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Sept. 27, 2010

Dave Wannstedt Press Conference
September 27, 2010
FIU Week              


Opening Statement:

“The first thing I thought we would mention is the injury situation. Greg Romeus, as everyone knows, is progressing week-to-week. There’s nothing new to report there. Dan Mason is hopeful to get out of the hospital today. The plan is to try and have surgery by the end of the week. Once the surgery is complete, we’re optimistic that there will be a full recovery. Dan (Mason) is eligible for a redshirt being that he played last year (as a freshman), so he would fall into that category. He would be redshirted and we would bring him back next year.


“With his injury, we will line up the way we started last week with Max Gruder moving inside to the middle linebacker spot, permanently now, and Tristan Roberts moving to the weak-side linebacker. From a depth standpoint it would be the three guys that started against Miami. In addition, you’re looking at Shane Gordon; you’re looking at Kevin Adams, Carl Fleming and Joe Trebitz. If need be, we’d move one of those guys up. From an injury standpoint, that’s really the only thing to report at this time.


“We’re going to make a lineup change in the offensive line. I hate to make a change in one position when we’re struggling as a group. It’s not an indication that it is one individual or one position. When you don’t win a game, when you get beat like we did on Thursday, as I told the players, as a coach you have a tendency to look at everything under the microscope a lot closer after a loss than you do after a win.


“We’ve been talking about our offensive line, and if there is anything we can do to make it better. Has there been an in individual or two individuals who have been working hard and deserve an opportunity to get out there and play? Jordan Gibbs would fall into that category. The change would be that Lucas Nix moves from right tackle to right guard, and Jordan Gibbs, who has been our swing tackle behind Jason Pinkston and Lucas (Nix), will get the start this week at right tackle. We’ll go from there. That would be the change.


“Other than that, the attitude and focus was good with our players the past couple of days. I expect it to be a very serious week, a very focused week. I think our older guys have done a great job stepping up the last couple of days and making it real apparent to everybody that we have a lot of work left to do, but we also have a lot of upside and a lot of football left to play.”



On Jordan Gibbs:

“They (offensive line) don’t get as many practice reps, and that makes it a little more difficult because it is practice. However, you can still evaluate the mental mistakes. Does the guy understand what we’re doing? You can evaluate everyday, which we are, his production. That’s what we’re doing. How is he practicing? Is he making his blocks at practice? Jordan has been around here. He’s been in the system for three years, so it’s not like we’re penciling in a freshman. He’s a veteran guy.


“He was a tight end when we recruited him here. He was a very good basketball player; he was a 1,000-point scorer in high school, so that shows his athleticism to be able to do that. Like I said, he’s been here through the tough times, he’s stayed with the program, he’s competed and he’s gotten better the last few weeks. He didn’t hang his head in training camp when he wasn’t named a starter, so he deserves a chance. He’s probably a little more athletic than what people give him credit for


“In terms of run blocking he brings size, strength and explosion. He’s a big guy, about 6-6, 315. He brings some size to our team.”



On the offensive line:

“It wasn’t one individual. We want to take a look at this lineup and see if this doesn’t give us the best five at this time.”


On Lucas Nix at guard:

“He has actually had a couple of reps at guard. The last couple of weeks Tony Wise has been mixing him in at guard, not a lot. If you talk to most tackles that get moved inside to guard, they’ll tell you you’re in a box now. It’s a little easier from a pass protection standpoint because you have help on both sides.


“The biggest adjustment is with some of our plays: our sweeps, our screens, our powers, the guard has to do some pulling, and if the guy is not athletic enough then it wouldn’t work. In Lucas’ case he’s one of the better athletes that we have on the offensive line behind Jason (Pinkston).”



On finding the right fit for the offensive line:

“Our focus is to find the best five. We’re looking to see who is making progress. As we evaluate all our players right now, we sit back and examine everything.


“We’ve had some serious heart-to-heart conversations with some players. Let’s watch the tape: who is producing? Who is getting the job done when the lights come on? That’s the point that we’re at right now with everyone. We have to be very honest about it and play the best players that will give us the chance to win at this point.”



