Al Groh Weekly Football Press Conference Transcript
COACH GROH: We have had a particular interest in Mark’s (Herzlich) circumstances because at one time we were hopeful that he would be here. So we’ve had a lot of personal discourse with him during that time frame. I think you hear even more about the story and it extends to the fact that the least once he attended lacrosse camp here so he’s very familiar with the University of Virginia, we’re very familiar with Mark. As a result of that experience while we have not played Boston College while he’s been there, we have been tuned into the success he’s had as a player. So when we heard about the circumstance in the spring, we were very sensitive to it.
So it’s nice to see him apparently well on top of this situation and doing very well with it. Anything more on Mark and his situation? Aaron can give with you more on that.
QUESTION: What is the per diem?
COACH GROH: Trust me, I don’t know, Aaron can tell you that. It’s different home and away. Frankly I give mine away every week so I don’t even open the envelope.
THE MODERATOR: I think it totals out to $1500 total for the team.
QUESTION: As a high school player, what was he?
COACH GROH: Very rugged, high energy, very rugged, physical player. Tall, lanky, you could see what he was going to become and he certainly has lived up to that.
QUESTION: He committed somewhere else before Boston College, anything on that?
COACH GROH: No, I would say that we would have been very happy to have him on our team.
This game here, this will be the second of four games in November in which we play a team that has their designs on winning nine or 10 games. In fact, if that came true for all the teams in November it could quite possibly bring to six the total of teams we play this year that have their designs on winning 9 or 10 games or more. Obviously for example, TCU has their designs on winning more than that, based on where they are, you would say that Georgia Tech has their designs on that.
Another good challenge for our team. Another good style that we’re playing against. Just thinking about it coming over here, not important enough for me to do any research on it, but since expansion occurred and Boston College came in the league we have only played ’em one time and probably not too many teams that have gone through this whole expansion thing and at this time had only one occurrence with somebody else in the conference.
So, we don’t have a lot of personal competitive familiarity with them, but they have through all the changes that they have had up there, they maintain a lot of continuity in their style of play. Obviously Frank Spaziani has been there through the Tom O’Brien and Jagodzinski time and now his time, so the defensive system is similar to what we faced when we went up there.
Then Gary Tranquill having the overlap with Tom O’Brien, who was the previous head coach and was here, and Spaziani’s system is reflective of what was in place at that time. They have a clear-cut ideas of what system they want to play, what kind of players fit into that system, they develop a lot of familiarity with the players themselves, and I think everybody on our staff would say that — this sounds like a funny thing to say but a visually pleasing team to watch play. In other words they got a system, they’re very fundamentally sound in their scheme.
They’re very fundamentally sound in their execution, they have certain things that they want to accomplish and they’re going to play the game on those terms. So they’re going to try to force the other team every week to out-execute them and not give anything away and they’ve been quite successful in doing that.
Big thing that really changes the circumstance is they found a player who decided he would rather face blitzes than curveballs and having Dave Shinskie as the quarterback clearly has made a big difference. While he may be an older player he is doing a remarkable job for a player in his first year of college football and has made some plays and made some throws in games that have elevated his team as all really good quarterbacks have to do.
QUESTION: Are there things that he does that on tape that show he is 25 or 26 years old?
COACH GROH: Well, he makes some — I don’t know what position he played, Zach, but I know there are not as many moving parts in baseball than there are in football so he’s seen things from a coverage standpoint in front of his eyes and whatnot that sometimes his decisions with the ball are things that he’s had to learn from.
But even in those cases he seems to make — and I can only tell from the video, their coaches may concur or have a different opinion but he seems to make those decisions with a poise and calmness that maybe he didn’t sort it outright but it didn’t happen because he panicked. So he does seem to have the maturity that certainly would be not unexpected from a guy who is 25 years old compared to a guy who is 18 years old.
He’s done that whole minor league circuit and I think it makes you self-sufficient.
QUESTION: To follow up on a question last night about Rashawn if the game you were unfolding and you would like him to would he be getting 18, 20 carries? Would you like to see that?
