Views from the locker room

Head coach Bobby Johnson, quarterback Jay Cutler, receiver Erik Davis, free safety Kelechi Ohanaja, and tight end Dustin Dunning give their postgame views on Saturday's 35-24 loss to South Carolina.


Head coach Bobby Johnson:

Q: Could you talk about the sequence in the last two minutes? Your offense ran a good-looking two-minute drill, you get the ball back on an onside kick, and then lose it on a sack and a fumble.

A: I was proud of the score, and I was proud of the onside kick execution. It was a perfect kick. Our guys did a perfect job of executing. When you're running a two-minute drill, desperation, whatever you want to call it, they can pin their ears back. They did a good job. We were waiting for a long route to come open, and we thought we could hang in there. We had pretty good protection all night, I thought. Jay got rushed a couple of times, but they've got a good defensive line, and they put good pressure on him. To me one of the key [plays in the game] was when they fumbled going in. Two beanbags were on the ground out there-- I counted them. One, two beanbags. And it was ruled he was down. They got it, scored, and made it 35. That was one of the keys, I thought.

Q: Do you feel like you play this team pretty much even if you don't commit those turnovers?

A: Well... I'd like to find out! I wish we could go back and take them away, but we can't. You can if, and, and but it all day, say we did this and we did that... we didn't do anything. We did not give ourselves a chance to win.

Q: Otis Washington says you always have something to say to them that keeps them motivated. What did you say to them today?

A: I tell them to look at the game. They've got eyes. They can see it. We play well and we execute, do what we're supposed to do, don't turn it over, we can compete. We do those other things that hurt us, we don't have a chance. So I don't know if that's encouraging or not. If we can quit making the mistakes, I think it would be very encouraging. The other thing I told them was, we need a break. This is going to be an important week for them to get rested up... do what they're supposed to do outside of football. When we do get outside and practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we've got to make sure we get better. Fatigue definitely is a factor when injuries start to mount up.

Sophomore quarterback Jay Cutler (completed 27 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns, all career highs):

Q: What did you guys try to do to attack the South Carolina defense?

A: Just fundamentals. We were just sticking to our basic package. We tried to run right at them, then suck them up and try to throw it a little bit. If we'd have had a better first half, we'd have been right in there. We put the defense in a bad spot, 14-0.

Q: What happened on the interception?

A: The guy made a great play. They were zone-blitzing there. It was the nose tackle, I think. He doubled back and tipped it, and made a great play. I've got to hand it to him. I didn't really see him making that play.

Sophomore wide receiver Erik Davis (6 catches for 103 yards):

Q: You had a really nice 36-yard catch today down the right sideline that set up a touchdown. You were wide open... was that you, or did the corner mess up?

A: I think it was their coverage. They got caught in the wrong coverage. We just happened to call the right play. Everything was by chance on that. It was a good call. There I was, wide open.

Q: What did Coach Johnson say to you? Was he tough on you for the missed opportunities?

A: He's always gonna be tough. He saw what happened. We all saw what happened. We kept ourselves. He's going to crack down on us. He did praise us for our effort, for staying composed and staying in the game as long as we did.

Q: Are you looking forward to a week off this week?

A: Yeah. It will give us a chance to sit back and see how much we really love the game... make people check themselves and see how well they can contribute the next couple of weeks.

Q: You've got three games left. Does this team have another win or two in it?

A: I'd like to think so. I mean, if we play like we did today, unh-uh... we're not gonna win. We play like we did the second half, I think we've got a good chance of beating anybody.

Sophomore free safety Kelechi Ohanaja (led team in tackles with 9 solo, and had one tackle for loss):

Q: In the first quarter, it seemed like South Carolina was pushing you guys all over. Later you seemed to kind of stiffen up and shut them down.

A: First quarter, I don't think we did the fundamental things well-- tackle well, make the proper adjustments when we needed to make them. Things that you have to do as a defense to be successful-- I don't think we did them. I think we just improved on our fundamentals. We were making the same calls we were making in the first quarter. The only thing was that we upped our intensity. We ran to the ball. We had more gang-tackling.

Junior tight end Dustin Dunning (six catches, a career high, and a touchdown):

Q: You kind of had a coming-out party tonight with six catches. What does tonight mean for you?

A: It was pretty big, just getting in there and getting to do what I could, hopefully show the coaches that I can get out there and catch the ball. I've got a long way to go though, a lot of stuff I need to continue to work on.

Q: It seemed like the offense didn't really get rolling good until the second half, when you scored 21 points.

A: It's disappointing on our part. We have a chance to get some momentum early, get some points on the board and give our defense a rest. I'm not sure what we're going to have to do to change that, but we definitely need to work harder to come out early and get points, rather than doing it the way we have been.

Q: You get a week to rest. I'm guessing you're looking forward to that.

A: Yeah, it's gonna be nice to let my body rest. I've got some bruises and cuts that I'm hoping will heal up.

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