Oct. 9, 2006
MEMPHIS, TENN. -
After watching the tapes and studying them, when you're struggling, everything seems to get magnified. So each negative play is magnified. I felt like our offense made significant improvements from the Tennessee game. I thought we looked more like us than any other time this year. By us I mean being a team that can take advantage of what you give us. They (UAB) were really good up front. They had I think seven seniors rotating their front and have been really good all year.
I thought our offensive line did about as good a job protecting the passer as we have at any point in time probably since we've been here. They did a great job protecting Martin (Hankins), and I thought Martin played really well. We threw and caught the ball about as well as we have. Our running game is still not where I'd like for it to be. It was adequate in that game, but not effective enough to get back to where we can win some games. We have to get better at running the ball.
Defensively I was really disappointed that we kind of got knocked down a little bit and didn't get in our gaps and just made some mistakes. We did some good things, but we did some poor things. To be honest with you, we're still learning how to play the defense. I guess I'm a little impatient and feel like in two weeks we should be able to play a different defense, but we're still learning. We'll continue with it and we'll get better doing it this week.
It looks like we're going to be doing it with some different people. The injuries hit us in that game. I'll see where it is later on, but I don't expect Sam Brewer to play. I imagine Sam will be out. I anticipate (Dustin) Lopez will be out. (Quinton) McCrary we'll find out later in the week about him and Wesley (Smith) we'll find out later in the week whether he'll be able to go.
Really when you analyze the whole game, you can't give up the touchdown right before the half. We had two linebackers free on a sack early in the series and let him out and then gave up the pass right before the half, and I thought that was a killer. I decided to fake the punt. I would have faked it the first time we had to punt. It was fourth-and-11 on the first one, and it backed up and I couldn't afford to do it. The second one was fourth-and-1. We've been working it for two years, and we busted it and blocked the wrong guy. So we didn't make the first down. Because it didn't work, it looked like a bad decision. Then we fumbled a kickoff, and then gave up a 62-yard run that I thought really hurt. When you're a little bit on your heals and you're struggling a little bit, those plays get magnified. That's what happened. Offensively we cut some mistakes out. We didn't have many mistakes offensively. But we've got to cut the mistakes out everywhere; in the kicking game and on defense.
Comparing the physical abilities of the two teams
I feel like that's why they've won the game as many times as they've won it. They are more physical than we are, and in the end I really believe that's what's beating us. You don't make many mistakes when you can hand it off. When we got them in situations where we had them in a third-and-nine on an incomplete pass we knocked the run at one yard. Then they have to throw it on third down, and we can pick it because we can play coverage. But they've been the more physical team. We started working last spring trying to get our team more physical because I felt that is what we have to do to improve this program and to give us a chance to win that game.
On the new defensive system
This is the offensive system that I wanted. I've got what I want offensively. I've got that system. Now I'm going to have the system I want defensively. In two games, I'm not really pleased with it. But I knew that was going to happen. I tried to say it when I did it. I said, "Don't be surprised if it gets worse." Anybody with any sense realizes you can't put a defense in in two weeks. If you could, you could change them up all the time. I knew it would probably be worse until these kids learned to play the system, and then it would start to get better. But it's the system I want and it's the system we're going to have.
On how to increase the team's physical level
I think UAB is a very physical team; probably the most physical team in our league I would say. I don't think we're not physical. I don't want to overplay it. I really left the game thinking that we really got pushed around. Then after watching, I don't think we really got pushed around as much as we didn't spill when we were supposed to spill. We didn't get up in the gaps. We've gone to a defense that attacks up front and our linebackers have to attack the front and we're struggling a little bit doing that. I don't want to overplay the physical part of us.
On the offensive line
I think right now we're not as physical as we'd like to be up front. I want them to be great pass blockers, and we were as good protecting the passers as we've been. We really were. We were good. They are a really good defensive front. They'll be as good as anybody we'll play up front, and I would say as good as anybody we've played up front probably even including Tennessee because of the experience they have. They have really pressured everybody they've played against.. I can live with where we are. In our offense, that's kind of where I want to be, is you can take what they give us. A couple times they gave us some runs and we took them. I wish in talking about the physical part, I wish we were physical enough to take it when you don't give it us.