"I was afraid that the other team was going to get the momentum back, and we'd have the very same thing that we had in the first two ballgames. I really didn't think there was a time to take him out until we finally did."
Pleased to use Fabian instead of McPherson?
"I don't believe A. D.'s ready to play. We talked about putting him in the other night, but I don't believe he feels good on his ankle. We just decided that we might try to put in for a medical hardship on A. D. if he can't play."
Do you think he made better decisions, or was the Maryland scheme easier than UVa?
"The scheme was not easier. In fact, they kept us confused a little bit with some things we hadn't seen. After last year, when he threw five touchdown passes, they decided to present more problems to him, so they gave him some looks he hadn't seen. One reason we missed a lot of points the other night, we were calling one defense something else. I thought he did play better. He's still got a lot to learn, but he can still play better."
Do you think you'll have problems keeping your team focused after a big statement like this?
"The kids seem upbeat. I think it's like anything else. You take the errors out of there, and they played pretty doggone good. How long has it been since we've had six turnovers? Pretty dadgum long. I think we did some good things. I talked to them after the ballgame about it. We won the ballgame, that's the most important thing. Let's try to stay focused. I don't want them moping and holding their heads down after we win, but we've got a lot of room for improvement."
Can you talk about the backup QB situation?
"We felt like potentially, A. D. is our second-best quarterback. But there were times in practice where he couldn't perform. Then the other night, he didn't feel like he could. He's the one who's got to make the judgment on that ankle. We can't can't judge that for him. You get into the fifth ballgame, you have no choice (no player who plays after the fifth game of the season can apply for a medical hardship redshirt). It's getting pretty close. I think Fabian Walker is our backup guy, especially after he threw the way he did the other night. He stepped up there and threw a pretty darned good pass. When Fabian was here two years ago, he threw the ball as good as any quarterback we've had over here. He comes back this year -- of course he had a layoff last year -- he comes back this fall and he's been erratic. Out there in practice, I'll watch him hit one, miss one, hit one, miss one, when he should be hitting them all. If he can ever get his consistency back, he might be the guy anyway?"
How much of his erratic play has been due to his shoulder injury?
"That's true. He had some problems with his shoulder. I thought I saw him getting better last week. Depth's not our problem."
Your offense has sputtered at times. How much of a concern is that?
"You'd like for it not to sputter. I don't know of anybody's that doesn't. That's kind of a common trait for an offense to sputter. You don't play 60 minutes of perfect football. The third quarter -- I don't know if we ever had the ball. When we got it, they kicked off to us, and we made some yardage and came up with fourth down and one. If we were on their end of the field, we might have gone for it, but we're on our end of the field and we've got a 30-point lead, so let's not gamble on it. We only had the ball three plays. The next time we got it, I'm not sure what we did with it. But I know this -- the next time we got it, there were only about four or five minutes left it the quarter. We didn't have our offense in there very much. The sputtering part I don't like, but I imagine if you watched Georgia, or Florida, or Miami, or anyone yesterday, you'd see some sputtering."
How much of your inconsitency on defense has to do with the frequent substitutions?
"That is something that we have to really keep our eye on. I told the coaches last week that they had to be careful on their substituting, so they weren't losing continuity. In other words, if you get 11 guys in there and they're playing pretty good together, and the chemistry's just right, and then all of a sudden you take four of them out and put four other guys in there -- maybe they lose that chemistry. I don't know how much effect that would have. I'll meet with the staff tomorrow, and when they talk about what they saw on the film, we'll look and see if it's a problem."
What did you see from your offensive line last night?
"They played good last night. They played better than I thought, when I went back and looked at the film. This is a very tough defense against the run, is Maryland. I don't know if anybody has two better linebackers than #32 and #42 (Leon Joe and E. J. Henderson), because they made tackle after tackle. They've got a couple of tackles that are young and are going to be outstanding, I really believe. They've been very tough against the run. They had not given up a running touchdown all year, until they played us. We got a couple, but we had to work for it. Notre Dame didn't get one against 'em, and the next team they played (Akron) didn't get one either. So at least we knocked in a couple, and we had a 100-yard rusher, and without penalties we'd have probably had a couple hundred yards rushing. It's not as bad as I thought it was last night. I was kind of upset after the game, because I thought we didn't block as good. But when I looked at the film, we blocked better than I thought."
If McPherson gets a medical hardship, does that prevent him from going right to basketball?
"He could play basketball, but I don't think he could play right now, not with that injury. If he can't play football, there ain't no way he can play basketball. In a month and a half or two months, he might be completely OK. The decision would have to be made before our sixth ballgame."
A quarter of the way through your season, are you about where you expected to be?
"I really do. I think we have improved every week. It hasn't been a big improvement. It has been an improvement, and that is the most important thing facing us right now. That's what's got to happen. We've got two games next week, two or three games until we play the University of Miami, which is the ultimate test. I think it would be vital that we improved every Saturday until we get there, or we won't win that game."
Maryland gave you a lot of one-on-one coverage Saturday, and you also ran the ball well. How tough is it going to be for opponents to game-plan for you the rest of the way?
"It's according to who you play. It's according to what kind of personnel they have, and all that. We're going to try to make it difficult on 'em, just like they're going to try to make it difficult on us. We'll try to mix the run with the pass. We're doing that a little better each week, and I hope that that can continue."
When you see all the upsets in college football, do you feel better about your team's performance?
"Yes, I do. I think any coach that got to this point and is 3-0 ought to be happy. Not satisfied -- he's got to make corrections, he's got to get better. To be here at 3-0 -- I look at Nebraska, they're not here 3-0, and I look at Iowa, they're not here 3-0, and I look at the team's we've played. Iowa State is playing pretty doggone good right now, and Virginia beat (South) Carolina pretty good, and Carolina nearly beats Georgia. I'm feeling better. This Maryland team has played Notre Dame and didn't give up a touchdown to Notre Dame, except on a punt return. I'm happy to be 3-0, and when I look around at the people who are getting upset -- Michigan, they loses, they're favored, Penn State won, and I think Nebraska was favored there. I'm happy to be where we are. Not satisfied, though."
Are you concerned that the injuries to Craphonso Thorpe and P. K. Sam and the slow recovery of Robert Morgan are hurting your depth?
"Right now, the two playing the best are Anquan and Talman. The first ballgame, you can't say that, because Talman dropped balls. The other night, he caught the ones he would have dropped in the Iowa State game. I would say #4 and #21 are our two most dangerous receivers. Robert Morgan should be right there with them. He had a key drop last night on a third-down play. We had too many drops last night. That upset me more than anything, where a kid had a ball and didn't fight for it. That happened time after time after time. Yet we had some that did fight for it and got it. We've got to improve in that area. I think (Craphonso) Thorpe is getting better, getting back to his old self. He has simply limped all year. I think now, for the first time, he's beginning not to limp."
Do you think that Chris Rix plays better when we gets a chance to go deep?
"You're exactly right. I think the hardest thing with him is breaking him of not wanting to throw everything deep. He's just not as sharp (on short routes) but he's got to get that package in his repertoire if he's going to be an effective quarterback. Virginia, they backed everybody up and he didn't complete nothing. He kept trying to throw it into that."
How do you train a quarterback out of that habit?
"You set up some drills and make him do it over and over and over until it becomes habit. You've got to do it so much that it becomes habit. Right now, he doesn't have that habit. You have to see it too, but I think that comes with practice over and over and over."
Your defense had three takeaways in the first half, and your offense scored three touchdowns off those chances. How pleased are you when both sides of the ball execute like that?
"That makes football victorious, there's no doubt about it. That's hard to do -- it don't occur a lot. In fact, it hadn't occurred like that for us all year, where the defense took the ball and the offense went down and scored. The only negative part of our scoring is that several times it had to be field goals. We kicked three field goals in the first half instead of scoring touchdowns. We've got to turn those into touchdowns if we're going to win the big ones."
The offense had some big plays Saturday. How important is it to keep those coming?
"Well, it's just according to how people play you. You play Virginia and they lay everybody back, won't let us have anything long. The other night (against Maryland) you play guys that want to challenge you a little bit more, and get up in your face. We do have some guys that can get by you, if they come up and challenge us like that. A lot of that is according to how people want to play you."
Can you talk about your preparation during a short week, with Lousville coming up on the Thursday after the Duke game?
"This week will be all Duke. We won't even think Louisville. We're afraid -- you get upset when you do things like that. All our attention this week will be on Duke. What will probably happen is, to make up for lost time, since you're playing on Thursday night -- of course, they've got the same problem we've got -- when the game is over against Duke, istead of grading the film, we'll probably move immediately to Louisville."
Do you not mind the quick switch, as long is it's a non-conference game?
"It doesn't make a difference to us. Whoever you play, whether it's conference or non-conference, we would still give it the same amount of attention and practice."
Will you have a good idea how good this team is by the time you start getting ready to play Louisville, Clemson, Miami, and Notre Dame in the next few weeks?
"I think we'll find something out every week. I think we can see improvement if it's coming. I could sure see it last week. We could see some more next week, and the next week. A lot of that's determined by the strength of the team you're playing. I'm sure against Duke, we'll be heavily favored, but I think we'll be able to tell if we're gaining any ground. It might not be as significant as this past week or the week before, but I think we can tell."
Are you worried that your defense will have a sense of false confidence after picking off Scott McBrien four times?
"I think we needed that. I think we needed confidence more than false confidence. I think that the four interceptions, no matter how the other team executed, was pretty meaningful for us, because we haven't had any success in that line. I think you need to have some success. I don't think it'll mislead us."
Why do you think Talman has had such a slow start?
"The first ballgame, he had opportunities to make the very same plays he made last night. The ball's in your chest, you're being pursued, bring it down. He didn't bring it down twice against Iowa State. Last night he brought it down and didn't fumble. The second ballgame (against Virginia) I don't think he got as many opportunities. It doesn't seem like we found him that much. That's a typical receiver. Sometimes you'll have those games that aren't as good as you would like. I think he's fine if he settles down."
Do you think that Chris Rix has the kind of connection with Anquan that Chris Weinke had with Peter Warrick and later with Snoop Minnis?
"If he doesn't, I'd like for him to. I stressed all week last week to the coaches -- that #4 is catching the ball better than anybody out there. Get the ball to him. We talked about that. Thank goodness we did get it to him."
How surprised were you by Penn State's domination of Nebraska?
"I saw the final score, and I can't hardly picture anybody beating Nebraska like that. It just don't happen, although Miami did it last year in the Rose Bowl. You rarely see that, and it's very impressive. Last year, when Miami opened the season against Penn State at Penn State and had 'em 30-something points early -- that was impressive. Penn State beating Nebraska like they did -- that's impressive. Joe (Paterno) is not going to go away. Joe is too sharp."
What have you learned about your pass defense the last couple of games?
"The thing I've learned, no doubt about it, is that if they don't get some pressure on that passer, it's inadequate. That's like anybody else's, I guess. If you're not going to put pressure on the passer, a great passer with somebody that can catch the ball will complete passes. I thought last night, a lot of our success -- probably most of it -- came because of pressure on the quarterback."
Fabian Walker's one throw Saturday was a beauty. Did what you saw in that play make you feel better about possibly redshirting McPherson and going with Fabian behind Rix?
"If he can throw like he threw two years ago, he can be an effective quarterback. He's come back this year, since he's been eligible, and he hasn't thrown like that, although he's had good days. He's had good days and poor days. I'm glad he was successful on that one pass he threw, because I really think he just needs some confidence in himself. He's been out so long that I'm sure he's lost a little confidence. I was so glad to see him throw that ball -- a perfect strike -- the other night. He's really got some stuff. Something has disrupted his passing. When he was here two years ago, he threw so much better than he has lately. Last night was a good indication of how he's capable of throwing the ball. That one throw might be the one prod that he needed."
Could Rix have gone back into the game if you really needed him?
"I think so. I know he could have gone and handed off. He got hit on the elbow. When he fired that ball, his elbow hit a guy's helmet or something, and hurt his elbow. I had the feeling after he came off that he could have gone back in. Whether he'd have been effective throwing I don't know. He said he'll be ready Monday. That's the last thing he told me."