COACH GROH: We would, very much, we would. It’s been very effective when he’s had the ball. We would like to see that be the case.
QUESTION: I don’t know how far back you go on film with BC but how much can you see of progress in Shinskie from earlier when he was getting the cobwebs off to now and how much more understanding does he seem to show for what’s coming?
COACH GROH: We can do it a lot of ways, we watch every game plus we can break every pattern down and watch it every time it’s occurred.
So we can see with each particular pattern how just as that play has evolved from the first occurrences through the most recent game and how he’s reacted during the course of the game, during the course of the season.
One of the marks he most certainly would get is that of a pretty fast learner. I’m sure there is a lot more out there that his coaches feel he needs to be exposed to and learn about and needs to respond to but what he has been exposed to he has done so in a progressive way.
QUESTION: What has been your background with Frank Spaziani?
COACH GROH: Oh, I wouldn’t say in any great depth. Frank was — obviously he was here and a significant part of Coach Welsh’s staff so when I would come to town to see my parents or whatnot, sometimes I would stop over and visit with those guys just for no particular reason just I’m a football guy and they were football coaches and on that basis. Then what Michael came to school here that was the first year that Frank wasn’t here. So I’m familiar with him and his accomplishments but I wouldn’t say —
QUESTION: When you have a guy trying to make an open-field tackle, how do you teach your players to do so?
COACH GROH: Yeah, don’t head down and rocket guys, that is called block tackling and we don’t teach block tackling.
QUESTION: Are they going off instinct?
COACH GROH: There are four fundamental elements of tackling, keep your head up, have a good base underneath you, club with your arms and fight to stay on your feet. That’s good fundamental tackling, flying like a rocket is not good fundamental tackling. We see lots of players in football do that these days but that’s — I’m sure there are no defensive coaches in the country that are running a drill that does that.
QUESTION: Is that a matter of overcoming instinct? Is that why a player would do that?
COACH GROH: I was never fast enough to make a “rocket tackle” more like a “spitball tackle!”
So I’m the wrong person to ask. But you see it all over the place.
You know, we used to have a coach with some people who used to have a hard time dealing with it with the players that they had on a high level doing it and I think players see other players do it, they get that idea, coaches coach other techniques.
QUESTION: Who is your best open-field tackler?
COACH GROH: Probably Ras-I. He’s had some real good open — I’m just trying to think of actual plays, he’s had some good open-field tackles this year.
QUESTION: Did the schedule-makers do BC a favor in that their quarterback had more opportunity to get his feet wet before the big tests?
COACH GROH: Right. I think anytime you have a break-in quarterback it’s better off to — we had a break-in quarterback a year ago against USC, so I would say that anything other than that would be a better progression.
QUESTION: When the offensive line has struggled, do you modify the game plan going into the game? Are there certain things you cannot do?
COACH GROH: Well, yeah, each — every week is an analysis, evaluation of the performance of the players, but then every week is also an evaluation of the match-ups that occur in a game. Match-ups are — individual match-ups, Zach are as critical to the conduct in the scheme of games at least as critical, oftentimes more critical depending on those match-ups.
So you might have a player that things having well for him for a couple of weeks and then he’s matched up against a player that it just looks like this guy is going to be too much and hopefully you have some going the other direction, here is a match-up that plays to our advantage so we want to work to that advantage, so the individual match-ups, knowing their strengths has as much to do with it.
So sometimes obviously it’s difficult for those who haven’t done all the analysis to know those circumstances but a lot of times the answer to the question of “why do you call that?” Or “why didn’t you do this or that?” It’s about match-ups.
Like an example, you might say — if somebody says “you can run out-cuts on this team” sometimes that general statement is good but a lot of times what it is — you can run out-cuts against No. 9 so wherever No. 9 is you can run — or you can trap this team. No, what you can do is trap No. 62. Because he’s proven he has difficulty against it. Why didn’t you run the trap to the right? Because No. 62 is not on the right.
