Nov. 11, 2008
Opening statement: We got a very good football team coming in here, very similar style-wise to our play, similar defense. Its going to be good to see a lot of our old friends come back to Huntington, its always an exciting weekend. We've always played pretty well in the past on homecoming weekends, I know a lot of players are excited, their girlfriends and families are coming back. It should be an exciting weekend.
On the focus of the players: This will be our first day back, I thought Sunday they responded very well in our team meeting and took some coaching, we're so close, we're right on the edge right now of being a very good football team and I think our kids know that. I'd be shocked if they didn't come out today and have a fantastic practice. We've still got a lot to play for. I have to credit our players, they have a lot of belief and a whole bunch of will and want to in them and I think that showed last Saturday and we'll continue through this season.
On the progress of the offensive line: They're getting better, I see an improvement in them each and every week. I felt like in the fourth quarter as I looked out there, our young people were pushing them around a little bit. I said going into that game the best three defense were East Carolina, Marshall and UCF and I got that down to two now, that would be Marshall and UCF, but the challenge again is right there up front. A very veteran secondary is what we are going against, four starters, 134 starts, 35 career interceptions between those guys, there is going to be no tricking them so were going to have to establish a running game.
On the play of Chad Schofield: They're getting better each week like they should but Chad has done a good job, I've been very pleased with him.
On the UCF secondary: I'm not going to take any credit away from our defense. Let me say this, East Carolina ran the ball at our defense 40 times Saturday for 100 yards rushing, that is outstanding. Any time you can stop the run, you're going to have a chance to win the football game. But yet, getting back to your question, their secondary, along with their whole defense is good. They're not as deep up front as they were last year, but they still have four or five guys up front that are pretty good. They have big linebackers just like we do, big thumping type of linebackers. They don't do as much subbing as we do, we can get small if we have to get small, they just stay big and do what they do and they do it very well, especially getting after the quarterback, we have to stay our of third and longs.
On Brandon Burns
and Corey Hart
playing at the same time: We showed a bunch of different looks. This is the challenge this week, for supremacy in my opinion, defensively in our league. I think these are the best two defenses that will be out there Saturday and its going to come down to the end, its going to be a barnburner.
On UCF having a down year and the impact of RB Kevin Smith on the team last season: He was pretty good and they had a senior quarterback that managed the game very well, they lost a couple of offensive lineman, but yes, Kevin Smith is pretty special. They were playing the same kind of defense and the same type of special teams that they are this year, they just had a little more productivity on offense last year, and they're close, the reason they're going with Rob Calabrese is because he's throwing the ball at times pretty well, going through some growing pains a lot like us, he's inconsistent at times and hopefully he doesn't get on track Saturday. He's a lot more mobile than our guy, he's a mobile kid. They bring Michael Greco in to run the football.
On the two minute drills at East Carolina: Those are things that we have to get corrected in order to be an outstanding defense. You play well, then you get in a two minute situation and some of it has to do with the personnel we had on the field, we discussed keeping our older kids on the field, we got a young sub group in there and they're just not quite ready to handle that kind of situation, so we gotta be a little smarter with who we leave on the field in a two minute type situation. They're just not ready to handle that yet, so it will take scheme, personnel, those are the things, about the only things, we were able to get on our defense about. That's what we've addressed and we're going to do some different things personnel wise in those situations and leave our good guys on the field.
On the change of the ECU offensive tempo during the game: It goes back to what I just said, did the change of pace affect the young guys we had on the field, probably, but it goes back to my point, we need to leave the seasoned veterans in there in those kind of situations because we had a lot of young people on the field in that sub package trying to find a role for them and its worked pretty good for us, but probably the fast paced kind of deal affected them a little bit and we've got an alternate plan for that.
On the MU kicking game: Gotta get better, our kicking game was not that bad, our kickoff returns were outstanding if you talk about all of our special teams, but if you are talking about kicking, we have to get better and we worked on that Sunday night and we'll have periods in practice today where I'm going to stop practice and we're going to kick a field goal. We'll have a game winner like we always do at the end of practice, but I've incorporated two or three more field goals today right in the middle of practice to go with that game winner at the end.
