Loss Still Lingers

This loss clearly hurt. Now four days after their crushing loss to Boston College, it's clearly obvious this Irish team needed an off week this week. A number of defensive players were made available to the media after Wednesday's practice and the anguish and hurt of the disappointing loss could still be seen on their faces.

Senior linebacker Mike Goolsby is a team leader for the Irish, and the Joliet, Ill. native said while the loss still hurts, it's time for the team to move on.

"I think people are still hurting a little bit," said Goolsby of the team mood. "It's nice to have that extra week to get over it and prepare for the next big game for us. What better place to get over and play then down in Tennessee."

We asked Goolsby how he'll get the team back up to play after such a disappointing loss.

"We've got three games left and we can still end our season the way we want," Goolsby said. "Our team is mature enough to know that. We just need to get ready to play another game."

Goolsby admitted that the loss still is in the back of his mind at this point.

"It was extremely disappointing," he said. "It was a very emotional loss. It was a game I was looking forward to when I was sitting out last year. It's two big games for us back to back and we just need to get a win in the last one."

The Irish have turned their attention to their next opponent, Tennessee. Goolsby said one thing jumps out at him about the Volunteers.

"The most obvious thing is how big their O-line is," he said. "They're a bunch of monsters. They do a lot of different things, but nothing we haven't seen before. Obviously they have great athletes down there. The coaches, with this extra week, will more than have us ready for this game."

The fifth-year senior said he can't wait to get back on the field to play another game, and he's glad it's going to be in Neyland Stadium.

"I was talking with coach Mattison about the game yesterday," said Goolsby. "He said once you get into that stadium, it's like walking on air. I'm looking forward to playing in that big-time atmosphere."

The hurt was still plastered on senior defensive ends Kyle Budinscak's face on Wednesday when he met with the media. We asked Budinscak if he were glad that the team can now move on from the Boston College loss with the weekend off to enjoy.

"Yes, I am," Budinscak said. "I haven't slept a whole lot in the last four or five days. I haven't really not thought about the game for 10 consecutive minutes since it happened. It's the hardest thing I ever had to try to put away."

Budinsack was asked why it was so hard to forget last Saturday's loss to the Eagles.

"Because the way we lost," he said. "The letdown we had as a team. The letdown I had personally playing that game, and what it meant to our season. It's one thing you want back more than anything in the world and you can't have it back."

Budinscak also agreed with Goolsby, the Irish need to move on to Tennessee.

"The offensive line is really big," said Budinscak of the Volunteers. "They're a bunch of really big guys, and they've got talented people on their team. I'm confident if we play our defense, and we show up for the game, we can come away with a win."

Even head coach Tyrone Willingham pointed out that the loss is still lingering amongst his players.

"There's still some remnants of it," he said "There's some things that we weren't very happy about in the ballgame—some things that we work on this week so we kind of never lose that preparation for Tennessee, but yet at the same time, trying to make sure you make those corrections from B.C."

The Irish secondary was victimized most of the second half of the Boston College game. Willingham was asked what he said to his secondary unit to help them get over the loss.

"We knew coming into the season that there would be a lot of challenges for our secondary—it's that way every week," Willingham said. "Every team offers you some good receivers so we've got to be up to face that challenge all the time. You talk to them about that overall concept of having short memory, of being able to bounce back. If you make a mistake, it happens. Don't let that hinder you from having success."

A bye week usually brings opportunity for some of the younger players to get some reps with the offense and defense. We asked Willingham if he's been pleased with what he's seen this week from some of the younger players.

"I'm excited about their enthusiasm," he said. "What you find is that with this much time of not really not getting the true work and the true focus, they lose a little bit. So this is a great time to really reeducate them to the defense, to the offense, and kind of bring them along a little bit. It's good to see them work and start to see them grow again."

While he was excited about some of their play, the third-year Irish head coach wouldn't talk specifics on Wednesday.

"I'm not big on singling out," he said. "I like the focus to be our team and there was some good work today."

Willingham also mentioned his team would love to play a game this weekend to wipe the bad taste of the Boston College loss out of their mouths. For his sake, they have to be happy they didn't have a game this week because it was clearly obvious this loss was going to take a while to get over.

Fortunately they have the weekend off and we expect to see the Irish energized and ready to go for their big game next weekend at Tennessee.

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