How did Charlie's classmates treat him on Monday?"Not bad, not bad. He only had one altercation. It wasn't physical, but he had one altercation. So it was a lot better than what we were planning for. Anyone who is a Dad knows what those things are like. It's one thing when you have to live it because it's your job. But it's another thing when they have to re-live it as a kid. He felt he got through that relatively unscathed. I cannot repeat what the kid said to him."
Will you explain the scout team and who is on it?"Last year, Shane Waldron, our offensive graduate assistant, ran the defensive show team and Jeff Burrow, who is our defensive graduate assistant, ran our offensive show team, mainly because they break down the opposite side of the ball. So the defensive GA breaks down the offense and knows that best. The offensive GA breaks down the defense and knows that best. The difference between this year's scout team and last year's scout team is that we have so many developing young players that they really need coaching points from their side of the ball. So this year we have flip-flopped it and the offensive GA has the offense and the defensive GA has the defensive guys. That has allowed us to have a better information flow in our staff about who's developing at a faster pace."
How important is the play of the scout team?"It's very important, but it is usually tough to simulate/emulate the speed of the game. Like you can read a card and give an a appearance of what a play looks like, but the tempo is so much slower than when you get in a game and it's going for real and you have seen the play, but boom it's going so much faster than the one you saw in practice."
Last year Brady would throw a jump ball to Stovall. Is that missing from this year's offense?"To sit here and say that we don't miss Mo (Stovall) would be a lie. Mo played great for us last year and that's why he's in Tampa Bay right now. He's a very productive player and a tall guy and has pluckability as I used to say. Would you want to have him? Of course, absolutely, but that's called graduation. You move on and fortunately we have a guy like Rhema (McKnight) coming back for a fifth year. Next year, we will lose Jeff (Samardzija) and Rhema and it will be a whole different set of circumstances."
What is Asaph's (Schwapp) status?"I would say marginal. The swelling has gone way down. I just don't see him running well enough. They say he's day-to-day and if said that to you, all you guys would think I'm lying anyway. He just doesn't look good enough to me at this point."
What is the status of Ambrose (Wooden)?"He's back today and is way better, and I was pleasantly surprised because I thought it would be closer to Thursday's practice what I saw out there today."
Could you talk about (Chinedum) Ndukwe's ability to force turnovers?"First of all I think instincts definitely come into play and both our safeties, the ball seems to come to them. So you can't just say it's by chance. Usually there has to be something to that. I think what is happening with him now is that he has a lot more range. Sometimes those balls that are up there are a little easier for him to get to."
You say you like to keep things on an even keel, but how do you incorporate emotion into the weekly plan?"Well, today I got off the even keel. You have to set a tempo for the week first. Yesterday the most important thing was getting them back on the field. Because anytime you have a loss like that, the best thing that can happen to them is getting out and practicing again. Now once I got passed that, today we put more pressure on them. If you start squeezing them the first day out there, they already feel bad enough. The first thing is to get the tempo going which we did yesterday; and that continued today. Today I started getting on them more about execution with a purpose; not just execution, but execution with a purpose. Like today was a big third-down day. But we also had a first and second down review before we went to third down. So I stopped practice and let them know how important production on first and second down is. So now on third down you're spending a lot more on third down; you're spending a lot more on short and intermediate than you are third and long yardage."
Is Ndukwe having problems because he wears that brace all the time?"We have a bunch of guys who wear protective braces. I really don't track them. So I wouldn't know one from the other, but the big guys I make wear knee braces. Any guy who is banged up will go ahead and wear one too. He's in good shape."
You said you would have meetings with individuals. Does that include meeting with Brady?"I meet with him whenever he wants to stop by my office. My door is always open and he likes to stop by my office. Coach Vaas has him with a whole group and I have him more as an individual. So he gets double-teamed."
Do you think teams playing you for a second time have an advantage such as picking up blocking schemes?"I don't think they would have much of an advantage because I've never been one to really change blocking schemes. What I do is change personnel groups and looks. From the first day I talked with you guys, I talked about being a formation and personnel coach. So it's not that you really run a whole bunch of different play. It's the appearance that you give to the other side of the ball. Now that becomes greatly simplistic when you get way behind in the game. Because now all those looks and creativity kind of goes out the window; now you're just slinging it down the field and getting as many receivers out there as you can in various horizontal and vertical zones."
Do you ever talk to players about their poor game when scouts are in attendance?"We don't talk about it, but I'm sure they think about it. We don't talk about it because they've just played three games. So if you want to base it off their last game and say this guy's no good; tell me after the 12th game. You get judged by the season, not by one performance."
When you were an NFL coach, is this how you looked at it?"You used to try to look at the three or four best games and whatever bad games you could find. It's easy to fall in love with a guy if all you do is look at his good stuff. But it's very important to try and find the bad things as well."
Will scouts be looking at the intangibles as to how they come back this week?"I agree; I'm looking for it too."
