Thursday Press Conference Transcript - Hawkeye Sports Official Athletic Site
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Thursday Press Conference Transcript
Ferentz, Norm, O'Keefe speak to the media
Defensive coordinator Norm Parker answered questions from the media Thursday at the weekly press conference.
Defensive coordinator Norm Parker answered questions from the media Thursday at the weekly press conference.
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Sept. 29, 2011

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COACH FERENTZ: Welcome. Make my comments brief and get out of the way. Hope it went well on Tuesday. A lot of those guys have class conflicts so welcome to our world on that one. Hopefully we can work on that and it was helpful to some degree.

Give you a quick medical update. Brad Rogers and Nolan MacMillan both are working back a little bit right now on a very limited basis but at least we have them back on the field and that's a positive for us. Happy to see those guys getting back in and getting some work.

B.J. Lowery, on the other hand, we got bad news there Tuesday morning. We are looking at least two to three more weeks with him, including this week still, and we'll take that a week at a time and see how that goes. Nothing has changed outside of that. Obviously Shane DiBona, Mika'il Mcall and Dakota Getz are all out basically for the season.

So everybody else should be okay and they are moving forward. And the only other thing that's happened, we took some time as a staff and just talked a lot of things out. And I think we are kind of in the position right now, I think we'll probably go about 50 percent blitz the rest of the season, 100 percent no huddle. That's about what we have come up with. (Laughter.) That's what we have come up with over the last couple of days here.

Other than that, we have been playing cards and some of the guys have been out golfing and stuff like that.

Q. Rogers, is he cleared medically?

COACH FERENTZ: He's clear. He's missed so much time basically. He's been out since prior to Christmas or right out before Christmas. So the big thing right now, both inaudible he's missed so much work of all types, whether it be strength conditioning, needless to say, and it's just a matter of how quickly they can really get caught up and get back with everybody without putting themselves in danger of blowing out a hamstring or something like that.

Q. Canzeri, do you expect to play any other freshmen?

COACH FERENTZ: We'll take it a week at a time. Canzeri's situation, we kind of saw that coming during the week. Quinton Alston, you know, we made that decision; at least if we thought we had the opportunity, we might put him in there, as well. So those two guys, you never know, really it depends on the progress that the first year guys make that are being red shirted right now, if some of them start toe merge, which Jordan, just kept impressing us and Quinton the same way. If a situation arises that think they can help us, we are going to put them in there. As long as they are agreeable to it, they have got a vote on that, also.

Q. Is McCall done for the year or

COACH FERENTZ: Outside chance maybe in November, but mentally we have to assume that he's not going to make it back. I think given the position he plays, it's probably unrealistic. But you never know. People heal different times, and if he were able to come back in November we might have a decision to make. We may not, either. We'll see what happens.

Q. Eric Guthrie, was he a surprise or did you see that in the four years building up to this point?

COACH FERENTZ: We talked a lot about Jordan Bernstine, Tom Nardo, certainly two great stories certainly on defense for us.

Eric is probably not quite the same but similar in that I think probably a year ago we started feeling pretty good about the way he was coming on, even in the spring, that this was going to unfold the way it has.

In Eric's case, we anticipated him doing well. He really worked his way up the ladder and he climbed a lot of rungs. He came from a long way out, real credit to him, he's worked extremely hard and very conscientious.

Three years ago, I would have said no way but that's not saying anything about college football. You just never know what stories are going to emerge. He's certainly a good one.

Q. Do you sense that Vandenberg is more comfortable under center or in the shotgun?

COACH FERENTZ: He seems to be pretty comfortable in both spots which is good. That's a real positive. Coincidentally, they both played in the All Star Game together, the Shrine Bowl together, after their senior years. And that was a change for both of them, because James the center was not a center in high school, and James the quarterback was a shotgun. And in that Shrine Bowl game, he played, he was under center, James was. So they got a jump on their connection, if you will.

And I was really impressed with James Vandenberg. I was allowed to go to the game because I was a parent. Just the way he got out underneath center, all of those things, these run and shoot quarterbacks like in the NFL teams, it's interesting. And center is the same way.

