Bill Lynch Talks with the Media about Eastern Kentucky
Aug. 28, 2009
Head coach Bill Lynch
"I think we've had a very productive camp. I think it was productive because our guys really did their homework in the summer, and they were well prepared when they came. It was a physical camp. We went into it with the idea that we were going to make it physical because we felt like we needed that to become a better football team. I thought our guys really responded well to it.
"The year is broken down into about four parts. You've got your winter program, you've got your spring practice, you've got your summer work when they are on their own and then your preseason camp is when you develop the personality of your football team. I like what I see. We had a few injuries, as you always do in camp, which gave some young guys an opportunity to show themselves. As a result, I think we have more depth going into it. We have a feel for quite a few guys who can play.
"That leads us to Eastern Kentucky in our opener. It really is what I think is one of the good football programs in America. I know they play at the championship level, but I've thought of Eastern Kentucky for years as one of the top programs in what used to be called I-AA every year. In fact, Roy Kidd, who is no longer their coach, was one of the guys in our profession when I grew up in it that I had so much respect for when I heard him talk at clinics and conventions and all that.
"They've had 31 consecutive winning seasons, second only to Florida State. That is pretty impressive. They won their conference a year ago, and they're the preseason pick to win the conference again this year. They've got some outstanding players and a very good scheme. Dean Hood is an outstanding coach. He coached with Jim Grobe at Wake Forest, which is a program I have a lot of respect for. We know we're going to get a well-prepared football team that knows how to win. I think that is a trademark of Eastern Kentucky.
"I do think that going into your opener, you never know everything about who you are playing. You've got to go off the tape from the year before and everything you can pick up off of press releases. I'm sure as they're getting ready for Indiana, they're feeling the same way. They know what we were last year and how we played last year and what they are hearing about us now.
"I think you always are more concerned with yourself going into an opener, that we're as well prepared as we can possibly be in an opening football game. So many time that opening football game comes down to turnovers, mistakes in the kicking game, problems with substitutions and different things that come up in an opener that you can't go over until you play that game.
"Our sport is different than other sports in we don't get that exhibition game. We don't get to make that preseason overseas tour and iron out the kinks. We do it in front of everybody on national television. That is why this week is such an important week for us to make sure that we're prepared for all the things that can happen in a football game and not be caught off guard. I do think the experience of our team and the number of guys we have in the program that have played football will help with that.
"I am excited about what is going to take place in Memorial Stadium on Thursday night as well. I think Fred Glass, Scott Dolson, Pat Kraft and the whole staff have really gone above and beyond to try to create a game day experience that will be fun for everybody. I know that we within our coaching staff and football program have worked hard to get out on campus and make ourselves have a presence out there and certainly encourage the students to come out and be a part of it. I think our fans will really enjoy all that is going to take place. We had a little run-through last night. Pat Kraft did a little run-through with what they're doing. It is going to be different. I know our guys were jacked up about it just going through the practice with the music and everything that is going. I really think it is going to be a fun night."
On the advantage of going into a game without new formations on tape:
"Honestly, I think what they do offensively is a little more out there than what we're going to do. They are a very good spread team, very much like what we've run in the past. We were well-prepared for it in the past because we practiced against it every day. Now, our defense hasn't practiced against it since last season.
"They've got a really good running quarterback, a guy who played receiver a year ago, and they do some things in the spread that our scout team is going to have to do a good job of preparing us for. There are two sides to it. I think they'll have a pretty good idea of what we're doing even though they haven't seen it on tape. Hopefully there is a little bit of an element of surprise to it, which you always have in an opener."
On the running back competition:
"Trea Burgess and Darius Willis are both the bangers, and if we're going to have success running the football, we're going to have to get the tough yards when we need to in those down-and-distance situations. Bryan Payton is pretty darn good, and he gives you something too. Six days away, I would think they are all going to play. I'm not going to promise how many each guy is going to carry, and I don't think we're going to go into it and say each guy is going to get so many touches, but they all deserve to play, and they all will play. They'll all be on special teams. They are a really, really important part of our football team."
On the second string quarterback:
"I will say this, I think Edward Wright-Baker has really performed well the last three or four days, probably from a consistency standpoint. I think Dusty Kiel has done things very well for a freshman. I told him last night, I think he is going to be one heck of a football player. And then, you have Adam Follett, who is a little more experienced in the offense and has done some good things but might not have been as consistent.
"With that being said, if Ed is going to jump to being number two, which we've run him at two quite a bit the past couple of days, then you've got to decide at which point you're going to play him. Same thing with Dusty, if he were a two or a three. And then, you've got to make the decision would you play both of them.
