What is going on in the running game that is not clicking?
I know some people don't feel that we ran that good, but I feel that from the beginning of the game that we started running the ball well at the beginning of the game. There were just some things that we went away from. I feel that we had a pretty decent game running the ball.
It was hard to figure out what kind of pattern you were trying to establish. What were you trying to establish?
Like Coach Bunting said, we were just trying to stay consistent. Coach Tranq is calling plays; we just run them. It's kind of whatever mood he feels like he's in. You want to throw deep, you want to run. They call the play and we run it.
How difficult is it to stay consistent with all the penalties?
I've played football since I was nine years old. Out of 11, 12 years of football, I've never seen that many flags in my whole life. That's the first time I've seen that many flags in one game. I can't say that we didn't do what caused the penalties--I blame us on some things. You just have to get better as a team and eliminate mental errors.
Do you have confidence in your offensive line?
Without a doubt. That's the best offensive line I've ever run behind. Without a doubt, I have confidence in my offensive line.
Even with all the holding, all the penalties, and with [your quarterback] on his back so much?
I'm going out in routes--I haven't watched film yet. As far as what I saw, they blocked it up pretty good. They got in late sometimes and made pretty good hits. That's going to happen. I don't think there is ever going to be a game where the quarterback just stands there and doesn't get dirty at all. If that does happen, that's crazy. We'll get better from it. It's all learning. It's a building step, you keep moving.
As you walk away from here tonight, can you describe your emotions and thought process as you look down the road for the rest of the season after what you have seen the first two game?
When I leave here today, this game is over with. I'm going to put it behind me, and I guess most of my teammates will do the same thing. We just get ready for Monday and play a great team in NC State next week.
Of everything you've seen, what gives you hope, if you have hope?
I know we prepare and we work hard. We have a great coaching staff that prepares us every week. That's how you believe in each other. That's why it is a team. We go from here and know that everything is going to work out.
What were the specific problems on offense tonight?
For one, penalties--we had a lot of penalties. We could never get into a rhythm. There is no one place to point the finger. I'll take the heat for a lot of it. I didn't do a very good job of running the game today. There is no one place to point the finger, so I'll take it.
The problems with the offense, where does that start?
It starts with me. That's the only place that I can point the finger is at [myself]. I've got to be able to run the game better, make better decisions, make better calls, and get people lined up in the right place. We had a lot of alignment problems. Part of that is them, but I'll take the majority of the heat for it. It starts with me--that's how it works.
How important is it to establish the run at the beginning of the game?
We need to establish the running game. If we don't run the ball better than we did today or last week, we aren't going to win many football games. We have to start running the ball better. I don't know what the solution is right now. I don't know what went wrong with the running game today, but what we did out there today is just not going to cut it.
In one of the huddles on the drive with the missed field goal, I saw you in the center of your teammates shouting things to them. Were you trying to get them pumped up?
I was telling them 'We have to go.' We've had all these opportunities and it's time to put one in the endzone. Everyone came out ready to play, we drove down the field and missed a field goal. We did all right in the fourth quarter moving the ball. We just couldn't get it into the endzone.
When you got injured and had to come out, how painful was that and how much pain did you have in the fourth quarter?
The fourth quarter I didn't feel very good. I couldn't yell anything out too loud without putting pressure on my ribs, but that's football. You have to go out there and play. There is no excuse for anything that happens. You've got sore ribs, you just have to play through. The reason I had to come out, I couldn’t breathe at all for about a minute out there. My ribs hurt and then I got hit twice more after that, and that made them feel worse. But it's just pain--that's football.
When you were down on the ground, were you thinking that you might not be able to go back into the game?
No, not at all. I don't care if I had broken ribs, I was going to go back and play. Broken ankle or ribs, I was going to play, there is no doubt about that. I just couldn't get up at the time. I was coming in the next play one way or another.
How would you assess what the defense did tonight?
Oh, they played great. Hat's off to the defense. We apologized to them; it's the offense who didn't make any plays--AGAIN. There is no place to point the finger [at them]. The defense played unbelievably today. Hat's off to them. I'm proud of what they've gone through the last few years to come out with a performance like that. Wisconsin was averaging 65 points per game or something like that. For them to come out and hold them to 14--we should have held them to less if we held onto the ball more and scored more points.
There were some more drops by the receivers tonight. Is the timing off--what's going on there?
I haven't seen the film yet. I can't explain it. Just like every throw is not going to be perfect, they are not going to catch every one. It seems so fundamental--stuff happens. You can't really tell until you watch the film.
What do you think about how the defense played?
If we had held them to no points, we could have won this game. It's tough. I thought we played pretty good.
I felt like that last score they had shouldn't have happened. We should have gotten off the field.
We have to get everyone clicking on all cylinders and get a victory under our belt. We were playing good in certain areas. We just have to get everyone on the same page and pull it out.
You had four or five sacks tonight, you put pressure on the quarterback, and you only gave up 300 yards. That's pretty good.
We put a focus on that because we didn't get a lot of pressure on Georgia Tech. We worked on that in practice--especially the interior guys that practice with Coach [Ken] Browning. I thought we did a pretty good job. It's just a missed opportunity--another one.
Given what Wisconsin has done on offense this year, even though you lost this one, you have to be happy about how the defense played to some extent.
If you are going to find a positive you could say that, but we didn't do good enough. They put more points on the board than we did. It's a team game. You can't look at it like that.
You guys were on the field a long time on their last scoring drive. Were you tired?
No that was not a factor. We were on the field awhile; sometimes you just don't execute like you need to.
How about their running back Brian Calhoun?
He's a good running back--he's fast. He broke a couple of my tackles. He's a good player. You have to give credit to Wisconsin; they played a good game.
What do you do to bounce back from this with nine weeks to go?
We have to stay positive--positive with the offense, positive with the defense. Everybody has to get better next week. Obviously, we have [NC] State next week. It's a big game. It's exciting for fans, coaches, us players. We'll just go back to work, do what we did this week and try to pull it out on Saturday.
How would you assess the performance of the defense?
I don't know what we [allowed] on rushing yards, but we stopped that run. I don't know their total passing yards, but we stopped it. What did they [average], 60 points? We held them to 14. That's d--- good right now. We're loving that.
Was it tough for you guys considering the problems the offense had?
It wasn't tough for us because we love defense that much. We wanted to go out there every play. Our rotation right now is so good that we don't worry about getting tired. As you could see, Wisconsin's offensive line couldn't handle the pressure. They were running, but they weren't running like us.
Did you all get worried at any point that you would run out of steam having to be out there so much?
Too much running in the off-season. Our preparation right is at its peak. We are ready to play five quarters if we need to.
Coach Bunting said last week that was a missed opportunity. Do you feel this was a missed opportunity?
Every loss is a missed opportunity. Maybe the defense could have had another sack, another turnover, another tackle-for-loss. Anything from our defense would have helped us win this game.
What did you think about all the penalties?
Were they Big Ten refs? They need to get their glasses checked.
I can't call it on the refs, but they--UUUHHH--I can't call it. I can't call it.
How did it feel to get your first career sack?
It felt great!!! Chase Page has been working with me, staying after practice. We've been out there trying to do as much as we can. How many did we have tonight, five? We are trying to get at least 40 for the season.
You can't be happy about the loss, but given what Wisconsin did in the first two games, you have to be happy about that.
Defense? AWWWW! Last game we gave up 122 yards, Georgia Tech. We treated P.J. [Daniels] like an All-American. We are going to treat every running back like that. We are going to get after their tail.