How much of a surprise do you think you have with the new defense?"I don't think there will be much of a surprise. Coach Gailey and that staff have seen a lot of football. I think they will be able to adjust relatively easily. They have a lot of good players and a really, really good quarterback; a really good running back; so I think they won't have a hard time adjusting to anything at all."
You don't think you will have a little advantage because they don't know your tendencies?"No, because like I said Coach Gailey is very experienced and anytime you are dealing with good coaches – and that's what he has done for a living – that's why he is in the position he is in, and he will be prepared; trust me."
Georgia Tech has faced a 3-4 defense before. How tough of a test will this opener be for your defense?"This is a tough game because they have so much talent. If you look at what they did at their last bowl game; they scored a ton of points. They were able to run the ball and they were able to throw the ball. They lose Johnson but they have guys there that are more than accomplished; really good players. They've got good fullbacks; good tailbacks. It's a tough test because of the talent they have, and they have really good coaches and I've respected that program for awhile now."
What have you seen of Tashard Choice on tape?"Well, he does all of the things that good running backs do. He reads the hole well; he can break tackles; he can run away from guys. I think he has excellent vision and I think he can be physical when he needs to be. He reminds me of a lot of the guys I have played against and coached against the past few years. When you look at him, he can hit the homerun. He's a big-time tailback and he'll probably be in the running for the Heisman when it is all said and done. So it's just something that we have to gear up for and really be focused. We have to play together and we have to make sure we know where he is at all times."
What was your initial impression of Darrin Walls and the progress he has made?"He's developed fairly well and has had a relatively good camp. He will be tested this week so we'll find out exactly where he is Saturday."
When was the decision made that Walls would be a starter?"Well, he has been relatively consistent and both of those guys have played at a good level. You really could almost have gone either way with it, but it was just something that the coaching staff now just decided to look at it and we'll go from there."
Is this one of the situations where having depth is a good problem?"Yes, that's a good problem; that's definitely a good problem."
What is your overall impression of the secondary?"They'll be put to the test this week. Like I said, we'll be playing a really good, good quarterback. He has not played a lot but when you look at him on tape, you wouldn't know that. He can throw all the balls and he reads extremely well. He gives his receivers an opportunity to catch the ball which a lot of quarterbacks don't do. You look at some of the so-called great quarterbacks in college and they don't give their receivers a chance. He gives their receivers a chance. He's a really, really good quarterback."
How anxious are you this week going into the first game and not knowing how well your defense will play?"I don't know if it's anxious because you have a schedule that you follow and you have things that you have to do. Because your time is always taken up with putting together scripts, practice plans, evaluations; you really don't have time to sit back and think about I can't wait for game time. You just prepare and go through the motions and through the steps and it's Wednesday already. We'll see."
Will it be different for you because you will be calling the plays?"There will be some differences but the last couple of years, even if I didn't call the plays when the plays came out, I had that thought process and that mind set; especially as a secondary coach. You always would say this would be nice in this situation. So you just go from there."
Will there be a difference with you being the defensive coordinator versus being a defensive coach?"Yes, now when something happens, it's your fault; not anybody else's fault. Like I said, you just have more responsibility. You have to be sure the team is prepared and do whatever it takes to get them prepared. You have to cross all the T's and, fortunately, I have been around some good guys that really helped me a lot. This is a tough week because of the talent and because of the team we are playing. We will be tested this week for sure, so we'll see where we are."
Does Coach Weis go over the game-day procedures with the coaching staff?"Coach Weis goes over everything. He goes over everything so I think we have talked about every aspect of game day; pre-game, post-game. He doesn't leave out much. He's always two weeks ahead so it's hard to sneak up on him."
Were you expecting that out of him when you came here?"Yes, because that's the program. That's how both Bills (Parcels, Belichick) are. Coach Groh is like that. Coach Weis is a smart dude anyway. Naturally, he is going to be like that coupled with the fact that he spent time with those guys."
Have you talked with Coaches Parcels, Belichick, Groh recently?"I've gotten notes from a couple of the guys and I talked with Coach Parcels for a little while. Everybody keeps in touch with each other. Sometimes it's over the phone or through notes or secondhand information."