So match-up with has as much to do with it — personal match-ups as matching schemes.
QUESTION: Coach, you look at your schedule you faced all kinds of teams that have different strengths and primary elements in their offense. Does Boston College remind you of any team you’ve faced already or are they pretty much their own element?
COACH GROH: Well they’re certainly not like any of the previous three. Or some of the early ones. I would say their system of play, Mark, as I said earlier, pretty well established and pretty well defined as the personality of their program.
It’s clearly what they want it to be and it’s — they own it, they made it be the way they want it to be.
QUESTION: Tackle total could be a little skewed because the defense —
Has spent so much time on the field. Steve Greer leads the team in tackles. What kind of year has he had?
COACH GROH: Going back even way back till the first game of the year, as I recall, we had a conversation about pretty impressive, pretty positive first outing for a rookie linebacker. Certainly in that context it has continued to be a positive year for him. Now, as some of those match-ups individually have become a little more challenging. You know, clearly, as might be expected, this is not a particularly profound statement, some of the guys that he had to take on playing for the Hurricanes were probably a little more difficult to deal with than some of the players he took on in the first game.
There were some schemes the other day that created some real conflicts in linebacker reads and more challenging for a first-year starter than for, say, a player like John was last year who had sifted through three and a half years of that.
So I think — I guess if you could — if I could use another analogy we’re at the time of the year when the fastballs are faster and a little more difficult to hit some out of the park for him right now.
QUESTION: I believe it was at BC in ’05 when Chris Cook broke his leg.
COACH GROH: I think you might be right. I don’t remember the incident I think we finished the game with two able corners so in all likelihood that’s correct.
QUESTION: How did he return from that injury?
COACH GROH: Fine.
QUESTION: Have you seen when they come back from something —
It kind of hit me last night watching Asante Samuel, after he kind of got nicked up a bit he avoided all contact, When a guy gets hurt like that do you kind of hold your breath and hope they return to form?
COACH GROH: Asante has had an outstanding career, he’s one of the top intercepters in the league. Rocket tackles have not exactly been his trademark. You would have to watch a lot more games besides yesterday to get a feel for how much that — whatever it was, I didn’t see the game, might have been affective.
But, yeah, clearly it’s human nature, something banged up and nature says — I mean, that’s what pain is for, to tell you to protect the injured area. Athletes have an ability to disregard that but in some cases it becomes inhibiting and even if the player is able to continue to play.
QUESTION: Chris has never lost that physicality?
COACH GROH: No, I mean it’s — probably — that’s — a broken bone is a painful injury but has the lowest residual affect of many injuries that players can have.
QUESTION: How much does the time of possession stats jump out to you?
COACH GROH: You mean “couple” meaning nine? (Chuckles.) It’s a dramatic story line on the season, clearly.
QUESTION: Coach, were you able to get any clarification on the rule in terms of instant replay and penalties, based on that?
COACH GROH: Well, there are two sides to every story. We’ve asked — there’s a clarification that’s been floated out there, we’ve also asked for our own clarification. I’m sure it will be the same. Frankly in this case we would probably be somewhat reluctant to agree or accept the clarification.
QUESTION: Saw Chris Long was on the sidelines. What does that mean to you and to the program to have guys come back and find weekends where they can come back and cheer on the team?
COACH GROH: Actually we had four guys and it was great. It’s one of the things that we had observed when we first got here, was it seemed to be the absence of players doing that. So we always talked about one of the things we wanted to do was make sure players of all generations, they didn’t have to be players that played for us, like a few weeks ago Ray Roberts was back and we were really glad to see Ray and he’s been to practice a couple of times and addressed the players. But to have those players feel a part of what’s going on is part of the legacy of a program. We had – Alan Billyk was there, Nate Lyles along with Chris, and then a player who has had a great career in his own right, Earl Sims, who played for us early on and say a very successful coach in South Florida and had a terrific win on Friday night was with us on Saturday and it is very nice to have those players with us.
