Here’s part two of Paul Rhoads’ weekly press conference that was held this morning in Ames. The third and final installment of presser will be posted tomorrow here at CF.
You mentioned that on Bo’s big run Saturday, that was the first time you have run that play all year. Are you guys starting to open up the playbook a little more?
PR: Every week we have actually added to the playbook. The play itself, the zone read play where the quarterback gave it to him and read what happened in the line of scrimmage was not new. But the motion of Josh Lenz traveling with that play and his backward movement towards the quarterback was. What that gives you are three options on that play. The defense must defend all of them obviously. They have to defend the dive, which they did a poor job of. They have to defend the quarterback keep and they have to defend the man coming in motion. When you have that, you have a defense moving east and west in different directions as opposed to singling in on one stoppage. So yes, the playbook has been expanded but what have done that as the weeks have gone by and we’ll continue to do so.
Can you talk about Josh Lenz a little bit? It seems like he’s becoming a bigger part of this offense.
PR: He is steady and consistent but still, the ball he dropped on Saturday is something that he’s got to quit doing because he’s dropped a few. He’s a guy who can make people miss. We don’t have a lot of those guys. We have guys who can catch the ball and if a play is blocked for seven yards, we make seven yards. We need weapons so that when a play is blocked for seven yards, they end up with an 18-yard gain. He can do that. He was a natural fit for this offense the first time we looked at his high school tape because of the bubble screens and we thought that he could be a vertical factor. He’s proven that.
What problems, if any does Zac Robinson pose?
PR: He poses plenty of them for us because he can throw the ball, he’s athletic. All of the spread offenses in this league are better served with a quarterback who is dangerous with his feet as well as dangerous with his arm. Zac is that. He’s an experienced leader in this league. He’s won six football games. He’s taken his team to a top 20 ranking. He does that because he’s an outstanding football player. Again, as a defense, we’ll be extremely tested this week.
How is he different from Jerrod Johnson?
PR: Johnson could beat you with his legs but he really didn’t want to run the ball from a run game package. He was a bigger fear to scramble and they benefited from that than he was to truly keep the ball, where I think that Robinson is dangerous from all aspects. Running a football is a part of the offense. Running the football in a scramble situation and throwing the ball down the field.
How much has this team missed Dez Bryant?
PR: He is a great player and it’s fortunate for us that we don’t have to defend him. But they hadn’t lost a game without him until Saturday against an outstanding Texas football team. I don’t think that it changes a whole lot about what they do. They have got plenty of weapons. They’ve been playing with a backup running back too. We think that he is as good of a running back as we have faced all year.
If Kendall Hunter can return, what does he add to the mix?
PR: I think that he adds depth and fresher legs as the game goes along. That provides that different speed when you get into the second half and somebody is inserted into the ball game. But again, it doesn’t change what they do. It gives them more weapons and fresher weapons.
Until Reggie went out, you had the same guys in your offensive line all of the time. How important has that been?
PR: That’s extremely important. Those guys playing together and the feel for certain blocks that you don’t necessarily see when two guys work together to begin a double-team and the other moves to the next level to block a linebacker or pass protection when you pass off of a stunt or a blitzing linebacker. When you’re doing that together as a unit of five all of the time, there is great harmony involved. When you switch it up like we have had to the last couple weeks, where a tackle becomes a guard, a new guy is in the lineup, somebody else is making the calls and with the last two crowds where they had to do the snap count as well, that can create some difference. We talked about this morning as a staff, how significant was it to the naked eye…probably not very much. But when key plays as far as execution, it did affect us on Saturday in College Station.
You don’t have an off week this year. Does that bug you?
PR: It doesn’t bother me from a routine standpoint. I liked it being routine. When you’re teaching and coaching 18, 19 and 20 year olds, they like routine too and arguably need routine as you go through the season so that’s a positive. Recruiting is challenging. You get 42 evaluation days to get out in the fall. We have to use those in the course of a preparation week. We had seven guys fly out last Thursday night to Texas to recruit. They missed parts of Friday’s meetings and being around the players. Sometimes that’s harmful. I think that our team is mature enough to handle that situation and move forward. You have coaches out until two in the morning, just getting to hotels and then getting up early the next morning for a full day of recruiting. That becomes taxing on coaches as the year goes along. The healing process, who knows when you’re hurting, when you’re tired, when you’re banged up when that open week comes. Sometimes that can be good. Sometimes not good at all.