It was a tale of two halves. We really missed out on a great opportunity here – give [NC] State credit. They came back out and played a great second half. We did not. The first half is probably the best we've played all year – offense, defense, and teams. I thought that we would come out in the second half and play even better. We were pretty juiced at halftime.
You have to be able to handle the momentum swings that happen in football. Sometimes, with the youth of our team, we don't handle those things well. Untill we learn how to do those things, we will have these types of problems.
It is a very disappointing loss. The entire team is extremely disappointed because they realize the great opportunity we had to beat a team here at home, in front of our fans, that was undefeated, and shock the world. We didn't do it.
We have half of a season left, and it is our job as coaches to get this team ready to play next week and see if we can correct those errors – those assignment errors, those tackling errors again. I'm really surprised. We were tackling well in the first half. We were doing the right things and making a lot of plays. We stopped them on third down. We didn't do it in the second half. It was really disappointing, but, once again, give State credit for the way they played.
In the first half, for the most part, you had them under control. Were you surprised that they ran and ran in the second half?
We did a fine job in the first half. We were getting a lot of hats to the football. McClendon, who is a tough runner, was getting hit by one, two, three guys. In the second half, particularly with the perimeter run, we just did not get enough people there. We still had some one-on-one shots. We have to come up and make those plays, and we did not.
As has happened a couple of times this season, when things start to go wrong for us, we kind of lose the ability to pull it together, play assignment football, and hit the right gaps and use the support pattern to get players into position. Instead, we are getting out of position. I'm sure we'll see a lot of people on the ground. The big plays were basically the perimeter plays. There were a couple of cut-backs, but their were perimeter plays were we could not get the support pattern down.
Somebody is going to be free, and somebody is going to make a one-on-one tackle. Sometimes we weren't there. We didn't have enough people to the ball. The few times we had a guy there, he didn't come up with the tackle.
On the play when they scored and then Darian fumbles trying to make a play, what was going on?
That was a big, big play in the game. Anybody that plays that quarterback position knows that. I think that we had situations that occured in this game where we had Darian running around a little too much. That's not something we want to see all the time. He made an awful lot of plays last week against Arizona State. We don't want that to be the M.O. for the offense, to have Darian running around all the time.
We have got to be able to sit back in the pocket. We have to block people better. We have to know what to do, and I think there were some breakdowns in some of the blocking for Darian. There was too much pressure on him, and we have to fix that. When people go into the game, they have to know what to do, so Darian doesn't have to scramble around. When he does scramble around, we have to get the receivers to come back to the quarterback. I didn't see that either. We have to work on those things.
It's not a one-man show out there. He can't do it [all]. We have great receivers, we have some running backs that can carry the ball a little bit. Although Jacque was banged up some of the game, and that hurt us. I thought we played a great first half and, for the most part, just the opposite in the second.
What was your message to the team after the game?
We have to learn to take advantage of the opportunities presented. We have played a great first half. Now we have got to go out and finish the job. Finish the job – that was my theme during training camp with this football team. Learn how to finish plays, learn how to finish games. That's what a young team needs to learn.