Oct. 22, 2012
Derek Dooley met with the media on Monday to review the Alabama game and look ahead to South Carolina. Here's what he said:
"When I reflect back on these four losses we have had against some good football teams there are certain trends that are showing up in every game and I've had to address this with the team. You've heard me talk a lot about what I believe are the two biggest indicators of winning and losing: turnovers and big plays. When you look at those four games that we have lost, we are negative-six in turnover ratio. I think the disturbing part of it is that we have spit the ball up 10 times. We are averaging 2.5 turnovers in each of those SEC games, eight of them are interceptions, so we have no chance of winning those games when you are down 2.5 every game.
"Then you look at big plays and it is, on average, 8-4. When I say big play, I am talking a play over 20 yards. I think teams have hit 31 on us to our 15. We are obviously giving up way too many and we are not getting as many as we are capable of with the kind of players that we have on offense in those games. Until we correct those two things, we are never going to get over the hump in beating some of these quality football teams.
"The question is how. How do you fix it? It always starts with coaching. We have to keep grinding on us to see how we can make sure we do not ever put our players in a bad position or we are calling the right plays to generate those kind of explosives or whatever. The second component is a level of discipline, pre-snap discipline and post-snap discipline, that we are not playing with consistency. Pre-snap meaning lining up right, getting the call, what is your assignment, communication and eye control. All of those things get you ready for the next play. Then post-snap is trusting the technique that you use over and over and over and over and over. You can't have breakdowns during the course of a game because there are always seven or eight plays that define it. A great example is, if you watch the film, the interceptions we threw could easily have been huge, explosive plays for us. I've seen Tyler [Bray] make those throws to guys that are popping open, our fast guys, a million times and we don't do it. Justin [Hunter] has a great opportunity to make a play before the half and we don't do it.
"Our corners getting some opportunity balls and kind of panicking in the deep part of the field, not trusting their technique, which I have seen them do it over and over and over and over. I've seen our linebackers match those patterns underneath over and over and we don't do it. So that is what we have to keep working on, that discipline snap after snap after. That doesn't mean the other team won't make some plays because they will, but it gets a little frustrating when you see your guys who are very capable, you've seen them do it and it's not anything new, and they don't do it. We have to keep doing a good job as coaches to demand it and if guys can't do it, we have to put other guys in."
"Zach Fulton hurt his ankle. I would list him as doubtful for this game. Rajion [Neal] (ankle) maybe moves up to probable but he is not close to 100 percent."
(On playing South Carolina)
"At the end of the day it is what I told the team. We have one more good shot against a top 10 kind of opponent. We have to keep believing in our abilities and believing in what we are doing because I believe in our guys and believe in what we are doing. We have to work at it with a little greater passion so we go in with the right confidence and mindset. Then when it is time to play we have to go compete and play like we are capable of. That is kind of where we are. It's not a fun place to be but the beauty of athletics is you have the next week to go dig your way out of it."
(On UT's struggles against Alabama)
"I don't have an answer for that. I think our two sides of the ball are very different. We have one side that is really experienced with a lot of good ability and we didn't perform on that side, the offense, the way I thought we could of. Now look, this is a great team we played so I am not taking anything away from how good they are. They are outstanding but we left a lot of plays out there. Just those two interceptions alone and the drop, there is about 150 yards of offense right there. Being able to put that kind of number on Alabama and some points. I'm not sure why we didn't play a little better on offense. On defense, certainly there are some things that contribute to it. It's not an excuse. A lot of growing pains with the coaches, a lot of growing pains with the players. I think we have nine guys out there in their first or second year of the program and a new system. It's not an excuse. We have to play better."
(On where he sees the mistakes)
"They pop up when you play really good teams. There is no margin for error, but it's not like we have been mistake-free with the other teams. The difference is we are able to offset it with a lot more explosiveness, if that makes sense. We create more on defense, big plays on offense. The mistakes are really about the same. You talk about the quarterback but he makes mistakes in every game. Against the good teams, you can't make them because you aren't going to offset them with 15 explosive plays."
(On Tyler Bray needing to protect the football)
"If he is loose with the ball he is coming out of the game and we are going to play [Justin] Worley. And I told him that. He is too loose with the football and he's been too loose. That's the way it is. We can't win, we can't beat these team turning the ball over. There are going to be inevitable turnovers in the game, so when there is one make them make a great play to get it, not serve it up to them which is what we do."
(On whether Tyler Bray feels like he has to play perfect)
"I don't think you have to play perfect at all. Being loose with the football doesn't necessarily mean you have to play perfect but you can't make game-changing plays. Throw it away, drop it down when you aren't comfortable. There are a lot of things you can do when you are not comfortable in the pocket to not hurt the team and Tyler knows that. It is part of being quarterback."