"Quarterback is a little bit different than other positions where if you decide to play a kid and burn a redshirt you can throw him on a bunch of special teams to make sure he is getting game experience. You're probably not going to do that with either one of them. So that is something we're going to have to decide. I think over the course of the last two or three practices, we've run Edward at number two more than Adam. We listed Adam at number two now because I know Adam can go in a game. We've got to decide if that is what we're willing to do.
"That is the good thing about this week is Saturday and Sunday are our key work days, and our kids aren't in school, so we've got a lot more football time than we normally do in a game week. I think by the time we get to Monday then we'll have made a decision on what we're doing. I think Edward has jumped a little bit. Coming off of last night's practice, I think there is a good chance that he is going to be on the depth chart. If I had to make a decision right now, he is not going to play ahead of Ben, but you have to be prepared for if someone has to go into the game."
On the offensive line:
"I think the emergence of James Brewer has been huge with our offensive line. That goes back to the spring, and although he missed some time a week or so ago, he is back at full go, and I think that is huge. I think the consistency of Will Matte has been huge. The center position is critical. He is always the guys that looks like he just doesn't fit size-wise, but he is very talented and tough. He doesn't make mistakes and doesn't get hurt. I think that has been key because you've always got to know who your center is.
"Then, with Justin Pagan getting hurt, I think Marc Damisch has really done a great job because we're without Cody Faulkner, who is a returning starter, so that's where the depth is going to come from. I think Damisch has done a great job and I think the other guy that we feel very good about playing right now is Josh Hager. With all that being said, the leadership of Saxon and Saffold, the emergence of Brewer, the consistency of Matte and the development of Damisch and Hager makes us feel pretty good about the offensive line."
On the starting kicker:
"Field goals aren't automatic, and I think it has been a good lesson for both sides because the offense is taught don't lose yardage and don't turn the ball over because we'll take a field goal. A field goal is not automatic, and those are the pressure situations that our kickers have been in because the defense knows they can keep them out of the end zone and force a field goal, and if the guy misses the field goal, they did their job. Offensively, they're counting on that guy making that field goal if they come up short. Those are the best pressure situations you can get in rather than just kicking against air and charting it, so that has been good.
"Nick Freeland has had a little bit of an advantage because he has been going with the number one snapper and number one holder, and that does make a difference in the timing a rhythm of it. I think Charlie Klingensmith will get some work with the ones where he gets to go with those guys too, but if we were going to run out and play tonight, Freeland would go first. That could change."
On third downs defensively and offensively:
"There are three areas that are always big. First is turnovers. I think offensively our backs have done a great job holding onto the ball in scrimmage situations, game situations, they've done a great job of holding onto the ball. Ben Chappell has been very good about not throwing it to the other team, so that is obviously huge. Then you worry about defense, you've got to create more turnovers. If they're knocking the ball loose out of our number one running back then that is a concern.
"The conversion downs, we weren't very good on either side of the ball last year, and that has been a point of emphasis from spring on. I've always felt like in coaching you get what you emphasize. We have emphasized conversion downs. I think from an offensive standpoint the key is we've got to get into those third-and-shorts. We were in a lot of third-and-longs last year. We had some yards and numbers in running the football, but a lot of it was distorted by long runs and then you play with the statistics that way. Our running efficiency wasn't that great, but Marcus Thigpen was able to run 75 yards or something, and that would skew the stat. I think that is going to help us offensively. Defensively, I don't think there is any question that it is the exact opposite. We have to get them into third-and-long. If we can get them into third-and-long, then we can let Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton go, and I think that is probably one of the big things that hurt Greg last year was we weren't in third-and-long enough. That is when he can go. If you're constantly in third-and-two or third-and-three, you're not rushing the passer. We've got to get into the third-and-shorts offensively and third-and-longs defensively. That has been a real point of emphasis. And, I think our statistics will improve.
"The other thing is redzone. We've got to do a much better job in the redzone of scoring touchdowns. We can't settle for field goals, because we found out last year that if you settle for field goals, you don't always hit the field goals. Our field goal percentage wasn't very good in some very makeable situations. On the other side of it, the defense needs to force field goals and not give up the touchdowns. That has been a point of emphasis the entire offseason and through camp."
On true freshmen that might play other than Wright-Baker:
On the defensive tackles:
"The three young kids, meaning the redshirt freshmen, all are very talented, Mick Mentzer, Larry Black Jr. and Nicholas Sliger. Black has made great progress in camp, where Mentzer and Sliger did it in the spring. And then, Replogle came in and is just like them. They walk into the room, their body types are all pretty similar. Jarrod is too, you can just tell he is bigger and stronger because he is three years older. That has been a big boost. All and all I think it has been a really good group inside."
On team captains:
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