All right, Well to say it's been a challenging year, it's probably been my most challenging year as a head football coach. I just want to talk a little bit about that and this team and this staff has really hung together and endured some really incredible peaks and valleys. I just want to say I'm really proud of the resiliency of our staff and our team.
As disappointed as I am, as our players are that we haven't broken through and we've been close. One thing I want to make sure is everyone understands is my resolve and my excitement and our players resolve and their excitement has only grown. There's been a lot of opportunities that we haven't capitalized on. What hasn't happened is no one here has backed down. No one here has turned on each other, no one here has gotten negative. We're scarred for us, angry, motivated, I think more together than ever and I just want our fans to know we know you want better results and so do we. Also know that we're never going to quit fighting and believing in what we're doing. I know as a man of faith, you don't choose the tests that God puts in your path, you only choose how you respond to those tests. As a leader, as the leader of this program, I remain strong and positive and as excited and persistent as ever. I know there's always people that doubt or hate or lose faith but I know this, we'll never quit fighting for you. When we do break through, and it will happen. It's going to be because we never quit and we never lost faith.
With that I'm really excited to get into this game week. Not because of who we play, I know it is a great rivalry but just another opportunity to go to work with this team and this staff. We're playing a very talented football team that's had a good season, that has a lot of experience and skilled players. From our perspective it's more about us than it is them. We really just want to focus on playing our best football. Playing with pride, having a lot of fun. We do it, we plan loose. In doing it in a short week, after eight straight without a by a great challenge for our guys and our staff. Working on short sleep and having fun doing it. Last chance to play in this rivalry game for a group of guys so we do everything we can to help them through it.
Is there any value in your mind after playing what is riding on the outcome of this game maybe short term for this team but also long term for your own future?
Not really, I'm looking at is as a one week playoff is what I'm looking at it as. We win, we get to keep playing you know.
Obviously carry some momentum all those kind of things into the off season which is always fun. For your off season program to have momentum headed into it. That's what I'm looking at. I think for a season of almosts, we'd love to finish it with a win against our rival. I'm sure that would make a lot of us feel better than we do today. Big picture wise, really concerned more about this five-day span here and getting our guys to play the best that they can so that they feel the gratification of their work.
Is there any value in talking about two years ago you were in a similar situation in terms of needing the win to go over there and being an underdog doing over there and what you were able to do in a similar situation.
Yeah I mean some of the guys were here for that and some of them weren't. I think they guys that have played there know that we can have success there. The guys that haven't, it's their first time playing there. It's a different team for them, it's a different team for us. It's a new ... I should say new challenge but I'm sure it brings some stability to some of them because they've been over there and had success.
Once again, I get credit for asking a positive question first but last year's game they came out in a hurricane what do you kind of remember about that first quarter?
Well it was as bad as you could have it. I mean everything went their way and you know it was kind of a flip of what happened the year before. We played really well two years ago, played really bad last year and they played really well last year and I'm sure they'd say they played bad two years ago, I'm not sure. It's an emotional game and obviously you want to be able to sustain the highs and lows early and make it a four quarter football game if that's what it calls for.
I understand why you opened your press conference with what you said to us, have you amplified what you said to the team this week in the same way? Saturday after the game they didn't seem as though they needed any extra encouragement. We had a couple guys go ahead and tell us, "We're going to beat Carolina". Where is their confidence this week? Do they need that extra motivated from you or do you think they pretty much have it?
I think that's ... everyone on the outside see's what they see. When you're in here you see a bunch of guys that have dealt with some very tough finishes this year and almosts. Then you see them come back and support each other and you see them fight through it. You do so with so much going on on the outside that's out of their control.
I just think they've shown a lot of resiliency and courage. I know like I said, they are scarred and they're more together now then they have ever been because of all the things we've dealt with. Varsity makes you choose to fight or to run and our guys have chosen to fight and I'm proud of them for that. I think they feel the same way I do. It's just another opportunity to try go and finish a game and get a win and to do so against a rival is always a great thing to be able to do.
They are pretty self-motivated on that.
Intrinsically motivated for sure.
I'm sure there's a fine line between over confidence and colliding bulletin board material and confidence in general. Do you like when a guy like Josh comes out in a rut and says, "We're going to be beat North Carolina" Do you like that in your players?
Yeah I mean I think all the guys on both sides feel like they are going to win the game. I think the bottom line is you have to put your money where you mouth is when you play. I think for him to be confident is a great thing. Now you just have to go play well. Anytime you say something you have to back it up as a player or as a coach whatever it is.
Thoughts on Mitch Trubisky...
Very accurate passer, great arm strength, doesn't miss a lot of throws. Obviously there is passes that are broken up because there is good defense as well but he's a very good passer, understands their offense, distributes the ball well.
Gets them out of trouble, he's not a guy that you would say is a great runner but he is really good at evading rush and buying himself time and getting out of sack opportunities for defenses. Either thro aways or getting back to the line.
He's developed, he's been there and taken time and now he is seizing the moment. He's a really good player, 25 touchdowns and four interceptions, really impressive.
On the flip side of that have you assessed where Ryan is?
You know I thought, started a little shaky in the game and came on as the game went on. Missed the one throw at the end which was unlike him but he's been very accurate and so that was a throw that he rushed to Jay San down the sideline, should have been a completion. I like the way that he's battled and he's like a lot of guys this time of year playing with bumps and bruises and fighting through it and playing hard.
Are there things that he can do better? Absolutely but he's working hard to do that.
You took a risk bringing him in do you feel like that risk has paid off?
I do in a lot of ways.
I just think he's mature, he understands the system really well and he's been able to get the ball to the right people a lot of the games. He's made a lot of very accurate throws in tight windows and giving guys chances to make what I think are really good catches in tough situations. He's only going to get better as time goes on and it's allowed Jalan to continue to develop and get better as well.
Absolutely, I'm excited that he's here. All right, thank you.