Oct. 29, 2012
"Obviously a hard one to take. I'll look at both phases independently. Of course defense, a lot of problems that haven't gone away. You look at the first half and we gave up nine plays over 20 yards and 28 points. In the second half we played a little better. We gave two plays over 20 yards and gave up 10 points. In in all these games we are seeing about 60 plays of pretty good defense and then you are seeing about 15 plays of really bad defense. Of course, the question is why and what are we doing about it. Those are the obvious ones. When you say what is going on, usually when you have the numbers that we have, it isn't one thing. Obviously there are times when we don't make a good call as coaches and put our kids in a bad position. There are times in that 15-play block where we are a little bit of a mess before the ball is even snapped and that can be a function of either we are doing too much and we are thinking too much or we are not executing what we have worked on all week in practice. That is kind of a combination deal. Then the third issue with it is when we have a decent call and we are sound, but we just haven't mastered how to play it as well and then make a good play. We are a little bit of a jack-of-all trades, master of nothing, and it is so important that we start mastering a few things and get good at [a few things] to hang our hat on so we can try to get those 15 snaps down to about six or seven and at least have a chance."
(On the offensive performance at South Carolina)
"Offensively, a pretty impressive performance against a great defense. Nobody has put those kind of yards on them, I don't know if they have done it in a long time. To come out and beat them 21-10 in the second half is a great feat, but it wasn't good enough. At the end of the day we had 20 yards to go and we didn't get it done. It is a team loss but there were some really good performances, especially on offense."
(On the approach to the last four games of the season)
"You guys heard me talk a little bit about a `second season' and I think it is all pretty clear that the legacy of this team and the character of this team is going to be defined by how we compete these last four games. It is important to know that it's not four games because we can't go 4-0 without going 1-0. I told the players that I don't want to even talk about 4-0 because we have to go 1-0. We have to get a win and we haven't done that in a while. We are playing a team that is averaging 460 yards a game. We are playing a team that lost to Mississippi State by six points and they put up over 500 yards of offense on them, so if we think we are going to roll the ball out there and get a `W,' we are really fooling ourselves."
(On the team's mindset)
"The team is in good spirits. That doesn't mean they are happy about the result, but they are the way they have been all season. They have a lot of good character on it and those guys want to go out there. We can still accomplish some goals, but we can't do it if we don't go out and play well on Saturday."
(On simplifying the defense)
"You can always get a little more simple, but I think the bigger thing now is getting good at what you are doing. They hit a couple of seam routes when we were playing Cover Two. Was everybody lined up right, playing ok? Yeah, but we are getting about two yards wider on the seam than we should be, the safety is about two yards deeper so now all the details of execution become paramount. You ask whose fault it is, but they have to rep it and get better. It is a combination of those things. There are still some things that we can try to minimize the thinking on the checks and that is what we have to do."
(On the defense)
"When you talk about the bulk of the game, they play pretty well. You see a lot of good adjustments, guys playing fast, good energy, lined up right, but it is hard because there is no excuse for the way we are playing. There is just no excuse, we should be playing better than we are."
(On Josh Conklin)
"He is giving a lot more and more as the season goes on. It is always hard when you come in and you are learning a new system as a coach. I experienced it on offense when I was an assistant. Everybody has good ideas, but you are sometimes a little hesitant to give your input until you truly grasp what the coordinator's system is. There are a lot of good plays and ideas out there but they all have to fit within the structure. I hired Josh because he has coordinator experience, he is a back-end guy and he has given a lot of good input. I think the more all of our coaches are around and can solve the problems together, the quicker we will come out of it."
(On whether he has thought about splitting up the defensive play-calling duties)
"It's not really as much the play calls as it is the way we are coaching it and executing it. It is the implementation that matters more than anything. I'm not going to go down that path."
(On Zach Rogers' recent production)
"When you practice with speed and consistency then the quarterback always knows where you are going to be on what play. It is so important, when you have a good throwing game, that the receivers are running as fast as they can all the time. That allows the quarterback to have a rhythm to where he can place the ball. Zach has the greatest consistency of all in how he practices. It reminds me of how Wes Welker was when I was at the Dolphins. He practiced so fast that the quarterback knew exactly where he was going to be on all these routes. That is something we are still learning to do with the other guys. It is really a hard thing. It sounds easy, but it is hard."
