bleedCrimson.net: Your offense and defense really dominated both lines of scrimmage, your thoughts on their play?
DeWayne Walker: Yeah, it's good to get at least two out of the three aspects of your team to play together. Now we've just got to drag our special teams into the party. Shoot, if we're able to do that week in and week out, we'll be tough to beat. It was good to see our offense and defense really work good together.
bc.net: The final margin was seven points but defensively do you feel like this was the most complete game your defense has put together in the two-plus seasons you've been here?
DW: Yeah. We've had some pretty good games where we gave up less than 300 yards total on defense but I just think when you have an offense that can match what you can do defensively when you're playing well, I think that just puts the icing on the case. Hopefully our defense can continue that. They'll be challenged this week, big time.
bc.net: One of the things we've talked about is your team's ability to force turnovers and a lot of that seems to be your guys being in the right place at the right time but a lot of being in the right place at the right time goes to being a fundamentally sound team. We've talked about it before and not just defensively but also offensively the team is a much more fundamentally sound this year.
DW: Yeah and that's something that we spent a lot of time on in spring practice, summer, offseason just talking about it. I think we have better players, that always helps too but I think our coaching is much better. I know I've taken responsibility to make sure we're crossing our T's and dotting our I's. I just think we've improved collectively across the board.
bc.net: On offense, Matt Christian played well in the first half but goes out with an injury and then Travaughn Colwell comes in and plays better than you could probably expect from a freshman playing in his first real significant action.
DW: This kid is a hard worker. Everyday after practice, he and [Joshua] Bowen, they sit out there and throw routs and work together. You like to see hard work pay off and this kid definitely works hard.
bc.net: Talk a little bit about the preparation that you go through with your quarterbacks because you have Travaughn Colwell who comes in and performs well in his first game, with the game still on the line. Last year you had Andrew Manley, hadn't played a snap, came in to the New Mexico game and lead a big drive. What kind of work do you do with your quarterbacks, and really all of your players, to make sure that they're ready when their number is called?
DW: A lot of meeting time. I think really talking about our quarterback position, at least under Doug [Martin], he has a way of not making the game too complicated. He puts his time in with them but he doesn't overdo it and when you see our kids, there's a confidence with our quarterbacks when they get into stressful situations, they don't panic. He's a coach and he's pretty cool and calm himself. I think that really shows.
I think from a team standpoint it's me really challenging our guys to turn over every rock to give our players a chance to be successful. I definitely turned the heat up with this coaching staff and it's good to see that so far these guys are answering the bell.
bc.net: One of the coaches on your staff, Coach Littlejohn, your first year here he coached on the defensive side of the ball and then last year you moved him to coach the wide receivers and obviously this year that position group is flourishing. What about him and his coaching has made that group so successful this year?
DW: He's coached wide receivers before so it's not foreign to him. I think the reason I wanted him to move was I felt we needed more energy at the receiver position. The kids like playing for him. I also think it helps to have good players and to have good quarterbacks. I think there's better continuity. I think he's done a real good job utilizing more talented players and having better quarterback play. He's definitely done a good job with those guys.
bc.net: Kenny Turner's play over the last several weeks has been outstanding, he's really turned into a workhorse back for you and is really showing a lot of what made him such a highly recruited player.
DW: He's healthy. Going into the season he wasn't really healthy throughout the year and I think that held him back a little bit. I know when we moved him to receiver early in the year in the slot, I think that took some hits off of him and so when we decided to move him back, he had a fresher body and had a fresher outlook on things. I think that had a lot to do with it. I think we're seeing the real Kenny Turner. This is a kid that we had hoped would come in and help make us a better football team.
bc.net: You talked about his move from wide receiver to running back. What was Kenny able to take away from that time at wide receiver that has helped him as a running back?
DW: Just understanding the total package, run game/pass game. I think it just helped his total IQ and again, I just think it took some hits off of him early. I think it makes him more rounded. Obviously we could probably utilize him a little bit more in the passing game and I'm sure we will at some point but I think it just helped him become more of a well rounded player.
bc.net: This is the midpoint of the season. What are your overall grades for your team's performance in the first half of the season?
DW: I think the jury is still out. We're 3-3 and 1-1 so I think our record kind of gives you an idea what our grade should be. We could easily be 4-2 and with a couple breaks maybe even 5-1. It is what it is and I think the second half of the season, we're going to have to steal one or two back because I felt we let a couple of them slip through the cracks. To be honest with you, I think we're probably right where we should be, maybe not quite, I really think we should be 4-2 right now. We're gonna definitely have to play better football these next seven games to try to match what we've done the first half of the season.
bc.net: This weekend you travel to Hawai'i which is obviously a tough travel situation. This year you're going an extra day early which is something you didn't do the first season. What factored into that decision?
DW: The first year I didn't know that football team. I know a lot of people were complaining, "Oh, we're going over on Friday," and this, that and the other and most of it came from the people that had nothing to do with the football game. So I wasn't real concerned with that in my first year. I said, "We're going to go in, it's a business trip," and really we didn't play that bad, it was a 20-6, we were in that game in the fourth quarter. But this year, I've been around these guys, I know this team better. I think we're more organized, I think we understand this Hawai'i trip. I think there's more experience and having a better handle on how to organize it and make sure that we can take away any distractions that may pop up.
bc.net: Hawai'i has a very potent offense but they've been a little bit turnover prone this season averaging a little more than three turnovers per game and your defense has been very opportunistic this year. What are you seeing that might help you continue that trend?
DW: We definitely need to attack the football. I know when I was with Pete Carroll he said it was all about the ball and historically I know being with Pete, we always took the ball away. We want that football and whether we've got to strip, force fumbles, interceptions, we've got to find a way to keep this offense off the field. Usually when you can take the ball away that gives you a chance to get yourselves on the sidelines and let our offense do what they do. We just want to continue to be aggressive at that ball.
bc.net: What is the status of Matt Christian for Saturday's game?
DW: He'll play this week and we'll see how many reps he gets. He's a pretty smart guy so he doesn't have to take every snap but we definitely want to get Tra some more reps and we're going to look into playing those guys evenly if we have to just so we can ensure we can keep Matt healthy throughout the rest of the year.
bc.net: How much of a benefit is it that Travaughn Colwell, like Matt Christian, has that threat to be able to run the ball as well and how much does that help ease the transition when you do have to play both of them, you don't have to change that much on offense whereas with Andrew Manley, he's more of a drop back quarterback?
DW: I think it helps. I think the only reason we would have to cut back with Tra is just his youthfulness. Matt's a veteran guy and can handle quite a bit so we just more or less have to ease Tra into it but at the same token we can probably still call the same plays to a certain degree to not become just one dimensional offensively.
bc.net: What are a couple of keys to coming out of Hawai'i with a win?
DW: We're going to have to play a good football game. This is going to have to be, all three areas are going to have to perform. Offense, defense and special teams. I really think that if we perform at our level at all three areas, I really think we can win this football game.