Opening statement: "In a losing effort, none of them are easy. But when it's one of your archrivals, it makes it doubly tough. You look at the game tape and see some good things – especially in the first half. We only gave up 79 yards and we gave up the score. I think the only third down they made in the first half, they converted third and 12 or 14. They did a good job of putting the ball between our zone and the guy makes a good pitch and catch and then they continue their drive. It was unfortunate that we get the field goal blocked because if we make it, it's 7-3 instead of 14-0. The defense always gets charged with any points that are scored and the offense gets credit if you score points for them. But there is no telling how much that turned the game around. It's a whole lot different when you're battling 7-3 than 14-0.
"Like I said, we did some good things. We created two turnovers in the first half and gave up one touchdown. We created some positive field position for our offense and that's what you try to do in a game like that is gain field position. Then we go out in the second half and got no turnovers and gave up 20 points. Twice we had them stopped on third-and-nine and third-and-ten and we had a penalty after the ball was incomplete, the play was over, we're off the field. We got a couple guys playing hard, trying to make something happen. We've got to do something to help your team and it just wasn't really a good decision. We've just got to pull up off those situations. You know, both of them were close. Still, you've got to play smart. But we only gave up a field goal on each one of those. Though it was a critical mistake, we ended up only giving up three on each one. Then when we get down there in the second half, we went out on the field two or three times in bad field position after turnovers. We go out on the 15-yard line, thinking they are fixing to play power ball and you don't help your corners out on the play and we get beat on a double cut – one of our freshmen gets beat on a double cut. That's a nice play on their part. It's one of those things; you'd like to learn those lessons in practice or in a scrimmage but it probably made a more lasting impression on how you play your technique on that route when it happens to you in a game. Unfortunately that's where it occurred. On the other one, we gave up a touchdown on a two-yard run. That's after another one of our freshmen gives up a 29-yard pass to set it up. We weren't lined up properly. Anyway, we don't get them stopped and we just weren't good enough in the redzone. The redzone defense…you make them kick field goals and that's two touchdowns they don't get right there. If we play great goal line defense and keep them out than there's another one. You give them credit; they called the plays and executed them.
"We gave up 284 yards, which was good compared to what they had been getting. They lost two ballgames gaining over 325 yards. They had one ballgame that they gained 326 yards and got three points. They get 284 yards and get 34 points, you know. Something don't measure up there. Anyways, they did it and made the plays. You give them credit. We've got to eliminate some of these mistakes, whether it be mental or physical, and come up with enough plays that we can finish a game off. We weren't nearly as effective the second half as we were the first half. We've got to a better job finishing than that."
Q: Your guys seemed to play hard the entire 60 minutes despite the game being out of reach at the end. Is that a sort of silver lining you take from this game because certainly Florida was trying to score until the very end?
A: "They played hard. That's a positive we can build off. We don't have a bunch of quitters here. We had some young guys out there at positions that we didn't have any depth at. We've just got to learn to play better technique and better fundamentals and we've got to help them a little better at times."
Q: Tony Carter mentioned that you told him on the sidelines after the game how proud of him you were….
A: "I didn't think Tony would play. He pulled a hip flexor out (at practice) Tuesday. We watched practice and wasn't even dressed out on Wednesday. Thursday we go out for our game plan rehearsal and he goes one play and can't even get out of a jog. So, I didn't even dream that Tony would play and other than that one play, he played a heck of a ballgame."
Q: What happened on the play early in the first quarter where the officials called a timeout for the defense? (The timeout was called for Andre Fluellen, who had his entire hand in a cast.)
A: "I guess we are going to have to teach our guys to do a trick to get their chin strap buttoned (motioning with one hand over his head) because we had a timeout called. They didn't see the guy rip his helmet off. Helmets don't just come off a defensive player. The official charges us with a timeout because he couldn't button his chin strap."
Q: We weren't sure what happened because he pointed to Fluellen but there was no explanation…
A: "I saw a game last week where they called timeout in an SEC game and the guy's shoe is off and they got an equipment timeout to let him get his shoe on. But you can't do it for a helmet with a kid that can't get it buckled? Anyway, I wish that was all I had to worry about."
Q: Kamerion Wimbley mentioned today that he is expecting to play this weekend. Is that what you are hearing and seeing?
A: "He made a lot of progress the last two weeks. He was on crutches to off them to jogging to working out a little bit. He would have played Saturday if we had let him. But he wasn't ready. Randy (Oravetz) and the doctors said he wasn't ready and if he's not ready Saturday he won't play Saturday. But, he's got a chance."
Q: And that obviously give you a playmaker you haven't had for two weeks….
A: "We didn't have him or Willie Jones. We had to put two linebackers there. (Willie) didn't dress out."
Q: Do you have any hope of Jones playing this Saturday?
A: "I don't know…he's been playing (with his bad hip) all year and I think that it just got to a point where it's just too much."
Q: Leon Washington said that he spoke to Sam McGrew and a few of the other seniors and they came to the decision that they would rather just go out in pads all this week because they realize how much they need the contact during the week. Is that something you can do?
A: "Well, Leon hasn't played for two or three weeks. It wouldn't have mattered if we had been in pads because we wouldn't have been practicing. The reason we haven't been in pads is because the guys that would have been working would be the scout team. We didn't have many guys that could have gotten work the last two weeks. It wasn't what we needed, it wasn't what we wanted, it's what we had to do."
Q: Is it going to be possible for you all to work in pads this week?
A: "Yeah, we can if we want to practice those kids that ain't going to play. We were unbelievably banged up going into the game and you play a physical game like that you aren't going to come out without adding to it. We will do what we can do. There ain't no doubt in my mind that one reason we're not where we were on the goal line at the beginning of the year is because we haven't practiced in five weeks. We haven't been able to get out in full pads and do it live. That's an attitude – you've got to practice that. Redzone, tackling, finishing blocks, getting off blocks…we will do what were able to do."
Q: What would you normally being doing at practice this time of year?
A: "We'd go out in pads Tuesdays in full gear in a heavy-work, full day, get-after-it drill where you sharpen your fundamentals."
Q: Have you ever had a stretch in your career here that you can remember the injury situation being this bad?
A: "I don't remember a time. Ever."
Q: Do you think that the struggles with injuries this year will only make the young guys that much better in the future because of all the valuable time they are getting?
A: "They should be better now. To go out and play the number of snaps they did on Saturday…you look out there and we only had four corners. One of them is a sophomore ( J.R. Bryant) that played a few snaps last year – probably more on nickel than anything else. Then the other three are freshmen. You loss (Antonio) Cromartie, you lose (Gerard) Ross. What Ross gave you was a big body that was mature. He was a fairly inexperienced player at that."
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