QUESTION: What do you see as the main issue with your receiving corp.? Inexperience, skills? Are they fast enough?
COACH GROH: You know we’ve had guys — I don’t know — I mean, if we’re not — obviously — I think we are but if I said yes then I would say, well, how come we’re not open more? The point I want to get to is that there is a lot more things involved in getting open than speed. Speed is a significant factor, but the ability to get separation is the key factor in being an open receiver and different players get separation in different ways. Some get it through the precision of their routes, some get it from very good initial or lateral quickness, some get it through vertical speed, some get it through body size, for example, the receiver at Georgia Tech — 6-3, 230, who has good size but he gets open because of his size. He’s too big for most of the guys who are guarding him to cover him.
Steve Smith with the Panthers is open a lot and he’s quick, he may also be vertically fast but he’s away from guys that way. So everybody has to find — really there is no method as a receiver coach to say this is how you get separation, every guy has to put together his package of what he’s got, but ultimately a guy’s got to get separation from the defender, and speed is a factor that helps guys get free, I would expect it. We’ve had guys that aren’t as fast as some of the guys that we have here who got free a lot. I would say as a group overall I would think they have enough capability to get free, sooner or later.
QUESTION: Is there a guy in the program that you were kinda hoping could be the big receiver or do you need that?
COACH GROH: Bobby Smith is a young receiver, raw, that’s down the road. Does he have that type of height? He does. What will come of it is something we will see. To say we had nobody — if I didn’t say Bobby Smith I would be lying by the same token don’t take it to mean like, wow, you know, this is a comet coming across the skies.
QUESTION: I know he has a knee injury and —
COACH GROH: Right, he’s had a knee surgery that set him back, he had a hernia surgery that he came with that he missed a good deal of training camp with and then he got rolling with that and then he had another knee circumstance probably some of which he came with and because he wasn’t going to be ready to play this year it seemed prudent to get that fixed. So he’s lost some of the time going through a lot of the things that freshmen have to go through to learn how to do it all on this level.
QUESTION: How is the team responding to these past few weeks in coming back on Sundays? And second as competitors, how hard is it really for to forget and move on — is that a challenge for them to do?
COACH GROH: Well, we talk all the time and you heard me talk about getting focused on the next game and not to get too happy about the previous one, not to get too down about the previous one, the hangover results either way can have an impact on your focus and what we see on all levels of football now that there is a pretty high degree of parity and if a team doesn’t feel it has something to prove every week that might have ’em pretty close to where they need to be but not there, you know, it’s like — the picture in my mind is, look, you know, you could fill it up to there but that means you don’t have it all the way up there.
So I think when — a term that sometimes has application but I think it’s very loosely used and inaccurately used is about when a team doesn’t play well it’s always well the team was “flat” okay? That’s an easy thing to say.
Well, when the performance isn’t — when the other team is playing better, maybe they just played better. Certainly no team goes out there not wanting to play well, and not being excited about the fact that they are playing a game, but the little difference is maybe it’s that last 2 or 3% that this individual player or that team feels like they have something to prove.
Chris Long was one of the best players who played here, one of the best in the country when he played here as a senior, but his temperament was such that he felt he had something to prove every week, no matter how many tackles he had the week before, no matter what his team did, he felt he had something to you prove every week and he’s pretty much on the high end in terms of that, that’s why he has had the success he’s had. The more players you can have of that mentality on your team, obviously that creates a type of personalities that ads greatly to the advantage of the team.
So that’s what you just — you got to try to create that circumstance and that mentality. Obviously it works a lot better if you have people who bring that naturally with them then if the coach is trying to create it every week. There are only so many of those “talks” available every year.
QUESTION: We haven’t seen Riko in a game yet at quarterback, but what can we expect from him?
COACH GROH: Just development in all phases, second year here, developing player. Not quite ready to perform on the same level as Dave Shinskie, what do I expect? I don’t know, I’ve never seen him in a game.
QUESTION: Does he practice with the quarterbacks?
QUESTION: How do their special teams look?
