Dave Warner Michigan State OC Talks About His Spartan Offense, The QBs & YSU
Q: What would be the best thing that would happen to you guys as an offense?
A: Our hope is that, first of all, we start fast and it lights a fire in us offensively. Whoever that quarterback is gets us going and it snowballs from there and people sort of feed off it. That’s what our hope is…whether it’s something that happens in the running game, pass game. But something offensively where we can say okay here we go and it gets everybody going.
Q: If Coach D decides Damion Terry is ready, is he in your mind ready for the moment?
A: Well, if Coach D says he’s ready, I guess he is. That’s certainly a decision he has to make and our job has been with all quarterbacks trying to get them ready to go when the lights come on.
Q: Is he progressing, even with the injury?
A: Yeah, oh yeah. Yeah, he’s like any freshman. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. He continues to improve with every rep. Every rep is important to him, just like it is with a lot of quarterbacks. But he’s been making progress, yes.
Q: Is it kind of a hold-your-breath moment for a coach when a guy takes his first snap?
A: It is, but I think at the same time those guys… Connor Cook is sort of a laid back guy and I don’t think he was real nervous, I don’t think. Damion Terry’s pretty cool for a guy that’s been here a couple of months. So I’m sure he’d be nervous and the butterflies would be shaking but I would think he’d handle it okay.
Q: Did you say will? He will be nervous?
A: I said he could be. Sure he’s gonna be nervous, yeah, if he gets in there.
Q: What’s the challenge like for you in terms of game prep when you know if Terry plays it’s gonna be a really limited package…you’re not sure who’s gonna be there at what time.
A: I think it’s sort of business as usual. Every week we’ve gone into…only a couple of weeks…but it can change depending on who’s in there. And it may change a little bit more if Damion Terry gets in there. Obviously Andrew Maxwell’s got his strengths and Connor Cook has his strengths and Tyler’s got his strengths. So it changes depending on who’s in there.
Q: What kind of effect does that have on the huddle when you have 3 or 4 different guys, even throughout practice?
A: I think Coach Staten will tell you that those guys are gonna rally around whoever’s in there. He’s actually said that…offensive linemen, they’re gonna do their deal, whoever’s in there. Is that what we want? That’s still not what we want, no. But that’s how those guys respond.
Q: Do you have 4 different big binders or use 4 different colors of ink with the different quarterbacks and different plays?
A: No, there’s no big binders or anything like that. It’s just sort of a little bit of a separate game plan, I guess you would say. A little bit more narrowed down depending on who’s in there.
Q: This is a little strange for us. How strange is it for you? You haven’t…
A: Very strange. In all my years, 29 years or whatever, I’ve never been through a situation where you have this many quarterbacks competing and juggling as much as we have. But we have been so it’s strange and it is what it is.
Q: What is it that Connor’s doing that’s keeping him at that #1 spot right now?
A: I think it’s a situation where he’s gonna create, gonna move around. You saw last week he’s capable of running the football a little bit and he’s capable of extending plays and throwing the ball downfield after he moves in the pocket. That’s what he’s always done for us in games and practice situations, so that’s what keeps him in.
Q: There’s a lot of concern about the offense. How about inside the building? How are the staff meetings right now?
A: Concern would be the best word. We’re not blind. We’re not ignorant. We know we’ve got some issues that we’re trying to deal through. But we’re not in a panic mode. We’re trying to figure it out with the idea of long term who’s gonna… At quarterback obviously, that’s a big thing. But it’s an offensive problem. What’s the solution to get us through this Big 10 season and ultimately to the Rose Bowl? We’re trying to take our time to push through it and at the same time win football games on the weekend, but also looking down the road.
Q: Other than quarterback, what are the things right now that really concern you the most? What needs to be fixed quickly?
A: I think we’re still juggling some receivers around, even though I think some younger guys showed that they can move on and progress at wide receiver. Tight end is a little bit of a situation also. Not that people are playing bad, but… I guess it’s probably like quarterback. Quarterbacks aren’t playing bad. We’re just trying to figure out which one is gonna be the guy to take us where we wanna go. And I think you can say that about some other positions. That’s really what we’re attempting to do here through this week again.
