Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Final Interview: Adrian Giles

Coach Giles ponders his next move (he's the none shouty one)

Pretty in pink, NTU Head Coach Adrian Giles let us interview him before the Challenge trophy in the final...

DC: First of all coach, congratulations on reaching the first finals game for the NTU program. How does it feel to be going to the big show?

Thank you, it’s been a while in the making, we always seemed to get close, but stumbled at the last step. Even going into the 4th quarter last Sunday i had that dreaded feeling, that maybe, we were going to fall at the final hurdle again! But now we’re there, it’s great and we’re trying to treat it as just another week of prep, planning and training for a game. In the back of your head though there is a voice going “ITS THE NATIONAL FINAL!!”

DC: How much forward planning has gone into developing NTU into one of the stronger MAC programs?

When i took over as Head Coach at the beginning of the 2011/12 season i wanted to build a strong and perennial program. I looked around at those teams that have always competed year in and year out, to see what made them so good and then imitate them. Closest to us were Birmingham and Loughborough, and Wayne and Paul (Birmingham and Loughborough head coaches respectively) have been a font of knowledge for us, which we have acted upon, and this has allowed us to grow year on year.

Previous years with NTU we had approximately 4-6 coaches, but i knew we needed more, so I called a few old football heads that I’d played and coached with over the years and added to an already steady staff. I brought in Offensive Coordinator Scott Messom, someone I’d coached at youth and had played with at senior level for many years. I knew that we had the same ideology of football and in fact, many times, I’ll chip in with a play, only to be told that it had just been called!!! I’m in his head!!

Defensively we were solid, Defensive Coordinator Karl Walkinshaw and i shared Coordinator duties in the previous 2 years, so we had again, same ideology, play tough, solid defence. We have built on that coaching staff each year and hope to extend it even further for next year.

One thing I’ve learnt is that you can never have too many coaches!!!!

Hopefully now with BUCS increasing our potential sway with the AU, we can get bigger and better, we have a good relationship with them and it can only get better.

Final Interview: Gareth Thomas

"Aliens..." c/o Annabel Wolf
As a second year head coach he has led the Stags to their first final since the single institution split with Solent. Before the big game, we spoke with Gareth Thomas...

This may not be the final you were aiming for at the start of the season, but how important would a win be on Saturday for the Stags going forward?

We were disappointed to not make it into the Championship playoffs, but all games are important and this one is no different. It's not the final we were aiming for but it will allow the team to develop further and provide a solid base for next season.

NTU, like the Stags, have put up some impressive performances in the plate post-season. What do you expect to see from them?

I think NTU's results speak for themselves. Few points conceded and a lot of points scored. We know their offense is dangerous but we have a Defense that is flexible and can adapt quickly to key threats. NTU's Defense will be a challenge but again, we are able to adapt our offense to attack any weaknesses we find. I think on both sides of the ball it's going to be a tough game and that opportunities need to be taken quickly as they won't last long.

Your offence seems to have been somewhat limited in its production after Christmas. But having put up 29 and 35 points in the last two weeks, are they back to the offence we saw before the Christmas break?

Offensively we've been working on developing different personnel in key positions. We've been plagued with injuries and this highlighted a slight lack of depth in some positions. We've worked hard to improve this and it's good to see the offense putting points back on the board, however i don't think we've seen the full potential of our offensive unit unleashed yet.

Defensively you have been exceptionally strong this year, only conceding 42 points in the regular season. Do you expect NTU’s offence to be the strongest you have faced all season?

We've faced a wide variety of different formations and styles this year. It's been tough to adjust to all of these on a weekly basis but we've always spent  lot of time and effort in scouting our opponents. I think this has been the key to the defenses success over the past years. NTU pose a different threat to previous teams we've faced and it's difficult to comment on whether they will be the strongest we've come up against but we will certainly be preparing with the mindset that this is our toughest game yet.

Final Interview: Dana Neale

He's the one in the middle with the ball c/o Gordon Dedman
Probably the easiest interview we could do, with DC writer and Southampton Stags Quarterback Dana Neale...

DC: This is the first final for the Stags after the single institution split, do you feel that this shows the Stags are back to their previous form?

My first year was the second season after the split. All of our coaches talk endlessly about past seasons where they dominated the league, which really motivates us and gives us belief that under their guidance, this group of players could also become a unit up there with the best of the league.

The Stags will only be back to their previous form once they’re in the Championship final, something we were very close to last year. Winning the plate would be an incredible achievement for us and would set us up with a great foundation for next season.

DC: Is there a hint of disappointment that you aren't competing in the national championship?

There is. After reaching the national semi-final and without an exodus of players in the last off-season, we all know we should have done better. Having said that, we all know that the plate is an excellent opportunity for us to win silverware and we will be as determined as ever to win this game.

DC:You had quite a bad injury during the season, how has the recovery been and how are you doing now?

I redid a previous injury that happened several years ago. I am as fine as I ever will be. It may limit my mobility a little bit, but there was very little to limit in the first place.

DC: This is the first ever meeting between NTU and Southampton, do you think there will be any surprises?

Not any surprises per se. We know they have a defence that gets plenty of turnovers, a strong running game and more than competent passing game. We expect to see that and we’ll have a work cut out for us.

DC: Your offence has struggled versus other top units in the TVC (Brighton, Portsmouth), are you concerned about NTU's strong defence?

If you look at our results before Christmas, our offence put up numbers similar to that of last years. After Christmas injuries hit us hard in the offensive backfield and we simply weren't good enough. We know how NTU’s defence likes to flock to the ball, especially their DB’s.

