Q: Was there anything you felt during the week that made you feel like this was laying out there for you?
A: Not in terms of our preparation or our focus or any of those things. I mean, I knew that they were a very talented team. I said that to you guys, and I wasn't just playing possum. I knew that they were a very talented team that was better than their 1-4 record. They played some really tough teams, they played Arizona State, and they played Ohio State, and they played USC. I didn't see anything in the way we prepared, or our attitude or our focus to make me think that it would get like it got. I also think that the score was not necessarily indicative of the entirety of the game. It got a little away from us at the end, when they hit that long run that busted us a bit. And then they hit the one down the middle that was a busted assignment. And we had some turnovers late that were kind of in desperation mode, and you'll see that happen at times. We'll learn from it and get better, but it has to happen. It has to happen immediately.
Q: What did you feel overall about the play of the receivers, both in running routes and focus on catching balls?
A: We only had three drops, which is an improvement from seven from last week. We had a lot of guys playing who hadn't played a lot. Jerry Johnson tried to play but he had to come out after the first series so that meant Jordan Payton got more time. Ricky Marvray got his first extended amount of time. Jerry Rice Jr. played a lot. So we were playing some guys who hadn't played a ton. Routes were good, but there were a couple of times, like the interception at the end of the first half, where there was a miscommunication between the quarterback and the receiver. And really I wouldn't even put that on the players, I'd put that on us as coaches just doing a better job of explaining what we want in that situation. But the receivers, they blocked pretty decently. I like the way our receivers block in general. We missed a couple of blocks, again, but Cal was coming downhill. I don't want anything I'm saying to sound like an excuse, so please don't read it that way.
Q: What's your level of concern with the penalties at this point in the season?
A: It wasn't a concern necessarily until last night. And the reason it became kind of a concern last night is that we really had put kind of an emphasis on it. I always look and see what the reason for the penalty is. If we have an offsides or a false start, to me those are lapses in concentration during a game that we've got to eliminate. If we have a hold or we have a facemask, first of all, are we up against a guy where we might be overmatched? And if that's not the case, are we not doing things technique wise to get ourselves in position to avoid a penalty. Last night, I felt like a lot of those penalties we had that were not the focus type penalties we weren't using the appropriate technique to use to not have a facemask, to not have a hold, to not reach out or trip somebody or something like that. So, it's just something that we've got to continue to stress, and we will continue to stress.
Q: Is there anything quick fix-wise you can do to improve pass blocking on the offensive line?
A: It hasn't been terrible, but it wasn't good last night. We're starting three freshmen and a sophomore, so you're going to get in some games, if we don't control the score, if we're playing from behind and the team can pin their ears back and come after you, it makes it difficult. I don't care how good of an offensive line you are. But no, we just have to work through it, fight through it. We have to help these guys get better every day in practice. We've got to know they're getting valuable experience every time they go out there, and make sure they're learning from it. But in terms of a quick fix? No. We've just got to get better every day.
Q: What did you see last night from your cornerbacks, Aaron Hester and Sheldon Price?
A: I see two guys that I think that can…We need to play with more consistency, and we need to help them at time with some adjustments that I am responsible for making. We got a little sloppy at times, and we've got to eliminate at that. I saw them both playing hard, I saw them fighting, and I saw them working. We just had a tough night.
Q: You said something last night about helping the defense out. Are you talking about jumping in and making more defensive calls?
A: No, I'm always involved with both sides of the ball. The first place you look as a coach when there's a busted assignment, or the team struggles is yourself, and that's what you're supposed to do. You know, look inward and say, "What could I have done better to help our guys?" There were just a couple of plays where I felt we put our players in tough situations. I'm on the headphones, I'm involved in every call. I had an inkling at one point where I thought we should call a timeout when I saw them audible, and I couldn't get down there to do it. That's the things I'm talking about, making sure I'm always in position to help our players, whether I'm calling a timeout, or making the right call, or creating the right mindset. Any of those things.
Q: What did you see from your guys on the trip home?
A: They were solemn and quiet and concerned and serious. And just like they were after Oregon State. There were no smiles and there was no laughing. It was a very disappointed and dejected team, but I'm confident they'll bounce back. They're a resilient group. They work hard, they have a good attitude, they stay positive. We'll bounce back. But when you work as hard as they've worked, and you have the expectations that we have, it's tough to lose. If you weren't putting the energy into the game that our guys have put in, or they weren't caring as much as they care, then the losses wouldn't hurt as much as they do.
Q: Will it be more difficult to get over this one because of the lopsided score?
