Butch Jones Weekly Press Luncheon Quotes

Sept. 13, 2011

Press Conference Video

University of Cincinnati Head Coach Butch Jones
Press Luncheon Quotes
September 13, 2011

Opening Statement:
“Thanks for coming out. We just concluded practice number two into our Akron preparation. The biggest thing in our football program right now is this week is critical. There’s always a sense of urgency beginning game week, but this week, the sense of urgency has picked up that much more from our coaching staff to our players to everyone. We have to take great strides in the fundamental improvement of our football team in all three phases: offense, defense and special teams. I wasn’t particularly pleased with our performance on Saturday. We expect a lot more, but when you go play a very talented football team like we did on Saturday, every mistake you make is magnified. It’s more glaring when you play a good football team. It’s getting back and the details of playing winning football at each and every position. It’s the fundamentals of tackling, stripping the football, blocking – it’s situational football. We didn’t get off the field on third down. We did a great job a number of times on defense of staying on schedule – forcing third and long then giving up a third down conversion and vice versa on offense. We have to convert those third downs. We always talk about staying on schedule, being in a manageable third down – third and four, third and five. The teams that lead the country in third down conversions are always in that. Everyone is always aware of the third and fourth down situations – third-and-short, fourth-and-short and obviously at the goal line situations. We’ve actually done a great job in the red zone. One of our formulas to winning isn’t kicking field goals, it’s scoring touchdowns in the red zone. We need to go back and really hone in on that. The biggest thing is the mental errors. There were a number of times when we were in cover two and the flat routes and the curl flat combinations should be dead football plays. For some reason, it’s very uncharacteristic, we’re backpedaling. We have to get that ironed out. I said it in here last week and in my TV show, they challenged us with some matchup issues on the perimeter. We have to continue to get better. On a positive, we didn’t turn the football over against a very physical defense and we forced two turnovers on our defense. This week is critical. We have an Akron football team coming in here that’s very hungry. I played against them for a couple of years. I know what they’re all about. I think (Brian) Wagner, their linebacker, is as good of a linebacker as there is. He’s very reminiscent of (senior linebacker) JK Schaffer. (Linebacker) Nick Bellore is an individual that we had at Central Michigan who is now playing with the New York Jets. They have some talented football players. I think they’re coming in here hungry and they’re a physical football team. This week, the sense of urgency and everything that we’re doing in our football program is magnetized. I think you guys saw that on the football field today and we’ll continue to do that because we’re still going through the evolution phase of developing our football team.”

On whether the sense of urgency is magnified because of the way the team played against Tennessee:
“There are a number of reasons. It’s where we’re at in the season. It’s the third game of the year. Usually the first three or four games is where your team is developed. Also, but the way we played. Like I said, every mistake is glaring when you play a very good opponent. It might not have been magnified when we played Austin Peay, but if we played the same mistake when we played Tennessee, it was magnified. It’s just a combination of – it’s the third game of the season, we need to continue to develop, and I think we took a step back fundamentally. It’s taken the practice to the field. I thought we had a great week of preparation. It’s taking the individual and the drills to the field and executing especially when you’re tired or winded, it’s that mental focus and conditioning that we talk about.”

On whether they will be able to improve the defense week-to-week:
“It’s very young in the season. Everyone around here wants to push that big, red button that says ‘panic.’ There is no panic here. I think it’s continuing to develop. We have to get some things cleared up. I expect us to be a much more matured team on defense, much more physical football team. We have some players who played a lot of football here. That’s where I was disappointed – we lacked the maturity to overcome and persevere on a number of things. It’s not the NFL. I love our players. We’re going to continue to develop our players. That’s the fundamentals of tackling. It’s getting the guy down, we miss a tackle, and there are 15 more extra yards. It’s missing tackles on special teams. It’s generating a pass rush. To the naked eye, everyone wants to point to the back end of our defense. Rightfully so. But they threw the ball 40 times and we had three hits on the quarterback. They did a great job of eight-man protections. It’s hard to get home. I talked about it with the quarterback launch points and the amount of three-step and the things they do. There is a sense of urgency and I expect us to be better. You just have to keep working and keep the ball in your center field. You can’t get off target. You just have to keep working, and we’ll do that.”

