Florida Atlantic Head Coach Lane Kiffin recaps the Owls' loss against Oklahoma, the need to improve tackling, and offers some intials thoughts on this week's opponent Air Force.
Was it strange to be on the side of such a large loss?
It definitely was. I had not be in situations like that where you…the game is out of hand like that early and you (try to) figure out how long do you play your starters.
Do you keep going fast when you are not having success on offense? That is the best way to have success but that is what happens when you have two teams that go fast, kinda similar to North Texas (referring to the first time FAU hosted North Texas in 2017) for us the other way.
It can get ugly really quick because you are going slow, so you are giving the ball right back. You can slow it down on offense and maybe the points would have been closer.
Do you think that is maybe part of why Chris (Robison) struggled? After the game you said it was nerves. Do you think it was the tempo and how quickly the game got out of hand effected it?
There is a lot that goes into that. You are going into a hostile place versus a lot of really good players, national TV and you are making your first start as a freshman. It happened (with him) out of that school also … Obviously you could tell how he played at times, forcing things, overthrowing things because of his excitement.
Considering the opponent that you played, is that game any way to guage the way the team is right now or do you chalk that up as a loss and get ready for the next game?
You have to learn from it. No different from our opener last year. We didn't play very well in all three phases of the game and that was the case (Saturday at Oklahoma). Hopefully, we improve and start to play better starting this week.
Do you revisit the quarterback issue? Is Chris still the guy? Is the competition still going?
We've not discussed that yet. We have obviously been here watching film and have started on Air Force stuff. We have not hammered out our player personnel this week yet.
With (Chris) Robison, how did he grade out as far as managing the team and doing the kind of Driskel-esque stuff that Jason did so well when he took over last year?
I would say probably a 'C.' We didn't do a whole lot around him. There were some times when he missed some throws, but he was having to hurry it because we were getting beat upfront and so we didn't hit hardly any explosive passes which you have to do against those guys because they were geared up to stop the run. They were playing a little heavy techniques upfront and that whole gameplan was to stop (Devin) Singletary and force us to throw which was obviously a good plan by them.
What about the other two guys? Did you see enough of them to be able to grade how they managed the game?
No there weren't a whole lot of snaps. Obviously, (Rafe) Peavey only played a couple of snaps. He made a really good throw on a post route and then the next play threw the interception. Only turnover of the day which was very frustrating. De'Andre (Johnson) made some good plays with his feet.
Ray Ellis was coming off a couple of bad knee injuries. He played a large role in this game, what did you think of his performance?
We didn't play very well on defense obviously. (We) had a million missed tackles. At one point, they had 10 yards a rush. I think their tailback only carried the ball four or five times. It is hard to say anyone played well on defense. Maybe Rashad Smith, that's about it.
What did you take away from Ernest (Bagner)?
He made a good play on the zone read, but we made a lot of mistakes and were really very inconsistent. We did not win obviously at the line of scrimmage at all.
Tackling that you brought up in the postgame, do you become more physical this week or do you write it off as a onetime thing?
No we have to…We have to do something it was horrible. We didn't tackle well at all which was the whole game plan was to hit low … We came in and did exactly what we weren't supposed to do, we tried to shoulder tackle people and tackle up high. I thought that is about as bad a film as you can put out there. It's a very embarrassing film (that) will be around the country.
How do you fix that this week?
We are going to have to tackle which normally you don't want to have to do in-season, in practice. All the schemes aren't going to matter in diagrams, coverages and workouts, none of that is going to matter if you don't start tackling.
Was Saturday's game (Oklahoma) what you hinted to us about that FAU has a little ways to go, that you guys are still building a program down here?
Yeah, that is why when a week or two ago in an interview and someone asked, 'did you start too low in the rankings to be able to make the playoffs?' What are you thinking about discussing FAU in the playoff, (that's) ridiculous. So, I have tried to manage throughout the offseason and leading up to this game the reality of where this program was a year ago and that you don't just turn into a top five program in the country in one year.
Did some of the uncertainty surrounding the team and having new coordinators at all positions and trying to work trying to work the game the first time, did you experience that?
I don't know. We did replace a lot of our staff, but I don't know if that is why we performed so poorly. We just didn't play well. Offensively, we left a lot of points out there on the board. There were some plays there. We weren't able to make the play, wrong read or a missed throw on some things. On defense, we just tackled horribly the whole day. On special teams, you don't block a guy on the punt and give up seven points … Very frustrating day all around.
What do you see from Air Force, so far, I know it is early? Who do you key on? How much like Navy are they?
They are very similar and for whatever reason most of the academy schools play 3-4 on defense so very similar, yes, on both sides.
What do you think about Air Force's quarterback and how do you start to defend him?
We haven't even gotten to that side of the ball yet. We've spent today cleaning up the last game and starting on Air Force's defense so I haven't watched that side yet.
What is it that you saw from Pico (Tavaris) Harrison that lead you to give him the start and so much playing time? What is he doing well there?
Well, like we have kinda talked about, we have performed really poorly at that position all camp. So, during camp he made a few plays and he was in there.