Q & A with Coach Mickey Andrews

Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews sat down with the media Monday afternoon to field questions about his defense's performance against Wake Forest and this Saturday's showdown with the Virginia Cavaliers. Here is a transcript of the conversation.

Q: Can you just talk a little bit about the Wake Forest game?

A: They create great blocking angles. They've got all that option and misdirection stuff and the reverses and things that if your not careful will distract you from focusing – and we did on some plays. We had people out of gaps but they did things a little bit different. They lined up against Clemson mostly one back and they played us with mostly two backs. So we were not prepared for what we saw. Then they've got an outstanding running back that...he's just like Warrick Dunn. We had three touchdowns scored against us; two of them on reverses and one of them on first down where we have two or three critical errors that should have been a three yard gain that turned into a 67-yard touchdown. Then we got out of our gap on the other touchdown run and they run a reverse on fourth-and-one. They executed the plays better than we executed the defense. There were a couple of times that some of the things that we saw that we put our kids in a bind. But the thing that you've got to do, you've got to learn from it. The thing that we were disappointed in was we didn't end up being a better football team Saturday than we were the Saturday before. That's how you measure progress with your team and we didn't make anything happen. We didn't force a single turnover, we didn't get a fumble, we didn't get an intercept, we only got one sack, didn't have a lot of negative yardage created, we didn't block any punts, we had four punt returns where we reached our objective of 10 yards per return but we had a fake punt where we just made a mistake and lined up wrong and helped them be successful with it. Anyway, we've got to do a better job with that ourselves from a coaching standpoint and a player standpoint. We weren't as good fundamentally as we have been, we weren't disciplined and I think we got to pressing. We had too many folks trying to stop the reverse when they were running right at us. We've just got to do a better job of being focused and staying disciplined. Our goal is not to give up too many long runs or passes for touchdowns. We can't let one mistake force you to make other mistakes. Maybe that's still part of the growing process that this defense has still got to go through. Thank goodness our offense was generated enough points that we were still able to win the football game. You know, in the second half we played our second and third team. In fact, we had some of our second teamers in there when they scored the first touchdown and then on a long pass. We still have got to keep pushing and learn to act like first teamers. Like I said, our third team was in there on that last drive – our entire third team secondary. But we'll grow; we'll get getting better hopefully.

Q: What positives do you take from the defense's performance?

A: We go out the first two series and it's three downs and out. And then first play of the third series, boom, we get out of position…we have two people over at the football that should have made the tackle. It's just critical mistakes that…then our pursuit angles weren't good. We get a blown play but there were some positive things in there, no doubt about it. It just kind of hurts your pride when you give up that many points, you give up a darn touchdown with 20 seconds left.

Q: How do you think Alex Boston played (in place of the injured Darrell Burston)?

A: He played well. He didn't grade as well but he had some...he was more physical and he had some nice plays in the game.

Q: What about the depth of the front line?

A: We still are not very deep. We end up having to play a little bit more 3-4 to try and rest them, the lineman. That doesn't help our ends when we do that and we are not real deep there either. Those kids that are hurt, they've got to get well some way.

Q: Do you have a better timeline on how long Burston will be out?

A: Randy's doctors have not told us when he will be back. Of course Willie (Jones) goes in there and he tries to play on third down and he struggles. We are just not very deep right there.

Q: What is the status of Trevor Ford and what happened?

A: I don't know yet. He went through one tackling drill (in warm-ups). I didn't see a lick hard enough to get anybody hurt but evidently it did. It didn't hurt the ball carrier and there was no pain involved that we are supposed to transition over there to the guy with the ball. It's a shoulder or a pinched nerve or something.

Q: What challenge does Virginia's offense present?

A: They've got a quarterback that runs like a running back. He makes a lot of yardage for them scrambling, running the football. You got them covered and he scares you to death running with the football when he gets out of the pocket scrambling. They've always been committed to the run, we go over there and play them one year and they are one of the top rushing teams in the conference and they only run the ball nine times the entire ballgame. We've got to be prepared to be sound against the run and be effective in their play action passing game, especially. They've got one receiver (Deyon Williams) that really looks like an outstanding player along with some other skill people - probably some good of skill people as they have had in awhile. The quarterback now is a year older and he's a very good player.

Q: Virginia is one of the more physical team and now they are facing a more desperate situation having lost twice, does the physicality of this game add anything to this week's preparations?

A: When you are committed to the run you've got to be physical. You think Wake Forest is about finesse because they are an option, misdirection type team but what they are trying to do is create angle blocks, create blocking schemes that protect your lineman. (Wake Forest) kids play as hard as anybody you play against and we will see the same type of effort out of the team up there at Virginia so we better be prepared for a physical 60 minute fight.

Q: Virginia offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson missed last game but what do you think about him?

A: He's an outstanding player. If he plays, he plays and if he don't, he don't. Just like our players, if they can't play somebody's got to take their place. But no doubt about it, he's a very great player.

Q: After struggling defensively a bit against Wake Forest, how does that affect this Saturday's game?

A: We are 3-0 (in the conference) and control our own destiny. If we are not men enough to go up there and win this ballgame, we will be down 3-1. I think it's quite a challenge for our guys to come back and try to redeem ourselves a little bit after that performance. They know we are better than the way we played last week and hopefully we can get it corrected because we are going to facing a real fight for 60 minutes.

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