Do you like the situation you are in concerning your running game?
"Yeah, doesn't that mean the world? It really does. I guess that's the most encouraging thing about the whole thing. We talk about improvement between the first game and second, I think you would probably have to say, well, Florida State improved a quarter. We played three quarters instead of two. We still didn't play four. We played three and that's an improvement. We are headed in the right direction. I think the direction you are going in is probably the most important thing you do anyway. We played a lot of guys. The running game that was so unlike us. But mighty encouraging."
Two years ago I think we were asking you why your team couldn't run the ball. It has turned out completely.
"Again, you have to realize this. Both teams (Iowa State and Virginia) chose to play us, give you the run and not let you have the pass. That's the way both of them chose to play us. How do you tell that? Because they back their safeties way back. Every time we went deep, they interecpted. Just about. That's the way they are going to play us. We are not going to give Florida State anything cheap. They ain't going to get nothing cheap. They will try to get that eighth man up there to stop the run ocassionally. You don't know when that's coming. Once they get eight up there, it's mighty hard to run. Thank goodness we have been able to take advantage of the people who don't bring that defensive back up there to stop the run. Next week we're liable to play a team that refuses to let us run. The thing that it showed yesterday (Saturday) it looks like we have the ability to do both. Now, if you couldn't run you're in trouble."
While your offensive line has had changes, it has been able to keep it together.
"We took Brett Williams, moved him to tight tackle. Then we moved Alex Barron (to split tackle). Remember if Barron had not broken his hand three days before the Florida game last year, he would have started that game. This ballclub you would say is a year away, except for the offensive line. You got all your receivers back nearly, you got all your quarterbacks back, all your runners backs, all your fullbacks back, all your linebackers back, all your secondary back, all your. .. you have most of them coming back if they stay in school. Except you lose your offensive line. The people we have backing up are freshmen. They are good players, they are just going to be inexperienced there. I hope we can get them more work. We put them in there the other night and we fumbled right off the bat. They could have used that back."
Your depth at tailback must be a good problem.
"Three is what you are going to play with. If you get the others in, it's just a bonus for them. Leon Washington, he is such a good specialty player, that we felt we needed to go ahead and play him. He can help our team, whether he lines up at tailback ever. He can help us. He's a good punt returner, a good kickoff returner, he's good going down under kickoffs, good under punts. He really helps our special team. To show our depth at tailback, you redshirt the kid who won the Heisman in high school last year in (Lorenzo) Booker. We can afford to redshirt him. I am sure glad he was interested in that. We could play him this year, but I nearly felt like we were wasting him. In fact, I nearly wish (Thomas) Clayton would have stayed out. But we sign these boys and tell them look, if you want to play the first year we will let you. Sometimes that's all they can undestand at that age. We talk to them about this is what would happen if you don't play. This is what happen if you redshirt. Clayton wanted to play so we played him."
Talk about Adrian McPherson. He said after the game last night that he would still like to sit out (medical hardship).
"If he keeps having problems with ankles or knees, where he can't practice and stuff like that, we would consider that. But it would have to be injury-related because he's already played. Fabian (Walker) has struggled. Fabian could have been the answer there. But so far he's struggled. He's come up with a little shoulder problem. I don't know how that has affected his throwing but he's not throwing as good as he did two years ago when he was here. He's just simply not throwing as good as he was two years ago. Maybe that will come around. If he don't, then A.D. has got to play."
Why do you think teams are just rushing three linemen and dropping back so many in pass coverage against you?
"I think it's to stop the long play. Try to stop the long play. Look at us against Iowa State. Three bombs and that wouldn't have been a ballgame. They catch two behind us and get a long run. That's what blows games open. The quarterback at Iowa State (Seneca Wallace), he completed 20 in front of us and two behind us. Them 20 didn't hurt us. Those two behind us hurt. So, a lot of defensive philosophies are don't give up the big play. Make them go the hard way. They will fumble. They will make mistakes. They will throw an interception. That's what they are playing."
Were you surprised that Virginia stuck with that plan even though (Greg) Jones rushed for so many yards early?
"Sometimes they didn't. He made a couple of runs against blitzes. The thing about blitzes if you ever split it, it goes big. There's nobody downfield to tackle."
Both games you have let a lot of points out on the field.
"We sure did. We left two inside the four, I believe. The worst you come out of there is with three. But we fumbled."
Who do you like in the Florida-Miami game?