We have developed two offences during the season, one with me at QB and another with #83 Tommaso Bendoni at QB, running about the place. I’m confident that with this diversity, we’ll find a way to score points. We’ll see whether we can score enough.

Final Interview: Marcus Boswell

His face has been grinning maniacally at you on numerous Inkspot media highlight videos, but as president of NTU he has helped lead the fourth year program to the Challenge Trophy final. We spoke with GB and NTU Corner back (among other things) Marcus Boswell...

DC: After two years of losing in the post season you've finally made it. How does it feel to be a finalist? How important is it for a young program like NTU to get their first trophy?

It was easy to see how much it meant to the lads at the final whistle [last weekend], every single player and coach ran onto the pitch in a burst of excitement because everyone knows the struggle we've had before at that hurdle. Thankfully this time we jumped over it!

We feel like this will boost the reputation of our programme; it may only be in it's fourth year but already the team has left an impact on the league and we want to be known as a great programme. Winning the first trophy will no doubt help us achieve that title of a great programme, not just team.

DC: Anything particularly new in the build up to such a big game?

No not really! We haven't changed our style at any point during the post season or even during the regular season; we look at our opponents in as much depth as we can in all three phases of the game and talk about our different positions and how we can look to beat the man in front of us.

We have been sorting out how we are going to get as much support up in Leeds with us as possible which is slightly difficult seeing as many of those who wanted to come to the game are setting off for Sports Tour on Saturday morning, but we hope to get plenty of support down all the same from our Alumni and WAGS!

DC: A lot of people presume your entire team is reliant on Danny Miller, can you give us a few other names to look out for?

Everybody knows Danny because he is an elite player and athlete, in my eyes there is no shame in our team having the reputation because these people do not see what Danny offers to the rest of the guys. Experience in abundance, a calm head on the field – the guy is an Outside Linebacker playing Quarterback for a top program – and most importantly his reputation allows for our other play makers be overlooked, which usually comes back to bite teams.

In terms of specific names, if anyone has watched our highlight reels, which Inkspot Media so brilliantly produced for us, every game we have someone else stepping up into the spotlight as either the 'go-to' receiver or the one to stay away from defensively. I don't think I need to name names, we have play makers all over the field and every one of our guys are capable of making a game changing play at any point. Better still, every Renegade is playing for their brother on the field and off.

DC: One of the overlooked parts of your team is the defence, which only conceded 78 points during the regular season and has posted two shutouts in the post season. Are you happy with the performance and almost playing second fiddle to the powerhouse offence?

The Renegades defence has been a renowned force in the league since the first year; all the team's points came from defence in that first season. We were worried at the start of the year having lost some very influential players both on the field and off, but guys have stepped up tremendously and we have rookies making plays you wouldn't expect on a regular basis. When you add the 14 points our defence has contributed to during the season and the large number of shutouts, everyone sees that our defence are still as good as ever.

As a unit the defence receives continuous praise and gratitude from our offense. The way the defence hands over brilliant field position to the offense means they have an easier time and they acknowledge that. The first thing both Danny Miller and our Offensive Coordinator Scott Messom said after the Glasgow game was to thank the defence for giving the offense the chance to win the game for them after a hard fought scoreless first half. Our offense appreciate the efforts our defence gives for the team and that is all that matters to us.

DC: It looked like you took quite a nasty knock last Sunday. With the short week are you going to be recovered in time for the final? A Number of other players went down as well, are there any concerns?

I had a bit of a panic, I didn't want to let my teammates down by being injured and not being with them to win that game. 100% I will be on that sideline kitted up with the rest of my guys ready to bring that trophy to Trent.

The surface on Sunday was quite slippery when it started raining and as both teams were going all out to earn the place in the final, it took its toll. All the lads who have been knocked up are doing the sensible thing and speaking to physios and such to get themselves physically ready.

DC: What went through your head when you were doing your lower third graphic intro? Do you regret going for the cheesy grin/thumbs up combination?

During the summer league I did a similar thing for the Nottingham Caesars graphics. I think I watched Nutty Professor before the shoot and Jerome Edwards agreed that it would be comical to try my hand at an Eddie Murphy cheesy grin this time around.

I think it's funny to watch, but unfortunately for everyone watching I try and make a lot of plays so I guess it pops up a fair few times. But no, I don't regret it!

DC: Danny Miller for MVP?

YES! The guy leads the team on a weekly basis on and off the field, he makes everyone better around him and I know that I would have struggled to become the player I have turned into without his guidance. So yes, Daniel Miller for MVP!

The Wolf Bowl Preview

The Elite take the field in Marlow on Saturday 23rd for their first ever tournament against Marlow A and B teams and the .
The Elite are a women’s flag team made up of the UK’s best players led by Head Coach Andrew Gambrill and his staff at The Elite Women Project (EWP). The EWP was set up to help develop the women’s game and although not a part of the National Programme they work closely with BUAFL, BAFA and the Great Britain Lions.

This particular landmark comes around 9 months into the programme and will be a good indicator as to where the women’s game is at.

In such a new team, experience is in short supply and will come from players like Coventry Jets Defensive Back, Tendai Chieza. Chieza originally from Zimbabwe enters her 4th season and is widely regarded as The Elite’s finest. When asked about the knowledge the older players bring to the team Chieza responded in typical fashion “Yes we have more responsibility because we have to lead by example in our conduct and our abilities. But we can't forget that it's a competition and we intend to win.”

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