Florida Atlantic Head Coach Lane Kiffin met with the media on Tuesday to discuss the Owls' evaluation process over the bye week, being off from game play, and the play of Nate Terry and Devin Singletary.
I thought the guys really followed the theme as last week. Great energy. Practiced with some confidence. It is the second one of this week. So, we will just continue to remind them that you have to play every week. I think they are starting to understand that. They feel good about the way they played the last couple of weeks in those games, but this is obviously the best conference team we have played so far. Arguably, the best team in the conference by the way they are playing now on both sides of the ball. We will have our hands full with that, but we just have to keep getting better. Iím proud of how they are practicing but we have a long ways to go.
You mentioned last week that you would use the bye week as an evaluation. How did that go?
Without details on a bunch of guys, but one guy to point out would be (DeíAnfernee) McGriff. He really had a good week. We were hoping that some of the guys like that, who were newer to the program would take advantage of it. Hopefully, he has put himself in a position to play a little more.
What was the process like?
Just evaluating practice. Some of the guys who maybe donít get quite as many reps in practice, getting more reps because more reps were slotted to the twos and threes in practice. Threes donít really get many reps normally. So we had some extensive time seeing them. Whether they play next week or not, hopefully it makes our program better. It makes those guys better so they are better on our service teams.
Can you describe the difference Azeez Al-Shaair makes? You spoke about it in the Buffalo game but can you describe it?
I think Azeez (Al-Shaair), it is really just the leadership. He happens to be the middle linebacker (and) a lot of times the leader, but it is really his energy. The way he talks and the way he plays. I thought by far that game (Buffalo) was the most-dead energy on that side of the ball. Hunter Snyder was limited in that game as well and he obviously makes a big difference.
Have you noticed the energy on campus and by fans with you guys having success?
I donít really walk around campus a whole lot. I donít know about that. You would have to ask our players about that.
Was this a good time for a bye week?
I would have preferred to keep playing. We werenít really that banged up and we had been playing our best football of the year the last couple of weeks. Our offense really the last four weeks. It is what it is. Hopefully, we even got better in those areas.
Is it a little weird to wake up on Saturday and not have a game?
Yeah there is, but it is not like we have a game every Saturday all year. I think we maximized the time. We gave our players a decent amount of time off. Our coaches that were here end up recruiting and some were out the whole week, hopefully that helped us in the future there.
I have noted Nate Terry and Pico (Tavaris Harrison) used in the red zone. Is that something of the drives taking so long so you are subbing in or that they bring down there?
I think it is two things. They donít start, so a lot of times (in) the drive, guys wear out and when you get down there sometimes you sub. But also, some of that is on purpose, so that when we do get in some throwing situations, which we have not had a lot because we have been able to run the ball well in the red zone, those guys are big targets and they have done well down there all through training camp.
It seems like Nate (Terry) fell a little bit and is now climbing back in. Are you seeing something different from him or is it progression?
I think Nate has made more plays and been very consistent. We brought a number of guys in at receiver and that didnít help him a lot, but he kept battling and kept preparing and has really made a number of plays that have put him in position to play.
Do you think we will see Kerrith Whyte more to give Buddy (Gregory Howell) and Devin (Singletary) some snaps off?
I donít think we look at it that way. We just had a bye and we need to win games. We are not in position to limit reps. We have to do whatever it takes to win. Buddy (Gregory Howell, Jr. has been doing a great job. Obviously, (Devin) Singletary has been doing a great job and Kerrith (Whyte), when he has gotten in there, has made some explosive plays.
Has Singletary shocked you a little bit with how effective he has been?
I would say a little bit because we see shades of that at practice, but until it is really live, some of those runs and the moves he makes and how he makes guys miss sometimes donít happen the same way at practice because guys are breaking down. They are not full tackling. It has been pretty amazing.