We had a guy when I was in Baltimore that we drafted out of Florida that dawned on us a week into camp that, hey, this guy never snaps to a quarterback under center. So we had to teach him how to snap. He was good in the shotgun but could not snap to a guy under center, which I never thought about that one, but did after that. So it was interesting.

Q. Is there any room for Canzeri to expand his role? You want keep things limited for a guy

COACH FERENTZ: Not necessarily. Marcus is our No. 1 running back that's for sure and I think Jason White has got a really nice role carved out and we feel pretty comfortable with how he's being used and after that it's wide open.

I know this: We have got eight very tough teams ahead of us and we are going to need everybody all of the help we can get at all positions and Jordan, he has really elevated himself a little bit in this equation.

One of our concerns was his size and one of those first one runs, one guy came up to him at the line and he kept going. I thought he looked really good out there.

Q. I know you talked last year about how you found him.

COACH FERENTZ: It's a little bit like the Mike Daniels story. Not sure how the tape got to our place but it was in January certainly. Looked at it, looked like a pretty good player, and then got up that's about when Woodhead started tearing up the NFL. I'm not saying he's a Woodhead; we have got a lot of ground to cover to get there.

I assume he was being overlooked. At least in our minds he was being overlooked because of his side. He looked like a really good, productive player and a tough, hard nose guy on film.

So we liked the film. We believed what we saw and just started the conversation and I can tell you exactly where I was I think when we first kind of made contact. I was down in Dallas with Eric Campbell that day. That's when it all got heated up, probably late-January, mid-January. Hopefully we have had some luck in January historically, guys like Reisner, Elgin, we have had some pretty good guys.

Q. Three games into the season, some people are trying to connect the dots; where do you stand where does the NFL stuff land on you?

COACH FERENTZ: It doesn't. I've been here, what, 13 years. And, you know, all I'm focused on are these eight games right now. There are a few guys that have been around a lot longer than I have that certainly get up a little bit. I think that's a good thing.

Q. Have you had a chance to call Nate Kaeding and Bob Sanders?

COACH FERENTZ: They are both on my list actually, and Bob just got added on to it. But I've been carrying Nate's number. I'm not good during the season by the time I go to bed tomorrow night I'm hoping to talk to both guys and just I saw them both this summer. It's awful. Nate's first play of the season, and I just read in the paper a day or two ago about Bob being inactive last week with a knee and obviously yesterday he's on IR. It's a shame. They are both brought in a couple NFL people this year have been through here. The neatest thing is these guys don't change, Dallas Clark, they don't change. They are the same guys they were when they played here, good people. So it's just tough to see that.

Q. And A.J. landing with the Colts?

COACH FERENTZ: I'm not surprised. A.J. will make it in the NFL. Matter of finding a good home. He's a National Football League player, there's no question in my mind about that. It's just a matter of getting the right place, the right time and probably won't be playing middle linebacker. Looked like he made every tackle the other night, watching that, what a performance that was. You have to watch a little pro football finally.

What a good defensive game that was. Unbelievable.

Q. This week looks like the veteran guys had plain workouts and looks like you are working developmental pretty hard, the redshirt and all that. Has anybody surprised I know they leave your view a little bit.

COACH FERENTZ: It's a little bit like we treat this a little bit like early December where we really get a chance to because if you think about it, those guys really not that they don't do anything on Saturdays, but they are not doing a lot on Saturdays typically.

So it's a chance to really get them caught up a little bit and the guys that have been doing the heavy work on Saturdays, we try to rest them a little bit and give them a chance to feel the bumps and bruises.

And then most importantly we have a tough eight game stretch coming here and hopefully we'll have some gas in our tanks in November. But it gives us exposure to younger guys and we sneak those moments in during September. That's part of the getting a little bit better, gave us confidence we could put him in there the same way. It's a pretty ongoing process for us. It's not like we have is got a three deep out there lined up. Still one of those things we just try to keep more and more about our guys as we go along.

Q. Has anybody made the jump, you talked about Canzeri, I don't know if he goes from that to that.

COACH FERENTZ: We have got a couple of guys here making positive strides and it gives us a chance to move guys around a little bit, too, playing guys in a couple of positions. Just if we incur some challenges depth wise, it gives guys a chance if they end up having to slide to another position a little bit later on during the year, at least it won't be totally new to them or foreign at that point.

