bleedCrimson.net: You had a bye week this past week. Last week you said that you would practice and prepare as if you had a game on Saturday. You wanted to see that intensity and focus. What are your feelings on the team's week of preparation last week?
DeWayne Walker: I thought they did a pretty good job. We got after them pretty good. The sense of urgency was just getting as much out of them as we needed to. We had an early morning practice on Thursday. We had them out there about 6:15 on Thursday morning and they were rolling and ready to go. I was happy with the practices last week and we've got to get to our serious game mode this week.
bc.net: With a little bit of time off for the players have you seen a refreshed group come back to the field this week?
DW: No question. We did a little bit with them yesterday with just helmets and you could just tell that they were fresh and I was talking to a couple of them afterwards about how they felt and they looked energized for sure.
bc.net: This Saturday you take on Idaho. The Vandals have been a team that has given the Aggies fits over the last few years in both the Sun Belt and the WAC. They're off to a bit of a rough start and they've had some inconsistent play from the quarterback position.
DW: Yeah, you could see that they're probably not real happy even though I think the quarterback is more than capable of playing better and giving their offense what I know Coach Akey and Coach Axman are looking for. At the same token they're a tough team. Coach Akey does a great job with that piece of it. These guys are gonna play hard and they're not gonna quit. It'll be a fight from start to finish.
bc.net: One of the areas that has been a pretty good strong point for them this season has been their offensive line. What can you tell us about their offensive line and what do you feel like you can do to maybe disrupt the offensive line and continue to give their quarterback, Brian Reeder, some trouble?
DW: I know watching the LA Tech game, I think LA Tech has a very good front seven. I thought LA Tech got after them a little bit, I felt they did some different things up front. I think LA Tech's front, they're pretty stout so they were definitely a challenge and our front is going to have to play aggressive. We're going to have to try to take advantage of all the mistakes that they make up front because we're going to need that not only in the passing game but definitely in the running game.
bc.net: Your defensive secondary has been the strength of the defense this season. Courtney Viney is a player that came here in his last season and has really made an impact on the defense.
DW: Yeah, I'm really excited about Courtney. I've known Courtney ever since he was in high school and he was fighting his tail off to get on the field at UCLA. He played, probably not as much as he would have liked and for him to come and help get this program going and to want to be a part of this in his last college football season in his career really says a lot about who that kid is.
bc.net: From a leadership standpoint how much has it helped having him as a senior there to help replace some of that experience that you lost this past season?
DW: He's been great. He was very mindful of guys that have been here, Jonte Green and Ben Bradley, Donyae Coleman, they have accepted him and they know that his heart is in the right place and they allow him to do what he needs to do to help lead this football team.
bc.net: Offensively, how much has the week off helped to get everybody a little bit more healthy and also expand or diversify the playbook a little bit?
DW: I think helped tremendously. Every week you want to tweak what you're doing based off of your opponent so I know Coach Martin has a couple things and I've spoke with him about some things that they're doing and thrown in my two cents so we're going to start really getting heavy into the scheme of things starting today but it was great to have last week to implement some of those things to give our kids an idea of what direction we're heading into for this week's game.
bc.net: This is one of the few seasons in recent memory that you've had a favorable bye week. When you've got a bye week like you had this past week and you have a couple weeks to prepare, do you solely focus on one team or do you take some of that time to try to implement some things for down the road?
DW: That's a good question. Actually this is the first time that I tried to do both. I kind of split practice up so where we could kind of hit some things like third down, red zone, first and second down, backed up. So we did have a chance to hit those things, Aggies versus Aggies but I also left some time for the coaches to be able to start implementing schemes that we're going to hit on seriously this week as we get ready for Idaho.
bc.net: What are a couple of keys to the game offensively and defensively for the Aggies to come out with a win on Saturday?
DW: I know offensively, these guys, their defense is better. They're playing fast, they're playing aggressive so they're going to bring the fight to us and we're going to have to try to offset that with some different things that we have up our sleeves to try to slow them down a little bit. At the same time we're going to have to fight these guys too. I think defensively, even though they've had a hard time running the ball, that's not one of our strengths stopping the run so you would think that they'll try to get their run game going. Then we're going to have to try to keep them away from getting explosive pass plays on us and basically make them earn everything they're going to get.
It's going to be a fight. I know they're starving for a win, I know they have a lot of confidence against New Mexico State. I know in the past Robb Akey has mentioned, "If we hit 'em in the mouth early they'll give in," and really the last couple of years they have gotten out early on us pretty quick and just were never able to recover. It's going to be a dogfight.
bc.net: Obviously this is your third run through the WAC. How much familiarity with the other WAC teams are you starting to get as far as understanding what they're trying to do and how much does that help in game planning against the WAC teams?
DW: I think it helps. I know from year to year teams will tweak their schemes a little bit. What helps is just knowing the mentality of the coaches, the head coach, the coordinators. Having a pretty good idea of the identity of their team. That definitely helps, being able to focus on these guys year in and year out and having a good understanding of what you're up against.