What is the status of Pat Kuntz?"He practiced today. I'll have to wait to see how he looked. He's been tapering up instead of down. He didn't do much the first day. He did more yesterday. He was out there with pads on today, but I'll have to wait and see. He told me after yesterday that he thought he would be ready to go. We'll wait and see how it went today as I didn't get a chance to see him."
We had limited access to players this week. Was that to protect them from all the questions about the way the season is going?"Between Michael (Haywood), Corwin (Brown), and myself, and the captains, I thought those would be the best people to handle that this week. I'm not doing that on a regular basis, I just thought it would be in the best interest of a lot of guys who just don't know how to handle adversity and tough questions. So I thought I would protect them."
Your first year with Parcels was sort of similar to what you're going through this year. Has there been any carryover from that year?"Until you've flipped the switch and turned it in the other direction, right now you came off a disheartening loss last week against Navy. For a team that has a different mixture of levels of experience, that has a lot of inexperienced guys, something good has to happen for them to start growing. That's basically what happened that year. Some good finally happened in December and we ended up winning a few games and that momentum went into the off-season of that year and into the next season. All you can do is try to give it an analogy because you don't know exactly how it is going to play out. Hopefully, it plays out in a similar pattern."
What went into your decision to go with Jimmy Clausen?"I told you what I would do on Tuesday is give them about equal reps, which I did. Then on Wednesday, Jimmy got more, based on Tuesday. I was going to wait until today, but I told a couple of you guys at the end - I don't know who was around - but I told a couple of you guys if we had a decision after two days of practice, I would get that information to you so you wouldn't be waiting until Thursday. Based off of Tuesday and Wednesday's practice, it went in that direction."
Can you tell us what you saw that he did well that helped in your decision?"A lot of zip and a lot of accuracy."
Is this the healthiest he's been all season?"Not all season, but I'd say he's the healthiest he's been in a month. You could see that he had pep in his step, so to speak."
When he played in the Penn State game, he was just coming off rehab. Is he healthier now than he was then?"That's a really good question. I'll have to go back and look at that; look where we were at different stages of the season because we were building up arm strength and getting it better. I'll have to go back and look at that. That's a fair question but I don't have the answer right now."
You mentioned earlier about Jimmy being on the sideline and seeing the speed of the game. Has that experience helped him this week?"When you explain it to a young guy, they don't get it when you explain it to them. Until they are back where you are and can actually see what you are talking about. Because when you go to the line of scrimmage, you can say, okay, here it comes. Before the quarterback can see it, you say, okay, they're bringing two strong on this play; watch how the safeties are cocking. You can actually see that stuff happening before the play takes place. When a guy is standing right there, you can actually see it. It's a little different when you're underneath center and you're looking to make sure your guys are there; then you're sending the guy in motion. Sometimes when you're relatively inexperienced, you're more worried about running the play than watching everything happening in pre-snap that gives you those tips to make a play successful."
What did he do better this week than he did a few weeks back?"He looked better at everything than he did a few weeks back. I'd like to sit here and say I have all the answers to that. I do know that he looked very fresh and very sharp and we are very encouraged."
How much different was it than a week ago?"I'd say he's throwing the ball a lot better than a week ago."
Will Clausen be the starter the last three games?"That's the intent."
Is Evan Sharpley's demeanor kind of tailor-made for a guy coming off the bench?"I'm going to answer that two ways: the answer is yes, he has a great temperament to be a backup quarterback, but I don't want to be disrespectful and say that's all he is, is a backup quarterback. But he has a great temperament to be a backup quarterback. He's very similar, to me, to Damon Huarte. Here's a guy I had in my past who is playing. Here's a guy that was backup to Drew (Bledsoe) and a backup to Tommy (Brady). Here's a guy who is starting in the league right now. He's a capable starter in the league, but he was a perfect guy to be a backup because he was a pro that got ready to play every week with less reps than the other guy. He was ready to play."
When you took over the program and saw the talent in the lower classes, how much did you see something like this happening?"Well, you knew there were going to be some voids of experienced guys in this year, just by numerically, you knew there were going to be some voids. What you hoped was that between the guys that came back for a fifth year and a half dozen or so guys that are in the senior class, you hoped they could hold the fort enough while the young guys got their feet wet and got ready to go. You were hoping it wasn't such a dramatic drop-off as far as wins and losses go. You could sit there and try to make positives out of anything and everything, but the bottom line is that we are 1-8. Rather than sit there and make excuses and sit there and talk about the volume of numbers in the upper classes, you just have to say that they probably didn't do a good enough job of spreading the wealth to put them in a position to win more games than we did."
How much responsibility do you take for this situation?"I take all the responsibility. I know you're not here very often, but not that behind closed doors, I don't share the wealth or share the blame. But I feel that rather than pointing a whole bunch of fingers, you'd better start evaluating yourself first and see all the things you could have done better to make it better."
You've recruited some highly regarded offensive linemen, but it doesn't seem like they have come together. Is this a serious problem?"Well, the star-studded offensive linemen are all in their freshman or sophomore years. That's the theory. Usually with an offensive lineman, I would say more than any position on the field, the more experienced you are at that position - a skilled player, you can get a dynamic skilled player to come in and play as a freshman or sophomore because speed is speed, quickness is quickness - but as an offensive lineman, usually the more experience you have the more girth you have, the more strength you have, the better you end up playing."
What went into the decision to have Robert Hughes meet with the media on Tuesday?"Well, Brian (Harding) came to me and asked me what I thought of it. I went and talked to Robert and asked him what he thought about it. After I talked to Robert and he said he would like to do it, I said we'd set it up there and have Michael (Haywood) for some support because he was already being requested. I think he really wanted to kind of get it off his shoulders. I think it was good for Robert."
Is there a way to know how much further along Jimmy is now than he was at the beginning of the year?"Let's get through the next three games. That's more important. We're trying to get some continuity here down the stretch. Let's get through the next three games and I think that will be a better time to go ahead and evaluate that."
Barring injury, you are saying Jimmy is going to be the starter for the next three weeks?"That's the intent."