Hawkins: We started a little slow. Then we got a couple plays that gave us a spark, and guys were going pretty good there. But we haven't been able to put offense together with defense (in a game). The defense started a little slow, but offense was very slow. Then the offense gets going and we didn't get help from the defense.
I think it's probably typical of a team that is looking for external means of confidence and reinforcement. It's hard during those down times because you're sort of waiting for something to happen rather than going out and making something happen.
Q: What was the difference in the offense from the first half to the second half?
Hawkins: We made throws. We were able to throw the football.
Q: Was anything adjusted at halftime to make that happen?
Hawkins: We crossed a couple things off and went to a couple others.
Q: You've emphasized finishing strong throughout the season. Why was today such a slow start?
Hawkins: It's hard to tell exactly. There for the longest time, for a period there in the 2nd quarter we had run maybe nine plays. We didn't have a lot of opportunities, and that hurts your rhythm as well.
Q: Were you surprised your guys didn't get down or quit after the long drive in the third quarter didn't result in points?
Hawkins: These guys have always fought. They always keep coming, and I give them a lot of credit for that. It's just having those moments where you have that extra inertia that allows you to make a tackle or make a run – you know, do something above and beyond. But they've never ever given up. They never have.
Q: Is that what's kept you going?
Hawkins: I think in this whole thing, you just have to try to get better. With all the variables from A to Z involving everything that's going on, that's where you pour your energies. I think when you spend a bunch of time lamenting about things that you can't do anything about or you can't change or you can't fix, then you're pouring yourself in the wrong direction.
Q: What's the difference between the team that played out here today and the one against Texas Tech?
Hawkins: Again, we had that situation (vs. TTU) where we got out early. We got to a pretty big lead. So you start having confidence and guys are feeling good. They're energized. The defense played well, offense came back and made some plays. We get ahead and get momentum, and you have some confidence. You start playing a little looser, to make plays.
You look at that stretch in this game and it's the same type of thing. Guys start getting a little energy and making plays. They start getting a little confidence.
Q: Why was Josh Freeman able to complete such a high percentage of passes?
Hawkins: That's a good question. One, he made throws, and two, we didn't cover them.
Q: Did you feel like your defense let you down today?
Hawkins: It was a case of that they started a little slower than they would have liked to. It's difficult in a game and a season – all three groups need to feed off each other a little bit. Our defense has been great about not complaining a (lack) of offensive firepower. But those things are hard emotionally on you.
Q: Do you think you guys were maybe flat today coming out?
Hawkins: I don't think flat is the word. It's not a question of flat. It's a question of going, ‘Can I do it? I hope I can do it. I want to do it,' versus ‘I'm going to do it.' When they have those plays where things go right, you slip into that mode of ‘I'm going to do it.' That's fairly typical of a team in our situation.
Q: When you look at the past success of this program and the expectations that come along with that, how difficult is this season?
Hawkins: Losing always stinks. There's no two ways around that. But, I've said this before, I just have been in enough jump starts that you sort of understand all the dynamics. You understand how to attack that. You know that there's a lot of fundamental things that you …you have to lay that groundwork. It doesn't make a coach better than another coach, it just makes it different to get (players) to emphasize all those little things that you think are important in building your program.
Q: Do you question yourself?
Hawkins: No. As I said before, you keep turning over stones and go, ‘What's something new that we can do here to grow a spark?' That's something that you pour your energies into. I told the guys, I'm never giving up. We're playing the season through and I'll continue to try and be as creative as I can to find solutions, and so will our staff.
Q: How did you feel about the way your lines played today?
Hawkins: Well, it's difficult until you really go back and look at the film. I know there were a couple of runs offensively where we felt like if we had gotten couple things done, we would've had some yardage. We had a few gashers in the run game on defense. But I think that was more second and third-level (breakdowns).
Q: Are you as confident right now as you were four months ago that you can build a national championship contender here?
Hawkins: Totally. Yeah. If you have a formula, if you have a plan that's been used many, many times before, you tend to have a lot of confidence. And I do. It never happens as fast as anybody wants it, including me. But you know the things that have to exist and the things that have to go on.
Q: When a guy like Thaddaeus Washington comes back after breaking his teeth and plays, what does that show to the younger players?
Hawkins: Well, toughness is a part of life and part of football. Any time you have somebody that's dinged and they're able to work through that, I think it provides a terrific amount of inspiration to the rest of the guys.
Again, I'm just one of those guys that totally believes that in many cases, you're as hurt as you think you are. I had a quarterback who played with a broken leg once (he knew it was broken), and he played a week after he broke it. You have guys play with dislocated shoulders. There's a lot you can do with the human mind when you will it to do that.
Q: Why did you change punters?
Hawkins: We're just looking for some consistency there. I thought Isaac came in and banged it pretty good. I like Matt. I think Matt potentially has got an unbelievable leg. We're trying to provide various forms of inspiration and motivation and technical advice in practice to try to get him to self actualize and maximize his ability. But Isaac punted the ball well in practice this week. And I think that's important that when guys show up and do things right in practice, you've got to reward them.
Q: On the big plays, like the screen pass that went for a touchdown, was that a matter of not being in the right defense?
Collins: I don't believe so.
Q: What was the reason for it?
Collins: If I remember right, the guy just ran a little flat rout and we missed a tackle. We didn't rally to the ball to make the play. And then they ran a little reverse on us. I'll have to look at the film, but I don't think we would have called anything different.
Q: Did they do anything that wasn't there on film?
Collins: No. Everything that they ran today, we practiced.
Q: Why were they able to complete such a high percentage of their passes?
Collins: That's a good question. I don't have the answer right now. I really don't.
Q: How would you rate your tackling today?
Collins: From what I saw, not very good.