On what the problem was on defense against Tennessee:
“It was a combination of a lot of things. That’s the thing that was disappointing, it wasn’t just one thing. To play great defense, you have to play great team defense and that’s all 11 individuals. You can have 10 individuals doing their job and number 11 doesn’t do his job and then it gets magnified, especially against a good football team and that’s what we’re working towards right now.”

On whether the loss does something psychologically to the team:
“We come in and everyone is disappointed in the way they played and coached, rightfully so. We come in and watch film and communicate – what are you thinking and why are you making these mistakes? We turned a guy, just Scott-free in man coverage by a player who’s always right there consistently. He got caught up and his eyes were watching the quarterback. Those are all the fundamental details that we have to zero in on. We’ve had two great days of preparation. They’re very prideful. They know where their mistakes occurred and they can tell you why they made the mistakes and that’s part of becoming better. Now we just have to take it to the field.”

On whether he saw an offensive lineman tipping off the player:
“No. We always have different codes basically on the stance – are you heavy in the three-point stance or two-point stance and that’s pretty much common in football. We change a lot of things up, so I don’t expect that.”

On Akron:
“When you watch their film, Rob Ianello is a great coach. He’s been around. You look at their coaching staff and where they’ve been and their pedigrees – they’re a good coached football team. They played a very good Ohio State football team who has something to prove. Temple, the last four or five years in the Mid-American Conference, has had the best talent in the Mid-American Conference. When you watch them, you see the development of their football team from week one to week two. They have a defensive tackle that was at Michigan State that played. You look at the team and say they’re searching for their identity. If you aren’t ready to handle your business, anything can happen. That’s why it’s about us and how we prepare. Nothing has changed from week-to-week, it’s about us.”

On balancing the emphasis of missed opportunities and having confidence issues on defense:
“Football is so mental. Confidence plays a big part of it. We sat in a room with our entire defense and we went through the entire game film position by position so they understand the inner workings of all 11. Not just the d-line or the linebackers. When they’re running power and the linebacker has to spill the ball to the unblocked safety and he takes the wrong gap, and he uses the wrong shoulder to spill it. From week one to week two, the game sped up. When we looked at the film, they gained confidence because a lot of the errors weren’t physical errors, they were mental errors. We practice in phase and out of phase. We go man coverage and we’re out of phase and we look back for the football instead of going through and racking the ball out with the arm which we practice on a day-to-day basis. Those are the things through repetition and learning, that’s the only way you get better. We don’t have the luxury that if he doesn’t make the play, we bring the next guy in. we have to do a better job as coaches of coaching the fundamentals. I told our players today, if you don’t understand anything, we are teachers. There’s a difference between teachers and presenters. Anybody can go up and present, but it’s the teachers that have pupils who understand why they’re doing things. I told our players that if they don’t understand the fine details, ask questions. We do so much with mental and video tests that I think it’s just a combination. This is where you rely on the maturity and leadership. We have good leadership on both sides of the football.”

On whether he’s seem improvements from the wide receivers:
“Slowly. I thought Kenbrell (Thompkins) took huge strides in the Tennessee game. He played with greater effort and blocked extremely well. DJ Woods played a solid football game, one of the best he’s played since we’ve been here. Anthony McClung continues to develop. Shaq is a work in progress right now, the same thing with Alex Chisum. I see development in both those two young individuals. Dyjuan Lewis is going through that maturation phase of being out of football for a year and it’s really discouraging and disappointing that he couldn’t practice last year. Everything is new to him, but I see him continuing to develop. I think you’re going to see them do nothing but get better as the season continues to progress. I do see the development.”