(On Tyler Bray not talking to the media after Saturday's game)
"I was very disappointed and I told him that. I have no defense for that kind of behavior. He is the quarterback and there is a level of responsibility that you have to the team, to the fans and to the media. If you don't like it, don't play quarterback. That is how it is and I told him that. That is the first time we've ever had a guy do that and that is unacceptable in our program. Man up. That is what you have to do. That is life. You can't have it both ways. You can't get upset at the fans because they are angry. What do you want them to be? Happy? They all want to get cheered but nobody wants the criticism when you don't perform. That's not how life is. Nothing wrong with the fans."
(On boos for not calling timeouts before halftime)
"I understand the boos because I have always been pretty aggressive before the half. In that moment in time, given how our quarterback was playing, we were sitting there and I felt like we had played very poorly on offense and we were down 13 to the No. 1 team in the country."
(On kicking a field goal in the fourth quarter)
"I thought the boos because we were down 44-10, not because we kicked a field goal. It's either 44-10, 44-13 or 44-17. [Michael] Palardy was doing good, so let's get something positive out of it. I don't know. I can't say that was the right move or the wrong one. I can say it is insignificant either way."
(On the mindset of the team)
"I think their spirit is broken and it should be. I don't think any of us expected to be where we are right now. We've played four really good teams, they are 27-1 let's don't forget that. They are good teams but three of the four we have had plenty of opportunity to win them. Then in the fourth one we had a lot of opportunity to at least push it to the fourth quarter to see if we could have a chance to win it and we didn't do that. That is the disappointing part. We are not playing good defense and we are not playing well enough on offense to overcome it. That is the way it is."
(On what is evaluated every week)
"We evaluate the coaches every week on how we coach, how we motivate, how we teach, what we are running. We do it every week to see where we can be better. There is a lot of dialogue with the players. It's not we are over here and they are there. We work together to solve problems and that is what we do each week. If there is a way we can coach you better to help you, we are going to do it. If there are things that we are doing that you don't get, we aren't going to do it, but it requires a good mutual relationship of maturity and honesty to do that."
(On simplifying the defense)
"We did big time. A couple of times the long balls were from being simple. There are some better coverages we should check to with what they line up in. You can't just sit there and play one front and one coverage the whole game when you play good teams. If somebody did that to us, we would put 60 on them so it is a balance. We are going to try to make it as clean as we can. There are things that we can do more that shouldn't be too much and then there are some things that are too much that we have to eliminate and that is where the communication with the players is so important."
(On Trevarris Saulsberry and Jordan Williams getting more playing time)
"They were great additions, I'm glad you brought that up. I think it helped us a lot in the run game. Two young guys who are thicker, they have good qualities, that is why we signed them. I think they are going to have a good future here and we probably should have put them in the lineup four weeks ago."
(On what other positions they may start putting young players in at)
"Corner. We've been wanting to integrate Dan [Gray] and Deion [Bonner] into games, but there level of consistency in practice [isn't there yet]. I keep telling them that they have to inspire a little confidence in practice but if we are not performing out there, we have to get some young guys in there who have a chance."
(On who will play right guard if Zach Fulton can't)
"We have Marcus [Jackson] and we have [Alex] Bullard so we will kind of see how it goes this week. Bullard helps us a little at tight end so we are kind of figuring that out right now."
(On getting more production from Justin Hunter)
"First of all, it has to be done in practice with a lot more consistency and Justin has to understand that playing receiver is not always clean and easy. There is a little grit that you have to do to get open, you are going to have to get hit and good receivers are able to make those kind of plays no matter what the circumstance. He's not there yet. We all want to talk about how he is a first-round pick and the number one pick in the draft and he can be that but he has never performed to that standard in my opinion and he knows that. He needs to focus on his development, on what does he do well, what are some things we can keep building on and how do we get there. He has great character, it is important to him and he has a lot of special qualities for a wideout but being able to go produce out there week-after-week is what matters."
(On the team staying united as a team)
"It is the same I have seen for nine or ten months. Of course it gets more challenged the more losses you have. That is human nature. But it is a close team, it is a team that I believe in and I have always believed in. I believe we have the right kind of guys in moving forward. It is just a question of staying the course and being able to get over the hump on some of these things and we aren't there yet."
(On meeting with the team members)
"I talk to all the guys individually, periodically, unity council. I am constantly doing that."
