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Oct. 18, 2010

Dave Wannstedt Press Conference

October 18, 2010

Rutgers Week


Opening Statement:


"Before we get into the press conference, I would like to say something about the unfortunate tragedy they had at Rutgers. A very unfortunate injury. I corresponded with Head Coach Greg Schiano. From our team, our thoughts and prayers are with Eric LeGrand and we're hopeful that he'll make a speedy recovery. 


"From our standpoint, I first should recognize Dan Hutchins for being the Big East Special Teams Player of the Week. A lot of times, things happen on special teams. If you kick the game winning field goal or return a punt or a kickoff for a touchdown, those are the type of plays that get recognized. When you're a punter and a kicker like Hutchins, his punts have good hang-time and his directional kicking is great, those things go unnoticed by the public. But in the big picture of winning games, hidden yardage is important as anything we do on offense or defense. It's a great honor for Hutchins and for our team to get recognized in that performance last week.


"Recapping last week's game, the most encouraging thing other than the win was to see some players step up into roles that we've been counting on. Tristan Roberts had an outstanding game at linebacker, he made some really nice plays. Devin Street made some really big plays on offense. I was pleased with Cameron Saddler and how he bounced back from Notre Dame. Being in a tougher environment, being in the Carrier Dome, he handled the ball and made some good decisions. There are a number of guys that continue to make progress, like Tino Sunseri. He's making good decisions but the most encouraging thing to me is that he's protecting the football. He's getting the ball out quick under a lot of pressure and he's not forcing it. When you can come out of the game and not have any turnovers, we're going to have a chance to win every week. It was great to see Ricky Gary coming up with a big play. We played a few young players. Aaron Donald made a couple plays and T.J. Clemmings was in there for awhile. Right now, we have a nice mix going on with some of the veterans and the young players. Dom DeCicco was our defensive player of the week. He played both safety and nickel back and he played as good as he has has all year.


"It was a good win, no doubt, a good conference win that we needed desperately. Now we move onto Rutgers, which presents a completely different challenge. On offense, they're a spread team, they throw the ball around the field and they run the Wildcat. They have a pressure defense. They do a lot of movement upfront and they're very good on special teams. This will be different for us and we'll have to pick our game up another notch."



On eliminating turnovers and penalties at Syracuse:


"For turnovers, definitely. But our penalties, I was not happy with them in the second half. I did like how the offensive line didn't have a procedure penalty, especially playing under the circumstances. That was big. On Thursday, we practiced indoors, turned up the noise and prepared for it.  Coming out of that practice, we were pretty clean and our guys felt pretty confident. We were able to go in there and execute our plays and not have any problems."



On changing the starting lineup at certain positions at Syracuse:


"We're going to put the best players on the field that give us the best chance to win. That's the objective. Every week, we're only as good as our last game as a team. As a player, you're only as good as your last performance. We need to go out and prove ourselves every week."



On Rutgers coach Greg Schiano dealing with his player's injury:


"I know Greg personally and as a coach, and you feel as if your players are your kids and you feel that responsibility to protect them. So, I'm sure he's doing everything possible in order to help out in any way they he can."



On the linebacker position:


"Tristan Roberts, Max Gruder and Greg Williams are our three starting linebackers. Shane Gordon got some playing time last week. He's the fourth guy at any spot. He'd be the first guy off the bench. The key is having four guys ready to play.  You hate to do it if you don't have to, but it's great to get those young kids in there.  (Gordon) being a redshirt freshman, down the line it will pay dividends for us."



On Buddy Jackson's contributions:


"He is a really good special teams player. He's taken on that challenge. I think of Nate Nix, who is our special teams captain. He ends up with the most production points. At some point two years ago he was alternating at linebacker and decided that the way he's going to make a difference on this team is on special teams. That's the situation with Buddy Jackson. He's involved with some of our packages and he can go in at cornerback if need be, but I'm very encouraged that he's become a dependable player on special teams. He's always had great ability. He's gaining consistency."



On the deep passing game:


"It needs work. We really haven't hit the deep balls like we did last year with (Jon) Baldwin and former tight end Dorin Dickerson. Some of it is coverage, some of it's the throws, some of it's timing. The throw he (Tino) had on Saturday, he had pressure in his face and he let the ball go a second or two sooner than what he should have. It will come. We just need to keep doing it and working on it. Coach Frank Cignetti has addressed it and it's something we know we need to work on and we're improving on it."



On the offensive line's progress:


"I think it's like the quarterback position as well as a few other positions on the team -- we've taken a few steps forward. Syracuse brought quite a bit of pressure and our guys did a good job of handling it. Next week will be more difficult. The guy that's forced to make the biggest adjustment is Lucas Nix, especially with the run game because we do so much pulling with the guards with the sweeps and screens and on the power play. For three years he's had someone line up right at his nose. He's been forced to adjust and every week you see him making decisions on the move and that's the key. Syracuse was very physical up front and that was our biggest challenge."



On Rutgers' defense:


"They're the top defense in the conference in almost every category along with West Virginia. They take a lot of pride in their defense and making big plays with the scheme they use. Last week, we saw a 4-3 physical defense. This week they're moving, they're twisting and they're firing guys, so it's more of a combination. Nobody will force the blitzing issue as much as Rutgers will. If you look at their team, three of their wins came in the fourth quarter with their defense making big plays and turnovers, giving them the opportunity to win. We need to focus on protecting the ball and this will be a 60-minute game. 



On the win at Syracuse:


"I hate to say it was a must win, but we needed to get a good start to this conference race. I would put it as we started off on the right foot."


Meet the Press: Coach Wannstedt Previews Rutgers

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