Thoughts on Middle Tennessee State:
We've got our work cut out for us. We've got a team that we don't know a lot about, and obviously we haven't spent any time other than starting early in the week looking at them. We've got a team that has got some genuine team speed. They've got some athletic guys up front, some corners who can run, so number one, we've just got to take care of ourselves, get our energy back up, go out there and do what we have to do.
Overall thoughts on the Boston College game:
We played a team that played defensively what I would say is more of a high-risk, high-reward type of defense. They blitzed us a lot, very, very similar to the Georgia Tech game, in terms of all the blitzing that we got. There were a lot of people up on the line of scrimmage. We never really got our run game off the ground, and we had tremendous opportunities throwing the football... we didn't take advantage of them when we did have the opportunity. In these types of games, they're going to make plays, and they can make you look bad. On the other side of it, because of the risks they are taking, you can make them look bad. We got an opportunity to execute some of those plays, and we didn't execute it to the level that we could have. I think that really inhibited our ability to move the football.
How has Marcus Stone improved, and what are your thoughts on his play?
You know, I'm really encouraged. I think Marcus has improved with each game. He's not performing at a level that he will over time, but I think he has improved. He has done an excellent job of protecting the football. He has made some plays. He's got two touchdown passes dropped in two games, which is highly unusual, especially with the location of the throws that he made in the Florida State game and in this game. That could have put us up 14-0.
He's also done a very good job of protecting the football. He had the one pick, which he'd love to have back on Saturday night, which if he would have moved on in his progression, he would have had a wide open receiver. He just got stuck on the one player, which is natural for a young guy. He also ran the ball better. He picked up a couple of third downs. We lived in third and long the other night, which inhibited our ability to do anything right. He executed, he found a place to run, and he ran for first downs. And when he can put that kind of pressure on a defense, that is an improvement because we didn't have that in his first two games. He was running around, but he wasn't running around to our advantage. So I thought he improved in that regard. He was very poised. I thought when we went out in the fourth quarter... there was energy. I think everybody felt we had a chance to move the ball, and we had opportunities. When the time came we just didn't execute at the right time. That's the most disappointing factor in the game. It's not really what Boston College did. It's the fact that we had our opportunities, and anybody who's watched the tape would have to tell you the same thing. The bottom line is we didn't execute, and we've got to continue to try to improve over the next two games to do that to become a better offensive football team because we're certainly not where we want to be.
Obviously Marcus was under some tremendous pressure at Boston
College. How do you think he was against pressure in the pocket or on the
The best way to say that would be inconsistent. At times, he did a good job of standing in there. At other times, he probably came out of the pocket too quickly. We both would probably say that even on the touchdown pass, that he probably could have stayed in there, just climb the pocket and throw it. And he left the pocket with good protection, but he made a play. So with that in mind, I think there were times he did some really good things and there were some times he could have just finished his footwork and dropped the ball off. There are mixed reviews there, but there is certainly reason to be hopeful that he is going to continue to improve. That's what I'm most excited about. I see a kid who has improved over the last three games.
How long does that kind of thing take for a young quarterback?
How long does it take to get that comfort level of going
I think it is just dependent on the individual. I try to literally graph out whether we're improving at our position or we're leveling off or we're dropping. I think that there is some improvement. I think as time goes on, I just feel he'll get better. I think the number one thing a quarterback has got to do is protect the football. Over three games, he's done a good job with that. Because of that we've been in each and every game. If it wasn't for the turnover at the end of the second quarter, I think the game would have been closer and even taken on a new direction. We will never know that, but at the same time, that's a starting point. When you're protecting the football, when you're running for first downs on third down. We've been horrific on third down this year. We've put ourselves in some third and long situations, and it makes it hard to convert. At the same time, we had a quarterback in this game run for a couple of first downs on long yardage. That's only going to help us. That will have a residual effect, not only over the next couple of weeks but into next year because we have a quarterback who can make a play when there is nothing there.