On Wednesday September 12, Gary Crowton addressed media at the Tucanos BYU Coaches Luncheon. Following is an opening statement by coach Crowton and the question and answer session that followed.
"Due to the extenuating circumstances, it's been kind of tough. You can feel it with the players a little bit as we go to practice. We're preparing and we're having fun playing football and all that, but when you see what's really happened in the world, it puts things in perspective. As we practiced yesterday, we all got together and had a word of prayer for the people who are more directly involved -- families and what not. The players were very aware of the situation. Then they went out and practiced and did a very good job. I was very proud of those guys. It just puts thing in perspective. We're ready to play the game, we practiced yesterday and we'll practice today. We'll do whatever they want us to do, but it does help us see things in a greater light. We are very fortunate for the wonderful things that we do have. It was just a horrible day yesterday when this all happened. It does affect everyone. As far as the game goes, the guys did a great job coming out and practicing, the coaches prepared well today and we will be ready to play the game. It is just so much overshadowed by the tragic events that happened this week."
Q: Coach, do you think you should play the game this week?
A: You know, I've really thought a lot about this. You're in mourning for all these people, but on the other hand sometimes you need something to help boost the morale of the country. Sometimes these sporting events have that ability to do that just because it takes your mind off it for a little bit. Sometimes maybe there are people that do need that. I don't have any family that was there. We do have some players that have some family there that is very close. Whether we play the game or not, it's not going to change what has happened, but we don't want to make light of it and say 'well that's over with' because it's a big thing in this country. It's just a terrible day and we all feel that.
Q: If the decision was yours, would you make the decision to play or not play?
A: That's a tough question. I would probably play because I feel obligated to play -- that's my job and that's what I do for a living. It would be hard because of the fact that a lot of things have happened.
Q: Can you see the teams having a tough time getting up for the game on Saturday or do you think there could be good energy there?
A: I think that there's a lot of energy, especially in the youth and I think that these players will get up for the game. I think that they will reflect what has happened. You should have seen it yesterday when the players started coming up. There was a great concern on these individuals, wondering what's going on and what's happening. We're very fortunate that something didn't happen here right here in our home or in this area. Right now, I think that the players will play. They'll go out there and do their best. But I do think the energy may be distracted a little bit. It's hard to know.
Q: Speaking of the Cal game, what did you learn from that game?
A: The Cal game I thought we played well. I felt like their defense was very good. We had a hard time early in the game, but I don't think it was as much our mistakes as they did a good job. I thought that as the game went on, our guys just kept working and plugging and offensively we started to perform. Defensively, when the offense was struggling, they did a good job of keeping us in the game. They just did a great job of giving our offense a chance to get going. There were very few errors in special teams. I thought our team played hard and pulled together. Even though we started out slowly offensively, we played well as a team. That's one thing I learned - that we're a team and we function as such.
Q: There has been a lot of emphasis on the offense, but it was really the defense that turned the game around.
A: The emphasis hasn't been on the offense, there's just been a lot of offensive attention. The reason why is because the numbers have been pretty good. I look for a team effort. Take the Nevada game, if you look at that game, they didn't cross the 50-yard line until late in the game. The defense gave the offense many opportunities to put up the numbers that they did. Even so in the Tulane game. After the first quarter, the defense kept getting stops. It's been a team effort in the fact the defense has done its job in stopping the opponents. The offense has made the most of those opportunities. We've done a good job of field position on special teams.
Q: Speaking of numbers, can you put those numbers up against Mississippi State?
A: I'm not going to worry about numbers. It's not smart to worry about numbers. The thing that we do is we play to win. Their defense gave up 162 yards last week against Memphis, while we've been averaging about 600 yards a game. I don't expect it's going to be those type of numbers. I think we're going to do well. We're going to come out and play hard and hopefully we'll be focused. We know it's a challenge, but the most important thing is we play together as a team. The numbers will take care of themselves.
Q: What sort of game do you envision?
A: I envision it to be very physical. They'll be blitzing and putting on a lot of pressure, but if we can handle the pressure on offense, then we can move the ball. We have to make sure we take care of the ball because they're going to try and get turnovers. Defensively, if we tackle well, we'll do well. Their scheme is very physical. Last year, basically they had two big quarterback runs and they threw it out in the flat and we missed some tackles. If we tackle well and contain their quarterback, we'll do very well defensively.
Q: Talk a little bit about Mississippi State's speed, both offensively and defensively and how you plan to deal with that.
A: Offensively, the quarterback can run. He's very elusive, he can run and he doesn't get sacked. Even when he's all wrapped up, he has the knack of just throwing the ball away. He's not the most accurate passer, but he's made big plays. I think their skilled positions on offense are very good. They're very good, they're fast and strong and they have quickness. Their receivers can really run too. Their front three on defense are very big, but they're very mobile with their backers. They play the two defensive backs that are very good. They have new corners that are JC transfers. Their safety is a returner. They have very good speed and they rally to the football very well. Their whole game is trying to outnumber you in pass protection. When they line you up, they say they're going to get you before you get open. That's how they beat Florida last year. They've got some very good talent. We'll need a good plan, but most importantly we'll have to execute well.