A: Well, a lot of the ones that are going to return aren't out there. We're playing without six starters – we didn't have six starters out there. They're hurt. Some of them are doing a little bit in practice, but they can't scrimmage. They can't do anything full speed. They're not getting better, but the guys that get to go in their places got an opportunity to do that. We've just got to make sure that those youngsters that step in can learn to play like first-teamers. That's what we're trying to do. Then, the starters that we do have in place, they've got to get better. Returning starters don't make you better. Returning starters that improve every day are better in the fall.
Q: You're always talking about improving by two percent every day. Do you think that you improved that much?
A: It's hard to say as a group. We have to evaluate that. This is the first time we've tackled any. This is the first time we've played football, if you want to say. I don't really know how to evaluate that. We'll evaluate our improvement as a group the next time we scrimmage. The thing we're looking for is individual improvement, right now. We've got some individuals that have (improved). Some are a little bit behind, but mostly they're not getting enough reps and playing hard enough.
The thing that stood out the most to me is that we're still not playing hard enough. We've got kids that think they're playing hard enough. We asked them after we got through, ‘Did anybody play hard enough to get us to New Orleans (site of the 2003 BCS national championship game)?' There weren't any hands raised. You're not real serious about your goals if you don't go out there and play hard enough to get us there. We played hard enough to beat Duke. We might have had a chance today. Would it beat Florida? Probably not. Would it beat Miami? Probably not. Notre Dame, or N.C. State, the folks that beat us last year? If you're not playing hard enough, I don't care what kind of scheme you've got. This was our first day to tackle anybody. We'll take this and evaluate. We'll scrimmage again next Wednesday, a half-scrimmage, and we'll see where we are after that.
Q: You struggled at times, but you seemed a little more inspired at the goal line.
A: Well, they are going to struggle a little bit. They're second-team for a reason. A lot of the second-teamers are lined up with the first team. They're not starters. They just have to be starters because those other six starters aren't in there. What we've got to do, is we've got to get better individually, so that when we combine it, we're better as a group. Today was the first day we could really judge. It was the first day we played football. We only did that probably 30 minutes. We rested the rest of the time, it seemed like, because we're short some offensive people. Defensively, we're the same way, we just took some walk-ons onto the first group. We had walk-ons playing with the first group. We had linebackers pretending they were down linemen. That's all we've got, and that's what we'll play with. The key is, you've got to get those other guys to play harder around them. Hopefully, we'll get our injured people back, we'll keep getting better every day. If we're doing that, we're making progress to where we want to be. But the goal line was better. We gave up one touchdown.
Q: Did you like the spirit among the players, both on offense and defense?
A: I couldn't tell you who lined up one play at any position on offense. I can't talk to that.
Q: Did you see spirit out there? Emotion?
A: Not enough. I thought I was deaf, for a while. I didn't hear nobody hitting anybody, I didn't hear any people jumping around acting like they were having fun. We were acting like we were having to scrimmage, instead of, ‘Oh, man, we've got an opportunitity to scrimmage!' There's a difference?
Q: How do you get that kind of attitude?
A: You're supposed to recruit it. If they ain't hungry when you get ‘em, we ain't got no magic wands to get ‘em hungry. We're recruiting the wrong people if they don't get out on that field and want to dominate. We've got some work to do.
We've got a few that do, but we don't know how to do it as a group. We've got to have more. Like on the goal line. They won't score if you don't want ‘em to. They won't score if you don't want ‘em to bad enough. When we played today, we had a ball-carrier that wanted it more than a tackler. The angle was a little bad, and you don't give yourself a chance. Those things are correctable, but it's hard to correct hunger and toughness. That's what we've got to grow.