"Obviously, this is a bounce back week for us from the standpoint that we lost a tough game on the road. For our kids emotionally and psychologically we've got to bounce back and hold ourselves more accountable for the way that we play and practice.
"Our kids are working extremely hard. This has been a very challenging season from a standpoint of a variety of things. Obviously, Saturday there were a significant number of injuries that occurred during the course of the game, and that's put even more of a challenge on this football team from a physical standpoint to get prepared. Immediately upon watching film your kids start making decisions about the talent level of the team. And instantly I think all of our coaches and all of our players recognized that William & Mary is a very, very well-coached football team. Fundamentally, techniques, scheme-wise, you don't seem them making mistakes. They are in the right places. Kids play very well.
"There is a reason they're ranked as high as they are. You know, they've got some really good, talented football players, and I think that our kids recognize that we've got to play well."
Does it seem strange to be game planning against somebody that used to play for your team, Mike Paulus in particular?
"It's a little unique. I don't think I've ever faced that before. Mike's a very good kid. He's a very good quarterback. He's led them to some significant victories during the course of the season.
"The bizarreness of it is it is a little bit odd that somebody that played for you is on the field playing for another team. I don't think I've personally ever faced that before."
How do you talk to your guys about the difficulties that this game might present? Do you bring up the James Madison-Virginia Tech example? Are there other games to invoke, or do they need to be reminded?
"Well, I think every football team in the country certainly gets reminded of that because they watch the outcomes of games. The Jackson State win earlier this season just as dramatically as Appalachian State's victory was over Michigan a couple years ago.
"But if you've followed our program very much over the last three and a half years, two things that we obviously try to stress in our football program is that our performance on Saturday is a direct relationship about our expectations for the way that we play. It has absolutely nothing to do about the opponent.
"We want to try to hold ourselves to a performance level, and we didn't play well last week. So regardless of the opponent, we've got to play better as a football team. You've got to continue to improve.
"Then I think secondly, your football team, kids that play the game, they watch film, they look and they have respect by the opponent. They take a look at it and they see kids that are playing hard, making plays, fundamentally sound. You don't see people lining up and they're lined up wrong to certain formations. They're making mental mistakes, they're turning the football over. This is a good football team. This is a team with dangerous athletes and I think our kids recognize that."
I know they're sitting on your radar, but am I correct you're not on the voting panel for the USA Today Coaches' Poll?
"No, this is the first year as a head coach that I've not been on the panel."
I still would be curious to know your reaction to the big debate topic? How do you feel about the teams like Boise State, TCU in regard to the national title picture, or how would you be ranking them compared to maybe one-loss teams in the SEC or the Big 12?
"That's a difficult thing. I think each individual team has to be evaluated on the merit of its schedule. I think certainly in the case of Boise State, they had a very, very impressive victory early in the season against Virginia Tech. I think that certainly gives certainly credence to how good of a football team they are.
"I think over the last couple of years TCU has played extraordinarily well against people outside of their conference, whether it be in Bowl games or non-conference match-ups. I think people sometimes take all of those things into consideration.
"I think the more prevalence that teams like Boise, Nevada, and some of those schools that maybe don't get as much national notoriety from success over a lot of years or period of time certainly warrants the fact that they definitely deserve consideration, you know.
"It doesn't diminish the fact, I don't think, that week in and week out playing in the ACC or the SEC or the Big 12 is significantly challenging. That's not trying to pass judgment on the depth of any other conference, but those present enormous challenges. And sometimes there might be a one-loss team that might actually be truly better than any of the undefeated teams."
Just as a philosophical question: If they were one of the last two undefeated teams, do you think they would at that point deserve a spot in the title game or would you really look at those one-loss teams?
"Well, again, I think it has to do with the one-loss teams, who did they beat? They may have beaten four or five teams with losing records. I mean, it's hard to speculate until you say, okay, here's the two teams that you're considering. Compare their schedule, compare how they're playing, who they've played and maybe margin of victory.
"There are a lot of things that you would take into consideration as to whether or not you would take an undefeated team just solely because they were undefeated or a one-loss team solely because they played in a particular conference."