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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 10, 2012 at 5:32 PM

Coachspeak — Offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto

Offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto spoke to the media today. And he did so for quite a while in what was maybe his most in-depth interview of the season, addressing a number of topics about the line (so expect to see a few offensive line-related stories tomorrow).

Here are some transcribed quotes of what Cozzetto said today:

On if he’s ever had a season where he’s had to play this many guys this early in a season that he didn’t expect would play: “I’ve had situations, but never as many. I can think back to one school where I was at where I really had to revamp it all the sudden because of injuries and just had to go back to that era, and I was a lot younger then. But no, probably not as many as these. It’s been a challenge, believe me. It’s been a life lesson.”

On what is the life lesson in all of this: “It kind of is like life because you’ve got ups and downs — but nobody is dying, nobody is dying. We’ve had some crisis and what you do is the life lesson is when you go through crisis, you do what you’ve got to do and then you get back to doing what you were doing before the crisis happen. So just be stone and keep pounding and pounding and pounding and getting up. … So I’m just going to continue to slug along like I’ve been taught by some of the finest coaches around and we will get it done. ”

On if this is one of the most trying seasons he has had: “It’s football., You are going to have injuries. This many? Probably not this many. But you stay in this business long enough you are going to see something new. I haven’t seen it all, there’s always something new. It’s been a challenge – sometimes I hold my breath and go ‘man, I get a little grayer, a little balder — my blood pressure.’ But I’m still alive. I say a lot of prayers. I go to church.”

On the play of Micah Hatchie at left tackle: ” He’s got a big job. He’s got to take care of the backside of a right-handed quarterback. He’s got enough to worry about, so his game has got to continue to develop. … he’s got to continue to develop and practice better and raise his level of play to where he becomes a dominant left tackle. But he’s in his early development stages, too, because he’s been sitting behind Senio (Kelemete).”

On if the run blocking has come along more quickly: “We have a high volume here of protections, a high volume of runs, so it is kind of challenging as far as your mental game and how you are as a student of the game. And as you start to develop the concepts of what we are trying to get done, the more you can set yourself free to go play. As long as you are prepared you can react. It’s when you start to think and you are guessing all the time, that’s when bad things are happening. The snap comes up, you are coming up to the line of scrimmage, you see what you’ve got to see, you’ve been exposed to it in the class room and walk-through, no react to it. That’s what it comes down to. And until we can do that as a unit, together — it is getting better but there are some areas it’s going to look like ‘what happened here?’ So I’m constantly evaluating myself to see how much can I give them, what am I asking them to do. I am kind of like their parent — I want to make sure that I don’t hurt them mentally and put them in a situation where they don’t have success and all the sudden they go in the tank. So I’m kind like, when do I turn it on and when do I turn it off? Where is he at? Can he take hard coaching or do I have to approach it a different way? Because they have been put up at the front line all the sudden, now here it comes.”

On if it’s exciting to see some of the new players progress: “Sometimes you are so young, you can be dumb and you don’t care because you can defeat anything. Remember when you were young and you say ‘man I’m like Tarzan I can do anything because I’m invincible?’ That’s kind of how some of these guys are — I don’t care, I don’t care who I am lined up against. And you are going ‘Oh my God.’ It’s kind of like that sometimes. But as long as they are enthusiastic and going to give you everything they’ve got, what else can you ask from a man? That’s what it’s all about. The biggest thing is the heart. I want guys that have heart. If you don’t have heart you cant play this game. And if you’ve got heart and you are willing to learn and you will come up and you will come up and look at that man straight in the eye and give him a shot down after down after down what else can I ask these kids to do? Then I am proud of them. I think we’ve got a lot of heart. Let’s take it and see how better we get this Saturday and take it another step because we’ve got a lot of football to play yet and we have some great challenges in front of us. Bring it on.”
On if he sees more light at the end of the tunnel: “I always see more light at the end of the tunnel. Somebody asked ‘what do you expect?’ I expect to win every game. Can you do it? Sure we can do it. Why not? I mean we’re not going to wallow in self-pity. Im not like that and never have been like that and never will be like that. So I’m going to coach them as hard as if I had all my veterans back. I’ve just got to do things a little bit differently now.”

