Sept. 29, 2008
Q. Brady (Quinn) had so many eccentricities, but good ones, like his diet, being a workout freak. Do you see a little bit more of that with Jimmy (Clausen) as he gets a little bit older?
Whether it's the breeding, the family, whether that's part of the deal, football has always been important to him. I think that always helps. Then the fact that he just likes to play the game. So to him, the more he can be around it, the more of a junky he can be, he wants to progress and he wants to progress in all facets. I think mentally is one of the areas where he's progressing very fast.
Q. We threw a bunch of freshmen questions at you Saturday. Can you talk about your freshmen class a little bit today. Ethan Johnson impresses me the way he's held in there.
Q. Tight ends, not using (Joseph) Fauria this week, not quite physically ready?
Trust me, we were prepared to play him in the game.
Q. Four games in, has there been anything that's surprised you this season so far?
We talk so often in here about evidence in practice correlating to what actually happens on the game field. I was not surprised but pleased to see that the evidence of the things that happened on the practice field showed up on the game field on Saturday.
Q. Is it sometimes tougher for teams to bounce back from losses?
It's easy to come in because they're already feeling good. Now you can sit there and say, Look, fellas, look what we did wrong here. We did this, this, this and this. They're a lot more receptive after a win than after a loss. I say the toughest part is getting here, getting through the constructive criticism.
In reality, one of the best things these players do is get on a field after a loss. Getting on the field, it's the first time they really start getting over the loss.
Q. After having a night to think things over, watching the tape today, are you still as happy about yesterday's game as you were yesterday?
Briefly on special teams, I thought our coverage units were exceptional. I thought our kickoff coverage was exceptional. (Mike) Anello and Scott Smith each had three tackles in the game. I thought they played really well. Our punt coverage team was good, once again. We got some good yardage on our kickoff return. The only area where we didn't get any action was at a punt return, which that bothered me some. Then, of course, we missed the one field goal.
But there are a lot of good things that happened on special teams.
Defensively, obviously one of the biggest, if not the biggest play in the game, is R.J.'s (Robert Blanton) interception for a touchdown, which is the only turnover in the game. That's another positive, that we didn't turn the ball over on offense. So you have a plus one for the game. The interception you do get goes to the house.
I was pleased with the red zone defense. I was exceptionally pleased at how they played in the second half on defense on third and fourth down. I think they pitched a shutout in the second half. I'm not exactly sure, but I think they were 0 4 on third down and 0 2 on fourth down. When you can do that, usually something good is going to end up happening.
On the negative side, we have to do better in execution on both sides of the ball. We need to get off to a better start than we did. Defensively I think they're when they watched us having them backed up, when a player has watched us having Purdue backed up, letting them get off their goal line, that will be a concern. Giving up the same ball for a touchdown versus cover three, you know, that will be a concern. Getting a couple penalties, the horse collar and the PI (pass interference) on Sergio (Brown), that will be a concern.
But overall I thought the second half performance compared to the first half performance were night and day. For me, I'm saying if they can gain some momentum from the second half going into the first half next week. On both sides of the ball we can't get off to a slow start.
That gets me to offense. Get the ball, the first drive, go three and out, get a penalty on the third play of the game for the second game in a row. Second drive we get the ball, come up fourth and short, okay? Fourth and less than a yard, don't get a yard, turn the ball over on downs. The next time we have second and goal from the eight yard line, get a false start penalty. Almost every time you end up with a penalty in the red zone it ends up costing you points, okay? At the end of the day, we end up missing a field goal. Not only do we not get a touchdown, we ended up not getting any points. There are the first three drives the game.
Conversely, you take the last drive of the first half, not including the last two plays. You really score four touchdowns in a row. Scored a touchdown there, those two plays, then you scored the first three times you got the ball in the second half. I mean, it doesn't get much better than that. Really, it's four touchdowns in a row. Then you follow that up with a field goal after that. It's really five scores in five drives.
I think that, 13 big plays in the game, six runs, seven passing, rushing the ball for over 200 yards, Armando (Allen) rushing for 7.9 a carry, Jimmy not throwing a pick, executing the offense as well as he's executed it. He's had days with higher completion percentage, but he hasn't played any better than he played yesterday. He played pretty darn well yesterday. He got us out of some plays. He moved runs from one side to the other side. I mean, he really did a nice job for us yesterday.
He obviously wasn't alone. Michael Floyd, there's one of those freshmen we're talking about, a hundred yard day. I mentioned Armando. Kyle Rudolph has three catches. He blocked pretty well, has three catches, two for a first down, one for a touchdown. The two tackles, (Mike) Turkovich and Sam Young, played pretty stout in the game. One sack in the game, because we get beat inside on a spin move, then the pass protection.
If you look at the analysis of the whole game, there's a lot more pros than cons. But there's plenty of constructive criticism that will be dealt out tomorrow morning nice and early.
