In The Huddle With ... Defensive Ends Coach/Special Teams Coordinator/Recruiting Coordinator

Nov. 12, 2004

This is the 12th installment of a weekly column that takes you inside the minds of Stanford's assistant football coaches. Each week we will converse with an assistant coach to provide an inside look at a particular area of the team. This week we continue our second round of conversations with coaches as we sit down with defensive ends coach/special teams coordinator/recruiting coordinator Tom Quinn.

JK: Can you talk about the play of the outside linebackers (defensive ends) so far this season as a group and individually?

TQ: They've done a pretty good job up to this point. Jared Newberry is the leader of the defense. We call him the heart and soul of our defense. He makes a lot of the calls and checks for us. He gets us in and out of the defenses we want to be in. He has been very solid with his play. He does a very good job covering the tight end and being physical with the tight end. We asked him to play physical, and he has done a great job of that. He's really helped us defend the run. Jon Alston is fast and explosive. We try to utilize his talents the best we can. Statistically, he has done a very good job. He had four sacks, a fumble caused, and a fumble recovery against Arizona State last week. He's very explosive, and we are able to turn him loose coming from the weak side.

JK: Stanford converted to a 3-4 defensive alignment this season. How has this benefited the defense as a whole?

TQ: The biggest change is that it gets more speed on the field. When we were in a 4-3 alignment, Jon Alston really didn't have a position to play. By going to a 3-4, we have put one extra linebacker on the field. By doing this, we can add a defensive back type of speed up closer to the ball. Alston is very physical with that speed.

JK: Can you talk about the play of the special teams so far this season as a group?

TQ: Overall, their play has been pretty good. There have been a couple of rough spots. Against UCLA, we gave up a long punt return for a touchdown, which really hurt the momentum of the game. The unit came back against Arizona State and had a solid game. Udeme Udofia had two blocked punts. That was great individual effort. For the most part, the whole unit has had a pretty solid year up to this point.

JK: Can you talk about the play of placekicker Michael Sgroi, who has converted over 70% of his field goals and punter Jay Ottovegio, who has pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line on 17 out of 51 punts?

TQ: Mike has done a nice job. He's always had the talent, but I think a lot of times it's been inside his head. He's very confident kicking the ball right now. Everyone on the team has done a nice job protecting, snapping and holding the ball and making it easier for him to kick. The kick he hit last week from 47 yards probably would have been good from 55 yards. He really hit that well. He's doing a nice job. Jay has been a very pleasant surprise. We knew he had talent, but he has done a very good job with the mental end of the game. He's pretty unflappable, which is nice to have in a punter. He's really competitive. He's done well pinning the other team down and done a nice job with everything we have asked him to do.

JK: Can you talk about the play of other top special teams contributors?

TQ: This time of year a lot of guys go down with injuries and there are other guys that step up to play special teams. Udeme Udofia was a prime example of that. In his second week on the punt rush, he came in and had those two blocks. There are a lot of other guys that have been solid contributors. Michael Okwo, Oshiomogho Atogwe and Timi Wusu have been solid contributors all year long. They have all done a nice job and have really bought into the system. Everyone has played very hard and fast.

JK: Stanford is playing Oregon State this weekend. What are your expectations for the game?

TQ: We have to go out and win. This game is a must-win situation for us. It is also the seniors' last game at home. We want to send them out right. We have to do everything in our power special teams wise to ensure we have great field position and momentum for this game. Oregon State is a very solid, very athletic team so this game will be a great challenge for us.

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