JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn.—Carson-Newman football associate head coach Mike Clowney held a press conference Tuesday morning ahead of Saturday's South Atlantic Conference tilt with Wingate at Burke-Tarr Stadium.
The following is a written transcript form the Mike Clowney press conference.
Clowney opening remarks: Thank you guys for coming out once again. Any time after a loss, it's always exciting to go back out and compete and to work at it again. We are excited to go out there and play Wingate. We have another tough task ahead of us. Wingate is a really good football team. They pretty much dominated the football game against Lenoir-Rhyne last week. A very big and physical football team on both sides of the ball. We saw on the stat sheet to where they rushed for about 350 yards and had around 500 yards total. Our defense will have a good challenge ahead against a team that does a good job of mixing up the pass and the run. Offensively, we have a tough challenge ahead of trying to gel and continue to get better on the offensive line against a talented front from Wingate.
Q1: What makes Wingate's defensive line the NO. 2 defensive line in the country?
Clowney: It all starts up front. They are very big and very physical up front and their guys do a great job of getting off the ball. They have been able to control the line of scrimmage against pretty much everyone they have played and that gives their linebackers an opportunity to run and clean some things up at the second level. That takes a lot of pressure off the secondary when you have guys in the quarterback's face.
Q2: What dynamic does the quarterback, Kyle Johnson, add back there in the pocket?
Clowney: As time progresses, he has done a good job of taking what the defense has given him. A lot of times he will set up to pass and there will be nothing there so he does a good job of escaping. They give him designed runs and he reads it so he does a good job of getting in the right position to make a play.
Q3: What is the team's mentality after last week's loss?
Clowney: We have given them a couple of days off because school is off for fall break. So we are looking forward to getting back after. They guys were still really upbeat and positive after the game on Saturday because there were still a lot of good things that you can take away from the game even though it was a loss. We thought we did improve in some areas. Anytime your competitive, you are going to come out every week and give it the best you have.
Q4: What kind of adjustments do you have to make on the offensive line after giving up so many sacks last week?
Clowney: The same thing there with the consistency thing. We haven't put out the same group of guys two weeks in-a-row. The biggest thing for us it to have them challenge themselves and try to develop play better than they did last week. We may have to make some adjustments on how we protect. I know we put Noah [Suber] in the shotgun a couple of times last week to try and buy him a little bit more time to get the ball out of his hands.
Q5: How much confidence do you think Noah Suber has in the shot gun?
Clowney: I think the more you do something, the more confidence you will have in it. We put that in late last week because we were having protection problems and Suber was hurt a little bit and we knew we may have some issues there. Now, it's on video and guys will have a chance to go back and clean some things up there.
Q6: What's the biggest challenge this week for the defense to try and stop a team that is second in the conference in running the football?
Clowney: We have to find that right balancing of getting the right number of guys in the box at one time but our biggest challenge right now is simply making the tackles. When we get into position to make plays we have to finish them. I think an ongoing theme for us this week will be to make sure in everything we do, we finish it. We can't give up the extra yards when we are already in position to make the play.
Q7: How have the seniors responded in not having the season in which they would have hoped up to this point?
Clowney: When you go back and watch film from last week, you can point out a senior named Montavious Taylor. His effort and want to is still there. There is no question. Jerry Miclisse has been consistent all year long about being in position to make plays. Those are the guys that are your leaders and that's the challenge to get those guys to raise their level and to give us everything they have to finish the season out the right way. I think they are doing that.
Q8: Is it fair to say that this season has come down to missed execution and not effort?
Clowney: When we come in and watch video every week, we have not questioned their effort at all. We just have to get better at doing the things that we do. When we go back, we always grade specifics like technique and then we will also give an effort grade. The effort grade has been there all season long. The technique grade is where we have struggled.
Q9: Pittman has been out a couple of games nursing an injury. What are the similarities between him and his backup, Blake Hays?
Clowney: Both of them are big physical backs and their scheme fits them both well. The good thing for us on that is that it doesn't really change the game plan. It's just a matter of getting our guys in the right place to make tackles.
Q10: Wingate's defense has taken the football away at times this season. Any more emphasis on taking care of the football this week?
Clowney: Our top-three things we try to do offensively is to play fast, think fasta dn take care fo the football. I think we will continue to do the things that we try to do in keeping the ball and not giving it back to them.
Q11: What kind of season is Lane Bloom putting together?
Clowney: I am so proud of Lane. When you look at where he was and where he is now, its phenomenal. At the end of the year last year, we believed he was a guy that had grown into someone we can count on. When you see him transition into being a good player for us last year to kind of being a dominate player for us this year, I am just so proud of him. It all points back to him and his attitude. Whenever Lane Bloom was just chasing kickoffs, he was giving it everything he had. Now that he is playing defense, he still has that want to and effort and that has given him a chance to be a good football player.