Head Coach Bob
Davie has his teams
sights set high this season.
A Chat with Football's Coach Davie
An in-depth anaylsis of the Irish gridiron.
October 27, 1998
BOB DAVIE: This team is able to keep its eye on the target. We're not usually influenced by outside side issues. I think that's really important. They realize it doesn't matter how many points that you're favored to win by. That is of no factor. They realize right now in college football, every week you go out there, you're going to have to play an entire. . . (inaudible). . . hard core you've got to win in college football. I think because they understand that. They don't panic. Things aren't going as well as maybe what someone on the outside could see.
I think they also realize that it doesn't matter if outside opinion, because we're now a 5-1 football team, automatically -- they realize that the people that think shouldn't lose probably those who think (inaudible) I think the bottom line is keep your eye on the target don't complicate things, don't get caught up in the hype. Really, we have a simple goal and that is to take care of the things -- we need to improve and find a way to beat the opponent. Third thing you have to realize about the that football season is you have to execute every week. You have to play your best every week. (Inaudible). (Technical adjustment made) Tackling a little bit better. Looking back, I think the one disappointment, we need more depth at our linebacker position, particularly our inside linebacker position. We would hope that would be a strength going into the season but Bobby Howard and Jimmy Friday played every snap of the game against Army. Because of the little injuries, Tyreo Harrison and Ronnie Nicks goes on.
So I think we need to get more depth at that position, and hopefully we are a little bit healthier and hopefully we can play more players with the inside lineback position. But I am pleased with our defense. We've got a long way to go to be dominant but we are improving.
Kicking game, we've really been pleased with out kickers. Our punter, you know, we've had some problems in the punting game. He continues to be outstanding. Jim Sanson our kicker, going back to that first press conference is another concern we had. He's proved out that he can really have a solid season so far. Our kickoff coverage is a bit inconsistent as does our kicker on kickoff. We don't always get the ball where we planned to kick it. But other times he's been spectacular. Our punt return and kickoff return has been very average. That's been a slight bit of a disappointment for us. But we all realize we're all frustrated right now with our punt protection. That's something we continue to spend an unbelievable amount of time on. It is not a problem that's going to go away. We're going to continue to be challenged in it, but I do think we can solve the problem there, and I think we will solve the problem.
If you look at this week's game against Baylor, I think this will probably be the 11th time that I have had the opportunity to play against Baylor and I've got great respect for their program. They have always had good football teams. I remember when I first went to A&M, Grant Kowell (ph), head football coach at Baylor, every time you played Baylor, it was a physical football game. Baylor always had good athletes and they still have good athletes. There's a lot of tradition at Baylor and the biggest tradition is they play the game hard. They have always been a physical-style team.
On offense, they do a lot of things. They run some I-formation. They run many options. Every week they have a new little different style. They have done some four wide and try to throw the ball; so they do a lot of different things. But the things I see, they have got two quarterbacks that are athletic. They have got a couple big running backs and they have also got some speed running backs and they have got some big 300-pound linemen on their offense s. They have got some good players.
On defense, I doubt we'll play a team this we're year -- we haven't played a team in a long time that blitzes as much as Baylor. They bring inside linebacks a lot. They bring secondary players a lot. They play true bump-and-run, man-to-man coverage out on wide receivers. They are impressive. They have got a lot of good athletes and they play hard on defense. I think they are playing good defense right now.
Kicking game, it's the same kind of style as they are defense. They are attack you are and they are very aggressive. So overall if I had to categorize them, they are very aggressive style football team with a lot of good athletic players. And they play an extremely tough schedule. If you look at our season, we are 1 halfway through. We're really are trying to treat this like we're 0-0.
A lot of keys from this point on for us to be successful, but the biggest key may be if we can stay durable because we do play five straight games here. And we've had the luxury up to this point of the season of having some open dates. So I think durability will be a key for us. So at this point if anyone can hear me out there, I'll take some questions.
Q. First of all, can you update us on Grant Irons?
BOB DAVIE: Yeah, Grant will not play this week. There's a chance he could play for us up in Boston, but we are not going to play him. He has a slight -- I hate to even speculate on this because I don't know a whole lot about it -- but there's a little bit of a nerve situation and we're just going to take it slow with Grant.
