Oct. 31, 2006
On team being able to come back from an early deficit
“There is a certain level of maturity and experience. There is an intelligence level that realizes there is a lot of football left, don’t panic.”
On drawing off earlier comebacks
“Sure, that’s a confidence level. Anytime you’ve done something, you know you can do it again.”
On not looking past NC State and staying focused
“First of all we talk about getting better every week. Let’s go get better as a football team. If we want to be where we want to be at the end, we have to continue to get better. As soon as you think you have arrived, you haven’t for sure.”
“The next thing I talk about is it’s a conference game and you go and win conference games. Division games are more important, but conference games are still important because they count in the end and you want to be able to finish strong as a football team. Let’s go win the game and prove what kind of a football team we are.”
On what Tech needs to improve on
“We can still work on kickoff coverage, because we have to do a better job at that. We have to do a better job at sustaining drives, offensively. Early in the year we had hardly any three-and-outs. We need to control the ball better. We still maintain field position, because Durant [Brooks] is kicking the ball so well and the coverage team is doing such a super job. Even if we are not getting first downs, we are still turning the field over and making the other team have a long way to go. We have been fortunate in that respect, but if we want to continue as a football team, we have to get back to sustaining drives offensively and we have to stop the run early. We did not stop the run early enough, we let a big run out early last game and we gave them a lot of momentum, which we did not want to do.”
“We’ve had fewer penalties (referring to NC State), but the yards are more. We have to stay away from the big penalties is what we have to do. You’re going to have a certain amount of penalties. We have to stay away from the major penalties like pass interference, late hits and things like that. If we can stay away from those then we can handle field position, get off the field defensively and maintain drives offensively.”
On pointing out negatives in previous games
“I do that all the time. You learn from previous games, and learning is the negative being pointed out and not letting that happen again. It doesn’t always happen that way, you try and make the point, whichever way you can.”
On motivating the team
“I try to be very honest. I don’t try to sugarcoat, I try to be very honest. I speak from the heart, that’s all I know how to do. I’m not smart enough to remember something that I have said before, so I just try and speak the truth every time I stand up.
“I just say what’s pertinent to that week and that game. Have I used anecdotes, I’m sure I have. Have I used stories of previous years where I have been, I have. You get to my age you have a lot experience to pull from. A lot of things had happened.”
“The thing about it is I’m trying to speak the truth and get them to understand what’s at stake. If explaining what’s at stake motivates, then ok. I don’t throw chairs, I don’t yell and scream. I’m passionate about what I say.”
On the players understanding the program now
“If you hang around somebody for four years, you are going to figure it out. These guys have been around us, and what we are trying to do and what we believe in. What we said in their homes four years ago, is being said the same way today. You can maintain that consistency through the years, than I think the message does come through. If you’re going into somebody’s house for four years, you are going to understand what the house rules are.”
On NC State’s running game
“There are a lot of concerns. The first one is trying to stop those two running backs (Andre Brown and Toney Baker) who can both run the football and are both explosive. At times they both run the ball extremely well, and the thing that is unique is they (NC State) pound and pound and pound you, then they throw it up to [John] Dunlap, or try and get it to [Darrell] Blackman quick and let him make a play. You have to be on your toes at all times because they have every formation and motion in the book, so you have to pay attention to what is going on out there.”
On NC State’s defense
“If you don’t block those two inside guys (Tank Tyler and DeMario Pressley) you will be in trouble. They have typical NC State linebackers (Pat Lowery and LeRue Rumph) that can run and make plays, the defensive ends have been overshadowed because of the guys they’ve had the last few years and the safeties are good players. This is a very talented football team, and one of things that is overlooked about this football team is Blackman in the return game. He is in the top three in kickoff and punt returns in the conference, so your coverage team better be good.”
On Tech fullback Mike Cox
“He is probably a much better athlete than anybody knew about. He’s a very talented run, jump, change direction; throw catch, type of football player in a 6 foot, 1 inch, 255-pound body. We all knew it and I think Patrick [Nix] is doing a good job using his talents and doing different things with him.”
On the tight ends and running backs making plays in passing game
“People are paying so much attention to Calvin [Johnson] that it is allowing other people to be open. With [Tashard] Choice having a 100 yards in a couple of games is another thing that is grabbing their attention and allowing other guys to be open. You have to give Reggie [Ball] some credit, he sees it, they see it upstairs in the booth, they are calling the plays and Reggie is executing it. That throw he made to Michael Matthews, you won’t see a better throw than that at any level of football.”
