BYU Head Coach Gary Crowton (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
BYU head football coach Gary Crowton addressed media at today's Tucano's Football Media Luncheon in Provo. Following is a transcript of this afternoon's press conference.
Q. You talk about the hype last week with Hawaii; how do you keep that up for the game this week?
Crowton- I tried not to make the hype too big last week. What I tried to do is make sure that we stayed focused at growing as a football team and I think we did a good job at doing that. I think this week is a tough game on the road. This is a team that we are supposed to beat. Reno is a much better team than they were a year ago. They are going to be up for this game against us. We just need to go in there and play good football.
Q. What are some of the things that concern you about Nevada?
Crowton- Well, I'm concerned with all areas of their game. Their run game is very good with that running back. He led the nation last year in rushing. With a strong running game, you are susceptible to the play-action pass because you commit a lot of people to the line of scrimmage. On special teams they are going to be very physical. Defensively they are a very hard-nosed team. They try to get more quickness by downsizing their players. They are a very physical team, they have a good run team, and they spread you out to pass to help out their running game.
Q. Did you get an opportunity to see Chance Kretschmer on film, and if so, whom does he remind you of?
Crowton- He's got his own style. He is big and powerful. He runs hard. He always seems to get more yards after you hit him. He slides off of you. He is a very good player. They spread you out enough so that he has some decent lanes to run through.
Q. Is there anyone that is going to play this game that didn't play last game, and anyone who did play last game that is not going to play this game?
Crowton- Jernaro Gilford is going to practice today. He practiced yesterday. I plan on playing him about twenty plays. I don't know if he'll be in game shape to go the whole game, but I think for twenty plays he will be able to go really hard. Mike Sumko is out for this game. John Denney will be back snapping. The doctors are going to look at him one more time on Friday and we'll know for sure if he will be ready to play every down.
Q. Can you tell us where your team is now, compared to where they were last year?
Crowton- Well, last year we had a lot of veterans who were learning a new offense. This year, we have a lot new guys who are learning a new offense and a new defense. We are less experienced, but more experienced in our scheme. I think that this will be a good week for us to improve. The coaches met this morning discussing ways we can get better on both offense and defense. Last year at this time, we were preparing to go into Mississippi State, and we ended up having to sit for three weeks. I like where we are at right now.
Q. You have run Marcus Whalen on almost every play; is there any concern about his durability or getting other guys some playing time?
Crowton- Marcus Whalen is very durable. We had so many plays the last two games, but we didn't run him that many times. We are very happy with Curtis Brown. He is going to get more carries. Logan Dean is also going to get some carries. Whalen doesn't seem to be sore or tired. We don't have a lot of experience in the backfield. Whalen has the most experience of anyone we have back there. I feel like our backs are doing a good job right now. Marcus deserves the carries right now. He is one of those guys that the more carries he gets, the more he is going to wear the defense down.
Q. Have you been pleased with how the younger guys have been able to step in and produce?
Crowton- Yeah, I have. I thought the Syracuse game was a big game and the young guys played well. I felt like they prepared well and they came out and surprised them with the team speed that we had on both sides of the ball. In the Hawaii game, we were very physical in the running game. I thought we didn't start out very well, but we overcame some adversity and didn't get our heads down. We just came back and took the lead in the third and hung on to win the game. I think we are really moving in the right direction. It's always a game-in-game-out thing. In the first two games, we were real good and we won them both. Now, this is the third game and it's a whole new challenge. Every week it is the same way. I learn from the mistakes of the first two games and put them to rest and go forward with this one. Everybody is capable of beating you on any given day, that is why you play the game. You just need to be prepared and focused and I think we are.
Q. Have you thought much about the top 25 ranking?
Crowton- It's just real early in the season. I don't worry about that. It will take care of itself. If you win, it will just take care of itself.
Q. Can you tell us about the first time you met Kip Nielsen?
Crowton- He was just one of the walk-ons. Nobody knew who he was. Mike Sumko was in a very similar situation. Those two guys have really worked hard. Jon Burbidge also. All three of those guys have helped us as walk-ons. When I first met Kip, we just had a lot of receivers and I was going to cut some of them. But I looked at the defensive backs and we didn't have a lot of them so I sent Kip and Sumko over to Brian Mitchell. They went over there and gave us a good scout look but they didn't know how to play the position. I was going to cut them but after spring drills, but we had some guys get hurt so we had some spots. With walk-ons, you can only keep so many. It is so hard because of the numbers and with gender equity. But those guys just worked through it and kept rising up. With Kip, I knew he had some speed, he just needed to work on his hips and his feet. This summer, I knew he was a player because he worked so hard. The players were always talking about how well he was playing. This summer, he really lifted well and Jay Omer was very impressed with him. That is the way the program is suppose to work. The way we're doing it is right. It's very competitive, it's very tough, but the best guys seem to rise up
Q. Does the first road game concern you? How will your guys respond?
Crowton- No, I don't think so. I have been doing it for so long, I sometimes feel the road is good because there is less distraction. Sometimes, when guys get out there in a foreign area, they get a little nervous. But I feel like we have very mature kids. I don't think it will be a problem. I like what we're doing, flying in on the day of the game. We have a nice plane with a lot of first class seating so they will travel comfortably. It's not a very long flight. We will be staying at a hotel here that they are familiar with so they will get a good night's sleep. I feel like our preparation won't be distracted. Sometimes you go to towns like Reno and Las Vegas and it's difficult because there are a lot of fans running around and they're always hanging around the hotel and that can be a big distraction.
Q. What about not being able to practice on the field?
Crowton- I never do anyway.
Q. If traveling the day of the game works out, is this something you might do against Colorado State and Air Force?
Crowton- I don't think so right now. This is a short flight. With Fort Collins, we don't have the same plane and with Air Force, we will have the same plane but there is a longer drive from the airport. I've already looked into it. With the Reno game, the stadium is very close to the airport and everything fit real well. This is the first game in our four-game road trip. The less travel and fewer nights spent away from home the better off things will be. I think traveling down on the day of the game is going to be good. I feel really good about it.
Q. Is there any concern on the part of the coaching staff that players are going to overlook Nevada with Georgia Tech looming next week?
Crowton- I haven't felt that at all. I think everyone is focused on Nevada. If it weren't for the media, I wouldn't even remember that we play Georgia Tech next week. I haven't even looked at them. I don't know what they do. But I do know all about Nevada and I think the players are the same way. We are focused on Nevada. This is a game we need to win. I think we can win it and we need to win it. We just need to play well. It won't be the end of the world if we don't. I just want all of our focus as a team and a coaching staff on this game. They are a good enough that deserves it.
Q. What?s going on at the defensive end position?
Crowton- Well, we have had some injuries there. John Denney coming back will really help us out in that area. I was a little concerned early in the season but I think the adjustments we made were good. Ryan Gunderson played a lot of defensive end last week and he is pretty good, especially against the run. He did a good job. We're O.K. there. We're not nearly as strong as we were in the beginning. We have the numbers but just not the experience at the defensive end spot. It will be a fun game. Chris Tormey is a good coach.