Dave South: I thought in the second half of the Utah game, I was starting to see a change. The thing that got us most was that we hit that Utah game on national television; we hit it with a number of young men who had never played in a cllege football game before in their life. We have a lot of redshirt-freshmen. They were thrown out there in an environment like that, and I think nerves got us. I think it was the jitters.
I started to see some good things in the second half after they started to settle down. And then they came back, their coaching staff did, and made some adjustments and personnel changes, mainly on the defensive side.
And as each game has gone by, the confidence level, the enthusiasm level, the way these guys feel about each other has been unbelievable.
The attitude is phenomenal. If you had a thermometer, we'd be blowing it out the top right now. You can see it on the field, the guys on the sidelines are happy when guys on the field do something. They're as excited about it as if they had made the play themselves.
Q: Could you have predicted this, say, three-quarters of the way through last season?
DS: Last year was a difficult time. It was the players getting used to a new coaching staff and a new way of doing things. If you had gone to work for somebody at the University of Colorado, say, and the reason you took the job was because of the guy who hired you, you really liked him.
And then all of a sudden that guy leaves and you've got to get adjusted to him. There's an adjustment period on both sides. Until you get to know one another, there's probably an uncomfortable situation. Probably some of these players, going through these adjustments, I think that probably had a lot to do with last year.
The bottom line is: I have a close friend who works at the University of Alabama. When it became apparent that Dennis Franchione was going to come here, he called me to say he was a little upset that we hired him. But he said, ‘You're getting a really good guy.'
The more I'm around Fran, and listening to what he has to say and how he does things, he's unbelievable. You can pick this guy up and make him the CEO of General Motors and he'd be successful there. He's very goal oriented, and he's just got a way of doing things. He takes input, and then once he sets the course, man we're going.
That's being proven this year, because we've won as many games right now as I thought we'd win all year.
We're not going to sneak up on anybody. I think there'd been some of that, but after (beating) Oklahoma State, I think Colorado, and Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Texas are going to be ready to play us.
Q: You mention the remaining schedule. Colorado is 4-2, but they've struggled this season. With Texas Tech, Texas and Oklahoma waiting in the wings, any chance A&M is looking past the Buffs?
DS: I think Fran won't allow that. I don't think that's going to happen to this team. I just can't see that happening with the way he does things.
I've never been around a coach quite like this. There are so many little things he pays attention to, and still sees the big picture.
But listening to the players and Fran, I don't see that as a possibility where they wouldn't be ready to play Colorado. If Colorado beats A&M, it's going to be and A&M team that was geared up and ready to play Colorado.
Q: Is Reggie McNeal as good as any quarterback in the Big 12 right now?
DS: I think he's getting better each time out. Obviously, Jason White does a great job at Oklahoma. But the way Reggie is playing right now, I'd be hard pressed to say I want to trade Reggie for somebody else.
As I went out and talked to these A&M clubs this summer, I told every one of them that if Reggie stays healthy and Reggie has a good year, we'll have a good year. The whole key is how he's performed. And, boy, he's come out and he hasn't thrown an interception. And it's not like we're not throwing the ball, because we are. He makes good decisions.
I'll tell you something else that has helped him as much as anything. This is a good offensive line. And he feels like he can stand back there in the pocket and go through all of his reads. Last year if he got back there, he would get happy feet and take up. Because he knew that in a second somebody was going to blast him because the offensive line couldn't maintain it's blocks. It's just not the unit last year that it is right now.
Q: Is this defense like the Wrecking Crew, or do they have a different style?
DS: The Wrecking Crew, No. 1, it was a different type of defense. This team plays a 4-3, and The Wrecking Crew was a 3-4. And then we relied on very quick outside linebackers. I don't know that we have the quick outside linebackers that some of The Wrecking Crew did.
Fran doesn't let them call themselves The Wrecking Crew right now. He took that away from them. But the fans, they can go to CoachFran.com and answer a poll. One answer was "Is The Wrecking Crew back?" another was "Are they getting close?" the last one was "Not even close." I think "Getting close" won out over "They are back." I think the fans still don't see it. They still have a little ways to go to be like some of those great defenses were like here.