Q. Secondly, you mention that you're trying to get the team to look at things as one at a time and can you tell us how difficult it is to do that, particularly when you're in a stretch when everybody is saying: They should win these four in a row, no problem?
BOB DAVIE: I think you try to simplify things. You don't try to complicate things with a whole lot of other issues. I always go back to the Michigan game with our football team. When we prepared for Michigan, there was no other agenda. There was no other issue than trying to survive and trying to find a way to beat Michigan. You know, we weren't concerned with how many games we would win after that point, what bowl game we may go to. It was simply trying to find a way to beat Michigan. And I think we approach every week that same way. But I minimizing -- minimizing issues and, you know, keeping your eye on the target. That sounds like a cliche and it probably is. But you know, just trust one another and realize what's really important, and that next game is the most important thing.
Q. You mentioned that Baylor blitzes a lot and plays a lot of bump-and-run coverage. Does the fact that you had some success against Arizona State make you feel more confident than going into a situation like that?
BOB DAVIE: They blitz a lot more than Arizona State. They bring the linebacks for a secondary players about 70 percent of the time. So they are a little bit of Arizona State style, but they have taken it to another level. And, you know, I've got some concerns. They are going to make it extremely tough on us, as they do every team. You know, they played good defense. They have given up some big plays, but they make it hard to be consistent on offense because of their style.
Q. Bobby Brown, getting him back into the offense: He seemed to pick up where he left off last year. But you spoke earlier about his wrist giving him problems. Has that problem subsided, and are we going to start to see more of him? Did he react any differently after his participation in the game the other day?
BOB DAVIE: I think Bobby is an example of what I talked about earlier about not being dependent on one player or a couple of players. Bobby had his first reception against Arizona State, first reception of the season but it was critical. It was on third-and-ten, the first possession of the second half. And obviously, the play that Bobby made Saturday with the help from Malcolm Johnson was a critical play in this football game. So Bobby is back. He's a little bit healthier. But the key thing is his attitude has been healthy throughout this whole time period, and because of that he was able to step up and take advantage of the opportunity he had. When you try to use Bobby as an example for the other players on our team in that you never know when it's coming and you've got to be able to handle a lot of the ups and downs so that you can take advantage of your opportunity whenever it arrives.
Q. Does seeing him on the game film I guess broaden -- broaden the weapons that Jarious can use? I mean, I guess how much more diverse does the offense become by now, all of the sudden, Bobby stepping up?
BOB DAVIE: What I think it does more than that is gives Bobby confidence. Any time you're a receiver and you don't get your hands on a lot of balls, particularly when you're coming off a wrist injury, you need confidence. So I think it helps us a little bit, any time it's another weapon on the field. What I was really excited about was Bobby made a run after the catch yardage, and that's something that I think is critical playing the kind of teams we're going to play over the next several weeks and also getting big plays in the passing game. Bobby was able to take that thing and run with it make some people miss and that is really important.
Q. You were talking about making the kids concentrate, keeping their eye on the target. Is that more and more difficult with -- I mean, because you can't cloister them. They have to be hearing talk of the possibility of them maybe going to the Rose Bowl and constantly -- I guess, what is that target and how do you -- how do you prevent them >from not absorbing that, and do you see any change in their -- in their attitude with each passing win?
BOB DAVIE: As you know, we're at a place here where there's talk whether it's going well, whether it's going poorly and there's talk even before it starts. So I guess that's the fortunate thing. It's not like all of the sudden this came out of left field. There's issues always at Notre Dame, and I think because of that, our players are pretty mature. But, you know, I talked to our team yesterday about -- we're heading into some unchartered waters. This is the first time since '93 Notre Dame has been a 5-1 football team. None of these coaches were here in '93. None of these players were here in '93. So what I try to do is educate them the best I can for the next step in this season. So all these issues are things that we try to deal with. But as I've said many times, it's not all what I say; it's what they hear. But I do have confidence in this football team because we've got a lot of kids in this program that have been through a lot of things, and I think that's part of being at Notre Dame.