COACH GROH: Yeah, we had a situation where Chris Gould was attempting to keep the ball from being recovered, kicked it out the back of the end zone which unfortunately he thought he was going to keep the ball away from the other team and save us 5 points, unfortunately, they got the ball at the point where he kicked it so it turned into a 7-point play instead of a 2-point play, something now that we practice in training camp, number of circumstances so if that every happens to a punter hopefully he’ll recall that he can pick it up and carry it out, throw it out, but you can’t kick it out.
Special teams have been solid, sound, the punter has done an excellent job of putting the ball down if the 5-10 yard line, punted Notre Dame down there two or three times. That was a big advantage to them in that game and their style on defense is to begrudgingly give up yards and not give up anything big. Stop the run, don’t give up deep balls, make the other team put together long drives and execute on a continuous fashion and when the other team is getting the ball on with 94, 95, 96 yards to go, that really plays into it so it’s a good example of two components working together to create the framing of the game to the advantage of the team.
Got a lot more to look at and a lot more hours to do it. I could answer that question better later in the day but that’s kind of got our attention here early on, the role he plays in helping their defense play the way that they want to play.
QUESTION: You guys will have a bearing on the ACC Atlantic race – can you use that as motivation?
COACH GROH: It’s kind of following up with what I was talking about with Zach. Knowing that the same thing doesn’t appeal to 100 different guys, sometimes we dangle a few different hooks out there each week and see what it might take for each individual player. So if we can see ourselves in that division for the next two weeks, then maybe that will bring us to the top of the bottle here.
I’m sure probably now that you bring it up, I just put it on my checklist.
QUESTION: I would suspect you don’t know what to expect from Jameel this week. Do you go into the week preparing as if he was not going to play?
COACH GROH: No, we are going into it to see what tomorrow brings. We purposely held him out last night, told him that wasn’t that much to be accomplished last night, and another 48 hours of healing from last night till Tuesday would be advantageous, so we took that path, consulted with medical people on it. They saw it as being a prudent, hopefully productive path.
QUESTION: What does Boston College do well on the defensive side of the ball?
COACH GROH: As I just mentioned, Mark, they’re geared — the whole thing is geared to be strong against the run and don’t give up the deep ball. A lot of commentary from Coach Weiss and Jimmy Clausen after that game which we read, as teams always wisely do, they had to play the game that was dictated, which was a lot of high percentage, short passes but it made allusion to the fact that maybe they had learned their lesson about trying to be too bold with the ball and obviously that’s how they want you to play, Notre Dame has a great quarterback, some people say the best in college football so they are productive doing it.
QUESTION: With Jameel being a senior, a lot of people wonder about the quarterback situation going forward. Do you see enough from a guy like Ross Metheny on the scout team to draw any conclusions or is it just too early?
COACH GROH: No, both. Too early for any real conclusions, because that would be foolish to do. You know, but we’re happy that he’s here. We’re happy that he’s here.
QUESTION: A lot of teams when you look at them, the predominant thing that jumps out is — is it safe to say with BC it’s physicality?
COACH GROH: That’s their style, that’s what they’re built to be. They’re built that way for — back in the 90s I was living in the same town and I was very familiar with how they’ve were playing and that’s how they’ve been for quite sometime. They have got a petty fast tailback, they’re not trying to be slow. They’re not trying to be slow it’s just that they’re — they have historically had good success getting the big, physical players out of the northeast and they supplemented that with quite a few players out of Florida and Texas, obviously they have a nice connection with a lot of the Catholic schools in those two areas that are compatible academically, that’s where the tailback that’s done so well for them that had the career day, 246 yards and five touchdowns against N.C. State, he’s out of Florida.
QUESTION: How bizarre is it that they found an effective kicker out of the stands one day?
COACH GROH: Yeah.
QUESTION: And does that below your mind if you could find a guy like that?
