I thought the kids played well in the first half but in the second half they kind of got out manned a little bit and struggled. They kind of got after us. . . our running backs did a good job with our protection and gave Carson some time.
We have studied them and watched their game film. They are a very, very good football team offensively, defensively and special teams. Looking at their defense they fly around and play with a great deal of passion. They strip the ball and cause a lot of turnovers. I think coach Calhoun has done a spectacular job with that. Offensively, Chad Hall is their go to guy; they like to have him with the ball in his hands and he is very good at it when he gets it. I think that the things that they do along with their quarterback Sean Carney, those are two very special players. I think that it is obvious that coach Calhoun has come in there and changed some things around; he gives you a lot of things to work at and makes you work. Thank goodness we had the extra time because there are a lot of things that we have to prepare for. Should be a heck of a football game; we are excited about it. As history has shown I think we have only won three games in the last long time, I think 1988, 1995 and 2005. We've only won three times in the last 18. A lot of that is history and we weren't around during all of those times but we understand the importance of this football game as a team and as a staff.
I've only been a head coach a little while so I didn't study that much last year but in my mind I have a picture of an option team from last year. What coach Calhoun has done is come in and he has kept the option and their ability and all of the good and the positive things of the option as well as having a quarterback that can drop back and throw the ball and can run it. They'll run some of the shotgun option that we've seen with some of these other teams. They'll line up in two backs and run a power game. They'll run some zone. They'll run split zone and inside outside zone. . . they can line up in different formations and give you all kinds of looks. I think it's fantastic what he has done with that offense. He works very hard at it.
On dealing with the high altitude of Colorado:
I don't worry about it too much. I went to the University of Colorado and we used to have, as a distraction to anybody that came in there, we had signs all over the visiting locker room. It is what it is, it's not that big of a deal. It's whatever you make of it. If you want to make a big deal out of it it will be a big deal. . . . it is what it is and we won't make a big deal out of it at all.
On the effects of playing three consecutive road games:
Other than getting on the airplane really it's not that big of a difference. We were at Georgia Tech last week and then we had a bye week; we were home all week. We've been home now for 10 days and we'll get on an airplane and go out there Thursday evening and practice. I know we haven't won on the road this year . . . to me road games the only thing is that we don't have the Corps of Cadets there other than that it's simply the inconvenience of having to pack up your trunks and bags and all that kind of stuff. I really don't see it as a big deal; people want to make it a big deal and I've heard it my whole career . . . I don't know what the problem is.
Can you put your finger on the difference for this team at home and on the road?
I wish I could. Maybe it's the people who we play. We've played some good teams on the road. I can't really name them all. Georgia Tech and Boston College come to mind real fast. We've played some good teams here; we thought that Rhode Island was a good team and we thought Tulane was a good team. They are not bad teams; I don't care what their record is. You still got to line up and play. If I knew I would examine it an say, "well this is the problem, let's fix it." I don't know that there is a problem other than maybe the opponents that we are playing. But otherwise we do the same thing; when we go on the road we stay at night at the hotel even at our homes games and we have our evening meetings. There's no real difference.
With the bye week have you had a chance to fix some of the problems on offense?
We looked at our offense and saw what we had to work on. I think everybody knows it whether you are at Air Force Academy or the University of Colorado or where ever. You have to play within yourselves; you can't ask your players to do things that they physically and mentally not capable of doing. There's a lot of things that we'd like to do but maybe we are not capable of it. So what we've kind of done is pull everything back in and looked at who we are and worked down a little bit. We are not going to make wholesale changes and say "this is how we are going to do it."
Is it the players or the scheme?
I think the answer is yes, it's the players and the scheme and everything that you do. There's a million plays that you can run and there's a million different things that you can do but we have to understand as coaches who we are, what we do and how we do it. I think this is all part of the process that all of us are going through, the players and the coaches, everybody. We'll work very hard at it.
Is there a guy that you haven't played yet that you think could help you?
I think that we have a lot of players. It's not like we are holding anybody in a bag and we are going to release them when we think the time is right because the time has been right; we want to win. We are doing everything we can as coaches and players. They kids have prepared very well and are doing what we have asked them to do. We don't have some secret weapon that we can pull out of our hat, if we did I would have released him in week one.
Comment on things have worked and haven't worked since you came to Army?
We've brought in a new offensive coordinator in Tim Walsh. We tried look at some of the things that he had done in the past and had success with and we tried to merge some of the things that we have done here at Army in the past and had success with. The biggest deal is that you just have to match up the people you have and their abilities with the schemes and the things you try to do. Some of them have worked well and some no so well. We'll just continue to work on that. I think that coach Calhoun has done a tremendous job and I enjoy watching the film. It is something that we will study and watch through the off season. He's done a tremendous job in what he has done with the offense that he has.
Pevoto's status? Is he back in the mix?
