It was a beautiful day, a great crowd, and a great Old Well Walk. You couldn't ask for anything more. What a perfect situation for us to get our first win, and we just went out there and didn't take advantage of that opportunity. That was really heartbreaking to me and to a lot of players on our team. I don't know why [we didn't take advantage of the opportunity.]
We had chances in the first half to stay with those guys. I knew we would need to score points in the red zone--I'm talking about touchdowns rather than field goals--to stay in there and put a little pressure on them. We didn't. There were several opportunities to make plays out there--tackle somebody, play a tight man-to-man coverage. We weren't able to come up with that, either.
I really thought at halftime that we would come out and play better than we had in the first half, and we played worse. I'll take my responsibility for that. I'm sure the rest of the coaching staff will take their responsibility. And I certainly hope that the players will take theirs so we can move on.
There's not much good to come from that game, at all, with the exception of the way the special teams played. They played hard. There are some young players who did some good things. What we have to do is get the players capable of playing well to play well all the time, more consistently.
What is your impression of the way Larry Edwards and Fred Sparkman played in their first substantial playing time?
They played hard and they played fast. Larry Edwards played fast. He was all over the place. That's the kind of talent that you need to be competitive in the ACC. That's the kind of players we are playing against. He played really well.
Did you feel that you were quicker on the perimeter because of the new rotation of players?
I think those guys are quicker, yes. Where I'm disappointed is that we still didn't have very good tackling when we were forced to, by our corners. We didn't tackle well with that element of our team. It has happened before and it happened again.
When Larry was out there doing those things early, do you think that maybe you should have put him out there earlier in the season?
After the NC State game, you said that you thought you had mad improvement. Did you take a step back this week?
I said after the [NC] State game that there was some regression defensively. I thought, offensively, we played as hard as you can play last week as you can against State. This week we didn't play as well offensively--or defensively. But we still matched them on special teams, which is good. There are three phases in the game, and you have to win at least two of them to have a chance to win. We did not win either of the offensive or defensive phase.
How can the special teams be so energized and that not bleed over into the offense or defense?
They are a bunch of young guys, playing extremely hard, who have some talent and some speed. They are being asked to do techniques and fundamentals that are sometimes a little easier than offense or defense in some ways. But they are also involved in a lot of speed and space and execution. James Webster is doing a wonderful job with those guys.
Some of the offensive players said that the offense just wasn't on the same page. What do you think went wrong?
I will have to defer somewhat to Coach Tranquill. We just didn't seem to be able to get anything going in the running game--block the nose, create a seam. We had a dropped ball or two. Once again, as good as he is--and I think he set another record today--we can't, week-in, week-out, put it all on him. And there is a lot on him. We all know that. A couple of receivers made a play or two, but we needed more plays by the guys have been making those plays.
Failure to run the football is something that's hurting us to be able to sustain drives. We went for it on fourth-and-one, and we were snuffed in the backfield. Ronnie McGill fought his way out of it and got the first down, to his credit.
The meeting that you called in the first quarter, was that a culmination of the frustrations of the season, or was that just trying to get the team re-focused?
I've seen some great basketball coaches call some timeouts at the right times. The guy who coached here for so long was my favorite of all time, and I thought he always called them at the right time. I've often wondered if there might be a time to do that in a football game. I felt that was the time. I did not like our body language out there on the field, and I did not like the fact that we were being called for silly penalties: [illegal] procedure, lining up in the neutral zone, hitting the guy out of bounds. It was a wake up call.
What was the body language?
I didn't feel like we were snapping around. I felt like we were slow moving around in between plays. This game is played fast.
Virginia seemed particularly well prepared for what you wanted to do on offense. What are your thoughts on that?
They have played some good defense. They have a three-four, a lot of cover-two, with some physical players upfront that got after our guys too much today. For example, when we ran the double reverse pass, they had that covered because they didn't move.
When you work on that cover-two and play it good, when you get the opportunity to sever it and split it, you have to do it. We had time when we had it and didn't do it. We dropped the ball, didn't get the ball there, or we got sacked. You have to take advantage of those windows of opportunity in the defense that they play, and we didn't do it.
You said that you thought the team would play better in the third quarter, but you played worse. Through five games, this team has had bad third quarters. What is the cause of that?
It is probably a combination of a few things. I'll say this: I wasn't very happy at halftime with the way we were playing. I didn't think it should have been a 17-6 ball game. I let them know that. You only get confidence when you have success, and we have limited success at this point. But we are going to accentuate the successes with the football team. Eventually, as these young players and slightly older players continue to mesh and gain confidence, we'll get better.
In the meantime, I've got some warriors that are suffering--the Jeb Terrys, the Dexter Reids, and Darian Durant, who is a junior. They are suffering because they are really into playing well, winning, and it's killing them just like it's killing me.
You can get confidence through one of two ways. One, you win all the time and you are confident every week. Two, you can do some good things in preparation for games and have some success on the football field. Right now, our successes are smaller. We have some small wins each week. I'm going to emphasize the fact that we made special teams an emphasis this year, and we are doing better on it. Those young players are out there playing their fannies off, and I'm excited about that. We are going in the right direction. A lot of people say we are not, but those people are not around us everyday, not at the practice field everyday, not at the meetings everyday. I'm there. I know.