"I think the first thing, coming down here we got up early to practice, to get everybody acclimated to where they were. We had our first practice at Nova yesterday. I thought it was pretty good for a transition practice, going from back at home where we were practicing at Georgia Tech to here in Miami. Obviously, it was warmer, which is a lot nicer. I love it. I'm not a cold weather person. So we're getting ready. The kids are enjoying it. The hospitality, the atmosphere, everything here has been great, and we're enjoying it. We're going to have a good time, but knowing that we're here for a reason, and that is for the game Tuesday."
What are your impressions of Iowa offensively and defensively?
"Well, I can't say much about them offensively. We've, you know, studied more defensively because that's what we look at. They are well-coached. They're very talented. You know, those kids understand where they fit and what they're supposed to do in their defense. I think they do a great job. Those coaches do a great job, and they're talented. I told somebody earlier today, you don't get here without being talented. To get to a BCS game you've got to be a good football team, have good players and be well-coached. And I think they hit all of those."
Talk about Nesbitt a little bit, and his ability to break tackles and the kind of athlete he is?
"You know, Josh has had a heck of a transformation in this offense, really. When we first came he had never taken a snap under center in his playing career. He had had never taken a three-step drop, a five-step drop, much less read the option and do the kind of things we're going to ask him to do. I think last year was a learning experience, and I think he's had a big transformation in learning what his role was in this offense. He is physically as impressive as you'll see. He works extremely hard in the weight room in the off-season. What it's done is now that he understands his role in this offense; he's become a very, very tough runner; hard to tackle. He is very, very strong. But I think the two words to describe Josh to me, he is a competitor, and he is tough. Those are the two words as far as -- and he's learned his role in this offense. When we've needed things to happen, he's kind of stepped up and said, all right. It's time to go. It's time to get it done."
At Georgia Tech you guys can recruit athletes to run in just about any system, I would think. Why run this offense with that caliber of athlete?
"Well, that's what Coach Johnson was hired to do. That's why they hired him. He's won everywhere he's been. You know, I think that's the bottom line, he's won. You look at his track record; everywhere he's been he's won. His offensive coordinator, head coach, doesn't matter, he's won. I guess Dan Radakovich and administration, and everybody at Georgia Tech, felt like that was the direction to go. That is a big part of who Coach Johnson is, and that is a big part of who I am as well. I've been with him for 13 years now. That is the decision he made and that's what we do. Everybody asks about the offense. It's about execution, knowing what you do, and how to fix it. There are a lot of different ways to skin a cat. This is the way we do it. If you've got good players and you know how to execute, you know how to fix problems, in the course of the game and I mean fix them in a hurry, then I think you have a chance to be successful. This is just our way of getting it done."
Every coach in America wants to run the ball. They talk about that every game and before every season. What makes your system unique in that you can do it and do it well?
"Well, it's kind of our belief system. I mean, everybody -- I agree with what you said, everybody says they want to run the ball, but everybody doesn't have the patience to do it, and we do. That's kind of who we are. But I think sometimes that's a little more of we say we want to run it, but we may run it for six or on seven yards and we've got to throw it, because that was the next play on the script or that's the next thing on the agenda. Whereas, that's what we do; we run the football. There is a little bit of perception out there that we don't throw it of the you turn around and look at our receiver and his yards per catch, and the quarterback has had close to 1700 yards throwing the ball. You know, so we do both. But we're going to live and die by running the football."
Can you talk about the challenges that Iowa's defensive line presents to the offense?
"Well, they're awfully good. They do a great job of playing with their hands. They're physical, they know what they're supposed to be in their defense, which I think is important. You know, we've faced some good D-lines this year in our league. These guys are going to be right up there, if not better than some of the better D-lines we've faced this year. And it's going to be a challenge. We're going to have to play at our best. We're going to have to execute. It's going to come down to we've got to block well inside. We've got to block well on the perimeter, and we've got to give these guys the guy with the ball -- when they've got the ball in their hands to find the crease and make some plays. But they're good; we'll have to play our best."
Norm Parker was in here and he was giving us a little bit of a diagram with the water bottle and the orange juice about how you guys run an offense. They said you guys will often just leave the defensive end completely unblocked. Is there a certain vulnerability to that? Does that make you nervous?
"No, that's what we do. Really, in the triple option, it's kind of the neat thing about it; we don't have to block them all. We're going to read them. If that defensive end takes the fullback, then we're going to pull the ball. If he doesn't take the fullback, we're going to hand the ball off. I think that's the kind of neat thing about it is we don't have to block everybody. We're going to read them. We use the quarterback, the fullback, and the pitch guy. We're going to use a couple of guys that we'll work off of whether to hand the ball to the fullback, whether the quarterback keeps it or we pitch the ball."
"I think it's great. I'm Navy's number one fan; I'll tell you that right now. I spent six years there. Lot of good friends. Lot of guys I recruited played yesterday. I'm happy for them. I mean, I'm glad Air Force does well. Navy and Air Force are kind of a rival when we were there. So I don't think much about that. I think it's great. I'm all for it."
If you could play devil's advocate, what is that defensive end supposed to do? What should the defensive end that you're leaving unblocked do against your offense?
"That's up to Coach Parker how they decide they want to play us (smiling). I mean, people defend us in different ways. You know other people do different things against us. Every team's a little bit different in how they attack us. I mean, Iowa's a four-man front, and they're going to be a four-man front. They have four guys in the secondary. These guys are well-coached. They're going to do what they do. They have a little bit, one guy may be here and move over a little bit different, but they're going to do what they do and it just depends on how they want to defend them, and that's up to their defensive coaches and how they want to handle them. And they'll have to figure out when they he get out there."
You guys rushed for 95 yards against Miami. I know they had a long time to prepare, even though it was the second game. What did they do that other teams haven't seemed to be able to do?
"You know, they didn't do anything different than a lot of the teams how they played against us. We didn't play well. And truthfully, that is the bottom line. That was our third game in 12 days, which had an impact on it. And I'll say this: Miami played as good as you can play that night. They were ready to play. They played well. We did not. I don't think it was anything schematically, because, truthfully, they lined up the same way the majority of the teams we played this year lined up the same way and did pretty much the exact same thing."
I think Jonathan Dwyer might have been injured?
"He got dinged up early in the game, he did."
Might have a have an effect?
"I think that might have had an effect. But truthfully, we just didn't play well. We weren't prepared. We take it, coaches, players, we just didn't play well."
Can you just say a few words about Jonathan Dwyer and what makes this kid so special? He just seems to run over everybody?
"He's gifted. I don't care if it's our offense or any offense. He is gifted. He is fast. His lower body strength is -- I mean, he can run through people. He can run over people. And he can also make people miss, and he can outrun them. He's just gifted. It wouldn't matter where you put him, he's a gifted athlete. He's got the ability to make plays at any time."
I know this is a defensive guy, but Derrick Morgan, I mean, what makes him special?
"I think I would say the same things about Derrick that I say about Jon. He's just athletically he is gifted. He can run, but he plays with a great motor. I mean, he is constantly -- I'm not over there all the time. But there's times when I'm watching our defense a little bit, and he plays with a great motor. I mean, he's talented."