What positives can you take from the Navy game?"At the end of the day, at least what I take away from that game, is that we didn't keep them from scoring enough. Because the only thing that matters is, at the end of regulation, we have more points than they do. So whether it is three touchdowns or six or seven touchdowns, defensively you have to say we've got to keep them from getting off the board – or getting on the board. No silver lining because if they had scored five touchdowns and we would've won, I would have felt good about winning but you gave up too many points."
Having played Navy, does that help you get ready for Air Force?"Each and every team is different but what you do every week is look and see what you did in the game and you see from a coaching standpoint how you have to coach better and from a player's standpoint how you have to play better. And if there's any carryover, and this week there is some carryover, but all weeks there is some carryover, because you have to block and you have to tackle and you have to cover, and it helps you."
Does it help more than if you were going against a heavy-passing team or a run-and-shoot team?"Probably, yes, I would say that's a fair statement."
How does the Navy and Air Force option compare?"The option is the option. There are some similarities but Air Force has their own niche and things. They are pretty creative with what they do. There are some similarities because it is the option, but then Air Force is Air Force and Navy is Navy and you have to approach them that way."
Does it help you as the defensive coordinator having seen the option?"I would say it has helped. Every experience I have had helps. A wise guy once told me, if you don't learn from history, you're doomed to repeat it. A wise guy told me that."
There were times in the Navy game where you were aggressive off the edge and made some stops. Do you need to do more of that this week?"I think if the other team presents the opportunity and allows you to do that, then that's something you have to do. If the opportunity presents itself, yeah, you have to do it. But like everything, there are risks and there are rewards. If it presents itself, that's something you have to do, yes."
Then you can't force it?"You can't force it. You can't force anything. It's like putting that square peg in the round hole."
How difficult of a match-up is Chad Hall?"He is a very, very good player and I think it is difficult because he is so productive and plays with confidence. He is a really good player and poses some problems for everybody."
Because he lines up in different positions, does that pose more problems?"I think you just have to be aware of where he is. Like if a guy lines up as a receiver and he is a really good player, you have to know where that guy is. All of a sudden, you look and there is a good running back. You have to know that, hey, that's a good guy. He's a pretty good player. He is really good and you have to pay attention to where he is because if you don't, you could have trouble."
Paying a lot of attention to him, does that open up things for their other guys?"It always helps because anytime you have a team focusing on one guy, it helps."
How has Joe Brockington adapted to defensive schemes this year?"Oh, Joe has done well. He's done well and adapted well."
What do you see as his strengths?"You know, Joe is just a smart guy that reads well, reads schemes well, takes on blockers well, tackles well, so he does what you want a senior to do."
Who has been simulating Hall?"You know, we just have guys that play and it depends upon who is in that position."
What do you know about Air Force head coach? Did you cross paths with him at all in the pros?"No, but I know he's a really smart guy because Jappy (Oliver) told me so. He's a really smart guy and I guess he's a really hard worker. You don't get to be head coach if you're not smart and a hard worker. It just doesn't happen. When Jappy said that, I said, ‘Jappy, I already figured that one out.'"
How would you assess your learning curve as a coordinator at this point?"Well, I'll put it to you like this, we're 1-8 right now and we give up far too many points. That's how I would assess that."
How difficult a transition has it been for you from pro ball to college?"Well, it's like this, football is football so whether it's 3-4, 4-3, it's not that much of a transition. Honestly, it really isn't."
How close are you to having the personnel for your 3-4 defense?"I love our players. I'll take our players any day. What I have to do is coach better. That's probably the biggest thing, coaching. We just take who we get and whoever comes here, we coach them. We love them because that's how we are here; that's our family. So whoever we have, that's the right personnel."
Even though the record is 1-8, are there some positives you can take from your first season in attitudes and things like that?"I haven't thought about it right now. At the end of the season, we go back and revisit what we have done and where we need to improve; what we have done well. Then I'll know and have a better answer. But right now, I'm just trying to get ready for Air Force, and anybody who has watched them play knows that is a tough deal."
How close are you to having the defense you envision?"Oh, I'm not sure, but I know we give up more points than I like. When I say ‘I', I mean we collectively. So we will get that resolved."
How would you assess Ian Williams' play against Navy?"He did okay, especially for a young guy. I was pleased, I was really pleased."
What did he do well to impress you?"He just made plays. He took on blockers well and that guy he was playing against was pretty good. He went in there and handled himself well and played with a lot of poise, which was good. As coaches, you don't really worry about who's going in, you just say, next guy go in. So when he went in, you didn't have to worry about him."
Did you spend a lot of time with Jappy this summer going over the option?"I spent time with Jappy and Coach Lewis. Coach Lewis may have invented it now (laughing) because he knows it. And Brian Polian, he knows it a little and I spent some time with Sutton."
Coming from the NFL, what was the biggest adjustment as a play-caller regarding the option?"With teams that run the option, on every play there could be four or five guys that you have to do your assignment well; where if you are playing against a team that just runs sweep, really, you might be counting on two or three guys. Against the option, you have guys inside, guys outside, you've got guys behind the guys outside, inside the inside guys and everybody's got to work and do their part."
What was it like matching wits with Paul Johnson?"I enjoyed it. I appreciate what Navy does. I told Paul that before the game and then after the game. He does a really good job, so it was interesting."
How much more comfortable are you facing the option this week, having played Navy last week?"I just like the competition of it. I think our players like the competition and any time you see things multiple times, each and every time out you feel better. So we'll go out this week and we'll go."
With the record being 1-8, what is the hardest thing about this ordeal?"The hardest thing about the whole ordeal is, when we lose, making sure that our players understand that there is a reason why we lost and tomorrow is a new day. Whether you win or lose, you still have to approach the next week, the next game, the same way. I think individually, especially when you lose like we have lost, we have lost consistently and you have to take something from that and you have to learn from that. It doesn't help anybody to just be upset. You have to: a) figure out why you are losing and b) figure out what you personally can do better; personally before you look at anybody else. So that's where we are."
Do you think the record has broken up the players' continuity?"Nope, I will say this, I will say this, and I'm sure I will talk about this experience and I will use it for the rest of my life because I've seen teams and I've been around guys and I've seen situations where teams have lost and like everything is falling apart. You have guys calling each other out, blaming each other, coaches blaming each other, guys not speaking, you have defense going against offense, and everything. There has not been any of that here. It is a credit to our players, and I think it is a credit to everybody in the program. Because you can go two ways with this situation and most times people do; you can let everything go haywire or you can make the most out of the situation. This has been a really tough situation and I know that our guys have made the most out of it. That's why our guys are going to be doctors, CEO's, lawyers, great coaches, they're going to be good fathers, they're going to be good dads, they're going to be good friends, they're going to be good businessmen, they're going to go out and be pillars of society. You might not know ten years from now why Mo Crum is a great guy; but I know this, going through this experience Mo Crum has handled this very well. He hates losing and he takes it hard, but I know this, ten years from now, if I was dealing with something or if I had a company that I wanted a guy to run; Mo Crum is running my company. That won't happen at a lot of places. So people will look and say, wow, there is nothing you can take from this season. Well, that's not true."
How is Charlie holding up?"He's holding up well; he's holding up well. He doesn't like losing either but he's done well."