Jones on defense: ‘Just go get the ball’
This is the second of a three-part series of questions and answers with Hawaii football coach June Jones. The questions are from Dave Reardon
and Kalani Simpson
of the Star-Bulletin and the KKEA 1420-AM UH football radio team of Bobby Curran and Robert Kekaula.
How about the running backs -- who is the best blocker coming back?
Answer: (David) Farmer. He'll get his time. There will be times when I know he knows what to do. The other kids, I don't know if they know what to do yet.
It matters because it's all about the quarterback. The fullback is a sixth offensive lineman without the tight end. You've got to have a guy who when the line screws up he knows that the line screwed up.
Q: A lot of the fans don't know about Farmer. Is it because he doesn't have a YouTube video?
A: (Laughs.) He's just a solid team player, played on special teams last year. He played (offense). ... I played him at times because he knew what to do.
Q: Who's the best blocking back you ever had?
A: Craig Heyward was the best I ever had, in the pros. In college, probably the best I've ever had in knowing what to do was Afatia (Thompson). You know, like Farmer. Afatia wasn't fast like Farmer, about the same speed, but he knew who to block and what to do. Actually, to be honest, a guy who I should say is better than Afatia is Michael Brewster. He was only 5-foot-6, 185 pounds, but he was as good as anybody I've had.
Q: As good a runner as Leon Wright-Jackson is, do you think he's ever been asked to block?
A: I feel comfortable after watching film of him running. When guys come he'll power run, so he's not afraid, he'll initiate contact when he's running. So if he'll do that he'll be fine.
Q: How is the defense handling the transition from Jerry Glanville to Greg McMackin?
A: Greg is unique in how he does stuff, just like Jerry's unique in what he does and Greg has the same philosophy that I want -- that's why I brought him here in '99. He's always fielding one of the top takeaway teams wherever he's been. We were when he was here in '99. And that goes with what we do offensively. They don't have to stop anybody, if they take the ball away and give us more chances, we win.
Q: Does a defensive coach like Buddy Ryan buy into that?
A: Oh, Buddy Ryan could work with me. That's why it's freaky. I'll never forget this, when he was in Philadelphia they won 27-0. He's in the press conference (upset) ... 'We didn't take the ball away today!' And he also realized that that's the only thing that matters on defense. If you give us four more chances on offense, we're going to win.
Takeaways and being the top offensive team win more games than any other combination.
Q: Is it hard to get defensive coaches to subscribe to that?
A: It is, because it's been inbred in them for so long that you want to burn the clock. And I said, If you don't want to be on the field get off the field! Stop 'em in three plays. (Take the ball away.) Yeah, exactly. Get me on the field!
So the mind-set was not that way. I think any defensive coach who coached for me ... I guarantee you they'd rather coach in what we do than coach with what other coaches do. Because I don't hassle them. I say just get off the field and be aggressive and take the ball away. I don't care if they score. Just go get the ball.
Q: They like it that you want them to dictate the action, rather than letting the opponents do so?
A: Exactly. You hold onto your rear end, in every game if you make a mistake in the fourth quarter you're going to lose. I'd rather play the other way. Go blitz. Just go blitz, I don't care. If you sack 'em that's great, if you get a pick, that's great, if they score, that's OK, too.
Q: Have you ever told them, "Let 'em score"?
A: No, I've never told anybody that. But I've had games where I knew they were going to run out the clock and kick a field goal with no time. It's kind of like basketball, the philosophy of letting them have the last shot. They're running down the clock, should you foul them, let them make the one-and-one, and then you've got enough time to make the last shot, or are you going to let them go down the final second, take the shot, and you lose?
Q: Which new players do you think might surprise people with their impact?
A: Of the new guys coming in? I would say Leon Jackson obviously, just off his tapes. I haven't seen him yet. But I would say he's a guy who might have the opportunity to make a lot of big plays. The two linemen coming in, Sila Lefiti and Austin Hansen, are going to be competitive on the O-line right away. Defensively, the kid from Hoover High School (Ala.), Korey Reynolds, can run. He can run and he's 240. We need to decide whether he's a D-end or outside 'backer. He'll probably play like Cameron Allen-Jones did, he might play some offense in that big slot position, too. And Chris Leatigaga on the defensive line, he's a player.
Q: You've said (No. 2 quarterback) Tyler Graunke will play more than last year -- will it be in a different role than last year?
A: Probably the same. I've put him in in the first quarter, second quarter, that kind of thing. He's done that for a couple years. But more this year.
Q: Because of Colt Brennan being a senior and what he's done, do you expect to attract more quarterbacks?
A: We've gotten more video the last six months than we've ever had, even Dan (quarterbacks coach Morrison) said. Because he looks at every one of them. And then he brings me down and says, 'You need to look at these 10 guys.' And he's gotten more this year than ever before from guys who can play. He didn't know if it just happens to be one of those years or more kids sending it because of Colt's success. I think we're a combination of both. I mean, we've been on national TV. College Football Today, and everybody watches that stuff.
Q: How much did playing on the mainland in the daytime help with exposure? It seemed the Utah State game was when everybody started talking about Colt.
A: I don't know if the time thing hurts us. Like you say, Alabama, that's why that (Miami recruit Robert) Marve kid called us, he was on a visit at Alabama, that weekend, he saw us and he called us.
I think the Florida thing next year would help us. I don't know if it's the daytime or East Coast time, every thing helps. That's one of the reasons I wanted to play the (military) academies, because they get covered. The New York Times, the Washington Post, they cover Navy. You know, they cover Army. The Army game was here, but it got that kind of national exposure that maybe 1 o'clock games get.
Q: Why doesn't UH have more games scheduled against the academies? (Note: UH is scheduled to host Navy in 2009.)
A: I have no idea. I know Paul Johnson was here, I played golf with him. He doesn't want to play us. But we've been talking about it since 1999. Now, we have scheduled (all the academies) since I've been here. But why don't we have five years -- like that deal with Colorado? Why don't we play Air Force five straight years? In 2011, -12, -13, -14, -15 right now? Or you know, why don't we have Army -- Army says 'We're filled up through 2012.' OK, we'll take 2013 through 2017.
We can't play Army or Navy unless there's a bye week after the game, and the Army-Navy game must be the last game. They won't go past that. I told them (come late). (Paul Johnson) said, 'That's it, we can't go past that.' ... I said, We'll come up there.
It would be a hell of a game because he can move the ball against anybody, they've proven that. But he knows that they would have trouble stopping us because they don't have the athletes in the secondary.
Tomorrow: The scheduling discussion continues, and Jones also shares his thoughts on BCS vs. mid-majors, a national playoff and the possibility of a $1 million annual salary.