This is in response to the pre game interview with Head Coach of the Madison County Pirates, Dane Hill.
REPORTER - "Coach, congratulations over a vastly improved Wrangler squad on the road. What areas of the game did you see that you liked/disliked that stood out?"
COACH - "First and foremost I would like to give credit to the Brandon Meyer and the Wrangler organization. Since we did not get the opportunity to compete against the Wranglers in 2005, I can not comment with regards of their improvement from last year. However, I would classify their team as being a very "scrappy". The comment is supposed to be a compliment.
Though we had a numerical advantage over them regarding roster size, they did not falter against our efforts or the high temperatures of the day. I was impressed with the mobility and athleticism of Garrison at the Quarterback position. I also give big props to Meyer as he was all over the field and gave great effort even after making field preparations under stressful conditions. They are a fine group.
With regards to our performance, I felt that we took a step forward from last week. While we were still fairly "vanilla" with both the defense and offense, with the practice we had, we were able to add a little more of the playbook this week. Once again, due to the failures of the players on the team "collectively" we are behind where we could have been at this time.
Offensively, I thought that our line play improved somewhat over last week. I thought that we were able to get the running game going to the point that we had better ability to sustain drives. While I do not like penalties, it was actually good to see Terence Battee exhibit a little bit of "nastiness" getting down field to block on the run. I don’t know what the actual final statistics are but I felt that we also improved our passing efficiency. Matt Smith had a great game as a Receiver catching about 5 passes. Lorenzo McBeath had a decent game running the ball but there are still some skills that he needs to work on. With respects to the playbook, we were able to run some of our "Viking" package utilizing Wide Receiver Jermaine Wilson. Joe Williams and Darroyl Lowe also got carries out of the backfield so all in all, we were able to get the ball into the hands of various players.
Defensively, the story would be the addition of Jeremy Granger at the "Mike" Linebacker position. I pretty much saw what I expected from him. Once again, I hate penalties and he got called for a dumb one but I like the aggressive "attitude" that he brings to the table. We did some "musical chairs" with the secondary this week and I was pretty happy with their performance. There were a couple of instances where there was some confusion on some "audibles" but overall, they were where they were supposed to be. If I had any disappointments, it was in our play on third and long situations. On at least 4 instances, we allowed their Quarterback Garrison to get out of the pocket and convert first downs either with the pass or running. Darroyl Lowe uncharacteristically allowed it 3 times while Gaddie did once. Additionally, I myself probably contribute to some of our miscues as I am still becoming accustomed to coordinating both the Defense and the Offense."
REPORTER - "You got the win, yet the offense again struggled to achieve much endzone success. What do you do to rectify this?"
COACH - "Well, it is my opinion that the only way we are going to rectify that situation is through extra hard work. Once again, we have to make up for lost time if that is possible. As I mentioned before, we are still so "vanilla" that we have really not put in "actual" game plans. We had gotten ourselves so far behind that we are still working on basic techniques, communication on the field and various other "fundamental" elements of our systems. Because of those reasons, it is more difficult for us to make adjustments on game day to the changing tactics of our opponent. A good example of this was during the Wranglers late fourth quarter drive in our Red Zone. I knew we needed to be in more of a "Goal Line" alignment but we have not been able to "simulate" this situation at practice due to our being behind. Normally, I would have a special defense for this situation. "Monday Morning Quarterbacks" even know what the situation calls for but you can not just "throw things together" and then "hope" that it works out. My experience has taught me that when you do that you are not going to succeed most of the time. It is not that you merely mention it at practice, or go over it once or twice; YOU MUST PRACTICE IT! Very few players at our level can "pick up things" after being exposed to it once or twice. Luckily for us, the Wranglers called a time out and I was able to go into the huddle and break an adjustment down for their 2 Tight End set and it got results but I don’t like "living like that". Once and or IF we can get these "rudimentary" issues out of the way, things should run more smoothly. As I hopefully am beginning to get across to the team, there is a certain confidence that comes from practice repetitions.