COACH GROH: Talk about you find — your kicker — you got your kicker is a guy who is sitting in the student body one week and your quarterback was playing minor league baseball last summer and I don’t know how it happened obviously but I can just imagine — Coach, can I talk to you for a second, I would like to introduce myself, I want to kick for you, or, hey, I’m here I want to be your quarterback, oh, no, kidin’, really? Come on in. I don’t know if it went down that way but it’s a good story.
QUESTION: How familiar are you with them through your recruiting circles?
COACH GROH: Actually, Zach, I did — when I was looking at the play-by-play on the Notre Dame game and the players we’re familiar with, there are obviously some players at Boston College that we were familiar with that we hoped to have on our team. Actually the young linebacker who’s having a spectacular year for them, Luke Kuechly, we were very involved with him and one of his teammates from Saint X in Cincinnati, and we’ve been involved with players there before, the Jesuits teach at Saint X, a lot of guys from there, it’s a comfortable thing to do, mood is going to be the same, former classmates and teammates are going to be the same, Boston College starts two players including Luke from Saint X, so we know that’s going to be a hurdle going in there, but he and his family were genuinely interested in here and there was another player that was interested in coming here.
And it’s a program that we will continue to look at, and it’s a great deal for Boston College, and Coach O’Brien also went to Saint X. If a good player wasn’t going to Notre Dame or Ohio State, he was going to Boston College and Saint X is a great program.
QUESTION: What is the state of your punting game right now?
COACH GROH: Influx
QUESTION: What phases are you looking to improve in this week?
COACH GROH: You know the ability to move the ball through kicking it hasn’t changed since the old time days when General Nalin and those guys advocated punting on third down and punting on second down an bad field position before the forward pass could move you out of there. Those guys would get the ball on the six yard line with one of those punts I was talking about, second or third down, they’d punt it back the other way.
A lot of people talk, coaches I hear talk, I’ve heard it over the years, about how that’s kind of become in some ways a lost art, that a lot of things have taken over from the days when two kids would take three or four footballs down, out to the schoolyard, and they’d punt all day. You didn’t have all the organized sports. Just like I hear basketball coaches lament the art of shooting. It’s become such an athletic game, guys can fly around, pass behind their backs, they can 360. They have a difficult time hitting open shots. I think that’s one of the things that coaches find. With all the guys involved, why is it so hard to find kickers and punters. Because there’s not that many guys kicking and punting any more. They’re playing youth football, doing this, off in other sports. It’s such a significant factor, something that has really been very challenging, to put it in the most positive word possible, very challenging for our team this year, whether it’s distance, direction or whatnot.
QUESTION: You talked about Rashawn’s versatility kind of hurting him.
COACH GROH: Rashawn.
QUESTION: He’s probably not going to leave with big numbers. How much is he on the radar of NFL teams because of all he can do?
COACH GROH: Well, there are not that many big backs available. When there is one, all those people want to look at him. The NFL, there are a lot of teams that still use a fullback, okay? Maybe not as their primary way of playing, but they still run some two-back stuff. So they’re all looking for a player of that size who they can slide into that. There’s so many guys, almost all the guys in college football who carry the ball, aren’t even candidates, okay? That would make him a candidate for whatever they want to make him, a tailback, a fullback, whatever the case may be. They don’t have any trouble being on the radar here because at least from the feedback that we get from the personnel people that come in here, we’re right up on the top of the list of the schools that allow personnel people in the most. They’re here on a daily basis to watch our video, watch our practice and whatnot.
All the teams are through asking about all the players. They’re very well aware of him.
MODERATOR: Mel Kiper has him rated as the No. 1 fullback in the draft.
COACH GROH: Take that to the bank.
QUESTION: You alluded to the kicking game. Could you have realistically expected Robert Randolph to come out and be that consistent?
COACH GROH: Well, since you mentioned Robert, Connor was an extraordinary college kicker. We’re going to have some good defensive linemen here for a while. For example, to mention him in the same sentence with Chris Long might be unfair to both parties. Until somebody has the type of career that Connor did, both from accuracy and distance and game-winning kicks, he was quite a kicker for us. That was great duo we had between Connor doing all the placement work and Curt Smith I think that year led the country in touchbacks. There was scoring as a result of it and there was field position that was gained as a result of our kickers.
