Certainly hopefully we used the off week to our advantage. We prepare for an excellent Virginia football team who had a great win last week against Georgia Tech. Obviously we've got to stop the power run, play-action pass, #16 (Michael) Rocco has done a great job.
And they're very experienced on defense. They're playing with nine juniors and seniors and we're going to have our work cut out for us in Charlottesville on Saturday.
When Mike says you haven't been back to Charlottesville since '96, we know you haven't brought a team in there. Have you physically been back to Charlottesville?
I haven't been back since June of '97 when we moved to Boston. I've been through town. I recruited at Fort Union and went through the airport, but I really haven't been back. I haven't seen the stadium or been close to the stadium since then.
You still know your way around down though?
I think I can find my way around. I was thinking about going jogging Saturday morning and trying to remember the old route I had. But I don't know if I can remember it all.
Can you talk a little about David Amerson and the season he's had this year? I know he played for you last year, and he's obviously leading the country in receptions. What in particular has he been able to do to get off to the start that he's gotten off to this year?
Well, we played him last year. Started him about midway through the year as a true freshman, and played him into the boundary as a rolled up corner. He has very good talent. Jon Tenuta thinks he's probably one of the Top 5 corners that he's been around in coaching as far as talent goes as a corner.
After this past spring, we ended up moving him to the field, where he has more opportunity but what he does, he plays the ball well.
He got fooled early in the year with a lot of double moves. I think because he's been so aggressive, the last couple of weeks he's picked that up and played those very well. In fact, the last interception he had, one of the interceptions he had last week or a week ago was on a double move.
So I think he has great instincts. He has good physical ability. He now understands the defense a lot better, and he keeps getting better every game.
During your time there you've done a great job of just rebounding the team through the second half of the season. I was wondering how you've been able to do that. If there's some kind of a magic formula, and just how confident you are that you can pull it off again?
Our first year was a question of getting the right people in the lineup. We had the wrong people in the wrong spots and was able to restructure the defense and the offense. The second year, we were in a situation like we were now where we had so many injuries the first half of the year that we couldn't get any continuity until we got to the off week and got people healthy and got back at it again. We were hoping that would be the case again this year, but we haven't gotten people back from the injury list.
So we used the off week to try to get the guys that are going to have to play the second half of the year fundamentally sound and better football players. We are who we are, and we're going to go play the second half of the year.
I know every team deals with injuries, but I don't know why it seems like you've been doubly jinxed with it.
Two of the last three years. I mean, last year we missed two games all year on defense, and win nine games and get ranked. Right now we've already missed 24 games, my guys on defense. They're all at the same spot, defensive tackle, defensive end. And one linebacker, Manning, has missed two games.
I'm not trying to throw your strength guy under the bus here or anything, but is there a deeper reason this always happens to you?
Well, it's broken bones. We have guys with broken bones in their foot. We have guys that have been chop blocked at the line of scrimmage that have knees and ankles. If you start pulling muscles, then I'll start talking about strength and conditioning. When you get chopped and your ankle or your knee goes, then that's a structural problem.
George Bryan had 40 and 35 catches each of the last two years. This year at the mid-point he's got ten. He's getting a lot of extra attention. He says that's a good thing because he's taking defenders away from the other receivers. How do you feel his game has gone through six games?
I think he's probably a little frustrated. But I think he's understanding what's going on. Certainly, early in the year it was two and three guys on him. He's getting a lot of attention. But that has given T.J. Graham and Jay (Smith) this last week a lot of opportunities and they've stepped up.
So it's all part of the game. The quarterback has a progression, he's going to throw to the open guy. If they want to cover one or two guys, the third guy better be ready to catch the ball.
You coached some of the best offensive lines and offensive linemen that have ever come through Virginia. Not asking you for a comparison, but what is your impression of the offensive line they've got up there right now?
They were certainly impressive last Saturday against Georgia Tech. One thing when I was there, we always had guys that could run and get out on the flank and the perimeter, and they'd do a good job with that toss sweep, and their handoff zone play to the outside. They've got guys that can run, they're big, they're powerful, they can knock you back. It's a very effective line.
They've got two sophomores on the line on the right side which is pretty impressive that they're playing at that level. You can understand the left side with the seniors and the juniors in the center that way. But it's a very good line.
If I might ask about Mike Glennon as well. I guess talking to him earlier this week he mentioned the early comparisons to Matt Ryan, and the fact that you had coached Matt Ryan was an incentive to go and play at State. Did you show him film of Matt Ryan?
I think Dana (Bible) has used film of Matt Ryan. Not so much for Mike, but for the passing offense and where we're going and what we're doing. The first time he threw in camp for us, Dana looked at me and I looked at him. It was this is deja vu all over again. It was another Matt Ryan.
Actually, the pro scouts that have been in so far, a lot of them have already commented you've got another Matt Ryan but with a stronger arm, so there are a lot of similarities between he and Matty as far as throwing the ball.
Michael's getting better each and every week decision making and accuracy, and understanding the pass offense and his leadership. He's had a really good first six games and first six game growth.
Do you enjoy going head-to-head against your former assistants generically, how does any familiarity in that situation play into the game planning of the week?
At first it was a little difficult. It was tough when I went back, especially against Spaz at BC because we started off together in 1975 and coached for such a long time. Mike hasn't been on my staff for probably ten years now, so there's a little bit removed. So I don't know if there's any familiarity.
He might have more familiarity with me and the way I think than the way I would know that he would coach a team. I would know somehow how he coached the defensive line, because he was that coach for me.