Murray: Play Tough; Dont Make it Tough
Editor's Note: One of the most significant moves the Coyotes made during the 2004 off-season was acquiring Doug Murray as defensive coordinator. Murray spent the pas two seasons at UC Davis as the secondary coach.
In Central Valley, Murray inherits a defense that finished 3rd in the af2 last season. The team also acquired talented players in the off-season, including linebacker Kevin Nelson, defensive specialists Halakilangi Muagututia, and Jermaine Smith to add to the veteran leadership of defensive end Ricky Leung-Wai, defensive specialist VonKeith Spencer and linebacker Howard Maxwell.
Murrays comments will appear regularly on Centralvalleycoyotes.com throughout the 2004 season.
Assess the defenses play against the Pirates.
I say this every week, but its the truth, we are getting better each game. We held them under 200-yards but they scored more points then we did, so we didnt do everything right. We came up big on a couple of series and others we just got caught out of position. Our front three played extremely well, putting pressure on the QB, and we even got a couple of sacks. So were definitely getting better and not to far off from getting a W. We have to play smart and tenacious.
Has Ilao Isaako made enough of an impression to earn a bigger role?
Ilao has come along way from training camp. He is starting to develop into one of our more dominant lineman on defense. Here is a guy who understands his assignments and understands his role on the team. He works hard everyday in practice trying to get better each week. With Ricky [Leung-Wai] coming off one edge and Ilao coming of the other edge, this turns out to be a dangerous combination for opposing offenses. To answer the question though, yes, he has made a tremendous impression on me and we will begin to utilize him more in key situations.
Regardless of whether you play man or zone defense against the Blizzard, does it help to have talented cover defensive backs like VonKeith Spencer, Halakilangi Muagututia and Jermaine Smith?
Anytime you can get three defensive specialists on the field at the same time, then youre ahead of the game. Each of them brings a different style to the football field. They each have different strengths, which mesh real well on the field. It does help regardless of what coverages youre playing, they have the ability to stay with any receiver in the league and make plays. The biggest thing is to make sure we our fundamentally sound, we need to be in the right coverages at the right time in the game. Its a good group to work with, Ill tell you what though, theres not a single guy in that secondary that wont come up and hit you.
What's the key for the Coyotes defense against the Blizzard?
The key this week is to play tough and not to make the game tough. Green Bay is on a 3-game slide and were on a 4-game slide, so we have to keep everything in perspective and not overplay coverages or schemes to try and force a win. Were going to a place where fans worship the game of football and havent had a home game in three weeks. You better believe that those fans are going to be rowdy and hostile trying to get their team fired up. What we need to do is take momentum right off the bat; we need to keep the Blizzard crowd as quite as possible by our own play. If we can do that and execute, then we can be successful.
Who is the biggest threat on offense for the Blizzard?
They have a pretty good receiver in Randall Lane, I think he has over 500-yards receiving and about 14 touchdowns. Were going to need to keep everything in front of us and not allow the big play. Im fine with them completing the hitch route as opposed to a streak or something deep, we can come up and make the tackles on the hitch routes. Again we just have to be sound in our defensive schemes and defenses. Randall is a good receiver but we have some pretty good defensive backs.
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