Q. A few guys

COACH FERENTZ: Linebackers, offensive line, D backs, give them a little cross training. It's a good thing.

Q. Will you watch any games on Saturday?

COACH FERENTZ: I guess if you're alive in the Midwest, the game in Madison, I assume it's a night game. I'm sure I'll peek at that a little bit. I haven't gotten that far yet. I've got an engagement nine o'clock Saturday morning. Outside of that, we'll see what happens here on campus and go from there, which I'm very pleased to be involved in.

I mean, we have had some outstanding people here. Think about the physics department, the hospital across the street, across campus, we have some great stories. So really pleased to be invited to be part of that.

Q. Do your assistants get out recruiting?

COACH FERENTZ: We'll go to a couple of places tomorrow night. What we try to do is spend some time on film here. It's really hard to quantify how it is give you examples of places I've been and guys have been somewhere else like two days later.

So there's no way to really know. I know we can't be everywhere so we have tried to really maximize our time here. We'll be in a couple of spots tomorrow.

Q. What did you like so far that you've seen on tape of the defense the first four games?

COACH PARKER: Really, if you went week by week, I think we played the first week, Tennessee Tech, they were hard to defend. And I think we played well. Then I don't think we made much progress from the first week to the second week. But then from the second week to the Pitt game, I think we made a lot of progress and from the Pitt game to this game last week, I think we made a lot of progress again.

So I see a young defense that's sort of learning and getting better and feel pretty good about it that way.

Q. You made a lot of changes from week two to week three after Iowa State. Is that stuff that you saw from the guys or simply that game?

COACH PARKER: We were at the beginning, we went around back there with the safety and free safety and then the Iowa State game, Bernstine was sick. He was not even allowed to play in the game. So that hurt.

When he came back, and he's done an incredible job of turning his attention and his zest for the game around, and he's really become, from being a very insignificant leader to maybe the leader of the defense.

The guy has done a heck of a job just if you took an individual story. He's really, really done a great job being a leader. He's a smart guy. He always was, you know, the people you saw asking the question, where's Bernstine, where's Bernstine, and he always was that guy; could of been, should of been, never was. Then all of a sudden, like sort of a light switch, turn it on, and he's really done well for himself and well for the team, and it's a good story. He's really done well.

Q. Is it sort of you're discovering a lot about a lot of new guys imagine. You knew about Tom Nardo, but probably he had 12 tackles last week. You probably found out a lot about new guys.

COACH PARKER: Yeah, and he's getting more comfortable with the position. When you play lin your first game, when you're really a starter for the first time, you burn so much up, energy before the game and all that kind of stuff that it's hard to play good until you settle down and get used to playing, get used to playing. I'm sure that some of those young guys, they burn up so much energy before the game just worrying about everything. Kirk (ph) used to be the same way. He's just more relaxed that he's playing a little bit now. I think that's really helped him out.

Q. No huddle offenses, whatever it is, do you recruit differently?

COACH PARKER: The hardest thing about the no huddle offense is in pro football, if you have one group of personnel in the game and you put in another group, you must give the defense time to change personnel.

In other words, you can't go from a bunch of receivers to a bunch of tight ends without allowing the defense to change. In college football, you don't have to give the defense time to change.

So that's what's really happening. It's all of these different personnel groups. They are coming in from the sidelines, but by the time you figure out who is in there, you get stuck with the same guys on the field there's never been a rule that's been made for the defense. Really, defensive coaches sort of think it's not fair. Like pro football, you have to give them time to get their guys in the game.

So I think that's the big advantage of the no huddle is you can't match them up personnel wise. But I don't think you recruit any different. The no huddle, all of that stuff sounds great, but if you go no huddle, one, two, three downs and out, you don't have the ball very long. So that has its drawbacks, too.

But the craze in college football now is all of this no huddle, hurry up, how many plays can you get in and try to wear the defense down. I think it's harder to physically play defense than offense. It just is. People don't believe that but it's harder.

So the more plays they can run at you, the more they can wear you down, the more they can get to you break down mentally, that's the whole thing, how fast can they go. It's fast break basketball. Throw away the shot clock.

