Quotes from Tom Herman’s short Tuesday availability.
Opening statement: Really good day today. Eighteen periods, so about an hour and a half. We got a lot of work. Normally on a bye week we don’t introduce the opponent, but because of the short week next week we felt it necessary to get about 20 minutes of scout work in, which we will again next week. Really, obviously, we know Connor (Williams) is out and Armanti (Foreman) had a pretty significant brace on but he went. Expect him to be ready to go in a week and a half from now. Shane (Buechele) took 60 percent of the reps with the ones. Sam (Ehlinger) took the other 40 percent. Thought both of them looked good. I asked Shane toward the end of practice how he was feeling. He said “Coach, I feel good.” We’ll continue to monitor his progress. Last week, he was a bit sore each day after throwing. With a couple days off here, hopefully we can get that soreness out and won’t be on any kind of pitch count here in the next couple of days.
On if Shane continues to be the guy assuming he performs well in practice: 60 percent. He got 60 percent of the reps with the ones and he played well. Are we going to do this all the way up until Thursday? If we played today, yes Shane would start. Tomorrow’s a new day.
On if this is a Wally Pipp situation: No Wally Pipp for the moment.
On Ehlinger’s performance in Los Angeles outside of the snap problems: Those weren’t his issue. Again, a fluke deal where our center thought he was hearing something. We still don’t know where that was coming from. Played well. For the circumstances that he was in playing the defense that he was in in environment that he was in, he played well. Obviously, it’s his second college football game. There’s a lot of improvement still to go. We’re happy with where he is and his development process for a true freshman.
On Tope Imade: We did. We did today. We moved Tope back to offensive line. That’s going to be a crash course for him, but he’s a big body that can, in an emergency, by next Thursday hopefully get in somebody’s way. That move has been made (to guard).
On Tristan Nickelson’s performance: I thought they settled in. Both those guys (Nickelson and Denzel Okafor), especially in that two minute drive at the end there, him and Denzel played admirably considering we’re not a drop back pass team. For them to have to drop back and throw it against the speed and the agility of the defensive line of USC, I thought they did well. I’m not ready to crown neither of them Anthony Munoz just yet.
On if he thinks the WR room and its depth is still a strength: I do. We’ve got to find more ways to get those guys on the field. We had some long, hard discussions the last couple days offensively about who we are, what’s our identity, how do we create more space for our running backs to run and how to we get our playmakers on the field and create matchup issues for the defense? I think we’re headed in the right direction. Would you have liked to have been there already? Yeah, but I think obviously we weren’t who we thought we could be. That’s okay. I think good coaching is making adjustments even when it’s three games into the season. We’re not going to keep trying to stick a square peg in a round hole. We’re going to find some answers.
On addressing missed plays in the secondary while also acknowledging good performance: We don’t praise a lot around here. I don’t think they’re above earth right now. I think they’re very firmly grounded in the necessity for improvement and they are reminded of that very, very regularly in our program. They embrace it. They know that a few of those balls should have been caught. A few of them were not just drops, but you know even DeShon (Elliott’s) second pick, the tight end was wide open. Now, I would like to think that the pressure that we created caused that errant throw, which is part of the deal when you do pressure. It’s risk/reward type of deal and that one paid off. We know we’ve got work to do. There’s not anybody in that room that doesn’t believe that.
On how Shane looks to Herman right now: I thought one of the best things I’ve seen from Shane in the nine months I’ve been here is how hard he coached Sam Ehlinger in the USC game. During the game, he was always by his side. Came off the field, he was on the headset. He was Coach Buechele for that game. There’s not a lot of kids in college football right now, especially at this level, that would feel like “hey, I can physically go play but I understand that’s probably not the best thing for my team in the long run to do.” And then go out and be such a positive influence on Sam. As far as physically, he didn’t look any worse the ware today to me at practice.
On his thoughts on special teams: Well, we made a field goal. That was encouraging. Our kickoff return, we had one kickoff return I believe and brought it out pretty good. I think our punt coverage unit is doing well. On punt return, I think the unit itself is doing well. We’ve got to continue to educate and coach our returners on being smart. I’ve got eyeballs just like you do. Our kickoff coverage, we’ve got to get better. We’ve addressed it. We’ve got to have better kick placement. It starts with kick placement when you run the scheme that we run in terms of compressing the field. Kind of the same thing with offense. If we’re asking somebody to do something they can’t do, then that’s bad coaching. We’re going to spend the next week and a half seeing what the kicker is good at, and then adjust our coverage accordingly.
On Jerrod Heard’s practice snaps: Not at quarterback (but at backup receiver). He will take snaps at quarterback. The good thing about having two healthy quarterbacks now is we can put him back there and keep the quarterback in the game and not tell everybody “hey, this is a wildcat deal.” Maybe we motion him back in there and he’s standing next to the quarterback, or maybe it’s like game two where the quarterback’s out wide and he’s behind there. We haven’t really talked about his package yet. I think that will be down the road. He played exclusively receiver today.