Nov. 2, 2010
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By Christian Edwards
UCF head football coach George O'Leary met with the Orlando media on Tuesday to preview Friday night's tilt against Houston in a possible preview of the C-USA Championship Game. Here is a sampling of what he had to say.
"They are very similar to East Carolina. They are probably a much quicker tempo as far as timing at the line of scrimmage. They are pretty much the same in a spread set. They're trying to run the ball a lot more than they had in the past, a lot more two back. They have some outstanding skilled athletes. I think that [Bryce] Beall kid is really a good running back. They complement him with [Chris Wilson] and [Michael Hayes]. The freshman quarterback [David Piland] has progressed each game. You can see him getting a little better each game as far as what he is doing with the ball and where he is delivering it. They have always had good, skilled athletes at wide receiver that catch a lot of balls. They throw a lot more deep balls than East Carolina has thrown, but they are very similar. East Carolina probably helps them more than it helps us as far as an offense to defense standpoint. Defensively, obviously they have a new coordinator there, so they will have a little bit more of a pro approach to coverage and front mechanics. Special teams they have been very good at. [Tyron] Carrier needs one more touchdown to set the NCAA record in kickoff returns. They have a lot of really good skilled athletes that do very well with ball in their hands."
On Houston's defense...
"They have steadily improved as far as their front mechanics and coverage mechanics. What has happened, when you watch Houston on defense, is that a lot of teams are playing one-handed. They have fallen so far behind score wise so they have had to go to a passing attack, and that makes it a little bit easier as far as defense is concerned when a team is behind and has to try to play catch-up."
On UCF's defense vs. East Carolina...
"I thought we were very late in transition. We're sitting there taking a picture instead of reacting. You have to be moving. You can't be sitting there taking a picture. We were not closing the distance quick enough. You have to exchange a catch for a headache, that is what should happen in coverage and we were not doing that. We were allowing too much space between the catch and the defender. When you get guys like Dwayne Harris, who is a great athlete, and allow him too much space he's going to hurt you like he has hurt a lot of people. We have to close the distance quicker on throws and that comes back to transition and just not taking a snap shot. Let's go, once the ball is moving, you have to be moving."
On Ronnie Weaver being focal point of offense...
"Probably because of Brynn Harvey being hurt. Ronnie basically does a great job of doing what he does. He works extremely hard in practice. I don't think he has finished yet as far as being a running back. Every player can still make a lot of improvement. What he has done is he has narrowed the gap, whereas before he was cutting too soon. All your good running backs get into the hole and then make the cut, and that is what he getting better and better at. He does not make a lot of mistakes as far as protection and pick-ups in protection which makes him invaluable. People have been pressuring us a lot more than they have in the past and the running back has to know where the pick-ups are and get that done. He is very sharp as far as protections are concerned. So he has helped in a lot of plays. Plus, he has been on special teams and been a big factor. He has a great passion for the game and works at it. He watches a lot of tape, and is a great example to some of the other guys as far as getting in and studying tape. The eye in the sky don't lie. That's what you want to be looking at and he does a good job at that."
On Houston being able to play well after losing two starting quarterbacks...
"It's a part of the scheme and system they are in. They have changed some things in that scheme with him there rather than Case [Keenum] there. What they are doing is getting the ball in the hands of their good players quickly and are making some yards after the catch. They run the ball extremely well so you just can't play coverage, you have to be able to defend the box too. That's the change they probably made. I don't know if they would have run as much had the other quarterback stayed healthy, but I do think they are doing a good job of getting the run game in and keeping people honest."
On what to attribute to UCF being one of the least penalized teams in the nation...
"It goes back to practice. We get after them pretty hard about penalties and how they cost you. The coaches are on them and I am on them all the time in practice about holding and interference and out of bounds stuff. You have to make sure it is important. Knowing what is important to the head coach is important to the assistants and it feeds its way down. Penalties drive me nuts, especially offsides, because most penalties are concentration problems. We don't have a lot of discipline penalties like late hits. We had one last week and we are not going to put up with that. The ball went from the 18 to the 33-yard line because [a player taunts]. That is just a lack of discipline. So he paid for it Monday. That is how things work. You have to react to it, not just talk about it. Players understand that some penalties you cannot avoid but sloppy, lack of concentration, discipline penalties you have to get after them real quick about that stuff because it is contagious. If you do not correct them you are going to see more and more of them each week."
On kicking troubles and its effect on the play calling...
"Not really. He is a good kid [Cattoi]. He made every one of them today. You have to play the percentages, you really do. The problem is it has already cost us a ball game earlier with a couple missed field goals [Kansas State]. I am talking about chip shots you have to make. All you can do is to keep staying with him and I told him that, `I'm going to continue to be with you but it is getting very difficult to support you if you don't start making these field goals that we need to make.' With kicking, if you don't have any confidence, you are going to be lost. He kicks well during the week and you have to do that with people in the stands, that is the key right now. You play good teams, fourth down and four and the chances go to the defense, not the offense on those. Again we'll kick, but if we don't have a good result then I think that question is answering itself."
On sitting on the outside of the top 25 and does it drive the players?
"Not really. We don't have any control of anybody's votes so I think winning takes care of that and that is the only thing we are concerned with and really the only thing I ever discuss with the team is the conference and the conference championship and in playing one game at a time each week. That is the problem this week is that we play some of these teams right in a row that I think are the better teams in Conference USA, and staying healthy. I think that last week's game, both teams went after each other pretty good. People are nicked up and all that. It is a short week so it's how you tempo practice as far as what is going on. This game here, our defense is going to be challenged this weekend. Our offense has to do things the correct way and continue to get better each week. We are getting better by feet, not by yards, but we are improving in a lot of areas that we weren't earlier in the season. I see some continuity now and consistency out there on offense."
On playing on Friday compared to Saturday and getting more looks from the top 25 poll...
"Anytime you are on national TV, you cannot buy that exposure; you can go to marketing all you want. Anytime you are on a Friday night show or Thursday night, anytime you are on national TV, ESPN, it is a great marketing tool for the university and exposure throughout the whole country. The players know that. The biggest problem coaches have is making sure they keep their minds on the field and not the camera. It's another game. We have had a couple of ESPN games already. It's another game that you can get great exposure as far as for your school and vice versa you can get exposed. It works both ways."
On the offensive line's production the last few weeks...
"Consistency is the key. For three weeks now I have been yelling `BOB'. We have two kids named Bob on the team and they keep turning. BOB to me is a body on a body and if you don't have it you better be going to one before that whistle blows. That has been the cry throughout practice and I think [offensive line] Coach [Brent] Key has done a good job of getting guys' footwork correct as far as the steps are concerned and correct head placement. We are getting movement at the line of scrimmage. Earlier in the season all those things were there but we were not moving our feet on contact. We are doing a better job of keeping our feet moving on contact and sometimes a running back makes a cut and we haven't blocked a soul up front. All of a sudden it's a great job by the offensive line, well the running back did a great job of making them look good. I think most of the time Ronnie is making the right cuts, that really helps them out, and he is making the second-level guy miss once in a while, which is critical for some of the yards he is getting. The offensive line, including [tight end] Adam Nissley, have done a good job of getting movement at the line of scrimmage and picking up blitzes and protection and all that. Brent Key has done a real fine job coaching them up each week with the different looks we are going to get."