Postgame Press Conference Transcript (vs. Toledo)
Sept. 10, 2011
COACH FICKELL: All right. Obviously first thing for us to go in was to be fundamentally sound and physical. Just things that pop out at you right off the bat was the very first punt, some of the things just fundamentally tackling, we knew that was going to be a big deal.
So just off the top of my head, that's something we know we have to be better at. They do a great job of challenging you in those things, but that was one of those areas we knew going into the game we had to be huge to win the rush battle. That was something unlike every week, especially with a spread team, if you can stop them running the football, you've got a chance to gang up on some of those pass routes and different things that they hurt you with down the field stuff especially with the bubble.
So that is probably the one thing you look down at it, we did a good job at it. They had 45 yards rushing. So we tried to make them one dimensional. Did a decent job of that, and just have to do a better job on the back end of it.
Then tackling was the other huge thing going into the football defensively that we knew we had to do a great job of. That is probably the biggest area that stood out to me that we made this thing a lot closer because we didn't do a great job at tackling and doing a great job of fundamentally of just getting leverage and getting the ball back inside.
We knew it was going to be a challenge. We're excited about how the guys fought, how they battled, and how they kept their chins up. This team has been through adversity and will continue to be through adversity, but that is how you challenge yourself to get better.
Q. You talk about adversity. Was it good to be in the fire in that kind of situation? Was Braxton Miller available, and what were your thoughts on using him or not using him?
Those guys are good with it. They understood the situation. We know it's about us. It's about this whole team. Sometimes your plan adjusts and changes on the run, and that's what happened today.
We were going to use him, we had a plan maybe to be in that second quarter, very similar to last week, but it just didn't work out the way we had probably planned it in our head, and we'll continue to move forward.
Q. Luke, I'm curious the angle you had after Rod Smith fumbles the ball, they take the shot deep. The deep balls on the money and Dominic Clarke makes maybe a game saving play. Just take us through as you were watching that and if you had a good angle on that play?
And Dominic did a whale of a job doing the same for us. He understands that's what we expect of him. But we sure are proud that obviously he was battling and continued to do that in that situation. Hopefully, we had an idea that some taking a shot was coming, but still you don't assume anything?
Q. John Simon left and went to the locker room came back and stuff. What went on with him there? Then in the last drive you made a couple of huge plays, what did you see out of that? And number three, you all took that time out when they had the ball down there, was that just to make sure you got the right match up on Eric Page?
John Simon, John it some kind of happened to last week too. John is not an out of shape guy by any means, but emotionally sometimes things happen and he starts to cramp up a little bit. We've got to do a better job, and he's got to do a better job of making sure they get that under control because we need him out there. Hopefully we'll do a better job with that.
Q. The timeouts you all took when they got down in your end of the field and it looked like you had a match up problem there with Page in the slot.
But, again, to me that is one of the better things we did. We saved them for our timeouts. We had him for a situation when we'd need him whether it was just to gather ourselves.
I think I learned a little bit in a similar situation last year when Iowa was playing here after we had the possibility of a big turnover, and we end up dropping it, and it bounced up. Their guy caught it and two plays later they scored. I always said in the back of my head, we've got to take a defensive timeout there to make sure our guys are settled down. We've got them under control. We've got them in the situation we want them in. Because it's not always about the call, but it's about the guys understanding what they need to do and being able to play.
Q. I know you guys always talk about next man up. But between the suspensions and a guy like Nate Williams not playing today, and Philly Brown goes down, isn't there a point where any team feels a talent drain when you have that many of your top guys missing?
We try to tell them all the time. You never know when your name's going to be called. You've got to be ready, and you've got to be willing and you've got to be prepared.
I think and I hope that this is what's going to make us better, all of this adversity, all of these different things that happened. It does nothing but makes you stronger as long as you handle it the right way.
Q. Luke, you said you planned to get Braxton in there in the second quarter or whatever but something changed. What changed? Was it the fact that it was a close game?
You know, we thought for momentum reasons and some different things, we just want to stick with where we were, and those are questions that, us as a staff, we'll make sure we sit down and evaluate and look back over to see if there's anyway if we had to do it over again, if we'd do it different.
Q. How quick do the thoughts turn now to Miami? Just your thoughts on heading down there?
But we're going to try to relax, and try to figure out what it is we need to do to get better here, evaluate ourselves and as we move forward to Miami.
Q. Would you give your assessment of Bauserman? Sometimes it looked like he had to throw it away, and maybe he missed and left some yards out there. Can you talk about him?
So there are some times when it's not real pleasing to the fans or to the crowd when they throw it six rows deep, but you know what, sometimes that's the best thing, and we're going to make sure that we're making good decisions to continue to play that next down.
We know we've got to take some shots and we did. But you know what, I think he understands what we're asking him to do, and we all left some plays out there no matter whether it's the quarterback, a defensive lineman, a linebacker, we all left some on the field.
That's how we get better. We evaluate, we're critical of ourselves and we find a way to try not to leave as many of those out there.
Q. For clarification, do you still feel you have two quarterbacks or do you feel you have a starter and a back up at this point?
I feel like we have two Will linebackers. I know everybody wants to talk about the quarterback more so, but they know we have confidence in them. They know we need them both, and it's our job to make sure we can handle it the right way.
