Oct. 15, 2012
(Opening Statement) "Well, two games in a row now we have found ourselves in a real similar predicament where we go through some stretches where we played really bad. Then we kind of claw our way better and then find ourselves with about five minutes to go with a chance to win the game, one score. The first week we don't get it done on offense and then this week we can't stop them with five minutes to go. That is obviously the issue of finishing games and executing down the stretch and making the critical plays to win the game, no matter how you get there. We had a turnover and gave up, even after stopping them, about five straight possessions in a row. We gave up two scores and don't stop them. Real disappointing finish. We are obviously not playing very well on defense, that is not something we can hide. There is a lot of evaluation going on, continued evaluation. It starts with coaching, we can do a lot better job to help our players, and we are going to that. There is an execution component on some of the things that shouldn't be mistakes that we are making. And certainly we always evaluate our personnel and keep moving forward. We can play a lot better than we are playing and I think we will. We have had stretches in every game, more than a series, where we are really playing good defense. We did that right at the end of the second quarter, all the way through the third quarter, and about midway through the fourth. We just have to keep doing a better job coaching and getting our guys playing. That is all we can do. Injury front - Curt (Maggitt), he has a stinger issue. We are not as good on defense without him. That is one thing and it is just a lingering problem and he couldn't play much in that game. I don't know how much he is going to play in this game. Rajion (Neal) has an ankle, it is not too bad. I would say doubtful right now. Marlin (Lane) has a quad he was out the first game, he is probable. Tyler (Bray), of course, hurt himself in his scramble, he is probable. Justin Coleman had to come out the play before we gave up a big play, he should be okay. We all know about Bama, they have been the standard of college football the last four years. It is a good opportunity for our players to go and we have gone toe-to-toe with all the teams so far, we will see if we can do it with the best team in college football."
(On the disappointing loss) "Yeah it always hurts when you lose and certainly when you go through stretches when you get real disappointed in how you are doing. It was hard up in the box watching the first half, very difficult. We probably improved in some areas in that open date, I know we did, and there were some areas that we really didn't improve and we need to. You look at just from the big plays in the run, we gave up one in a draw, we were two man, a tough defense for us. But there are a lot of issues that we could have improved on but we didn't."
(On the defense)
"We had some real long discussions yesterday about it. We have talked about it in literally every press conference. Most of the plays we give up there is an a early pre-snap breakdown on either a lineman or assignment and then something happens and then there isn't enough there to recover. Mistakes happen a lot but you have to have some recovery. We can't go through the whole season and say we didn't line up right. You can't do that. We have to keep limiting the calls. We thought we went into that game with a significantly cleaner plan than we did the week before and we did. But obviously the evidence is there. I think the important thing is, there are really two components of it. I talked to the players about it because we are all kind of working through it together. One is where it is too much and we are slowing you down and we aren't playing sound football, trying to get perfect defense into every play. The second component is that we have to be responsible to execute, things that we have been doing since day one of spring practice. We all have to do our part to get better at it."
(On watching more film) "This is college football. It is not the NFL. We have a 20 hour week which we work around. Do we all want them to go grind a bunch on their own? Of course we do. Are they all going to do that? No. The kids bought in. They believe in what we are doing and they are frustrated. We just have to make sure we understand our players and who is struggling and how we can help them best by not calling it, not doing that or teaching it a different way."
(On role with defensive staff) "I think it is important that I do, considering what the results. I am not going to micromanage what we do and how we do it. I am certainly going to have a bigger say because ultimately it is my responsibility. I can't say that it isn't mine because it is, I am the head coach. We are all in it together. It isn't like I am telling someone what to do. I am giving the outside eye to help solve problems."
(On coaching from the box for the Alabama game) "Yeah, probably. I don't know. I have to go talk to the doctor. He is a little more concerned."
(On difficulties of being in the box) "It was hard in the first half with some special teams things. There are a lot of things that I see on the field that I felt really disconnected to and couldn't communicate. It was hard find that role there. I think we managed the time outs pretty good especially at the end of the game. It is really frustrating when you can see something but you can't look guys in the eye to try to correct them that was the hardest part."
(On positives of being in the box) "No, not in my eyes. It didn't impact the difference of winning and losing. I guess a positive is watching the guys up in the box, but they have been doing good."
