“We've had obviously a very short turnaround to get prepared for a really good football team on Thursday night. And our guys are very excited and very anxious to get back out on the field and show people where we are.”
Your last game against Pittsburgh was a little bit of an offensive shootout. What you can say about your offense’s growth throughout the season?
“I think we are growing offensively. I think in the offensive line we're making improvement. We're starting to grow up up there a little bit more. I think as an offense we understand who we are this year and what we're able to do and what we're good at. And so I think if we can play well if we have a chance to take care of the football.”
As far as Marquise and what you've seen from him, what have you seen in his perseverance throughout the season and also in his growth?
“I think perseverance is a great words with Quise. He started that Pitt game, wasn't playing didn't throw the ball the way we would have liked to have thrown it, just wasn't hitting. But he kept fighting through it and kept pressing and then he started making plays. And 16 completions in a row. He didn't get frustrated. He kept playing. I think the growth has been in the maturity and the way he's handle himself and his teammates.”
Earlier in the season he was having to look over his shoulder. How much do you think the vote of confidence that you gave him throughout the season has allowed him to play through some of those mistakes and finish the games well?
“First of all, I don't think it was a question of looking over your shoulder. Everything that we did was planned. It has nothing to do with the way one guy was playing or another. And he fully understood that and knew that. So I don't think that has been a factor for him at all.
“I think it's more about how he's matured as a football player. And as a person. He understands that you're not going to be perfect all the time. And that nobody is. And that no matter what happens, we just keep playing and we look to the next play and don't let the former play affect the next one. If we can do that, we've got a chance to be okay.”
I know you talked a lot during the offseason about how you wanted to reevaluate every year. When this season ends and as you get into the offseason, is this Marquise's job? Or does he and Mitch Trubisky continue to go back and forth as you get set for next year?
“I really haven't even thought about it with this short of a week, and believe me, every second has been on preparing for a dang good football team. I haven't given any thought to anything beyond this week.”
I was just looking at the numbers and everything going into this game. And I was interested in the special teams play. Looking at the numbers, right now, they're one of the best return teams in the league. But you're just about at or right at the top in coverage in both kickoffs and returns. Can you talk about the special team battle and how important that will be?
“Well, I told the team that that will be the difference in the game. And it will be the most important factor, probably one of the most important factors. And something that we emphasize all year, so it's not like it's something new for our kids, we know that. Both of our coverage units have done a really good job this year. But our kickoff team unit last year had done a good job, except for one play.
“And so that's what it boils down to. It's a one play and out situation. When you're on the field one play. And that one play can make or break the game. So you have to treat it that way, no matter what the situation is, you've got to expect that that play is going to be the difference in the game. And our guys know that they're a great return unit, or they have great return units on both their kickoff and the punt. And our guys understand the challenge ahead of them.”
Are you happy with what your kickers have accomplished this year?
“We're talking kickoffs and punts or what are we talking about?”
“No, I'm not happy with our placekicking at all. Nowhere even close to it. But it is what it is. And I keep encouraging. We keep working, just like we do any position, and expect them to perform when they go back out on the field. You never know when that's going to happen. And again, that play could be the play that determines the outcome of the game. It's something that we constantly are working on.”
T.J. Logan has put together some good games for you recently. Where is he in his development? And how he does he add to your attack?
“We're a much better football team when T.J. Logan is playing well, there's no doubt about that. We need our running backs to be effective running the ball. We need to take some of that pressure off Marquise. So it helps us tremendously. I think he's still growing as a running back, I really do. I think in high school he could run away from just about everybody. And it's a little bit different at this level. And you've got to understand that you're going to have to break tackles and make plays when things aren't there.”
Has he shown you the ability to do that and get better?
“Yeah, there's no doubt. I think he's getting better and better. He gets better each week. He's been consistent for us. He made plays last week, spun out tackles, picked up extra yards. He's coming along really well for us.”
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