Coach Whisenhunt's Saturday Press Conference Transcript



(on depth at outside linebacker with injuries)

Well the two guys, the outside guys, (J.R.)Tavai and (Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil), we're trying to find that out now. We've seen them both, they were in here this morning getting MRI's on them. One of the problems, it being a Saturday, you lose perspective of days, it's hard to get those guys in. I probably won't get more information until later, so I couldn't tell you if it's a week, two weeks, or if it's something that could extend longer than that. But very disappointing because I thought both of those young guys played pretty well. And Zaviar (Gooden), he's in that same boat. I don't know what we're going to see with that until we get those results back.

(on if Zaviar Gooden's injury was a hamstring)*

Yes. And (J.R.) Tavai wasn't a hamstring it was a knee. **

(on last night's game being a learning experience for Marcus Mariota and what he wants to see out of him next)

It's funny because it's hard. That game, the first one on the screen was just a little bit of a miscommunication. Bishop (Sankey) saw one thing and sat down and Marcus (Mariota) threw. You'd like for him to have a little better feel for it on that play about where those guys are, but the second one wasn't his fault. The fumble wasn't his. He was eight yards from the line, which is good in the pocket and going into a second read. The one thing I would say about Marcus from that is that I was very impressed with how he responded after that. He wasn't fazed. I could tell he was frustrated because it had happened, because it was really important to him that he played well. But I would say what I hope to see from Marcus (Mariota) is more of the same, that he continues to grow in that position. He really did a nice job after that, he played a strong period of plays after that, completed seven of eight, did a nice job in the pocket and made some real good throws. So it was good. **

(on if Marcus Mariota got hit on the fumble)

The hand hit the ball as it came by. It happens all the time in the NFL. You see guys running past the quarterback. He turned to make his throw back to (Anthony) Fasano on his third read on that pattern and no question in my mind he was going to throw it in there for a completion so that was just unfortunate. We've just got to do a little better job of keeping that defender from getting his arm in there.

(on third series, third-and-12 throw, what Marcus Mariota is looking for)

Well that would require me to give away the strategy of the play a little bit there. But first of all, he did an excellent job, and it was good protection. He had a pocket. He was going through his progression based off of what he sees on the coverage. In that particular case he was working Harry (Douglas) to (Anthony) Fasano. Fasano was over the ball and Harry (Douglas) was running the curl. He moved to his right, turned, and made a really good throw to Harry for the first down. One of the areas that we were not very good at last year was third down and it was certainly nice to see us make strides in that area last night. When you see a guy make a play like that in that situation, it's very impressive. He made a great throw to Antonio (Andrews) out of the backfield on another third down. So that to me, on third-and-12 you've got to hold the ball a little bit, especially when they drop those; you're only rushing four and they drop seven, so he was patient. He moved in the pocket well, got his target line set to the receiver and made a nice throw and it was very impressive.

(on if it was encouraging to see Marcus Mariota stay in the pocket rather than run the ball)

Yes, I mean he's done a good job with that the whole time he's been here. Let's face it, the one area that I don't really worry about him is running the football. There are going to be times when he takes off and goes and it's going to be good for our football team. The question, if we all remember, is can he do it in the pocket, and I think he's shown that he's made a lot of strides that way. **

(on how Jeremiah Poutasi fared in last night's game)

He played a lot like a young guy. He did some good things. He's talented. A couple of times he got pushed back a little bit just because of his sets. We've got another three weeks of games where he can continue to progress. I guess in a nutshell on him, he's got a tremendous amount of talent. I think he's getting better and hopefully that trend will continue. We'll see how good it gets. **

(on Taylor Lewan's disappointment in the performance of the first team offensive line)

We had a couple mistakes, we've got to continue to work to get better. I mean they did some good things. We had some good runs, they weren't big runs, but we did have some good runs with that group. I thought other than the strip-sack and the sack on the play action pass that they actually did a pretty decent job in the protection aspect of it. We're going to continue to work it. It's hard to say that you made progress because we didn't play that many plays. But I like the fact that Taylor (Lewan) made that statement, and there's got to be a mentality with that group that we've got to be tougher, we've got to run the ball, and we've got to be able to protect.