Q. Is it harder to adjust when your second and third guys are so young?

COACH PARKER: I don't think that's a big thing. I think you've got to be able to try to get guys in there, and the hard thing, when they get those no huddle offenses is when they get a seven , eight , nine play drive that's boom, boom, boom, and they are shuffling guys in and out and you're trying to match them with the same guys in and out. That's where they start wearing you down a little bit.

Q. We asked him, does he think should have time to set them up the offense?

COACH PARKER: There's never been a rule made for the defense. They like points. Who wants to watch. I think it's a hell of a game. You guys like arena ball, 60 50, that kind of stuff.

Q. The 3 4, what are you trying to accomplish there?

COACH PARKER: Everybody in the world is using all of these passing routes for running people off and dragging the guy underneath. Everybody does that. So what you're doing is you just have another linebacker that when they run guys off you have somebody to pick up those shells, and that's what we try to do.

Q. Is it tougher to teach the younger guys?

COACH PARKER: Really with Nielson going down literally for most of the Iowa State game and all of the last two games, we have been playing with three sophomore linebackers, and linebacker is like any other position, but especially linebacker, defensive back, you have to build up a memory bank. In other words, I've seen that before. Because you can't practice everything.

Some of the things that happen, you have to recall from games in the past, and experiences in the past. And these guys have no memory bank. I mean, everything is brand new. So after three or four games, now James Morris at least they are getting an, oh, I saw that one before. It's not new. It's the same old story, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, I'm the dummy. That's sort of what happened.

If you don't have a memory bank and when you've got young guys, there's no memory bank there. Everything is brand new. I told you it was like taking a bunch of kindergarteners to New York City: Oh, that's a big building. No kidding. So hard to teach them everything, and like when I'll just make an example. When Hodge and Greenway were the linebackers, you could say, remember the way Indiana did this against us two years ago; I got it. I know what this is.

Well, these guys, they have got no 'remember whens.' This is just all new. So you have to learn on the job, learn on the run. And you try to learn on the run and these guys are speeding up the offense, that's not making it any easier either.

Q. Going into the season with Adrian, Christian and Karl were all going to be gone, what has been the message to the young guys? You've had some consistent messages for them what has it been for them?

COACH PARKER: They have to pick it up. It has to be their turn. They have to fill those gaps and you know that realistically, you are not putting that pressure on them. I don't expect the new guy to be Adrian Clayborn, but you have to go out there and be as close to Adrian Clayborn as you can, and then you've got to get better every week. Not only were we young at those linebacker positions, Dominic Alvis had never played before. This guy, before our first game, this guy has never played. So Miller, the free safety, he's never played before. It's all new.

But the thing that is good is they are young, they are eager to learn, they are willing to learn, they are not afraid to say, Coach, I blew it, teach me how to do it. If you criticize them, they have to understand the criticism, it's not them as a person, it's how you play the play. But they don't like you're confronting them personally; okay, I'll try to do it better next time. They can't be more willing than they are. That Iowa State game, the quarterback running around outside, that's elementary football, elementary and we blew it, but it was guys that had never done it before. We put in a couple of drills to try to solve that problem.

Q. The D Line, do you see that improving?

COACH PARKER: Yeah, I see improvement really at every segment. I see the defensive line improving, I see the linebackers improving. I see the secondary improving. I think we can do more things and we can make more adjustments than we could three weeks ago. Three weeks ago if we had to make an adjustment, that was like a major crisis. Now it does not fall into place like dominos but at least it gets closer to falling like dominos.

Q. Coach Ferentz joked about going 50 percent blitz

COACH PARKER: No. It's all down and distance. When in doubt, blitz, I guess. You don't go into a game saying, I'm going to blitz this many times or throw this many passes. You sort of let it unfold.

Q. What do you think of the Big Ten, full of rushing quarterbacks this year?

COACH PARKER: They are single wing tailback. It's like going back to the old days. They run, they pass. Some of them even kick. They are single wing tailbacks. That's who they are. About three or four teams, aren't the leading rushers at quarterback? That's not football. All right. Have a very nice day.

Q. Kirk said 100% no huddle for the rest of the way.

COACH O'KEEFE: (Laughter) doesn't seem like you need to spend much time any more in there, does it.

Q. Down and distance, is that something you practiced in August and you liked?

COACH O'KEEFE: Down and distance?

