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An Interview With Bob Davie

Oct. 21, 2001

BOB DAVIE: Really, really excited about our team right now. I think we are getting better. You look at the tape, you know, I’ve seen steady improvement. Encouraged by what I see.

Offensively, obviously, we made some mistakes, but we did some really good things. I really like our offense. I like what we are doing offensively, scheme?wise. I think Kevin is doing really a good job with Carlyle Holiday. He think we are in the right offense for Carlyle Holiday to really flourish.

I think looking at the tape, I thought our offensive line played pretty good. I thought Jeff Faine played outstanding. But we had the two holding penalties that hurt us, one of them Carlyle had a big run, but the other penalty we had on a wide receiver on a procedure penalty or Carlyle ends up with 150 yards rushing. But I thought our offensive line played well.

I thought our tight ends continues to improve. John Owens really did some good things, a high level of blocking schemes on the options. John made some great calls. I thought our offensive coaches adapted from a scheme standpoint and blocking the option. You know, they were bringing the strong safety a lot off the perimeter. We finally got that thing tweaked and blocked about as good as you can get it blocked.

I was really impressed with the X and O’s and how our offensive staff adapted during that game. I thought our running backs ?? I don’t know that our fullbacks played great. They played okay. I thought Julius ran hard, ran hard. I thought as the game went on he ran harder and that was encouraging to see.

The last run of the game, I think he just ?? basically wore him down a little bit. Our wide receivers, Javin made some big plays. Javin had a procedure penalty that hurt us on Carlyle’s one long run but he played pretty good. The big play down the field, he had an opportunity to score a touchdown but he made a good catch.

David Givens played hard. He had two opportunities that he would be the first to tell you, he probably should have caught the ball, but overall he played outstanding. Played hard blocking, ran the ball. Also made some big catches, but he really played good in this game.

The quarterback did some good things, really did some out standing things. He’s strong now. He’s strong and he can run the football. I also thought he made some throws, stood in there and made some big?time throws.

The negative things would have been he missed two receivers that were wide open, Tony Fisher, one time we came out and ran the wheel route and just had him wide open. You know, what he does, he reads the front side linebacker and if they bring the front side linebacker, he goes to David Givens, the shallow cross, but the front sideline back, he didn’t come and he hung on to David Givens too long and he didn’t take a peek at his second receiver, which was Tony Fisher, wide open within 15 yards of him and would have been a touchdown.

The other time we had Owens open on a seven route and they didn’t get it to him. They bust the coverage and turned the tight end completely loose.

So he does not make all of the correct reads. At times there are some open receivers and he doesn’t take advantage of it. He also fumbled the ball three times. Really, trying to probably do a little too much. Trying to make too many plays.

Trying to think, there was one other thing that ?? I think the third thing would be once again, just protecting the ball a little more in the open field and he’s running the ball. The fumbles were not in the open field . He just squirted out of there, but he has a tendency to hold the ball out here, as everybody sees. So he’s doing some good things. He really is. I like ?? I like what we are doing with him.

Offensively, I mentioned the two penalties we had, both of them nullified big games, and you see our mistakes breed mistakes. We have the ball down there on first and goal on the 1. We get the procedure penalty and we get another procedure penalty, and then they get the face mask, we end up fumbling the football and we don’t score. But the bottom line is we had the ball first and goal on the one?yard line and didn’t get it in.

But I think we are making steady progress on offense. I like where we are headed. You know, I look at other schemes of offense, certainly, we have seen it all. We’ve seen two spread offenses. Yesterday we saw an offense that did a lot of different things of just jumping up there and giving you empty, jumping up there and giving you a bunch. I like our offense. I like our scheme of offense.

I think once we get all of the pieces put together, we get all ?? Carlyle continues to mature, that’s a difficult offense to defend. There’s a lot of formations and it’s built on running the football and I think it will only get better.

Defensively, I thought we played okay. You know, they had the touchdown pass early in the game. Obviously, could have been a sack, could have been an interception, Vontez misjudged the ball and they threw it over his head to the fullback. That might happen.

The second touchdown was my fault. I’m not sure that they were set, comes on late on the camera ?? you know, that’s difficult. That’s difficult. But the bottom line is I should have had the defense in there sooner. We should have got lined up sooner, but I’m not sure that everybody was set up on that play. There was several times that happened during the play where we just got quick?snapped, but we’ve got to adjust to that.

I thought our defense played hard, as they do play hard week?in and week?out. I thought our corners really challenged their receivers. I think we’ve got really good chemistry with Vontez Duff and Shane Walton. I think Jason Beckstrom played well. He challenged those receivers. Those were big?time receivers. No. 83 and No. 2 are going to play a lot of NFL football and I thought we got after them pretty good. They tried to come back with some crossing routes late in the game, but we piled it on them pretty good.

