April 10, 2012

Q&A with Tim Tibesar

With only a couple days left of spring football, first-year defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar says he's been pleased with the progress thus far.

Read more from Tibesar in this Q&A following Monday's practice.

GoldandBlack.com: With a couple days of spring left, and the game, what have you liked about the defense?
"I've been pleased with the effort that the guys have put in and I've been pleased with how they've mentally been able to pick up most of the defense. So we've just got to keep incrementally getting better every single time we come out here."

GoldandBlack.com: Do you feel like you've installed all that you wanted, so that the players have a good grasp of things headed into summer?
"Yeah. Our biggest goal was to get all of our concepts in, not necessarily all of the defense in, but the concepts and I think we've been able to do that."

GoldandBlack.com: Last week, I talked to Akeem Shavers and he thought the defense was pursuing much better. Is that a big emphasis?
"Obviously, for any defense that's any good, they've got a lot of guys running to the football. You've got some guys who are erasers out there, so if a guy makes a mistake if you're hustling and racing to the ball, you can erase some of those mistakes. It'll be a big focal point to us, that we've got everybody running to the ball. As I've emphasized to the players: it takes no talent to hustle. So whether we've got talent or not, we're going to run to the football as fast as we can."

GoldandBlack.com: So you do a lot of pursuit drills?
"Ad nauseum. Nearly every single day, we do some kind of a pursuit drill and make sure that our guys understand what our standard is and we're not going to accept anything less than our standard."

GoldandBlack.com: What does a typical pursuit drill look like?
"Well, we have three-and-out pursuit, sideline pursuit, competitive pursuit, those are all different pursuit drills that we do. They're just like any other drill you work on; they have a certain emphasis, not only everybody running to the ball, but running to it at a proper angle and fitting up correctly in your pursuit."

GoldandBlack.com: Safeties been a priority this spring. Do you feel good about the group there and is anyone standing out?
"We've got a group of guys fortunately. But at this point in time, I can't say this one guy is way out ahead of anyone else. It's really a good group and they've all got their strengths, so we're trying to find the best pair or so to go out there.

"It's critical that you have enough depth as anyone knows. We're not just looking to find 11 starters, we're looking to find 18 to -22 guys who can play for us on a regular basis. And if we've got a core group of 18 to 22 who can contribute for us every week, we'll be pretty good on defense. If we've only got 11 starters, we won't be very good."

GoldandBlack.com: Do you know what this defense will hang its hat on yet, or is it a matter of teaching them what you want to rely on?
"I think it's a matter of teaching them what we're going to hang our hat on and then being able to adjust week to week to what our opponent's strengths are. We're going to try to take away what they do best and make them do something else. But we've got to have something that's core to us and what we believe in, but know how to execute against everything and we're working toward that."

GoldandBlack.com: Could some true freshmen play in the fall?
"It's really way too early to know. It'll be way too dependent on what our needs are. Sometimes it has more to do with what your needs are than how good the player is. If they're ready and can help contribute, they'll be part of that 18 to 22 guys on Saturday, then we'll play them. If they're not doing to do that, then we'll have to see where our depth is and everything else with the positions."

GoldandBlack.com: Are you better at linebacker, where you've had to mix and match guys this spring?
"It's hard for me to say if we're better, because I don't know what they were before. All I know is what I've seen in the 12 practices so far and I think we're progressing, and the guys we've had out here from Day 1 to Day 12 have gotten better. I don't know if we're better than the fall or the years before or not, but I think from 1 to 12 we've gotten better."

Q. What do you want to see in the spring game?
"I want to see the guys play hard and fast and we can go out and tackle well. If we can do those things, I'll be pleased."

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