Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) had said that (Punter) Riley (Dixon) didn't have his best day of punting last week. Was there anything specific that may have caused that?
A: There's a bunch of different things you can put your finger on, but to me, at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. Just got to execute, you know. I'll say that until the cows come home, if he was standing right here next to me. He understands that. When you get out on the field, you cross the white lines, you've got a job to do, you've got to do your job. He just has to get out of his own way. Sometimes Riley is, he's a perfectionist and he wants to do really, really well. We all want him to do well, but he puts a lot of pressure on himself, and he just has to understand when you go out on the field, you're not out there by yourself. You've got 10 other guys that are out there with you, and he just needs to do his job and stop putting so much pressure on himself.
Q: It sounds like there's a mental aspect to it, right? How do you as coach – how do you go about handling that, approaching that, trying to help him fix it?
A: My job as his coach is just to encourage him and to find solutions to the issues. Every day we're always trying to find a way to get better as coaches and players. When we go out on the field, he punts well in practice, he's punting well in pregame. It's just there's something that he has to work through from the time he walks out on the field to the time he takes a snap. He's just got to execute. He's got to focus on one little thing and execute that one little thing. So, whether it's a line or whether it's a target or whatever it is, he knows he has to do that, and we've just got to do a better job of doing it.
Q: What's the challenge when he does have a good punt like the one early last week and it bounces into the end zone? I know it wasn't his fault he went out of bounds but –
A: It's frustrating. Yeah, it's frustrating. Again, sometimes you just have those kinds of years. You guys have been here, you saw in '18, '19, he had freakin' 28 punts. He was in the top-five, top-10 or whatever it is in punts inside the 20. You have these years where it's just not going your way, and that's the way the ball bounces. You know what I mean? That's football. Sometimes you're going to get exactly what you want and then sometimes it's just the ball's going to bounce differently. You've just got to focus on the next snap. You can't worry about what just happened and you just try to execute better on the next play.
Q: What do you want to be done differently on the one where he punts it down there and (Cornerback) Darqueze (Dennard) is out of bounds and doesn't want to touch it and everyone's sitting there looking at him? What do you teach differently to the gunner there? Is he supposed to avoid going out of bounds?
A: He just can't go out of bounds. Yeah, it's a single, it's a single block, you can't go out of bounds. That's the cardinal rule of plus-area play for gunners. When you've got a single block, you can't go out of bounds. You can't get pushed out of bounds and you can't run out of bounds. Dennard, to his defense, he hadn't played gunner in a long time and got pushed out of bounds, but again, that's football. It's not an excuse, it's just it happened. We've got to do a better job of coaching up the poison aspect of it and what I mean by that is letting the gunners know, 'hey, look, I stepped out of bounds. I can't touch it,' so maybe (Linebacker) Cam (Brown) can react quicker to it. But anytime you have change, when you're changing positions constantly and you miss a guy like (Cornerback) Keion Crossen who's big for us obviously in that part of the game, as coaches we've got to do a better job of coaching it up, talking to them about it and just give them reminders as they go out on the field and making sure they understand exactly what they're supposed to do. When you have a seven-year vet, sometimes you take for granted that they know exactly what they have to do. It's been a while since he's done it and, again, that's on us as coaches and we've just got to do a better job.
Q: Did you give Keion a big hug when he came back?
A: I don't know about that big hug stuff, but I was happy to see him back, that's for sure. I gave him a punch upside his head (laughs). No, I love Keion. He's a good kid. Now, it's always good to have when you have a kid like that, that kind of speed.
Q: How is Riley's kicking?
Q: Like when (Kicker) Graham's (Gano) not here, does he kick?
A: Oh, yeah. Well, he does some kicking. Really, it's a skill he's been just trying to learn over the last, probably the last couple months. Just working on kicking off and it's something that he wants to learn how to do. He's been working at it, but Riley's a talented guy. He'd shock you with some of the stuff.
Q: Are you comfortable enough if he has to kick extra points at least at this point?
A: We'd have no choice. He's the backup.
Q: I said would you feel comfortable enough.
A: Yeah. I mean, to kick an extra point, yeah, it is what it is. It's an extra point. You know what I mean? So, you've got no choice. But if you get a situation where can he lift the ball off the ground and it looks like an NFL kicker? Yes, he can do that.
Q: Where is Graham? Is he back today?
A: Yeah, he had a little stomach bug or something.