On Lucas Nix’s transition to guard:

“He was doing fine at right tackle. Because of his athletic ability and his intelligence, we are very confident that he will be able to make that transition and will be able to make us better. If we didn’t think that we could improve, we wouldn’t have made the move.”



On options for the offensive line:

“Ryan Turnley has been hurt off and on. He’s never had a month where he’s been healthy enough. He played most of the New Hampshire game when Chris Jacobson got hurt.


“We’d like to get Jack Lippert some playing time. Center is not a position that you can rotate guys in-and-out because of the rhythm with the quarterback and the snap count. You really would be hurting your team more than helping them by doing that. Jack (Lippert) is a guy that we would like to give more work.”



On Dan Mason’s injury:

“There is some ligament damage. How much, and to what extent we won’t know until they go in there and make the final diagnosis after surgery. He’s out for the year. He’ll definitely be redshirted.”



On Shane Gordon and the young linebackers:

“Shane Gordon is the guy. With Dan Mason being demoted to second team last week, Shane (Gordon) was working at the outside linebacker position, and he did a good job. He would be the first guy probably in at any of the three spots.


“We really like those young kids. They have some good upside for our team. Kevin Adams is going to be a good player for us.”



On Dom DeCicco:

“We talked about the possibility of him being a nickel back, or a Will linebacker. If we were playing Miami again tomorrow, he would be a safety. If we were playing a spread team, he gives you the flexibility that you need, kind of like Elijah Fields was last year. They’re both guys that could line up on the spot and bring something to the table from a coverage standpoint in addition to his physicality going against the run.”


On run blocking and the tight ends:

“That’s an area the offensive line, and every position on offense, that we need to improve on. It’s probably a position that goes, not unnoticed, but is taken for granted when you’re running your power game, and you’re running your toss sweeps and your stretch game. The point man there is really your tight end.


“That happened when we had the third down and three on the goal line. We have a wing, we run a power, and their defensive end gets penetration up the field, up and under our tight end. Was it a mistake mentally? No. It was a physical thing.


“Mike Cruz is probably 230-235 pounds right now, Nate Byham was 260, a strong 260 pounds, and he handled most defensive ends when he lined up against them. Now he’s doing it on Sundays. That is something from a coaching standpoint where you have your plays that you believe in, you know are good plays and then you have to think what can you do? It looks good on the board and sounds good in the clinic, but if we can’t do it, then we’re wasting our time.”



On opposing teams overplaying the run:

“I think that until we start becoming more consistent in the passing game, they’re going to overplay the run. I think that as we become more consistent in the passing game that will force people to back out of there a little bit.


“It’s interesting because if you look at some of the numbers, you wonder where’s Jon Baldwin? Then you think that we have to get the ball to Jon (Baldwin) more, and we know that. But the actuality is that he didn’t have a touchdown at this point last year, now he already has two. He has the same amount of catches now, and last year he had 220 yards. This year he has 197 yards, so his yardage is about the same in the first three games. You look at that, and yes we have to get him the ball more, but I think it’s more execution right now.


“We’re going through some growing pains with the quarterback now. Looking at what he can do, what he can’t do. We have played two pretty good defenses in Utah and Miami, where you didn’t have a couple of cushion games to build your confidence. Against those teams there’s not going to be that cushion because of their athletic ability, because of the pressure that they bring, but also because there’s not going to be a lot of room in there to make throws. It’s not going to be open to the point where someone can say, “I can catch the ball.” That whole thing happened at a fast pace, and it has been a challenge. We have to get a lot better there. Tino Sunseri knows it, we’re addressing it and we’re trying to do some things to help that situation. I believe that we will get it done.”



On Tino Sunseri’s confidence:

“I think the more repetitions that we do, the more confident he will become. You have to have enough in the game plan to go out and score enough points. If they play this coverage, we have to go out there and be able to do this. You can’t cut your game plan down to where you don’t have enough in the bag to attack a person, but I think we can try to trim it some. Where we go into it and don’t have anything extra that we don’t feel we’re going to need, that helps. Watching the tape, that’s how we judge if a player really gets it. If you played a certain way you watch it on tape, the corrections are made, and now we expect to see change, we expect to see improvement. I believe that will happen.