"Gosh, I don't know. That's what is so tough about this Florida league. Those two teams might be the best two teams in the country. Right off the bat, they are playing each other. That's going to be a heckuva game. I am glad they are. I think it's one of the great rivalries that needed to be done. I've always felt like it was kind of unfair for them not to play. We are playing both of them and both are so tough. Just think what Florida State's record would have been the last 25 years if we didn't play Florida or Miami. I don't know what it would be but I would take my chances."
Do you think Florida playing at home has the advantage?
"I think Florida playing at home is an advantage. I think Miami, with the success they have had the last two years, will help nullify that. But they will have to be ready for crowd noise and all that stuff that you normally don't face. I was amazed at Miami that they played as good as they played after losing all the kids they lost. It looks like they reloaded. Of course, Florida is Florida. They've always had good players. (Ron) Zook liable to be in the NFL in about three years. Don't tell Steve I said that. Hurt his feelings."
Why do you think Virignia opted to stop the pass especially after seeing Jones last season?
"I think they probably didn't believe what they saw. I think people who scout us will change their thinking. The defense Maryland will use. ... it's kind of like this. Who do you want to take a chance on? Greg Jones are Chris Rix and those receivers? Chose which one you want to defend. So now it's gets into a guessing game. We think the run is coming, we will get them up there. If we think the pass is coming, we get them back. Football is now a down and distance game. First down is so important. If it's second-and-long, you play pass. If it's second-and-short, you play run. That's why first down is so big. That's why nearly everyone gets everybody up there on first down and try to make you have second-and-long. Then they don't care if you run it. They will play back there to stop that long play. They will give you four yards."
Do you think teams have said, well, Florida State is not a running team. They don't have the patience to run.
"If they study history that's exactly what they think. If you watch us down through the years, that's exaclty what you think. You are 72, you get more patient (laughing). You all don't know that yet."
The game has evolved tremendously towards the passing game during your career.
"I called one play yesterday and it was intercepted. I called that first long bomb, it was intercepted. Our plan was to come out throwing. But then it was very obvious they were going to play deep. They ain't going to give you nothing. Then we started running. Thank goodness we were able to run."
Do you feel it's impossible to please all fans?
"I think that's true universal. What's the matter with their passing game? Oh, what in the world has happend to their passing game? Bowden has completely ignored the passing game? Has he gone crazy? He has started running the ball. You can't please people (laughing). That's just the way it is.Why did they do this? Why didn't they do that?"
It appeared Chris Rix was a little too willing to run. What else can you do to get the point across that you want him to stay in the pocket?
"If he doesn't look at the film and see it, then we're helpless. In other words, we will show him that film. Look, you ran here and look this guy is wide open. You know he was your third guy. He's got to learn. He's still learning. It's something that Daryl Dickey has really talked about and worked. He's got to learn to run at the right time. There's a time to run, there's a time not to run. I think probably yesteday, our offensive line did such a good job of keeping people off of him that he had all day long to sit back there and decide what to do. And they were covering, did a pretty good job of covering, which gave him a lot of opportunities to get out of there. Now he's got to learn that when he gets out of there, find out where people are. When they come to tackle him somebody will get open. I think he will learn that. That's the thing that (Danny) Wuerfell did so great, starting to run the ball and dumping it off to somebody quickly. He's got to learn that and he will learn it."
It seemed like the tailback was open on virtually every play.
"I've always said, you get a quarterback his first year in college. Okay, he learns to find the No. 1 receiver. No problem. Sophomore year he learns to find if he ain't thre, hit him. He's getting smarter. Third year he's finding out if he's not there and he's not there, hit him. Then the fourth year he finally learns him, him, him, and him. That's kind of the progress that Weinke went through, Charlie (Ward) went through, all of our quarterbacks. He hasn't learned all of his progresions yet. He's learned it but he hasn't learned how to do it yet. Once he gets that, he will have the whole package. He's not multi-dimensional at this time."
It looks like sliding is unnatural to him.
"I think he slid last night at the right times. The first game he didn't and he got back knoced back one time. He will learn it. We want him to run and get on the ground in traffic. If you are close to the sidelines, get out of bounds. He did better last night then he did the first ballgame. He made some beautiful runs. You hate to tell a guy not to run. But you have to know when to run."
Did you get a chance to see any of the Maryland-Notre Dame game?