(On why Zach Rogers hasn't garnered the attention that the other receivers have)
"Probably just because his stature is not like the other guys. He's not as long, not as physical, that sort of thing, but Zach has always been fast, he's always had a great knowledge of the game and has always had good hands. He is a classic case of a senior playing good football."
(On why Rogers is playing so well now)
"I just think it is a case of a senior. It is hard to really minimize what those last years do to a player. When you are on your last leg and you have been around. We still have a really small senior class. We have about [five] senior starters, [three] on offense, two on defense. Just like Ben Bartholomew. Ben is playing great football. You just start getting it. It's just development. Zach has always had the tools, it just takes time to [develop] that confidence. Now, all of a sudden, `I've been here, I've done that, I remember that, I remember that,' it is muscle memory. I've run this route now a million times. It is the deliberate practice that you get over time and you get better and better and better and better."
(On Antonio Richardson being upset about the loss)
"I told my wife after the game, you talk about life not being fair, but it is life. This kid has incredible character, incredible competitive character and he represents this program so well. You guys don't know this, but he was hurt the whole week. We were really worried he wasn't going to play because of his knee. He didn't practice hardly at all Monday and Tuesday and our history has been that we are in trouble if a guy doesn't practice and he is going against [Jadeveon] Clowney, but Tiny could not wait to go prove he can go block this guy. To watch how he competed the whole game, it just breaks your heart that the guy made an incredible play that last play and it happens to be the one that they are going to show on ESPN. I told Antonio that we would have never had 35 points on the board at all, we would have gotten blown out of the park, if it wasn't for him and I believe that. That is one of the things that is going to make him the special player that he has the ability to be is how he puts that on himself, but we would have never even been in the game if Antonio had not performed the way he had."
(On Tyler Bray's performance at South Carolina)
"I thought Tyler played probably his best game. I didn't really call him out the way you guys [made it sound]. I just told him that he couldn't be loose with the ball and he really wasn't. He was trying to throw that ball away. He felt the guy coming and I think that much longer and it would have been an incomplete pass. He played his best game. It's hard to say he didn't against that kind of quality opponent. I watched some of those plays our guys made and those are some big-time plays. I told Tyler today that he is one week away from getting hung at quarterback again. That's how it is at that position. Now let's start over, prepare the way you prepared and go out and perform again."
(On whether the team sees the overall picture of creating a legacy with a strong finish)
"They probably don't see it the way coaches do. They are so quick to appeal to their emotions and their feelings at any given moment. Anybody that was on this team last year, we all remember how we felt at the end of last year about how we competed. We certainly don't want that to happen and I don't think our team wants that to happen, so we have to go out there and prepare right, go play our best, focus on this game and go one at a time."
(On not challenging the play where Connor Shaw may have stepped out of bounds)
"Looking back I guess I should have challenged it because, you know. I turned it in. He stepped out. When he was coming over there I was a little too close to the ball and I am on crutches and I have to call a timeout immediately if he is in bounds. So it was a really hairy moment for me. I am like, I have to get this timeout immediately if he is in bounds and I have to make sure I don't lose my hip in the process by getting run over. I did a little three-legged get out of the way and I really didn't see his foot hit the line like I probably would have and so when I saw him wined it I went right to the timeout. Then I just assumed if it wasn't, because it was a long time for the replay. I hadn't had a conversation of whether that is reviewable, I am sure it would have been if I had challenged it but I don't know if that is something they review automatically. That could have been a big issue."
(On turning in plays)
"We turned in a bunch of plays, like we do every game. We will get the response soon."
(On turning in more plays after this game)
"Some games there is a lot and some games there isn't as many. We had an opportunity to win it down there. Some games you get a few more breaks than others. It all usually evens out."
(On the strength of the offense)
"It is frustrating that we dig ourselves in such a hole early on. It is. That is part of it. It is a team sport any way that you look at it and we have had plenty of opportunities on offense. If we are going to go score 35, let's go score 42. Let's score 49. You do what you have to do to win the game. That is how it always is."
(On being involved with the defense)
"Each week gotten a little more involved. I think the biggest thing is making sure we are all on the same page within the staff of what is too much, what is not enough, how are we coaching that in the back end. Probably more dialogue than I had in the last few weeks and I am going to continue to do that to make sure that our guys are doing the best job they can for the players. We are all in it together, it is not ego driven. We are here to find solutions to help the players play the best they can and they can play better than they are playing. That is my responsibility as the head coach to make sure our coaches are doing the best job they can. I don't know if that answered your question but it is more than normal."
