Tucanos Media Luncheon with Gary Crowton
October 9, 2002
Crowton -- I have been watching a lot of film on Air Force and they're playing really good football right now. They have a lot of confidence and the thing that is the most impressive about their 5-0 start, is that they have actually been behind and hung on right to the end to get some of their wins, which gives them more confidence. They've played really well against some real good opponents. Cal is playing well right now and they beat them, and earlier in the season they just crushed Northwestern. I think they're playing very good. As far as we're concerned, I think what's really important for us to do is worry about us. We need to be concerned about what we're doing. If we can focus on us and clean up our game and the little mistakes we've been making all season and play hard like we did on both sides of the ball in the second half last week, then I think it will be a pretty good game. I give them a lot of credit, but we're working hard on our game. I'm looking for us to play well against them.
Q. The season has been going on for a while now. Are you starting to get a good feel for the personality of the team?
Crowton- I'm starting to. I mentioned that to the Cougar Club. I feel like we have lost a lot of guys that have been around for a long time. Most of the offensive line, including Ben Archibald had been around a long time and every one of those guys are gone other than Dustin Rykert. So, I'm getting a good feel for those guys. At the quarterback position, we lost two guys from last year, Doman and Peterson, so I'm just trying to get a better feel for Engenmann and Pendleton and some of the other younger guys who are just trying to prove themselves. The running backs are all different as well. So, it has taken a little while to get a good feel for the team. I felt really good in the second half of the Utah State game about knowing that team. I do feel I'm getting a better feel for the personality of the team and I hope to get to know it more as the season goes on.
Q. It seems like the team takes a while to get going early in the game. Do you believe that is a problem?
Crowton - Actually, we played very well in the first part of the last game. Even though we only scored seven points, we dominated the whole first quarter. We had a 19-play drive right down the field. I actually feel like we played really well early in the Georgia Tech game as well, we just didn't get any points. So what we need to do is get points. Defensively, we played very well early in the Utah State game. It was the second quarter that hurt us. Our offense needs to get going early and get some points. Hopefully with my feeling of the personnel and personality of the team, like you mentioned, we will be able to remedy that situation.
Q. How's Marcus Whalen?
Crowton -- He practiced hard yesterday. He practiced full speed and I'm waiting to see how he feels today. I want to see if he has any swelling or reaggravating of his injury. I will know more after today. He looked really good in practice. He started out practice a little tentative, but I told him to go out full speed. I need to know now not at the end of the week what he can do. In doing so, he gained some confidence in practice.
Q. Can you give us an update on other injuries?
Crowton -- Andy Ord should be back. He missed last game. With Jernaro Gilford, I went in and talked to the doctor about him yesterday. His knee is feeling pretty good. It's right above his knee on the bone. Something showed up on the x-ray. It was a bump on the bone. They're going to do a cat scan. We'll look at that to see if there is a stress fracture there or a deep bruise to the bone. That's what has been bothering him right now. The knee is looking pretty good. He comes out and starts all right and then after a while it starts to ache. He's going to be a day-to-day situation. I don't know if he will be able to go this week or not.
Q. Is it O.K. that Gilford doesn't get any practice time?
Crowton -- I want him to get practice time. Last week, he practiced up until Thursday. He didn't practice yesterday or Monday but he'll need to practice today and Thursday for us to play him. I need him to practice to prepare for Air Force who does so many unique things.
Q. With their defense changing a little bit, do you expect your tight ends will have the same success as they did last year?
Crowton -- I think our tight ends can be very effective. I think they are all good players. I think last year Air Force tried to play a perimeter defense to put a little pressure inside. We saw that and decided to go to the tight ends. We had a lot of success doing that last year. If you listen to Fisher DeBerry talk, he says they are prepared for the tight ends. We'll just have to see what they do, but I still think the tight ends will be a factor in this game, maybe not to the same extent as last year. Doug Jolley just had an outstanding game last year. I didn't go into last year's game thinking Jolley would do that well. But when they started giving it to us we just kept going back to it until we were up big and it was over.
