BC has a reputation of being a physical team. How do you get a reputation like this?"I don't know if it's a reputation. You develop a mentality on your team. They have a better team; a lot of experience and a lot of guys who have bought into – this is how we are going to play the game. Even though there was a coaching change, the defensive staff didn't really change and the mentality of the program didn't really change. That was started with the last coaching staff, and it has carried through to where they are right now."
What role does Coach Jeff Jagodzinski play in that?"I think they had a good thing going, and he's kept it going. I don't know whether to credit him or Coach O'Brien. I really don't know because I really don't know much of the history. All I know is they play physical. You usually don't see a team play physical on offense, defense, and special teams. They do. They use big bodies a lot on the special teams and their coverage unit, like linebackers, bigger body types. It's a little different because a lot of times you'll be on a return unit and you'll play with a lot of DB's that are going to give up 40 pounds or so to some bigger linebacker running down the field."
John Sullivan said watching them on tape; you could see the confidence they have. Have you seen it?"Right now they expect good things to happen and that's one of the reasons why they are sitting there undefeated. Not only are they playing well, but they expect good things to happen. There's a big difference between expecting good things to happen and hoping for good things to happen. You are not there so you can't feel it, but from how it looks on tape, that's what it looks like."
How would you judge the confidence of the team coming off the win? Is it up, down, or the same?"Actually, it has been pretty similar to tell you the truth. There is more confidence, but yesterday's practice wasn't one where you were worried about their confidence. It was to continue the mentality to continue to improve. Anytime you get in a situation where you've been losing for awhile and when you win a game, obviously, there is going to be a boost in the confidence. But I think practice has been very similar to tell you the truth."
Have you seen in meetings and things like that where in general they seem to have better confidence?"I can never blame the work ethic of the team prior to the UCLA game or post-UCLA game. I always felt the team was preparing to win very similarly last week than they are this week. I don't think there's been that drastic of a change."
Obviously, you're not playing for the National Championship this year but do you feel your team can have a role affecting a team that is in the national hunt?"Obviously, when you know you have some teams ahead in your schedule that it could affect, you're not playing to be spoilers; you're playing to win that game. It's not where I'm playing to try to beat Boston College to ruin their chances. But that's what we're supposed to be doing. We're supposed to be playing to win. So I don't find any solace in the fact that you could put a damper on somebody else's season. I think it's more important that we do something good for ours."
So this is not a motivation factor?"No, no personal motivation factor. I think the most important thing is that we have one win and we're trying to get number two. I have to be concerned with our program; I can't be concerned with theirs. I think that's really the biggest motivation driving me."
What are you seeing with this team in the last three games?"You are seeing a lot of inexperienced players that are starting not to play like inexperienced players. You would hope that that would come along fast, but it doesn't always come along fast. Some of these guys, who have never played before, now have been playing six games. Whereas, some of them have just played two or three weeks and now have two or three weeks under their belt. And now you can see more guys starting to get it. When that happens, it becomes sort of a ground swell."
Could you talk about Jimmy Clausen's confidence and willingness to absorb more?"He's always been kind of a gym rat by nature. But a lot of times as a quarterback, people get you stereotyped as someone who just wants to throw it 50 times for 400 yards. There was no one happier than him - what did we throw for 85 or 87 yards, whatever it was - there was nobody happier than him, and I think part of the development of the quarterback when they realize it's not about your stats, it's about the team winning. It's not like how many yards did you throw for how many touchdown passes. Did the team that you were running win the game? Sometimes it takes people awhile to buy into that program."
We have a shot of you watching the team take a victory lap after the UCLA win. How special was that to you?"That's my favorite. As I said either on Tuesday or after the game, I just felt so good for those kids that had been carrying that burden with them. Watching them go from the one end zone - it's almost like they didn't know what to do (laughing) - they're at the one end zone and they got to the other end zone and they had nothing left to give them because they had already given them everything already. It was a fun thing to watch. It's similar when you're at home after you have won a game. Your guys are singing the alma mater and the whole student body is there and as an alum of the school, it is a very special feeling."
What have you seen from Anthony Vernaglia that makes him a combo-linebacker for you?"Earlier this summer, we had experimented some with him just being an outside linebacker even though in the spring he was more of an inside linebacker. So we knew we had some position flexibility in him. And now because he's at two-deep at both inside and outside, it puts him in a position where he can get on the field at both spots. There aren't that many guys who are capable of playing both inside and outside. He happens to be big enough to play outside; athletic enough to be a cover guy on the inside."
Is Scott Smith one of those types of guys?"He still practices both roles. Anthony would probably be just a little ahead of him as far as experience and playmaking."
Has there been something that has held him back?"No, he has settled right into that same spot. But fortunately, knock on wood; we have been fairly injury-free. We are banged-up and bruised like everybody else. He hasn't been running with the show team at all this year. He's been up practicing and getting ready to play as a first backup."
Some of the players said yesterday they felt like a weight had been lifted off their back since the UCLA win. Looking back, did you feel that they had this weight on them?"Not on me because I take each game pretty much the same. I didn't see it, but I could feel it. I think a lot of these guys were carrying an extra weight on their shoulders that I'm glad is passed them now. The only problem with that one is that now that you have won, you have to make sure that they are not satisfied – okay, we have that over with – and then take a setback. You want to move forward, not backward."
What is your impression of Matt Ryan?"He gets rid of the ball fairly quickly, but most importantly, he does a very good job of reading coverages in getting the ball to the open guy. They don't have like one star in their pass game because he involves everybody. He reminds me of the quarterbacks that I'm used to being around. They're not looking to create a star out of a receiver. He just can read coverages and throw the ball to the open guy on time and he has done a very good job of doing that."
Does he have that "it" factor?"Watching him on tape, he certainly has it. I'm not coaching him and not around him all the time but this kid is a good player."
Has it been a tough transition for Jimmy to be under pressure and sacked because this didn't happen to him in high school?"There definitely is a transition there and getting hit a whole bunch too. In high school, a lot of times you don't get hit very often at the quarterback position. Any quarterback at this level and on up gets banged around. Having to hang in there physically, as well as mentally, it's a definite change from when you could stand back there and just pick people apart."
Do you wish the bye week would come earlier in the season?"I don't wish it was here right now when we finally have won a game (laughing). Now's not the time you want it. You want to keep playing right now. It comes soon enough. We have two more weeks."
In talking with Barry Gallup yesterday, he mentioned the tragedy that he had to deal with before he came here. What are your memories of that?"His brother was one of my ball boys with the Patriots. So, I mean it was tough. This is a really good and close family and his brother was his best friend on top of it. I remember walking into the locker room with the Patriots and Donny, our equipment manger, telling me that it had happened. It definitely has had a big impact on his life."
Was it a factor in the recruiting process with him?"Well, he wanted 21; he wanted number 21. That was one of the factors. He wanted to make sure he could wear his brother's number. I think Mo (Stovall) was wearing it at the time and he was leaving; so I said, you've got it."