(On changing up personnel on defense)
"We put in Dan Gray. Dan has a lot of physical tools that some of the guys don't have as far as size and speed and burst that you really look at at corner. He is a true freshman so he has to really invest in learning what to do and it isn't a lot and going out there and performing. He did a good job in the fourth quarter. He has done some things. We are going to need all of our guys this week. These guys - they spread it out, they go fast, they throw it. Jordan Williams has really shown some good things out there. I think he is going to be a really good player but he also hurts us a lot. Our outside backers hurt us a lot, just playing with discipline on the zone reads, the nakeds and the sprint outs containing the quarterback. Trevarris Saulsberry continues to show us a lot upfront and that is encouraging."
(On teams exploiting the defense)
"They are hurting us on all the coverages except man, well even man they have gotten us early in the year. Just doing a good job with the eyes when it is play action or not rerouting him out of the seam underneath or the safeties not nailing down. I think most of those plays to the tight ends have been more not plahyiong the coverage well, not being out of sorts or totally misaligned. But just mastering the intricacies of the coverage. We have to do a better job of coaching them."
(On whether Coach Sunseri has been unable to communicate the defensive scheme)
"Well, that is a pretty harsh statement. The reality is our statistics, we aren't going to sit here and defend anything we are doing because statistically we can't. I think the important thing is, and it is what I told Sal, we have to get our focus on solutions and playing better next week. That is all you can put your energy on. You can't look back and beat yourself up, you can't lose confidence in what we are going and how we teaching it. We have to work together to find solutions as players and as coaches to play better. That is all you can put your energy on."
(On solving the defensive woes)
"I think that is a great point and usually the answer is back to simplicity and fundamentals when you get like that. It is not some play that is going to solve anything. It is going out there and mastering a couple of coverages, getting off blocks, matching the patterns and playing good aggressive football. And we do that for about 60 plays a game, we really do. We can't have these 15 disasters."
(On personnel issues)
"It certainly is not prototype. We have had personnel issues but I think those issues would be the same no matter what scheme you do."
(On whether Coach Sunseri has had issues communicating the scheme)
"Let me say it this way, it is hard to say we are not having problems given the statistics. The question is what is the problem and how do we fix it? Maybe at times we aren't communicating. Maybe at times we don't make a good call. Maybe at times the player has repped it plenty of times and he is not doing it correctly. Maybe at times we probably have the wrong guy in. I think it is a function of a lot of things. Generally, when you are statistically where we are it is not one thing, it is everything. We all have to work together and that is what we are doing, players, coaches, head coach to lock in on how we can take those 15 plays and at least get them down to about seven."
(On Justin Hunter's strength)
"I thing that is going to help Justin the most is getting his strength levels where he is capable of getting. I think of all the things that hurt him was losing that year of strength development. He was not a strong guy coming in, track guy, so never really committed to the weight room and started to commit after his freshman season and made a lot of gains before he hurt his knee. When he hurt his knee it really set him back from a strength stand point and I think it shows up out there. When guys get their hands on him and some of those opportunity balls. He is going to get better at that. Justin is playing really well and he has a lot of improvement that is going to make as a player. A lot of it is going to come down to keep on playing, learning the art of route running and then developing your strength levels. That is going to help him, his stature."
(On communication with Dave Hart)
"We talk every week, more than once a week. Dave has been great, very professional. He obviously wants to know my take on where we are, what we are doing well and what we aren't doing well and how we are going to fix it."
"Rajion [Neal] and Zach [Fulton] are day-to-day. We are hoping they will be back. We will know a little bit more tomorrow when we put the pads on. I think that is the only injury issue right now, some guys are dinged up. "
(On visiting with coaches when he was AD at LaTech)
"I visited with the football coach every day. So probably more than most ADs. I am not a good model for the AD when I was the AD at Tech. I was a little more the coach who was just responsible. I think it is important every week that you have dialogue with your boss when you are in season. It is something I have always wanted to do, whether we are winning or losing. I think is important for the boss to have that kind of dialogue so you have a real pulse of what is going on. It is good."
(On what he says to Dave Hart)
"A lot of what I told you guys. Dialogue is good."