Q&A: Ron Dugans, Paul Wulff
Five days before spring drills commence on USF's campus, the Bulls' two newest assistants -- receivers coach Ron Dugans and offensive coordinator/line coach Paul Wulff -- sat down Friday afternoon with a trio of reporters.
Dugans, a receiver on FSU's 1999 national title team, arrived from Charlie Strong's staff at Louisville, where he had the same job. Wulff, a former Washington State center who spent four seasons as coach of his alma mater, spent the last two years as a 49ers offensive assistant.
Here are chunks of the conversation.
How did you arrive here?
"It was kind of up-in-the-air. I didn't know if it would be Texas or I wanted to possibly interview to stay at Louisville. My wife's from Vero Beach and that was one reason; I hadn't lived in Florida in a long time. But just to top it off, just the relationship I built with Coach (Willie) Taggart and getting a chance to really sit down and talk with him. The thing that he's trying to do here, I feel like that's what Coach Strong was trying to do -- and what he did -- at Louisville. To me, I just felt like, 'What other place would you want to do something like that?'"
Your assessment of the roster?
"You've got a group of guys that I feel like there's talent there. It may not be as fast at the position right now, but if you play with great technique, and just knowing what's going on with the defense, being detail players, you've got a chance to have more explosion plays. I'm excited because their attitude is where you want it to be. Those kids are excited right now. I think they take pride in getting better, and that's what I've seen with these guys."
Could we see an increase in offensive tempo?
"There's been some talk about it, possibly speeding up a little bit. I feel like a lot of people nowadays are changing up the tempo; not necessarily spread and all that stuff, but just kind of changing up the tempo a little bit, getting guys going, moving the ball around, just playing at a faster pace. There are some things we've kind of talked about and feel really good about it."
What are one or two things you took from Coach Bowden that help you as a coach today?
"When I got to Florida State, the biggest thing I learned was worry only about the things you can control. Coach Bowden told us you can control going to class, you can control the effort that you give in practice, you can control how you treat people. And I've always lived by that because I learned it my freshman year; everything's not going to go your way. Coach Bowden always said, 'I pray for a stronger back and not a lighter load.' I still live that way and preach that to my guys. I do have favorites. Some coaches say they don't have favorites, they don't play favorites. My
favorite guys are the guys that do right and don't hurt the team, because it's all about the
team. I saw it my freshman year when Coach Bowden kicked Randy Moss off the team. It's not about you."
From what you've observed and studied, how far away is this offense?
"I don't think it's very far. I think we can definitely do some really good things this year. Without a doubt there's going to be a lot of improvement. ... We've still got a lot of guys to work in and have to clean up what they're doing, but I think there are some pieces here, and without question I envision a drastic improvement in what they're doing."
What do you like about the quarterbacks you're inheriting (specifically, Steven Bench and Mike White)?
"I think their energy. I think both of them want to be good. They're young, they both have a little bit different strengths, but I think at the end of the day they're both competitive guys and that's important. I think they're both tough guys...and I think that's really important.
Your impressions of White?
"Interesting intangibles, and I say that in a real positive way. He does some things real natural, and he's obviously got a nice arm and a quick release. He's a fluid athlete and he's physical, he's got good feet. He's got a lot of really interesting things. He's got to keep developing them, he's got a lot of work in front of him. But at least he's been gifted like most of us aren't to do some things to play the position. It will be interesting to see how he can grow those gifts that he's been given."
What will your role as offensive coordinator be in Taggart's system?
"We're going to work on different tempos and a lot of different things. The play-calling thing is something that I'm going to be a part of. I mean, that was the plan when we discussed it, so that's going to be a big part of it. And as a staff we're going to work on that. I just think we'll try to do our best to adjust some tempos, take advantage of some easy things. We've got to get our quarterbacks to understand where we want to go with the ball, where we want to go in the run game, so there's going to be a process of teaching, and hopefully we can do a good job of getting them schooled in the situation where they can lead us down the field because of their knowledge."
What's the biggest issue with the offensive line at this point?
"I think the biggest thing I've noticed right now is we're not strong enough. We're just physically not strong enough as a group. I think we are in spots, and I think that will come. I think they're going to improve this spring -- that's an emphasis -- and I think they'll do it this fall. But I like the guys, I think they're wonderful young men. If we can get them to play at a little higher level of intensity and aggression, it's going to go a long way for our offense. That's my job."
Is the backfield a blank canvas right now?
"Yeah, right now. ... Knowing what to do in protection is No. 1, it's critical. The running back has to be good. Obviously they've got to be able to run the football, too, but I think one of the most important things is how they protect. And with the young guys coming in, we know they're very talented, how will they blend in with the group that we have? There will be extreme competition, so hopefully that competition brings out the best in all of them."