Q. Talk a little bit about the status of the running back. I know some of them are a little bit beat up in that position. Give us a little rundown on that.
BOB DAVIE: We have a couple injuries there. Darcey Levy has a sprained ankle; may or may not be ready to play. Jamie Spencer will be back today, I believe, in practice. I think he's going to being fine. Jason Murray I think is going to be fine. So it looks like it will be Autry Denson and Tony Fisher at tailback. I'd like to get Tony Fisher in the game. He's a guy that we're really excited about and we'd like to get Jason Murray in the game as our third fullback. So at this point in the season we're pretty healthy at the running back positions.
Q. Another question, Coach. You mentioned earlier talking a little bit Baylor and their type of play. Is that something that's typical with the Big 12 teams; can you comment on that?
BOB DAVIE: You know I haven't watched much of the Big 12. You know when I was in the south wet conference, Texas was a big man, three team that played a lot of bump-and-run coverage. Baylor reminds me of that. The thing Baylor does is fire linebacks and fire secondary players more than teams I've seen. But they are a fun defense to watch. They are going to line up and challenge you, and they have got the type of athletes that they can do that with. So I don't know if it's indicative of the Big 12, but they take advantage of the athletes they have.
Q. I don't know if you talked about it before, but if you could talk about your relationship with Coach Roberts, how that developed while you were there, and also something on Jarious Jackson and his development, particularly this year?
BOB DAVIE: Well, Dave and I, you know, both came in together here at Notre Dame, kind of as freshmen. You know, I was talking to our media last night when I came in to South Bend in early January of '94, when I came up to talk to the coach about the job, Dave was kind of my official host and he had only been here a couple days. But he did his best to give me the tour of the Notre Dame campus. And the problem was there was about a foot of snow that hit that day and I remember Dave had his van and he was showing me around the campus. He kind of thought he was on an alleyway, on some payment driving me around showing me some different sports and all of the sudden we realized our we were right out in the middle of the campus in the middle of the grass and we were pretty close to having to go see Student Affairs and be penalized before we even started our job here.
But Dave and I both came in here together. Spent a lot of time together for the first couple months because both of our families were far away. So we had a lot of time it talk about football. We had a lot of time to talk about philosophies and things; so I've got a lot of respect for Dave. Dave is without a doubt one of the hardest-working coaches that I've ever been around. He's a tremendous recruiter. He's an enthusiastic coach. The players have a lot of respect for him because they know how hard he works. And his wife, Penny, is a great lady. Penny and my wife, Joanne, became good friends and his daughter ended up graduating from Notre Dame.
So I've got a lot of respect for Dave. Dave left Northeast Louisiana; was the head football coach to come to Notre Dame, and it worked out well for both Dave and I. You know, when we first came those first couple months as you always do, you always question your decision. And both Dave and I were probably questioning a little bit back there in January and February with all that snow on the ground. But you know, Dave, I can see, has that program headed in the right direction and I've got a lot of respect for him.
As far as Jarious -- Jarious has developed a lot this season and I think -- even though he's been around here for awhile, fourth year in the program, it's his first year as a starter. He had some ups and downs early but I think he really has made steady progress since the Michigan State game. You look at the Army game, we had some opportunity to make some plays. Jarious will be the first to tell you that he didn't, on a couple occasions. But overall, he was very consistent and also had many big third down conversions.
So we've got a lot of confidence in Jarious Jackson, as not only a runner, but just as importantly as a passer. I think the best is ahead of Jarious Jackson.
Q. Is there a lot of pressure on him, just being the Notre Dame quarterback?
BOB DAVIE: Oh, no. No. I think so, but I think that's what makes Jarious so respected by the coaches and the players is because he really has earned it and he has learned from being here and he has learned from experience, and I think he handles it very well. I've said this many times: I think one thing that is really important at Notre Dame is to not take yourself too seriously. If you take yourself too serious, you know, you can -- you can get caught up in all that comes with that position. And that's why I have so much respect.