A: No, because when you look at the film, you don't really track this score. We know we lost. But the offense will look at the offense, the defense will look at the defense, and the special teams will look at the special teams. You don't necessarily look at the film as a continuity, that's not how you do it in coaching. It's segmented. So you don't really focus on score, you focus on the process. You focus on the fundamentals. You focus on what we can do to get better. The score becomes secondary. We know we lost.
Q: They can't be totally oblivious to it?
A: The score? No, no one's oblivious to it. When you get into the film room, and you get into the video room, you're focused on each play each singular play at a time to focus on how we can get better one play at a time. But no, everyone's aware of the score.
Q: Xavier Su'a-Filo moving to left tackle, what went into that?
A: Torian White, his knee was bothering him a little bit. We needed to shore up that side a little bit for Brett. He was under some pressure, so we made that adjustment.
Q: Fixing things this week becomes a priority so you don't have a snowball effect, right?
A: Here's the thing that you've got to understand about sports, is that if you let losses linger or you let wins linger and you don't get on to the next one, you're doing it the wrong way. We're going to work hard at making corrections, applying those corrections, and then moving on to the next one. You hear people say, "Forget about that one." Well, we don't forget about that one, but we try to move past it. I've said this a number of times, but I think that's how you develop consistency of play. And we're still working on that, it's still a process for us. We're still at six games into three new systems: a new offensive system, a new defensive system, and a new special teams system. A new way of practicing, a new way of doing things, a new terminology. So what we've got to do is continue to push push push so that we can get to the point where we can be consistent week in and week out and not make mistakes. There's no one saying "Oh, we're young, we'll come along, it'll happen." There's a sense of urgency to reach the point. But we also know that it's a process that we need to go through, so we're trying to do it the right way.
Q: How's Darius Bell?
A: He's not doing great. He got hit pretty good. I went out there when he got hit, because it looked pretty serious. He's very sore today. His shoulder's sore. His ribs and neck are sore. That side of his body where he came down is very sore. We'll give him a couple of days to see how he is. I talked to him just 15 minutes ago and he seemed a little better, but he's not feeling great. He was kind of out of it. He's on some medication to relieve the pain. But he's hanging in there.
Q: Did he pass the concussion test?
A: Yes, as far as I know…you know what, I shouldn't say yes. I don't know, Chris, I don't know that he was ever in a position to have a concussion test. I think there was more of a concern with his shoulder and his ribs than his head. But I do know this, that our doctors are very thorough with that, and I just don't have complete information to give you.
Q: Is White's just something that he's going to have to play with?
A: Yeah, it's nothing serious. He's just got to play with it and play through it. We just have to manage it through the week. It's a fine line because he's a young player who hasn't played much, so he needs those snaps during the week to get ready to play on Saturday, but at the same time, if you overwork him and he's sore, then you're hurting yourself, so we've got to find the right mix.
Q: Is it like a tendonitis thing?
A: I don't know exactly, I just know he was having trouble moving and his knees were bothering him. I don't know the particulars. I'll get the final report from our medical staff later today, both on Darius, in terms of if they did a concussion test or not. I can tell you this about our doctors: if there's any indication that he suffered any kind of head trauma, then they did a concussion test. But I don't know if he passed it or not.
Q: With Jerry Johnson, is that just something week to week with whether he's going to be able to play?
A: I think it will be better this week. It was a rib cartilage. I've never done one, but I've known guys who have, and they can numb it during the game, but you still have to inhale and exhale. He thought going in he could fight through it, but when he got hit and it got competitive and it got hard, it was just more difficult than he thought. I commend him for giving it a try. He came in and made a couple of plays, made a couple blocks, but he just wasn't able to function at the level we needed him to.
Q: How did Jordan Zumwalt come through with his head?
A: He came through just fine. So that gives us some options at linebacker, with the way that Damien Holmes has played. What we're doing right now is looking hard at how we want to position those four to get our best combination on the field as often as we can.
Q: How different is it dealing with younger guys on these tough losses?
A: It's a lot more difficult because of the other things they have going on in their lives. In the NFL, you're not dealing with school. You're really not dealing with developing minds or developing personalities. Some of these kids, they're just young. And it's their first time dealing with that failing at something. A lot of these kids have always been the best, and they've always had success, so you've got to help them get through that, and you've got to help them realize their potential as quickly as you can. You've got to be very careful about what you say and how you say it, because it's a young psyche. They're just not as old, not as weather, not as mature, jaded wouldn't be the right word, but not as resistant to the criticisms that the older guys are. So you have to be very careful and very calculated. You've got to handle it the right way. So it's a great thing, and it's a good challenge. I don't enjoy the losses, but the challenge of trying to help these kids through these things is a good thing. They're going to face this their whole lives. Life's not easy, we all know that.