We, of course, lost a really tough one up at Syracuse this past week. I thought that our kids played really, really hard. I think Syracuse is a good football team, and we just made too many mistakes to win on the road in the opener.
What has to improve from week one
to week two for you guys?
Well, all the things that I thought were going to be a problem, it turned out to be. We've got to be better in the kicking game. I thought that was really glaring. We missed an extra point and a 34-yard field goal that we had two opportunities to kick. You just can't do that. And then I thought we had too many penalties. I think we had ten penalties in the game, and two of them were in the fourth quarter that were really big, big holding calls against us.
Those were issues that I thought we could have in the first game. When you play the first game, you know you're going to have some issues with kicking game, some issues with penalties, and we didn't have the issues with turnovers that I was worried about. But I think early games, first games, especially playing good teams, those are the issues, and those were problems for us on Thursday night.
How concerned or not are you about
your pass defense against the Wolfpack?
Well, I'm very concerned. I think their quarterback hit a high percentage of throws in his first start and showed a lot of composure, and I thought the receiving crowd, the guys they've got at receiver, they have a quality group of running backs. They have a lot of people to get the football to. But it's a team that also runs the ball well. I think it's important that we play good pass defense, but we'd better do a good job against the running game. They've got a good, balanced offense.
How tough was it for you guys to let
that one go, not just the players but the
coaching staff, as well? I would imagine that
was a pretty tough loss, as well.
Yeah, it was really tough because with about 11 minutes to go we had a 15-point lead and didn't close it out. I was really disappointed in the way our team responded when Tanner Price got hurt. I think Ted Stachitas is a very capable quarterback, and I just thought our team responded really poorly. You could tell that there was a little bit of a letdown in our guys when Tanner came out. And I think it probably encouraged the Syracuse team a little bit because he was having a pretty good day against them.
But that just can't happen. We've got to respond better than that. I just really was disappointed with the way we played down the stretch. I don't think we lost anything from conditioning-type thing. I thought both teams were having some issues. It was really hot, and both teams were having some players with cramping and whatnot, but I just thought that our intensity level really went down after Tanner's injury, and that just can't happen. You've got to play four quarters of football.
How concerned are you, if at all,
about the players letting that one beat them
Well, it's always a possibility. I worry much more about a really quality NC State team than I do about our psyche. I think we're a team that has a little bit of talent.
We're still asking a lot of young guys to contribute for us. But we're better than they were last year. I think Syracuse is a pretty good football team, and opening on the road is always a problem. That's where all your mistakes are exaggerated, when you're on the road in the opener against a good football team.
But I think more than our mental state, I just know we've got a really good team coming to town, and we're going to have to play better and play for four quarters, not just play three and a half quarters or a little over three quarters of pretty good football and think that's enough.
You guys have a pretty tough
out-of-conference schedule. I'm hoping you
could tell me a little bit about how you weigh
different things like getting the team ready for
the conference and looking maybe for some
easier wins versus what you're doing.
Well, I think what's been our way to play non-conference games is we basically go home and home with other teams. Some of the teams that we've gone home and home with are Ole Miss and Nebraska and Stanford, Notre Dame and Syracuse and Connecticut, really good teams that we've gone home and home with, and I think we're not in the position where we can actually go out and buy wins, and I think some programs are a little bit more positioned to do that.
So we're going to try to play as many teams as we possibly can that are really good football teams and have a good academic tradition, that not only play good football but have somewhat similar ideals that we do. But that makes it tough when you've got to play a lot of good, solid football teams in your non-conference schedule and then have to play all the great teams that we play in the ACC. It does make it a lot more challenging, no question.
I know that some schools will play a
lighter load, that buy some games, play the
money games. Do you hear from fans saying,
hey, we've got to scale back?
Actually it's the opposite. I think fans typically want to see big-time teams come to your place. I know our fans are really, really excited that we've got Notre Dame coming to town. And when I first got here, every year is a little bit different, but any year that our home schedule includes a couple teams that your fans don't see as a real challenge -- I think most fans want to see the best teams they possibly can on your home schedule, and I think fans are pretty much universal in that.
