Q: Relief, ecstasy or both?
Dan Hawkins: (shrugs) You know, I'm happy for those guys (players). But this is a pretty proud football program with a ton of tradition. I'm not going to do a backflip over being 1-6, that's for sure.
It was good for those guys to get a win beneath their wings. It's a chance for us to get back in and get back at it tomorrow and try to improve, try to get better.
Q: You said after a couple of the losses you missed an opportunity to talk with them in the locker room about improving. Did you take that opportunity today?
Hawkins: Yeah, I did. Obviously, they're happy. But at the same time, I just tried to bring their feet back down. They certainly had showed elements of being a champion by the ways they handled themselves the last six games, and I reminded them of that – of being able to come back to a starting point and face the music again. We have to do that again when we win. We'll come back in the next morning and say, ‘How can we get better.'
They're happy right now, and I want them to be happy, but we need to go back to work. We've got a lot of work to do, and we want to finish this thing up strong. When you stare at that national championship trophy up there, and Coach McCartney is here and Bobby Anderson goes into the hall of fame here, like I said, I'd degrade the Buffalo tradition if I was gonna do a backflip over 1-6, so I'm not doing that.
Q: What did you do defensively?
Hawkins: I really thought the last couple weeks we had a decent plan, but we just gave up some things. I think our guys kind of reworked some of that. Ron (Collins) changed a few things up and cut a few things out in hopes that we'd be mentally more sharp, which I think we were.
Q: I think you got through the game without committing a penalty. What do you think about that?
Hawkins: Well, we've been doing some things indicative of good football teams. We've been running the ball and stopping the run. The turnover thing, we've been positive on for the most part. So a lot of those things have been good. But we just couldn't make a play when we needed to, and today we did.
Q: Would you talk about your offense?
Hawkins: We did a nice job. Again, it's too bad we turned it over down there late. And I probably got a little bit stubborn going for it on fourth and took a field goal off the board. We really thought we had a couple more chances to score before halftime. But obviously we didn't punt the ball much, and that's a good sign.
I thought B-Jack made some plays, and then he showed some courage when he took a pretty good hit at halftime and then came back and rallied.
Q: What were you most gratified with today?
Hawkins: I guess the thing I'm most gratified with — and I know I always say this stuff is corny because out there, it doesn't seem to matter much in life anymore – victory and defeat, they're brothers and sisters. They dance together. For these guys to understand how to really look the dragon in the eye and to keep coming back in the face of adversity and being knocked down and knocked down and knocked down…we always talk about being abnormal. Yeah, it's easy to hang your head, it's easy to question, it's easy to point fingers, but for these guys to see that thing through is a bigger message. It's a big message in football and I think it's even a bigger message in life.
That's the thing that I'm most grateful for, that they were able to learn a big lesson in life and see the thing through and the reward on the other end, and have that sink in and be meaningful for them down the road.
Q: Ryan Walters had two interceptions back there.
Hawkins: Yeah, like I said, there's a reason he's starting. He's a very heady kid and a good player. It was nice to have him back in there. He adds a little savvy to what we're doing. He's a smart guy and he's a playmaker.
Q: Was Jarrell Yates the first option on that touchdown?
Hawkins: Yeah he was. He ran a little stutter and go, and we felt like we could get him on that. It was a good design by Coach Helfrich, and obviously a good execution. I look at that play right there, he gets open and B-Jack makes a great throw. It wasn't a massively easy catch, but Jarrell makes the catch and we're up 14-0. But in the last few weeks, it's overthrown or it's dropped, and everybody's going, ‘You stink, you're terrible!' And we're not. We just missed some plays.
Q: Thaddaeus Washington and Jordon Dizon were all over the place today.
Hawkins: Yeah, it's good to see those guys have some leadership and make some plays. I think they've been learning on the fly. What we're doing defensively is different than what they'd been doing in the past. That doesn't mean anything other than it's a big learning curve. I think they're doing a good job. Everybody's starting to get adjusted to the package.
Q: Is getting one win getting over a hump mentally for these guys?
Hawkins: It probably means for me I get to be a little more creative. Instead of being Zig Ziegler, I can be Vince Lombardi for a week. They were probably going, ‘How many more motivational ploys does this guy have up his sleeve?' And I would've found some more if that would've been necessary. But it certainly adds a breath of freshness and a little bit of confidence.
We practiced great Tuesday. Wednesday was a little off, but Thursday was our best Thursday of the year by far. Our efficiency level was pretty close to 90 percent where it's normally in the 50s. So I give them a lot of credit for hanging in there.
Q: Is this your overall best game this year?
Hawkins: You know, it's hard to say. Shoot, that Georgia game. Wow, two or three plays and we're there. Obviously, we put more points on the board and moved the ball more. A couple of turnovers took away some scoring opportunities for us. But the Georgia game was pretty darn clean. It just wasn't clean enough.
Q: Coach, what do you think of Adrian Peterson breaking his collarbone?
Hawkins: It's unfortunate. And I really, really mean that. I'm a person before I'm a football coach, and as a person, I feel bad for him. Because he's a great player and he brings a lot to college football.
As a competitor, you always want to go against the best. We've talked around here about the way we schedule and the way we do things. If you're ultimate warrior or champion, that's what you want. Now, that being said, they'll have other guys. It's Oklahoma, and they've got guys.
But I feel bad for him and I feel bad because he's an icon in college football.
Q: Were they doing anything to stop Abraham Wright?
Hawkins: Yeah, they tried change up a little bit in their protection. Sometimes they'd fan towards him a little bit and give them an extra guard kicking out that way.
Q: On quarterback Bernard Jackson, who was in the press room at the time.
Hawkins: I just want to say this publicly about this guy over here. This guy has never quit. All he's done is keep coming and he's stood up and been a man when it's appropriate to be a man. Nobody wants to be 0-6, but that kid over there has given his heart and soul to this thing and he's come a long, long way. I'm proud of B-Jack. I'm proud of you, buddy.