On concern about kickoffs
“We’re asking Mohamed [Yahiaoui] to do a lot of different types of kickoffs. We are asking him to place the ball in certain spots, so we can zone in our coverage. If we went out and boomed it every time, we might have some more touchbacks, but we lose an area of coverage having to cover the entire field. If anything, he’s done a good job, we’re just asking him to do something that is very specific and that cuts down on his ability to go out and boom it every time.”
On Durant Brooks being an NFL caliber punter
On the new rule of starting the clock
“Tremendously, it makes a big difference at the end of the ballgame with the new rule.”
On playing to that during the game
“No, I don’t think so. Every time you run on the field the clock starts, so even after the fumble, we told Reggie to take his time when there were five minutes left. So we were able to run an extra 20 seconds off at that time and after the last kickoff. That’s almost a minute you can knock off there at the end of the ballgame which is helpful.”
89 James Johnson, WR
On overcoming 10-point deficits in two out of last three games:
“You probably get bored of me saying this every week, but it’s just the hard working players we have, the chemistry we have. It’s the fight that each of us have, knowing that we can be down a certain amount of points in the first half and know that the game is still not over. The big thing that we have is trust in each other.”
Is it more fun to comeback and win the way you did against Miami or the way you won at Virginia Tech, when you had control of the game from the beginning?
“Well a win is a win really, but you’d rather have it be a nice game that starts off good and continues through the whole game than be down early. But a win is a win.”
What is the mindset after accomplishing another comeback win?
“Basically we just have to take it one week at a time. This week it’s NC State. They are a good team with a good defense and they played well against Boston College. They have a lot of play makers. We have to watch film, study them and do what we can to get a win.”
Do you have any different emotions this week after win over Miami?
“No, not really. I’ve looked in each player’s eyes and talked to each player and seems like just another week and we want to win. We go into each week knowing we need to win and if we keep that mindset up then good things will happen.”
On the difference from this year to last year on the team and the ability to come back:
“Again, it’s chemistry and trust in each other. We have playmakers like (Tashard) Choice, Calvin (Johnson) and Reggie (Ball) that believe in each other and know that they can be doing bad at the beginning of the game and can come back and win. I think the team chemistry is different. We click a lot better than last year. We had (Chan) Gailey’s kids and (George) O’Leary’s kids, but this season it’s all Gailey’s kids. In the locker room we have fun; we don’t take each other too serious.”
What was going through your mind during Reggie’s TD pass to you?
“Well first I thought, man Reggie can throw. I mean that man has a cannon, which you always see in practice and in games. I was just trying my best to run underneath it, not really worrying where I was on the field. I just wanted to catch the ball, make sure I had that first and let the rest take care of itself. It ended up being a touchdown.”
Did you have time to set your feet?
“No. It was really quick. I could tell it was going to be in the end zone, either the back of the end zone, middle of the end zone. I knew it would be in the end zone somewhere. I just went ahead and caught it, made sure not to bobble it, making sure I caught it the first time I touched it. “
On Mike Cox’s (FB) ability to catch so well:
“Bull (Mike Cox) has a lot of energy. He should be a receiver. He’s just big and strong and he can block so he’s a good full back. You see him in practice and he’s doing these one-handed catches, which coaches yell at him for, but he makes them. Bull is very talented.”
On Wide-Receiver tandem, Calvin Johnson and James Johnson:
“I think there is no limit to what we can do. When we’re able to share the ball among every body, we do very well. When we don’t just focus on one player, we do very well. The ceiling’s high. When Calvin’s double teamed, you’ve got me and Chris Dunlap and the tight end and the full back of course, who can catch balls. If they try to play everybody one on one, Reggie has so many options of who he can go to. I think it’s more of us playing tag with defense when this person can do it, that person can do it, there’s just not much you can do. As long as we distribute the ball to everybody on offense, there’s no limit.”
On distributing the ball to players other than Calvin Johnson:
“I think Reggie gaining that confidence in me was a big step. I try to get Reggie to know that everybody on offense is a playmaker. You don’t have to just look at one guy. He (Calvin Johnson) is an All-America; I would be looking at him too. He’s going to get double covered and there’s nothing you can do, you have to distribute the ball to other teammates. We’re just hoping he can see that and hoping we can devise a game plan that allows Reggie to do that.”
With NC State beating teams like Florida State and BC, do you wonder what team is going to show up?
