Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
September 27, 2018
Q: When you have a kicker (Aldrick Rosas) in a groove like this, do you almost just leave him alone?
A: Yes (laughter). He’s doing a great job. You always need a little fine tuning, and he’s finding his way. That’s what happens with these young guys at each position, they’re all trying to find their way and he’s in a groove. We’re just trying to keep him in the same spot and not do a whole lot of thinking, and just go out and swing at the ball.
Q: You’ve had some bumpy rides with the punt return/kick return. Is it what the kickers are doing or is it something that you guys are not doing?
A: It’s a little bit of both. The punters last couple of games have been a little erratic a little bit, so to speak, but you’ve got to execute too. You’ve got to block better, you’ve got to put yourself in positions, you’ve got to execute the fundamentals and techniques of the scheme. There are a lot of things that we’re doing wrong that we need to get corrected, and we will get those things corrected, but when you have a young group, some younger guys that are in there that are trying to figure out leverage and angles and all, and then the game speed and all that, like I tell the guys, it’s a maturation process that they’re going through right now. We’ve just got to make sure that the process that we are learning, and not to be a repeat offender, so it’s kind of one of those types of deals that we’re doing right now. We’re getting there. We’ll get there.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about (Stacy Coley), it was his debut. He had a bobble on the first one and then he had a kickoff return that went for six yards. What did you see from him in his first game?
A: They’re young players. When you get a young guy in there, the first punt return of his career, you’ve just got to relax, let the plays come to you, and just do what you know how to do. It’s just again, young players. They’re going to make mistakes, they’ve got to learn, and eventually we’ll get them to where we want to be.
Q: What went into the decision to put him back for that kickoff? I know you’ve been using (Cody Latimer), is there something that made that change there midway?
A: Yeah, Cody was banged up a little bit, and just wanted to make that change just to make sure and protect Cody more than anything, and see what Stacy can do. He’s here, let’s see what he can do.
Q: Back to (Aldrick Rosas) – He had a rough stretch last season, it would’ve been easy for you to say we’re just going to get a veteran. What made you stick with a young guy? What did you see from him?
A: When I first got here last year, I just saw a raw, young kicker with a tremendous leg talent. He’s young, it amazes me how at the kicker position, a guy has one bad game and he’s out the door but you can have a quarterback that can throw four picks in two games and he still has a job. You can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Those guys – they’re young players, young players make mistakes. That’s just part of it. He’s getting better. When I saw him, I saw his kickoffs and things that he could do, you don’t find leg talent like that everywhere so you’ve just got to make sure you work with it and it’s paying off right now.
Q: How much of coaching him in particular is neck up, given that he did have some struggles last year?
A: Most of it with him is neck up. When I say that, it’s not an insult to him, but it’s more just kind of learning what to do, learning how to handle those situations when they come – ‘Ok, why did I miss that kick? Why did I push it right? Why did I push it left? Am I too fast into the ball? Am I leaving on time?’ -- just those little things, the lean of the ball, the little nuances of the job. Again, the kid is from Southern Oregon, it’s not like he played in the SEC and had three kicking coaches and two special teams coaches. He’s young, he’s learning, and he’s in a good spot right now.
Q: Does confidence factor in as well?
A: Absolutely. If you go out and you make some kicks and you feel good about yourself, you make kicks in practice, you feel good about yourself, you make long kicks in practice, you make short kicks in practice – any time you can see the ball go through the uprights, that’s a good thing, and just to try and re-create that every single time, I think that’s something that he’s enjoying the process of and he’s reaping the benefits of.
Q: When you look at him and you talk about leg strength, how far can he kick it if he needed?
A: We’ll see. Eventually, I’m sure we will see. Against Dallas in the pregame, I think he had two that were 63 or 64 yards that he hit without even swinging at it real hard, and that’s what we’re trying to get him to do, just to kind of swing within himself and not to really over-kick, but the sky is the limit with this kid.
Q: Were you strategic in camp with him in terms of that confidence?
A: Absolutely, no question. Any time we put him in front of the team, we want him to make the kick, so obviously we’re not kicking 58, 57 and 55 yarders, especially out here, you know how it can be out here. It’s super windy, and we want to keep him in the range, the 34 to 46-7 where he’s going to make most of his money and stay in there. Last year he struggled in that range, so we wanted to make sure we stay in that range as much as possible.
Q: The first kickoff of the game was short, and the last whole bunch were into the end zone. Did you change strategies or was the first one just a bad kick?
A: He just miss-hit it. Again, young player, I had a kid, Graham Gano, I could just tell Graham to kick in the back of the end zone and boom, it’s in the back of the end zone, but he’s in his ninth year. It’s not the same with a young kicker. A young kicker, I might tell him that, and the ball might be on the five. That’s just part of it, you’re just kind of getting those reps and getting that thing dialed in, but he can hit it.
Q: How much does the non-running start change your philosophies at all?
A: I don’t think it changes a whole, whole lot. You’re seeing less and less kickoffs. In the northeast, it’s different, because you’re not going to be able – it’s not the AFC South, the NFC South, where it’s warm-weather domes, you’re not going to get a whole lot of that. Up here, you’re going to have to cover kicks because it’s going to be 30-40 degrees, 15-20 mile an hour winds, so for each part of the league it’s probably a little different. For us, we’re going to have to cover kicks, so we obviously practice them every day, but it does no good to practice it six weeks in a row and then you kick every ball out of the back of the end zone and then all the sudden in October-November, you’ve got to start covering kicks and you haven’t covered one live in a game in four weeks.
Q: But you haven’t looked at it differently indoors the last few years? You just kind of approach it the same way you did before?
Q: The punts last week – Was (Riley Dixon) outkicking his coverage?
A: No, there was a miscommunication on the sidelines on one of the punts, the punt that he hit to the right and everybody went left. That was on me, we had a miscommunication, but it was a great punt. If we covered in the right direction, we wouldn’t be talking about it, but he had some really good punts and Riley’s been doing a really good job for us all year. That was completely on me.
Q: And the one that got tipped? It looked like they kind of did a little game.
A: We just weren’t physical enough, and we’ve got to get the ball off, and we weren’t physical enough at the point. Mike Westhoff and the crew is rolling in, he’s going to have his guys hunting. There’s blood in the water. That’s just part of the deal.