Like it always is, there’s going to be some close plays. They had chances to make big, big plays. One time, Vontez stripped the ball out of there, one time No. 2 went up there and almost made the catch. It’s going to be close. But I thought our guys really competed well.

I thought Ryan Roberts played good. He had three or four sacks. He’s an incredible kid, he really is. I mean, he competes. I thought Darrell Campbell made a big play on a third down when he caused the fumble. They recovered it, but he made a big penetration move. Tony Weaver played well.

I thought Abe Elam did some good things. Abe is a productive guy and he’s taken advantage of his opportunities. He had the interception, he had the caused fumble on the strip. Donald Dykes made a good fumble recovery. Vontez Duff got the interception late in the game.

Our two biggest series in the game, to be honest, I think probably the fake punt. Shane Walton, incredible play, shocked everybody in the stadium, shocked me, and Shane Walton came out there and tackled the punter. I mean, it would have been a first down and at that point I think it’s 13?3 in that game, if I’m correct.

The second play, the second series that was huge, they go for it on 4th and 5. We zone blitz. They hit the slant to 83. He takes it down to the 1?yard line. Great effort by Gerome Sapp to make the tackle, just to give us something to stand on, some ground to stand on, to make them ?? they had a goal line series, to get it in. We stopped them three plays on the goal line. I’m surprised they kicked a field goal to make it 16?10. But any time you can hold them to a field goal and stay within seven points, that was a huge momentum swing for us.

I think our kicking game continues to be outstanding. Our kickoff returns, they tried a bunch of different ways to not kick the ball to us, but we were productive in just about every way they did it. We are 100% in field goals and extra points.

I thought a couple great offensive calls in this game that people may not really notice. Something at the end of the first half, they had all three of their time?outs left at the end of the half. We get the ball back with 1:41 or 1:51 left in the half. We really have to make a first down or we’re going to punt into the wind, and they are going to have great field position, or they may block the punt. On the third down, Kevin calls the shuffle pass, we make a first down. I mean, that’s ?? nobody talks about that call. That’s a big call in this football game, so that we don’t have to punt the ball at the end of the half.

I think another big call late in the game: We are running the three?back power. We come out there have with just a naked off the three?back power and Carlyle sprints out, goes down the sideline. We told him to stay in?bounds, he didn’t stay in?bounds. They had to use another time?out right there, but that’s a big call. That’s are two big calls right there that I think ?? that I certainly noticed.

So I’m encouraged. I realize it doesn’t get any easier. Going to Boston College and playing on a Saturday night, that’s ?? we played up there several years ago on a Saturday night, it was like Halloween. It was like Halloween up there, if everybody remembers that game.

I look back now, I guess Nebraska is 8?0, I think A&M is 6?1. Going to Boston isn’t going to be a whole lot different than going to Lincoln, Nebraska and College Station, Texas. We just need to be an improved football team. This is a huge test for us. The next step for us is to go play well on the road, go play well in a difficult situation, but I think we are capable of doing that. I where we are headed as a team and I appreciate these players effort.

Q. You mentioned yesterday about having possibly having Arnaz back Saturday. What did he do before the game, and is he going to be able to practice this week?

BOB DAVIE: He did warm up before the game. Looked pretty good. We just decided not to use him. I think he’ll be back this week. The doctors have cleared him to go. He’s excited about playing. So I fully expect him to be ready to play.

Q. You talked about how this team is developing, as Carlyle continues to mature and continues to get more comfortable throwing the ball, are you excited see what those receivers can really do? They have already shown strong glimpse of what ?? like Javin Hunter and David Givens and with Arnaz back?

BOB DAVIE: I agree. It’s exciting. When you are able to run the football, you know, it’s hard to scheme. It’s hard to scheme against a team that can line up and run the football when people know they are going to run. And that’s the first phase of becoming a good football team is to be able to run it when they know you are going to run it. And I think we are getting to the point where we can run it. So the next phase is to be able to throw it when you want to throw it. We opened the game with a belly option throw?back to David Givens for 17 yards. We threw the ball pretty well. We did. I think we’ve got some real good receivers, and I think we can be a pretty good offensive football team.

Q. I was watching the network replay last night and they appeared to get scared when Holiday dinged his knee. They were talking about a tendon strain and knee base braces. Can you update on that and the other injury situations?

BOB DAVIE: They actually did that?

Q. Yeah, they were talking about a tendon strain and they were putting a knee brace on and all kind of stuff that sounded alarming.

BOB DAVIE: (Laughs) Glad I didn’t watch that. He’s fine. He actually just bruised the knee. I think it scared him a little more than anything else. He jumped up and came back in the game. And actually this morning, I met with the doctors already and they say he’s fine.