Q. The 24 and 3 I meant. Sorry.

COACH O'KEEFE: That's, you know, that gives birth to a lot of things. We didn't have much of a choice at that particular point in time. It all came together and we figured some stuff out. We had a few unique preparations that we normally have not had from an offensive standpoint. James has done a great job of keeping his composure and poise. Until we figure it out and once he sees it, he can go to work pretty well.

Q. How much freedom is given in the play calling in those situations, the no huddle situations?

COACH O'KEEFE: Pure two minute, no huddle situation, he has a lot of freedom, an enormous amount of freedom. He knows the packages that we use. He knows the protections we need to be in. He knows the routes, the various coverages that he might be seeing, and it's a lot easier for him out there once he starts seeing it to make adjustments than it is to actually even make it from the sideline. He has enormous freedom there.

Q. Speaking of no huddle Norm said the rules set up offensively to help the spread offense. He thinks the colleges should go to the NFL rule where the defensive guys should have a chance to get out there. What are your thoughts on that?

COACH O'KEEFE: The defensive guys should have a chance to get out where? Well, I think that the defensive guys shouldn't be allowed to touch us after five yards, either. (Laughter) That would change the whole world, right? The rules are what they are and you play by them as best you can, and everybody has their advantages and disadvantages and we spend all of our time trying to exploit them either way. The huddle, I remember years ago, we can only have 11 people we only can have 11 people in the huddle. If we put 12 in there, it's a penalty.

I remember defensive coordinators sending 14 guys into their huddle and I'm trying to figure out, is this nickel or is this you can't tell what's going on here, too.

So everybody has got some things that we can work with. So you're not going to get me to feel sorry for the defense.

Q. With the depth of receivers that you have and the way they are playing, how does that open things up?

COACH O'KEEFE: If you're catching the ball well, if you're protecting well and you're catching the ball well, and your quarterback is giving people a chance, that helps push the tempo, there's no doubt about it. It wouldn't be very good if you were three and out very often. That changes the whole dynamic of things. And usually it changes the way, you know, coaches feel about it. You know, that's what determines what takes place.

Q. Kirk always brings up the fact that you guys have seen him (James) forever in practice and he's pretty much the same kid. You're obviously comfortable giving him as much trust as far as the two minute drill and coming out against Louisiana Monroe in the two minute, too where is his trust level as far as a new starter?

COACH O'KEEFE: We trust him. You know, we feel he knows what he's doing, and he's a very good leader. He can get us where he can communicate what needs to be done and how it needs to be done and he can adjust if he has to. Now, he has not seen every little thing, just like we have not seen certain things at times. People can confuse you with some of your coverages, alignments and things like that, and we try to get that cleaned up on the sideline as best we can and kind of go from there.

But trust isn't an issue. It's just making sure that we don't make something simple, complicated. Which then causes you to be ineffective. That's all there is to it.

Q. How are you seeing the run game right now?

COACH O'KEEFE: Good question. We are in the what were we talking about before, birth or something before? Not birth. But we feel like we are always birthing a new running back somewhere along the line I guess. Marcus obviously second year in the program, is the wily veteran, and now you've got all of these young guys behind him, like Damon Bullock, Canzeri, De'Andre Johnson, guys that have not played a whole lot and every day is a new experience. You know, Lester Erb back in that same position he's been in for the last four years, or he's getting guys ready all the time, brand new guys, they just arrived at the barn and they are just on their feet walking and now we expect a couple of them to start running.

Q. Canzeri surprise you with the burst he showed?

COACH O'KEEFE: I can't say surprised us, but until a guy gets in a live game, a live game situation, practice, you can't ever really tell what's going on. It doesn't ever look the same. Unless it's live and obviously we haven't practiced live since preseason. So we are happy with what we saw. There's no doubt about it, and I think that's what we expected him to be able to do.

Q. When you first saw the tape of him, did you kind of expect that an offer was coming he was a late offer, if I remember right, Canzeri.

COACH O'KEEFE: Very late. There's so many things involved, you try to get in contact with people at the high school obviously that know him and know about him, his high school coach.

