Let me ask all of you intelligent people for suggestions. All of you. Give me some suggestions.
The penalties... if the same guy was making the same mistake continually, he wouldn't be playing anymore. But, you have 11 people on offense and 11 on defense. Because if we put 12 out there they will penalize us. Then there's 11 guys when you kick and you're talking about 45-50 guys who know every game they are going to get in no matter what the score is. It's not the same person making the same mistake continually. We're frustrated over it.
You know me well enough. I'm to blame. If you want to blame somebody, blame Chuck.
And turnovers... if I sit all my running backs down for dropping the ball, I won't have any running backs. And I say running backs, I mean anybody that has the ball in their hands. What would you do?
When I first got here, I was amazed at the amount of people who came here to talk to Dick Portee about ball security. About carrying it high and tight and keeping it there. He can't carry it for them though. It's taught, and it's emphasized.
Look at the penalties... look at the bottom four teams in the league in penalties. Probably all four of those teams are leading the top statistics in defense. If I was Larry [Coker], or Bobby [Bowden], or Frank [Beamer] would you be asking me those questions about that?
With ten penalties and five turnovers, how many teams could play in Death Valley and on the last series have four shots to win the football game? That's positive... that's positive. That happened. Normally a team with that many penalties and turnovers will get run out of somebody else's stadium. To me that's a very, very positive thing.
You say blame Coach Amato and that can be taken two ways. You can view that as someone wanting to take pressure of their team but not believing they did anything wrong. Maybe you can point to some specific things that you can do better for these things not to happen. Which is it?
A little bit of both. We've done everything. I started this out... do you have a suggestion? Help me, I'm asking. I really mean it. You guys write it and people read it. I'm as serious as I'm sitting here. Do you think we haven't done things on this? Well, you're crazy. It's not the same person doing it.
I've been taught that penalties are coaching. The foolish penalties are coaching. You can write that however you want to. We've stressed it and stressed it and coached it as much as we can.
Can you harp on it to much?
Maybe... so stop writing about it. Guess what, our kids are of the generation that knows how to turn on the internet and turn on a chat room, and they read that stuff. They read what everybody's saying about them and their team... I would assume. I don't know how to turn it on. That's why I read your newspapers.
They understand that. I know none of our players want to have a turnover. I know none of our players want to have a penalty.
I want my players to be confident about what they are doing. But, I'm not going to blame kids on my football team. You've got the wrong guy. If you want to hit somebody, my jaw has been punched, and I'm still standing.
Were you surprised by some of the stuff that happened in the league?
No. I told our team Friday night that a team with two losses in our league could go to the Gator Bowl. Now a team with two losses might even go to a BCS Bowl.
I called a couple of them. It's a league that's really, really good. It's so good that people beat the heck out of each other.
There are no undefeated teams in our league. It may come down to a team winning the championship with two losses.
There's a lot of football left over. There are so many teams that are so capable. It's going to get interesting, and it may hurt a team in this league playing for all the marbles.
You mentioned a team with two losses can still win the league. You're 4-4 and 3-3. What can you still accomplish?
The Gator Bowl. I'm not going to look that far ahead. They know what has to be done, and they know this game has to be won. So does every team in the league that's 4-4 in the conference.
You mentioned having four shots at the end of the game to win despite the turnovers and penalties. Can't that highlight why those penalties and turnovers are so crucial?
Sure. There's no question, but all I said was with all of that, how many teams would be in that position? It's because those kids wouldn't give up, and they wouldn't quit. And they had the opportunities. The kids could have said it's over.
Granted, if we didn't have all those things, theoretically the score might have been different, but maybe they would have done something too.
You can't play that game. We're not real smart, but we know those things kill you. I'm going to ask you again, do you have any suggestions? I mean it. In all of the interviews that you've done, did anybody give you a suggestion to help?
Thoughts on not talking about the turnovers:
Somebody suggested, stop talking about it. Friday, I would not tell my team offensively to not have turnovers. I said we must win the turnover margin. That puts it on offense, defense, and kicking. Let's win the turnover margin.
I didn't tell them to not turn the ball over, but I've got to tell them what we've got to do to win. If I would have gone into a speech and not even mention that... oh my word. Headlines: 'He don't even talk about it.'
These kids know what they are doing. They are playing a game in front of great fans. They are playing a game that the people of America love, and the team that loses... [people] are going to find something to be critical of. The world sees that as half empty, as opposed to half full. That's just the way it is.
There are a lot of factors that go unnoticed by the naked, untrained eyes. Whether it be you or the people that go in the chatrooms. They only see the obvious. Maybe on some of those interceptions, the guy didn't run the right route. Maybe if this guy didn't have two missed assignments we would have scored or didn't give up a score. They go unnoticed, but it's just the obvious [people see].
One of your kids mentioned going back to more of the basics and correcting fundamentals. What are your thoughts on that?
I don't know if there's a team in the country at this time of the year that has more individual fundamental practice like we do. One of my biggest beliefs is at the end of spring practice a football team is as good as you might see them. You're not preparing for another team, and if you have a two hour practice you might spend an hour on it.
We have anywhere from 25-30 minutes on fundamentals everyday. That's the minimum. Talking about stance... if the stance was maybe correct, maybe this penalty wouldn't be called. You figure that one out. Alignment... getting lined up properly. Responsibilities, your blocking, your tackling, and the fundamentals of them.
We spend an awful lot of time on that, and we'll continue doing it.
On your banged up guys, who do you feel has a chance to play on Saturday?
It doesn't look good for Leroy [Harris] and obviously Jed [Paulsen] is out. And Derek [Morris], it doesn't look good for him. He's got a chance, but he's got to have an MR for that to happen. And T.A., we'll find out Saturday... unfortunately. When we first watched when he got hurt, it didn't look like he even got hit, and then we took it in slow motion and it looked like the guy's face mask hit him right up under the shoulder. That's where it got hurt.
How much drop off is there at running back from T.A. to the other guys?
There is a big drop off, and it's a big drop because TA is, in my opinion, so good... so good.
I feel so badly for Bobby Washington because every time we've put the ball in his belly and he's gotten hit. He hasn't had a chance to even get loose and show what skills he has. He is an awfully skilled running back.
What do you think caused the mistakes from Jay. Was he trying to make too much happen?
He made some good plays. It's like with a running back or linebacker, you can't take their instincts away from them. He's still on a little bit of a learning curve, but he's the same guy that got us back down there [on that final drive]. How about that touchdown drive, a six-play, 80-yard drive, and the other one was I think a little over a three-minute drive. It was a thing of beauty, it really was.
Thoughts on Georgia Tech:
We're both coming off tough losses, and they really played well against Virginia Tech. We've both right there in the middle of it. This is a game we've both got to win.