“Finishing up last week’s game, we were able to go back, there were a lot of things that we were able to pull from this game that will hopefully pay off for us in the future as we continue to grow in all three phases. We still have a lot of work to do in all three phases and we understand that, but I do believe we are showing some improvement.”
Where is some of that improvement on the defensive side of the ball?
“That is the hardest thing. It’s more about attitude and effort and all of those things. I’m happy to say we don’t face the triple option again this year, so we don’t have to be concerned with it. But, I still think our attitudes and the way we’re practicing, and the belief in what we are doing is still very good.”
It looks like you’ve been trying to get the running backs more involved?
I think part of that is what defenses are doing against us, because Quise has made them aware that he can run the football and they have to take that into account, which has opened up things for the running backs. And the offense line, we’ve had a little more continuity two weeks in a row with the same guys out there becoming a bit more familiar with each other and just playing better a actually.”
On having confidence in his running backs:
“I’ve never not had confidence in them. Those guys are good players. You put the ball in their hands and give them some cracks, they’ll make some plays for you and they ran physical the other night. You saw that the way they finished runs, and I was proud of that fact.”
The offensive line the past couple of weeks - is this what you hoped to see?
“I didn’t expect it to start. I said that was the area where we were going to have to grow and gel together as we went, and with the injuries that we had, it threw us a little bit further behind. But the last couple of weeks you’ve seen those guys get better, there’s been a definite difference in the way that they’ve played.”
How did the young defensive line grade out?
“It was average. That’s the thing about what they faced last week. You can do good, do good, do good, do good, and then the one time you don’t take care of your responsibility the full back is running for 15 yards on the dive. They were okay. Nothing spectacular. I don’t think anybody really stood out up there. But like I said, we did enough to win a football game.”
Given the challenge of some of the youth up front is okay, is okay good enough right now?
“Okay is never okay. It has to be, because what are you going to do. I still expect them to get better. I expect them to be better this week than we were last week. As long as we keep getting better, as long as we keep growing, we’ll be all right.”
Is there a notable difference in anything Marquise is doing in the last two games?
“I really think it’s just he’s gotten into a pretty good rhythm. Really, you go back to - for me on the sideline, three minutes and seven seconds left on the clock and three timeouts, and they had just hit us with a big play, and I said all right, and he said no big deal, we do it every week. He’s talking about in practice and the two minute situation and there was no panic in him, just go out there and play. He did a really good job of not forcing the ball on that series, checking it down on the swing to the back. He was pretty methodical actually, I was proud of him.”
Your thoughts on the efficiency with finishing drives?
“It’s been very good. He’s done a really good job of taking care of the ball. The early one there, the pick, the one where he was trying to make a play on, he’s trying to be too careful. Just throw the ball.. If you’re going to throw, throw it, if you’re going to run, then run. Make a decision and go with it.”
In terms of the decision making, has he come a long way in that regard?
“I think so. I think he’s gotten better and better every week. When you make good decisions and when you don’t make a good decision you make something out of it, you gain confidence. The drive in the fourth quarter where we stalled and ended up punting, he pulled the ball on a read there, and it shouldn’t have been pulled, it wasn’t even close. But he had already made up his mind he was going to pull it and make a play, and he didn’t make a play and again. Stay within the offense, take what they give you, and we’ll be ok. And when you get outside of that, things happen. He wasn’t able to make a play and we ended up having to punt.”
On the 4th-and-6 play to Mack Hollins:
“We got all out blitz zero coverage, everybody was coming, and [Williams] knew he was going to get hit, because we don’t have enough to protect him there, and he believed Mack was going to make a play and so he threw a great ball up there. One guy was right under his chin and he was getting hit and he did a nice job. Actually the ball was going to go to the slot receiver, but he just felt like Mack would make a play in that situation.”
Is Ryan Switzer the kind of guy who is going to take less risks on special teams if he is having the kind of game he had on Saturday?
“I hope not, but maybe that has happened. I spent a lot of time this past week talking to him about not forcing anything in the punt return game, because all we’ve done is try to force things and we’ve gone backwards, we’ve been very poor in that aspect. I thought he did a good job the other day. He only had one that he had a chance at and the guy hung it up there and did a good job and they got down the field. There’s no reason to force it there. Just fair catch it, and we’ll move on to the next one.”
What do you see out of Virginia that makes them a more formidable opponent than years past?
“They’re a much improved football team I can tell you that. I’ve spent most of the morning watching their defense, I think they have seven seniors there on the defense, they have confidence over there, and they’re running hard to the ball. They’ve got a freshman free safety that’s making plays for them, Quinton Blanding. They’ve added him to a very solid secondary, which has made them even better. And then they are good up front, they play hard up front, they rotate probably about eight guys pretty consistently. The mike backer #44 is a load, he brings it downhill, and he’s going to test your manhood every single time.”
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