You know, there's a couple things that I look for. First of all, we had a spring game here last string and Jarious through three interceptions. But after those interceptions, Jarious probably had the best three tackles of any player in the spring games. We reason a reverse Saturday to Javin Hunter, probably the best block, the most physical play in the game was Jarious Jackson's block against the Army linebacker.
Jarious is still Jarious. I don't think he's caught up in all the hype, and I think that's why he's going to continue to get better. He's got his feet firmly on the ground, and I think a big part is he doesn't take himself too seriously.
Q. Dave has been on the staff there as recently as two years ago. You obviously had some success in your time as A&M against Baylor. Anything from those previous stints that will help either one of you this Saturday?
BOB DAVIE: I don't think so. I don't think it will do me any good to pull out those old A&M tapes when Chuck Ready (ph) Grant Taft were the head coach at Baylor. I don't really think so. You know the game comes down, as it always does, to players playing against players. The reason you win games is because of players. So I don't think that Dave Roberts-Bob Davie matchup will really affect the outcome of the game here as much as the Notre Dame players against the Baylor players.
Q. Baylor has had some success blocking kicks both punts and field goals. You struggled in that area a couple times I've seen. Is that a concern to you this week?
BOB DAVIE: That's a huge concern. That has been a concern throughout the season. We had a punt blocked against Michigan State that really changed the momentum of that game dramatically. We came back and had one tipped against Purdue. We have played Stanford and Arizona State who both, particularly Stanford, was a big punt-block team and the next week blocked one against Arizona State. So we have had some problems. I do think we can get the problems solved but it is still a concern until we get some consistency but I think we can get that consistency.
Q. Wanted to ask you about the development of your kicker, Sanson. He was involved in that rather controversial play, I think, two years ago, the so-called $8 million kick and how he's come along since then.
BOB DAVIE: He's come on remarkably well. He didn't -- he earned it. He earned it. You know, he had that situation and then one year ago about at this exact time, we were a 2-4 football team instead of a 5-1 football team after our sixth game and we had just lost to Southern Cal, and Jim Sanson had missed three field goals in that game there right around the 35-yard line. And we made a change in our kicker. So he didn't kick the rest of the year. Then in the spring he had a torn quad injury; hampered him throughout the spring and throughout the summer. So he deserves everything he gets. He is a talented young man. He is a hard worker and he deserves to have some good things happen to him. Our football team is really happy for Jim Sanson.
Q. I remember a couple weeks ago after the team narrowly escaped >from Purdue, you had said that any time you could come away with a win in the game you get scared like that, it should make you better, and obviously it did the next couple weeks. Do you anticipate that this team has matured enough where what they've learned from Army, narrowly escaping the Army win will have not only the same effect but enable them to, I guess, to accept it in a more mature way?
BOB DAVIE: Well, I think what we learned from Army -- we prepared extremely hard for Army. I think sometimes people get the wrong impression that because you don't play well against a team like Army or -- because you don't win by enough points against Army that you didn't play well or that you didn't prepare well or that you didn't take them seriously. I don't agree with that. Those teams are hard to beat. I think our football team realizes that Baylor will be hard to beat. We are not a football team -- anyone that has watched us play will confirm this -- we are not a team that is going to go out there and just dominate opponents. We are not particularly gifted with the ability to get big plays on offense. We don't have a whole lot of big, big plays on defense or in the return game right now. So it's hard for us just to go out right now and blow anyone out of the stadium. We're going to go out and win because we execute well and complement each other as a team and earn everything we get. So I think that message has been there since the beginning of the season, not really specific to the Army game, though. That's just the kind of team we are now, and that's the kind of team we've been over the last 14 games.
Q. You mentioned earlier about the players having to learn that there's going to be talk whether things are going well, poorly or before it even gets started. What about for you, how do you handle the talk that you have to put up with and has there been even more of it than you could have imagined before you came head coach?
BOB DAVIE: No, it's been pretty consistent. As I said, there's always going to be issues and that's -- that's the great thing about this job, really is that you're at a place that people really care. And that there are issues. You know, sometimes it makes it the toughest part of this job but a lot of times it makes it the best part of this job. You're at a place where there are always going to be issues. None of us have a crystal ball and none of us know what those issues are going to be. But I think it teaches you to be pretty resilient and I think it teaches you to keep your eye on the target, by example and by experience and that's what I'm trying to lend to this football team right now.
