Excited to be home here for week two, and had a good comeback win in week one over Georgia Southern. Played 20 freshmen in the game, two wore red-shirts so a lot of young guys got their first action. That was good for them. I think a lot of them were nervous early and settled in as the game went on. I was happy with how they played in the second half, didn't give up a touchdown second half on defense.
Offensively scored three times, and defense was 100% in red zone for the game, not giving up any touchdowns. Offensively we got down there three times and got two touchdowns, so there was some improvement in a lot of the areas we struggled in last year.
Just need to start faster going forward and play a really good team this week on offense, a team that has probably one of the best quarterbacks we'll play. Taylor Heinicke, has 11,000 yards in his career, over 100 touchdowns, really good quarterback and good passing game. So excited for that challenge this week in Carter Finley.
Taylor Heinicke is a dynamic quarterback that seems like he's been around there forever. What stands out the most about him?
He's really accurate, knows where his receivers are, and they run the routes with precision and throws a catchable ball. Just the system they're in, he lines up deep, deeper than most quarterbacks I've seen. He's catching the ball six and a half, and a lot of times he's ten yards deep, so it's hard for the rush to get to him. He does a nice job of being patient back there.
They have one or two run plays, so their O-line is defensive pass protectors, they spend a lot of time on the ways to pick up pressures and pass off twists. So he's got a lot of people taking care of him.
What does your defense really need to do well in order to win Heinicke's efficiency?
We've got to get to him, put some pressure on him and not let him stand back there and have the ball go through his progression read.
That is the first thing. We have to make plays on the ball on the back end and we can't let the ball get behind us. Big plays are killers against teams like this. You make them earn, throw the ball and catch it, and they'll have their underneath stuff and we've got to tackle well in space, but eventually if they've got to put together a drive, we've got to get enough pressure to put him on his back and create some turnovers.
You talked about how deep he sits in the pocket. How much more difficult is it to get pressure on him when he is so far back from the line of scrimmage?
It's hard to sack him, not so hard to pressure him. That is the thing. How long can he stand there? We've got to get there and rush the throws. It's hard to get to him and sack him. But hitting him and knocking him down and making him throw before he wants to throw is key.
Looking at Jacoby what he did in that first game and coming back and winning 1-0, what can you say about your quarterback and his performance and how he showed resolve at the end of the game?
Yeah, it was good. Made a critical error in the first half, forcing the throw and throwing the pick. At some point he would throw one this year.
Really proud of how he responded. I think he was 16 of 18 in the stretch there at the end of the game and was very accurate with the football, had a good rhythm, had good command of what Coach Canada wanted and showed great poise,threw a money ball when we needed it.
Obviously, that is very exciting in his first start to have a couple back drive like that.
What improvement do you need from week one to week two after getting the test at Georgia Southern?
There were a lot of them. I thought we tackled well, but gave up six plays in the game on defense that added up to 200 yards of offense.
So just not being a team that I think it was 70-some snaps and 64 were really good and six of them weren't. So those kind of plays can kill you. Not giving up big plays, I'd like to see us get more takeaways. We had one in the game.
Offensively starting faster, we moved the ball, but we didn't finish drives.
Having one of the youngest teams in the nation, can you explain going into how important it was that comeback victory starting off 1-0 for this team?
Yeah, not only that, but last year we lost seven games like that. We were in the fourth quarter and lost them. So the whole off-season there was a ton of talk about finish.
To do that with 20 guys playing in the first game, and like you said, we have the third youngest team in college football. I think that says a lot about our off-season and preseason and the preparation. It also shows we have a long way to go because you don't want to be in that position as much as we were.
But I was proud of the resolve and leadership. You have to have leadership to come back. Both sides of the football showed that.
Coach, can you talk about the balance your offense showed a little bit? You did rush for quite a bit. Obviously, more passing yards, but 173 rushing is a pretty strong showing.
Well, our goal is to be balanced as an offense. You'd like to have an average of over 40 yards rushing, and we were 4.9 per carry.
That allows us to take advantage of white boxes, and Jacoby can throw the football. So we'll have to have people spreading their defense out to defend what we do, and when we do that, we have to be able to run the ball. It was good to see.
I thought there were some runs we didn't finish the way that we're capable. That is an area in the second half we probably did a great job of. But that is the key to any offense in my opinion is having a full balance.