The Owls opened their C-USA slate with a lopsided 45-27 win over Charlotte Saturday. Now they will enjoy some rest with a full week off until preparations begin for MTSU. On Sunday, Coach Lane Kiffin he held his first 2019 bye week media conference call. Below are the highlights from that session.
What was your biggest running game takeaway, after watching the film?
I thought it was better. Still not great because obviously D-Lo's (Deangelo Antoine) first play of the game kind of skews it. Whatever his 66 yards, that's not a run, really not much blocking going on. From an interior run game standpoint, it was more of a sweep. It was better. There was some more air and some guys made some guys miss. So, we did what we were supposed to do.
McCammon only had five carries. Was that just the way the game went or is he a little banged up?
No, he had an injury and he did not return to the game after that.
With the bye week, you always wonder if it is coming at the right time. It seems like y'all have a lot of, at the very least nagging injuries. This maybe a pretty good time to get some guys a rest. Is that fair to say?
Yeah. It comes at a bad time in terms of the middle of a three-game winning streak and playing well. But from a health standpoint, it definitely comes at a really good time. A number of guys with nagging (injuries), James Pierre didn't even make the trip with us. Larry (McCammon III) has been banged up. All three of the receivers have had issues. And Malcolm (Davidson) hasn't been back to 100% yet. It comes at a very good time from that standpoint.
How did (Nick) Tronti respond to coming in on those formations? The ones that are kind of like the Wildcat?
He did well. You know he ran well the week before. So, we basically said we are going to change it up, put him in fora series or two, like we did, and he did a very good job.
(Tavaris) Pico (Harrison) obviously got his first touchdown since 2016, how good is that to see from someone who has battled injuries in the past?
I didn't know that stat. That is a long time, so good for him. He has battled, as you mentioned, a lot of injuries. He has improved and made some plays this year for us.
As far as this bye week's practice, how do you approach what you do on the field during the week? Is it getting a lot of new guys some work or resting guys? How do you approach it?
We try to get the health of the guys back and try to find some more players that can establish more depth on offense, defense and special teams.
The penalties have still been an issue overall, but were you encouraged from what you saw from the offensive line as a whole?
Yeah, somewhat. There are still some issues there. We may look at some different rotations and different things this week. We still aren't playing up to the standard that we expect.
The eye test is one thing, but how have the analytics been for Brandon Walton at left tackle?
Brandon (Walton) has been our best lineman and has played some really good players. The guy (from Charlotte Saturday) was a really good player. Maybe played (against) the first pick of the draft in the opener (against Ohio State). He has been challenged and struggled at times in those matchups but has done a really good job for the most part.
Are you concerned enough about the kicking game to re-open that placekicking battle, during the bye week?
Yes. We were already scheduled to do that, prior to the game. We have seen some issues with Vlad (Vladimir Rivas) and obviously it showed up again.
Do you think with Vlad, that it is just mental?
Is (Logan McLeod) part of that battle? Has he been around long enough?
We are going to open it up this week. Whoever wins it, wins it.
Obviously, you haven't had to move Brandon Walton because of the players he has been playing have been on the left side, but have there be thoughts later in the year to play against some better rushers off the right side and move him to the right side?
No. I have never moved a player from left tackle to right tackle.
With the kicking competition, do you have a rough deadline of when you would say, this is our kicker for the Middle Tennessee game?
I do not, no. We haven't even practiced yet.