COLLEGE STATION, Texas- Texas A&M (3-0, 0-0 Big 12) head coach Dennis Franchione met with members of the media on Tuesday at the Bright Football Complex to discuss his undefeated Aggies as they prepare to host to host Louisiana Tech (1-1, 0-0 WAC) on Saturday at Kyle Field.
Franchione on the A&M defense:
"Well, we're improved in all facets I think. You know, we're not where we want to be yet; but gosh we came along way in a lot of areas since last year. We still have room to improve and tackling is certainly one of those areas. It's always an issue. We really haven't been what I would call bad at that. We've had a play or two where we've missed more than we needed to and I think we only had five or six the first game so... I like the direction we're headed. We have got bigger challenges ahead."
on missed tackles:
“Yeah, I think might have a little something to that. You teach them to wrap up. I think what we are experiencing a little bit, and Coach (Gary) Darnell and I have talked about this a little bit. In today's games you have more tackles that you have to make in open space than probably ever before. As a result of that, almost all of our tackling drills are open field, lots of open space tackling drills. I think part of the reason our tackling has improved some, too, is we've had better pursuit to the ball this year. And we’re getting more people around them, which I think helps. Saturday night we over-pursued a time or two. We got over there and actually outran the back and he cut back on us and that hurt us a time or two.”
on the fourth down call against Army:
“The thing that made me decide to go for it the other night is we had run that play -- didn't count them up. Probably at least five times for about whatever yards we needed for two touchdowns and it had been very successful and I just felt like we could make it, I felt like our players believed they could make it and I felt like that if we didn't make it that we -- our defense has played good in the red zone if they do score we've been in good in our two minute drill getting back down the field. Obviously it came down to fewer seconds in the game than we would have been able to use but still had some positive feelings about it.”
on making risky play calls as a coach:
“I understand the arena I live in and I understand all the ramifications. I'm not concerned about people's opinions on it. I'm concerned about whether we win or lose the football game. I don't listen to the crowd but I was told there's a lot of cheering when we decided to go for it. Probably all those people weren't happy when we didn't make it. I wasn't either. Obviously we didn't make it and we didn't make the right decision and there are a lot of times in a football game that you have to make those kind of decisions, maybe not just like that one but different kinds of decisions. Once you make one, you got to make it right if we can and weren't able to do that offensively but we were able to do that defensively, so it turned out."
on his confidence level in taking chances when making calls:
“I think sometimes people think like we started the game off with an onside kick or faked a field goal or faked a punt and they -- you get labeled as a river boat gambler or whatever it may be sometimes when they work and why did you do it when they don't work. I think as a coach you -- No. 1 have watched practice all week, you've worked on the play, you've seen it -- the situation in the game. And so you -- even though you understand the ramifications you also have a degree of belief that you're going to be successful because of what you've seen or you're not going to do it. It's not just hey lets try this, you know? It's -- there's been a lot of time spent preparing for that decision and they don't -- you know, like I said -- like Terrence said they're on scholarship, too. Doesn't always work out. I think more of them for me have been successful than not and we spend a lot of time planning on those situations.."
on the progress of Jorvorskie Lane:
“Well, he's doing a great job. I mean, you know, obviously Jorvorskie (Lane) is not going to break a lot of 40 or 50-yard runs for you but he's going to get hard tough yards. He made one run the other night on just a straight ahead lead play and I think we gained about 12 or 14 yards and I think he drug about six of them most of the way. And you know, that's just a -- a benefit to him. I mean, you use him in the areas of his strength and you understand that -- you know, his -- one of his touchdowns he got hit on the 4-yard line. The guy bounced off like a ping pong ball and two more hit him and didn't get him on the ground and he ran into the end zone. You are always looking for the back that can make yards when you don't block a couple people and he certainly does that. He doesn't hit home runs like some backs can when they miss but he certainly does sustain drives. Really the other night in the kind of game we were in I thought his -- his performance was pretty pivotal for us. He did a great job holding onto the football and making hard tough yards and there is certainly no doubt that he deals out about as much punishment as he ever absorbs."
on Jorvorskie Lane’s weight:
“Right now I'm not worried about his weight. You know, I'd be the first one to not be honest if I didn't say that we've talked about it and thought about it. And in fact you know there was kind of a funny story and don't make more of this than it’s worth. During two a days looking at weights I thought if we don't get Jorvorskie down he's going to have a hard time. I said, “Kenny (Pope) Let's think about if we don't get his weight down he's not going to play in the first game.” We broke up staff meeting and watched film and he makes about two 20-yard runs, knocks people over like bowling balls and I quickly came to my senses and said Kenny forget I said that. Now, you know -- I mean, he can do things -- he is a -- he is an unusual athlete. I don't know if he can dance but I'm betting he can because he is light on his feet and he'll slip once in a while and fall because he cuts off the wrong foot once in a while, but not too often. He did it -- he had one the other night he tried to cut off his inside foot instead of his outside foot and slipped out from under him. He's unusual."
