Can you talk a little about Asaph Schwapp?
“Asaph is one of my all-time favorites, first of all, a young man who comes to work every day. He is a student of the game and a great leader and really coaches the other guys. It doesn’t matter if it’s a one-back operation or a two-back operation. He understands the entire package. He has become a great leader over time and a really good football player.”
How valuable is it to have a player who understands his role?
“It makes your job a lot easier because he is a young man who leaves his ego at the door when he comes to work every day. No matter how much regular we have in the game plan, he comes to work and really does a good job with his assignments. But more importantly, he helps guys when they are in a one-back operation because he gives them a lot of coaching points when they come out.”
Could you share with us some of the details about your situation at home right now?
“It’s really unfortunate when you lose a loved-one. However, I think it’s a little more shocking when you lose a loved-one who is only 24 years of age. Growing up as a kid, her mother took care of us when we were kids; babysat us all the time. So we developed a close relationship with her kids as they grew older. She was a beautiful young lady who struggled a lot throughout life in the last few years of her life. She never lost her smile and never lost hope. She was always in good spirits and God bless her soul.”
What was your cousin’s name?
How much did this weigh on your mind during the BC game?
“I would say when I go to work, personal life stays home. I really don’t think about anything but the moment. My mother was here for about a week and a half and she just flew back Sunday. Whenever it’s family, everything is tough but you learn how to deal with adversity in life. You just learn how to deal with it.”
How long had she been ill?
“Oh, a little bit over four years.”
Have you kind of worked out what your schedule is going to be this week?
“I’m flying out of here tomorrow night after practice. I’ll fly out of here tomorrow and go to Houston. And I haven’t worked out things in detail, but what I’m going to do is fly from Houston to Baltimore and I’ll get there before the team gets there.”
With the team struggling offensively right now, is it tough to step away?
“It’s always difficult to step away when you’re struggling. Coach stepped in; he and I talked last Thursday or Friday – I forget which day – and we had decided at that point in time that he was going to step in. He suggested that I go home tonight after practice to make it for the wake, but I’m just going for the funeral.”
Do you think the play-calling will become a week-to-week thing or have you addressed this yet?
“No, we really haven’t thought about that part of it. This week Coach Weis is going to call the plays and Ron (Powlus) is going to signal in the plays. So that’s the way it’s going to be this week.”
How do you see your role being this Saturday obviously in the play-calling end of things?
“It gives me more time where I don’t have to think about the selection of plays. He’ll always ask, ‘What are we getting here?’ So I have to give a calculation of what is going on and at the same time give a calculation of situational football and what we think is best to run at this point.”
Could this possibly be a learning experience?
“It’s always a learning experience. You have to look at things. God does things for a reason, whatever the reason may be. I’ve always said I have had great mentors. You talk about Nick Sabin being a great mentor; Coach Mack Brown being a great mentor; and then Coach Weis has been a great mentor as an offensive guy. As long as you have an open mind, you have an opportunity to learn, and I learn each and every day that I come to work which is a great opportunity.”
The offense has been off to a good start and now are you surprised that they have run into a slump?
“I think the most important thing is that we are really going along really well. We hit a point where we may have had information overload because of mental errors. When you look at the number of mental errors that we had, it could be information overload and it’s not the players’ fault. It’s the coaches’ fault. It’s my fault. It starts with me because anytime you give a young man too much information which they can’t handle, it always comes back and sits in the coordinator’s lap and it sits in my lap. I think that was probably part of the problem in the Pitt game and it probably carried over a little bit in the Boston College game.”
How fair is it to say that the offensive struggles are something within this group and not because of what the other team is doing?
“Well, I received a card today from Coach Bennett in Pittsburgh and he talked about some of the things in which we did. I wrote him back a note and in the note I said to him, ‘You guys played a really good job on defense.’ Because the philosophy has now changed where the defenses are saying you aren’t going to beat us with the deep ball. You’re going to have to take what we give you; and you are going to have to methodically move the ball down the field. So that’s what Pittsburgh did in the second half and that’s what Boston College did from the first snap to the last snap. Nothing is really changed; you have to take what they give you. You go back and look at the Boston College tape and they did less than what we did in practice. Unfortunately, we didn’t capitalize off the things which happened then. From a coaching standpoint, we made some mistakes.”