“Exactly. You don’t know which one you’re going to see so you have to prepare for the worst. That’s going to be our mindset. We have to prepare like they’re going to be the best team. We want to look at them like they’re number one in the nation.”
42 Adamm Oliver, DE
On facing a quarterback who just became a starter:
“I didn’t even realize that he’s a new quarterback. It doesn’t really matter. We go at all the quarterbacks regardless of what year they are. I can’t really say there’s a difference. Maybe there’s a little bit of excitement because he’ll probably make more mistakes, but we can’t count on that.”
Is there any difference in your mindset now that you control your own destiny in ACC?
“There’s really not any difference. It’s a little more exciting, but we’re taking it one game at a time. It’s NC State right now. We know we have a lot down the line, but we’re not focusing on that. We’re just focusing on this game. We’re not there yet.”
On the feeling on the sideline when you’re down by ten:
“I think there’s a feeling on the sideline when we all feel like we’re not winning but we still know we’re the better team. We just have to come back and get it together. In the Maryland game and the Miami game, we had a great feeling on the sideline and it seemed like nobody was down, we were still excited. Even though we were losing the game it was because of a few misfortunes or some bad things that happened. In the Miami game, coming into halftime 13-13, we knew we had control of the game. That’s the difference this season. Other years I’ve been here we’ve had trouble coming back when we’re down. But it seems like this team has a lot of talent and it’s not hard for us to come from behind.”
Is it more fun to come from behind to win or be in control of the game?
“No. It’s always more fun when you’re up a lot you know. It’s not as stressful. You can go out there and have a little more fun. There’s more worry and stress involved when you’re in a tight ballgame.”
On Coach Chan Gailey’s comments to the team regarding ACC Championship:
“He wants us to take it one game at a time. He knows we can’t have a breakdown, just because we came off an emotional win and we still have games ahead of us we have to focus on. Any team can beat any team and we have to play our best, no matter who we play.”
On Gailey’s comments to team:
“He’s a good motivational speaker. He’s always got the right thing to stay. He always says something that helps us refocus and puts our mind where it’s supposed to be. That’s the best thing, when we’re excited about a win he comes in congratulates us on our win but reminds us that we have NC State now. He’s good at waking us up and putting us in reality.”
35 KaMichael Hall, LB
On overcoming ten-point deficit vs. Miami and Maryland:
“If anything, it’s because we play together and have a never give up attitude. It comes from within the players having a common goal that you’re trying to reach. If you really want something you’re not going to let anything stand in your way. We have a goal in mind and regardless of how the game is going; you can’t give up because you never know what might happen.”
On facing a young quarterback:
“Whether he’s a first year starter, freshman or sophomore, he’s made some plays and you have to take that into consideration. This is not a team that you can come into a game against and not be scared. They’ve (NC State) taken down big teams this year and you don’t want to be on that list. “
On Coach Gailey’s method of motivation:
“Him along with Coach Tenuta with some of the guys on the team, it’s hard not to stay motivated. There’s always talk about what we have to do and it doesn’t always have to come from the coaches. I think that’s one thing that’s different this year is the players wanting it more, more players wanting to be successful. We keep each other encouraged. When things get down, we keep each other up. It’s a great motivation to have a coach like ours. If you know your head coach is with you and your other coaches are with you, that’s all that matters.”
What was going on in your mind on the fumble recovery vs. Miami?
“Very rarely you can see the ball on the ground and be able to get to it. The guys always joke with me about not being able to score and I saw the ball on the ground so I just tried to pick it up. I knew where we were on the field so I tried getting as many yards as possible, actually I was trying to get in the end zone but somebody grabbed my feet and I couldn’t get loose. That was the only thing going on in my mind: Just scoop and score.”
On competition with teammate Philip Wheeler:
“It’s an inter-team competition. It’s what keeps us going. With Philip, we’re very close with tackles and he always reminds me how many he has each game. I’m trying to beat him and he’s trying to beat me and that makes the game. It’s fun to have competitions with your teammates. I’m pretty sure the Johnsons (Calvin and James) have one too. It just makes everything better. Going out there and having fun is the only way you should play the game.”
Does the emergence of Tech’s offense this season take any pressure off the defense?
“Like I said, we’re just playing together, as a whole. Not as an offense or a defense or a special teams. If they do bad then we do bad and if we do bad then they all do bad. So I think us playing together takes a lot of pressure off everybody. We’re playing for each other not anybody else. “