This may sound crazy, but I'm proud of the way our football team played a team that may be two field goals away from being the #1, #2, or #3 team in America. Somebody told me one team had 121 yards and one team had 123 yards of total offense. It shows you the importance of defense.
In the first half our starting field position was on the 44 and theirs was on the 16. In the second half ours was on the 22 and theirs was on the plus 47.
The kicking game was huge. A punt return for a touchdown and punt returns gave them field position.
We had something like 23 tackles for loss. They had something like 15 tackles for loss. Their inside two people ran havoc on our offensive line... inside there where we have youngsters, but they do that on everybody. Our whole defensive line ran havoc on their offensive line. I don't know how many times we sacked Sexton, but if you have 23 tackles for a loss against a team like that with two backs like they have. Our corners and safeties covered the heck out of them.
There was an awful lot of positives in that game. The only thing that was negative was we came up short, and we couldn't generate any offense in the second half.
Coach, you mentioned the field position. Did you ever give any thought in the second half to kicking off to them?
We sure did, but I didn't want to send a message. I didn't want to send a message because if they kick off to us and we get it at the 20 and make a few first downs we still have the field position. At the end of the first half we had a few runs that made some positive yards, but it occurred to us.
You could have the best defense in the country and yet not go to a bowl. Would you have ever believed that?
No, not at all. But, there are an awful lot of factors involved when you are playing a team sport. Injuries are one of them, but I don't want to imply that because everyone gets injured.
It just shows you when you don't turn the ball over as frequently as we have that when you play that kind of defense you are right in there.
I said since I've got here that you've got to play great defense to have a chance. Both teams played great defense tonight, and they both had a chance to win.
We're going to be better for it. We've got a bunch of youngsters banged up, and we'll get a couple of days off for them to heal. They'll get away from us and coaches will go recruiting.
We'll get ready for East Carolina, and that won't be an easy game. It's a game that hasn't been played for roughly six years, and it's going to be played down in Charlotte.
Maybe we can get some of these people back. Maybe we can get a real healthy Tramain Hall back. Maybe we can get Richard Washington back. Maybe we can get Derek Morris back. Maybe Oliver Hoyte's ankle will be fine. I don't think Jed [Paulsen] or Leroy [Harris] will be able to do anything else.
I'm proud of the way Marcus Stone went in there. He can throw... he was rusty and hadn't practiced in two weeks.
We'll go on. There's an awful lot of positives in this game that we can manage to bring out. We can build on it for the last game. This is the first losing season this great university has had in seven or eight years, but it won't happen again.
Chuck in the second quarter you ran two running plays with defensive linemen. Why did you try that at that time?
Because we thought we could push the line with those big defensive linemen. It wasn't very far was it? If the one kid doesn't trip then he does make it.
Everybody else is doing this jumbo stuff. McCargo was a fullback in high school. Ray Brooks rushed for more than 700 yards as a senior in high school, and he ran four kickoffs back for touchdowns. He's a great athlete.
When you play a game like that, every inch can help. When you put somebody with that kind of force in there, you might knock some people back.
Was this your defense's best performance?
If you look at yardage, I guess it was the Virginia Tech game and Maryland.
We got a great rush with four people. Our coverage... our corners and safeties just played the two-deep very, very well.
With so much time to prepare for ECU, do you try and do something different in sixteen days to prepare for the future?
Our future is East Carolina. Let me make sure that's understood. Our future is the East Carolina football game. Period.
Can you talk about the senior class?
This is the first senior class that we recruited, with the exception of the old man, Chris Colmer. These kids have laid a foundation for this program.
Again, I don't care what anybody says, you saw one heckuva football game out there. If we can learn to play defense like that consistently for the next ten years, we're going to win an awful lot of football games. We've got one more game that we need to play that way this year, and that's the East Carolina game.