Friday, February 12, 2010
Big Ten Q&A: Jeff Horton, Part II
By ESPN.com staff
Here's the second half of my interview with new Minnesota offensive coordinator Jeff Horton. For Part I, click here.
How did Adam [Weber] seem when you met with him? He's always had a great attitude and approach, but he's now had three coordinators in four years, a bit of a bumpy ride from that aspect.
Jeff Horton: I've got a little bit of history with Adam. When I was at Wisconsin, we offered him a scholarship and tried to recruit him my last year there. He obviously came to Minnesota, and now I'm glad I get to coach him on the back end. We had a good rapport. I interviewed here a year ago for the job, did not get it, but I had a chance to meet and talk with Adam. Now we've been able to talk more. I've got to get him to believe in me and trust in me, and I've got to do the same with him. I've always valued the relationships that I've built with my quarterbacks over the years, and I don't think that will be a problem. It will be a smooth transition, along with all the quarterbacks. I always tell them, "Hey, I'm going to be up front with you. You might not like what I'm saying. I always say, 'A man wants to know where he stands,' and I'm going to tell you what's going on and what you need to do to be better." I've always been able to have good lines of communication.
And with MarQueis [Gray], have you had any familiarity with him?
JH: I really like MarQueis. He's got a great personality, he's a tremendous athlete. I want all the quarterbacks to be able to run our system. It's not this system, that system, this other system. I want my quarterbacks, whoever is in there, to be able to execute and do what we want to do and not be a situational type player, per se.
How much did you want to get back to college football, where you spent most of your career?
JH: I really did. The NFL was great. I got to work with Scott Linehan, who a lot of people in Minnesota know. In the NFL, you're coaching the best athletes in the world, the highest level in football. But I missed the relationships. In college, you develop relationships more, you're more of a mentor, and I missed doing that. The college game-day atmosphere is different than an NFL game-day atmosphere. And just the collegiate life, I missed those things, and I really look forward to getting back and developing those things.
Obviously, there's a certain amount of information NFL players can handle versus college players. Do you have to remind yourself when you go into this, or do you already have a good grasp?
JH: One is a job, the NFL, and the other one, you still have a lot of other things going on in your life. That's a big difference. Being on both sides, I'm real cognizant of that, and that's why I want to have a good base plan. You look at an Iowa, you look at a Wisconsin, the things they do to be successful. We need to establish that running game and then get the play-action going, and let's get some things we can do well, and build on that.
You had some familiarity with [offensive line coach] Tim Davis [at Wisconsin]. How has it been working with him again?
JH: That was one of the biggest reasons I came. With Tim here, you're not walking into a situation not having any allies or people that you've worked with before. We've been in the bunker before, we know how both react. It'll be his second year, and his linemen will really start taking on his personality. He's the kind of guy, with his energy, it's like he IVs Red Bull in the morning before he goes to work. He's a dynamite guy. He'll get that line going. He understands that that's where we've got to get it done, up front, and he'll take that and run with it.
Are you going to spend most of your time with the quarterbacks this spring, or will you be moving around?
JH: I've got to spend some time with the quarterbacks, but the majority of my time, I'd really like to get around the other positions, get a good chance to watch some guys, too. So we'll try to set up some things at practice where, if maybe one-on-ones are going on, I can be at the other end with the O-line, watching inside run and those kinds of things. With the whole offense, I've got to gain their trust and their confidence that I want to be here and I'm going to be with them through thick and thin. Those are the things I've got to develop as a coach with this group of players.
Do you have specific goals you want to see by the end of the spring, like a starting quarterback, or is it just getting the players more comfortable with you?
JH: I don't get into the depth chart all that much. I just want everybody to improve. Let's be as good as we can be. Let's work as hard as we can, and let's see what comes out from that. Adam's played a lot of football. I've got a lot of confidence in him. MarQueis, coming up, he had a chance to get in and get some action last year. I'll tell our guys, 'Let's compete every day, let's earn our position every day, and then let's go from there.'