Wayzata Football Head Coach Brad Anderson joined me this morning for our regular segment to put the Final Word on Hopkins and to Preview the upcoming game with the Burnsville Blaze.
Dan Gustafson: Congratulations on your win over Hopkins. What did this win mean for your team?
Brad Anderson: It meant that we have at least a share of the [Classic Lake] Conference Title. That was one of our goals to start the year. Looking at the quality of the teams in our Conference, I think that is a nice accomplishment to have. I thought it was a good game for us against a quality opponent, and played well as a second part of that. That’s really the big thing, at this time of year, you want to make sure you are improving and moving the ball against teams that are good. We see Hopkins as being one of those teams.
DG: Should you be ranked #1 in class 5A football?
BA: The rankings are for other people. I always felt that if you are #1, you should stay #1 unless you lose. In my opinion, Eden Prairie should be #1, because they were ranked #1 and haven’t done anything to lose that. In the end it’s nice for the fans to be ranked #1, we know it all gets settled on the field. I don’t worry too much about that, and we tell our players not to worry too much about that.
DG: Tobi Okuyemi, Kevin Potas, Carl West and your defense put on quite a show against Hopkins. What was your impression of the defense effort?
BA: They were all over the place, they allowed us to do a lot of things defensively to prevent big plays, by getting pressure with those three guys basically on their own, allowed us to play eight guys into pass coverage. That was really key for us because [Hopkins] had players that if you let them get behind you, they are going to be gone–you can’t catch them. It kept us out of man to man coverage a lot of the night, allowed us do some things defensively that were a lot more sound.
DG: What did you think of the offensive effort?
BA: I thought we looked pretty good overall. We had zero negative yardage plays, which to me is a key stat along with turnovers. We had no negative yardage runs, we had no sacks. We weren’t the crispest throwing the ball, our completion percentage wasn’t great but the times we connected were usually pretty big plays. Overall I was pretty pleased, when you put up that many points you can’t be too upset.
DG: Describe your teams ability to score quickly with a big play.
BA: That’s kind of the [method of operation] for our team this year. We are kind of a flurry type of team, in the fact that if we get the ball and get the ball back in a very short period of time, a lot of times we can put up two or three scores. In the second quarter [against Hopkins] with the help our defense, we were able to combine some big plays and some short yardage situations and put up, what was it 40-41 points in about six and a half minutes. That was really big. I think the fact that we can incorporate the big play, causes teams to have to play us in a way that allows maybe some running game to open up later on. That’s real key as well.
DG: It seems like offensive unit has cured some of the fumbles they were prone to early on in the season.
BA: Coach McNiff has really worked with the running backs all year about protecting the ball, carrying it high and tight. I think we have done a better job of being conscious of how we are carrying the football. That’s number one, number 2 Dave Lutz has worked quite a bit with our quarterbacks to make sure that we are holding the ball tight into our chest. A lot of our fumbles early in the year were happening on play fakes, where the ball would get a little way away from the body, and our running backs might bump into our quarterbacks and the ball would get bumped out. We are just more conscious of what we are doing, it’s been something that we have emphasized in practice, as far as taking care of the ball. It’s something that you have to continue to do throughout the season, because the week you stop emphasizing it is the week you have issues with that again and that’s usually what will get you beat in a big game.
DG: What did you think of Daryl Brown’s punt return for a touchdown?
BA: We see Daryl do that all the time. He’s a human missile, and if you give him a seam, he can take it. Before the season he was one of the players we were looking at playing tailback, he was so valuable to us as a defensive back and we had some other players who stepped up in the tailback role, we haven’t had to play him there this year. We know he’s got very good ball skills and ball return ability. That’s one of the reason that we had him back there.
DG: What about AJ Tarpley’s block to spring him?
BA: He hit that kid so hard I don’t know who got the worst end of it. He really keyed up the whole sideline with that block. On film it was very impressive.
DG: I’m sure there were some good times at Sensor’s afterwords when you were watching the film.
BA: When the play happened up on the big screen, everyone was oohing and ahhing and all the fans in Sensor’s loved it as well.
DG: What can you tell us about Burnsville?
BA: Burnsville is a club that is better than their record. Watching them you would say, why hasn’t this team been able to get it done, and they are in a lot game but have found a way in the past not to come out on top. For us, were looking for a club who plays the run pretty well, and they are a physical club. They played us really well last year, I thought. WE just have to go out there and execute and do the little things–protect the football, tackle well, an know our assignments. If we do that, we are confident in how we will play.
DG: What will your teams focus be against them?
BA: The big thing we talk about at this time of the year is just making little improvements. We watched the film from our first game, and had the players evaluate how we did. The players are able so a difference, and able to identify what are the little things that we are doing better. We talk about how important it is to continue to work on those little things. This week, it’s just like any other week in the fact that we have to prepare to play Burnsville, but the other part of it is that we have to look at ourselves and be a little bit better. How can we execute just a little bit sharper. That’s what we are really focusing on this week.
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