"It was good to get another win on the road, especially in league play so I'm proud of the way our guys played. I thought we played with a lot of energy and excitement tonight throughout the entire game, not only in the first half but also in the second half. We had a lot of guys playing that we had to rely on and they got the job done. It wasn't pretty at times. I thought we were inconsistent especially in the first half offensively. The only thing I can say defensively is we played really well other than that one series we gave up a 13-play drive and they converted two fourth downs. Other than that, the defense held them to 3-of-19 on third downs, I mean that's huge. When you do that you've got a great chance to win."
How do you think the offensive line held up?
"We ran the ball pretty well, so I'm just saying in the little bit that I say that I thought they did a nice job. There was pressure a few times on Mitch (Trubisky) that probably shouldn't have been there. We'll get those things cleaned up but you've got William Sweet, who's playing in his first game as a starter, and I think he did a really nice job throughout the game."
You've got some packages with two tight ends and an extra running back. Was that because of the offensive line situation?
"Offensive line, receiver situation. We're a beat up football team. We were doing what we had to do to get a win."
Is the bye week coming at a good time?
"I would have liked it about two or three weeks ago, but yeah it's coming at a great time now. We need it. We need to get some guys healthy, we need to get some guys recovered, and be fresh for the rest of this challenge."
Was Bug (Howard) wearing No. 13 something you're going to continue to do or pass it from player to player?
"That was his idea. He asked if he could do it and I told him he could. He wanted to honor Mack with his play and he did a great job of it. He played really well and Bug's been able to make those plays all year. When you had everyone healthy, you're not zeroing in on one guy. You're spreading it around more. I thought today they gave Bug the opportunity to get open in a few situations and Mitch found him and he did a really nice job."
Did you sense an extra layer of confidence in the defense this week?
"Yeah, they had a great week of practice, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. You can really just see it in their eyes. In meetings and all those things they feel much better about what they're doing and how they're doing it. They're making ordinary plays that they make in practice everyday. That's the thing, they've realized that you don't have to do something special, just do your job in the scheme and things will work out."
When it comes to getting off the field after third down, is it as simple as just making plays?
"That's really all it is. One thing they've done is they've done a much better job of stopping the run. When you're stopping the run and putting them in long yardage situations and they're getting opportunities to shut them down."
How did you think Ayden Bonilla did in his role?
"I didn't watch him specifically, but he must have done his job pretty well. He was there for the run, and he was in there in all the nickel and dime situations and did a really nice job."
No picks in the secondary, but they got they got their hands on the ball this week.
"Yeah. Yup, you're right. That's good."
Was there any difference in the second half? It seemed like your offense was a lot crisper and just seemed like there was more of a tempo in the second half.
"It was more just about becoming more consistent. We had some false start penalties and some of these new guys, it was just little things that you wouldn't notice that were shooting ourselves in the foot. We block a play one way in practice and then they give us that exact look and one of the guys that I thought this guy was going to get him. I mean we've been blocking it in practice all week. I mean those are young guys, and I try to tell them that they're not young anymore. This is going into our 13th week, so they're not young anymore. It's time to step up and do their job."
How important was that third quarter in getting some separation and getting command?
"Anytime you can get some separation, that's when we felt like we got control of the game. We hated giving up that 13-play drive, because at that point we felt like if we got the ball in the end zone again then we could put it away."
When you design a play like the reverse option -- is that what you call it? The reverse option?
"Yeah, it's a trick play. It's a gadget play that we've had in the offense for three or four weeks. We were trying to set it up against Miami and just didn't get the right situation. We felt like it was set up, that we didn't need to do anything else to set it up in this game. We were just waiting for the right situation."
What gives you confidence when you do call a play like that? Why is that the right situation?
"We felt coverage-wise that we were going to get what we wanted. They hadn't seen it from us. The last time we ran that play was against Notre Dame a few years ago. So they hadn't seen it on film. We have about three to four gadgets every week. Sometimes it never gets called. There were two other gadgets that got called that we checked out of during the game that you may see two weeks from now or three weeks from now. The thing that gives you confidence is that we're practicing all the time so our guys feel comfortable. It's not a big deal to them. They've run it probably 15, 20, 30 times in some instances."
You had six defensive backs and one linebacker to start the game. What was the thinking behind that?
"It was probably our dime situation. It depends on what their personnel grouping was on offense. So they were probably in a 10-person line. They probably had one back and four wides on the field, so we'd be in dime."
On the trick play, is that a play that Mack would have been in on?
"Yeah the ball would have gone to Mack."
How did Bug do? How did he transition?
"He did pretty good. We had multiple guys working that position. We always do in all those situations, so it wasn't like he only got one rep of practice, because he's been repping it for a couple weeks. Bug's worked outside and inside on it so he didn't have any problem with the transition."
Is there some gamesmanship in calling a trick play on top of their trick play?
"I mean we didn't call a trick play because they called a trick play. We go into a game with about three or four every game, and if the right opportunity comes up. A lot of times we only work in a certain situation. That's why we feel confident. If we get that situation, the play should work."
How much of a catalyst are those plays when they work?
"Hey, when they work, the kids love it, they get excited, they have a good time with it. They always want something different. Just like a face mask, that was a big deal to them. Like, it's a blue face mask. That's a big deal to them."
What did you see out of Thomas Jackson?
"Thomas is a kid that walked on our football team, earned a scholarship, earned the respect of all his teammates, and he is a great teammate. Week in and week out he keeps contributing so we'll take all the kids that we can find like that in the state of North Carolina."
On their trick play did you consider calling a timeout?
"I did. I did consider calling a timeout. In fact, I was going to call a timeout and the defense said 'We got this.' We had practiced it and he had that guy."
What is the plan for this week?
"I'm going to turn them loose tomorrow and Monday and they're going to practice Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and then get some more rest on the weekend and then we'll come back and have a real practice on Sunday, not what we normally do. Tuesday may be we try to get a lot of the young guys some reps. Let as many of those older guys who have gotten a lot of reps, let them get a little bit of a break and recover more."
Were the tight ends more involved in the run game than they normally are?
"I don't think so. There was only one package where we were running a 22-personnel."
They were lined up similar to a fullback, working as the lead blocker.
"We do that every week. We were in our ‘rose’ and ‘lilly' schemes where he's in the backfield. The play was having success so we ran it more. Based on what they were doing in their 3-4 scheme they had the outside backer lined up out over No. 2. So that's a lot of room there for him to go get a block. So it just made it easier to do."