Cotton: I'm a fighter. There's no quit in me and I expect our players to come to work tomorrow and be disappointed but go out and give it all. These past two weeks we went out and practiced as well as we've practiced the last five weeks. To be honest with you, we've practiced as well in the last five weeks as any team that I've ever been a part of so it was surprising to me that we went out and played the way that we did. It is what it is. We come to work tomorrow and we're going to do our best.
Q: The offense just looks like it's struggling week after week. Any comments on that?
A: We're definitely a little frustrated and we're definitely a little disappointed. We're practicing well. We're not seeing some of the results we'd like to see on Saturday but I give our kids an awful lot of credit the way they've practiced the last five weeks. They've handled the adversity and today was the first time that we didn't handle it very well which is disappointing and frustrating. We've got two weeks left and there's two ways to go. We can take the high road and do our best these next two weeks. I can't imagine the alternative.
Q: If you can pinpoint one thing that's gone wrong with the offense, what would that be?
A: I think that there are times this year when we've had untimely penalties, which is a self-inflicted wound. We've had 10 guys on the same page and maybe one guy not on that page and it doesn't work like that on offense. You need all 11 guys on the same page on every play. We're not good enough to go out and overcome penalties in key situations and we haven't had many, it just seems that when we have had it, they've been in pretty tough spots.
Q: It seemed like Bret was running for his life a little bit more than normal.
A: I think that sometimes he could have stayed in there a little bit longer but he's had more than a couple opportunities to be forced out of the pocket and I can certainly understand that. I wouldn't trade Bret Meyer for the world. He's a studhorse. He's a winner. He's a positive force on the sideline. It may not show because of our win-loss record, but he's becoming a more mature leader than he's ever been.
Q: Is this harder right now for you or the kids?
A: I think it's a different hurt for both of us. You might find it hard to believe but I really like our kids. I try really hard not to make this about me. It's really about them. If I could do one thing, I'd give these guys a win. They've worked that hard and prepared that well these last couple weeks and it hasn't happened for them. All we do as coaches is try to bury our heads into it deeper and deeper and deeper. You can't make it about yourself. You have to make it about the kids and that's what we're trying to do.
Q: Do you try and take burden away from the kids? Do you see yourself trying to take the blame?
A: Well you take some of the burden but this is also about life too. There's some accountability on their end too. We call plays and they need to go out and execute. It's our job to try to eliminate mistakes that they make. We certainly would never point a finger at our players. I'm telling you, they've given us an awful lot this year and it hasn't been much fun these last few weeks. You guys aren't with us in practice everyday. These last two Thursday's have probably been the best two Thursday practices I've ever had and I don't how long I've coached, 20 years? For five weeks in a total five week grouping, was probably better than any time last year that we had. So these kids, we haven't lost them.
Q: Coach, you know how fans are. A lot of them like to play armchair quarterback and do a lot of criticizing.
A: To be honest with you, I don't read much newspapers or listen to too much about myself, but I know what's out there. To be honest with you, when we go back and study ourselves, we even went back to watch film from last year when we were playing well, we're really not that much different. A lot of people look at the offensive line. In some respects we're doing some things better but it's the end result that matters. The thing that we've done this year that we didn't do last year is that we had a lot more big plays last year. We had negative plays last year and we had some sacks last year but we had more big plays than what we've been able to get on the board this year.
Q: Whether it's fair or not, Dan's going to face a lot of scrutiny over the next couple of weeks. How do you see him handling that?
A: To be honest with you, Dan is a great guy. Never once has he pointed a finger at us. He's never once pointed a finger at our players. He's a fighter. I consider myself a fighter. It really doesn't make any difference what happens. If we're here or not, these last two weeks are about the kids. From his standpoint, from my standpoint, and the rest of the coach's standpoint, we want to do whatever we can do to help these guys get a win these last couple of weeks.
Q: How are you handling it?
A: Mac and I have talked about it. My neck, in a different way is back just as far as Coach Mac's is. I can look myself in the mirror every day and know that I came to work and gave it everything that I could. I don't profess to be the smartest coach, and I don't profess to be the most creative coach, but I'm going to work hard and do the best that I can and put my players in the best position that I can put them in. For whatever reason, it's not happening this year. I think that you could ask any of our players. They are going to say that at nothing else, they know we are working hard for them.