Are you starting (at quarterback)?
"Yes, I'm starting."
How did you find out?
"I found out yesterday. Me and Brock (Berlin), Coach Coker and Coach Werner (Miami QBs Coach Dan) had a meeting. Coach Coker sat us down the same way he did in the spring and he told us that we were going to make a change and that Brock's not being a scapegoat for this. He just told us his decision."
What reasons did he (Coach Coker) give for the decision?
"He really just said it was turnovers. We can't have that. He told me that I can't have that, as well. And that he just felt like it was the right thing to do."
This is a chance you've been waiting for, for quite a long time. Now that it's here, what's going through your head?
"It's the same things (as always) for me. I'm excited. I'm excited for myself, I'm excited for my family, my football team family, and I'm just really excited to get out there. I've waited for a long time. I just had faith in God and had faith that my opportunity was going to come."
Did you feel like there was a time when the players really started to stand behind you, that they felt this chance was absolutely necessary?
"No. Everybody respects Brock, everybody respects me and everybody respects Kyle Wright. The players . . . nobody picked sides or did this or that, everybody just stuck with it. Even me. I support Brock in everything he did and everything he does. We didn't believe that we needed to do anything that would really break up the team."
When did Coach Coker tell the rest of the team?
"Yesterday at the team meeting. He told the team about his decision before practice and we went out and had practice."
What did he tell the team?
"He just said the same thing he said, that we talked before the meeting and he felt like it was time to make a change and he just told us that he was going to make a change. He told the team that he's not using Brock as a scapegoat, that it's not all Brock Berlin's fault. We lost the game and the team doesn't believe it's all Brock Berlin's fault. It's everybody. That's basically what he told us, that he's going to make the change."
You've been here a while and you've seen the criticism that Brock was under, the starting quarterback at UM is always under that microscope. Are you ready to handle that pressure?
"Yeah, I think Ken Dorsey is the best quarterback, in my book, and one of the best ever to step foot here and people criticized him. So, you're going to get that from fans and people. That's a part of the game. That's why I love the game. You're going to get that. It just makes you want to do more. That's just a part of the game."
Did he (Coker) put any conditions on it for you? Did he say this is just a one game thing, or that we'll evaluate it as the season goes?
"He just said I'm the starting quarterback. He didn't say it's only for one game. He just said I'm the starting quarterback, the same way he told Brock. Whatever happens, if I don't play up to par he'll have to make a decision. Just like he did with Brock."
He (Coker) said this morning on the conference call that Brock would be playing. Has he told you if it's a situation where you're going to have to be looking over your shoulder? How does that play into it for you?
"I don't think that way. He told me I don't have to look over my shoulder, that I don't have to think that way. I think if you play that way, you can't play good yourself. So, there's no pressure on me with that kind of situation."
Did he tell you that Brock would play?
"No. He didn't tell me that."
Do you see this offense as an offense that has struggled with its confidence? And, if so, do you think that makes it a less than ideal time for you to take over?
"I don't think we're struffling with confidence. I think it's mostly, like, with what we need to do. It's weird. We're out there and we're not used to losing. We're not used to teams not respecting us on the football field. It's just a funny feeling when you look at this team and past teams with the atmosphere, especially offensively. We need to get that back. We lost a lot of good guys, obviously, but it's just weird. I've been here for a long time and it's much different."
One of the issues for this team has been pass protection. Do you feel that your athletic skills can help you give the offense a lift?
"Yeah, I think I can. I think Brock is very athletic, too. I have a lot of confidence in my God-given ability and I think I could escape pressure a little better. But it's hard to say. It's easy to sit on the sidelines or in the stands and say, 'He should've done this.' Or, 'He should have made him miss.' Or, Brock should have done this or that. It's different when you get on the football field. That may happen when I get in, but I'll just take one play at a time."
The perception is that you don't have a good grasp of the offense. How much of the offense do you understand, are you ready to put into game planning? Coker said that because of your lack of experience they have to tone things down. How much of that are you expecting?
"As far as not knowing the offense, I feel like I know the offense better than anyone here. As a player. I've been in this offense four years and if you don't know this offense in four years, that somebody can just stand out there and look and know what to do, then that's just saying that somebody's just stupid or they don't know the offense. Toning it down, I don't want to get into that, but I feel I know the offense very well. I know this offense better than a lot of people here."
How different is it going to be, Derrick? Other than the Fiesta Bowl, you haven't been in a game in a do-or-die situation, how different is that going to be for you?
"After a couple plays it will be alright. After a couple plays, I'll just go out there and play. I've been playing since I was six years old. I've been playing this game for a while now. Heck, man. Just go out there and play. It's no different that when I used to go play in the street."
Because of what you did in the spring and summer, some teams may think that you're just the number two quarterback coming in. Do you feel that you have the full confidence of your teammates based on what you were able to do in the spring and summer?