The short version of my answer is if you have a very talented team, you don’t need a whole lot of things. You could have 6 or 7 "base" offensive plays that you run and your talent makes it happen. When you don’t have the talent, you have to do it other ways. Therefore, the struggle so far this year has been to get the players to realize that they ARE NOT as talented as they think they are without causing irrevocable damage to their "psyches". Then, they HAVE TO understand that the only thing that will get them to their goal is hard work or practice."
REPORTER - "You mentioned that you felt Korrie (Gillespie) was not where he should be yet. How do you gage his progress?"
COACH - "It is still too soon for me to say whether there was "wisdom" gained by Korrie from Week 1 or whether yesterday was an aberration. He did perform better yesterday. His passing efficiency was better. He made better "reads" and completed passes to the correct receiver. The Touchdown pass to Jermaine Wilson was an example of this. In practice we run that pattern combination quite a bit. It is a combination that we can run from several formations, however, in practice both he and Dollard have a tendency to make "bad reads" or just determine to throw the deep ball. Yesterday, as we broke huddle and I saw the Defensive alignment, I stood there and just kept repeating quietly to "…read the 4 …read the 4… read the 4". He did it and we got the score. Earlier, we had run the same combination and he made the correct read completing a pass for a first down to Matt Smith. Concerning him being a "scrambling Quarterback" and all the "hub-bub" surrounding Donovan McNabb and being Black / African American etc. I believe that Korrie makes good decisions on when to run and when not to run. I have never really talked to him about that and primarily because I am happy with his decisions in that regard. I read a segment in a book once, I think it was 'The Thinking Man's Guide To Pro Football' by Paul Zimmerman. In it, the quote I believe goes "...a great player comes to a Coach and the coach does him no particular harm". That is the philosophy I take with Korrie and his scrambling. I can take no credit for it. There have been other Quarterbacks I have coached where that has been an issue and there were discussions about it. As we go forward, the biggest challenge for Korrie will be if he will study to reduce his learning curve as we add plays to the arsenal from the playbook. This remains to be seen."
REPORTER - "There was a play in which a Wrangler player was called out of bounds on what could have been a tying TD. Do you address these types of things with the team?"
COACH - "Absolutely. Probably the biggest thing that I tell them is 1) we should not have been in that situation. The reason for that is, players and fans alike have a tendency to lock in on that one play and search for the individual involved in the play to "pin the goat horns" on. In reality, there were many plays and many mistakes by OTHER individuals that led to the situation. Secondly, I tell them that any time you allow yourself to get in position where you are dependent on an official’s call for the outcome, you are cooked. Finally, this has to be a "lesson’s learned" situation. The players must understand and learn that there could have been a different outcome to a given play and make changes to ensure that they don’t get themselves in that position again. It is my job to point that out. Otherwise, I would not be doing my job of helping the team to improve."
REPORTER - "Lastly, without giving up your exact gameplan, how do you go into this week's preparation against the Thunder?"
COACH - "First I have to make sure that "we know what we know". With one play in particular, we ran 4 times yesterday and did not get the desired result. We need to be able to do what we do with the confidence to make it happen. We are not yet at that point. Secondly, we need to keep adding plays from our playbook. An analogy that I might use with my team would be that "…you don’t see Batman going into a crisis situation with only a couple of weapons in his famed utility belt". Offensively, we need to get even more people involved in the offense. I need to get Wide Receiver involved and I need to get our Tight End and Wide Receiver Bruce Rochelle more "touches". Defensively we need to get more "situational" defenses into our package for things that may occur in a game. We also need to "cross train" if you will, select individuals to add depth to the team in case of injuries etc. I do not expect that we will have all of these things done by next weekend but once again, we need to take a step up. Thanks again."
**We at Ida's Korner again thank Coach Hill for his time and candor.
And remember, if you wait until after the fact to say it, you cant say "Ida said it!"
but I can..
Ida said it!