“I think Thursday night was a different game for him from the standpoint of pressure and coverage, and I believe that he will benefit from that.


“At times receivers were open for him, but I think it’s more of just being comfortable and being 100 percent sure exactly what we’re doing and getting the ball out quick. It’s all those things that go into having a successful passing game.”



On turnovers in the return game:

“We chart everyday from the start of training camp to today when we practice. Pre-practice everything we do is with our punt returners and our kick returners. How many catches are they getting? Are they fair catching the ball? Are they letting it hit the ground? Are they making the catch? Are they dropping the ball?


“Cameron Saddler has been outstanding. Since August there might have been five balls that have hit the ground. He’s been very, very good. He’s been very conscientious about it. He’s made good decisions out there. We didn’t handle it (against Miami), and it was a big play obviously. I have all the confidence in the world in Cam. He’ll bounce back and have a big day.”



On the young players on the defensive line:

“They’re all making progress. I’m pleased with all of them. T.J. Clemmings played better. He was more effective and played better for his first outing more than what we had anticipated. We weren’t sure how much, or even if we were going to get him in the rotation. And in the first quarter he was in the game. He’s going to be a heck of a player.


“Aaron Donald was one guy that made so many plays in camp that we had to play him some. Tyrone Ezell is probably the one guy that had a very good spring. He gained a bunch of weight then, reported at 300 pounds, and he’s back down to about 280. He’s lost about 20 pounds since training camp. It looks like he has some of his quickness back. It’s just a matter of getting him into the mix a little bit now.”



On Buddy Jackson’s penalty in the Miami game:

“I basically told him that you can’t do that. Buddy Jackson was doing so many good things: he was covering kicks, he’s one of the best hold-up guys that we have on both our press and double-press. He’s contributing more to our team now than he ever has, and those types of penalties are killers. You can’t do that. I just reminded him of that.”



On Jason Hendricks and K’Waun Williams on the secondary:

“K’Waun Williams didn’t get a whole lot of playing time just because of the situation (against Miami). Jason Hendricks is someone we’re very pleased with. He had shoulder surgery a year ago and was redshirted, so he was not a guy that even had a chance to be evaluated at practice this time a year ago. He was doing all this rehab work with Buddy Morris, and was not allowed to be out there this spring. He had no in-season practice last year, no spring practice. He shows up this fall, and all of a sudden Andrew Taglianetti gets banged up and Dom gets banged up and he’s in the mix. I’m very pleased with Jason. He’s going to be a great player for us.”



On Andrew Taglianetti:

“I think he’s about ready to go. He did more yesterday from a defensive standpoint than he has done since August. He came in this morning and said that he felt great, so that was a real positive step for him. We really need him. We need him on special teams. He brings some depth.


“The other guy that has never played defense before this year is Kolby Gray. He does something every day in practice. He’s obviously a redshirt freshman, recruited here as a quarterback, and he’s making plays right now on special teams. He gives a phenomenal effort and is really committed to what we are doing. He’s going to be a good player down the road. We have two redshirt freshmen back there. It’s encouraging for the future.”



On FIU head coach Mario Cristobal:

“He was a freshman, and we redshirted him when he came in (at Miami). Obviously I knew who he was, but I did not have direct dealings with him. Tony Wise actually coached him. I know that he was one of those recruits that was around the program all the time, right there in our back yard, I believe from Columbus High School right there. He committed to us early. He was the type of player that had the right attitude to continue on with the tradition. He’s done a good job there. If you look at their players, they’ve created a unique program. They’re a little bit like South Florida, at least how South Florida used to be when they got started.


“They have a lot of talent on their team from a lot of different avenues. The three games that they have lost, it’s been by an average of eight points a game.


“They have good athletes. I’m sure they feel like they have been very close, and legitimately they have. We’re going to have to come out ready to play, and ready to play well.”



On ensuring the team’s focus this week:

“Because of the result last week, our guys right now, there is disappointment, there’s anger and there’s focus on getting the ship going in the right direction again. There’s no one in our locker room having a letdown right now. We have to win some games.”

Meet the Press: FIU Week

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