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Weekly press briefing--Georgia Tech

The following comments are from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's Monday post-practice press briefing; including comments from sophomore running back Jamaal Williams and senior linebacker Uani 'Unga.

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall:

Opening comments:
I'm happy with our win at Utah State although I'm sad to see Chuckie Keeton go down. I think our team made progress, offensively we got more into a rhythm and obviously more points are helpful. We are looking forward to another really good opponent coming into our stadium and playing well. We have some momentum now, we've made some progress and there's still plenty to work on but we're excited about the game.

Who is returning from injury this week?
We get a few players back this week. In terms of kick returns, Adam Hine is another weapon, which we're excited to have back. Offensive linemen De’Ondre Wesley, Brock Stringham and Ryker Mathews, we get them back at a higher level this week. Tyler Beck is healthy as well. Other than that, defensively, we have about the same players.

How much difference will it make to have three offensive linemen back in the lineup Saturday?
It will make a lot of difference, not only for practice but also for the game. It gives us a chance to rotate more players and get fresh bodies in. It doesn't necessarily mean you'll see a better product but it gives us a better chance than what we had without them.

You stopped Georgia Tech's offense last year. Is stopping the option your specialty?
I don't think it's a specialty -- most of the things I've learned in this profession have come from really humble beginnings. In my first year at New Mexico, I think we got beat 56-3 by Air Force and I had no idea what was going on with the option so it became a project. Last year, they didn't convert a third down and so we only played about 48 plays and that hardly ever happens when you're playing against the option on defense. We certainly expect a different style of game, similar offense but it will be hard to duplicate what we did last year.

What do they do defensively?
They are coordinated very well now. They're only playing a little less than 60 plays a game because the offense holds on to the ball so well but they play very hard during that time. They have four down players that are pretty skilled, play really sound and are really well coached.

Do you feel like having Jamaal Williams healthy in the backfield will help open up the pass game?
I think most teams are recognizing that we are focusing on trying to establish the ground game. But the last couple weeks, without any dropped passes and more consistency in throwing the ball, I think teams will have to at least acknowledge that threat now. I wouldn't say they would be fearful of it but they will have to at least acknowledge it, which should allow us to run the ball more effectively.

Sophomore running back Jamaal Williams:

How nice was it to get a long run and to be back on the field again?
It was great. I wish I could have played a little more than I did but from that big run, I know that I'm coming back to my old self. I knew if I was playing regularly I would have got over 100 yards but I'm just happy we got the win.

Does it take some pressure off you guys to have the offense throwing the ball so well?
Having Taysom throw the ball like that gives our offense a double threat. Now they need to watch out for passing, they don't have to worry just about running. It opens it up for me, Taysom and all the other running backs.

Senior linebacker Uani ‘Unga:

How do you feel about your performance this past weekend?
I thought we did great and that the defense played really well. To be honest, I was pretty surprised that I had 16 tackles. I think the coaches did a good job of preparing us for the game and that allowed us to play fast.

What do you expect to see out of Georgia Tech?
We expect to see a lot of run plays and our front seven needs to be ready to come out and play. They like to run that triple option and shove it down your throat. We have to come out ready to go.

What did you learn about Georgia Tech last season that will help the team be successful this year?
They are basically in one formation the whole game and we will have very few play calls. With Coach Mendenhall's game plan, we'll be able to play fast this week and hopefully it will work out for us like it did last season.