VIDEO: Turner Press Conference
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Fresh off of a bye week, Carson-Newman head coach Mike Turner addressed the media before a Saturday evening contest against Wingate.
On scheduling a bye week early in the season:
"I think it worked out. I thought it worked out very well for us to have that open date. It's one thing in a way I was dreading to have but as far as giving kids a chance to recover some nagging injuries, those types of things that really worked out good for us. Giving us an opportunity to get ahead in preparation for Wingate…it worked out fine. It gave our kids a chance to push a little bit there in the middle of the week, have fundamental and technique days to improve there on the base things that we do in football, blocking and tackling, because that's still the name of this game. So I felt like we made improvements and then yesterday we had a great comeback Monday practice and we were in full pads. Really excited about their preparation so far.
On the team's overall health
"We went hard for three weeks right there. No breaks, at all and then to play a Thursday night game and told them they have Friday and Saturday off a week in, and that was good for them. To come back last week…it's difficult for kids, it's difficult for coaches to go through camp, you get into the routine and game week and then, boom, you've got an open date. And I wouldn't recommend it for anybody except when you have some things, situations we've had where with some injuries and rehabbing people and those kinds of things to get them back ready to play."
On what sticks out about Wingate's defense
"I think their scheme is very, very sound. They play hard. They run to the football…that's not a cliché, they do that well. They're very well-coached, as always there. They don't make many mistakes that beat them, you have to beat them, they're not going to beat themselves on defense, they're sound in what they do and how they execute. And that puts it on you that you have to execute, you have to take care of the football and you have to keep drives alive."
On what Antonio Wimbush has meant to the program
"He's been a young man that has grown tremendously, not only in football but in academics. He's become a leader, the quiet leader, of this football team. Wimbo is a great kid and you want to see great things happen for him. He's a guy that we've mentioned before, he makes other people around him better, that's what you look for in football players.
On one or two areas he'd like to see improvement
"Well, we had one turnover that was pretty big, and that's just an execution deal. That's not any more than executing what you've got called and executing it properly, and not trying to make too much out of it. Definitely need to make sure we've got the adjustments made on field goal protection and PAT's. I told our kids for the next three weeks we're going to have people try to block a PAT or a field goal, because they got it on video. It'll take a three-week span to get that out of you. So, we've gone back and approached those areas. We've also approached on defense, coverage wise, where we are on the field. You've got your back to the wall right there, you've got to tighten it down a little more, that was one area we had a concern, so we went back and spent more time on red zone defense, red zone offense taking care of that, trying to make those corrections. We want those kids to understand that, not only did we have a great win but what could have been. What it could have been. You take out a few errors. I was very pleased with the few (amount) of penalties. And hopefully we can keep making improvement and eliminate some of those. If you play a game of football, especially early on in the season, you can eliminate penalties, you can take care of the football, you can improve each week execution wise, you have a chance to get better.
On how Derrick Evans builds on his West Florida performance for Wingate
"That's the great part of watching a quarterback in an option offense, he can always get better. He can do a better job in reads, he can do a better job in execution of the offense. No question about it, he sees those things. As far as his ability to make plays, yes, we want him to make plays and understand that you make plays, but you make sure you give yourself a chance to execute what's been called first. Don't bail out of something too quick. Don't change direction too quick. Make sure that you're giving everything a complete sell out of executing that, then go make a play.
On how many targets Braxton Westfield is in line to receive and throwing more
"We need to be targeting him more obviously, he and the other kids are out there, Romain (Kelly) and those guys, those guys are playmakers. I told Adam (Cavalier, voice of the Eagles) last Thursday night we need to be throwing more and we will. We're going to, that is part of the plan. We did get in the second half of that game and especially in the fourth quarter and want to take care of the clock and use up as much clock as we did and that part was great because our kids executed and got it down inside the 10-yard line. So, yeah we do (want to throw more), those guys are playmakers and the only way they can make plays is by having the football in their hand."
On finding offensive balance
"I think the number one thing you do is you do what you do to win the ball game. And I'm so grateful we've got kids on this football team that showed last Thursday night how to play a football game and play hard, play together and play unselfishly. I think the number one thing you do is, number one you win the football game. That makes everybody happy. I've watched a lot of games in this country this year already where there weren't enough footballs to go around for everybody, then you've got problems. But our kids understand that we want to be more balanced with that part, especially on a first down situation, and put ourselves in a better position."
On the defensive line's performance in Week One
"I thought those guys did a really good job of stepping in and the reason why they were able to step up is because they got plenty of reps in camp. We had some defensive lineman and some offensive lineman that maybe didn't get as many reps in game prior to that, but they sure got plenty of practice time. And they got that practice time in a full-speed mode and going wide open, so it was good for us."
How Wingate's running backs differ and assessing the offense
"I think they're both explosive players. They're like most football teams like us, they want to run the football first. They would like to pound on you, hit it in there between the tackles and they've got size up front to make that happen, they can swallow you up on the zone plays and the power plays if you're not careful. But they want to run the football. Their quarterback is back (returning starter) which means he's a year experienced and he's much better operating the offense right now. And gosh, those guys they have at receiver, they are big playmakers, so they're a handful to get ready. They use so many sets, formation sets and personnel changes in there that keep you on your toes."
On limiting Wingate receiver BJ Muckelvene's production
"Keep the ball out of his hands, in kicking situations, when they're on offense do the best you can. You have to pressure the quarterback to get the ball out of his hands fast because that young man is a player. He makes things happen. He's a guy that you better have accounted for in every situation. If he's catching a punt, you better figure out a way for him to go chase it or kick it out of bounds."