On how much of Shaq Washington’s development has to do with his quarterback background:
“It’s a combination of a number of things. He played quarterback in high school and then he got injured in spring football, so I think he only had five practices. It takes some time for instincts to kick in. Shaq is a very talented young man, very quick, and he’s extremely competitive. I expect him to continue to make strides. That’s another reason we have a sense of urgency, we need to get our younger players like (freshman defensive lineman) Camaron Beard to step up. He’s got to give us some very valuable reps. It’s (sophomore defensive lineman) Jordan Stepp, (freshman linebacker) Dwight Jackson, (freshman linebacker) Nick Temple, (sophomore defensive back) Arryn Chenault. One of the disappointing things I wanted to talk about is that (junior defensive back) Malcolm Murray is an individual we lost for the season. He suffered a knee injury Wednesday in practice – tore his ACL. Now we’re extremely limited depth-wise in the safety position. Arryn Chenault is another individual where the sense of urgency has to be two-fold for him as well.”

On whether ‘pushing the red panic button’ is rhetorical:
“Just rhetorical. Winning is very fragile. In our business, half the teams lose every week. That’s what we talked to our players about. That’s why no one game is more important than the next because all 12 are important. That’s the beauty of college football. Every game counts, we don’t have a tournament. We’re not getting in the tournament with a different record. It’s a one-game playoff each and every week – every game is a season. It’s extremely critical that we focus on the task at hand. That’s why the Akron game is critical. We have to go back to our winning ways and the way we want to be perceived. It starts this week with preparation.”

On how hard it is to bounce back after a loss:
“It goes to our program philosophy of snap and clear. You have to learn your lessons, why did they happen. You have to correct your mistakes. You can’t make the same mistakes twice, you have to become a better football team. That’s that focus that we talked about, we can’t get ahead. All our goals and aspirations are still all in place. It’s like I told our team this past Monday, nothing has changed in terms of our goals. They’re all still out there. They’ll continue to be out there for a number of weeks. That’s why it’s important that we focus on the task at hand and controlling what we can control. It’s about our Akron prep this week.”

On freshman kicker Tony Miliano:
“On the field goal at the end of the game, our opp time was at about a 1.25. to really be affective, it has to be a 1.21, 1.22. I thought our opp time wasn’t very good. They made a good play. The received jumped up and he has about a 44-inch vertical. He hit it, I thought the kick was a little low. Where tony has to take great strides is at kickoffs. We want to kick the ball at a certain area and hang time. I thought we took a step back there. Right now the job is open – him and (junior punter) Patrick O’Donnell are competing for the kickoff job. Tony continues to progress. He has as lot of confidence right now. You’ll see him continue to get better. I’m excited about him and what he’s bringing to the table. I think he’s being pushed every day in practice by our other kickers. There’s always that ongoing battle.

On whether Miliano is still the starting kicker:
“He’s still the kicker.”

On what he thinks about the offensive line:
“We ran the ball effectively. We pass protected extremely well. They didn’t get very many hits on (senior quarterback) Zach (Collaros). The glaring ones were the third-and-short and the fourth-and-short. We felt we had two really great play calls and we had a great confidence in that situation. That’s the thing, every decision we make is calculated. It’s not based on emotion. All our decisions are very calculated. We knew when we got into a third-and-short or fourth-and-short, when we lined up under center, we knew they were going to pinch the front. They were vulnerable to the run outside. We had an outside run called and we lost our one-on-one matchup. We liked our play call. I believe in our players. I believed in our offense line that we were going to get the first down. And I believed in our defense that if we didn’t get it, they would answer the call. The first time they did a great job, they answered the sudden change and held them to zero points. They missed a field goal and nothing came of it. The second time, we didn’t do a good job of answering the call and gave up the touchdown. I believe in our players and we’re going to play to win football games. I laugh because if we didn’t go for it, we’d sit here and say ‘you don’t have belief in your football team, why didn’t you go for it?’ We play to win football games.”

On why he decided to settle for the field goal instead of going for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal:
“Points. We worked extremely hard to get the ball down the field and we needed to come away with some points. I felt we needed that. You work so hard to get the ball down there. We had a negative yardage play on the third down, so we went backwards a little bit. I thought we needed points at that particular point in time.”

