October 8, 2008

Lappano Talks Husky Offense

Lappano discussed whey he elected to play freshman wide receiver Cody Bruns and thus burn his redshirt, a move that drew criticism.

"I came in here for four straight weeks, and everyone wanted to know where Anthony Boyles and Cody Bruns were. We're not going to put somebody in a game until they're ready to play, and Cody wasn't ready to play early. We have seven games, and we're going to do everything we can to get these guys as fundamentally sound as we can, give them as good of a scheme as we can and let them go play. They're going to be better and better and better every week. Next year at this time, they should be ready to go. They've got to play, that's the only way these guys get better. We don't have anybody else at receiver. We graduated all of the receivers. With that being said, we've got to play with those guys. We had two walkons out there Saturday night playing - Cody wanted to play."

Fellow true freshman Terrance Dailey saw his first game action of his Husky career, rushing six times for 18 yards. Lappano gave his opinion of the young running back and his performance against the Wildcats.

"If you ask any player on this football team, Terrance has the stuff to make us get going in our running game. I think Terrance can break some tackles. If you watch the game, he got hit behind the line of scrimmage for a one-yard loss, and gained seven. He made another great run on a slide draw. I think he has that kind of stuff, that's what this kid brings to the table. He's got great feet and good speed, and he can flat make you miss. It was third and one, and he didn't stick his foot in the ground, but that's the first time he's ever played. He's going to give us a little something. I think he brings something to the table as far as acceleration and his ability to make you miss. We've got to be able to wrap him up this week, wrap him up next week, get him going and use him a lot more than we did Saturday against Arizona. I thought for the most part, for the first time ever playing, that he handled it ok. He was obviously a little nervous. He's calmed down now - he thinks he's a veteran, so we'll just keep getting him a lot of reps. I know we have to run the football. We have to help Ronnie [Fouch] out, and we're not doing that right now. We have two pretty good guys that aren't in there right now, but we've got to get the other guys going, that's my job."

When asked if Dailey has a chance to start against Oregon State, even if the stable of running backs is completely healthy, Lappano responded.

"He does. We'll see this week and next week, but right now we like what he's doing. We liked what he did in the game, we really did."

Lappano further discussed his decision to play Bruns, specifically the timing of which he entered the game. Lappano also touched on the play of freshman wide receiver Devin Aguilar, as well a third freshman wide receiver in Anthony Boyles.

"I didn't want to throw him [Bruns] out there in the very beginning of it. I didn't foresee the second half being over either, but I didn't want to put him out there early in the first quarter, especially with the field position we got right out of the get go. Cody is going to play a lot of football for us. We need slot receivers right now. Devin Aguilar played extremely well. He was our MVP for the game. He did a lot of great things, and he's a guy that's getting better. Was he really really good early in the year? I thought he was still learning, but Saturday he played pretty well. He was able to separate from their corners, caught the ball pretty well and ran with it after the catch a little bit. He's a young guy that's getting better. That's what we have to do right now, is just keep getting better. I think Cody will get better every week, with seven games to play. Anthony Boyles, in my opinion right now, still isn't ready. We're not going to just throw a kid to the wolves. We do care about the integrity of Husky football and these freshmen that we recruited. We're not throwing anybody to the wolves."

Lappano provided a little insight as to possibly why Bruns did not play earlier in the season.

"He got behind early with an injury. I thought he was competing as good as anybody early, and then that injury slowed him a little bit, and we just chose to wait a little while."

Although he has been impressed with the physical part of Dailey's game, Lappano stressed the importance of the mental aspect.

"Terrance mentally struggled with the size of this book, the protections and the routes. To be honest with you, he's still isn't where he needs to be as far as mentally understanding everything. I wish I could tell you he was, but he's not. Ball skills and running, he's pretty much good to go. Some kids catch on a little bit quicker, and he's still struggling a little bit with the whole scheme of being a complete back. He's got this week and next week, and he's going to study hard because he knows it's time, he's going to play. These guys came here to play early, that's why they're here. We lost all running backs last year, so we recruited all of these freshman - they came here because they want to play."

