Press Pass: Jeff Garcia

In this edition of "Press Pass," Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia talks about Bucs tackle Donald Penn, the importance of ball control and what makes Colts quarterback Peyton Manning so good.

On the importance of ball control this week

I have tremendous confidence in our defense. The Colts are one of the top offenses in our league. They obviously have weapons all around; solid offensive linemen and one of the better quarterbacks to play the game. They have been together for a long time. They have that continuity, that consistency, they know what there doing and they do it very well. I'm sure every team stresses it going into this game, about ball control, keeping the ball out of their hands, and when you do have the football try to capitalize with getting points on the board. They have a good team all around. We need to find ways to create positive opportunities for our offense. I need to be good with the football. I need to be smart with where I go with the football, smart with what I do when I do make those decisions and eliminate negative plays. We can't afford to allow their defensive ends to get excited about their opportunities. We need to find ways to keep them off my back and allow me to get the ball to our receivers and running backs and let them make plays.

On the loss of T Luke Petitgout

Obviously we're disappointed about the injury that happened to Luke. He will be missed because he is a leader and he has experience. But this is a great opportunity for Donald Penn. This is an opportunity he has dreamt of. There is no greater challenge than what he is about to face this weekend going against one of the best, if not the best, pass- rushing defensive ends in the league. He's going to have his work cut out for him but he's not going to be alone. We are going to be out there to help him. We're going to do what ever we can to help him gain confidence as he's playing the game. There will be times where he will be on an island and he's just going to have to step up and play. He's here for a reason. Someone saw something in him that they liked and gave him the opportunity to be here. Now he has to prove to everyone that he belongs. I have no doubt that he won't go out and he'll give me everything he has within himself to do what he has to do. Its not just on Donald, its on all of us to play together, be solid together, support each other and to fight through whatever adversity we have to go through on Sunday, but know that were capable of doing positive things. We have been proving that week in and week out. Let's just continue to build on those things. Yes, this is a great opportunity for us against a great football team and let's just go out there and show them what we're made of and have fun doing it."

On the mental impact on having a different guy back there

I can't afford to think about that. I just need to play my game. I need to trust that he's a professional athlete, he's a professional football player and there are going to be match- ups every single week where teams look for that weakness or look for a way to take advantage of a certain team. We can't afford to allow that to creep into our mindset. We need to just do what we're going to do and we will adjust on the fly, adjust on the run. If we need to give him more help or need to solidify that left side more, we have it within our game plan to make those types of adjustments. But I can't worry about that, I need to go about my business, making good decisions, making quick decisions, getting the ball out of my hand and into the hands of the guys who can make the play.

On how Donald Penn did when he stepped in last Sunday

I thought that he did a good job. He went against some good defensive linemen last week in Carolina. I felt that he stepped in and took advantage of that opportunity. He stepped up and did a solid job of blocking for the run, we didn't pass the ball a whole lot while he was in the game. But as far as his blocking technique, his attitude, his intensity, it was all there and I like to see that and I want that to just continue to grow within him.

On the importance of establishing the running game and on the guys that will replace Cadillac Williams, Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham

Earnest Graham and Michael Pittman have done a great job of carrying the ball the last two weeks. They're very capable backs, very explosive backs. They do a great job of reading the hole, finding the crease and gaining positive yardage. They're not going to be guys that lose yardage many times. It always seems like they're moving forward, and that's key. We need to stay out of third and long situations and find ways to get positive yards. I think Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham will do a great job of running the football. They need to really concentrate on ball security this week. They're going to have more opportunities with the ball in their hands and they need to understand that they're playing against a very aggressive, very fast defensive team that swarms to the football and likes to break the ball out of your hands. It's important that we're secure with the football. We can't afford to turn the ball over in games like this.

On what about Colts quarterback Peyton Manning that stands out the most

He just has great control of his offense. He's been fortunate that he's been able to be in the same offense his entire career and had good players around him for a lot of that. He has great control. He understands what defenses are trying to do against him. Granted, because of the way they do things defenses are forced to show their cards early and things don't get to him a whole lot. He's allowed to stand in the pocket, make his reads and throw the football. He just has great presence on the field. He's a true leader, an exceptional quarterback and one of the best to play the game.

On the 2003 Buccaneers-Colts Monday Night Football game at Tampa, where the Colts came back to win

I remember it. It was a game where Indianapolis, with their explosiveness on offense, just caught fire in the fourth quarter. I believe they had a kickoff return for a touchdown. They had some plays that just enabled them to climb back in it. It was a helluva game and an unfortunate loss for Tampa Bay. But that's four years ago.

On if because of a game like that you keep in the back of your mind that a game against the Colts requires a 60-minute effort

It has to be a 60-minute game. But I can't be concerned with what they're doing offensively. I have to be concerned with what they're doing on defense and just focus on that. It's not something you want to face, matching a team like that point-for-point. If you start to force the issue, that's when you start to make mistakes and play to their hand as far as the defense goes. It's important for me to maintain my focus and my objective of what I want to do with the ball.

On whether he'll pick Cato June's brain a little bit this week, since he played with the Colts

I think Cato is an excellent guy to talk to about their defensive schemes and what their approach is. Granted, they keep it very simple back there. But they have quality players that know how to play their positions and know how to play their schemes and they do it well. That's what you really have to overcome.

On whether the opening drive against Carolina is an indication that the offense is hitting stride with him at quarterback

It's just showing that this offense is growing as a team, that we're doing the things necessary to sustain drives, (like) third and long situations where we converted a couple of them on that first drive. We were able to put points on the board on that first drive and that's a key aspect to starting off a football game. I feel like I'm getting more comfortable each week, but I also feel like I'm still growing. I'll never stop (growing) and getting better.

On whether Ike Hilliard's role as a receiver is increasing

Ike is one of those guys who is very dependable. He's an accountable guy and we have a lot of that on this team. Every receiver knows and understands that they are an option on any given play. It doesn't matter, as we go through our play installation, if they have a No. 1 or a No. 2 or No. 3 circled by their position. Every guy knows they need to keep their head up and be alert. I will find them, I will come to them based on what I see defensively. When those guys work hard that's how they create opportunities for themselves.


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