FOOTBALL: Coach Zook Q & A

Coach Zook answered a lot of questions today from the LSU game as well as looking ahead to the MTSU game. Read on to see where the team is at emotionally and how they're prepared for MTSU.

On Middle Tennessee State…

They have a high percentage passing game, that's what they do. I think our defense is excited, I really do.

On taking the day off today…

I made the plan a long time ago that we wouldn't practice today. It didn't matter who we were playing, if we won or lost. I think you just have to give the guys a little time. At times you just have to go with how you feel. If we are tired, then they are going to be tired

On Todd McCullough…

What happened with Todd was he missed 28 practices plus spring football, that ankle really set him back and took some time to get back to speed. I think he is finally back to speed.

When the team is down it seems like they always react…

Those guys will respond.

On being down…

Down I guess is if you lost your spouse or something like that. But, I haven't slept much or ate much since Saturday. If I didn't know we were on the right track (it would be worse). There are some things I am upset about. Things we have to get corrected and that is my responsibility. There have been things that came up before and there will always be problems. That is going to happen. You have to get it corrected, so what do you have to do? You put all your thought and time into those things to get them corrected.

How do you go through that and keep the team energized…

That's me. That is the way I am and what I believe in. Am I happy with the way everything is? Hell, no. I want the same things they want and I want it a hell of a lot more than they do (the fans). They don't have half of what I have invested in this.

The emotion, it hurts more that the games were this close and the Gators lost…

There are a lot of things that I can take solace in that I can't say. I am close to the situation and feel like I have a read of where we are at and where we are going. Going into the season I felt like we were going to be an improved football team and we are much improved, but we are still not where we need to be and what is expected. You could be two plays away from being ranked in the top 5….

I feel like we are 102 plays away. That's how you feel. The reality is what it is. It is the hand you are dealt and you play it. If I didn't know we were on the right track and close (it would be different). I know people are tired of hearing that. It isn't something where you flip a switch. We will get it fixed.

On the linebacker rotation for Saturday…

Obviously Channing and Jarvis won't play. It is a good time for Todd McCullough to come back. I feel like he is pretty close to where he needs to be. Once again he missed a lot of practice time. Brandon Siler is playing well. Javier isn't playing a lot, but he is playing enough where we feel like we can get a few plays out of him as well. Siler will more than likely start because of the way he is playing right now. You have Todd who can play inside and out. We are actually using him inside this week, particularly with the nickel and sub packages. There will be a lot of subs this game, because their offense is very similar to ours in terms of multiple receivers.

On the safety rotation…

Hot Tamale is getting better and doing a really nice job. Those two freshmen safeties, Tony (Joiner) and Kyle (Jackson), they are getting closer. They are going to need to play more too.

On blitzing more on Saturday…

It depends on who you ask. Some people say we blitzed enough, some say we didn't. I feel like you go into a game with what you feel like will give you the best chance at being successful. There were some things that we did and felt like we could get to them and sometimes we didn't get under some blocks. But, look at LSU for example, they didn't blitz us half as much as last year. They did a lot of 2 deep and 2-man under.

On Michael Hill and why it took so long to play him…

I just told him I liked the way he played. He is a guy that gives you another defensive lineman and a guy that will be a pretty good player. He was a player that didn't play last year; he had both shoulders operated on. He just had to get up to speed.

How does this compare to some of the low points…

Every loss is brutal. You don't even know how brutal they are. Once again, that is the expectation here. I told our guys that if you don't like it, get out of it. Our guys are looking forward to the challenge; the coaches are looking forward to the challenge. Let's go.

Are you glad to play this week?

Well, I probably am because every other time we had an open date, we were fortunate enough to win. So, it is nice to get that taste out of your mouth.

How confident are you in running the table?

I am not worried about that. I told the team we are going to worry about one team at a time. That is all I am worried about.

Has anyone called today to offer encouragement?

Yeah, a few people have called. I had one guy call and asked me how I was doing. I told him I was doing great and ready to go, he told me I was screwed up.

On the good job by the offensive line…

Those are things you don't see on the scoreboard, offensive line wise and scheme wise. Chris didn't play his best game. But he got us out of some bad plays, he switched protections. Mike Degory and those guys did a great job of picking up the blitzes. That point, we were way ahead. Last year we got sacked six times and won, I'd rather him get sacked six times and win. I know that is what Chris would say.

On Fason and his blocking ability...

He is becoming the all around back. I don't know if he is ever going to be the great knock the linebacker (guy). But he is picking up the right guy and keeping the guys from getting to the quarterback, and that's his job.

Are the expectations unrealistic?

They are what they are.

On OJ Small…

Rex (Grossman) called me Thursday night and said he was really happy for OJ. I told him before that he was going to be fine. I told him if you hang around long enough and get your opportunity, good things are going to happen. Those kind of guys are very important. You need to have all the older guys that you can.


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