MDog: What will you do this spring to prepare a very inexperienced team start the season on a winning note?
DD: We are more talented than in the past two years and we have good depth for the 1st time since I've been here. It is a critical time for us to eliminate the mistakes and play with a better mental approach while playing tougher than in the past. In order to do this we will be working our #1 offense vs. our #1 defense at full speed this spring.
MDog: Coach, we have had big trouble with teams that run the option the last two years. Do you have any new ideas on how to shut them down?
DD: Yes, we have a new scheme and we will not show it until the spring. One of the things that has made it so hard to defend this option is they are spreading us out with a spread formation and then beating us with speed. Each year we are getting more speed and talent and this will also make a difference.
MDog: Will the offense be stronger this season?
DD: Yes, we will be stronger because of just one position, and that position being QB. We will be stronger than a year ago because we have some experience at the QB position. Last spring we went into a meeting and I looked up on the blackboard at the depth chart and suddenly a stark realization hit me, we don't even have 1 scholarship QB on this offense.
MDog: Will the defense be stronger this season?
DD: Yes it will be, and we are going to do it by putting a major emphasis on toughness drills. You will see 1 on 1 drills this spring and the #1 defense will be scrimmaging the #1 offense with tough hard hitting going on. One other factor to look at is we will have immediate help on the defense from this recruiting class.
MDog: How will you approach what will be a tough battle for the QB position this year?
DD: Carefully! Don't forget that Nick Eddy did a great job for us early in the season before the realization hit us that we were not a very good team. When this happens to a team it is hard to play with positive emotion. So, while the offense fell off toward the end of the season, there were reasons why. Here's the key to handling this position: "We do not want someone on the field early in the season that might lose a game for us that we should win." Then, later in the season, we want a player at the QB position that can maybe win a game for us that we would not have won in the past." In other words, Nick goes into the spring with the job to keep or lose.
MDog: Coach, give us a short list of the freshmen from this class that will be expected to step on the field in the first game of the year.
DD: R. Pope, W. Gaston, M. Bentley, L.C. Kirkpatrick, and C. McCullar.
MDog: How do you feel about our program at this time compared to other programs in the C-USA?
DD: We will surprise a lot of people in 2002. They understand that we might break out at any time and start winning. When we do it will surprise them and we will never look back.
MDog: On a scale of 1 to 10, please rate the following:
2002 Louisville Cardinals
2002 TCU Hornfrogs
2002 So. Miss Golden Eagles
2000 Coogs - 5
2001 Coogs - 2.5
2002 Coogs - 8
2002 Louisville 9
2002 TCU 7
2002 So Miss. 8
MDog: When Coogfans put up the billboard "Cougar Football-BELIEVE", what did it mean to you and to the team?
DD: It was very much appreciated and means a lot to all of us to know ya'll are behind us in trying times. We realize the fans out there cannot see the progress we are seeing in the program. So, support at this time is really important. We'll turn that corner soon.
MDog: Do you feel like this fall we will be in a position to play man on the corners and turn the safties loose to play bad boy "D"?
DD: We ran the blitz packages more than most fans realize, but the lack of experience and talent rendered most of our blitzes ineffective. We will look better on the blitz this fall, and yes we have good athletes at the corners.
MDog: Eric Wolford has been moved to DL coach and Theron Aych has been moved to RB coach. Are there any more coaching changes before spring training?
DD: Yes, Greg Cantilla, a graduate assistant, will be coaching the tight ends. Special teams will be co-ordinated by Eric Wolford and Theron Aych, Travis Pride, and F. Hernandez will all coach the special teams.
MDog:What would you like to say to the Coogfans today?
DD: Thanks for the inspiration of support you have given us during this transition period. We just want you to know we will get that one win this year and that will trigger the turn around.
Thanks for the interview Coach, it was certainly my pleasure. Good luck this spring and again this fall as we prepare for the 2002 season.