Now, to get on to answering your question, the style of the players is not dissimilar. They’re both smaller players. They’re not power kickers. With them it’s about rhythm and about ball striking, hitting the ball cleanly, getting a nice direct line on the kick. One of the things that was very noticeable about how Connor kicked the ball, it was always straight as a string. Now, if he missed, he missed right where he aimed it. He might have miss-aimed it, but he didn’t have a ball that had a lot of curvature to it.
What we try to observe in evaluating kickers, if you have a field goal kicker who is making field goals, but they’re all going in like this, then that’s good on that kick, but then you’re never quite sure what it’s going to look like all the time.
Robert hits those. You’ve noticed the balls hits, Robert hits the ball the same way. It tumbles cleanly, it’s on a straight line. So we did draw the similarities to them last year with the hopes that maybe it might turn out to be somewhat similar. And it’s going down that path. Doesn’t have quite the same range at this stage of his career that Connor had.
We’re pleased with what Drew Jarrett is doing. He’s done a nice job with that. He gets very quick elevation on the ball. It’s going to be probably — hopefully we’re not going to see any low kicks blocked when Drew is kicking them. That element of the three has been real good. It’s just one out of three where we’ve been consistent. The other two, quite frankly, leave much to be desired.
QUESTION: Why is Robert (Randolph) able to get the ball up on field goals, but not as much on extra points?
COACH GROH: Well, actually, just through the course of practice all the time, you know, I’m kind of probably like the parrot that sits on the perch behind his shoulder all the time. I’m always saying, Get it up, get it up. We need elevation.
Just to be an all-purpose aggravator, I say it to Drew also. But he probably doesn’t really need it because he does get naturally good elevation on the ball.
QUESTION: I think Hinkebein’s second kickoff was kicked along the ground, what do you call them?
COACH GROH: Shank (laughter).
QUESTION: It was returned from the 37 to the 49. Guys up the field got it. You were trying to kick it low?
COACH GROH: I don’t remember which one was in this category. There was one for sure in there. There were two or three that got rolled down there. There were at least a couple of them that that was not the intent.
QUESTION: It seems that’s a really hard kick to pull off. The other team has blockers capable of catching it.
COACH GROH: Right. I know you’re pretty proficient, the stories are.
QUESTION: I’m pretty good at dribbling the ball down the fairway.
COACH GROH: Picture this, okay? Let’s say that you have the ball off on the side. What it requires is a low shot to get out from underneath the branches, in between two trees, okay, that you want to hit the ball low and hard, but you want to hit it in between the trees, not at the tree, ’cause no matter how hard you hit it, if you hit it at the tree, you’re not going to get the desired result.
When you want your kicker to drive the ball down the field, and whether it’s because you want to disrupt — what that does sometimes, it really disrupting the timing of the return. For example, if you watch kickoff return teams in practice, that ball is there, it’s up in the air, and there’s a determined distance between which you want the return man and the frontline. They’re all looking back. The return man is instructed to yell, Go, go, go, so they stay the prescribed distance in front of them. It’s all about timing and rhythm. When that ball hits and bounces, if you can get it down there pretty deep, it disrupts the rhythm of that, sometimes lets your coverage guys get more infiltration than if it was kicked beautifully high.
Before that, the ball needs to be hot and it needs to get back there and bouncing and difficult to handle. The intent isn’t to kick it at a fairly comfortable speed directly at the up back on the 35-yard line. That’s not what you’re looking for what you do that, okay? That’s like hitting it soft and at one of those trees. That’s what happened.
QUESTION: It’s not easy to do.
COACH GROH: Well, picture this. We’re out there for two and a half hours every day. If you’re not blocking and catching and tackling, you have a lot of time to practice a lot of things, right, a lot of time to practice those things.
Another one that followed up on that, that wasn’t our plan either, so…
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH GROH: You’re welcome.