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Post Game Press Transcripts v Southern Miss: Mario Cristobal

Opening Statement…

“I want to give credit to them. Southern Miss really did some things, especially on defense, that caused a couple issues in protection. There were some pretty good halftime adjustments, particularly by the defense, to go out and have the second half that they had. They shut down the run and shut down the pass. There were some great field goal position opportunities for us with the punt return by Tyrique Stevenson. Offensively, we got going. We scored 20 points the second half, but we didn’t finish drives. We didn’t finish them as much as because of what they did as to what we did to ourselves. We are 1-0 for the week, that’s your goal, but certainly we want to play more polished, more precise football. So, we need to practice better and we’ve got to keep coaching better. And we’ve got to keep working it better. We have to go get better, but we went 1-0 [this week].”

On the importance of overcoming adversity early on…

“I think every minute that we get together is really, really important. And we get to be together for seven, eight, maybe nine months now. We’re just trying to see how guys are and how they react and how to coach them to the best of our ability and how to give them the best chance for success. So, you want to struggle in some way, shape or form. You just don’t want to cause it to yourself, and that is the biggest differences. The angles they create with some of their pressures, they do a great job mixing up their coverage. You saw all kinds of stuff. They create some really unique angles with their pass rush lanes and their pressures. And we didn’t adjust to it until later on in the second half. We had some opportunities and really wanted to score on all of those drives. We ended up kicking field goals and it is good to have that, that Andy [Borregales] does that, but we want to finish with seven. We hurt ourselves. We blocked a guy through the sideline. We have to do a better job coaching. We coach for the finish. We need to let go when we’re on the sideline.”

On the adjustments at halftime…

“From a coverage standpoint, it’s at least 50 percent different than what they showed on tape. They did a good job. Their defensive coordinator really mixes it up. He’s a really good, young coach. With Coach Hall doing it for a long time, we knew he was going to have some guys and we knew he was going to be ready to play. Again, overcoming that sluggishness and maybe a little bit of anxiety, we work hard now. We go. I thought we’d be a little bit more polished in the first half, but we weren’t. And so, what do you do? You go in there and you fix it and you come out and I think we did a decent job in the second half. We did a great job on defense in the second half.”

On the fifty-fifty balls throughout the game…

“They got 50 and we got 50. You’ve seen that they’ve done that now to us a couple weeks in a row, right? They’ll just shoot them up there and use their size and length against some of our guys. But as the game progressed, Tyrique [Stevenson] got his pick and DJ [Ivey] had a shot for his, no one got over the top of him. I thought we had a chance for a great play. I know Te’Cory [Couch] went up for one and [Daryl] Porter, Jr., went up for one. They saw it and knew it was coming. But they made plays on us as we did on them. All in all, we have some work and some improvement. That is certainly an area where people are coming after us, so we have to get better at it.”

On the performance on the running back unit…

“We need to run harder, quite honestly. When the Canes run hard, we are hard to stop and it opens up everything for us as we continue to grow and mature at the wide receiver position. [Jaylan Knighton], as you guys know, had been out for a while and was a gametime decision. He did a really good job leading up to gameday and I felt really good pregame that he could go today. When he was in there, he did some things that were really good and started to look like his old self. We figure, with another week of practice, we can get back another full-speed player and continue to enhance our run game.”

On the status of Akheem Mesidor and if he’ll be back soon…

“Yeah, we feel he is. He got nicked up midweek in practice, but we thought we would get to gameday and have another full-speed player, but he wasn’t there yet. Hopefully, by tomorrow or Monday or Tuesday, he will be.”

On the play of Zion Nelson…

“It’s important for guys to get reps. Zion [Nelson] had a groin sprain and he’s missed all the time leading up until about two weeks ago. When you start getting real practice reps and when you are an offensive lineman you need those reps. We talked about set lines earlier, those things are hard and different. You’re block rangy players with different lengths, different speeds and different sizes. Zion blocked a lot of the rush out today. Tt would be hard to tell, without watching the film, how he did. I’m sure he was impactful. I don’t know what the statistics are, but we ran the ball at times, fairly well, against what we call plus-one looks, where they always had one guy in the box. Sometimes we RPO’d the guy, sometimes we didn’t. Sometimes, we felt we just had to beat the guy with our running backs. I think Zion just overall had a good game.”

On Anez Cooper at tight end…

“They run so many stunts, games, so much movement up front, that we felt the C and the D gap were going to have to be important and controlling. Anez [Cooper] has really shown himself as a really reliable, tough, smart and dependable player and obviously, he’s about 355 pounds. He’s a big guy and he can move some people. We felt that if we could train him all week at the tight end position in the C and D gaps, it could be something we could expose throughout the course of the game. It looks like we have more hits than misses, but it’s a guy who has earned playing time and we wanted to get him on the field that was him today, number 37.”

On the performance of Tyler Van Dyke…

“I thought Tyler did well. We’d like to have that throw back, the pick, right? We tried to hit the corner route but the safety got underneath it. We had about four shots called where either we had a breakdown in protection or a breakdown in the route itself. The flea flicker he threw on the money and he had some other really good throws as well. Really proud of [Xavier] Restrepo because he got dinged up last week and a little in practice and he went out there and played. Tyler played a good game. Was it an elite performance by him? I don’t think he’d tell you that. He’ll want to get on there and see some of the reads and what he saw as it relates to coverage. When you play some of those corner coverages and that safety is late, pushing to one side, you got to see what he saw and talk about his sets and go forward.”

On keeping Frank Gore Jr., to 10 yards…

“[The defense], all week long and all camp long, have been striking and coming out of their hips. We’ve gotten better in the weight room and we’ve gotten better with technique and certainly with scheme. With the linebackers, tackling has been an issue. Last week, it showed up so, so. Today, I feel like we got better at that, but more importantly, we were squeezing out their gaps. They are a gap team, they are a wide zone team, they are a split zone team. The best way to stop that is to take those gaps with those big guys – they’re about 320 across the board – and come out of your hips and press those holes. I think our guys did a fairly good job of that and when they tried to go wide zone, our perimeter players played with tremendous burst and acceleration and got guys on the ground. Third down was still an issue in the first half, we saw that. They hit us with a couple pass plays. That’s something that we fixed as the game went on. I think the defense got better and better as the game went on. Even on that last drive, we played a lot of the guys who are on the threes and twos, and they really showed up and showed up strong. I’m proud of the way those guys regrouped and went out there and played Hurricane football.”

On blocking out the noise…

“I think you always have to be on your toes about something. You just don’t know. As you’re learning each other, like Coach Saban said, as you’re referring to, everything is rat poison. The moment you come out of anything, guys want to look at their [phones] for what? What is that affirmation of? The affirmation is what you put on film. That is your resume. We really focus on being internally driven and gearing everything towards that because everything outside of that, all the noise and the fluff, that isn’t going to help you when you’re playing against really good football teams in crunch situations. We get ahead of it by attacking it and bringing so much intensity and focus and pressure to practice that we try to somehow recreate what comes with big games and tough opponents. That’s always, I think, the concern with the advent of social media and all the things that come with it.”

On looking ahead to Texas A&M…

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for [Coach Fisher]. They are a very talented football team. Most importantly, we need to go back and asses our film. Where are our holes? Where could we have been better today? Where can we firm up the things that we can be better at so we can operate at a high level in a very hostile environment, as we know, against a really talented football team. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Fisher and his team.”

Courtesy : University of Miami Athletics

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