Hawkeye Fan Shop — A Black & Gold Store | 24 Hawkeyes to Watch 2016-17 | Hawk Talk Monthly — Oct. 2016
GREG DAVIS: Through eight ballgames, really pleased, I’m sure coach mentioned this, really pleased with how hard our guys are playing, the effort that they’re playing with. Very exciting about that. They’re doing a great job thereof preparing.
I feel like through eight ballgames we’ve done a really nice job in the red zone, I think we’ve been in the red zone 29 times and we scored points 27 times. I feel like that’s where it needs to be.
Obviously I’m pleased with the two backs. I think both backs have really done a good job and that goes with receivers blocking down field. That part has been really good.
Our third and medium conversions have been pretty good. But obviously some areas to improve. So through this point the biggest thing that I would say is consistency. We’ve got to do a better job of being consistent, but we are pleased with the way the guys are working.
Q. What do you think the biggest deficiency on your offense has been so far?
GREG DAVIS: Third and long. We have not done a good job at third and long. If you go back and look we’ve had a rash of penalties in Game 5 and 6 where we were always playing off schedule. And the way we’re built, we’re not built to play off schedule. We are built to play hard nose run football. If we can keep third down in the four to six, search area, then we’ve got a great opportunity to convert. But when we get a penalty or a negative play, a sack on a rundown situation, we have a hard time converting that situation.
Q. Why is that?
GREG DAVIS: Well, I think it’s a lot of things. When you talk about throwing the ball, and you look at CJ, have Tevaun Smith, who is in the NFL, Henry Krieger Coble, who is in the NFL, and then you lose VandeBerg, he had great chemistry with those guys. He had thrown the ball to those guys for three or four years, and everything they did, CJ knew exactly what they were fixing to do. And so right now we don’t have that same chemistry. Especially when it gets to pushing the ball down the field.
Q. What’s your opinion on the wide receivers who are in there, have they come far enough yet? What areas are they short?
GREG DAVIS: When we lost Matt, there’s a ripple effect. At that point we had Matt and we had Riley playing outside of him. And both of those guys, CJ has worked with a ton, and felt really comfortable. Especially Matt, he had some chemistry with Matt. There were a couple of balls early in the season you wouldn’t have even questioned why he might have thrown that one and Matt came up with. Riley has really come inside and done a nice job. He’s done a good job in there as a slot receiver. And that’s a real important slot for us. We have not had as much production with the outside part as we need. So I think one thing we can do, and one thing we’re looking at this week, how can we better help those guys either through motion, through stats, through some things that may help the wide receivers get off press better, and get down the field. So those are some things we’re looking at.
Q. It seemed like the tempo this year, it’s got you guys going, some of the guys have indicated they want to do more of that, how are you going to approach that the rest of the season?
GREG DAVIS: We’re going to continue to look at the tempo, because I think there has been some spark when we have gone tempo.
I think there’s some misconceptions about tempo. Because a lot of times when you go tempo, and boom, boom, boom, the defense is not playing the way they would play in the whole ballgame, especially in the two minute world. Now all of a sudden they’re playing a little bit different.
But tempo will continue to be a part of every game plan, about how much we want to do. We’re at a point I think we can do it with 12 personnel, 11 personnel, we have some personnel groupings that we can do it.
We’re not going to become a tempo team. But to answer your question, we’ll look at it every week to see if it fits in this game plan.
Q. As media and fans look at opportunities to get playmakers on the field, is there any conversation about Desmond King or Derrick Mitchell out wide?
GREG DAVIS: That’s a possibility. I think coach has addressed that at some point with all that he does with — in the kickoff returns and all that kind of stuff. But, we’re looking at some things. Can we get LeShun and Akrum on the field at the same time? That’s one of the things that we’re looking at. Where can we do more with Noah Fant, especially if we get George back healthy. Noah played a bunch for us at the wide position the other day.
Where is the best combination of getting guys on the field that can come up with plays. And whether or not that’s Akrum — a package with Akrum and LeShun in the back field at the same time. Or Noah and George on the field at the same time, even in third down situations. That’s what this week is all about.
Q. Working with the analytics company, how much do you draw from that, does is that factor into getting guys on the field?
GREG DAVIS: It is a fascinating new part. We meet with Austin Showalter, who does our part of the analytics, and we talk about different things. One of the things I think that you have noticed through that is we’ve gone forward more on fourth down than we have in the past. And so that’s all part of the Thursday discussion that we talk about. But it is — I find it really fascinating. And we look at it quite a bit.
Q. Can it be used more? With the struggle the offense has had, can that be used more going forward?
GREG DAVIS: I’m not sure. It gives you good indicators. I’m not sure if makes any blocks for you or anything like that.
Q. Ryan Boyle, is he making any push?
GREG DAVIS: Ryan is working extremely hard. He’s working hard and doing a good job, but he’s not in that mix right now.
Q. You thought CJ could be the best quarterback you had ever coached, what do you see out of him, has he regressed this year?
GREG DAVIS: No, I think it’s easy to look and just compare numbers. I think we all can be guilty of that, coaches, as well, looking at numbers from this year to last year. And again, I go back to when he came in and grew up with Tevaun (Smith) and Henry (Krieger Coble) and Jacob Hillyer. How many balls did he throw in Henry’s back shoulder that Henry turned around and made a great play. It’s because they had done it a thousand times.