(on if he sees David Cobb getting work with the ones during preseason)

Absolutely. Based on what you saw last night, I certainly think he deserves that. The young man had to get in shape first. That's been a process just because of the quad injury. But he did a really nice job last night and we'll move him up in the rotation as the weeks progress.

(on if there will be a running back by committee this year or if there will be a lead back)

I don't know. That's really up to them. I don't think there was necessarily a running back committee in the third quarter last night. That was a lot of what you had hoped to envision that we would be able to run the ball like that. I thought you would be saying, 'Hey, you guys really ran the ball well in the third quarter.' We had like five or six runs in a row moving it down field.  (David Cobb) certainly got some votes last night towards moving up in that rotation, so I think that's part of what the preseason's about. We can find out if we can have that guy, not to be cliché, that's the bell cow. There will always be roles that are specific to certain players that do a really nice job with that. If you think that a back can stay in there for a 15-play drive, he can't do it. He just can't. It's too physically demanding on him. So you're going to have to have a third-down back. You're going to have to have situations where we put Dexter (McCluster) in there like we did last night. **

(on what traits allowed David Cobb to be successful last night)

Well I think he's got a good feel, good vision, good feet. He has a good feel for making the cuts, getting through the line. That's what we liked about him at the Senior Bowl. Obviously, he was very productive his senior year at Minnesota and we were really excited to get him. We're just disappointed that we didn't get to see much of him in the spring. But he's worked to get back and he'll continue to get more reps as we progress.

(on Antonio Andrews' progress and his performance last night)

Antonio (Andrews) did a nice job. He really showed up on special teams which is an important part of being in that group. So he's done really well with his protections, understanding those. He had a couple of nice chips last night in the run game which helps our line, and of course the pass. That was the first time he's actually run that pattern that he caught it. So he's got a good feel for the game. He's one of those guys that just has a very good awareness. He's got a little bit of a mean guy in him too, which I like. So hopefully he continues to make the progress he's shown.

(on Bishop Sankey playing well in the second half after not being as effective early)

Yeah, and some of that was missed blocks. We had a couple runs that could have been big runs that we had communication problems on. There were a couple of plays last night where they went into nickel defense when we were using our base offense and there were identification problems. He had a holding call on one and missed a guy on another, so I think that David (Cobb) and Antonio (Andrews) had the benefit of us being able to make adjustments and get those straightened out going forward. But Bishop (Sankey) had a couple of decent runs, and hopefully we'll see how that all progresses. **

(on his reaction to Dorial Green-Beckham making a big play)

It has been a long time since he's been in a game, on the football field. There's been a lot swirling around Dorial Green-Beckham since he was picked, or even through the draft, and coming with us. Inconsistent would be one of the things you could describe him in the first part of camp, which you would expect for a young player, but it's a situation where we tried to get that situation specifically for that. When we called that play at the start of that two-minute drive we thought that he would be matched up one-on-one and we wanted to see if he could make that play, and he did, did a nice job. It's his mission, or his challenge to continue to progress. He's got a long way to go, as far as being ready to be an NFL receiver, but one of the things you can't question is his talent. **

(on if he was disappointed that the defense gave up the opening drive)

Yeah, I'm disappointed more about, not so much the opening drive, as how we played it. Our eye discipline wasn't very good. We were short on some of our feels with our defensive linemen. We didn't get across the offensive linemen to fill the right gaps. That bothered me a little bit, and I think we lost a couple of guys in man coverage, some of their boots, or their nakeds as you'd call it. That disappoints me more than anything, because we worked so hard on that. On the other side of that you've got to also say, they didn't run the ball very well on us, which is one of the things we needed to do.  We needed to be better against the run and we were effective last night until the fourth quarter. Obviously, when they ran the clock out, but those are things we've got to clean up. We've done a good job of trying to get those things done in the practice, but when you get into a game for the first time and you don't have any idea what the opponent is going to do, it's difficult, and we didn't handle that very well. We will hopefully learn from that and do a little bit better this week.