"Last night when I went home I saw some of the highlights of it. That was amazing. I thought Maryland would win it. I watched about a half of it (Georgia-Clemson). It would have been a great win if he (Tommy Bowden) could have got it, up in Athens. If it's played in Clemson, he might have had the opposite thing happen. I thought he made a good enough showing that he could feel good about his team. I thought his kids hung in there and fought and if they keep it up, they will get their share."
The ACC hasn't exactly had the start it had hoped for?
"I felt like North Carolina might have to struggle for awhile. They lost some mighty good football players last year. Last year when we couldn't run against them, they had two first-round draft choices on their first four, that ain't bad, is it? Kind of like when we had Reinard Wilson and (Peter) Boulware."
Warrick Dunn and Peter Boulware spoke to your team before the game.
"I knew Warrick was there. I saw Pete on the sidelines and I went over to them before the game and asked them if they would come in and speak to the team. They did. Did a good job. (They talked about) they had a lot of confidence in them. Wanted them to get the success back they've had in the past."
Talk about Nick Maddox.
"Last spring when I talked to our coaches about them (Greg Jones and Nick Maddox), I said let's not list a first-team tailback. Let's list Nick and Greg as our first-team tailbacks. One of them has got something the other one don't have and the other one has something the other one don't have. So, together they give us exactly what we need. Last night was a pretty good indication of that. We've always got a chance to have fresh legs in there at tailback. I am not scared to play any one of those three tailbacks. I am come off the field. I am happy we won. That's No. 1, that overcomes everything else. Second thing is, something went wrong. Then I go in and see we have 13 penalties. Oh yeah, that's what it was. Everytime we knocked out a big run, 10-yard penalty. First-down and 20. That's awful. Nick had a couple of great runs nullified. That was my biggest, whatever was making me mad. The second thing was the turnovers, especially in the red zone. I will tell you about Virginia. I watched the film and they intercepted passes in the red zone against everybody."
Nick doesn't seem to be one that complains.
"Great kid. Kind of kid you want. A team player all the way. Wants to do want he can do to help the team win. Not a glory seeker, though he was the best back in North Carolina his last year. That's just Nick. He's got all those things you are looking for. He came in there and gave us quick strikes. Very effective. It just seemed like the penalties nullified most of it."
Virginia coach Al Groh probably gave your offensive line its greatest compliment when he said he stood on the sidelines on a lot of Sundays when he didn't see a line as good as Florida State's line.
"Boy, I hope he's right. That's mighty big stuff there. It's really nearly too early to declare that (best line in FSU history). The tendancy is not bad right now. I hope they can continue to do that. I always felt like if they got their hat on the right guy, they've got a chance to block them. Defenses nowadays slant. This team (Virginia) was not a stunting team. Iowa State was more of a stunting defense. What that does is makes you miss blocks. We will begin to see that more down the road."
When Greg Jones first came here as a freshman, what went through your mind when you saw him play for the first time?
"This nearly went through my mind. I used to talk to Bill (Sexton, running backs coach) and Bill, guess you can ever convince him to play fullback? He looks the ideal fullback. He would be a great fullback. But we thought he had enough tailback potential that he could be a super tailback one of these days if he could develop his running. That's what has happened to him. When he first came here all he knew what to do was put his shoulders down, and run through the whole and if anybody was there hit him. In high school he probably could get by with that and just keep running. In college, they'd love you for you to try to run over them. What he's doing, he's beginning to learn to make moves. That's very obvious. He's had two good games. In my opinion, if he even considered about coming out (NFL) this year he would be making a big mistake. Because it's all ahead of him. He's going to get better, better better, if he stays healthy. He's got good hands and you can imagine how good he can block. He would have been a heckuva linebacker.
Do you feel like you have made improvements from the two games?
"There's no doubt about it, we haven't proved anything yet. All we are doing is showing potential. Got better about a quarter's worth yesterday. We didn't play four quarters. We played three. We played two against Iowa State. We haven't proved a thing yet. I feel like we've made a lot of progress from one game to the next as a unit. To me, we have 13 games – 14 if we go to a bowl – which we've never had before, and somewhere along the line you have to have some instances of pace. Usually, you hope to have an open date to get some people healthy. Right now we don't have many guys hurt. I am going to use it as a time to rest and get ready for a long season. I am not going to go out there and beat them up. Not with 13 games. I think we got to keep them healthy and try to teach, teach, teach. We will have to get better. I don't think from what I saw of Miami and Florida that we can beat them yet. We will have to get better."