(On getting Cordarrelle Patterson more touches) "We'll find them if there is because we have to get the ball in this guy's hands a lot. He has a real special set of skills. So we're going to keep finding ways to get him the ball, it'd be crazy if we didn't. We have some guys that can do some things, Pig (Alton Howard), he showed some stuff. I was really proud of our runners. Devrin (Young) really ran well and Q (Quenshaun Watson), the ball came out that one, but it got outpowered."
(On not changing play calls) "We're going to try to get the ball to guys we think can do some things. We ran the ball better than we've ever run it against an SEC team at least. The efficiency, I thought it was important in that second half that we settled that game down a little bit to help the other side. It worked, we clawed our way back. We didn't look as explosive throwing the ball but we got ourselves in a position to win. I think the biggest thing on the offensive standpoint is we had 58 snaps and we're trying to get about 85. You take away 25 or more snaps, what are we averaging a play? Six yards? That's a lot of yards for not having a chance. A lot of is we have to convert on the third down. We went through some 3rd and 4s and 3rd and 5s and didn't execute and they were there."
(On Justin Hunter's confidence) "I thought he had a good game, I really did. He didn't get a lot of opportunity balls and we have to do a better job of that. I talked to him about that. Justin has a different way of making plays than CP (Cordarrelle Patterson). We can't compare the two, they're totally different. Justin is a down the field playmaker. CP is let's get it in his hands and let him fake out 25 guys."
(On combatting Justin with safeties playing on top) "You have to combat it by hurting them in other ways. We still have to get Justin some opportunity balls. We missed a couple chances on it. He had that one where he gator-armed it a little bit when the safety was coming off the hatch."
(On the offensive line) "They play very consistently every game. I've said it before, you have four guys up there in their third or fourth year in the program. The one that isn't is in his second year with some really special ability. This is a group that was totally malign last year, saying they stink and we need to replace them. It just shows you the value of staying the course when you have the right kind of guys in place. We never really lost confidence in what their future held. We certainly were disappointed in how they were performing last year. They made an incredible commitment to stay the course and the results are showing. They have a lot of pride in what they're doing and I know they're excited about this week because we feel like we're pretty good on offense and they're the best defense in college football. I think all our guys are pretty excited about seeing if we can go toe-to-toe with them."
(On Coach Pittman's impact) It always starts with the players. If you don't have the player commitment, their ability level and their want to and chemistry. Sam's been a good addition and I think he was a welcome change. It's not that Harry didn't do a good job. Harry is a great line coach. He's showing that right now. Like I said in the offseason, we needed to kind of refresh everybody and get some new personality."
(On Michael Palardy)
"Mike had a good game I was really proud of him, he kicked his field goals great, and knock on wood we are 9-of-11 on field goals. He had a couple of great field position changing punts. We were backed up there in the fourth quarter."
(On the offensive line's success)
"I think it is confidence. Everything that you are feeling from that O-Line maybe we are not getting in other areas, especially in the fourth quarter. When you win, the more you win, the more confident you get that you can win and know how to win. The hardest part is getting that thing started. We played a team that has now won seven straight. Forget about who they beat, they won seven straight. They had a very calm confidence that they were going to win and that is what we have to get to and we aren't at right now."
(On the defense)
"I think it is better than what people on the outside would expect. Because there are so many things that you can show on film that we are doing good and showing progress. The hardest part is on defense, let's call it like it is. But when you have six or seven drives every game where you can really show, this is winning defense, solid defense, sound defense you have to build on that. We ask why we haven't been able to do it over 60 minutes and sustain there are a lot of reasons and we have to go and fix those reasons."
(On Alabama's weaknesses)
"No. There really are none. They have absolutely annihilated everybody that they have played. Physically and on the scoreboard. They are deep, they are talented, they just change jersey numbers every year but the guys all look the same. My biggest concern is us. If we can go out and play to our capacity for 60 minutes, we can find ourselves right in that position we have been in every week. And I believe that."
(On fixing the defense)
"It was both. One is because they were in 11 personnel, three wides a lot. That is more of our nickel front. We did really, as the game went on, we did make a few calls to clean it up and they played better."
(On getting the defense to play 60 minutes)
"The offense and special teams need to too. It is a team game. The offense had a chance to win both of those games as well, let's not forget that and the offense knows that. Maybe the standard is a little different. When we say play well, the standard might be a little different given our personnel, how much our offensive guys have been in the program, the new [defensive] system and all that. But at the end of the day, all of us need to go perform to what we are capable of for 60 minutes."