Lappano discussed the play of freshman tight end Kavario Middleton, who improved in the eyes of Lappano, despite not recording a reception.

"I think Kavario [Middleton] developed, even though he didn't catch any balls. I thought his run blocking was a little bit better against two quality ends that gave us a little bit of a problem. I thought he improved his footwork in the run blocking schemes. He still got overwhelmed a couple of times, but he played against two pretty good players. But we thought he came a long a little bit in the run blocking area."

Lappano discussed the play of redshirt freshman quarterback Ronnie Fouch, who made his first career start in place of injured sophomore quarterback Jake Locker.

"I thought Ronnie threw the ball pretty well for the first time. There's some things that he's got to do in the pocket. He's got to trust the guys up front and he's got to stay in there a little longer. I thought that he bailed a couple of times. That's easy for us to sit here and say. You put yourself back there, you've got two guys blowing that edge all night, you tend to get happy feet a little bit. He's aware of it, I've already talked to him about it. If we can get him standing in there a little bit longer - that's part of a quarterback's job, and Jake can tell you that better than anybody. You've got to stay in there, as hard as it is sometimes, and let it go. We'll work on that this week."

When asked why Middleton has not seen more balls thrown his way, Lappano made it known that it's more the play of senior tight end Michael Gottlieb rather than a lack of anything on Middleton's part.

"Mike's played pretty well, and has had some big catches. We weren't separating a lot in the Arizona game. We went there [to Middleton] a couple of times. The second play of the game, we tried to throw him the ball on the drag, and the corner made great play. Again they [Arizona] were good with their pass defense, and we didn't separate really well. We'll get him the ball, but Mike's made some really good catches the last couple of weeks. Mike made a great catch on the last play of the game for us, and I thought he played well against Stanford, so we're getting a lot of play out of him."

The play of the offensive line has been disappointing this season, especially considering that the unit was supposed to be the strongest on the entire team. While he knows the line must improve it's play, Lappano suggested that the blame shouldn't fall squarely on their shoulders.

"We've got to be more consistent in run blocking and knocking people off of the ball. I think the backs have to understand the scheme up front. It's a little bit of both. It's part of the backs not understanding the scheme, seeing the cutback lane and when it's not a cutback lane, when you press the hole, take what they give you, take your medicine and settle for a two-yard run. I think that has to do with it a little bit. They've got to find their vision. We've got to get them seeing and understanding the schemes better. We've got to be more consistent. We played good at times, and other times, they knocked us around a little bit. It's frustrating. They're the strength of our offense, that's where the seniors are. We've got to get a little bit more consistent, both as the runners have to be more consistent and the line's gotta be more consistent."

Lappano further discussed the youth of the running backs.

"We had two really good runners a year ago. We've got a lot of young guys and that's kind of my point. I don't know if we're seeing the field as well as we did a year ago, with a veteran back like Louis [Rankin]. We screamed and yelled at him for three years, but right now he's looking pretty good. He was obviously a pretty good player, made a lot of people miss, broke some tackles. That's the thing with the young guys, is getting them to understand the schemes a little bit better, seeing everything. That's why I'm not just putting it all on the offensive line, it's not all on the offensive line. It's both groups understanding what's going on and being a little bit more consistent up front."

Lappano had this to say when asked what the players must do to tune out all of the rumors surrounding the future of Head Coach Tyrone Willingham.

"They've got to listen to the right things. There's a lot of people talking out there right now. There's a lot of stuff on the internet, a lot of stuff in the newspapers, a lot of stuff everywhere. They've got to listen to the right people. That's really important, that they listen to the right people and they stick together. Right now, everybody's trying to pull you apart, they know that, they get that. I've always liked the character of these guys. These young guys are good kids. They want to work and they just have to make sure they're listening to the right people."

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