You know, try to do your research and your homework that you've done with some players for two or three years, that it might be in state guys and then you have to do that within like a week, I think, or two weeks maybe total with the way that thing went. And then take a couple of other people who are jumping in, trying to jump in at the same time.

You know, it wasn't as easy as it appeared. Once we did make the decision, it just worked out. Great guy, smart guy, picks stuff up fast. Quick learner. Seems like he's pretty hungry right now, so see what happens.

Q. Talk about Zach Derby a little bit.

COACH O'KEEFE: Yeah, the thing that's pushed Zach to where he is right now has been his consistency. You know, whether it's in the run game or the pass game, he doesn't make a lot of mental mistakes, concentration errors, things along those lines. He's very steady and very reliable.

You know, we felt like he really needed that, and that's how he separated himself to become a reliable performer on the field on Saturday. That's been the difference.

Q. Still unsettled at guard at this point?

COACH O'KEEFE: You know, I don't think so. I think the way that it's going right now, you know, it's where we have thought it could be at one point, and you know, we are working - Tobin is in there at this stage and has done a great job. He's a hungry guy and a real player up front and he's giving us some intensity and competitiveness. It's been good for us.

Q. The 24 3 lead dictated the no huddle was the fact that it worked so well, that pushed it the second time around?

COACH O'KEEFE: We kind of liked the tempo. Felt comfortable with the tempo and thought we would come out and take it from there. We had a really because of their defense, we probably went into that game with the most simple game plan we have had in a long time in a lot of ways.

Because it's too hard to prepare too many personnel groups and formation groups against some of the stuff that they were doing, so we just decided to simplify it and let James go to work, and it worked out okay.

Q. Do you feel he is more comfortable back there or in the shotgun?

COACH O'KEEFE: You know, it's a great question. It will be interesting what his answer is right now. I know at one point last year, those guys talked about they were more comfortable under center, at least in blitz pick up situations, because you don't have to look to catch the ball and see the blitz at the same time. You can just get the snap and go.

He's pretty comfortable obviously in the gun to say the least, and I think either way, he does a good job with the speed. He's always in balance for the most part, and getting the ball near guys, at least they have a chance to go make a play, which is the most important thing that you've got to have I think.

Q. Is this the best trio of wide receivers, 13 years in Iowa, is this the best trio you've had? What they are doing, it's not really talked about enough.

COACH O'KEEFE: We have a long way to go in the season. It's amazing how fast, bang, a third of it's already gone. But we have a long way to go still. So what you're talking about, you keep switching back with me if you keep going back in history, to Pitt and then now we are into the future with but the cards, we'll see what happens. We would love to have these guys keep playing the way that they are playing. That's what we expect them to do. It's a long way to go. That question will answer itself if they keep playing like they have been the rest of the way.

Q. Does play of Kevonte make you want to use more three receiver sets?

COACH O'KEEFE: Yeah, we have always we think he's emerged a little bit at this point in time. Just like a young guy that has not played, you guys are looking at one game where, you know, a couple of games, where things were pretty fairly simple.

But you know, there's a guy who first had to learn how and where to line up and then learn what to do if they started blitzing us and things along those lines. That's kind of fallen in there for him, which is good. But yeah, we feel like we can go to that without a problem, and you know, and he has a level of effectiveness now that we really need.

Q. In the spring, you said a lot of the same things how far has he come?

COACH O'KEEFE: Oh, he's come I think his production is an example of how far he's come I think. So if a guy isn't sure about what he's doing, he can't make some of those catches that he made, and you know, for example, the last touchdown catch he had against Pitt, I asked him, did he see the ball.

I said to him, hey, that's great concentration, because I thought he got screened off by that No. 8 I think it was. Would have had a hard time seeing the ball. And he said he saw it all the way, which I'm not sure how he saw it all the way. But that's what he's seeing, and that's how good that's where his concentration level is.

It helps you to operate I think I've said this a bunch before, as well. But now you can operate at full speed, and that's when things really start to happen, when everybody is going full speed. That makes a huge difference.

Q. People don't realize, I don't think, how much when a quarterback comes off the field, and wide receivers, when you ask them, what do you see, how much that triggers things for you. Can you give us an idea of how much it does set the pace for you guys in what you guys do?