"Oh, yeah. Ah, man, my teammates think a lot of me. I can tell that. I really feel that from them. Man, like I said, I've been with these guys so long, you know, I have total confidence in them and they have total confidence in me. We're so deep here. That's just how it is here. We've got freshmen that can play here. We've got juniors that can play here. It's deep here. Everyone has confidence in everyone. Like in this past game, someone went down on defense and we had a walk-on backup guy and we had confidence in him to put him into the game. So, we have confidence in everyone."
Is it awkward at all with Brock, with you guys now competing again?
"No, it's not awkward. That's just the nature of the game. It's not an awkward situation, it's just a business situation. You just have to deal with it, deal with things the same way I dealt with it. That's just the way it goes."
With everything that transpired in the spring, the quarterback competition and everything that happened after that, does that seem like a long time ago and can you talk about your progression from then to now?
"That seems like it never really happened. Since you just brought it up, that's the first time I really thought of it like that. We don't mention it, we don't think about it. That's over. That's in the past. We're just moving ahead and trying to win football games."
Did you think about leaving when that happened, and are you glad you never left?
"No. I really didn't. I had all my faith in God. I just left it all up to him. I just read the Bible. I never really thought about leaving. People asked me about leaving, but I would just tell them no that I'm not thinking about leaving. That's the only time I ever even thought about it but I never really thought about it. I just believed in God and I knew he'd come through for me."
You mentioned before the critics. Is this an opportunity to answer those criticisms that people had the last couple of years?
"Not in a certain way, but I love critics. I love 'em. They make me play harder. I love people that say that I can't do this or that. I listen to a lot of stuff. I listen to the radio and I listen to the TV. I love to hear that and that just brightens my day to hear people really talk bad about me. That's just the way it is and that makes me want to work harder each and every day. The critics get me through running sprints and running through things like that. It just makes me want to work that much harder."
Do you feel like it's better late than never?
"Yeah, it's better late than never. I just had my faith in God and it's just the right time for me. God, He thinks it's the right time for me so He put me here right now. I just had to wait and be patient to wait until He wanted me to play."
Do you find yourself in a different mindset in your preparation this week?
"No. I'm doing the same things I always did, preparing the same. I'm always in the meetings with Coach Chud, Brock, Coach Werner and Kyle Wright. We went over the game plan and they asked me what's good because you never know. I'm not going to do anything different."
How exciting will it be to be in the game from the very beginning?
"I think just like in the past, coming in in the third quarter. It's the same thing. Just like coming in during the Fiesta Bowl game. I don't get nervouse. I don't feel nervous because I've been doing it too long, you know. There's nothing to be nervous about. How hard is it to throw to Kellen Winslow, to throw to Ryan Moore, you know. Just look at him. If he's open, throw it. So, it's nothing to be scared about. Hits don't hurt. Nothing's going to happen. Nothing to really be nervous about."
Did coach tell the team that you present the team the best opportunity to win because you're mobile? Did he tell the team that?
"No. He didn't tell the team that at all. He just told the team that we need to make a change and that's basically the way he said it, that's its best right now for the team and that's all he said."
We noticed that (former UM backup QB) Troy (Prasek) signals the plays in. Some people thought that's because you don't have as good a grasp of the offense. Is there a reason why you don't do it?
"No. That's just Troy's job. That's what Troy does. He's still on scholarship here and that's what he does. You know, this past game I was doing the signals and we rotated who was live so other teams won't steal our signals. But that's Troy's job. That's what he does."
I know you have goals you want to accomplish this season, but what do you think about leaving your mark as a quarterback here?
"I don't care about what I really do, I don't care about getting the credit, I just want to win. It's all about getting the 'W'. Just win. That's all I'm thinking about. I'm not thinking about next season, I don't live in the future, I'm just thinking about right now. This game coming up. I'll just take it one play at a time. At the end of the game I want that 'W'."
Now that you have the keys to the offense, how do you fix the problem of what's wrong with the offense because it's squarely upon your shoulders now?
"How to fix the problem. Just be Derrick Crudup. Just be me. If I have to run the ball every down, I'll run it. Just don't turn the football over, that's my mindset. Not be scared to throw the ball down the field, but don't turn the ball over with it. Our defense is unbelievable. If you don't turn the ball over here, you win games. That's what I'm going to do. I don't care if people, you know, people always talk. I don't care if they say, 'Aw, he's running the ball every down'. If I'm moving the sticks, I'm moving the sticks. If I throw a deep ball, that's good and that's fine, too, if I have to do that. Whatever it takes to move the sticks and score touchdowns."
You mentioned before that you were patient and you waited for this opportunity. Does that have to carry over to this game because sometimes you get a big chance and you get a little excited and there's a tendency maybe to try and do too much? Will patience be a big byword this week?
"We have a thing called a Tip Sheet that Coach Werner makes up. It has all the keys, it has everything we have to look for, stems, if the strong safety comes, hot adjustments, and all this. At the end, he always writes, 'Patience. Completions are good, but incompletions aren't bad'. Just patience. If you don't have it, throw the ball away. If you don't have it, run it. Don't force anything. Competions are good. Incompletions aren't bad. That's our motto."
Derrick Crudup Q&A
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