Huskies offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith met with reporters earlier today and touched on a few different topics, including Lavon Coleman's early success at running back and the desire to get the ball to John Ross more often.
(On Lavon Coleman emerging) “I think we’re feeling confident with him. I think it’s still a long season. Two games. We really feel like all four of those guys can continue to contribute. Sometimes if you give one guy too many carries, he gets worn out toward the end of the year. We’re going to try to keep guys fresh, but Lavon has done some good things.”
(Look at last year’s Illinois film?) “We did look at that. They’re physical. Got a lot of guys back. They’re going to make some improvements from one year to another with all those guys returning. They pose a few challenges – one, up front, I think they’re pretty physical. And they’ve got the experience there.”
(How many carries is ideal for No. 1 back?) “I think that’s a tough question. It matters how many carries he’s got in the game, too. But I think you find some rhythm with 15, 20 carries, and then give or take some more or less than that depending on the depth and the amount of running calls you make in a game. It’s in that region.”
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(Evaluation of Cyler Miles’ first game?) “I think some room for improvement. He did some good things. There’s no doubt, he did some good things. But he’d tell you I think the same, that there are some areas he can improve on. We feel like the passing game’s not quite where we want it. We want to improve on … not totally decisions, but maybe some timing and getting receivers on the same page. I think our protection’s been pretty good. But in the passing game we can make some strides.”
(How do you get John Ross the ball more?) “It’s tough. You try to distribute and things. We try to get him in some spots. We’ve got to be a little bit more – we did throw him a reverse every game. So that’s a little bit traditional now. So we’ve got to find ways to do it. If we want to push the pace tempo, it’s sometimes tougher to isolate a guy particularly. He’s on our radar. We’re still working to get him some touches.”
(Is that a nice problem to have?) “It’s a fun problem. It’s a headache to answer questions and hear about it. But it’s a fun problem to have.”
(Less of a concern when you run the ball well?) “Yeah, there’s no doubt, when you’re running the ball. But that’s a piece of our ability to run the ball when they know John’s sitting over here, they’ve got to have some answers. They go hand in hand. If we’re scoring, we’re feeling OK, whoever’s doing it.”
(See teams adjusting defense to your playmakers?) “I think in two games we haven’t seen a ton. I think as we go, we’ll probably see some more of that. But as you look at the film, people are going to play their defense. They understand where our weapons are at, just like we understand where the strength of their defense are and try to attack it. But after two games I haven’t seen that."
(Picking nits offensively at this point?) “No, because again, I think there were some times where it’s not like Eastern wasn’t lined up properly. Sometimes our athlete was just a little bit better at that spot, and so we’ve got to look at it – and we’re going to continue to play some good defenses as we go – we’ve got to be able to be a little bit more balanced. We still want to run the ball first. But we still want to be more balanced in the passing game.”
(More on Miles) “I thought he did some good things. I think in regards to the passing game we can make some growth there. Really was pleased with his decisions, run and pass. Took care of the football for the most part. But we can be a little bit more precise in the passing game, not only from him, but in our route running.”
(On Miles being comfortable as a runner) “Yeah, he is. He’s got a good feel for that. We’ll do some zone-read and we’re going to keep asking him to do some of that. We’ve got to keep protecting him at the same time. He was pretty sore after the game, so we’ve got to be smart with that.”
(How much of playbook is available?) “We’re still working through that. We’ve got some ideas that we want to present, we try to work, but they’re just not quite ready. So it’s a work in progress. These guys are working and they’re doing good there. Find ways to distribute the ball, because there are guys we feel like we can get the ball to – Kasen (Williams) one, John Ross … even the tight ends … Darrell (Daniels) and Mike (Hartvigson), those guys can play.”
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple