Q. With changes that LSU has had to make on the offensive line, what do you see that is different from earlier in the year?
WM: "It all starts with their physicality and obviously they have taken on the personality of Les. He's an old offensive lineman and coach and that is what they do well. Their zone tracks are really good. They climb on the second level.
They play with a physical mindset. Our guys understand the mindset you have to have for 60 minutes against these guys. They run the ball well for a reason and they run it against everyone.
"They do a nice job in the run game. Obviously they have had injuries and moved some guys around. They also have experience up front from the stand point of guys taking a bunch of snaps. You look at #68 and he's moved around and played different spots. Hurst has [played different spots. Williford has played different spots. They have guys that are pretty interchangeable.
Q. What do you see about the defense that has impressed you?
WM: "Physicality and speed. That front is impressive. John and Les have done a great job of recruiting and they do a great job of developing.
It doesn't matter who, they all can run. You have to maintain blocks and they don't stay blocked long. They do a really nice job of running and finishing plays, rushing with four guys, and creating a lot of issues because of their athleticism."
Q. Can you see any rules changing or anything coming from the offensive explosions we have seen in college football lately?
WM: "Everybody is playing at a much faster pace, so everyone is getting more snaps in the game. Hardly anyone huddles anymore. People are playing at a much faster tempo which creates fatigue for the defense. That creates poor angles to the ball which effects how you tackle. It affects your eye control which creates bigger plays for the offenses so you are seeing more explosive plays. When you are playing an extra 16-18 snaps in a game… that's a lot. That is a bunch of snaps, like an extra quarter. When you play that many snaps you have more opportunities for the offense to score.
"The flip side to that is when your offense is going fast, the offense is getting more, so both defenses are getting worn out and playing a bunch of snaps in a game. That is why you need depth and have to be able to play man-to-man against some of these spread teams because they create so many one-on-one's in space. When you play zone and don't pattern match and play man-to-0man they can make some explosive plays on you.
"It was a bit of an eye opener going form the SEC to the Big-12 over at Texas, because those are some different offenses over there."
Q. Tackling in college seems to be down this year. How much time do you spend practicing the art of tackling?
WM: "We tackle every day. You can't be a good defensive football team and not be able to tackle and learn how to leverage the ball. Now, we may not take a guy to the ground, but we do what we call ‘thud' tackling. We bring our feet on the tackle and talk about a profile tackle, a head up tackle, the different types of tackling and how you leverage the ball. It is something we do every day.
"We've been a pretty decent tackling team and a lot of places I have been its because we've had good players.
"You have to want to tackle. You have to want to stick your face in there. That is a little bit of the issue sometimes. Now with so much of the perimeter game you are seeing, some guys on the perimeter aren't as willing to tackle as much as others are.
"I do think the fatigue of defenses because of the temp of the offenses has certainly created some issues. Whether it is leveraging the ball or not putting yourself into position to make the play."
Q. If Jelani can only give 20-30 snaps, what sort of specialization will you choose to him?
WM: "We will determine that through the week, but he will be able to play in all situations. If he can play, he can play and that means he can play on 1st and 10 and he can play on third down. As we move forward that is the way I would see it."
Q. You talked this summer and fall about practicing more physical, did that have something to do with the LSU game last year? What did you take from the LSU game last year?
WM: "Not just the LSU game, the entire season. We weren't physical enough on the line of scrimmage to compete and play in this league. Our depth was part of the issue because of the way we practiced. "We were in training camp last year and we had eight or nine offensive linemen available for camp and we couldn't even roll two groups in there some days. We had to be careful… if you get another couple down and you are down to seven. "At the end of the day we didn't practice the way we wanted to practice. As we went through the season my realization of where we were sort of came to a head. We weren't physical enough on either side of the line of scrimmage. "We didn't have enough depth on defense. Late in games we were unable to stop the run against good teams because of our lack of depth. We have guys playing 75 and 80 snaps in a game. All those things combined have changed the way we have practiced. You can't talk about playing physical you have to practice physical. "The lessons you learn in games when you play teams like LSU in our league, our players now see it. They understand why we practice the way we practice. We go good on good every day. I just believe that is what you do whether it is a team period or pod setting where you have certain people working against each other. In order to improve you can't go scout teams all day… we don't do that."
Q. What are your impressions of Zach Mettenberger, especially in regard to poise and how he runs the team?
WM: "The first thing that comes out on tape is arm talent. He can make all the throws. He can zip it and put touch on it. He is big time arm talent. Going into his sixth game and in the division one level of playing in the SEC, that is difficult. He is 5-0 and that is really hard. I think he has accomplished what he really wants to accomplish."
Q. What impact dopes this big game have on recruiting?
WM: "I've never felt like one game impacts recruiting at all. It is over the test of time and recruiting is about relationships with people and building trust with people. One game will not determine hopefully where a young man goes. If one game determines where one man goes, I don't know if you want him o your roster."