COACH O'KEEFE: Usually they come back, they will go to their little area, the bench, and as a staff, we'll talk about some things while the kickoff team or punt team or whatever it is is out there. And then I'll get with the quarterbacks and just run back through the charted plays that we just finished running. We'll talk about each of those plays, good, bad, indifferent, things we could have done different. Things we saw, whatever.

So it's a mutual effort, because those are your eyes. You know, just like I'm seeing all this right here, he's seeing it the same way. Where, a little tougher to see from over there; a little tougher to see from over there where Steve is. He's seeing everything and what I found over the years is, what he's seeing is almost always right. If he's not seeing it right, probably shouldn't be the guy behind the center. But that's normally how it's going and that's what he's doing. That's what allows him to make good decisions.

Q. Your receivers also reacting, reading a route and making a change on the fly like that, or do they have that kind of freedom or are they set in what they do?

COACH O'KEEFE: I think some of the things you're talking about, probably have more to do with adjustments to the ball placement and position of the ball. And that really comes down to body control. And again, it takes some athletic ability but also it certainly helps when you're in sync with the quarterback. But some of this stuff, you know, Keenan and Marvin have done, they have made some pretty tough catches, reaching back or adjusting back, adjusting back to certain things that in certain situations that might be tough for a lot of people to catch. But they are able to come up with that concentration, is great, but a lot of it I think is body control and that flash athletic ability.

Q. Is that something you've been stressing or born out of necessity

COACH O'KEEFE: We were having a tough time getting off the line of scrimmage in a good portion of the Pitt game. And you know, we finally were able to do that, gets them off the line. We started making some plays and part of that I think again is once you start going no huddle, it's hard for the defense to substitute personnel in certain situations, and they probably had their regular defensive guys out there more than they wanted to, and so they probably are a little less likely to take some chances where it's 24 3, it's all about taking chances at that point for us.

So it's a combination I'm pretty sure of all of that. But that's the thing that will help us the most is to get off of jams at the line of scrimmage and get where you're supposed to go, and give the quarterback a chance to get the ball to you somehow, some way.

Q. Marvin, have you ever seen this type of transformation in a position change?

COACH O'KEEFE: So a lot of our guys have come from different positions and from the quarterback position especially. That's one of those old personnel decision making things that happen in high school.

A lot of times your best athletes goes to the quarterback position. The quarterback isn't always capable of making that transition at the college level but they are still good athletes and you can find places for them to fit in.

Marvin just happened to be one of those guys who is very athletic, had Division I basketball scholarship offers. Is a very good baseball player, as well. Great hands. Great hands. And to be perfectly honest with you, I don't think we knew how well he could run in the open field after a catch when he was just playing quarterback.

I never really saw that kind of a thing and then obviously all of the years up here in strength and conditioning, he's really benefitted by those. But he's got a unique set of hands and ability to use them.

Q. Do you look differently towards recruiting high school quarterbacks?

COACH O'KEEFE: You have to do your homework a little bit differently in the fact that you are always college recruiting is not like Moneyball exactly, but the statistics still matter a little bit. Like they are all about on base percentage and slugging percentage I think or whatever from what I remember when I read it. But we are still about efficiency. Like what is the high school quarterbacks touchdown/interception ratio, that can tell you a little bit about his decision making, his passing percentage. The tough part is, you know, everybody wants to have wants to be part of everything, I guess.

You know, like where we are putting it in the quarterback's hands because we think he makes the best decisions. A lot of coaches like calling the plays from the sideline after they see what they think they saw. Just like I don't know how many catchers call pitches for pitches any more, high school or college, which I don't understand. I don't understand that it at all. Maybe even the Major Leagues.

But that part of it, has been taken out, everywhere, to a certain degree. There's been a lot of over management probably. So it's important that we get guys that can make good decisions, are independent thinkers, know how to learn. Those are critical things; that have got something to them; tough, are not going to get too rattled. We are looking at a lot of different things.

You can't not take a guy because he was just in the shotgun the whole time now because everybody is in the shotgun. Even to get snaps of somebody underneath James, I don't know how many snaps he took under the center. I know his grandfather or his dad trained him under the center. But I know their offense was full bore, full go, shotgun offense. Try to look for guys making good decisions, got an active arm and his feet are where they should be.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

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