I will say that some schools, their fans are a little more football hungry than others and probably wouldn't care who they played as long as they got a win, and I think it probably helps you -- I don't think there's much question about it that early in the year if you can play a couple teams right out of the blocks that you can afford to make a couple of mistakes against and still beat, that's really what you want to be able to do, and some schools are able to structure their schedule that way and some aren't.
Any update on Tanner and how he's
looked early in the week? I know you
obviously haven't been out there today, but
what's the prognosis for Saturday?
He's full speed. He's ready to go. He's really, really good right now. I think we're going to try to be careful with him, but I haven't seen really any problems at all. He actually -- we took Friday off. We just met on Friday after our Thursday night game and then we practiced Saturday, and he did all the stuff we asked him to do Saturday and has had good practices this week. So he's full speed and ready to go. We've not seen really any problems with him, other than he was a little bit sore initially, but now he's got that out and he's running, moving around and doing fine.
What were the things that you liked
most about what he did against Syracuse?
Well, he's much more settled. He has a better understanding of the offense certainly, and he showed that against Syracuse. I think he made some quality throws. He missed some easy throws. I think -- it was funny, he had two or three throws that I thought were pretty much threading the needle, really difficult throws that he got in there, and then he had two or three throws that were the kind of throws that you and I could have completed that he missed.
I think he still at times hurries his throws a little bit and doesn't set his feet. But the improvement from last year to this year has been pretty good, and I would anticipate as the season goes on he'll continue that improvement.
I appreciate your confidence in me,
being able to make --
Well, that's how open a couple guys were that we missed. I don't know if that's a slam on Tanner as much as it's a confidence builder for you and me.
You guys started with a Thursday
night game but you don't have any other
games this year that kind of knock you off your
routine. I wonder what your theory is, what
your feelings are about getting knocked off
your routine to play one of those games, and is
the exposure worth what it costs you guys?
Well, if you can win, it's okay, and if you don't have a short week -- a lot of teams are able to schedule ahead of time because of television Thursday night games, and they have an open date before that Thursday night game. If you've got the short week, it makes it a lot tougher if you play Saturday and then turn right around and play Thursday night. So I think there's some different scenarios involved.
But I think basically if you can win, that's the key. It's good to have exposure, but it's not good to have exposure and lose a football game. And as coaches we're mostly -- most coaches have a little bit of the old-school mentality; you want to get your kids in a routine and keep them in a routine, and taking them out of the routine usually upsets their mental state a little bit. I think it's hard to focus sometimes if the kids don't know what their schedule is from day-to-day. I think the exposure can be really, really good as long as your kids handle it well, and more importantly, if you win.
How do you handle it when it is
knocked out of routine? Do you just kind of
toss some stuff that you normally do out, or
just kind of cram it into less time?
Well, we've been doing this for quite a while, so we have some different thoughts about it. I think that the danger is you try to throw too much at the kids and you put too much game plan in and you practice too long and you end up with kids, number one, that don't have a good feel for the game plan, and number two, they're tired. So I think trying to find that mix is different for everybody and probably different for every team. I think if you've got a more veteran team, your tendency is to give them more rest and not put in too much game plan. I think if you're a real young football team, sometimes you have a tendency to try to do a little bit too much, and that can get you in trouble.
But I think more than anything else, it's just kind of experience that tells you how to do it.
Miami and Maryland kind of gave up
their bye week to play on Monday night when everybody was watching. Is that something
you'd be on board with doing?
Well, I think it's really a factor of who you've got the following week. I think that's a problem. If you've got the open date you're okay, but I know last year when Virginia Tech opened on a Monday night, it hurt them that next Saturday against James Madison. So that would be my problem. ESPN wanted us to play on Sunday night with Syracuse, but then I had to turn around on Saturday and play NC State, and I thought that was a little bit too much to ask our kids.
I think if you've got that open date coming up after Monday night, I'm fine with that, and I'm not quite as concerned about the open date. We've got a really early open date, I think after three games, and I'm not sure how much that's going to help. I'd just almost as soon play on Monday night and have the exposure and then have the open that next Saturday.