One of the many perks to being a Good Bull Hunting employee - in addition to the free gym membership and outstanding health care benefits - is the opportunity we occasionally have to leverage our outstanding connections or make things up because we're bored. This afternoon, we pretended to sit down with first year offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney as he expounded upon his press conference answers from this morning.
McKinney's additional fake comments to GBH this afternoon are in italics.
Coach McKinney, can you tell us about the Mississippi State defensive line and run game issues?
"It was last Sunday when I watched the film. Well, I started to, but Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift came on TNT around 3:30 and I got a little distracted. Bow Wow was awesome in that. They're probably the biggest, most athletic defensive line we've faced all year. Which is weird, since they rank in the bottom half of the SEC in run defense, but still - really athletic. Also, I was hoping you guys had forgotten we played Alabama and Auburn.
The field didn't help - it was the eighth game on Kyle Field and we'd worn it out a bit. It was tough sledding as far as the run game goes. You could tell because Mississippi State only ran for 300 yards on the same field. Had it been in better shape, they would have hit 450, easy."
What would a complete offensive performance look like to you?
"You're talking about a complete game, 14 possible drives - if you score touchdowns on 14 drives you're looking at a lot of points. Seriously. Just think about it. It's unrealistic, but as a coaching staff and players we feel like we can score every possession. We've had that opportunity, we just haven't put it together. Our guys were a lot better on third down this week than we've been in previous weeks. In fact, we were almost at a 50% conversion rate, which is really impressive when you remember how many times we had 3rd and long after two straight low-percentage passing plays."
What needs to get fixed to lead to that kind of offensive performance that you're describing?
"It's usually that we'll get behind the sticks as far as penalties go early in drives. Instead of first and ten, you're looking at first and fifteen, turnovers in the red zone, etc. You'd think at some point the offensive line would get used to getting into pass pro every first down, but they still occasionally jump - it's almost like mixing in an early-down run would help them out! LOL!"
Coach, tell us about Ben Malena's personality?
Day to day, I guess he's kind of like Superman and Clark Kent. As an aside, my glasses are Clark Kent via Warby Parker. You like? I did a bunch of googling last Sunday when I was supposed to be watching Mississippi State game film. Cool site. You don't notice him during the day, or in practice or meetings - he doesn't say a whole lot. But when the lights come on he's a different person - he's very vocal, a leader on the field. But when we're in practice and meetings, he doesn't say a lot.
Except Thursday mornings. That's when he runs into my office, jumps on my desk, and screams 'Coach - I'm the Cash Out Kiiiiiiiiiing! for an hour or so, then runs out like nothing happened. It's the damndest thing.
Can you talk about taking knees late in the game and having to punt again?
"I was trying to figure out what the referees were doing there. We ran a play, then we ran another play, then we reviewed a play from two plays ago. I didn't know that was possible. I've tried to tell the other offensive coaches bad things happen when you run it multiple downs in a row, but sometimes guys just have to see things happen for themselves. I was trying to figure out the referees, what they were doing. We were up two scores, so you figure you run down as much clock as you can, that's what we tried to do."
Is there a Tra Carson update?
"I'm not sure exactly what his status is. That'd be a question for Coach Sumlin. If we had him last Saturday, who knows. In a game where our running backs got 16 total carries, Tra definitely would have had one. Maybe even two if the flow of the game warranted that sort of thing. All four of those guys are really talented, they had some good runs. Tra Carson's good, it may or may not have been a good game for him. We don't put guys in the game based on wanting a big guy or not. We just roll those guys in and run our offense.
Some coaches - Bill Walsh, Steve Spurrier, Bud Wilkinson, Woody Hayes, Eddie Robinson, Nick Saban, Tom Osborne, Lavell Edwards, Bear Bryant, just about any child playing NCAA on the computer - they think short yardage, let's go jumbo here. Not me. No sir. We're going to run the damn offense."
Is there an avenue for complaint regarding the late officiating?
"I don't know, that's really a Coach Sumlin question. When the offense is on the field, I just try to get us in the right play. I usually do this by putting Madden on 'coach mode' and then selecting a pass, or just texting Kliff, although you'd panic a little bit too if you spent three hours of your life with Jake Spavital screaming 'RUN 4 VERTICALS AGAIN' over and over in your headset.
It just looked like some time had gone off the clock and they put some back on. I was confused myself. Guys, I was a only a high school head coach for three years before taking over as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. Luckily, most people don't seem to understand the difference between 'process' and 'results' when it comes to scoring points with the greatest quarterback college football has ever seen, so I think things are working out pretty great."