Al Groh discusses the Maryland game
As the Cavaliers begin their work for Saturday’s game at Maryland, read what head coach Al Groh had to say about the upcoming match-up vs. the Terrapins at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
Q: Ralph Friedgen’s teams always seem to have a really good vertical passing game. How concerned are you about their team passing?
A: (Darrius) Hayward-Bey is one of the best vertical receivers in the conference. Most people can remember how he started the Miami game for Maryland last year with two scoring plays within the first four or five plays of the game. He is a significant threat and a concern on every play in the game.
Q: Can you discuss Maryland’s running game with Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball?
A: In Keon and Lance you have two players who, when they finish their career, are going to be amongst the most productive backs in Maryland football history. Anytime that can be said about a player that pretty well distinguishes them both amongst their current contemporaries in this conference, and those people who have preceded them. They’re two very, very good backs. They’ve got size, they’ve got elusiveness (and) they’ve got speed. Anytime backs are productive to the degree that they have been, obviously there has got to be a lot of good work going on up front. It’s by far by far the largest group that we have played against. There will be some matchups where there will be a 50-60 pound difference between our defensive player who’s matched up on them. In a couple of cases there will be a couple of matchups with a couple of linebackers that will be a 100-pound difference, so we have that to overcome. The two primary on-the-line tight ends are both 6-6 and 6-8, so they present a size differential for our outside guys that they haven’t seen before. It’s a real good group of tight ends, it’s a good line, (and) there are two really good backs. It’s just a good solid offense and a good solid running game.
Q: Do you have to prepare for two quarterbacks, or are they pretty similar?
A: The plays that have been called are pretty similar, so in that respect we are not going to compound the issues for ourselves, To follow up on the question about the running backsthe issues that the running game presents are significant enough that if we try to pile more issues on top of it we’ll just compound it for ourselves.
Q: After the game the other night a lot of players talked about the boxing match mentality and they mentioned Joe Frazier. Can you explain why Joe Frazier?
A: If you have any familiarity with the styles of some these fightersJoe Frazier, Marvin Haglerthose type of guys, they were middle-of-the-ring, go toe-to-toe with you take a punch and give a punch (kind of boxers). That is kind of the makeup of our team right now as opposed to the Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard (and) those kind of guys who were fan favorites and a little spicier in their style. That’s not our team; we’ve become comfortable with the awareness of who we are as a team and that’s how we have to try to play the games.
Q: What does Maryland defense challenge your team with?
A: Inside they have two of the blockiest, thickest guys to put on our guards and center that we’ve played against this year. Each one is the stoutest player that we’ve played against in there. If he was in there by himself but they’re side by side in (Dre) Moore and (Carlos) Feliciano they’re the two stoutest guys together that we’ve played against in there. Those kind of guys always create issues as far as getting movement inside as it dictates and if you can’t get movement on those guys the linebackers get to run free. Those guys are very good there. They’ve got two veteran guys outside in (Trey) Covington and (Jeremy) Navarre who’ve played very well against us in the past. Navarre, in particular, not only in our games with him, but in watching him on tape against other teams in the league, I just think he is one of the underrated and one of the real good players in the conference. They certainly run their share of schemes, but they’re a little bit more like us. They’re based around being a beat-blockers team as opposed to just doing it all with schemes and stunts.
Q: You’ve used all of your tight ends on special teams throughout the season and Tom Santi had a big tackle last week. Please talk about his play there?
A: That was a heck of a play. That really showed Tom’s versatility. As much as anything, I think it was another example of the mentality of the teamhere is one of the star players on the team giving that type of effort on a critical special teams play and laying it on the line and making that kind of play. When you’ve got your first-team players and your star players taking on whatever task that you ask them to, it shows the mindset of the entire team. When guys like Tom are doing it, Chris Long’s on the field goal team, Nate Lyles is on two or three special teams, then they set the way for everybody and they show everybody on the team the emphasis that should be on special teams plays.
Q: If it’s not realistic to expect that Jameel Sewell won’t complete every pass, is it realistic to think you can get him to avoid the costly interceptions like he’s had each of the last two weeks?
A: We clearly have to get those out of our system. These last two games have been pretty hard fought games. Our players have done a good job of overcoming adversities and fighting back and not getting discouraged by them, but the reality is that we have given the other team the ball three times from the 13-yard line in. To play the type of game that is going to be this team’s style this year, it doesn’t mean that it is the chosen style or the preferred one, it’s the that’s best for this team and the one that this team is most capable of. We just can’t continue to do those things. It makes it too easy for the other team and too hard for us. We just can’t continue to do that. Whoever is responsible for it and it’s been across the board, it’s been ball carriers, it’s been throwers, it’s been kick returners. There’s got to be substantial awareness that the ball isn’t a toy, it’s not a toy. When somebody has the ball, he’s carrying the aspirations and the dreams of everybody in the organization.
Q: Is this the style you expected of the team or has it kind of evolved?
A: On most teams coaches have schemes that they can do everything withplay four wide receivers, five wide receivers, one wide receiver, blitz all the time, play zone all the timeultimately the style that any team takes on during a particular season is dictated by the skills of the players. If you’re wise that’s what it is. Otherwise you are trying to do something that the players can’t do very well and it’s not going to turn out. Early in the year we said a few times that it takes a few games into the season for every coach to understand exactly the strong points and the weak points of his team. You get an idea at practice, but until you do it against competition and you have to react to what the other players are doing and what the other team’s scheme is, then you get a real good idea. We start to see our team develop and we can see that this is probably the style in which we are going to be most comfortable here for awhile.