(On being disappointed from losses)
"The hardest days are Sundays. I mean they are. Saturday nights and Sundays, after the game. It is hard. Any coach that says, `it doesn't bother me.' They are lying. It hurts. It hurts when you lose. It hurts when you feel like you aren't performing like you can. There are a lot of things you start questioning. But then you do an analysis and you wake up Monday and you say, `what is the plan this week to fix it?' and you start getting into the plan and you get around the players and you are fine. That is the way it is. You are so distanced from what is outside this building that is probably why you are able to keep your spirits good."
(On fighting through his personal disappointment)
"I thought it was probably the most difficult from an offensive standpoint. I was really upset because I was really excited to go and challenging these guys offensively. Not that I wasn't defensively, don't get me wrong. I just felt like we could have done a lot better. I know we could have. I watched the film there are a lot of plays Alabama made but there are a lot of plays that we were a little out of character and had we performed the way we are capable of I think we could have hurt them as bad as any team could have. But we didn't. You are what your film is and that is who we are right now."
(On South Carolina)
"Defensively it starts with their front four, extremely talented and disruptive. They are probably the most disruptive front four we have played all year as evidence by their 29 sacks. They play with incredible energy and fly around to the ball. They are not very complex and they are able to not be very complex because of that front four. You can really be simple in the back end when the minute the quarterback plants his foot he is getting hit by one of those guys. I think what sums up their defense is, Florida had 27 yards offense in the first half and they are down because of the turnovers. Offensively, of course, the quarterback and runner, you better slow them down. What the quarterback does so well is he can scramble and he makes a lot of explosive plays when he is scrambling around. They have a lot of fast receivers. They push the ball down more than you think. The receivers are very fast. They have a group of about five or six of them who can hurt you down the field."
(On what makes South Carolina's defensive line stick out)
"They are so long. You hear me talk about size and length at end. That kind of length can really cause problems on the edge. The edges are tough. It is hard enough for the left tackle but the minute you do something different and put a tight end or back on him, you can forget about it, it is over. He can wreck your game plan and he does it to almost every team."
(On playing two quarterbacks)
"I don't know. He will play his guy as long as he is playing well. I hope we do have to prepare for two."
(On this game being a make or break for the season)
"We would like come out of here saying we beat a ranked opponent. My biggest thing is, I want to see us play our best for four quarters. Which we haven't done from an execution standpoint."
(On if the team has improved since the NC State game)
"It is hard to answer that question because one game, as you go through the season you are constantly changing. Just because you might have done some good things the first game that doesn't mean you didn't have the same fleas, that means that they didn't expose them. If that makes sense. They didn't know much about us either. I think certainly we have to get our confidence back that way it was going into that game. We were pretty confident and nothing hurts your confidence more than going out there and losing the way we have lost. I think, up to the Alabama game, the progress was obvious on the run game, offensively the points we were putting up. We were doing things that weren't even close last year. And even against Alabama, I am really frustrated but I think we put up more yards on them even as bad as we were than most teams. But defensively, the biggest difference is we aren't getting the takeaways because we were giving up yards, we didn't give the points but we aren't playing well on defense. We are on stretches. I thought we played, this sounds crazy, but I really thought we played the run. We had a horrible really bad run that was bad defense but against that football team I felt that we played the run better. The big plays are now coming differently. Earlier in the year it was the runs not it is these balls over our head. If we can correct that part maybe we can keep the point totals down."
(On an article on Mr. SEC stating Coach Dooley discussed his buyout with Dave Hart after Kentucky)
"That is exactly why I don't read those websites. That is absurd. Who wrote that? Who is he? Who are the sources? That is absurd. My high school coach used to do that though. He used to tell us every year, it is a great memory for me as a player. At the end of the season, he said every year he would walk into the principal's office and turn in his resignation. And we were 52 and 4. So he says, `I resign.' His point was he doesn't want to be here if they don't want him. Of course, he never left. I haven't had the courage to do that right now. So maybe one day I will do that but I am not doing that right now. So that ought to answer your question. I would be a real dumbass to do that."
(On the fans opinion of him)
"I don't know. Here is the deal. Are people upset? Of course, they should be. I understand that. I am not in a position to defend what we are doing, make a case for what we are doing. We have to go prove it on the field. Do I feel confident we will? I do. Am I a little disappointed we haven't to this point? Of course I am. I am not upset that people are angry and screaming at the coach. You haven't been in the business if you don't expect otherwise. I have been getting some voicecalls, I don't know how they got my number. But that is the way it is. They are screaming for guys everywhere. When you don't play what they expect you to play. What am I going to do? It isn't going to help us me sitting here defending it, we have to go play better. And we are going to do it."