Rutgers hit some deep balls against Pittsburgh. Maybe your scheme against them came at the wrong time.
“You go back through and watch every game that happened previous to our game. North Carolina hit some really big plays. North Carolina hit them when they were in a cover eight look and they switched for at least a bunch look and then sent a guy to the flat on a diagonal. Guys get confused in coverage. Guy has outside leverage; hits the vertical seam and so it’s a touchdown. So you sometimes have a misconception but then you go into the Rutgers game and they hit them early but didn’t do anything late in the game - but really hit them early. I give the defensive coordinator credit. He went in there and he made sure that, hey, we are not getting beat deep. You guys are going to get as deep as the deepest and if they make the throw in the quick flat, break up and make the tackle, and we’ll live to play again. You can’t live to play again if the ball is thrown over your head. So he did a really good job as far as that’s concerned.”
Are you going to be in the booth this Saturday?
“We’re still discussing all that but right now; I am still in the booth.”
Charlie mentioned today that there’s a possibility that he could be upstairs on Saturday.
“If he goes upstairs; I’m coming down.”
What is the psyche of the offense right now?
“Well, this game plan won’t be complex which will probably build a little more confidence in execution. The simplicity in the offense limits the number of things in which they do on defense because they line up in odd and they stem from odd to even; they stem from even to odd and do all those things. They are pretty basic in their coverages and the things in which they do and they do them well. But it gives us a little more opportunity to have more reps at the things in which they do because of the reduction of the offense in which we are going to go into this game.”
Is it difficult to get the players up after a loss like Saturday’s?
“I think you always have to work on the psychological disposition of a young man; especially when they have suffered two key losses. However, the last loss was extremely devastating especially when you had been having a lot of success and you get shut out. So it’s an everyday process of building confidence in your team and also in your players.”
Do you think some of Jimmy’s struggles have been because of adjustments and does he need to be more methodical?
“You have to take what they give you. If they are giving you the curl; you take the curl. If they give you the flat; take the flat. If they are giving you the swing pass; take the swing. You don’t necessarily have to throw it down the field and I think Jimmy will be a lot better this week.”
Can you throw it too many times down the field to Michael Floyd in a game?
“When you watch the game and they’re in this quarter, quarter/half deal where they are rolled up to Golden Tate, we hit Michael Floyd on a couple out routes. After we hit Michael Floyd on a couple out routes, then they said, ‘All right, you are not throwing this out route to Michael Floyd anymore.’ So then they roll up and play cover two. So when they roll up and play cover two, it’s a middle read to the tight-end or a back. And unfortunately, we didn’t complete the pass.”
How important is patience going to be against a team like Navy and taking what they give you?
“This will probably be the fastest game of the year. If they pass five times, it’s a miracle. So it’s really going to be a fast game. We’re going to have to have ball control and we’re going to have to take the ball down the field. They play really soft coverage and they get really deep in their coverage. They play half-field coverage which is cover two. They play a little six which is spinning it weak with post safety and they spin it the other way strong which is cover three. They do a little bit of those things and you just have to take what they give you. Today in the running-back meeting room, I gave an example of watching Duke. The first series of the Duke game; how Duke went down and scored and Duke went down the field just throwing the football. They had a couple runs mixed in and they went down and scored. However, they converted on third down. It might have been third and twelve one time but they converted on it. Then I put on the second drive of the Rutgers game and Rutgers goes down and scores. Rutgers hands the ball off about eight to ten times. Two different offenses; two different philosophies, but understand, it is methodical offense as they move the ball down the field and there are no big plays. You may have a run of eight yards; you may have a run of ten yards; but they are moving the ball down the field methodically and it’s just a lesson learned how you have to move the ball against people who are playing soft coverage.”
Is it best to have a lead against a team like this and have them chase you?
“That’s exactly right because when you can get an early lead, you force them into throwing the ball more than what they want to throw the ball. And throwing the ball is not what they do best.”