Q. You mentioned taking one game at a time and so on. But with the Rose Bowl talk being part of the talk, I mean that's a plus in terms of motivation, certainly, for your team, kind of an opportunity that certainly wasn't there before?
BOB DAVIE: You're darned right. I'd rather be 5-1 and have that conversation than I would be 1-5 and have another kind of conversation. But what it all is just conversation, and that's the point I'm trying to make to the this football. Yeah, all that's fun. I'm not being sarcastic or cynical towards any of that, but keeping your eye on the target is the most important thing because those opinions change. Just like I mentioned before the season, you know, there were people that would have said they'd be shocked if we could win a game. Those same people right now are probably saying they are going to be shocked if we lose a game. So all that changes but one consistent that doesn't change is what it takes to go win football games and that's what we try to focus on.
Q. You talked a little bit earlier about what you've seen from Baylor offense and what do you expect to see because it has been kind of week to week?
BOB DAVIE: I don't really know. You watched them against A&M they came out they were four wides, spread the field. They came back against Texas and they are in the form of the wishbone in the first half and then the second half they are in I formation. I don't really know. We're preparing for a lot of different things. One fortunate thing is with us having played Purdue, Stanford, Arizona State, and Army the last four weeks and going against our offense in practice, we've seen a lot of different offensive schemes. And the key for us is to prepare to play the best fundamentals we can and not worry a whole lot about what formations and things Baylor is in. It's going to come down to fundamentals and us talking care of our business and playing as well as we can on defense. But there's no way to know because they do change a lot.
Q. The games on Halloween, is there any unusual memories or past experiences of games that you've been involved with as a coach on Halloween in the past that comes to mind?
BOB DAVIE: Well, I didn't even realize that until I had one of our local media members -- and they all said that they had to change the time of trick-or-treat because we played the game a little bit later. What was the question again?
Q. Any unusual experiences or anything happening on Halloween games of the past that you can -- that comes to mind for you?
BOB DAVIE: No, I really don't. I don't have anything unusual that I can think of on Halloween.
Q. What's the difference between a good special teams unit and one that is struggling? Why can one special team block four punts and another one struggle or having punts blocked?
BOB DAVIE: I think it's a lot of things. I think, first of all, it's your philosophy. To be a punt-block team, you know, you have -- it's kind of like on offense. You're either an option team or you're a team that blows it or you have to have an identity. Same thing on the special teams. There's some teams that that's what they do. Baylor is a team probably 90 percent of the time he tries to block the punt. Army was a team that's 90 percent of the time tries to block punts, as with Stanford. And then there's other teams that are hold-up teams. We're more of a hold-up team. We want to get the ball back rather than risk something happening to the kicker or fake punt or something can happen when you try to go block it.
So part of it is just philosophy in those areas. And then what happens each week is there's so many different things that happen, it's never just one thing. We always want the one answer or the one solution, just like with out punt protection. You know it hasn't been one thing. A couple times it's been individual breakdown. One time the scheme did get us a little bit because someone schemed pretty good. Another time it was a low snap, and that's always the frustrating thing and that's why problems aren't always that easy to solve because you get one thing solved and then it's something else.
Q. You had Hunter do a one-step punt. Are you thinking of doing that with an aggressive team like Baylor coming up?
BOB DAVIE: We've talked about that. And even the one that happened, Army came back the second time and tried to block the second punt and didn't get close. We had to low snap on the first punt that really complicated things and -- but certainly Hunter is a weapon. And we need to protect him better to allow him to be a weapon and, you know, we continue to work hard on that. It's not because of lack of effort and it's not because of lack of focus on the different things have happened and we've gotten ourselves in a situation where we've been exposed. Kind of like when they throw those deep balls on you earlier in the year; they are going to keep getting you until you solve it.