On the evolution of the OL from now to the mid-way point of the season: “It’s been interesting, it’s been very interesting. Things happen but you never expect them to happen like that. It is what it is. We’ve had to make some adjustments and bring some guys along…continue to pound. Pound that rock.”

On having to hope for the best but prepare for the worst-case scenario: “That’s the whole deal about coaching that position. There’s going to be injuries, and it’s been unfortunate we’ve had as many as we’ve had with the quality players, but it challenges the coach to bring your other players along that are young and you have to get them ready. You’re dealing with a player that doesn’t have the experience that the veterans have had. I’m getting good help with my veterans, a couple that can’t play this year, that are done for the year. I think one will be coming back, but they’ve been helping me in bringing the kids along and they’ve been good with them on the sidelines during the games. But that’s how life is. Life is ups and downs and you learn from situations like this and hopefully this life experience will lead them forward for the rest of their lives.”

On what the injured veterans do to help the younger players: “The things I’ve taught those guys – they carry over and they watch video with them and come out here and explain certain things that we’re trying to get done as far as the game plan and the techniques and going over some base fundamentals…of course fundamentals are a key thing, especially when you’re young and you’re not as big as you should be. You have to be fundamentally sound…and then you have to develop their mental game, going through the ups and down of a football game, making sure they maintain their focus, making sure they don’t beat themselves up if they have a bad play…that they learn how to play one snap at a time. That’s the sign of a veteran player; he can brush off a good play and he can brush off a bad play and move on to the next because it’s over with. You’ve got to go…you’ve got to go.”

On the biggest improvement of this starting group from Stanford to Oregon: “The number one thing is building your quarterback’s confidence around your front five. Obviously Keith (Price) got hit way too many times in the Stanford game. Give credit to Stanford, that’s a good football team, one of the best defenses we’ll play against, as well as LSU and some of these other ones…but he got hit way too many times. Like I told the players, you can’t do that. That guy is the…he manages the game, he handles the ball, he is the guy we have to take care of. He’s like your Mother back there. You’ve got to do your best to protect him. He can get out of some things, but he can’t be taking shots through the middle of the formation. Above all, we can not have assignment errors, because we risk the chance of getting that kid hurt. So we’ve had to take a direct responsibility because it is our responsibility to make sure Keith plays the game with a sound mind and a clean jersey. We have to continue to build his confidence around us, I truly believe that, and being able to improve in the running game has helped. We put ourselves in situations where we’ve been able to capitalize on some of their athleticism and quickness with some of these young kids. And Drew (Schaefer) now has taken on a big-time role. The one thing Drew has to understand is that he’s got to get his job done and I don’t want him to have to manage the whole game where he’s coaching other positions or stuff like that. That’s not his deal. He has to be focused in on being the center, making the corrections fast and then we move on to the next snap.”

On James Atoe and moving him out to tackle: “We were going to try and do that in the spring with him…the improvement he’s made in terms of his body flexibility and being able to do the things…he’s kind of grown into that position. He’s playing the whole right side; he’s playing right guard, right tackle. If we struggle with the youngster (Shane Brostek), he’ll go in there and kind of take the heat off him a little bit because he’s a big, massive man and he’s been around so he knows what he’s doing. I’m pleased with James and how far he’s come and we’re going to continue to work to get him better.”

On the two young guard (Charles and Brostek) and accepting the challenge put in front of them: “Obviously Dexter was playing behind Panda (Colin Tanigawa), so he’s learned quite a bit from Panda and his transition was a little bit quicker. The other kid (Brostek) is just hard as nails. He’s just tough. He doesn’t do it right all the time but he’s going to give it his best and he’s going to come after you. The biggest thing is that we develop his fundamentals so he doesn’t embarrass himself. The biggest thing are your feet, because if your feet are wrong you’re going to be embarrassed. There’s no questions about his toughness and the things he wants to do as a football player. When you come out of high school and you’re asked to play right away – it’s a little different gig at this level.”

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