Ahead of the Wildcats’ matchup with the Wisconsin Badgers, DB coach Matt MacPherson, OL coach Kurt Anderson, Gunnar Vogel and Adetomiwa Adebawore addressed the media.
On the ineffectiveness of the run game late in games: “Most of the time it’s been one block away. We trust the play calling, the plays have been there, it’s just a lack of execution. Obviously, we’ve been working to improve that. We’re one guy away in most of those sets and we’re confident in our ability to run the ball, we’re confident in our backs being able to go get the tough yardage. That’s definitely an area we need to improve in.”
On what’s needed to play a complete game: “We’ve had games where we’ve ran the ball really well and games where we’ve passed the ball really well. Coach Fitz has said it, and I agree that we haven’t had a game yet where we’ve gotten both going the way that we can. In terms of the offensive line, we just gotta work on staying on these guys, getting up to the next level, anticipating their movement because they do a really good job of blitzing and running twists. If we can pick those guys up in pass protection and then cover them up in the run I think we’ll have a lot of success.”
On similarities to the 2018 Wisconsin game: “I would definitely say it feels similar. Last year we played them and it was also a big game and I’d say so far this is the biggest game of our season. It’s definitely a big game, it feels similar, with us both being undefeated it had a lot of implications on how the West is going to play out so we’re treating it like a championship game for sure.”
On approaching Wisconsin’s blitzing: “At the end of the day it comes down to our footwork and our eyes in pass protection and communicating to each other to pass stuff off. It definitely is a lot. It’s a very different from what we faced last week, but we’re used to playing these guys and we know what to expect as far as the type of defense we’re going to play. It’ll be different, but if we’re all communicating and on the same page I think we’re going to have success at blocking these guys.”
On how Wisconsin differs from year’s past: “A lot of it is pretty similar to what we’ve seen in year’s past. Obviously, they add a new wrinkle every year that you just have to game plan once you get into the game. We know what to expect, we’ve been watching film and we have the looks down. They’ve obviously been playing really well and they’ve done a good job of getting turnovers and affecting the quarterback with their pressures. We know what to expect, it just comes down to executing.”
On the improvement of the pass rush: “We’re working to improve our pass rush and making sure we’re aware of where the quarterback is. We just need to make sure we keep getting better in that aspect.”
On Wisconsin’s offensive line: “They’re definitely bigger guys, so we understand that it’s going to be a physical game. We just gotta make sure we use the correct techniques that we work on each and every day and we’ll be alright.”
On the confidence of the defensive line: “We’re all putting in work and making sure that we’re all getting better. We’re pushing each other in practice every single day. I credit it to our work ethic. Anyone can come out and make the plays, and we’re confident that everyone is prepared to make the plays in those big time moments.”
On stopping Wisconsin’s run: “No matter what, we’re going to have to do our jobs and focus on our keys. That’s really been the focus. It doesn’t really change much for us we just gotta make sure we’re doing our part and doing our jobs.”
On Earnest Brown IV: “He does a lot for us. He’s very a physical player, can pass rush, he’s a senior so he has great experience. He’s been big for us.”
On mindset: He said defensive backs need a mindset of confidence based on the position they play. There were a lot of positives from last year’s defense, but what it lacked was ability to take ball away. He said that back in January they had a meeting and determined that if they wanted to go from a good level to a championship level, being alright is not good enough. They emphasized that in spring ball, and the players have taken it and run with it.
On Brandon Joseph’s emergence: “The kid has a knack for being in the right spot.” He said Joseph’s intangibles were evident right away and that Joseph knew where the football. Made a bunch of interceptions in spring ball. MacPherson said he trusts Joseph and his instincts because what he says he sees shows up on tape.
On Wisconsin TE Tyler Ferguson: MacPherson said he runs good routes, is able to separate and can catch the contested ball. He’s tough to defend because he is such a big body. Because he has the big frame but runs good routes and able to separate, that’s always going to be a problem.
On Cam Ruiz: He said he’s been impressed with how Ruiz has improved his consistency. He’s become much more steady and doesn’t let anything spiral out of control.
On Greg Newsome: He said to be a DB, you always have high confidence and chip on shoulder, and Newsome’s is the biggest. Other guys feed off that because they know he can compete with anybody.
On the shift in focus from PBU to INT: MacPherson said that in practice, the guys took control of holding each other accountable when someone would be in the right spot but was unable to capitalize and get a turnover, which led to this shift in mentality.
On how to play a complete game: Anderson said the offensive line is involved in every aspect of the game, but nobody notices OL until something isn’t going right.
On the pass protection: He thinks team has been able to pick up blitzes thus far. There was not as much pressure last week, but he is still happy with how the team was able to convert third downs. He said he knows the packages better than most because he saw them when he and Jim Leonard were at Buffalo (Bills).