Q. When you say "keep your eye on the target", what is the target at this point and has it been revised since August?
BOB DAVIE: I think the target is always, with me, get better every day you go out there. And you don't worry near as much about winning the game as you do improving because some things you just can't control. The one thing you can control is going out there every day and getting better. So that's the target for me every day. Certainly, when you're at this point in the season, you have a pretty good feel of what your football team can and cannot do, what their strengths and weaknesses are and how the opponents are going to play you. So we as a staff spend a lot of time talking about areas that we need to emphasize. But the target is just to control the things we can control, worry about the things you can worry about that you can change, and that's our performance on a day-to-day basis.
Q. As the bowl intensifies as you come down the stretch and as you're realistically going to be competing against your teams that aren't on your schedule for possibly the two open spots, are you concerned that the narrowness of victories could become an issue?
BOB DAVIE: No. I'm really not. I really am not. You know, that's another thing that we really cannot control. We're trying to win by as many points as we can win by, I promise you that. So whatever is going to happen is going to happen. There's other so many things you can worry about. Right now I'm much more worried about the punt production than I am about all those other issues. Because if we didn't get that punt protection issue solved, those issues are going to turn into other issues anyhow by the time it's time to address them anyhow.
BOB DAVIE: The thing I remember about that game -- you got me on to something else. We go up to Boston College and a little quarterback named Fluty (ph) all the sudden was starting. (Inaudible) I remember they came out and gave us an unbalanced twin. They had the inside receiver run straight up the field. Fluty hit him with a slam, just a slant pass it went about 60 yards and we had blown our coverage and turned the guy loose. And just chaos -- he was scrambling around and we couldn't contain him. And the other thing I remember was there was nobody at the game because we were expected to beat them pretty good. By the end of the game, that stadium was full stadium was full. We ended up winning the game with you that was one of the most amazing games I've been in. That was on Halloween.
Q. Considering the fact that Hunter Smith has struggled in where we has placed his kickoffs and since Sanson seems to have his confidence, have you considered to going back to him on kickoffs?
BOB DAVIE: I thought about it the last kickoff of the game, you know, after Jim had made the field goal. That entered my mind of Jim Sanson kicking off. But Hunter is so explosive. You know, when he hits it as he did that one , he kicked it beyond the end line. You know, I don't want to rock the boat. One thing Jim's injury has forced us to do is really have a great plan for how many field goals he kicks during the week in practice, when we kick those field goals; we don't use him on kickoff so that he overstrides or overkicks, it may have in some way helped for intelligent plan on how we use him in practice. I'm not trying to take credit for him making those field goals, but something is making him a better kicker and I don't want to change whatever we're doing.
Q. You said that Army took the fullback away from you. You only ran him twice. Does that mean that Jarious -- how often does Jarious change a fullback play at the line of scrimmage, and in general how is Jarious doing in terms of checks at the line or scrimmage?
BOB DAVIE: First of all by the nature of their scheme -- the two insides-- they had a nose two inside technique -- kind of a double eagle look. By nature, they took way the fullback by their design. So going into the game, it wasn't like we really thought the fullback had a chance. Jarious has been excellent in his kicks. He does really a good job with that. Another year in the system has helped our entire offense with that. We had the one -- we had the one delayed game -- a delayed penalty Saturday. We've been pretty good with that. We get a little bit -- we wind that clock down a little bit. It gets a little bit nerve-wracking for everyone but we've been pretty good here.
BOB DAVIE: You know, I think when I -- you know when I accepted the job, that was a priority, you know, to try to get more enthusiasm maybe in the stadium or maybe get more a home field advantage from the crowd response. So you start with the student body and the pep rallies and host residence halls -- (inaudible) -- and all those things.
You know, I think in some ways those things probably helped but really it comes down to our student body. Our student body does a terrific job. For 10,000 students, they do an incredible job. You can only imagine if our student body was 40,000 or 50,000. We would have a huge home field advantage.
Going into the second year, you know, I think I quickly realized that us playing better and us executing better and me focusing all my attention on those areas will make us have a home field advantage. There's only so many you can do. And if you don't play better, it's not going to be a factor anyhow. I really haven't done a whole lot. I put it in the hands of our student body. Our student body is going to be the key ingredient anyway. I do appreciate their support. That's one thing -- you don't sense that panic in the stadium. Of course, maybe I have those headphones on and I'm kind of immune to it but those fans have stayed with us over those last seven games. It hasn't been just where everybody is panicking and everybody is negative. It's been pretty positive and I think that's helped us a little bit.
