Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: What'd you think about the way (punter) Jamie (Gillan) punted the other night?
A: Jamie's doing a good job. He really is. He's kind of found a rhythm, and we just want to keep him on the same path. Just keep staying in the flow of the game, staying in the moment, and just making sure that he's just executing at a high level. So, we've just got to do our part as a cover unit and a protection unit to help him, and he's just got to do his job as a punter. So, he's done a really nice job.
Q: The thing for him was always consistency. What do you do to get that out of him? What's the progression angle of it?
A: As a coach, it's my job to help him with that, obviously. We just try to do some things that he feels comfortable with in practice and in the games, and then just getting confidence through the execution part of it, whether it be a warm-up session that we had in Arizona where he kicked the ball pretty well, whether it be just a session when we're in here by ourselves. Just feeling comfortable in the moment, and just being able to see the big picture. What's your big goal? What are we working towards? And just trying to get better every day. That's it. Just try and find one little thing to focus on every day, and work on it. And then okay, yeah, I got better at that today, let's just keep working in the progression. So, that's all we're doing, and he's done a really nice job.
Q: The one he really boomed when you guys were backed up, it seemed like that was a little bit of that rugby style. How do you or he determine when you're going to do that and when you're not?
A: I can't tell you that.
No, I'm kidding. I'm kidding. It's certain points in the game that we feel comfortable with him out there and certain situations and down and distance that we'll do it. But for him, he feels comfortable with that. He's been playing rugby since he was this big. So, he gets the ball out of his hands faster that way than it does the conventional way. It's amazing how that happens. But the muscle memory just kicks in and then it's the years and years of playing rugby. So, it's nothing for him. He can do it in his sleep.
Q: I kind of think about punting as you take the snap and kick it. How much more complicated is it than that?
A: It's a lot of things that go into it. The punt play, it's wind, the weather, the conditions, who you're playing, what kind of returner is back there, who's the rush, who are their highlighted rushers, who do you want to stay away from. There's a whole bunch of different things that play into that. But the nuts and bolts of it is the catch and mold, get the ball out of your hands as quickly as you can with really good technique in mechanics, and just hitting a nice, smooth ball, with good hang to distance and with good direction. That's all we ask for him to do.
Q: Does the night game change any of that?
A: Yeah. Most of the time when you're playing in outdoor stadiums, once the sun goes down, the wind kind of decreases a little bit. So, that helps, definitely. Obviously, anytime you don't have a lot of wind, it kind of helps you with the consistency of the punt and the drop and all that stuff. So yeah, it definitely makes a difference.
Q: I know you guys will go back and look at film of Seattle last year and that game in Seattle. I don't know how much their special teams units have changed, but when you have a couple of mistakes last year that kind of really hurt you guys, do you harp on that with these guys? Or just kind of let them watch the film and not worry about it?
A: No. It's a totally different team, different returner back there. It's totally different. They have a different set of guys. We have basically a different set of guys and it's a whole new opportunity, a whole new year. Obviously, you learn from those things, but you definitely don't harp on it because half the guys that're playing on your unit weren't even on the field last year. We just take that for what it is. You move on from it, you learn from it. The stuff that we can take from last year schematically, because (Seahawks Special Teams Coordinator) Larry Izzo was still there last year, we'll look at it and be ready for some of those same things that will come about, but you don't harp on it. You just move on.
Q: Did you ever cross paths with Larry Izzo? You were here and then I think he came right after you left to go to LSU, right?
A: I've known Larry Izzo since I was 16 years old. He went to McCullough High School. I went to Langham Creek High School. He went to Rice. I went to Houston. So, we played against each other all through high school, through college, and I've known Larry forever. He's good friend of mine, great dude, and hell of a coach.
Q: Did you have anything to do with him filling your spot when you left here?
A: No. Larry was trying to get into coaching. Super smart guy. Obviously, he was a great special teams player, probably one of the greatest of all time. He got into it on his own. Larry's a heck of a dude. Great coach, good man.
Q: I know it was kind of like a freak play when (tackle) Andrew (Thomas) got hurt on the blocked kick, but anytime an important offensive or defensive player gets hurt on special teams, do you take them off those units?
A: I don't. I don't have the power to take anybody off. But it's definitely something you look at. I mean, when you have a guy like AT (tackle Andrew Thomas) who is important to our team, and that's kind of a freak thing that happens. I just remember when we won the Super Bowl, it's (tackle) Kareem McKenzie, (guard) Richie Seubert, (tackle) David Deal, all those guys, (guard) Chris Snee. They're all on the field goal team. It's just what it is. Offensive linemen, that's kind of part of the job. You play on field goal protection. But trust me, you definitely think about it, because you damn sure don't want to lose a guy like him ever. On any play, whether it be offense, defense, or special teams.
Q: Was (running back Eric) Gray right to field that one?
A: Which one?
Q: That he got interfered with on.
A: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. A short punt, if you can come up to field it, absolutely. He's made great decisions all year, knock on wood. He'll continue to do that hopefully moving forward. But yeah, I think it was a great decision. You catch that ball, and if it hits the ground, it might roll for 20 yards, 15, 20- yards, especially with (49ers punter) Mitch Wishnowsky. I mean, he's Aussie, and those balls have a tendency to hit the ground anywhere from 15 to 20 yards on a roll, so I think he saved us a lot of field position plus the 15-yard penalty. So, he made a good decision.