How would you rate the defense against the pass to this point?"It has been a game-by-game deal and sometimes it's been a half-to-half deal. Look at the second half of the Georgia Tech game; we went into rolling into Calvin the whole time because we weren't blitzing a whole bunch in that situation. The defensive line had a very productive half, I think for the most part, and I don't have the stats exactly in my head; third downs have been the difference. Our defense has gotten off the field some on third down and we have not stayed on the field on third down offensively. So I'd have to say it's been a game-to-game type situation. It was tough to play the defensive line in a pass-rush mode last week because they can pick their poison and decide whatever you want when you're up by three scores. If you want to run, you run; if you want to pass, you pass. What the defensive line has been trying to do is get the ball back, which in the second half; they got off the field six out of seven times on third down."
Where do you think the offense is at this time?"We're coming off a bad game. I'm not big on stats; I'm just big on production. I've said it to all of you a zillion times, it is turnovers. The biggest margins you could ever talk about is turnovers. Through the first two games we hadn't turned it over once. Then offensively we turned it over four times last week. And if we turn it over four times this week; we'll lose again."
Is there a little bit of a comfort zone knowing that you're going on the road on another business trip this week?"When the team comes off a loss like that and is a little bit fragile, the fact that they have the confidence of going on the road and playing helps you out some as a coach. Because now you don't have to appeal to – hey, we can do it, we can do it. You can appeal to - you've done it and this isn't something new for you. We've gone to a lot of places the last two years and you've been successful. So it helps with the coaching aspect of working with the psyche of the team."
Is this game a little more significant coming off a loss?"I'm never going to be the one who says, it's okay to lose this one and we'll win the next one. And I'm the wrong person to ever be thinking like that. A bounce-back would be good for everybody, especially after the way the last game went. A bounce-back would be very uplifting, especially for yours truly." (laughter)
Is it fair to categorize the team as a little tired after three games?"No, I would say inconsistent. I wouldn't say tired. I think we have been inconsistent and as I sat there last week and earlier this week talking about putting your finger on what needs to improve from the top on down, it has to be more consistent play. Whether that be penalties, turnovers, mental errors, offense, defense, special teams; we have to play more consistent. And that's what we have been working on the most this week."
Inaudible question"Inconsistencies stem from a combination of all those things happening at different times. For example, you run a third and one play on the field and one guy gets beat and now you don't convert. You might have had 10 guys doing great, but one guy gets beat and you're punting. So you need all 11 guys on every play because if you don't, something bad is going to happen. There can't be inconsistent play by anyone or any unit. It all has to gel together."
Do you feel that this will be more of a free-wheeling game coming off last week's loss?"I think our players will go to Michigan State just like they go everywhere else, expecting to win the game. They're going to expect to win the game. Michigan State expects to win the game too. But our players will not be going there ‘hoping' to win the game because they will not be on the trip if that's how they are acting. The guys going are ‘expecting' to win the game."
With Brady being a leader on the team, how did you deal with him following the Michigan game?"I explained that to him in my locker room after the game on Saturday. Normally I don't spend a lot of time with players after the game. I let them be with the players and go with their families. I sent Charlie to go get Brady and bring him back to my locker room after I was done with the media to just let him know that everyone looks at you now, just like everyone looks at me. Every player is going to look at you and how you handle this. They're going to follow the leader and if the leader is ranting and raving or in the tank or walking around in the doldrums and not handling himself professionally, everyone sees that and when that happens whether it be the head coach or the quarterback, things can fall apart relatively quickly."
Brady was pretty loose with the media today. Has he been that way all week?"Surprisingly so, but I didn't start squeezing him today so maybe he'll be a little tighter tomorrow."
Can you explain what Coach Minter meant when talking to the linebackers about this being a space game?"They like to spread you out like they did last year. They spread us out all over the place and now the linebackers have to be ready to play in space. Now they can go either way because they don't play just in space; that's one of the concerns for the linebackers that you're going to be playing the majority of this game in big spaces and then you've got to win one-on-one battles and make tackles."
How did Demetrius Jones look with the scout team?"He looked pretty good yesterday; not perfect. He didn't get the game ball yet but he's giving it a good look, I can tell you that. I told Demetrius in our team meeting on Tuesday, probably one of the most important people on our team this week was going to be him because he is the one who is going to emulate Stanton and the better look he can give us like Stanton, the better we can figure out what real problems we will have against a formidable offense. This is a heck of a quarterback we're going against here."
Coach Haywood was on Munir Prince today. How's his progress?"You only get on them when you want them to play. When you don't want them to play, you don't waste a whole lot of time coaching them. One of my pet peeves is an assistant coach hammering some guy who is fourth team and who isn't even going to get in the game. If you're going to hammer someone, hammer someone who is going to get ready to play in the game. I think that's important. Too many guys take those guys and say, you've got to do this right and they're not even going to play in a game. So I think Coach Haywood is trying to get him ready to put in a game. And we'd love to find a way to involve him in the mix because he runs so fast. But right now, Darius is clearly our guy."