On whether they’ll face a better passing trio than Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receivers Zach Rogers and Justin Hunter:
“Up to this date, I don’t know what the future holds with our future opponents. I’ll tell you they’re as talented of a group as I’ve seen in a long period of time. When we prepare for teams, we talk to coaches and we knew coming into the game that Tennessee possessed probably one of the top two or three offensive lines in the entire conference. That was a very skilled unit. I thought bray was a great quarterback going into the game. They have great backs that run extremely hard. They possess many challenges. Their scheme plays to the strength of their football team and offensive line with all the different play actions they give you. I think they’re going to win their share of football games. They’re a very talent group.”

On Tennessee’s onside kick:
“We knew they were going to do something. They have shown on film, whether on offense on special teams, that they’re going to try to do something to capture momentum for their football team. We actually practiced that every day this week. There is a rule that there is a restraining line of 10 yards. If your guy passes over the 10-yard restraining line, they cannot hit you till the ball goes 10 yards. Our two guys backed up. If they had gone forward to try to recover the ball, they can’t be touched until the ball goes 10 yards. They made a great play. It was executed flawlessly. Their kicker did a great job. The kicker didn’t change up his approach to the ball. Ninety-nine percent of all kickers, when they do the bunt onside, they have to change their approach to the ball and he hit it full stride. They did a great job and hats off to them. It comes back to the fundamental details – we reped it and we stepped back instead of going forward. We’ll see it again and we’ll continue to rep that play.”

On what he’d change now to defend Tennessee’s philosophy of protecting their quarterback:
“Execute. There are a number of times when we’re in palms coverage or flow coverage, where we have the flat covered. We sunk on it. Like I said, their scheme is very challenging because they run what’s called a sprint-draw action. The sprint-draw messes with your linebackers reads because he has a hold in the box for the sprint-draw and you teach your linebackers and your secondary to read the hats of the linemen. When you have a sprint-draw, the hats are the same, whether it’s a play-action pass or a drop-back pass. It really challenges your football intelligences. It challenges you to make great reads. And what they call in defensive terms, your panic drops by your linebackers. I thought they did a great job that way. It’s the execution of the plays called. That’s on us as coaching. We have to do a better job of teaching and coaching it and the players have to execute it. There were a number of times when on the board, we had the right defense called, but we just didn’t execute it. That gets backto continuing to improve and understand exactly what the responsibility of all 11 are.”

On if senior running back Isaiah Pead’s pattern of scoring the first time he touches the ball is coincidence:
“Isaiah is playing with a lot of confidence right now. I really believe he’s not only one of the best backs in the BIG EAST Conference, but I really believe he’s one of the best backs in the country. Isaiah is very physical. That’s the thing; he possesses some skills sets that not very many backs have. He can play physical but he can also make the first defender miss and he can finish runs. He’s also a threat out of the backfield. Our players, not just our offensive line, but our players on the perimeter enjoy blocking for him. He plays with an inordinate amount of passion and our kids feed off of that. Right now, he’s as focused of a player as we have. All the fruits of his labor – all the extra hard work, I think you see that coming through. I hope he can continue to keep scoring on those plays.”

On whether he is going to try to become more of a running football team:
“First of all, we want to dictate on the offense what the defense is doing. A lot of times it’s how they’re playing you, but make no mistake about it – Isaiah is one of our playmakers. We have to do a great job of getting him the ball and trying to also create space for him to get him one-on-one matchups with linebackers. He’s doing that for us. We need to continue to do that. You’ll see some different wrinkles each and every week just to try to create space for him.”

On whether they ever use the Bearcat swag drill:
“No. It’s all a mentality. You talk about confidence and all that. We want to be the first off the pile. We want to play up tempo. You have to practice those things and teach them. You can tell a young man to do it, but you have to practice it. They have to understand the expectation. They have a little bit of fun with it. I expect when our receivers get tackled to be the first up off the pile. When our backs get tackled, I expect them to be the first up off the pile. That’s the whole mental part of playing the game of football. That’s what makes football such a special game, it’s the mental aspect.”