(On if he talks to the team about frustration in the fan base)
"I mention it. The first thing you have to do is understand that we have an incredibly passionate fan base. You have all heard me say it, you can't have it both ways. You can't say to come and scream and have 102,000, all these people at the Vol Walk and not have an expectation of performance and results. That's how it is. What I tell the players is, number one you can't read it or listen to it. That is number one and then more than anything, you have to define who you are, not somebody else. It is a life lesson. You can't let somebody else define who you are. The best way to define who you are is when you make a mistake or you don't play well, you don't dwell on it, you don't make an excuse, you don't try to defend it, you just refocus on the next mission and be proud of what you put into it every day. When you do that, you feel good about yourself as a man, you feel good about yourself as a player and you go do the best you can. Right now we haven't done the best we can and that is what we ought to be concerned about."
(On Alabama's success year after year)
"They change jersey numbers, not guys. They sign the same guys every year, just different names. And they draft, we recruit. And they get the first 25 picks of the draft."
(On playing four consecutive ranked teams)
"This is the SEC so if you are looking for an easy way through, there isn't one. Our players are excited about playing these teams, they are. They had something to prove coming into this year, we got kicked around in this league the last two years. We haven't gotten the results that we want, but we are playing better. We certainly are not on that one little area that we have to fix, but what we have to do is say, `Can we do it every week?' This is a heck of a challenge because now it is everybody getting in the tank, we have the number one team in the country, all that stuff. Let's go out there and compete and see what we've got."
(On negativity in the media)
"To tell an 18-year old not to read that stuff, I mean I tell my 13-year old and he reads it. So he doesn't listen to me either. Then you have to get to plan B which is you can't let them define who you are. Then I say that every time you get something bad in you, counter it with something positive. At least counter it because you just go down that spiral of negativity and that is not going to help you play better. If it doesn't help them play better or help them graduate, they really have no reason to do it."
(On talking to Tyler Bray about his postgame tweet)
"Yeah, of course I do. I talked to Tyler about it. Tyler, he shouldn't have done it and he knows it. He is frustrated like a lot of these guys and they type. It is classic impulse control, type, when you are angry, lonely, tired, hurt. Don't type. I mean, don't type. You can't pull it back. It could have been a good tweet if he had left out the first part. I had a little humor to it, I thought. I told him that. He should have just said, ` I hope my house doesn't get egged tonight.' It could have been kind of funny. But why do you have to go say something you don't believe and you are going to go back on and regret. It is not true."
(On how he injured his hip)
"That is a great question. I don't know the answer to that other than I think I had, sometime this summer was probably when it started and not letting it heal. Just pretending like it wasn't there and maintaining a pretty active lifestyle. I might have tweaked it water skiing. I felt a little torque but I kept skiing. Then I went again the next day and it was hurting. I thought I had a little muscle pull. What are you going to do, stop your life because you have a little muscle pull. It never healed for two months and it kept getting worse and worse. Finally, it took me two months to realize it wasn't a muscle pull and to go to a doctor."
(On Tyler Bray's leg)
"We kind of rested him today but he will go tomorrow. But he feels good. I have been telling him, don't be afraid to make a play or two with your feet. It is okay. I guess he shouldn't do that again. I don't know if he tried to make a cut or try to get down. Obviously, he is a guy who hasn't done that a lot."
(On the stature of the defense)
"I know this, on our offensive side we have stature at just about every position. Size, speed and AA, everything we want. In some areas we are that way on the other side but not quite all the way. I think the biggest thing, if you just kind of reflect, if you look at the guys in their third and fourth year in the program we had a lot of success in those first two weeks of when I got here of getting really good offensive players and now here they are in year three and four. The reality is we didn't do in those two weeks and we didn't really have committed on the other side. I think it is the reverse. I think we have about nine starters in their third or fourth year on offense but we only have about two or three on defense. We will get there. But we can play better. We have enough, we have plenty. But you say to where you want to be. But I think our offense is model of what we want every year and the reality is it is going to be hard to have that every year. We have a model of what we want on defense, we are not quite there yet from a depth and a time in the program standpoint. It doesn't mean you can't play good defense and winning defense. Because we have enough, we have a lot more than we have had. We are going to play better."
More coming soon...