On the 26-yard field goal call at ECU: I can never tell whether its good or not from where I stand on the field, somebody asked me about that at the Quarterback Club, two people said they felt like it went through and you can't tell, you can't see it on the film, from where we stand, we have the worst view because of the angle, I don't care where its at on the field.
On Emmanuel Spann's play call at ECU: He did not touch it, he swore up and down that the ball didn't hit him. He's a pretty honest kid, he said coach, this ruling is going to come back in our favor, I did not touch the ball, I said Spann, it looks like to me it touched you and I said I'm sitting here looking at it right now and he said coach, I'm telling you the ball did not touch me, just wait and listen to the ruling, the ball did not touch me. And it came back and it didn't touch him and he said I told you.
On hoping that there is cold weather for Saturday's game: Absolutely. Hope its nice and brisk and snowing.
On the impact of cold weather on teams from warmer climates: I don't know that there's a difference. I think its all psychological, like I said half of our guys came from the south. Its been pretty warm, we have not had to endure much cold weather til this week, so everyone has to play in the same weather.
On the challenge the Marshall receivers face this weekend: I like the matchups, good player on good player. I hope that's the case, I doubt it will be. The flavor of the last couple weeks seems to be to double Passmore and make it so we can't run the ball outside and that's why Cody Slate has been such a factor. I think Cody is going to be a big key this week. As I read today in some good articles, if you've got an athletic tight end, you've got an advantage because its hard to cover them. We had our best player, at safety, on that tight end on that last two minute drive down there and it wasn't even close, we weren't in the ballpark, so we have that factor here, we gotta make sure we use it a little more than even we did last week. Cody's got that breakaway speed and receive skills that create mismatches that you can't double everybody and its hard as a defensive coach to double tight ends, its just a mismatch that's there, not talked about much but its real.
On Passmore being less than 100% last year: Yes. He played about the first three games, and that was about it. He's gotta get more touches than what he had, we need to get him involved a little more, he needs more touches this week.
On the health of the team: We're healthy.
On both teams playing a lot of underclassmen: They're going through some growing pains. Coach O'Leary has recycled his team a little bit. They had that run, they had a great team, he's going to build it back like he built it the first time, I'm sure. I think we're very close and we're going to be pretty good for the next few years, its not going to be just a one year thing for us.
On their defense getting sacks: It keeps them in every game, they've got a chance to win every game. If you play defense, you have a chance to win every game.
On the UCF offensive line: It's a combination of both (graduation losses and the loss of Kevin Smith). Senior quarterback, now they're playing a freshman. A bunch of young offensive lineman and Brent Harvey is a good back, but he's not Kevin Smith. I've seen the maturity in our guys and I think that's why our offensive stats are a little better. We're starting to get a little better. We've got some good running backs, we go through a quarter and a half at some point in a game with a young quarterback, making some mistakes, so I think there's the difference.
On players returning for homecoming: We don't get involved in that too much, some guys will come back and I'm sure they will stop by the office and stop by practice on Thursday and those kind of things, but we'll keep our ritual on Friday and Saturday the same.
On noticing the atmosphere at ECU: I didn't even see that, my family told me about it after the game, but I did not hear anything. Really about the only thing I've ever really heard was the jump around thing at Wisconsin because its such a long TV break and you can't miss, you almost have to watch it. But you are always so involved in the game that you don't see much of anything else.
On UCF kick/punt returner Joe Burnett: He's special. He is the best I've seen, I thought Ted Ginn (from Ohio State) was special, I'm going to stop right there, besides Ginn, I would have to go all the way to the kid at Iowa that broke the NCAA record, Tim Dwight. He is special. And its not just one or two plays on the film, he is brave, he has an uncanny knack to know where the hole is, make the first guy miss, he's just special. He has ability and talent to feel what is going on around him when he gets the ball and almost 100% of the time he know where the opening is, its uncanny what he can do, so you will not see us punting to him.