SALT LAKE CITY – Utah State head coach Gary Andersen addressed the media Thursday during USU’s portion of the two-day Western Athletic Conference Media Preview, held at Salt Lake City’s Airport Hilton Hotel.
Video courtesy WACSports.orgTRANSCRIPT OF COACH ANDERSEN QUOTES OPENING STATEMENTS”I feel like we are in a great position. It is a great opportunity for me, my family and my staff to be in Logan. It is kind of a dream come true to be a Division I head coach, especially in an area where I have grown up. It was not an easy decision, I had a great job. I wanted to be a head coach, but not until I was in a position where I thought I could truly win. The administration at Utah State has truly given the opportunity for us to be successful in a lot of ways.”I know if you don’t have a staff, you have no shot. The administration gave us to opportunity to pay a good staff. That makes us very competitive in the WAC. With the way our assistants our paid gives us the ability to have consistency with our coaching staff.”Our academic support and new facilities gives us the opportunity to compete within the WAC from a recruiting standpoint. That will give us the opportunity to compete on the field year in and year out.”I love the team. I think we have had a great summer. We stressed these kids in a lot of different ways from January 4th when we walked in. You have your own philosophy, and whatever your philosophy is, that is all you can go with when you take a job. It is going to be different. Brent Guy is a great person and a good friend of mine. It doesn’t matter where you go, there will always be a change with how you do things. I think the kids have done a nice job with the change. I was very impressed with the way they were able to handle the summer program. We had almost 100 percent of the kids there.”At the end of the day we had a great turnout for the summer program. We made some great strength gains in a lot of different areas. I think we are faster, bigger and stronger than we were. I think everybody that is a good team does that within the summer, but we needed to push ourselves a little bit harder in the summer than some other people to gain some ground.”I would say the biggest negative I see with our football team right now is overall strength. When we get into a big physical football game against a powerhouse such as a Boise State or Fresno State, those are some physical teams. That is what scares me the most and I tell our team that. Bottom line, that is a worry of mine, how physical can we be. It can’t be fixed overnight, but our team has started that process.”The biggest positive I saw when I took over this football team was our ability to run, especially on the back end on defense. The cupboard was definitely not bare on the back end of defense. There are some kids that can run, James Brindley, Kejon Murphy, and Curtis Marsh. We can run on defense. My concern is on the defensive front with our physicality. How much ground we have gained on that, I don’t know that until we get into the season.”The league is still very foreign to me. Last time I played Boise State I got my fanny kicked. They took it to us really good at our own place at Utah. So I have a lot of respect for Boise. That is who we need to be able to reach out and try to catch. In my opinion if you are not doing that than you do not have the right mindset to catch the best in the league, and they are the best in the league. That is who we will definitely chase and try to catch. I look forward to playing them down the line.”Right now we are a football team that is not even nipping at Boise’s heals. We are like a puppy dog running far behind them. But we look forward to the opportunity to try to catch them, nip up their heels and maybe climb up their leg a little bit.”ON DEFENSE”On the defensive side of the ball the first thing we did when we walked in is change 15 kids to different positions. I am very proud of the way they handled the adjustments. It is still a work in progress. We want to be able to pressure and play man coverage. We are not real big so we have to keep people guessing. It is a similar mindset to what we had to do at Utah last year after losing two big defensive tackles. We will be a small defense but we have to be able to run and move to cause people some problems.”So in a nutshell we are not going to line up in the gaps and say, ‘offensive linemen come and get us.’ It will get really boring. People might want to go home during the third quarter because we just might be getting our butt kicked. I do think our defense has come a long way. We will continue to improve.”Our linebackers are very good. Paul Igboeli is a very good linebacker. We expect him to be healthy and be able to run. The other linebackers are guys we have moved from the offensive side of the ball to come over and play defense. For us to run, we need to get some speed over there.”James Brindley is a really good safety and can run. The other safety position will remain wide open through camp to see where we go. We have to find the right fit in that position.”ON OFFENSE”Offensively we have a lot of weapons. The main weapon is our quarterback, Diondre Borel. He is a very talented young man. He is a great athlete that has adjusted to the coaching, from a standpoint of developing his game. Last year he was a young quarterback that wanted to look to see if a guy was open and then run. I thought he did a tremendous job of growing as the year went on last year. That was our goal, to pick up where he left off in January. It reminds me of Brian Johnson and Utah, prior to when he was hurt.”I think Diondre is a better athlete than Brian Johson was. I know how good Brian ended up being, and Diondre has a long way to go to get there. Hopefully, Diondre can get there by his senior year, but he has a lot of work to do.”The offensive line still has a lot of work to do. They got a lot of experience last year. We have five guys that have started games before, but we have eight or nine guys that are still fighting for a starting spot. So it will be a young group. A work in progress. We are excited about them. They have had a tremendous summer. “ON THE SCHEDULE”There are not very many stadiums in my life that I have been to and thought, ‘holy cow that is a home field advantage.’ We travel well. Everyone in the country playing Division I football travels well. They get on an airplane. It is not like they are sticking needles in your seat when you are going to play a game. You have to prepare for the crowd noise. There are some noisy stadiums that we are going to. But I am never going to use that as an excuse.” I know we play some great opponents. We open up with maybe the hottest team in America in Utah. We play BYU, who has one 10 games a year. We go to Texas A&M, which is a tough place to play. But that will not be an excuse as to how we play.” I think (USU Athletics Director) Scott Barnes has done a tremendous job of future scheduling. We have an opportunity to go play one big game and then the opportunity to play six home games every year. That has not happened many times at Utah State over the last 10 years, but that will happen every year starting next year for a long time.”ON BEING READY TO COMPETE”At the end of the day the factor for us is to get into a game and be able to compete. We have to be in a game in the fourth quarter. If you look back at history there have not been a little of games where this kids have been in a position where they have to make plays to win. That is something we have to be able to develop. I think as coaches, that is something we have to develop. That is something we can work on during the week. We can put a game plan together, but at the end of the day in the fourth quarter a young man has to make a play.”At wide receiver we don’t know who are game-breaker is. You have to have somebody who can make a play for you. At the end of the day when a game is tight, or you need to catch a hitch and go 80 yards, you have to have a guy that can make a play. Everybody is not open on every play. So we have to find that game-breaker, and we will see who it is as we go through camp.”I love our running backs. I think we have Robert Turbin, Michael Smith, Derrvin Speight, a stable of running backs. I think they are very good players. They are talented young man. How they play when things are live, we will sure find out. They sure do look the part and run well. But we will hang our hat on those kids and go in that direction.”ON POSITION CHANGES”We had three safeties that will now play linebacker. Two linebackers are now defensive linemen. Then there are some others that have moved from offense to defense. We just felt like we really needed more speed. We cannot put enough emphasis on speed on the defensive side of the ball. It will take some time for them to develop but I think it will pay dividends into the future.”ON TAKING OVER A STRUGGLING PROGRAM”The biggest difference I would say with taking over here compared to Utah is they are very established. They have had facilities and a winning tradition. We have a lot of things at Utah State that we haven’t had before. We have the ability to pay good coaches. We have a brand new facility. We can sell Logan for what it truly is. In today’s environment Logan and Cache Valley is a great place for a young man to go. So we have some unique opportunities there. I think the timing is very good.”The biggest thing I would say for me is there is a lot of familiarity. It is very calming for me from a recruiting standpoint. We can walk in and say we want to recruit Polynesian kids and LDS kids as well as from the state of Utah. I have done that for 11 years. It is not like I am going to another part of the country. That is a big positive for us at the end of the day. We have a great opportunity and we are going to take advantage of it.”ON DIONDRE BOREL”We are more of a spread offense. Our goal is to really get him in a position to use his athletic ability. I think what anyone would want is to give him the ability to get to his second, third and fourth receiver. Instead of him saying there is one receiver covered and I am going to rely on my legs. When you look at some of the other quarterbacks that have come through the league, they have the ability to beat you with their mind, their legs and their arms. That is what we need to get Diondre to do.”Diondre is a great athlete. He can make you miss in space. He can run. We want to limit those hits and keep him on the field for every game that we are playing. But at the end of the day we need to make sure that we are able to let him progress in his game. We want him to become that well rounded quarterback.”ON BOISE STATE”When I played and coached at Utah, we chased BYU. You had to. If you are not chasing the best team, then what are you doing? Anyone that looks and says that Boise is not the dominant team in this league is crazy. It is not hard to say. What they have done is special. What I really look at and admire is the consistency, more than what they did last year. You look and see what they have done for 10 years. That is what we want to be at the end of the day.”We need to be able to set our sights and want to be a program with the consistency, bowl record and national recognition of Boise. If you don’t want to be that right now I don’t understand your mindset as a football coach. I want to chase that.”ON THE NEW LEAGUE”I know the offensive and defensive coaches have look at our opponents. Last year I saw a lot of games on ESPN. But I have not devoted a lot of time to WAC opponents. I have focused on what we need to do academically, athletically and socially. We will get into that step.” I have a ton of respect for the WAC from my experience in the Mountain West. We always had competitive game that went to the wire. I have respect for the coaches in this league.”-USU-