FOOTBALL: In-depth Post Game Quotes from Zook

First of all I would like to thank everyone that was there (at the game). I know there are a lot of things going on around the state and we are blessed to be able to come into the swamp here and play in a great place and have all the people that were here. My prayers go out to all the people that have had problems and obviously we are praying this week that the next one makes a hard left.

Coach Zook's opening statements

There were a lot more good things than bad. A lot of times people get on certain things and say what about this and this. I think if you back and look at last week, I know it affected me. You get ready to play and then you can't play. Then you get ready to play and you can play. There is an emotional swing and these guys were looking forward to it. I was concerned about getting stale and I don't think we are, or did. But, that was a concern so we change some parts of practice, different orders and things like that.

The things I saw are all things that are easily corrected, particularly the things with the young guys.

On the negatives from the game?

Some of the things that happened were the little penalties that kept drives going. The things with Dee Webb, Dee Webb was right there, and he will make that play. Only one way to teach that and that's play. When we came back from the break, I saw into his eyes and he was fine. I think only giving up 80 yards in the second half, the coaches made the adjustments that we had to have. We also have to give Eastern Michigan some credit, they did a nice job. That quarterback is a nice quarterback. He's a winner, he gets some things done and he can throw well. He took some shots and kept on going. The running back had 1,500 yards last year and is a good running back. They did a nice job and made us be a little tentative. But I think once we got back out there in the second half we started to do the things that we had to do.

The strangeness of the whole season?

It is amazing how this group is different. They look at you like you're nuts when you want them to do some things, but they just do it. They do what you ask them to do. Because we don't have that indoor facility yet, we have had to stop practice and go in the garage or in the baseball stadium and walk through stuff and then go back out. From the very first day we told them that nothing goes right all the time in football. In fact, there are usually more things that go wrong. The team that can handle the adversity is the team that will play well through the year.

On the delay in the game

We treated it like a half time. Usually you know how long you are going to be and we didn't know how long, so we treated it like a half time. We went through some adjustments we had to make and then we let them relax a little bit

Was it vital to get one game in?

I don't think it makes any difference. Last year we played Miami in the second game and we played pretty well until the end there, so we just have to make our improvements that we need to make and go out and play. Absolutely. You've heard this a thousand times that a football team is going to make its most improvement between the first and second game.

Lessons learned in the game

You see guys under pressure. More importantly they learn how to handle themselves, they earn what to do. You can tell a guy how to prepare for a game until you are blue in the face but it has to come down to him learning how to do it.

The experienced guys for the most part played pretty well. The offensive line played extremely well. We made a lot of big plays, the safeties played well. I have to go back and look at the tape, but those guys, they are on a mission. They know that this was number one and next is number two and go from there.

On Mo Mitchell and what he means to the team…..

It's a big, big, big, body. I've said this a lot, and I love Mo. Sometime he has some issues, but he is a big guy. They always talk about being in a foxhole with somebody and I tell you he is one I would have there with me. If it came down to needing somebody, he is going to be there protecting me.

Is Ciatrck Fason going to be the featured back?

He did (get a bunch of carries), and that was the idea going in, He has had a great camp going in and I think he earned that. He earned that number of carries. We could have made it even, but it wasn't even in preparation this summer. Those other guys, I'm not upset with them, but a guy should get what he deserves and when a guy works as hard as C-4 has worked then he is going to be rewarded in the game. He also knows that if he does slack off a little bit, then he is not going to get as much time.

Were enough questions answered in this game?

I feel pretty good about the answers. I think our staff has a pretty good grasp of these guys. The biggest thing is, we played maybe six to seven true freshmen and gave them a chance to get a few snaps out there. Those are the questions, your younger guys. I think for the most part we have a good feel for what we are going to do. Probably the biggest question on defense was looking at the front four guys so we can see how they were going to play to get a chance to se where you are at there.

Offensively, what did we get from the game?

I think a lot of times in first games you get delay penalties and things like that. We are not where we will need to be obviously, and aren't supposed to be but the first group, you could see that they know where they are going and what they are supposed to do. They can go fast when we want to go fast and go slow when we want to go slow.

OJ Small, how good is he?

I expected OJ to start out the way he did. I told him yesterday that you will probably have six catches tomorrow and it was an arbitrary number, but I think he had six catches. I need to tell him he will have eight or nine next week. He's a good football player. He's a leader and he knows this is his senior year. I thought he did a good job last year and this is his last year and he has stepped it up

Any new injuries?

Just some bumps and bruises but nothing major. We are fortunate there.

How did Chris Leak play?

Did Chris have his best game? No. I'm not trying to make excuses for Chris, but somehow a kicking ball got in there on the ball he threw high and OJ fumbled. I don't care if it's a basketball in there, they have to throw it and they have to catch it, that's the way it is. Mike Degory said something to the officials about getting a real football in here. Sometimes that happens with the ball boys. I am excited about Chris Leak and the team is excited about Chris Leak and I think he is excited about this year.

Chad Jackson had a good game…

I've said it all along.. You have seen that in the fall and in the pre-season, those guys aren't thinking. They are letting their God given ability (take over). That was a heck of a catch down there near the end zone. He can go up there for it. Those are the things that we know they can do, now they just have to go out and do them. I think from that he will just keep climbing the ladder.


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