Q. Any other significant problems?

BOB DAVIE: No. We came out of it pretty good. The only new injury, Jason Beckstrom, didn’t pull his hamstring ?? well maybe he did pull it just a little bit, I guess. He’s 50/50 for the game. I think he’s probably a little bit better percentage than that, but he’s the only new one. Ron Israel should be better as the week goes on. We’ll just wait and see. Tony Fisher should be better as the week goes on. And Julius actually said he felt better today than he did last week at this time. So there’s really no new injuries. We’re actually getting a little bit healthier right now.

Q. Do you see offense finding a comfort zone?

BOB DAVIE: I do. I think the interesting perspective I have is to be able to go in with the coaches after watching the tape last night ?? in some ways, to have your distance a little bit and see the big picture of it. There’s no question that we’re evolving into a pretty good offensive football team right now. You know, there’s some things that we can do that you feel like you have a base ?? you have a base underneath you. I remember, whatever it was, four weeks ago, coming back from A&M and talking about, you know, where is our bank of fundamentals, what can we reach down and do. And at that time, we were ?? you know, we were a little ?? we had many resources in that bank, you know for a lot of different reasons. I’m not going back through the whole thing, but opening in Nebraska and felt like what we had to do offensively and who our quarterback was, a lot of different things. Where now, I really do feel like there’s a strong foundation, and there’s a strong bank of fundamentals and our kids are able to do the same things over and over. And you add little things as you go. We came out and ran the midline option this week, with the fullback base play. And we didn’t get it blocked great. Our guard didn’t come around and log the five technique every time, but it’s the first time we really run it in the game. But we’ve got about three weeks banked on that play, and now that whole scheme. The three?back offense, we do some good things out of. You can see us playing faster. So I really do. I think there’s a lot of continuity in what we are doing right now. In a lot of ways, I feel more continuity right now than I ever felt last year with where we are headed right now, I really do. I think the quarterback is in place that everyone is comfortable with. I think you can see the true diversity of our offense with a quarterback like that. And I think the next step is to throw the football a little more efficiently, but there’s a bank of things we can do and that’s the encouraging thing. I thought we had that on defense. I felt we had that in special teams. We don’t really trick anyone in special teams, but we’re a good fundamental special teams football team. And I think offensively, we are reaching some maturity and continuity in what we are doing.

Q. Throwing the football, is that wheel route kind of an example of the difference between Matt and Carlyle, because Kevin used to say last year that’s the one play that always worked, whichever receiver you went to, that’s the bread and butter play?

BOB DAVIE: If you think back to a couple years ago, with SC at home in this stadium, we threw the wheel route to Tony Fisher in the rain over there in front of their bench with Jarius. It’s a style of quarterback is an option guy who can get down the line of scrimmage, and that opens up a whole new area for productivity in those kind of passes. You know, when you have to defend option. SC flat turned them loose. He ran down the sideline and nobody covered him. When you add the option in there, there’s a lot of diversity to things that you are doing. I’m excited about where we can go with the passing game out of that scheme.

Q. Coach Rogers addressed the fumble issue with Carlyle before yesterday’s game and Carlyle was told it may come back and catch up with him. What can you do to keep him from holding on the football now, because now the opponents are going to be trying to force him to fumble?

BOB DAVIE: Sure, and he’s a big guy that stays up and fights for extra yardage, so they are going to be stripping that football out of there. I think the biggest thing is, you know, you don’t have to make every play a touchdown. Certainly, you love his extra effort. You love the chance that he’s a young guy that wants to make plays, and that’s a big part of his game. But I think just playing within yourself a little bit and be a little bit smarter. You don’t have to try to spin out of everything. From a mechanics standpoint, we can do a better job with him, coaching him on protecting the football and carrying the football. He really scares you in the open field with the ball out here. That has not jumped up and got him yet. Yesterday what got him was coming up and the ball getting punched out. I thought SC did a good job of punching at the football, but you’re right, everyone is going to that. It’s not trying to hit a home run every time you are up at bat. It’s trying to be a little more composed and a little less risk taking.

Q. On the play?by?play, on that slant that took them down to the one, Ryan Roberts was already credited with the tackle?

BOB DAVIE: Great effort. Actually, we were in a zone blitz and Gerome Sapp squeezed slant, but the linebacker was supposed to come off and drop in the middle zone, and he kind of dropped the wrong way. Like the fullback went out hot into the boundary and he sucked over there ?? if he would have dropped back in the middle, we probably would have stoned them. And then Ryan Roberts had the backside flat and he just ended up chasing them all the way down to the goal line. So Ryan Roberts was in coverage on that. Then the other time they ran the reverse pass. They were setting up with No. 10 coming around on the reverse and they ran a reverses pass and Ryan Roberts tracked him down. They never got the ball off. Ryan Roberts chased him over on the sideline over there, one other time, he had the flat in coverage.