The thing that CJ has done or continues to do that really doesn’t get much credit is a lot of times when we have an explosive run he’s changed the play and got us into a better situation. So I’m disappointed for him, that his passing numbers are not greater, because he is bus go his tail and he’s studying and he’s trying to get us in the right play. And so that point we’re very pleased with. But the numbers have not been as good, I agree with you.
Q. You agree, he’s as good a quarterback this year as he was last year?
GREG DAVIS: Yeah, he’s playing hard and playing well. And we all miss balls, but he did the same thing last year.
Q. You didn’t get into enough of your shot plays that you want to get in each game or do you want to get to more of them?
GREG DAVIS: Well, when you don’t have explosive plays, then you always need to get to more of them. And I think that’s a fair question. And sometimes we have three or four set for a ballgame, some in specific situations. And we try to get to all of them. I would agree, I probably could do a better job of getting to and looking for those kind of situations.
Q. You look at CJ last year, and you look at the off season, he had surgery, the knee injury at camp, the shoulder injury in April, and he sometimes it looks like his motion is not quite as strong as it once was. And then of course the numbers, as far as running the ball is nowhere near. Has he taken a toll that’s kind of located his mobility?
GREG DAVIS: I’ve seen a bunch of motions, and I do a lot of studying on that. His motion is good. His motion is good. He has taken some hits, and there’s no question there’s a cumulative affect that goes along with that. But he’s made plays with his feet and he’ll continue to make plays. He’s not shied away from leaving the pocket at all. And so I don’t see any problem there.
Q. How much pressure do you feel personally to get those turnaround?
GREG DAVIS: I do the best I can every day when I come to work, whether it’s this year, last year or whatever.
Q. You said it’s easy to compare numbers when it comes to last year to this year. Can you put graduation on Tevaun and Henry, as to the reason the numbers haven’t been there?
GREG DAVIS: I would hesitate that’s the only reason the numbers have not been there. But I certainly think that’s a part. If you go back and look, you have a wide receiver that’s on the NFL roster. You have a tight end that’s on the NFL roster. You have Jacob Hillyer that played four years for us, and then you lost Matt VandeBerg. He lost a bunch of guys that he had a lot of experience with. So I certainly think that’s a part of it, I do.
Q. The development hasn’t quite been there, except for VandeBerg. What’s holding these guys development-wise?
GREG DAVIS: I think Tevaun Smith certainly developed during his time here. And I think Matt VandeBerg did. And I think you would say that Jacob Hillyer did. And I think you’ll say that Ron McCarron, who was a walk on, has certainly developed during his time here. But we’ve had some other guys that have not, at every position. At every position. Some guys come in and the toll of working and the steady stream of lifting and school and all those kind of things, some guys find more than they’re ready for. And some guys develop at a different pace.
Q. We’ve talked a lot about what CJ lost. Saturday’s game we talked about trying to get Akrum in open spaces. Is there a concern when he’s the leading wide receiver?
GREG DAVIS: I’m not sure I would say it’s concerning, I’m really not. Because if you would have been in our Thursday meeting, one of the things that we do, everybody’s interested in shots, rightfully so. But we also look at where the gimme is going to be. And where are the easy balls going to be.
And early in the season some of those were just bubbles, guys were playing off and we were bubbling and making 14, 15 yards. You play a team like Wisconsin and the balls are not going to come there. We felt like the easy balls going into the ballgame was to get Akrum in the back door. That part did prove to be the easy one. I wouldn’t look to him being the leading receiver a bunch of different times. But that was part of the plan.
Q. You talked a lot about the receivers that are missing. The offensive line has been kind of a state of flux. How has that impacted you and what you do?
GREG DAVIS: Well, you know, Brian does an unbelievable job during camp of moving linemen around in different places, but they all have their special little spot that they feel most comfortable with and the guy playing next to them, they feel the most comfortable with. Boone (Myers) didn’t play the other night. So when one of those guys go down it becomes a multiple shuffle to get the best five on the field. But it’s at a point in the year quite honestly everybody is fighting injuries and everybody has to deal with it. And if you went back and looked at the line that started against Northwestern last year it was all shuffled up so we’ve just got to keep working.
Q. Looking to get Devonte Young more snaps as you go forward?
GREG DAVIS: I hope so. Part of that is he’s getting closer. Adrian Falconer is a guy — kind of the question that you had — this week has really done a few things. We’re hopeful that he’ll continue to step forward and give us some depth there at the wide receiver spot. I didn’t mention him earlier.
Q: What about Derrick Mitchell, is the reason he didn’t play because of Akrum’s role last week?
GREG DAVIS: That was a big part of it.
Q. Do you see him still being a contributor out of that formation or has LeShun taken over his real?
GREG DAVIS: That’s a great question. And we’ll continue to look at it. And there’s some advantages to having a third down guy. That’s his role and that’s what he prepares for.
But there’s also some advantages to having the other two guys in there, too. LeShun is a big body. Akrum is a really good screen guy. We’ll continue to look at that.