Q. Can you comment on your running game today? Was it something Toledo was doing well especially at the line of attack or was it blocking problems? Just your overall assessment of your running attack?
But they're going to do that. They're going to crowd up the box and test you that way. You know, we know there are some ways that we've got to make sure we get better at it. But, you know, checking some things, maybe. But it's hard to say.
I know we rushed for 114 yards. I'm not sure on how many carries. Was it 114, Jerry? 112, I had those two extra yards I gave them. But still, it still comes down to that rushing battle too.
We had 112, and they had 46. So I guess we've got to make sure that we understand that's what we're looking for. But we can always do better, and we expect to do better, and we will do better.
Q. In regards to that running game, Carlos Hyde did have that 36 yard touchdown that helped gain the momentum back in the second quarter. So how important has his role been in these first two games and where do you see him when you get some of your suspended guys back?
The thing about running backs is they've got to be tough because they're going to take shots. Guys are going to hit them in the legs, they're going to hit them in the head. It's not a position that you're not going to come in on Sunday morning and not feel it whether you had six carries and 35 blocks.
But he's done a very good job. He's our starting running back. We'll continue to feed him and, you know, I believe he's only going to get stronger.
Q. A blocked punt kind of flipped the Sugar Bowl and almost cost you guys. To get one up like that, what did you see break down? How big a blow is that to you guys? And then flip of that, Chris Fields obviously Corey Philly Brown went out and Chris Fields had the punt return. What did you see there and did you challenge him to come back with a play?
That's what we're talking about. Making sure we understand what we're doing fundamentally, so if there is a problem, we at least know how to correct it. And I think we know how to correct it.
We've got to do a better job, and we'll go from there. But it's not like we're going to scrap the punt team and go to the drawing board. We're just going to get better at what we do.
As for Chris Fields, he stepped up. I think going into the game, Philly was a little dinged up from last week, probably the same ankle. So Chris talked about it last week. He had a couple of opportunities last week. Probably a lot more open last week than it was this week, and I think he learned from it.
So I'm excited about what Chris Fields did, not just because he took it back, but how much he maybe improved from last week to this week in his punt returns.
Q. Just to follow up quickly, do you have any expectation of what Philly's situation is going forward?
Q. What was halftime like? What was your message to the guys? What kind of vibe did you get from the team going into the half after Chris had given you the lead but it was still a tight game?
Q. Coach, can you comment on the penalties they had called today. They had considerably more than you guys did.
Q. One of the things that's probably new to you in this gig is handling something like Rod Smith who fumbled last week going in for the touchdown. Then obviously a crucial fumble today. How do you handle him and keep his confidence up? He's obviously a guy you're going to lean on the rest of the year?
I'm not sure if that really helped define Eddie when he was here. But I made sure Carlos understands that situation that that's happened to some of the great ones. But how you handle it will be the key into your success.
Q. Do you know who your team is now going into Miami? Obviously some unresolved issues, and how tough is that to deal with trying to make a game plan when Friday afternoon or maybe you know earlier, but you don't have the use of guys?
It's not just how we handle them game plan wise. I'm not worried about that. We have other guys we put in and feel comfortable with. It's how we handle these things mentally, and the morale of the team handles those things is what I'm most concerned with. That we handle them in the right way and we channel our energy, and don't lose any energy on the things that we have no control over.
Q.Joe, offensively out there today did you guys feel like it seemed like a couple times on third down you had some guys and weren't able to convert. Do you feel you left a lot of plays out there offensively?
Q. When you went into the day, did you think you'd play all day or what were your thoughts on the game? Then when you did, what did you get out of playing a complete game?
Q. Take us, if you could, just your emotions there at the end? Obviously, they get the fumble and they're able to drive it down, fourth and five they're knocking on the door. Just what you were feeling and your guys were feeling?
Q. Is it like series by series where you're trying to just find out if you're going to be in the next time? Or how do you know you're going to be in on the next series?
Q. How disjointed a day was it? You had the fourth down pass that went off Stoneburner's hands. You had the fumble by Rod. Looked like you were going to put the game away. How would you describe the day in a nutshell?
Q. Did you ever get a sense that the offense was getting frustrated at all with how things were going, and did you get any sense that the crowd was getting frustrated? It sounded like there were a couple of boos out there at times.
I don't think we were frustrated. I think at times we wanted to run the ball, and it wasn't exactly what we're used to, so guys were getting a little upset. But we still want to run the ball, and we know we can run the ball.
Q. As a senior and as the starting quarterback, do you go up to a guy like Rod and put your arm around him and talk to him? Maybe take us through anything you might have said to Rod after the game to lift the spirits?
Q. With DeVier and Boom and Jordon already suspended, then Philly goes down, does it reach a point where you lose enough play makers as an offense that it does have to have some effect on what you guys can do?
Q. Was it a matter in your running game, were they doing things that just kept you guys off balance? How would you describe it at the line of scrimmage trying to figure it out?
Q. Joe, you mentioned bringing the safeties in, and they were really crowding the boxes. Is there part of you as a competitor that says I think I can take advantage of that? Do you feel like maybe there were some times you wish you could have and you guys didn't?