Linebackers Coach Bill McGovern
October 5, 2018
Q: How much of a challenge this week with (Cam Newton) and (Christian McCaffrey) as pretty big threats in the run game?
A: They’re good players. Like we face every week, there’s good players at tailback, at quarterback, at all positions. Both those guys bring their skillset in and we’ve got to prep for that.
Q: How have you seen (Alec Ogletree) grow as a leader of this team? Obviously he’s a veteran but he was voted captain, he’s an established veteran, it seems like guys rally around him a little bit.
A: Yeah, you see when you have some of the older players, they come in, they get comfortable, and once they do, their personalities come out and you see it more and more, whether it be on the practice field, in the locker room, different things that they say, but they’re stepping up and that’s the type of leadership we need coming out of the locker room.
Q: Did his (Ogletree) game go from here to here once the season started?
A: He’s a professional, like all the guys. They’re working at it during the week, but he puts in the extra time, he’s in there watching extra tape, he studies, he prepares. We’ve been happy with the way he’s been playing and he’s been working hard.
Q: And not just him, but there seems to be some concern in the preseason about how your linebackers would cover opposing running backs, and it seems like in the regular season they’ve done a decent job. What’s your assessment of that?
A: It’s not just the linebackers covering the running backs. It’s going to be the pass rush that got affected, it’s going to be different defensive calls, different defensive schemes, the DBs, we’ll have the safeties covering them at different times. It’s just kind of our scheme that works together with one another, but everybody is just trying to do better. There’s times we’ve done well with it, there’s times we’ve needed to improve on it.
Q: I know sacks aren’t the be-all, end-all but how do you feel you guys have done pressuring the quarterback, and how big of a boost would it be if (Olivier Vernon) could come back this week?
A: Obviously, getting OV back on the field would be a boost. We all are looking forward to him getting back on the field; but again, you want disruption, you want the quarterback affected. We’re looking for more in everything that we do in our run defense, our pass defense. In all phases, we’re just trying to get better, but obviously disruption and affecting the quarterback is one of the major issues.
Q: Do you think that’s been there?
A: At times, it has been. There’s always things, like I mentioned, we want to be better, but there has been times where guys have been disruptive and affected the quarterback; but again, you always want more.
Q: In terms of (Olivier Vernon’s) presence – we’ve watched him, we know what kind of player he is, but you talked a lot about right up until he got hurt about how much he was going to mean to this defense. I know as coaches, you don’t want to put too much and use it as an excuse that he’s not here, but can you put into perspective what his presence could mean for this defense and what he hasn’t been able to give?
A: It’s like anybody who’s injured or somebody you might have on a team, when you can put a skilled player out there that can have an effect on a game, everybody wants it at every position. Obviously OV was having a great preseason and everything else and we’re just excited when he gets back on the field when he’s healthy, when he’s right, when he’s back on the field. We’re excited to have him. Obviously he has shown the ability to make plays and you always want a playmaker out on the field.
Q: Do you find it frustrating, opposing quarterbacks averaging something like 7.5 yards every time they take off? Is that just a breakdown in containment or what?
A: No, it’s more attributed to the quarterback’s athletic ability, the way that has grown and has changed a little bit, but again the zone read option, all that stuff we’ve been seeing in the last number of games, you’re seeing a little bit more athletic quarterbacks and then you’re making a choice – are you pressuring them or are you dropping? They get out and get a couple yards, that’s been there. We’ve hurt ourselves with a couple of those quarterback runs in the zone read, but hopefully that’s one of the things we’ve improved on and are trying to get better at.
Q: But the zone read, when you turn the tape on and watch (Cam Newton), do you not have to say anything? Do your guys kind of perk up and understand that the zone read with Cam is a lot different with anybody you’ve seen?
A: Yes. His athletic ability, his skillset is impressive and he’s a viable threat to run the football as well as throw.
Q: What is the key to the zone read from the linebacker perspective?
A: For a defense, it’s doing your job, being responsible. One guy gets his wrong, you get out of your gap, you don’t have the guy there, because the quarterback being a runner now adds an extra gap.
Q: How do you balance that with a guy who’s trying to come off the edge and get to the quarterback and then say you’ve got to be patient with that?
A: That’s part of the game, it’s all situational, the defensive stuff. You’re trying to get involved in there, you’re trying to get guys to understand is it a run down, is it a pass down, what look are they giving you? There’s a lot that goes into it, but again, the bottom line is preparing, being professional, making sure you know your assignment, and then executing your assignment.
Q: You said you guys hurt yourself a couple times in the zone read. What’s recurring more than anything else, is it guys misreading it? Is it missed tackles? Where are you guys really hurting yourselves?
A: It’s all of it, it’s not one person. If it was one person, we would change that guy. We’ve missed an assignment here, we’ve missed an assignment there, or a guy being in the wrong spot, and maybe it was a bad call on our part, too. It could be all of that.
Q: Back in the old days it used to be you put a spy on a good running quarterback. Is that out of the mix these days?
A: I think that’s a viable situation at times, but you can’t really spy in the zone read. You can spy maybe in the pass rush, but if we’ve got a guy fast enough who can catch the quarterback, might need him in coverage right now, so taking him at linebacker.
Q: Lorenzo Carter said the game started to slow down a bit for him. Do you see that in his progress and do you his snaps maybe increasing as we move along?
A: (Lorenzo) is making steady progress. There’s things obviously that he needs to improve on, he’s young and he’s learning, but what we’re excited about with (Lorenzo) is he comes out with a good attitude everyday so far, and usually some of the rookies, they’ll struggle at times, you can see them hit a wall. He has not hit that wall yet. He’s been working through it, he’s been pushing hard, and we’re excited for him. Again, if it calls for it, then he’ll play more – if his play calls for it, we’ll put him in more.