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Transcript: STC Thomas McGaughey

Eric from BBI : Admin : 6/8/2023 2:26 pm
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey

Q: Can you talk about the new kickoff rule? Does that change how you approach building the kickoff return team?

A: The rule itself is just something we'll just have to get used to. It's like any other rule change. You just make the adjustments and just keep moving forward. I'm going to keep coaching the guys the same way. It's not going to change. We're going to coach up the fundamentals and the techniques, the schematics will be the same, and we'll just go from there. You just make the adjustments and see what happens.

Q: Did you have a voice in the process? I know a lot of special teams coaches didn't favor this change.

A: It is what it is. It is what it is. It's a situation where you've just got to deal with what you're dealt. These are the cards they gave us; you just play them.

Q: Do you think it increases safety?

A: What I think doesn't matter. It is what it is. If they think it's to increase safety, then that's what it is.

Q: Did they say what the criteria is going to be? I understand for one year, they're going to test it out. Did they say what criteria they're going to use in order to determine whether to keep it permanently?

A: No, they didn't.

Q: Does part of you think if they're going to do this and neuter the kickoff, just get rid of the kickoff and put the ball at the 25?

A: I'd never say that, because that's my livelihood.

Q: We hear a lot of people publicly stating their displeasure. How much chatter is there between special teams coaches in particular and the fraternity that you guys have there?

A: No one wants to lose a part of what you're used to doing as a part of your job, to kind of go away. You want to be able to kind of coach the way you've been coaching and have the same kind of impact in the game that you want to have, but again, you just make the adjustments and just keep moving.

Q: You've been in this league long enough. You've seen enough rule changes that have changed the way you've had to do things. Is this one of those things where it kind of puts that flag up that you say, 'Wait a minute, we adjusted to other changes, but this is the kind of thing that could change the way we do things for good?'

A: Again, the situation is what it is. They make the rule changes. We might not agree with it, but that's just what it is, and we'll govern ourselves accordingly. So, we'll make the adjustments as a special teams fraternity and try and keep it moving.

Q: How much are you searching for angles on how to work around it to your advantage?

A: That's something—we're always looking for angles as coaches, right? We're always trying to find competitive advantages. We'll always try and find those. So, we're looking at certain things that we could possibly do, and we'll see what happens.

Q: One of your advantages about (kicker) Graham (Gano) is that he's been able to do those kinds of short kicks that the guys have to catch at the two-yard line. Does this make you rethink that? Is that less effective now?

A: Yeah. Yeah, it is.

Q: You talked about not wanting to take away parts of your job. Do you collectively, the special teams coaches, feel a little bit like an endangered species right now?

A: That's a really good question. That's a really good question.

Q: What do you say to guys like (linebacker) Cam Brown and (linebacker) Carter Coughlin who have made careers on special teams? I'm sure they have questions, so how do you explain to them where their value still lies on the plays that they've been a huge part of?

A: It's tough. It's not an easy situation when you know, for the most part, you're going to get anywhere from 25 to 28 plays. Normally, you get really 14 to 15 of those plays, maybe 18, and then half of those might go away. Naturally, you might think, 'Okay, what is my value?' But that's just what it is.

Q: There are all these rule changes here and there. In your time as a special teams coach and coordinator, where does this rank in terms of a true change in roster construction and what you need to do now as a special teams coach?

A: The roster construction part of it, I don't have anything to do with. All I can do as a coach is just make the adjustment with the rule change. The situation is what it is, and you can't complain about it, can't moan about it, you just make the adjustment and you keep it moving. As a coach, that's my job.

Q: What's the biggest adjustment that you'll have to make?

A: It depends on what the other team does, like always. If they squib it on the ground, you just have to be able to make those kinds of adjustments. You've got to have something built into your scheme to where you can adjust to it.

Q: Is that one of those things where maybe it even becomes more calculated early in the season, because you just don't know what your opponent is going to do and you almost have to see things play out before you make a determination?

A: Yeah, this is uncharted territory. I mean, it's something that we haven't seen before in our league, and it's always going to be something that's going to pop up within a new rule change that they didn't foresee. So, it's one of those deals where you've got to play the games to see what happens.

Q: How much do you anticipate the philosophy being, 'Hey, 99 percent of the time, blast it out?'

A: It just depends on the coach and the organizational philosophies and how they view things. Some organizations might choose to do that, some organizations may not. It just depends from week to week and whatever the head coach or whatever the organization's philosophy is on how they're going to approach that play.

Q: Do you think we'll see more squib kicks?

A: I don't know. I can't predict the future, but I know there are going to be some teams that will be aggressive with it, I'm sure.

Q: You've been a part of the accelerator program that they've put together. In the last couple years, you've been involved and we've talked to you about head coaching opportunities if they arise. Where do you feel that is right now, the efforts that the league says it's making versus someone who is going through that process? What are your feelings on that as to where we are?

A: I think the program is an excellent program. I think the exposure to ownership and to be able to develop relationships is paramount to the success of the league, and to making sure that this program is successful. People are going to hire people they're comfortable with. So, if I'm Coach A, and they know Coach B, they feel more comfortable with Coach B, they're going to hire Coach B. I think the relationships that are being built over time with the program and being able to put a name with a face, I think that's important. And then, people doing their due diligence behind the scenes, both coaches and ownership, to learn more about the people that they're dealing with in the program. So, I think it's moving in the right direction. Is it where we want to be exactly? No, but it's moving in that direction.

Q: Why did you guys add a long snapper and how do you plan to handle that competition?

A: It's not so much of a competition. I think it's more of a good, young player that we identified that can develop over time. Obviously, (long snapper) Casey (Kreiter) is a veteran guy. He's been around for a long time, and to be able to save him and be able to develop a guy at the same time as giving another guy some breaks, because he snaps a lot of balls. Casey's a hard worker and he's a great teammate, and a great leader. But (long snapper) Cam Lyons is definitely a very talented young snapper.

Q: How wide open is the punt returner competition right now?

A: We're trying to find who's going to be the guy. The preseason is going to be important. It's a long way away, but we've got a ton of guys out there catching and they're all working hard and doing what you're supposed to do.

Q: Is there any leeway in the spring?

A: You've got to play the game. It looks cute out here in shorts.

Q: Speaking of the punt return, last year you cycled through a lot of gunners, obviously because of the injuries and things like that. When you look at the talent you have so far, I know it's early, but is anybody really kind of jumping out at you? Are you going to do anything different with the deployment of the gunners looking for consistency or how do you plan to approach that?

A: You want continuity at a spot so you can create consistency. It's kind of hard to have that when you don't, when you're changing guys out every week. But you want to be able to develop players that can play those positions and then have them play those positions consistently. As a punt return group, they're all just working hard. They're all out there catching balls and just working at it. So, we've got a bunch of options. We'll see what happens.

Q: That lack of consistency you had last year, how much did that affect (punter) Jamie (Gillan)?

A: It's holistic. It's not just Jamie. When you look at where he was as a punter and then where we were as a gunner group, I think it's more of a holistic part of being able to work together consistently, and then create that continuity and to be able to feel comfortable with each other. I think over time, that'll help us, but we've got to be able to create some consistency for sure. That's going to help all of us, not just Jamie.

I feel bad for him  
Del Shofner : 6/8/2023 6:14 pm : link
as concerns the kickoff rule change.
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