Q&A with Wyoming offensive coordinator Tim Polasek
LARAMIE -- Sunday was a long one for Tim Polasek and the Wyoming coaching staff.
Win or lose, the first-year offensive coordinator said that day can be a difficult one.
This one, however, was tougher than most.
The Cowboys fell to a floundering New Mexico squad 14-3 inside the friendly confines of War Memorial Stadium. It was the team's third straight loss. Wyoming has only a John Hoyland field goal on the scoreboard over its last 10 quarters of play.
The numbers haven't been pretty during this skid. A quick glimpse of the official NCAA stats reveals that:
* Total offense: 116th out of 130 FBS teams -- 327.9 yards per game
* Passing offense: 114th -- 169 yards per game
* Scoring offense: 107th -- 22.1 points per game
* Completion percentage: 126th -- .489%
* Passing efficiency: 121st -- 91-of-186
Polasek answered many questions Monday about the current state of the Cowboys' offense during a one-on-one interview with 7220sports.com.
Here is what he had to say:
7220sports: After Saturday's game, say you call your best friend on the phone and he says, 'Tim, what's going on with this offense?' I mean, in the simplest terms, what do you say to him?
Polasek: It seems like I can't help the guys -- we can't help each other -- just not shoot ourselves in the foot. You know, Cody, I think I would tell them, 'man, right now, it seems like we have to put together 10 perfect plays in a drive in order to have the results that we want, right?' You know, we're really struggling to find the ability to make a play or find a concept or scheme to put some guys in position where we can do that. You know, I won't use the term frustrating, but It's like, just waiting for us to jump back on that deal where we make a few of these plays -- and momentum. I really do believe momentum and a sense of confidence and a sense of dictating to the defense is missing right now a little bit.
7220sports: Do you feel like it's close though? Do you feel like something could spark this any minute?
Polasek: Well, I do. I do because there's evidence of that. I mean, you watch the game closely. You seem like a really good football guy. We make two of those plays and you know, we don't have poor fundamentals and technique on the third downs that we converted. I don't know if it changes the game, but in my heart all I know is to believe. If we can change those couple situations then we're looking at a different outcome in the game, we're looking at a different outcome and how we all feel about the upcoming series. How we feel more in control and able to dictate to the defense. Generally speaking, I've got to help the guys -- more guys, more times, more often -- to be in position to make plays. Then when we get the opportunities, as players, whether it's throwing it, catching it, breaking a tackle, we've got to do that because those couple of plays could ignite such positive feelings and such momentum and rhythm that the offense needs right now. We're not playing with any consistent rhythm or momentum. And when we do get some establish in a six, eight-play drive, we just have to be more disciplined.
7220sports: Are you referring to the overthrows to Isaiah Neyor, Tim?
Polasek: Yeah, I mean, those are deeper balls. On the one early, it's kind of funny because coach (Craig) Bohl asked, you know, 'what do you guys see as a good percentage? Coach is a real big numbers guy. I said, 'you know, on an inside fade it probably needs to be closer to 55 or 60%.' Compared to an outside fade, we all know the deal. If you get press-man and you have to throw the ball outside on a vertical, you're probably talking 45 or 50%. You know, a 50-50 ball, we have to give our guy (a chance). We talk a lot in the quarterback room that when we get our opportunity, make sure that we give these guys a shot, you know, so that they can make 50-50 plays. You know, it's just been three games. Cody, I don't know how you feel about it -- you know how I feel. I don't really have time to think about what other people's opinion are, but man, we shouldn't have missed these 50-50 opportunities these last three weeks.
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7220sports: I think when I hear you guys say 50-50 ball, I think of Isaiah Neyor going up for a ball with a guy, but you have to give him a chance. Also, in that 50-50 situation, there could be a penalty, right? I mean, there could be a few good things that can happen.
Polasek: We set out to be that kind of offense. I'm not sitting here -- (passing-game coordinator) Mike (Grant) and I -- were not discouraged with how many balls we are putting down the field. You know, we're actually pretty pleased with that, but we're not pleased with the results. You know, we've been on a good trend with the explosive plays -- five plays of 20 (yards) or more -- but that's fallen off the last couple of weeks. Then, third down has fallen off. But third down, we should've easily been 7-of-14 Saturday. You know, we had the two holding calls and the drop. So, you know, when you're not very good in those areas, you don't create a lot of 'gold zone' opportunities.
7220sports: Tim, we've seen offenses do different things against you guys. Like UConn went to a hurry-up and Air Force started throwing the ball. New Mexico did the triple-option stuff. Like I asked Mike, does your offense need a radical shake up, or can you do a radical shake up like that? Would you even want to?
Polasek: I think, you know, that's a great question because, you know, it challenges my bones, right? It challenges my philosophy, it challenges my beliefs in the work that we've done during the spring and fall camp, right? For us to institute say, 10 more concepts in a hurry-up fashion or no-huddle, you know, that would take away a lot of work fundamentally and technique-wise with the base stuff that we'd like to continue to improve on. But I do think I think you're asking the right question. OK, what parts of the game could we investigate that we get to do more of? Man, I'm not saying that we've tried everything, but we've got a couple things this week that will move up the ladder as far as emphasis. You know, one area -- we really just started the season off hoping not to have to run the quarterback a ton, based on some old guys past history of injury and knowing how long of a stretch it is. That's an area we could investigate. Radical changes at this time -- I would say no. What we need to fall back on are rules and principles. Our fundamentals and techniques have to improve. You know, then I do believe that these big plays will come to us if we create a couple two, three, four opportunities a game. Where it's been a little disappointing the last week or two, I thought the run game was pretty effective Saturday ... You know, my biggest fear is like most defensive coaches tell you, 'hey, if you make the offense go eight to 10 plays, they'll shoot themselves in the foot. Also, the easy thing to do is to say, 'well, we can move the ball. We can move it running it, we can move it throwing the quick game, but somewhere in there, we got to create enough space for guys to be able to be in a one-on-one situation and break a tackle for that to be effective. Or we do have to hit a couple of these deep shots.
7220sports: Tim, you said during the offseason you really wanted a CEO for this offense. Can Levi Williams be that guy?
Polasek: Yeah, I mean he hasn't been out there for me to tell you he's done it, but -- I'm just looking at my notes -- both Levi and Sean (Chambers) with the run-game plan, they know what their fronts are and all the stuff that they do with the tailback runs. Their decision making and their ability to -- not get us in and out -- but to get us into the right (situation has been good). We had a couple of one-way-or-the-other-type calls and they were really good. I thought the protection was -- I don't know how the general fan feels or how you guys feel as writers -- but our protection was better. They're doing a good job of getting that directed the correct way.
7220sports: I mean, it all really starts (with the offensive line)
Polasek: Yes. That's what I mean when I say being a CEO. It means finding a profit and protecting the ball on every single play. You know, we've got to be able to be profitable on every snap and that's why I use that analogy.
(Tomorrow, we will hear what UW's passing-game coordinator Mike Grant has to say about the current offensive struggles)