(on the production of the tight ends without Delanie Walker)

If I was asked a question of what position groups that I thought did a nice job last night, tight ends was one of those. I thought they were productive. They did a nice job, made some big plays. They blocked effectively at times, they were guilty of a couple of those miss IDs that we had offensively, but as a group, they played well. The running backs, the outside linebackers, and the young defensive linemen were the other guys I would say fall into that category. **

(on Andy Gallik only having one play)

Yeah, that was bad. We've got to get him more plays this week. We're trying to manage it and we got into a little bit of groove with that second group and you know when you come out of those games, you try to do the best you can to get everybody snaps, but he'll get more snaps as we continue, because he's shown some good things in practice.

(on Zach Mettenberger's production with the second team)

Yeah, it was good to see that. It was good to see the strides he's made since last season. He's obviously comfortable; he operated the offense very well. He didn't make a great throw on the one interception, but he did a nice job of handling what he needed to do in there. He was very effective. **

(on the penalty with 12 men on the field)

Yeah, if it's a regular season game, it can't happen. I mean we're right in the middle of trying to change guys over when that came up, and that was a big piece of hurting us in the game. If we don't have the turnovers and we don't have the 12 men on the field it's a different ball game, but as much as you want to talk about it and try for it not to happen, some of these guys, it does happen. We called time, just the official was looking at Giff Smith when he was calling it. He wasn't going to award it to the assistant coach and I was standing right behind him calling it, and we didn't get it called. That's on me for not getting in his face and yelling timeout, but it's unfortunate. Obviously, something that can't happen and we've got to make sure it doesn't happen again. **

(on if that happens when you have 90 people on the sidelines)

Yeah, there are guys that want to get out there on the field and try to make a mark so they can get noticed. When you have the change over, when you take the first team out and the second team guys go in and start playing, then you've got to adjust the special teams rotation and those things happen. You see it on preseason games all the time, hopefully we won't see it in the regular season game, better not. **

*(on Jalston Fowler's play and how much the team ran two-back) *

** I'd say we ran a fair amount of it for the number of snaps that he was in. He did really well. I was impressed, I thought that both of our young backs, Jalston Fowler and David Cobb, really did well. Jalston Fowler showed up on special teams a couple of times. If you think about his contributions in the offense and special teams, he becomes a pretty valuable guy. Athletic, very powerful, did a nice job to find his way through the holes and getting on the blocks and was a good lead blocker on a couple of plays.

(on his assessment of Cody Riggs)

I thought Cody Riggs continues to fight and battle and does a nice job. He made his share of mistakes, but I was pleased with the effort that he turned in.

(on when Jason McCourty will be back on the field)

I'm hoping. Whenever I say, 'I expect,' it always seems to go the other way, so I'm trying to stay away from that, but yes I am hoping that he will get back. One of those things we don't want to have happen when you talk about a groin, which is what is bothering him. I don't want that to be something that drags on the whole season, so we've got to make sure he's good.

(on Blidi Wreh-Wilson's injury)

We put Blidi Wreh-Wilson in a cast to try to really immobilize this. You guys know as well as we do, last year with Taylor Lewan, he had it, and we tried to get him back and it ended up being a lot longer, so we decided to go the conservative route this time. As far as putting him in a cast, he'll come out of the cast tomorrow and we'll know a little bit more then. I anticipate that he'll be back fairly soon. I don't know if it will be this week, but, hopefully.

(on the play by Brian Schwenke that caused a sack)

Brian Schwenke did OK. That one play he tripped over Chance Warmack's foot. That's why he went to the ground. Brian Schwenke is a very quick, athletic center, and sometimes with his feet, because he is quick, he'll get out of position a little bit. What happened is that it was a combination of Chance Warmack oversetting with his left foot, and Brian Schwenke dropping back with his right, and it tripped him up. That's why he went to the ground.

(on positives and negatives of kick and punt return)

What I didn't like was us putting the ball on the ground, on that one with Tre McBride. We just never really got a chance to get started last night, so hopefully we'll get some of those opportunities. They only punted three times. Hopefully we'll play a little better defensively over the next couple of games and we'll get a chance to see some of those. I thought Jacoby Ford looked good as a receiver, and it was hard to tell as a kickoff returner. I think we know what Dexter McCluster is, and Tre McBride got some opportunities, but that's something we've got to continue to look at.


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