Q. Perfect situation for you as a coach?
Q. A lot of those touchdown drives, you tended to spread the field. Why did that work so well for you?
Q. Will you talk to your guys about using this as a springboard? If so, how will you phrase that?
I think it sets a even though it turned out well in this game, you don't want to count on any game sitting there at halftime and being able to pull away the way it went yesterday. I think we got to get more production in the first half.
Q. You mentioned the home field. Three games in, what do you have to do to make this a tough place to play?
I think we have another opportunity this week to take another step. You got another one at home against a formidable opponent. That's what we need to do. We need to take the next step.
Q. Was the first step in this whole thing really the Michigan game? Seemed like San Diego State, the fans were tentative. You mentioned after the Michigan game you thought they were really enthusiastic.
The start of the Michigan game, you know, the fans were already into the game early because of how the game started. I think as this ball keeps rolling, I think it could get better and better.
Q. Is the converse true, that when it goes poorly, it's much tougher? Golden (Tate) mentioned yesterday that playing at home felt like playing on the road, the noise.
Q. One of the more interesting stats from the first four games is that you have 14 touchdowns, 12 scored by underclassmen. I'm sure you don't notice that as it's happening during the game.
Q. There has to be a moment where you sit back and say, freshman, sophomore, freshman, freshman. Highly rated recruiting classes are coming through early.
Q. That in turn creates a little different dynamic with your team. You have a changing of the guard with the younger guys. Do you have to deal with that with the older players?
Q. You talk about the increase of athletic ability on the coverage teams. I would assume it's more than that; it's got to be an execution issue as well.
I think these guys have gone out there trying to have some fun out there. It's fun watching guys like Anello. I mean, that first kickoff coverage, go watch it. He's all the way on the right, comes all the way across, cuts to the edge, makes the play. He's having a lot of fun. A lot of guys are having a lot of fun with him.
Q. Anything on Luke Schmidt?
Q. In talking to all the players, I kept asking the same question last week, why you were better prepared to deal with adversity. Everybody to a man talked about maturity, that kind of thing, having dealt with the issues last year. Found it interesting after the game yesterday, the celebration with the students was really kind of tame. They kind of took this win in stride.
But I think that then, and right into the locker room, as happy as they were, it was much more matter of fact. Not that they weren't happy, not that they weren't enthusiastic, because they were. But, you know, it was more, Okay, we got Stanford coming up. That's the way they acted.
Q. Grimes yesterday said he felt like Jimmy was making the reads he remembers Brady making. How close is Jimmy to maybe where Brady started?
Q. Talking to (David) Bruton after the game, I asked about the freshmen class, why there was so much confidence coming in. He said it was probably because you struggled so much last year, they were watching thinking they could come in and play right away. Do you think that's reason why they've come along so quickly?
Q. Michael Floyd, what is it about this guy that let him come in so quickly, especially when you look at him in contrast to where Golden was?
The bottom line is he was already in a very highly structured pass offense in high school, whereas Golden was a running back, so it's totally different. It's apples and oranges. They're both unique individuals. They're different body types.
I tell you one thing, they both in their own way, when the ball is up for grabs, more often than not, they're going to be the one coming down with it.
Q. Is that why you think the fade route is such an effective weapon with the personnel you have right now?
Q. Before the season started, did you have any expectations of this team? What kind of expectations did you have? Where did you see your team being after four games?
In my mind, if you're asking me did I think we could be 4 0 at this time? The answer is yes. Okay, we're not, but that's where I thought we could be.
Q. Are you displeased with the fact you're not 4 0?
Q. As far as the progress of this team in four games, are you seeing what you want to see out of them?
Offensively, it's the best production. That third quarter is really when the game was won yesterday. I think they kind of, as an offense, made a statement that they can run the ball and they can throw the ball and they can pick up the blitz and they can win one on one. Now they got to show they can do it on a more consistent basis week in and week out. Can't do it this week and then next week go to Stanford and lay an egg. You can't do that.
Special teams generally I've been content at this point with the performance. Obviously there's some things that are well documented that they have to fix. But I've been generally content with most facets of the special teams.
Q. Back to the freshmen. You played a lot of them last year, too. This year you can count on them but maybe not rely on them as much.
Now you get a guy like Ethan that we were talking about before. He didn't have to come out and play 50 plays in the first game. Each game after that, he's getting in more and more and more and more and more. Ideally, that's the way you'd like to do it.
Q. Now that Jonas (Gray) has played on special teams, would you be more inclined to get him carries?
Q. Four games in, are we getting closer to the point where for the most part the freshmen are going to (indiscernible)?
Q. When you injured your knee, you jokingly said you were going to (indiscernible) body guards.
Q. Someone made a nice save.
I think Rick was being a little overprotective. But I'd rather him err on the side of caution, to tell you the truth.
Q. Did you have to give those guys extra incentive?
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