So it's exciting to know we've won seven in a row in a stadium and that's something that I think is really important and the credit goes to our student body and the credit doesn't go to me at all because our student body executed better.
But we talked to our team a lot about that. We talk a lot about this is everybody's favorite trip of the year. It's because of our tradition, because of you are our -- a lot of things. You know, the thing about being perfect host, but when we walk this that stadium that's our stadium. If someone is going to enjoy it, it's going to be us.
So I think those are issues -- that but our student body deserves all the credit.
BOB DAVIE: I think Joey Getherall as well. I think Javin Hunter has a bright future here. I think we all see that. I've seen him make progress. He can run. He can run. He's a guy that gets down the field and I think he's going to be a playmaker for us and hopefully you'll see more of him these next several week. He's still not one hundred percent healthy with a slight back problem. So if can get healthy and keep developing, I think he'll help us through the home stretch. Also really pleased with Malcolm Johnson. Malcolm is really playing well right now, blocking, receiving. So we -- he's not the only receiver we have but he is a guy that I think does give us a little extra here.
BOB DAVIE: I think what happens, is everybody -- you take advantage of what you have. That's why Army -- I have so much respect for their coaches. Their front was a read front. They didn't have the kind of guys that are going to get up in the field and cause havoc. So rather than get caught in between, their linemen all played east and west and played square on the line of scrimmage and didn't get up on the field cause scenes. Their linebacks fit perfect with how their front played.
You look at Arizona State, you look at Michigan State look at Baylor, much more athletic up front. They try to get those players up the field and cause havoc. And that's what we have a little bit of a problem with that style, because of our style of our offensive linemen. And you know, there was a problem in Michigan State because of the crowd noise and we couldn't hear the snap count. At Arizona State it wasn't as much of a problem because we got ahead in the game. You try to run some draws, try to slow them down a reason we implemented that option in the off-season. And that's why we continue to work on that passing game.
The thing that I'm most excited about right now: We don't have all of our problems solved on offense, but we do have some diversity. We're able to throw the football. We still have our drop-back game. We threw a lot of curls Saturday and made first down. We have a pretty good play-action plan. We have some option. We have some I formation stuff. And I think all of that's -- because of what you're saying. We've had teams just get up in our face and play bump-and-run man-to-man coverage or get those safeties down in the box and all of the sudden you can't get them off of you. I don't care how big you are up front, how strong you are. When they put nine of them on your seven, it doesn't matter. When they are blitzing, twisting, you can't be consistent. You've got to have some direction to go. That's what I think we did a good job of in the off-season. The passing game, the option, the draw.
Q. When you looked at the Army tapes and you saw them converting a lot of third downs with their halfback -- with their quick halfback winning the race to the corner on those pitches, how are you working on that for this week?
BOB DAVIE: Well, it's a different deal completely. But Baylor does run some options. They don't run the three-back option. What Army did is -- it's the first time to us -- they cracked -- they cracked the pitch player, and the corner had to some replace the pitch with a blocker on him. Most times they crack the alley player and they -- so we had a little bit of a -- we were a little bit soft adjusting to that and we try to get it solved in the game. It's like anything, you know. It's experience and I think having seen that, you know, if we get some cracks we might be able to play it a little bit better. But it's a little bit different style this week.
Q. In talking about Jarious and how much improvement he's made, you know, to jump ahead and see that he might be given his fifth year of eligibility next year and come back as a veteran quarterback, how much for someone in a case like him would that enhance his play and enhance his ability to be a refined quarterback for coming back for an additional year?
BOB DAVIE: I would think would. He's made a lot of progress in six games. I can imagine what kind of progress, if he can stay healthy, because I know Jarious's attitude. If he can stay healthy, you can imagine the kind of progress he can have over years. You know, you never know. There are no guarantees with anything. But I would think that would be a positive thing for Jarious Jackson. Because he does -- he has so much potential. So he will be strongly encouraged.
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