Oregon quarterbacks coach David Yost sat down with ESPN.com to discuss his first few months in Eugene, his quarterback situation and what he learned from Washington State coach Mike Leach.
How different is it to come into a situation when all quarterback contenders are inexperienced? How different is it than if you had at least one experienced junior in the room?
David Yost: You’d approach it differently. If I were showing up and Marcus [Mariota] were a senior, he has done his work. You’d learn what works for him. I think that’s with all quarterbacks that you learn what works for them and work within that and how I would do things and how I coach guys. … It was kind of like we were all freshmen together. Dakota [Prukop] has experience but it’s still like having a freshman in the meeting room as far as what we do and how we do it.
At Washington State you coached inside receivers. What did you gain from that experience?
DY: As a quarterback coach you think it’s easy to coach wide receivers. Just as, I’m sure, as a receivers coach, you think it’s easy to coach quarterbacks. And everyone can give their opinion on how they should coach the O-line. … I remember one of my first meetings with the receivers at Washington State I’m sitting there and we’re going through stuff, watching video and I’m pointing out things and I kind of look and I have a bunch of guys that had gotten way too much information because it was not the information of how receivers look at things. I was talking bigger dynamics of coverage that affected and mattered to a quarterback a lot more than a receiver. I went from that to being: ‘Do this, do that, get there and we’ll throw you the football,’ and they’re like, ‘OK.’ … Everybody kind of lives in their own position in the world of football.
Leach quarterbacks are a different breed in the college football world. Did you get a chance to spend any time with them while in Pullman?
DY: I’d get done with my inside receiver meetings and I’d go up and I’d sit in his quarterback meetings just to hear how he talked to the quarterbacks, how he explained things, how he saw things. It’s a different approach and there are a lot of different ways to coach quarterbacks and little things. How he did things were different than how I had before, I’ve tried to take some of that and add it in.
DY: Probably just being around Leach has affected it a little bit on how I look at the position and try not to overcomplicate it. He is so much about simplicity and keeping it simple as possible for them, which is a fact -- the less they’re thinking, the better they play. But, they also need to have enough information to be successful so it’s that fine line of you don’t want to overdo it but you don’t want them to feel underprepared. You’ve got to find that happy medium so they can be comfortable to be successful, but it’s not cumbersome to them so when we’re getting ready to snap the football they’re not thinking about 20 things.
What do you need to see from Prukop and Travis Jonsen this summer in order to feel comfortable in naming one a starter in the fall?
DY: There are some things that they both need to do but there are certain things that Travis is ahead in because he has been here longer -- understanding the signals, communicating that. There’s a point when you can kind of finish knowing the signals. You can never finish getting better as a quarterback, getting better footwork. … Dakota needs to constantly go through signal practice because it has to become second nature. We have to speed up the process. He did a good job in January when he got here to learn it so he was able to compete right away in spring ball, but now he needs to take it even farther so that when we start two-a-days he’s at Travis’ level. … One of Travis' big things is being able to think outside of the simple play, which I think is for any young quarterback. … And for Terry [Wilson], it was a matter of how we ended spring, the next step has to be a forward step. We can’t go into two-a-days and go back to practice 11 of spring, because then we’ve wasted four days of spring and a whole summer.