In preparation for the BYU/San Diego State game on Saturday, Coach Gary Crowton addressed local media in the weekly Tucanos BYU Coaches Luncheon. Following are excerpts from his opening statement and the ensuing question and answer session.
OPENING STATEMENT -- Gary Crowton, BYU head coach
I felt very good about the win against Air Force. I thought the players really prepared well. Our practice was very good all around and I thought it was good preparation by the coaches, and obviously it showed well in the game. I think they are a pretty good football team and I just think that we jumped out on them really fast. We got them frustrated and out of their game and we were able to carry it through. As far as this week against San Diego, I think they are a very good football team. They have got a lot of potential and we have to figure they will be their very best when we play them. I think they are very athletic. We have to prepare well and do a good job in our execution. Again we are on the road, but if our defense does a good job of changing from the option to a more conventional offense I think we will be alright. With a different style of defense, we have to get used to their blitzes.
Q: What kind of blitzes will SDSU show you?
A: They will do a lot of zone blitzes. They play with the three down lineman one time and four the next. Against Ohio State they played with five down lineman, bringing in another bug guy, because Ohio State was trying to run the ball. SDSU did a good job of shutting down Ohio State. Ohio State made some adjustments in the second half and did a good job. They have personnel like UNLV but they run a scheme like Utah State.
Q: Is it hard for your team preparing for one quarterback or the other?
A: It just like with New Mexico. There is a big difference, especially if the one they change with is better than the one they had. I don't think the style is going to change very much. I think they run what they run. We are far enough into the season that we have seen a lot of their offense and what they do, but you never know. Just like New Mexico, they could run a completely different look. They have played a lot of games so we have a lot of film to watch.
Q: After looking at the film (from the Air Force game), what do you think you can do better?
A: I do think we are a pretty good team, I really thought that going into the season. The best thing that we do is we prepare well and practice hard. Then we go into the game prepared for the situations. We are a smart team and if we continue to do that then hopefully we will be good week in and week out. The thing that is always frightening to coach is that there is a lot going on. There is always a lot going on with the media attention to your successes and school. We have played a lot of football and now we are into late October. Hopefully they can maintain their focus without letting down. Most teams at some point have some lapses. We are just hoping that we continue to concentrate and that we don't let down. The teams that end up having the best years are the ones that win the close games. We have one a few of those, but I am sure there are going to be a few more. The thing that I like about this team is they have been very focused. I thought we made some real improvements last week. We shut down the run a little bit on the inside and we forced them to the outside and we rallied to the ball quickly. Our kickoff coverage is getting better. This week is not high altitude so I'm not sure if they will be able to kick it out of the end zone, so we will have to cover again. On offense I thought we did a better job of hanging onto the ball, but we could still get better. We had a fumble pop out here and there. We are doing a good job getting on them because we are around the football, but I don't want them coming loose.
Q: Lon Sheriff, the quarterback for San Diego State, made some bad decisions late in the game against Ohio State. Have you noticed fundamental problems with his read breakdown or is it just the pressure in his face?
A: I've seem him do some good things and then I have seen him make some errors. It is really getting on a good confidence roll. They have had some frustrations in their game and it's hard to get in a good rhythm. I don't see that he has been in a real good rhythm yet. I'm sure they are trying to work on that with play selection and what not. I think Brandon has been in a good rhythm, and when you get in a good rhythm it gives you more and more confidence to stay within the offense. The thing that happens is quarterbacks get out of their offense, they think they have to do too much. The thing that we are trying to stress from our offensive perspective is to stay within the offense. Let the offense do its work, it should be sound in all areas.
Q: Gary you have stressed that you really don't care about the BCS standings, but are you at least going to do a little scoreboard watching in the next few weeks?
A: I do have a vote so I do have to watch all the scores. I've already said my peace on the BCS and I'm just going to move on with that. I still have a vote from the coaches' poll and I make that every week. And I'm not telling you what I voted either. I feel like I've said enough about that so we are going to go forward. When the season is over, if there are opportunities to discuss it, then somebody might listen.
Q: Did you get much response from yesterday's comments?
A: I got a little bit. There are a few articles out there that people contacted me about. I don't care where we at, I like where we are at, don't get me wrong. But I've had this feeling before, even when I was at the NFL, I thought that is unfair. I don't want to dwell on that, my focus has to be on San Diego State and I can't think ahead either.
Q: Is it weird for a coach to be coaching against another coach whose job is supposedly in jeopardy?
A: You can't think like that. If you are humane you start to feel bad. Our team is not playing him, our team is playing their team and they are lining up with whoever is in front of them. He is a good guy and he has done an outstanding job coaching. I wish him the best, but right now I want to beat that team and do a good job in coaching our team.
Q: Do you think you can take it to another level? Was last week the best game of the season?
A: I think we have played on that level a few other times. Last week I felt our rhythm coming back. I felt like our practices were going good and we were hitting on all areas. There was good carryover from the week before in their learning. I felt back on rhythm last week and now I've got to focus that we don't get complacent. That's the biggest thing, I don't want to get complacent.
Q: How big a difference will Larry Ned make for SDSU?
A: If he is there and he's hurt, he won't make that big a difference. If he's healthy, he is a really good back. He is their best back. They do so much with technology in medical areas so they can get him back pretty fast. We've seen that with our own guys. We know what he is and they played against him last year. He is a good football player; but we aren't worried if he is there or if he is not there. What we need to do is assume that they are going to have their best back playing. If we can handle our assignments and tackle well and stay sound, that's what our concentration is.
Q: How is Brian McDonald-Ashford progressing?
A: He should have surgery Thursday and they should know for sure what it is. There is a 75 percent chance that it is an ACL and a 25 percent that it may not be. If it is an ACL he is done, if it is not an ACL then he will be back in two or three weeks. We are hoping it's not, but it probably is. Rod Wilkerson is healing up pretty fast, I don't know if he will be ready this week. We still have a few more days, he thinks he will and I think it will be next week. That will be good. We are a little beat up there on the D-line, but they are healing up day by day. The other guy we might have to look at is Brandon Stephens. Stephens' knee is banged up and it was locking up a little bit. I don't know if they have got that under control and they might have to look at it.