Do they talk to you mostly about having confidence to do the job?"I don't think it's confidence; it's mostly making sure you are doing the things that you are supposed to do. The confidence thing is already taken care of; that's down the road. There are other things you have to worry about right now like what's going to happen on third down; what's going to happen on first down; what's going to happen in two minutes; what's going to happen in the red zone; what's going to happen on the goal line. So you have to take care of those things."
It's been mentioned that Darrin Walls has been playing physical in this camp. Is that something he did in the spring also?"He did it in the spring, but that's something as a staff we talked about across the board that we wanted everyone to do. We wanted everyone to play physical because that is our calling card, so to speak."
Is he physically prepared for the long season?"When you line up for us, you are physically prepared. We don't put anybody out there who's not ready to go and who won't play physical. You don't step foot on the field for us if you aren't going to play physical."
How did the veteran Ambrose Wooden take not being the starter on Saturday?"He's handled it fine. We've told guys from day one you have to be flexible. Just because you are not out on the field the first play, it doesn't necessarily mean you are a starter or not a starter. Because we do so many different things; we rotate guys and we play different packages and everyone is flexible. We don't want guys to be selfish. Our coaches aren't selfish and our players aren't selfish. So if somebody is on the field, regardless of what the capacity is or in regards to ‘who's supposed to be there or who's the starter,' you just support that guy and when you get your chance, everyone does the same."
Is Wooden the leading candidate for the nickel-back spot?"We look at the situation and we put guys out there depending on what the situation is. Sometimes it might be one guy; other times there will be another guy. So it's hard to say who's the nickel back; who's the third corner; or who's the third safety; because it matters on what we are playing package-wise and what we are trying to get done."
Are you going to be on the field or in the box?"We're going to talk about that, and we bounced a couple different things so there are still some things we are going to talk about as a staff. So we will see when we get there."
Do you prefer one over the other?"I don't know; I'm too worried about stopping these guys. I'm not worried about being up or down right now. I'm just trying to stop the run and stop the pass and trying to keep the points down. Like I said, this is probably one of the better offenses in college football. There's not a weakness to this group. It will be a good test for us."
Are you pleased with the depth on the defensive line?"The depth has developed. We have some guys we feel confident in and we will go from there and we'll see. Because like I said, they have a bunch of guys back and they have a really good group so we will need everybody Saturday, for sure, because of their offensive line."
Ideally, how many would you have in the rotation of the defensive line?"It really doesn't matter. It all depends upon how guys play; conditioning-wise how they feel; if we are doing a good job of getting things stopped; how we are going to play package-wise; so you kind of get a feel during the game, so to speak."
If a Chicago public-league player would be the starting quarterback on Saturday, what would you think of that?"I really haven't thought about it, to tell you the truth, because whoever is playing quarterback, that's the guy who is playing. I haven't put too much thought on who it's going to be, whether it's a hot-shot freshman, or whether it's a guy who has been here, or whether it's a guy from the public league. We think more in terms of what is happening on defense. It's tough to look at Georgia Tech's quarterback situation; the running-back situation; the receivers; their offensive line; and then say it would be nice if this guy or that guy would play quarterback. We have problems of our own."
Can you relate some of the things about your very first game in the coaching profession?"I have a bunch of them but that would take a whole another time block that you guys probably don't even have time for. It's like anything else, you go out and have experiences and you say next time around I'll do this different or this worked out pretty well or this will be a good idea to try this. Then you get on the phone and say what did you do in this situation? And you just go from there."
Is there one particular thing that sticks out in that first game?"Yes, never let your emotions get caught up in the moment."
You have just seen Taylor Bennett on tape. How do you prepare for him?"You have to be prepared but the biggest thing about him is his accuracy. I've been around Brady (Tom) and Chad Pennington. I've seen guys with real good accuracy play. I would say he fits in that mold and he can put the ball where he wants to put it. He gives his receivers a chance to catch it. You don't find that a lot in pro ball, let alone in college."
How important is it for the defense to get off to a fast start?"It's going to be important, but like I said, at the same time you have to give those guys a lot of credit because of just how good they are. It will be important for us to come out and play well and try to get some things established. That will be important, absolutely.