It is almost a first down every time Gio Bernard runs the ball. He averages over nine yards per carry.
“Sounds like if I was a better coach we’d get him the ball more often. Again, give credit to the other guys that are providing the opportunity for him, but Blake [Anderson] and the offensive staff are doing a great job of how they’re utilizing him. I think he had 30 or 29 touches in the game the other day not counting the punt returns. We feel like that’s a pretty good number for him.
“Sunday when we went to practice were in stretching lines and I ask him, ‘How you feel?’ ‘Fine.’ ‘You beat up?’ ‘No.’ He really didn’t take a lot of blows and that’s really the mark. It’s not how many carries you get or how many yards you get. It’s how many blows did you take, because you only have so many that you can handle and he didn’t have a problem.”
How do you think the defense played overall against Logan Thomas? He is such a challenge to defend.
“He really is. He’s a good football player and he is tough and give him a lot of credit. He worked extremely hard, threw a lot of good balls, especially deep balls. He’s got a great deep ball that he throws.
“Probably my favorite play out of the entire game was the sack that [Kevin] Reddick and Sly [Williams] got. Sly is bear crawling to him to get to him and it was just a great overall effort of those two kids parts. That makes it a lot of fun when two of your leaders do that.”
On Sean Tapley’s kickoff return for a touchdown:
“It was huge and I wish I could tell you that it was tremendous blocking all the way along on that play, but when you went back and looked at it, we didn’t block many people. Sean just made a tremendous play. He really did. He saw a little gap and he cut, made one move and then just went. He just did a phenomenal job and the kid is getting better and better each week. Again, he’s a young kid that hadn’t had much experience going into this season and he’s made quite a few plays for us.”
On the overall play of the special teams:
“Yeah that was one game-changing play that we said we needed, but then I didn’t expect us to give up two game-changing plays in special teams. We were really disappointed overall in our special teams play… I can tell you this. Our special teams guys – they were disappointed in the way they played when they looked at it on film and so that’s a good thing. It wasn’t just ‘Hey, we won the game so it doesn’t matter.’ They did not like the way they played on special teams and so I’m excited about seeing them this week.”
Did anybody have to talk you into going for it on the 4th-and-1 when Bernard scored on a 62-yard touchdown run?
“They did. They sure did. I was really mad that we didn’t get it on 3rd-and-short and probably if it wasn’t a quarter change we’d have punted the ball because I was sending the punt team out. Then the quarter changed and the offensive line comes over, ‘Come on Coach, let’s go for it.’ Then I’m chewing them out because we didn’t get it on third down and I’m just mad, really, so I get kind of stubborn.
“Finally I calm down and thought if we’re going to win this game we need to be aggressive and I said something to Gio, ‘You've got to get at least six inches.’ That’s what we needed. He said, ‘I’ll get more than that,’ and nobody expects him to go the distance, but that’s the thing about that kid. He can do it anytime.”
On Shawn Underwood playing for the first time in several weeks:
“I thought he did a nice job. It was good to have him back out there and we needed him, because Sly was a little bit gimpy and he wasn’t anywhere close to being 100 percent and so Underwood needed to come on for us and he played really well for our team.”
On the White Out this past Saturday:
“I thought it was really cool. I know our players really enjoyed it. The only thing I didn’t like was there was too much maroon in there, but we’ll get that all straightened out in the future. I thought it was really a neat idea. I thought our players loved wearing the white helmets and the all white uniforms and I thought the crowd did a great job.”
How many gadget plays do you traditionally keep with you in your playbook for any particular game?
“I have no idea how many I have in the playbook. I have a video. I know our staff makes fun of me about it, because I got this video that’s locked up in a vault and I don’t let anybody see it and it’s got trick plays that I have accumulated for probably 20 years from 1-A ball to high school ball to whatever. Anytime I’ve seen one that I’ve liked I’ve put it on that tape and saved it.
I just think it’s part of the game that the players love. They love feeling aggressive in a game. That you’re willing to take chances to make some places and I think it’s just who I am. We want to do that in all three phases of the game.”
Is Bryn Renner allowed to call an audible or does it come directly from the sideline?
“First of all, we do not allow him to audible and Blake basically makes all those audibles from the box. What he does is once the defense has declared or he see’s something that we can take advantage of, he will talk to Walt [Bell], Walt will signal it back to Bryn and the receivers and they’ll get the audible that way and then he’ll just give the audible to the offensive line, but no we don’t give the freedom to do it on his own.”
On the Miami passing attack:
“They’ve got a couple of guys that can really go now. They can get behind you in a heartbeat and the kid throwing throws a great ball. He can put it up and they’ll go get it. If you watch the Notre Dame game the other night, the very first play of the game they go over the top and he’s wide open and just happened to drop the ball that time, but everybody has had trouble staying with them."
What has allowed you and the defense to play so well recently?
“I think for me personally [it's] experience. This is my third year playing, second year starting, so I kind of know what to expect. As far as the defense, we’re doing a lot of movement. We’re blitzing a lot of guys so it’s creating a lot of opportunities for me and the defense to open up a lot of gaps to make plays.”
Has it been a challenge to find consistency as you get older?
“As you get older you realize that every play counts and in college football especially. It only takes one play for a guy to break a big run so you have to give it your all each play and if you need a break we have backups, quality backups, who can come in and give you a blow and you just got to go every play.”
What did you learn on the long road back from your torn ACL, MCL and PCL?
“I just learned how to be humble. There are a lot of guys that get hurt every year and as I watch them I see them get angry, I see them get frustrated and even the guys before me, Matt Merletti, he was hurt around the same time I was hurt, Carl Gaskins, he was hurt. We all just kind of linked up together. We kind of took it as one and we decided that we were going to make it a positive thing instead of a negative thing and we just rehabbed more and more each day.
"That’s how we became better teammates. We developed more chemistry and I think with the guys now that are hurt, they look forward to me talking to them and motivating them about the struggle and the process that I had to go through. Just coming out of an injury and motivating the other guys has just been a big part.”
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