JS - Coach, you are embarking on your fourth season as head coach. In terms of reaching the goals that you had originally set for yourself and the team, where do you feel we are in terms of reaching those goals?
AB - Football goals have not changed – Earn respect and Win Championships – In our business you never fully reach your goals – I am encouraged by our academic success over the past few seasons. I also am aware of the respect our players have earned for the university in the past three seasons.
JS - If you could send a message back in time to yourself, knowing what you know now, what piece of advice would you send to Coach Briles who opened the 2003 season?
AB - I'm constantly charging myself with progress, so it is hard for me to imagine the 2003 season and my thought process – as is now I would say always trust yourself – your coaches and players – believe your instincts.
JS - Curious question, why do you always wear long sleeve shirts?
AB - Good question, I actually started coaching in long sleeves back in the mid-90's and just got comfortable with it – I don't wear a watch, so it's never a problem.
JS - With the coaching changes on the defense this year what are your expectations for a re-emergence of the mad dog defense?
AB - I'm very excited about the defensive side of the ball this year Coach Weddell - Coach Rizzo - Coach Thurmond - Coach Jennings and Coach Fitz are doing a great job of instilling pride and passion in our players, our emphasis as a team is
1. Strongest-Best Conditioned Team in the Nation
2. Tough-Physical Defense
3. Flawless Special Teams
4. Consistent Offense
JS - When we went to Norman, you were quoted as saying, "This team is hungry, and we are ready to eat." This is one of our fans favorite quotes and I am curious to know if your quotes are improvised or planned?
AB - I never really anticipate a quote or moment – just hope the words fit the situation.
JS - We had a couple of games last season where we looked worn out in the 2nd half. Were these conditioning issues or just lack of depth?
AB - I don't remember us feeling worn out or having a lack of depth – to me both of those would be excuse issues – teams will sometimes not play as inspired due to circumstances, and if that is the case, that is the responsibilities of the coaches and players.
JS - How is the off season conditioning going?
AB - Coach Jackson and Coach Dennis are doing an outstanding job – I would pit them against anyone else in the nation – our players are committed and working with purpose.
JS - Which of the new players, including transfers, do you expect to have the most immediate positive impact this coming season?
AB - Time will tell on this matter – my take, is I expect our current players to produce and blend with the incoming players. I'm very encouraged by the attitude and work ethic of our team.
JS - How are the special teams looking and how much emphasis is being placed on them this year?
AB - Coach Fitz is going to do an outstanding job with leading our Special Teams. Our emphasis is and always will be very high on Special Teams.
JS - Some people have the opinion that special teams play holds a higher priority than some staffs give, what is your take on this?
AB - More change of field position – big plays – momentum – and critical decision-making occur in the kicking game than the other phases. We treat all phases of the Special Teams with equal importance.
JS - Several schools swooped in and stole Cougar commits last year after our poor showing in the Fort Worth Bowl, what can our staff do to combat that , and how tight lipped are we asking the recruits to be this year?
AB - Players that are truly committed to a university do not change. We don't instruct our commits on how they should voice their intentions.
JS - What teams in our conference do you perceive as obstacles to the Liberty Bowl this year?
AB - I honestly feel our conference (as is the same nationally) is very well balanced. The team that stays healthy, maintains proper attitude and chemistry – trusts each other and works with purpose--will carry the trophy. Houston Cougars 2006 will represent the conference at the Liberty Bowl, as long as we fulfill the above terms.
JS - Coach, thanks for taking time with Coogfans.com today. We're pushing hard for improved attendance and want you and the staff to know that we are promoting you guys with great effort. Thanks, and good luck this coming season. Let's make the 2006 team the only undefeated Cougar football team in history.
AB - The Cougar Football Family appreciates all the support and care of our loyal fans. Special thanks for helping with our July 21st camp shirts.