects, if there are things going on in the game, that maybe you look at it and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on in that play?’ There are many times we don’t know all the pieces of the puzzle until we can get everybody together. From that standpoint we wanted to make sure we talked to everybody and communicated to everybody on the offense, staff and players and find out what things went wrong most particulary with the operation and get them fixed.”
Did Chickillo show you that much Monday night?
“He did a good job. the moment wasn’t too big for him, which was good. I think we played 22 guys in the game and that was their first college game and for 12 guys that was their first start. We learned a lot about guys as individuals, both guys who played in the game and guys who started in the game. for a lot of guys the moment wasn’t too big, and for Jake it wasn’t too big. He kicked off exceptionally, his field goal was excellent with 4 minutes to go in a tight spot in the other end zone. I thought Dalton Botts did a nice job, Chickillo was one of those guys we mentioned, Allen Hurns, his first spot, Lamar Miller, really his first time being the guy. I can go on and on. A lot of them responded well.”
Second team offensive line, three of those guys are at different spots?
“It’s been interchangeable and it will continue to be. For us if we can get the 10 that can go into the game that but right now we feel like we have 8 that can go into the game – Feliciano, Shane and Bunche being the next three, and then we’ll go from there. Wheeler is close, Jeremy Lewis has done a good job so there’s some depth there that we’re building. Feliciano has really done a good job and has earned the right to be able to play both guard and tackle.”
You’ve had a few days where you could have held off on announcement?
“I know what I said after the game, so it would be in my best interest to announce it on Saturday and not have to deal with it. But the reality of it is I had a chance to sit down, watch the game several times, meet with the offensive staff, meet with guys on the team and evaluate it. I slept on it, felt good about it, made a decision and that’s pretty much who I am. So that’s a decision we made and we’ll move forward from there.”
Is Jacory getting extra reps? Was that a factor, is it right now?
“No. He’s been good. He’s been good. Even the reps he couldn’t get with the varsity he took a lot of reps on scout last week and he stayed after and threw and that type of thing. He was in there at 7 a.m. grading tape Tuesday morning so he’s engaged. His attitude has been great. Again, I think Stephen is going to glean a lot from this experience. He learned a lot. I think he’ll be ready, even more prepared the next time his opportunity comes. But it’s a great opportunity for Jacory and a well deserved opportunity for Jacory, to be honest with you.”
Did Hagens win his role Monday night?
“He’s been good. again, he doesn’t get enough credit for the blocking that he does. He did a nice job blocking. Clearly, he has become a guy that can help us out on short yardage, which is great.”
It was stated earlier 3 practices you were going to wait to decide the quarterback?
“I thought after the game that we would let them compete. That was my first… Obviously I wasn’t really thinking right after the game, what are we going to do on Thursday? But my natural instinct is to say let them compete. I evaluated it all day Tuesday, kind of slept on it Tuesday night and then informed both of them on Wednesday that that was the direction I wanted to go and it was primarily because of the body of work that Jacory put together in training camp, his experience and obviously what we saw in the game. The things we needed in the game were really things that we thought Jacory could give us at this stage.”
You had said several times Jacory and Stephen were neck and neck. In retrospect, was Jacory ahead most of the time?
“They were, they were right there. And again, it was preemptive. But again, if you take the body of work before that, Jacory was probably slightly ahead and going into that final scrimmage that was the scenario. Again, I’m looking at who gives us the best chance to win and I’m also looking at, what things did we need in that game to win, and we needed to have a better operation on offense, we needed to get out of some plays, we needed to get in some formations, some other formations and I think his experience will make a difference for us in the second game.”
Do you look at last year’s game at all against Ohio State, how Jacory did. Does he look at film?
“Or do you forget that and move on? We look at it from a personnel standpoint. They haven’t changed that much and I don’t know if they’ll have a struggle this weekend but they didn’t have one last weekend. To the degree that they have to struggle to win, we’ll know if that’s who they are or if they’re just keeping it basic because they don’t want to show anything.
“If I’m Jacory, I’m not looking at that. He’s a different person and a different player than he was last year.”
Wieclaw’s kickoffs, it seemed like he was able to pull everything down into a corner. Was that by design?
“He was tremendous. He put it right where he wanted to put it. I always tell him, tell us where you want it and we’ll cover it. Sometimes he likes to go to the right, sometimes he likes to go to the left, again it depends on the conditions and the wind and all those things. He did a tremendous job for us. I think we picked up 12 yards in field position everytime we kicked off or returned, or they kicked off and returned. We were starting at the 33 and I think they were starting at the 21.”
Do you leave that decision to the kicker as far as flirting with the sideline or as far as him saying I want to go for this hash?
“When we get there, if he says, ‘Coach, I think I’d like to go right to right going this way,’ or ‘left to left,’ or ‘middle to right or middle to left,’ whatever the case is, we let him choose and we’ll cover accordingly. If we get the right kicks, which we did the other night, we’re set up to go to the middle, to go to the right, or to go to the left, depending on what the conditions are.”
Three passes for 10 yards to tight ends. Is that satisfactory?
“No. We were expecting much more. We have to do a better job of getting them in the game, most particularly getting Clive touches. We didn’t do a good job there. Again, we’re playing with a lot of guys there that haven’t played a lot. Clive hasn’t played a lot of football. For our entire team this was a great experience in terms of building depth, a lot of new faces playing, a lot of new guys starting, so hopefully we’ll learn a lot from that.”
Mike Williams and Lee Chambers co-starters?
“Lee played really well. Not that Mike didn’t fare well. But Lee played play well. So we’re going to let them compete.”
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN