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Watching the tape this morning of both the offense and the defense kind of confirms how I felt after the game. There were a lot of good things that I think happened on the offensive side. I'm pleased with some of the things I saw on special teams, particularly with the kick-off coverage. We've gotten better at that.
Defensively, we just didn't make any plays and we didn't fit plays, pretty much the way I described it post-game. The linebackers, in particular, just did not play very well. You've got to fit the run game, and we didn't make any plays in the secondary. We had an opportunity or two and we didn't do it. So it was a very poor performance by our defense. Anytime you feel like you have a good defense and you play like that it is very disappointing. Hopefully, we can avenge ourselves next week against Virginia Tech, because if we don't, it will be a long game. Or in the case really, it will be a short game like it was yesterday.
After looking at the film, were the problems on the defensive front more a problem of getting beaten physically, missed assignments, or some of both?
Mostly--it's 95 percent missed assignments, not turning the ball carrier where you want him to be turned, not knowing, [and] not executing the proper run fits. Very seldom were we overcome by what I thought was a very good line, as I told you afterwards. We were not out-physicaled. We just did not execute.
Are the cramps something Ronnie [McGill] is just going to have to continue to play through and work with, or do you hope that was just a one-shot deal yesterday?
That's something that we deal with in the early part of the season with Ronnie, so that comes as no surprise to us that that can happen. Looking at the game, he only had 14 carries. It's not like he was in the 20's. This other kid Ray Rice carried the ball 31 times, so it's something we are aware of we try to work with on a daily basis in the summertime.
They seemed to seek out wherever Hilee [Taylor] was; they ran at him a lot and both your ends seemed to take some bad [angles] as far as where they moved [before] the snap. Could you address that, and what do you do?
Well, I'm going to be quite frank--I think Hilee Taylor played quite well. I think he has the makings of being an all-star defensive end--I really do. He was one of the bright spots out there on defense yesterday. Where we got gashed was really in the middle of our defense, our linebackers, between the Mike linebacker and the Will linebacker primarily. We just didn't play very well.
Considering Ronnie's problems with the cramps, do you need to get a third running back in that rotation so that--Barrington did well at times, but sometimes he doesn't seem to run north and south quite as well. Is there somebody else you need to get into that rotation?
We've played Justin Warren in the past, and I think we are ready to play Richie Rich, but I'm pleased with the way the running backs played overall yesterday. I'm happy with the way we, for the most part, ran the football.
You mentioned the problems on defense. Do you consider personnel changes, or is it a matter of, 'Hey listen, these are the guys who were the best throughout camp, and thy just have to improve.'?
I think that's a fair evaluation. There is a possibility we may get some more playing time for Victor Worsley. We certainly want Durell Mapp to start practicing more so we feel comfortable about him playing more. Chase Rice knows how to play football. He's been in this program a long time now. Mark Paschal has been all through the spring. We certainly are not going to give up on those guys after one game.
Hakeem Nicks--was he even better his first start than you though he might be? He made some nice plays for you.
I've been seeing this all through summer. I'm really pleased with him--and obviously with Brooks [Foster]. Brooks had a great game. Overall, Joe Dailey was a delight to watch. He is a very accountable guy. After the game he was very upset that we lost. He's a special guy. I'm really pleased with his performance too.
Ryan Taylor said [after the game] that he had moved a little bit to fullback last week. Can you tell me a little bit about what went into that move?
Richard Quinn is that H-back type of tight end, and that is primarily what Ryan is talking about. When we had Richard healthy, he was playing both on the line and off the line in the backfield, split out all over the place. That's what Frank [Cignetti] wants to do with that particular position, and that is the position that Ryan is moving into.
Do you still see Ryan's future at the true tight end position?
No, I see him as the H-back. That's what we brought him in for, unless [Tommy] Thigpen steals him to play linebacker. He's been trying to steal him all summer long.
I want to get your thoughts on how the offensive line played. It looked like they were pretty good, especially at pass protection.
I agree with you completely. I think they did a really good job. They played extremely hard. They really pass protected quite well. I'm pleased with their performance, and I think--I really do believe that they will get better.
As far as the kick-off coverage, what made that unit do so well yesterday?
I think we've got some really good athletes on that kick-off coverage unit, and I think this is mostly a product of good recruiting. Wesley Flagg is going to be a really good player. We keep trying to force him into the defense a little bit, but it's hard to do because he missed half of training camp because of the [NCAA] certification deal, but I think that we have guys running faster and harder and playing a little bit smarter on that unit. I hope that we can continue to play like that.
What exactly is Durell's status in terms of his injury?
Well, he made it through the game, and he didn't show up on the injury list. That's two days in a row; that's a record for him since he's been in camp.
You talked about how well Joe played. How much of a priority is it, if at all, to get Cam [Sexton] some game action against Virginia Tech?
Frank and I talked about it again today. There just was not an opportunity yesterday. I want to get him in the game; it's [as] simple as that. There was just not an opportunity to get him in there. Joe was playing quite well. When the opportunity presents itself and circumstances with the score--that will dictate somewhat--I'm anxious to get him in the game.
What is your message when you gather the team together Monday night--what will be the main message, in particular to the defense?
To the defense? I think we can still be a very good defense. We did not show that, as I think I said afterwards--post-game. I said we waited to start playing. We waited to long. We can't wait; we've got to get off to a good start, and we need to get second halves started better. We are in our halftime and come back out and give up a long drive. The opening drive by Rutgers was right down our throats. [They had] successful plays against us, and they out-executed us, and that execution can turn around in a week's time and that is going to be that.
The message to the team is this: 'That game is over; we are playing Virginia Tech now.'