Provo, Utah (Sept, 6, 2002) -- BYU head football coach Gary Crowton addressed media at today's Tucanos Football Media Luncheon in Provo. Following is a transcript of this afternoon's press conference.
Crowton: I am very excited about this game. I was happy about the last game, obviously because we won. I thought the guys played real well and we came out of it fairly healthy. But like I said, I am really excited for this game.
Hawaii is an outstanding year. Last year they were 9-3 and that is a great year. They have already started this year off well beating Eastern Illinois. They look like they have some great skill guys. Chang, their starting quarterback, played outstanding last week after the first series. He is very impressive, very athletic. We will need to play well because they are an outstanding team. They will cause some interesting match-up problems with everybody because of their run-and-shoot offense and their quickness.
Q -- Can you address the whole "payback" concept and why BYU always seems to get up for games with payback implications?
Crowton -- I don't want to think about that kind of stuff. I think BYU always plays well at home. I'm just looking at Hawaii for what they are right now and they are a good team. I really try not to think about the payback. We seem to do a good job when we are familiar with the team we're playing. Right now, I'm not thinking about paybacks, just how we are going to execute our game plan against the University of Hawaii.
Q -- The payback issue had to have come up with the players.
Crowton -- It did not come up.
Q -- Will it?
Crowton -- Nope. I don't think like that. Every game is a new game. I feel like we need to prepare well and go out and play our game. I've never addressed the payback situation and I don't think I will.
Q -- Do you feel your team got embarrassed by Hawaii last year?
Crowton -- I felt like our team played hard and lost to a good football team. I don't want to sit and dwell on the negative. We have done things to try and correct any problems we had last year. We have had a great off-season and fall camp. We're playing really well right now and we just want to go out and execute our game plan. They obviously have another good team this year. They scored more than 60 points last week and they probably could have scored more. Last year is over and this is a new year. We have a lot of new guys that weren't even on last years team so we are going to go out and do the best we can.
Q -- You struggled on the special teams last year against Hawaii. What have you done to correct that?
Crowton -- We got some new people on the special teams. The coverage that we had last year against Hawaii is probably the worst we had on special teams all year. But they were the No. 1 team in the country last year on special teams. We have worked on our game plan and hopefully we can execute it and be better in that area. That is a big concern for us this week. We have put a lot of emphasis into that and hopefully our plan will work when we get out there. Right now we're happy with were we're at and hopefully we will be getting better at that. Paul Tidwell is the new special teams coordinator and he's doing a great job with that. We put a really big emphasis on special teams and we are playing more starters this year. I thought we did a pretty good job on our coverage teams against Syracuse. We had some long snap problems based on an injury that happened late in the week. For the short snaps on the PATs and field goals, we have changed snappers to Dustin Rykert. He's big so he's not going to get knocked back. He's done it before and I'm sure he will do great at it.
Q -- What about Matt Payne and his problem with not being able to reach the end zone on kickoffs?
Crowton -- He has consistently reached the end zone in practice. He did get one kick eight yards deep into the end zone last week. Hopefully he will start doing in the games what he has been doing in practice. He's very capable of it.
Q -- Do you think Hawaii is a better team this year than they were last year?
Crowton -- It's hard to tell. They beat Eastern Illinois, which is a very good 1-AA team last week. I think they're very capable of being as good or better than they were last year. Hopefully we will be better as well. I think we are healthier than we were last year. Hopefully we'll play well.
Q -- How is the injury situation on defense, particularly Michael Madsen and Daniel Marquardt?
Crowton -- I think both of those guys will play. They sat out practice yesterday but they could have practiced. But both of those guys are scheduled to play. I think we are pretty healthy going into the game. Moa Peaua hurt his knee in the JV game so he won't play. He is the back-up defensive end. We'll move Bryan Kehl over to that position. He has been playing really well.
Q -- What about your secondary?
Crowton -- Well, this is going to be the big test. I thought we did a pretty good job against Syracuse. They only completed eight passes in that game. But this is a different team. With Hawaii, you know they are going to be throwing the ball 80 percent of the time. I think we have six solid defensive backs besides Jernaro Gilford that can play. They are all really good players and I feel really confident with those guys. They have all done a really good job in practice. They're all fast, they're all quick and strong. I'm just very comfortable with those guys. I know that Hawaii is going to try and push the ball. That is what they've done in the past. We just need to contain them and not give up the big plays. If we can get some stops and then do some things offensively, we will be in good shape.
Q -- Brian Mitchell said he would rather have this years defensive backs than last years. Would you agree with that?
Crowton-- The guys we had last year did a great job, but I think we have more depth, more speed, and more height with the guys we have this year. It is a better, stronger unit. They work well together and they think well.
Q--Was the Syracuse game enough of a test to evaluate your secondary?
Crowton--It is a different style of team, we faced an option team that has outstanding receivers and their style was to run the ball and have balance and run the option. This game will be a different test. We are young in the secondary. This will be a test for our guys. When Syracuse did start throwing the ball every down, we did a good job. We got an interception and a fumble off of those guys. We just can't give up the big passes down field like we did last year against Hawaii.
Q--Is Braithwaite any closer to playing or are you going to give him a month or so to rest up?
Crowton--His knee has been cleared, but anyone who has had an ACL injury, you don't want to bring them back too early. He could probably play very well right now for us, but if I don't have to put him in, I don't want to. I'm going to try to red shirt him. His body will get stronger and stronger and with another year of off-season training, he'll be at his best the beginning of next year.
Q--Does Hawaii do anything defensively that alarms you?
Crowton--Hawaii tries not to give up the big plays. They do a lot of zone blitzes. They will give you a lot of underneath plays. Hawaii will contain your offense and let their offense try to outscore you. They don't try to shut you down, just contain you. They will give you a lot of easy plays, and then the next time they will make you hold the ball and try to cause sacks. We just don't want to turn the ball over like we did last time against them.
Q--Are you looking for a little revenge?
Crowton--I didn't like standing on the sidelines last year for four hours and getting beat like we did. That wasn't easy for me. That game is over and we have a new team. What I want to do is learn from our mistakes and go into this game and execute. I just want to concentrate on us. Our team is going to be motivated and ready to play. I want them to concentrate on taking care of the ball and keep things in perspective. We need to be poised, under control, and execute. That is the best way to beat them.
Q--How much do you think the fans will help you in this game?
Crowton--I think the fans will help a lot. I thought last year the Hawaii fans did a great job for them. Our fans get really noisy and make it hard for the other team to audible. Hopefully the fans will be a contributing factor in the game.
Q--What will you do with the team if it is raining?
Crowton--I think we are very versatile in the rain. We have a good tight end set. We can also run the ball. I feel very confident in our running game if the weather makes it difficult to pass the ball. I'm sure Hawaii is used to playing with a little rain.
Q--Were you surprised at how well Eastern Illinois was able to run the ball against Hawaii?
Crowton--It was the first game and I think Hawaii was playing a little conservative early on. When Eastern Illinois needed to play they weren't always able to get it. Hawaii wants to get ahead early and make you want to throw the football. They don't want you to run the ball.
Q--You have a great knowledge of Hawaii. When did you start preparing for them?
Crowton--We started preparing for them Saturday morning. We had to take care of Syracuse first.
Q--June Jones says he has heard that you have been preparing for the Hawaii game all summer. Is that true?
Crowton--That is not true. The coaches have done a mock game plan of the first two games, but the players have not done anything extra. We've followed all the NCAA rules.