COACH SCHIANO: Looking forward to Navy now, a unique set of challenges. They're running the football better than anybody else in America. They have two guys, No. 2, their quarterback, and No. 39, their fullback. Both of the guys are averaging over 100 yards a game. That's very rare to have two guys in your back field averaging over 100 yards a game.
It's the triple-option offense. They rely on hitting big plays in the pass game, which they've been able to do. They're as productive as anybody in the country right now at moving the football.
It's a huge challenge because it's a unique offense and one we don't see very much. You guys that are around practice and training camp know that we spend some time periodically working on it, because there is no way you can get ready for it with one week of preparation.
You flip over to the defense. We've had our issues offensively against Navy's defense. Coach Green is Navy's defensive coordinator. He's been there a long time. He's an excellent football coach, and he's done a good job of matching up with us.
You look at it personnel wise, I think their defensive end, No. 98, jumps off the screen. He's a senior, and he plays like a senior. Their linebacking corps, I think, is good. No. 9 is a very active player. They'll be aggressive and jump from odd to even, and blitz and do all those things. With a front like ours that's trying to find their footing, that makes it difficult. Yet they play a more conservative style of coverage behind it. It's been something that we've struggled with.
That's kind of the landscape of what we have to get ready for, and it's going to be a week where, as is every week, but maybe more so than ever, our preparation is critical because it's some different things.
Q. Is Nova going to start?
COACH SCHIANO: Yeah, Gary is going to start. That's after going through things, that's what we've decided to do. Again, Chas will be prepared and ready to go.
Q. What does Navy do defensively? I know you talked about their defense, but why do you think they give you trouble? You have trouble against them?
COACH SCHIANO: You know, they go from odd to even, they jumped from an odd front to an even front. They run backers through. They do some things that we just haven't done a good job of picking up.
You sit there in game planning and say we'll be able to run this play and then they've made plays. They've played very hard, which doesn't surprise you. That's their entire football team. They play very hard. And we have to be able to move the football on these guys, because they're now, like everybody else, they've gone now to the no-huddle. So they're running no-huddle, triple-option, which, if it wasn't hard enough before.
So now instead of running the play, they start the guy in motion, and the whole group looks to the sideline, not every play, but a bunch of plays. It's going to be a challenging week.
Q. Coach, have we seen Logan Ryan develop into a true number one corner? What's he done since the beginning of the season to improve?
COACH SCHIANO: He's worked very hard to thicken his skin. You know, he had some plays, you think back to the Carolina game where he got beat over the top and got beat underneath. We talked at that time. That was a critical time for him in his career. I think what he's done is worked very, very hard in practice and built up.
When you earn that confidence, then you deserve to have it. You deserve to play with it, and he's playing with confidence right now.
Q. Your defense has been so good at forcing turnovers this year. Does that approach change at all against Navy because it's primarily running the ball?
COACH SCHIANO: They do throw the ball. One of the things that's lost in this triple-option offense, is Navy counts on hit ting in two of those big plays, so we have to make sure we cover. And the hard thing is it's all off these run actions. Very rarely do they just drop back and throw it. So you're having trouble stopping that run, stopping that run, and all of a sudden they pop a receiver.
If you watch their game tapes, they have runners. They have guys that are running free and people bust coverage. It's not easy. You have to have great eye discipline.
As far as creating takeaways, you don't try to create takeaways. You drill it in practice and they're incredibly hard. They either happen or they don't.
It's a little different now because on several of their running plays, they're pitching the football. They're reading down linemen. So we have to play physically and play fast, and see if we can't create takeaways both in the run game and the pass game. But that happens. I don't think you try to do that.
Q. Is Rashad Knight, is it a setback or is his foot just not healing the way you'd hoped?
COACH SCHIANO: You just don't know. He's going to get an X-ray here sometime this week to see where we are. I hope he can come back in the latter part of the year, but we don't know that.
Q. What was your thinking on Marcus Thompson starting in?
COACH SCHIANO: Don't read too much into the defensive front stuff because I do it just so you guys have a two deep. But we will, by the end of the week, figure out who has practiced best, who has looked the best and we'll rotate them in that way.
I think we played ten guys last week, maybe 11. We'll continue to play as many guys who have earned the right to play. Certainly playing a no-huddle triple-option offense, we'll have to play several defensive linemen, otherwise we'll run out of gas.
Q. Should I read anything into Betim being right guard?
COACH SCHIANO: Maybe that I forgot to change it. I don't know. Our offensive line is a work in progress. I can't tell you who is going to be the starting five. I really can't. I hate to do that because we put this document out. I'd like to put out a document that says, "I don't know. We'll see." But I don't think that flies well on the press release.
Q. With the line, did you figure out what went wrong with Caleb and Gary on those snaps?
COACH SCHIANO: Yeah, yeah, that's all right. We'll get it fixed.
Q. How was it to see Steve get back to that production level at middle linebacker?
COACH SCHIANO: I think Steven's playing at a high level right now. He's working incredibly hard in practice and in preparation, and that's why you're seeing it on the field. Steve's a good football player.
Q. All the changes you made defensively to get more speed on the field in the off-season, is this the kind of offense that speed on defense is really going to pay off?