Yes. This week off has done a lot of us a lot of good. He will be back in the mix and some of our linemen will be back into the mix. I think that having this time where these kids can get some rest and get some extra treatment has helped us a lot.
Will Carson Williams start?
The answers are yes Carson will start unless something huge happens. Today's our first day of practice since we've been back although we practiced last week. This will be David's first of practice. You don't just come in after missing this much time as a quarterback, although he's healthy. . . . we'll have to see what happens with that.
How have you prepared for Air Force?
Like we do every week, this isn't more or less, we happen to have some extra time. We've got their film, we do a film exchange so they have our film. We break down everything that they do. They do it by personnel groups. Really, it's no different than breaking down Georgia Tech or any of our other opponents other than the fact that they do a lot of things differently. You just can't say that this is what they do, they are two backs running between the tackles, they spread it out. They have a very good quarterback; I don't think he's turned the ball over; in six or seven weeks he hasn't had an interception. I think he's very good. He's an exceptional quarterback. It's not like he's throwing to wide-open receivers. He can thread that ball in there.
Have you made adjustments to reduce turnovers?
We've changed some plays and taken some out, we don't run some things that we ran at the beginning, which is no different than anyone else. To actually say that we are going to take this out because we turned the ball over; we have to get better at protecting the quarterback, we have to get receivers running better routes at times, we have to get the quarterbacks making proper reads and really believing what he sees and not throwing it to some people and throwing it to other people. There are a lot of things; runningbacks have to carry the ball and secure the ball. There's a lot of things, it's not just as simple as pulling that play out. We are working on it; they kids are not afraid to work.
On dynamics of Air Force offense and Chad Hall:
They'll line him up in what looks like a 2-back, an I formation. They'll line him up with what looks like a split back formation with a fullback or another tailback. They'll put him at the wing, which is a very difficult option look that we've seen. They'll put him out as a wide wing and bring him around in what we call the ghost motion him around the corner; sometimes they hand him the ball and sometimes they don't. They have a reverse that we've seen them run and probably five times they've scored touchdowns on it. They throw him the ball, he's a good receiver. He's their go-to guy. They want to get him the ball as many times as possible. When he gets the ball he's very, very effective.
What does it mean to you to be a head coach and be a part of this rivalry?
I'm no more or less proud to be a part of this rivalry than I am to be head coach at the United States Military Academy. This is part of it. I'd like to tell you that this is just another football game but I'd be lying to you. This is not like playing Georgia Tech or Temple. This playing Air Force and our kids know it and our coaches know it. We understand who we are and what we represent and all the people that we do represent. I wouldn't say I'm more proud because we are playing Air Force but I do realize that this is a very special game. I'm so proud to be here and be a head coach. I couldn't be any more proud. This is a special game to our players, the Corps of Cadets and the Alumni.
How excited are you about being in your first Commanders in Chief Trophy game?
I'm very excited but, again, I'm not playing. I don't get to go out and burn my emotions so I have to be very careful about where I keep my emotions are; the kids don't need anymore stress, they understand what is going on this is something that we have to take care of ourselves. If we take care of us offensively, defensively and special teams and we do the things that we know we can do and that we are good at and continue to practice those things then when we go play on Saturday, like I said before, it doesn't matter who they line up if we take care of ourselves we should be able compete with them.
On practicing at Fort Carson on Friday.
We are very excited about that. We did this two years ago at Fort Carson and the people there and all the families have been very supportive. . . We think it's a special occasion so we will practice here on Thursday and travel out to Colorado Springs and get up and go to through our Friday practice over at Fort Carson and the kids are looking forward to it. I know it was a big event last time.
Would a win against Air Force be the biggest win of your career?
This would rank right up there in the top four. [laughter from audience]
On recruiting as compared to Air Force:
I don't know. I know that we take care of who we are. I'm very pleased with what we are doing in recruiting right now. I couldn't compare us with Air Force.
On playing freshmen:
They only have this many weeks to learn what we are doing. It's hard to come in as a freshman and play a lot. They are learning more and are doing a good job. We wouldn't put anybody in until they are ready but sometimes you have to put them in because maybe you dont't have a choice. The people we've put in I feel very comfortable with.
On changes in the starting lineup:
We haven't made any big changes on either side of the ball. I think we'll play it out; we are getting some guys healthy again and it will all play out. Last week we practiced with no pads on and it's difficult to evaluate players when they don't have pads on. Today we'll strap it on and we'll get after it; it'll be much easier to evaluate.
On the tailback position:
There's no one that we can add to the picture; Tony Moore has been injured and probably won't make it back, it doesn't look like it. We're using Patrick Mealy and Tony Dace, the people that we have. The people who start, they earn it in practice every week. Whoever has the best week of practice will be the starting tailback.
NOTES: The Rutgers is a near sellout and less than 1,500 tickets remain. Kick off time for Army's home finally against Tulsa will be at noon and that game will be televised on ESPN Classic.