Larry, can you talk about the period of the game where everybody seemed to become unglued? You got the call against you, the safety occurred. What happened there? What did you say? What really went down?
“Well we had the penalty on the lineman downfield and I was questioning the call. The guy didn’t like what I said so he threw the flag on me which is nobodies fault but mine. It’s my fault. It’s the first time it’s ever happened in my life so I’m pretty disappointed. Then we’re backed up on the two or three yard line and they get the safety. That’s all on me, nobody but me.”
You talk about the mistakes, are you talking primarily about penalties or a kind of a grand game of mistakes?
“We had 13 penalties. We don’t need to go that way. We had penalties everywhere. You know with these early games we always talked about it. It’s going to be special teams, it’s going to be turnovers, and penalties. That’s it. It’s going to determine these early games. And there’s so much unknown in a game like this so we can’t overcome those types of things. You couldn't overcome them. Maybe we’ll eventually evolve into a team that can but we couldn’t tonight.”
What did you see in Mitch’s performance tonight? With the deep balls in the first half it looked like you had some guys open and just couldn’t get it there, there’s too much air under a couple of them.
“Yeah. I mean I’ll have to go back and look at the film. I was pleased with his poise. The first thing we asked him to do was take care of the football. I don’t remember him throwing the ball into any coverage or anything like that so I thought he did a nice job of that. I think he got a little ancy a couple of times and had some time that he didn’t realize that he had. But I think he’ll be fine going forward I really do. We didn’t throw the ball near as well as we needed to to be successful. Probably would have loved to run it more. We were so inconsistent offensively we weren’t moving the chains and so that makes you start guessing on all your play calls. When you’re trying to hit your big plays and get something going and we just didn’t make them.”
What’s the challenge with trying to defend Nick Chubb and that rushing attack?
“He’s pretty good. There’s no doubt that he’s really good. What Chaney does with him is good. He’s got a good scheme and his offensive line is doing a nice job. It doesn’t take much for that guy, he’s pretty special. There’s no doubt he’s one of the best ones in the country and they’re going to keep feeding it to him.”
Late in the first half you guys get down to the five and Elijah isn’t on the field for three straight pass plays. What was the thinking there?
“We thought we had what we wanted to throw the ball. They outnumbered us in the box. They were going Cover Zero. All of those were run checks with passes tagged to them. Because it was Cover Zero we knew they were bringing blitzes and that was the plan.”
Larry you mentioned you would have liked to run it more. Why did you guys not run it more?
“Because we were so inconsistent in everything we were doing. There were a couple of series we felt like we were doing things the right way, but you can’t be second and long on every series and think you’re going to run the ball effectively. So I thought first down was tough on us. We weren’t effective on first down enough. And that caused us to get behind the chains and then it makes it tough to run.”
Given the amount of experience you have on this team, were you surprised by that inconsistency?
“Yeah, I was surprised. But you have to give those guys credit, we weren’t out there going against air. There were some good players on that other side of the ball and they did a nice job and Kirby knows how to defend people. So I think part of it was just trying to adjust to the things we didn’t know we were going to see. That’s part of the game. It was the way it happened.”
With the 13 penalties, what do you attribute all the sloppiness to?
“Well I hope I can say that's first game, but we’ll see what happens and how we get that corrected and how we play. I think some of it was just guys trying to play extra hard and making stupid penalties. There were some things we did that were not characteristic of us. Hopefully we can get that going back in the right direction.”
You’re very careful about not creating the ‘all your eggs in one basket’ with your team about this game. What did you say to them after this?
“I didn’t talk to them about our goals. I think all of our goals are still intact. We knew if we won this game or lost it it wasn’t really going to have a huge impact for our goals this season. Now, it’s what do we learn from this game and how do we react to what happened in this game? Even though I didn’t put all our eggs in one basket, there are a lot of guys on this team that are hurting because they wanted to win this football game and they expected to win it. We’ve got to get them to bounce back. Sunday we’ve got to have a really good practice. They know what’s expected and I think our seniors and leaders on this team will do a good job of that.”
Can you share your thoughts about opening the game here at Chick-Fil-A?
“Well first of all, Chick-Fil-A do a great job with this game. For our players, our fans, and everybody, they have such a great set up here and hopefully someday we’ll be able to come back and do it again because it was a lot of fun. It really was. It was a great matchup and unfortunately we just came up on the short side.”
What was the breakdown on that 55-yard run by Chubb that broke the game open?
“We were in an all out blitz situation there and we just didn’t fit it well. They got us outnumbered on a gap and we didn’t fit it well and so it broke it open right there. I think we had a couple of guys with the opportunity to make the tackle on him but we won’t be the only ones who don’t make a tackle on that guy he’s pretty good.”
Can you talk about your prep for Lambert and Eason coming in? Which quarterback you faced and once it became Eason what you thought of him?
“We prepared the same way for either one because we didn’t know which one was going to play. There was no way of knowing. You saw it open up a bit more when Eason was in the game. It gave us some issues, also. But both quarterbacks did a nice job. I didn’t evaluate either one of them but both of them are quality guys and both of them did what they need to do to win a football game. That was all that mattered.”