COACH SCHIANO: Well, you need speed, and there is no doubt. The other thing that I don't like is we haven't played Navy since 2008. Their team speed is much better on offense. I haven't studied the defense quite as much, so I can't comment exactly, but on offense, they look faster. Their slot backs look faster.
Their quarterback, No. 2, is a much bigger guy than they've had. He's a 6'1", 205-pound guy, and you can see it on tape. A lot of times in this triple-option stuff, there are smaller guys that are quick. But this guy can run you over. It's an added dimension.
The fullback, 39, is a really good player. He's not the tallest guy, which I think make it's even harder. He plays with great pad level, and he's a good athlete. The fullback, they'll kill you with the fullback until you stop it. That is lesson number one in the triple-option because that is the first read. We need to make sure we stop him. And No. 2 is rushing for over a hundred yards a game as well. The slot backs, 21 and 33 look really fast. It's going to be a huge challenge.
Q. Talking about the slot backs and your comfort level in the middle of your defensive line and how well it's played?
COACH SCHIANO: This is a different game. This is a different game as far as what the defensive linemen have to do. You're still going to do penetration and blitzing at times and then other times you're not going to. This will be a big challenge.
I think in addition to their speed looking like it's increased, their offensive line is the best I've seen from them. We've played these guys over a period of years, and usually they're lean guys that will scramble block. These guys are strong. This is the strongest line that I've seen them have as far as just knocking you off the ball. So there's no mystery why they're having the offensive success that they're having.
Q. Going back to linebackers, Kevin Snyder's speed what has gotten him on the field so far?
COACH SCHIANO: Speed and intelligence, want-to. He's playing at a high level. He's a true freshman, and he gets it. He really played fast Saturday. He made some plays in space that were really impressive. So I'm really excited, because he and (Mall) are both really good players. They can run and hit and they're both young guys.
Q. Navy being one of the schools considered by the Big East, would they be a fit for this conference?
COACH SCHIANO: That's not my decision. I don't get into that stuff. Right now I'm trying to see if we can fit their runs, forget fit fair conference. Whatever our presidents and athletic directors decide, I'm firmly behind it.
Q. Johnson, how has he been over the three weeks starting?
COACH SCHIANO: Developing, he's made some mistakes that we knew he would. He's getting better each week. He's very strong and explosive. But definitely you live with the tradeoff. He's getting better though.
Q. Early in the season when you wanted to get Gary a series of games, was that because you saw potential?
COACH SCHIANO: We see potential all the time. The reality is we had one quarterback in our program that had ever taken a college snap. So we thought it was critical that Gary gets snaps just in case he needs to go in.
As things began to evolve, those snaps served him well Saturday and served him well in the second half at Syracuse.
Q. The tight ends haven't had much production this year. Why is that, and how much of a concern is that for you?
COACH SCHIANO: You know, I think the tight ends are playing better than they have. I think D.C.'s blocking the best that he's blocked since he's been here. Haven't had as much catch production, but I think it will come, I do. Pauly's doing a good job. He had a touchdown there in the Ohio game. I think they're right about where they need to be.
Hopefully the production does increase in the pass game, but overall I'm pleased with their progress.
Q. You see Mark Harrison's role continuing to grow with the offense?
COACH SCHIANO: Well, again, the routes are the routes. The quarterback needs to read them out. Most saw double coverage almost the whole game again, and I don't think that's going to change. That will open up some other guys.
Q. Certainly the production is starting to get there for Joe at fullback. But ideologically is he kind of starting to get what it takes to be a fullback?
COACH SCHIANO: Joe's always good with the ball in the hand. Catch and passes, that's not the issue. What a tailback when he moves to fullback has to master is the physical part of blocking. Joe is improving, but that's not what he's used to doing. He has to continue to get better at that.
Q. What was the response of the recruits that you talked to at Saturday's game?
COACH SCHIANO: It was good. They liked the uniforms and helmets and stuff. That's all good. You wear that and you lose, it doesn't matter, right? So the fact that we won the game and did that, that was a nice plus.
But we've got a great group of kids that we're recruiting 2012s, and 2013s, and 2014s, that we have good relationships with, and it's great to have them on campus because you get to spend time with them after the game and little bit before the game.
Q. Nick DePaola, second team linebacker; is that accurate? What has he done?
COACH SCHIANO: Well, it is accurate in that we may make some other moves, but to list the two deep, that is accurate. He's a very good football player. He's efficient.
What he doesn't have is any experience of playing defense. He plays on our special teams. Does a nice job. Does what he's coached to do, does it well. I think he's building a trust level with our coaches.
Q. You said you'd been practicing for the triple-option. When you play them, is it kind of in the back of your mine when you're playing other team that's they stay there a little bit, and you can't forget about it during game week?
COACH SCHIANO: There's no doubt it's an issue. Sunday night's we work on it. Because we have Army still after this, we'll continue to work on it. So there are other things we'd like to be working on, but there is no way you prepare for this offense unless you do it in training camp in the spring and then weekly, I think, to stay sharp, otherwise, there is no chance.
Without a doubt, that is an issue, because it takes away from -- but this is a big game on our schedule every year, and this year it's two times that we have to play. Not that Army's exactly the same, but there are similarities.