It's been great to have this week off. I think you'll see this football team is refreshed and refocused. We'll also get back (OL) Jake Hicks on the offensive line. He's been cleared to play and so has (LB) Terrence (Garmon) at linebacker. I'm looking forward to getting those two young men back. The past game, which was two weeks ago, really boiled down defensively to missed tackles. We had six missed tackles – 211 yards led to 21 points. When we get in to space, we've got to tackle better. We've worked hard working on the leverages; we're working on the tackles. We're going to continue to work on that. We have got to get this defense better and to take advantage of the opportunities when we have them.
It's that way offensively too. Too many opportunities with dropped balls to keep third downs alive. I think with (OL) Jake Hicks coming back you'll see the offensive line is now back to the positions we had players in at Oklahoma State when we really were starting to play well up. The only way we're going to get out of this is as a team, pull ourselves out of it. That's what I intend to do. We've got to get these young men confident. We've got to get them playing fast. When they have the ability to make a tackle, they can't go in with the attitude 'I hope I don't miss this tackle.' They've got to go in with the attitude, 'I'm going to be a great tackler.' At SMU, I think you will see a team that was young a year ago, took its lumps and got a lot better. They've got big-time receivers, a big-time tailback and are playing really solid defensively.
It's about the Mayor's Cup. We need to play well and keep that Mayor's Cup at Rice. It's been here three years in a row and we need to keep it here. I can't wait to see the players this afternoon. We had three great practices last week and I guarantee the type of young men they are, they're going to come back today ready to go to work and try to figure out – all of us as a collective unit – how to get out of this and get a win.
On what changed during the off week: Fortunately, when you have that 'to get better week' – it wasn't off – we were getting better in everything we did. We've had three practices on SMU. We were able to really shorten those practices, get them off their legs and get them healed. We are trying to get them back refocused. Going into today's practice this will be our fourth practice on SMU, which will help. We'll have an extended practice today and really be able to cut it down the rest of the week. We're going to change some things this week schematically and hopefully that's going to help this football team.
On specific players: (OL) Jake (Hicks) can come back. He was a really solid player and that gets everybody back into position where they need to be. Same with (LB) Terrance Garmon. I think coming back his personality will really give us some confidence defensively that he's back. I really look forward to getting him back and on the field.
On evaluation process: That's one of the things that we did do. Obviously, everything we had done was not working. Schematically, defensively we can start there. As I said, six tackles, 211 yards. Defensively, our problems haven't been our youth. (DB Phillip) Gaines and those guys are playing well. It's been missed tackles and short fields. You look at the reality of some of the missed opportunities we've had over there. Over these last four games you're going to see a much improved defense just from getting some people back and tackling better. Everything we've looked at from formation to personnel, we've evaluated everything absolutely in this program. As I said earlier, the only way out of this is to change some things we've been doing and that is what we're going to do.
This week in relation to weeks past: We're able to really take it a lot further because we have the time to sit around and analyze our film, which we do every week. You watch it, you grade it, you watch it individually, you grade it as a staff, but we were able to sit back and really discuss some of the things that we needed to talk about. One thing we need to do is just get this football team confident. (DB) Travis Bradshaw doesn't miss tackles. All of the sudden he's missing tackles. You want to know why … he's a great tackler. (CB Chris) Jammer was tackling last year as a freshman and all of the sudden he's missing tackles. It lets you ask all of the questions. You have extra time to do it. Really what our players have got to do is they've got to learn to hunt together defensively and to change some of our angles. They're running hard with the football, but a lot of times they're just running. It's been great effort, but why are they just running? Why aren't they using the angles that are going to make them successful? What do we have to change as coaches? I think that's one of the things that we've addressed.
On off week for recovery: The unusual thing is, offensively, we've had five different lineups in the offensive line. That hurts. Everything on offense starts right there with the offensive line and those guys have got to learn how to work together. Through it all, too, we've seen three of our best players be our running backs. (RB) Jeramy (Goodson), (RB) (Tyler) Smith, (RB) (Charles) Ross. We've got a way to get those guys on the field at the same time. We've got to continue to find a way for these guys to produce. (QB) (Nick) Fanuzzi, that's been hard on him, just the inconsistencies in the offensive line. The timing of his drops. I think with (OL) Jake (Hicks) coming back, that's' going to help us really solidify the offensive line and solidify (QB) Nick (Fanuzzi) to where he will be confident standing in a pocket.
On affect of zero wins: Obviously, it's not why you get in the business. You get in it to win and you get in it to build a winner. Each week it galvanizes you more to try and do something about it. It's not wearing on me, it motivates me to self-analyze and see what I can do better, see what these coaches can do better, see what the team can do better. It's to a point, every one of us has to say to improve this football team. I've got to improve. That's every coach, that's every player in the program. We're the ones that are going to get us out of this.
On positive energy after Oklahoma State game: We did. After that Oklahoma State game we felt pretty good about the direction of this offense. That's when we lost (QB) Nick (Fanuzzi). That's where we lost Jack Hicks. We had very positive, confident feelings. Even defensively, we played very well in that one. You take Des Bryant out of it and that one's even closer. That's what we've got to capture, though. Some of our problem is that we haven't had a game where we've been able to put it all together to where our football team is confident. That's partly to do with over scheduling and we've been injured. We're young in some of the wrong places and we're inexperienced.