Q. Many teams have been able to run against Air Force this year. Do you think that will be something you'll try to do against them?
Crowton -- I do think you can run on these guys at times. I was watching the Northwestern game and they came out and tried to run against Air Force and do some other things and before you knew it, Northwestern was down three touchdowns. They got completely out of their game plan. We know we need to gain yards on every play, whether that be through the run or the pass. If we do that we will be able to gain a lot of yards after the catch or handoff. We want to mix it up a little bit. I'm not going to give out the game plan right now but I want Air Force to have to defend everything. We've got Reno (Mahe) they will need to defend, the tight ends, our running backs are running pretty good. If we can just get the ball out there and not shoot ourselves in the foot on offense. Defensively, we need to get some stops. Every time our defense gets a stop, it gives our offense a chance to put some points on the board.
Q. Traditionally, you've done well against the wishbone. New Mexico did really well against Air Force this year. Did they do anything different that you might try?
Crowton -- New Mexico did a good job but they still gave up over 30 points though. Their defense gave their offense chances to make plays. That was the key. They made the stops and they didn't turn the ball over. I think we'll do well. I feel very confident and I am excited about it. The game plan was really fun to put together this week.
Q. How good is the Falcons' quarterback?
Crowton -- He's playing with a lot of confidence. What he's doing is carrying the ball. I think he had 173 yards last week rushing and threw the ball for over 100 yards. He's been very efficient. He's running the ball so well that the pass is usually made in single coverage and they're wide open. We are aware that they throw the ball well.
Q. Do you approach a conference game any different from a non-conference game?
Crowton --Your mindset is different in that you know it is conference play. It is important to be prepared for every game. I think we have gone through the year in trying to find our confidence. I think we've found it and the personality of the team is starting to show up. Right now we haven't lost a game in conference and I hope we can continue in that area.
Q. Has Brandon Heaney's shoulder been a problem for him?
Crowton --His shoulder held up really well for him last game. He practiced well. The trainers tape it up for him and he has had a good week of practice.
Q. You beat Air Force pretty bad last year. Do you see them coming out for some revenge this year?
Crowton--I hear that question a lot. Everyone wants to beat us. We are the defending conference champs, and so everyone is going to be out to beat us. I told that to our guys last year when we played Colorado State because they were the defending champs. I think we're going to rise up and play well against these guys.
Q. How does it feel to be in everyone's sights each week?
Crowton--I was good at sneaking up on people last year. Your mental frame has to be high all the time. You have to be ready to play. Everyone knows BYU is going to be at their best. You have to make sure you are prepared and you don't let yourself get too high or too low.
Q. Is that a challenge with a young team?
Crowton--It is a challenge to always keep these guys on the top of their games. The younger guys are still trying to find themselves in a leadership role. Sometimes your leadership is going to be youthful leadership. This is going to be a great game. Air Force is 5-0. We won big against them last year, and we are going into their place. It is going to be an exciting game and I can't wait.
Q. Is there a down side to sitting around waiting all day for the game?
Crowton--You just have to wait and then go play. We will have some meetings and probably watch some football games and get them excited to go and play. It is the same thing for both teams though.
Q. Your outside linebackers are a little smaller than last year. Do you think that may be a factor against the wishbone?
Crowton--When you play a team that is really good on the ends like Air Force, your outside backers and linebackers have to play well. The quickness is there for us at those positions. Our outside backers may be a little small, but not by much. We are quicker at those positions than we were last year. They just have to play their positions and tackle well. If we do that, we will be just fine.
Q. Have you slacked off on hitting and tackling drills in practice because of injuries?
Crowton--Last week we didn't go full pads all week long. I went really hard in practice yesterday. This week we have gone full pads and we will do so again today. We have got to be very aggressive. We've had some injuries with our defensive guys. We have to focus on the technique of tackling all the time. We are always talking about it and we are working it hard this week. The hardest thing to get ready for against Air Force is their blocking style. We work a lot on that, and hopefully we will be ready to go.