on Michael Goodson’s problems with holding on to the football:
“Well, we still believe in Michael and Michael is going to be a great player and we just have to keep bringing him along. You know, he's played three college football games and the speed of the game, the atmosphere of the game all the things that a freshman goes through are all still prevalent and he's progressing through it. You know Mike -- we believe in him. We're going to continue to work with him as hard as we can on that. One thing we talked about this week is maybe we should do a few more handoffs -- just handoff plays with him you know where we take it back and give it to him instead of pitching it to him or doing some of those other things."
on the negative talk from fans on message boards and talk radio about the Army game:
“You know I'm not going to sit around and worry about that. We're 3-0. We got the win. You know, anybody -- I mean, you-all were at the game and you saw a pretty inspired Army team that played very well I thought. They took advantage of three or four of our miss cues and that hurt us but we still won the football game. And at the end we're 3-0 and style points don't do much for me. We found a way to get a “W”. That's what matters and in the long run that's all that matters and I can understand you know fans maybe thought we should win by more. I'm not sure that's giving Army enough credit and may be giving us too much sometimes."
on the receivers:
“Well, it has kind of been an unusual circumstance. You know last week in here we talked about we don't have to go to any one particular receiver right now and Kerry Franks and Pierre Brown are farther along and more ready to play than they've ever been and playing fairly well. We have also probably been in more two back sets and two tight end sets here in these first three games than maybe we will be the rest of the year. Earvin (Taylor) and L’Tydrick (Riley) have both had balls thrown to them and we just haven’t connected. You know those are unselfish guys and they want to make an impact that way. I know they do but they're not sitting around bemoaning that fact as far as -- to my knowledge and our team is very unselfish at this point in time and certain reads take you certain places. We threw a deep ball to Earvin in the Lafayette game, he had his man beat and we just overthrew it. It would have been a nice gain on this sideline over here. That's the benefit of having enough -- a lot of guys to go to right now. Chad and Martellus -- playing six or seven receivers in a football game sometimes it doesn't work out. We didn't throw the ball a lot the other night. You know, we're probably going to have games where we're going to throw the ball more than we have here in the first three games so -- it'll all work out."
on the offensive play during the Army game:
“We only had 55 snaps in the game. We averaged almost seven yards a snap. You know, I played the military academies a number of times and you know the worse thing you can do is go three and out and we were running the ball so well it just felt like if you continued executing like you were -- we had three 80-yard drives for touchdowns, two 79, one 80. We mixed it up on some but we didn't throw the ball a lot. Maybe, you know, sometimes you look back after the game and say well maybe we should have; but 360 some yards of offense and 55 snaps is not a bad day at the office and part of it kept the Army's offense off the field too. And we continued other than some of our mistakes to reestablish some field position with that ability, too. So that -- that was important in playing those guys. When we gave them a short field they got points. Fortunately we got turnovers to off set that. And we ran the ball. I mean, they really had no real answer for the zone read the other night and you know until they learn to stop it you continue to bloody them with it and that's what we continued to do."
on quarterback Stephen McGee as a runner:
“Stephen is a good runner. One of the reasons we love him so much is because of his dual-threat ability. I wish he would get down once in a while, but I think he's a weapon that we can't afford not to use and the success of our offense is multiplicity and being able to use a lot of people. We didn't have a single Big XII preseason nomination (for an All-Conference offensive player), its not like we got you know anybody that's -- you can't live without them touching the football. Our strength is the group -- the whole that you have to defend and you know one week its Martellus (Bennett) one week it's Steven (McGee) one week it's Jorvorskie (Lane), and there will probably be a Courtney (Lewis) week or a L’Tydrick (Riley) or Earvin (Taylor) week. We are going to move around and that's our strength right now and we need to play to that strength."
on the instant replay controversy in the Oklahoma/Oregon game:
“You know we don't have a perfect system. You feel bad for any situation that plays in to deciding the game but before replay we had the exact same circumstances. It hasn't changed. And you just hope during your coaching career that more of those crazy bounces or calls go your way than go against you. And certainly -- I haven't seen any of the plays from the game Saturday. But I read the article this morning about what had happened. You know, I've had those things happen to me, too. You hate to see that be a deciding part of a game for anyone. We have humans still -- the human factor is still a part of this. I make mistakes, referees make mistakes, the players make mistakes. You’re (the media) is about the only group I know that hasn't made one yet."
Texas A&M and Louisiana Tech kickoff at 6 p.m. (CDT).
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