On defensive end Junior Gnonkonde:
“He’s just getting better every week. You see him growing. He plays hard all the time. He did a great job with his assignments. Whether it was to take the dive or take the quarterback , he really did a nice job of that, and that’s hard to do in a game like that.”
On Jeff Schoettmer’s onside kick recovery:
“To me, it was probably the most important play of the entire game. If they get that ball right there, the way they were playing, that could have been the end. I thought that was probably the biggest play of the game.”
How do you and try and safe guard against a surprise onside kick?
“We do practice it every week. When we are on our kickoff return team, in fact today were working on kickoff returns, and then he’ll kick a surprise onside. The only thing you can do is those five guys up front have to see the ball kicked, they have to do their job, and that is part of their job, and if they fail to do that and you give up a play like that, you’re letting the whole team down. It’s a very small thing, but it’s a very big thing.”
What are your impressions coming out of that game about the defense?
“My first impression is that I’m glad we don’t play the triple option again this year and I’m glad we only have to do it once a year. We know we’re going to have to play better if we’re going to accomplish what we want to accomplish the rest of the way down the road. But we don’t face an offense like that, so Sunday, we didn’t spend much time with the defense on the film, we went straight into Virginia to get ready for Virginia. Offensively, we watched the film because we are going to see those things again with what they do. It’s more about moving ahead and getting ready for Virginia.”
You said on Monday that you’re still proud of the defense.
“Let me tell you, again, on the sideline, it was both sides picking each other up, no matter what was happening in the game. Defense come off the field, the offense says, hey, don’t worry about it, we got it. The offense comes off the field, defense says, we’ll get them. It was really a great team effort.”
How do you try and teach that physicality to your running backs?
“I think Larry [Porter] does a great job with that with the way he drills them in practice and everything. Now you can’t do that all week and think that a guy is going to last the whole season. We are smart with what we do with them during the week, but on Saturday they have to bring it. It’s really a mentality, that’s all it is, that you’re going to finish runs off, you’re not going to go backwards, you’re going to put a little punishment on the other guy instead of taking the punishment.”
Who is the most physical back you have? Would you say Elijah Hood?
“I would say Hood. He’s 225 pounds and that’s his running style. He has no interest in making you miss.”
Do you have any feel for when Hood will be back?
“I don’t know right now. We’d love to have him back, but it’s not going to happen right now.”
What is the process for switching a guy over to the other side of the ball, if necessary?
“The guy has to be pretty comfortable with where he is at, first of all. To be able to take time out of his practice and what he has to got to do offensively or defensively and then flip him over to the other side and get him reps over there. It’s tough to do, so you have to tailor your practice to it.”
Would you be open to sharing the conversation that Mack Brown had with you when you were at Oklahoma State?
“I remember a lot of it. I was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State and we played Texas and we were going to continue to play them. We’d done well offensively against them and I was going to be in Texas recruiting, and I thought, ‘what the heck, I’m going to call the man and ask him if he’d be willing to talk to me,’ and he was very gracious. He spent two hours with me actually, and I wanted to know what I needed to do in the future to become a head coach. I was hoping to get 15 minutes with him and he spent two hours sitting on the couch with me, and he gave me a lot of advice about what you need to do as a head coach. I was overwhelmed at just how nice he was and the information that he gave me.”
You talked to him before inquiring about this job?
“I did. When this job came open and I knew they had some interest in me, he was the first person that I called. I wanted to know what his thoughts were.”
“They’re really playing some good football. They’re so much more improved this year than they were last year on film, as we compare games and look at our game from last year, and the games they are playing this year. They have seven seniors on defense, they’re playing really well on that side of the ball. They’re really confident. They are moving the ball well on offense. And we’re playing at their place, and that’s always tough to do. So they’re going give us everything that they’ve got.”
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