JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman head football coach Mike Turner takes a look at Catawba College for week five.
Opening Statement:The Catawba Indians are always a great adversary for us at Carson-Newman. They're both programs that have been held to high levels, both are programs that expect great things to come out of them. It's been a great rivalry with Catawba through the years, been some ups and downs, but we look forward to a great contest on Saturday.
Q1: Where's the teams' mindset after a frustrating one against Newberry last Saturday?
Well we've got to go on. You know, coaches are frustrated, kids are frustrated, and it's very very simple, you've just got to play. And go play wide open all the time. There shouldn't be a time that you ever wonder about yourself, "am I going to turn loose every snap? Am I going to play hard every snap?" We talked to them about how you can't let conditions set how you play. Those things are variables that come through life. If you want to be a great football team you're going to have to play through the heat, and then hopefully you're playing in late November and early December when it's freezing cold. You're going to get both extremes out of that and you cherish those opportunities to be in those extremes. There are parts of it that you've got to fight through, things you've got to overcome. Injuries, little nicks and bruises, those kinds of things, Saturday we didn't overcome them. We read them a great verse that says, "if you're a child of God, that doesn't prevent you from facing adversity, but it does enable you to overcome it." I hope we've got kids that in their heart and brain will overcome a performance that's not typical of what they're about.
Q2: You were 2-2 after week four last year as well, how do you use lessons learned from a year ago and what do you apply to this year?
Well, you know, kids are kids. Some of them can't remember last week, much less remember last year. You've got to say, "hey this is 2018, this is where we are." We had a chance to be in charge of our destiny, and we still are. We've got to be a little more urgent about taking care of our business. They watched the video before I talked to them yesterday, they know exactly how that performance was. We were certainly capable of winning that football game, our defense played hard and continues to play hard. What points they gave up, you should win every football game. They held a football team to less than 21, the interception made it 23, they held them to 16 points and that's good enough to win a football game. On offense we've got to produce more, make drives stay alive, make first downs when we need to, and put points on the board. That's our responsibility. Kicking game, we had the one error on the field goal with the snap and didn't hold it. But I'm enthused by the improvements that our special teams continue to make. We're in a situation where, "hey, you put yourself in that situation. Now you've got to overcome it."
Q3: Ray Artybridge, returning kicks for you, has snapped off several 30-yard returns now. What about the job that he's done being inserted into that role?
Ray is a great competitor, has grown up tremendously in the last year and I'm very proud of his effort. He keeps continuing to grow as a man and as a football player. The only problem with those 25 and 30 yard runs is that they should be 95 and 100 yard runs. When you look at the video and you see one guy not quite getting there to square the guy up where he can make one more cut. The main goal on special teams is to score and set up scores. They're supposed to flip the field position, put you in a position to score or score themselves. So, we're looking for the first score coming out of them. Punt return, a kickoff return, and keep flipping the field. Saturday, we didn't do a good job of flipping the field. We started too many times at the 15 or inside the 15, it's hard to be very productive out of that level.
Q4: Catawba the last few years have been one of the premier defenses in the SAC, what do you see out of the Curtis Walker coached group that is normally sound and solid?
Well there's one thing that's always going to be solid out of Catawba and that's their defense because of Curtis. He's going to coach that bunch, get them ready and have them prepared. He always does year in and year out. They've switched a little right now, going back to a 40 front which is what Curtis was originally when he played there at Catawba and when he coached at Coastal. So, they're flying around right now and getting after it. They're young guys right now, they've got four starters and four backups or something in that neighborhood so they're going to get better every week.
Q5: The last couple years you had a receiver that kind of stepped up, this year it seems like it's very much by committee, do you feel like somebody needs to step up here against Catawba and insert themselves as that #1 option?
There's no doubt about that, this is the 5thgame of the year and we've got people at different positions that need to step up. We just talked in an offensive meeting a little bit ago that it's time to step up and come be accountable and take charge for goodness sake. Somebody take charge of the position and say, "I'm the man, I'm going to get it done and you can count on me." We do feel like we've got some talented people there to do that if they can just take over and handle it.
Q6: How are you trying to use that running back by committee group throughout the game?
What you'd like to have is six of them that are the same. In this kind of offense, you need fresh legs at every point. You know you had the relay with the pony express… and you'd like to get so many snaps and get two more in there, so many snaps, two more in there. So, you've got people feeling like they're stretched out pretty good and ready to go. We're getting the snaps a lot better, the first couple of games we had way too many snaps with Antonio Wimbush. And there's nothing wrong with that at all, he's always going to be quality, we just need to get those others in there, so we can keep him fresher.
Q7: In your two wins you've kind of dominated in the second half, whereas in the two losses the adjustments haven't quite been there. What did you learn as a coach over the first four weeks in trying to level that out in the second half?
Well I've learned that I've got to keep my calm and I've got to know that you can trust those kids to go out there, execute and get it done the right way. I don't think there's been any big changes during halftime in any one of those games. Whether it was the wins or the losses, it was more reaffirming. And there haven't been any adjustments against us in the two losses or two wins. Sometimes people give too much credit to 'there's big changes being made' when that's not necessarily so. We're trying to figure out whether we can maybe even give them a little more warmup time out there or something and see if that helps. How you start, you want to draw first blood obviously, that's an advantage to any offense. And in the second half you sure want to be in that position. I think something that happened to us Saturday was the field position. We were at a ballgame that was a seven-point game, and we didn't want to do anything that would maybe put our defense in jeopardy. The defense had come out and established great authority, but we just need to get a little bit better field position.
Q8: Antonio Henderson isn't really one of the guys on defense you really talk about, but he seems to produce week in and week out. What have you seen from him?
He's part of the glue. Antonio Henderson is probably one of the better players we have on defense. His name doesn't come up all the time with all the stats, but his name comes up all the time in that room up there about people producing and keeping it together, making plays to turn things back inside to other people. He's a very valuable part of our defense and of our football team.
Q9: Not too often you look at an offense and see the leading receiver in terms of volume of catches as the tight end, but Jourdan Osinskie is that for Catawba. What do they do to get him in the mix so frequently?
Well they do formations and counter type actions to get him the ball, motion and sets. When Catawba's been very good they've always had a good tight end, sometimes two of them. And today's world, in this spread deal and this west coast type deal, a tight end is one of the more featured players in the offense. So, he's a threat no question.
Q10: Reid Carlton has done a good job managing their offense too, what do you see out of him as a quarterback?
He's a steady performer as always and makes plays for them. I think they're pleased they were able to have him back again.
Q11: How fun is a matchup like this where you've got two SAC Hall of Fame linebackers on either side with Curtis Walker for Catawba and Mike Clowney on the side for you?
Well we need to get some of those offensive guys in that Hall of Fame, so we can score some more points. But those are both great players, I coached when Mike was here and when Curtis was playing for Catawba. Watched both of them as players and as coaches, and it's great to see. This conference is special, it has a family type thing to it. You'll see guys that played in it, have come back after a year or two and have been coaching in it so it's a little bit different kind of football conference.