Q. What’s his personality like, Ryan Roberts?

BOB DAVIE: Different. Yeah, he’s different. (Laughter) I love him as a kid. He’s different. I think the players respect him because he’s his own person.

Q. Different, quiet?

BOB DAVIE: Just different. (Laughter) I told him, I could just see him front row at that U2 concert, just rocking out in the front row. He’s just a different guy. He’s really a smart kid. Played fullback in high school. He’s just a different character. You know, he just is a real solid guy that does what he’s coached to do and he makes plays that you are kind of surprised that he can make at times. You know, he looks a little stiff, he looks a little sore, but he steps up and makes plays. He’s a productive guy.

Q. There was another play, I believe the replay of you guys in the sidelines, especially you got a big kick out of, when Vontez made the interception and swung that defender to the side?

BOB DAVIE: The one right in front of our bench?

Q. The end ??

BOB DAVIE: The end of the game.

Q. Where he one?handed and pushed the defender ?? seems like you guys got a big kick out of that play, just sort of the way he man?handled ??

BOB DAVIE: I got a big kick out of: That was the end of the game. I didn’t even ?? that didn’t excite me as much as just no time?outs and about 20 seconds left in that game.

Q. Is Ryan Roberts’ back still an issue at all with him? Does he still take any treatments for that?

BOB DAVIE: Any time you have back surgery, I’m sure he’s always treating it, but, no, he’s made it through that. You know he’s fought through that. Played a couple years when it really, really was painful and I think it’s helped him.

Q. How did Grant handle being supplanted by him? As a starter, Grant didn’t get as many snaps at all yesterday, yet he was the first guy out there after the last set?

BOB DAVIE: I talked to our players a little bit about that after the game yesterday. Just everybody pulling and fighting and trying to win a game, and I think that’s probably the strength of our football team. And Grant Irons, everybody knows Grant. He’s a great person. So it’s kind of a three?man rotation there. You know, also when we go nickel sometimes Rocky Boiman isn’t in there because Ryan Roberts is playing pretty good. I think the best guy plays and that’s how it is. It’s a good, healthy relationship. Those guys realize there’s enough to go around for everyone.

Q. This week in practice, how do you keep them going through a physical letdown because they have expended so much energy the last few weeks?

BOB DAVIE: I think we are going to get better. Last week was tough, with academics, that was a big week. Where were a lot of things last week on campus academically. I think the fact that we have a chance now to get away from the academics a little bit this week will only help us. We’ve got a difficult place to go play. This is going to be difficult going up there and play. But I think from the standpoint of being excited, building on some momentum, I think this football team will embrace this week, look forward to this, I really do.

Q. Abe Elam seems like he can make the big play. How does he need to get better to move up and challenge for a starting position?

BOB DAVIE: I think Abe and Gerome Sapp, I think they are pretty equal guys in a lot of ways. I think both of them deserve to play. And Ron Israel, he’s the only senior in that whole secondary and he has not played a lot this year, so that’s exciting that all those guys are back. But I think both of them will play. I’m not going to make it a bigger issue than it needs to be on who is starting. There’s a lot of football, particularly with the nickel?and?dime stuff we play, there’s a place for all those guys. It was also encouraging to see Glenn Earl back healthy. He made a big play on the flow back screen. So getting them all out there healthy is important.

Q. (Inaudible)?

BOB DAVIE: I don’t know. It’s one of those things that ?? I don’t know. You know, there’s things that happened early why the game. I look early in the season, I mean, it was like, you know, you were shocked with some of the things that just happened in the game early. You know, once we settled down, we played pretty good. So I think a lot of times, when you play on the road, particularly in hostile environments, sometimes things happen so quick, whether it’s the fumble at Nebraska, or their first drive at Nebraska, it jumps on you. Or John Crouler (ph) snapping the ball over the punter’s head. It’s playing on the road, and I think once you settle down and play, as the game goes on, you settle into what you really are.

Q. So how do you defend against that this week in a place there’s going to have noise bouncing off the bleachers?

BOB DAVIE: We got to be better. We’ve got to be better as a team. I would like to think that we are better right now that are we were three weeks ago when we went to College Station. I would like to think we are. We’re going to have an opportunity to prove that. So we have got to be a better football team than we were the last time we went on the road. That’s a challenge to myself and everyone in this program, just to be better.

Q. Have you determined the practice schedule?

BOB DAVIE: Exactly the same.

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