Q: You talked about starting fast. What about playing fast? Is that lacking?
A: I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I think tempo is something we always talk about as an offense. We’re trying to change it up a little bit. I thought our backs hit the hole fast last week. We had some nice holes to hit. In the pass game, probably…yeah, the pass game we’d like to get the ball a little bit quicker.
Q: Without disrespecting Youngstown State, isn’t the urgency stronger with Notre Dame and the Big 10 schedule right around the corner?
A: Well, yeah. Absolutely. We’re certainly not gonna dis Youngstown State. They’re a very good football team. They beat Pitt last year. I know a handful of their coaches very, very well and they’re gonna come up here ready to play.
Q: With the schedule that’s coming, you gotta find answers.
A: Yeah, it is. Yup. Yes we do. There might be a little additional sense of urgency there.
Q: Following up on that, the Youngstown State coaching staff includes Mark Mangino. It wasn’t too long ago he was the National Coach of the Year. How much is Youngstown State gonna throw at you and how much of a concern is that?
A: I think it’s no different than any other week. I think we’re always ready, hopefully ready, for whatever they can throw at ya. But you never know…the unknown.
Q: What are they showing as far as their personality defensively?
A: They’re an aggressive defense. They play very, very hard. I think that’s a reflection of their Defense Coordinator, their Head Coach. They’re gonna be aggressive in their blitzes. Similar to what we face against our own defense. So we’ve gotta be ready for them to throw (??) at us, especially being as we’ve struggled a little bit. There’s no reason for them to hold back.
Q: Primarily a man team?
A: Both. I would not say primarily a man team. But they’ll play it and they play it well. They have some pretty good corners.
Q: Was there ever a point this off-season where drastic schematic changes on offense were talked about or looked at all?
A: No. Nothing drastic. Nothing drastic.
Q: Brad sounded pretty optimistic about Damion after yesterday’s practice. Did you get the same sense that he helped himself yesterday in practice?
A: Yeah, he helped himself. Because probably he got some more reps than he’s gotten. But at the same time we’re still trying to juggle who’s gonna be in position to play for us on Saturday. But any rep he gets helps himself. I saw him progress through practice through reps yesterday.
Q: With any young quarterbacks there are mistakes. You almost have to expect that if Damion plays that there’s gonna be mistakes.
A: Yeah. There’s gonna be mistakes with any quarterback. There really is. And that’s part of the tough thing that we’re going through right now is just…where do you draw the line? Where do you draw the line with a quarterback? We’ve given them all opportunities trying to get someone to reach up and grab ahold of the position. Realistically, they’re all gonna make mistakes. Down the road we’re gonna figure out who the best guy is and we’re gonna go with him and live with his mistakes.
Q: Internally with coaches, is there kind of a line in the sand? Is it knowing before the Notre Dame game or the Big 10 season…
A: No, no, I wouldn’t say there’s been a line drawn in the sand. But at the same time, everybody realizes it’s gotta happen sooner or later.
Q: What are your thoughts about what’s going on at tight end right now? Were they open a few times that the quarterbacks didn’t see them?
A: Yeah, we missed it a couple of times last week. I guess that just comes from experience as well. So hopefully we can find those guys a little bit more. We haven’t found him yet, so… Sooner or later we’re gonna find him.
Q: What has Lyles shown?
A: He’s progressed. Again, a situation where every rep has gotta be a good rep, or a rep for him to get better. He provides some athletic ability. Not that the other tight ends are not, but he’s got some speed and some wiggle down the field. He’s got good ball skills. He just needs to learn the offense. He’s got a long way to go…he’s been here a couple of days. But we’re excited about the possibilities for him down the road.
Q: Coach was talking about Delton Williams yesterday being kinda in a bit of limbo. Can you talk about where Delton is?
A: Delton’s a very good running back, as is Gerald Holmes a very good running back, for freshmen. It just so happens that right now we feel good about the three guys that we’re playing. As of right now there’s no need for him but he’s a very good football player, whether he plays running back or linebacker or whatever.