After basically not doing extended post-practice interviews the last few weeks, defensive coordinator Nick Holt talked for more than 10 minutes after today's practice answering questions about the defense's overall play, the yards they've surrendered, the sideline penalty in the Nebraska game, Steve Sarkisian defending him on Monday and many other things.
Here's the transcript
On the defense as a whole
We need to get better. We need to play better. And we will. The third quarter just wasn’t very good and a couple plays in the first quarter got us. We’ll get better. We’re still young at some positions. Guys are getting more confidence as we get more reps. But it hasn’t been good last week. At times it was good, we need to keep on getting better.
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On how the third quarter plays impacted the defense and the mindset
Well that’s harder. Obviously you are backed up on the 1-yard line, there’s a lot of times field positions wasn’t great, but good defenses respond. We got to go out and stop them. We need to find some big playmakers and our older guys need to lead the young lead the young guys. And do what they are supposed to do. But come up and rise up and make some of those plays for us so we get out of drives. Unfortunately, that’s going to happen, you are going to be backed up and have some adversity and you need to fight through that.
On the biggest issue surrounding the defense
Right now, we need to find some playmakers, consistent playmakers. It will come. We just need to keep on getting better at some stuff.
On Sark’s endorsement of him and the job he’s doing
I didn’t know. I wasn’t cognizant or know what was happening. But we are all in this together. We’ve won a lot of games together. He’s got all the faith in the world in the defensive staff. We’ve got faith with all the other guys. So we got to get better. There’s no question about it.
On the defense not being relentless enough
Some of our guys just aren’t playing as fast as they need to be. You look at the production and we need more production out of some of the guys that are on the field. It just comes back to we need to do a good job of putting our kids in position to make good plays. And when the opportunities arrive, they need to make them.
On what needs to improve quickly …
Consistency, especially from some of the young guys that are playing.
On which part of the defense that needs to be better …
It’s everything, guys stepping up. With our veterans on the first play of the game, need to do things right so we aren’t down 7-0 after 10 seconds of the game. Just some stuff that our guys, we just need to get back to some of the basic stuff. It’s a lot of things.
On Zach Maynard and how he makes Cal’s offense different
"He's better than what they've played with for the last year. He's done a nice job. He's very athletic. He's accurate. It seems like he has a very nice command of the offense and they have a lot of nice weapons. A lot of nice receivers. A good offensive line. And solid running backs. So he throws the ball real well, and he's done a nice job."
On using the film of Cal vs. Presbyterian
"Well, you take a look at, obviously, the game. There are a lot of things that Cal does that they would have done against anybody. It's their offense. The starters weren't out there the whole game, but it's Cal's offense. Obviously, they got held back and they'll have some new stuff, but you have to watch it, you really do. Just so you see everything."
On if he expects to see new stuff from Cal
"Well, it's still early in the season. They have some new stuff that they have that they haven't gotten to. Hopefully we will be ready for everything that they have."
On what he said to Jordan Wallace about his decision to transfer
"He wanted to go elsewhere and other opportunities. I made sure he was thinking through this decision, that he covered all his bases, that he knew what he was getting into without getting a degree from Washington. We wish him well. We wished him great luck. Sometimes we don't agree with kids' decisions, but it their decisions. If they are not happy they are not happy. Hopefully he can find happiness in another program. We wish him well."
If the injury accelerated him leaving …
"I think he wants to go play and he's been struggling down on the depth chart, and he wants an opportunity to play where there is less competition."
On if he internalizes all the yardage they’ve given up ...
"No, you look at it, you see why. You've got to take the positives and learn from the negatives. You know, it's after three games. You usually get better -- or we have gotten better, historically, through the season -- which we will this year. But some of the stuff shouldn't happen. Some of the big plays shouldn't have happened on Saturday and in the other two games. It's a learning experience. Unfortunately, it has happened. We've got to learn from it and we've got to get better.”
On if he thought they’d be better after three years into this …
"At times. But you've got to remember who we are playing with. There are some guys who have never played in a game at very important positions, and they are going to get better. And they already have gotten better."
On the difference now from end of last season …
"A lot of things, you can look at a lot of things that are not happening. We've got to find some guys that are real explosive and playmakers. Just look at the guys we had last year and all the statistics and look at this year and we are missing some of those guys. We'll get better but we've got to get some better play out of our older guys.''
On going against a left-handed quarterback …
"They roll-out more maybe to the guy's left hand. But he's a good athlete and he can go both ways, he really can.''
On if guys are in the right spots …
"I think probably a little bit of both. Obviously there are some things that they are in the right spots, you guys are out there and you are watching and maybe you guys know defense, which you probably don't (especially that new guy who took over for the dude with no middle finger or whatever) there are a lot of times when we are missing tackles. We can do a better job coaching, there is no question.''
On the outside linebackers…
"Getting better. They are just young, but getting better.''
On the defensive line …
"They've been the disappointment, to me, really a disappointment so far. The first two games there were a whole different of issues and problems but we didn't need to play as well as we need to for us to win last Saturday, no question. There were some good things but we didn't come with it and we have an older group and we didn't play as well as we need to.''
On looking around more on the front …
"We are always looking to get better. Always looking to get better at all positions and we need to keep rotating guys in and looking at some guys. But we have some big, big guys and some of the offenses that we have played against so far have been stretching us and a lot of stuff that big guys are not apt to really have an effect on the outcome. But when we do have our chances our big guys have got to play well and we weren't consistent.''
On the coach's interference call …
"I was trying to get the defense huddled up because of where the ball was. I didn't know what transpired, everybody else was really involved in the interference, I was not involved. I was there because we were trying to get the defense huddled up and regrouped so we could play good defense with bad field position again. I wasn't involved in the interference, I just got a little too far out and I wasn't cognizant of what happened. I didn't talk to the refs at all, I was trying to get our defense back and get their composure back because we had some guys that were really, really disappointed in that call.''
On losing focus in the third quarter …
"The third quarter was bad. The first series…we got them in a third-and-three, and then we miss the tackle on the third-and-three option…I don't know if you remember that right on our sideline…we could have had him and could been out of the drive. The next play, we didn't do what we were supposed…there were three plays in a row…boom, boom, boom, where they went down, and we did not play all three plays correctly. We got frazzled. They score and kick off, and then the fumble happened and we go back out on the one-yard line and it disintegrated from there for about 10-15 minutes. We finally got our guys back, but in however long it was - 10 minutes or whatever - we'd given up 21 points, and boom, boom, boom - it shouldn't have happened. It started with the first series of the third quarter. We had them third-and-three, missed a tackle and boom! They hit another play where we didn't play it correctly, and right after that they hit another play where we didn't play it correctly…all plays that we had worked on in practice."
On bouncing back in the fourth quarter …
"It was great. It was good and bad…those last two series we were really slugging it out and we're playing aggressive defense. We should have been doing that earlier. So that last series where we get out and get a fourth-down stop and our guys are fired up - we should have done that in the third quarter, when it really mattered. I mean it always matters, but especially in the third quarter - especially when the game was kind of tipping in their favor. They had a three-and-out stop, stoned us, and we had to punt, then boom, boom, boom they scored, and they score again because they are on the half-inch…one-yard line…we need to rebound from that. And as a defense, a good defense, get the momentum back by getting a three-and-out ourselves or getting a turnover, or something like that."
On his halftime speech …
"It was positive, with some things. I wasn't really happy when they went down the field…we missed a big tackle on a seam route where we could have really laid the wood on the guy. They get a field goal. There were a lot of opportunities for us to make plays, and we've got to make them."