On the Clemson loss:
“When you go back and watch the tape, and as a coach, you’re always trying to find that silver lining on what went good and then try to fix the other stuff. I’m not a stat guy, and I want to say that right off. I think stats are for losers and I’m not a stat guy, okay? But here’s what I came out of the game with. Clemson won the explosive play battle, 7-6, meaning they had seven explosive plays and we had six. We won the yards-per-play battle like 6.6 to 5.2. Now, you would have never thought that in the ball game. The difference in the ball game is one turnover [vs.] six turnovers. Bottom line.”
On the turnovers:
“When you have a receiver catch a ball and break a tackle and then knee the ball out of his own arms, what do you say? Guy’s trying to get extra yards. Got a guy catches a kickoff return and he’s trying to make a play, ball gets hit from the back and gets punched out. All of it is stuff that you can fix. You can go back and talk about it and show it to them on tape and try to get it corrected. All of those things you can, but it’s just a matter of taking care of the football. We talk about the ball is the issue, own the football. That’s all we’ve been doing all week long. Own the football. I don’t know if we’ve run a play this week. We’ve been talking about ball security drills all week long.”
On regrouping after the loss:
“Believe me, I’ve been beaten worse. I’ve been beaten worse. You don’t want to get beat, but when you do, you’ve got to get up and roll.”
How do you replace Matt Merletti in the secondary?
“Guys like Jon Smith that were injured and are coming back will fill that void. Tre Boston, Brian Gupton, those guys… We’ll have enough depth back there. We’ll miss Matt’s leadership back there. That will be the biggest issue, but we’ll have enough depth to play.”
How do you go about making up for Matt’s absence, leadership-wise?
“It’s tough. Hopefully you can keep him around the football program. Obviously, you try to keep him involved in meetings – position meetings, special teams meetings – because that was Matt’s heart. Matt was really a true special teams guy. He kind of worked his way into defense and hopefully we can use him as a leader in those roles.”
On fullback Curtis Byrd’s injury status?
“Curtis is back out there doing some rehab work on the field. Sprained his knee about a week ago. We won’t know his status for playing until… I don’t think he’ll play this week, but maybe next week.”
How did H-back Christian Wilson perform while filling in for Byrd against Clemson?
Christian did an excellent job. Christian is one of those guys that we’ve been able to plug in at a lot of different spots and he’s done an excellent job. I’ve been really proud of the way Christian handles the different roles we put him in.”
How did Gio Bernard handle playing on Saturday with his hip injury?
“He got through well. In fact, he came out of the game really good. He felt better actually on Sunday, so he’s had a good week of practice. We’ve just got to take care of Gio. He had a little bit of a hip and we didn’t want to push him through practice last week. Ryan [Houston] took a bunch of the reps last week. We wanted to take care of him a little bit. Hopefully we can get him up to full speed Saturday.”
On wide receiver Reggie Wilkins:
“He’s got a high-ankle sprain. He caught a pass over there on the sideline and got rolled up on Clemson’s sideline. We won’t have Reggie this week.”
This is the ninth consecutive week without a bye. Do you have to change your approach?
“We sat down as a staff on Sunday and Monday and talked about with having a bye so late, this is really unusual to go as many games as we’ve gone. We’ve got too many guys with bruises and nicks, and obviously the guys that are out, that we’ve tried to do some things practice-wise to try to take care of them this week, next week and then get to the bye week and then try to get going after that.”
What types of things can you do?
“Well, you’ve got to do some things with practice as far as cutting the periods down. You can’t be out there as long as you’d like to be because you don’t have as many bodies anymore. And the more you wear out those bodies, the more you get hurt, so we’ve had to cut the periods in practices. We’ve actually given our kids, and they probably don’t know it, but we’ve given them longer meeting times and less time on the field.”
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