We’re looking forward to playing after our loss last weekend. The only thing that cures a loss is playing again and winning a football game.
We’ve got a lot of work to get done this week. We started yesterday, it was definitely beneficial to work on our blitz pick-up and on our blitz package on defense, because we’ll need to do a good job in both areas this week. We also spent a lot of time working on our young guys, trying to get them along a little bit further. Particularly some young guys in our offensive and defensive lines, we just continue to need fundamental work to get them better.
Overall I was pleased with our effort in the game and our work yesterday. We have to have that kind of effort, and better, and be a lot more disciplined to have a chance of beating a fine Tulane team.
About Tulane’s opening game: We haven’t seen them play of course. But they closed out with a flourish last year and I’m sure they’re greatly anticipating playing this game after the difficulties they have gone through. They’re a veteran football team and I expect them to be playing at an emotional high. We will match that emotion and play a lot better game than last week, I have great confidence our players will do that.
We thought going into Auburn we’d be playing in a hostile environment, I think it’s going to be even moreso this week because of the emotion of the team and fans supporting them. It will be very intense and emotional and our players will have to be ready to respond to that. How the game starts, getting off to a good start is critical in this ball game.
OT Calvin Wilson’s status: There’s not a lot to say, it’s a day-by-day thing. He did some good things yesterday, of course he’s nowhere in condition to play a long period of time right now. But he did some good things in practice in the run game and passing game. He didn’t go to treatment this morning so I assume he woke up feeling well, that’s a plus because he’s been diligent about getting treatment. So either he’s feeling better or decided he’s going to play with pain, in either case I’m just glad to see him back at practice. And I’m sure he’s not totally comfortable yet, but most of them out there probably have something bothering them. That’s just football, you usually don’t get totally well until the season is over.
We’re going to try to get Calvin integrated into the rotation as fast as we an without putting him in harm’s way. I will say this, from what I saw yesterday he is a phenomenal athlete and what was impressive was he didn’t miss any assignments. He hasn’t had any reps in weeks and did not miss assignment. He got mental reps by watching and that says something about him, to pay attention in meetings and practice. He’s a guy that wants to be a good football player.
Frustration with pre-snap penalties at Auburn: I was about ready to beat myself. You wonder what else can you do? We talk about it, we practice it, we do things from a punitive standpoint. Immediately on dropped balls you do ten pushups, or grass drills if you jump offsides or fumble. We will continue to do that; the next step is hey, you don’t play. It’s that simple. It’s going to end one way or another.
Failures to execute at Auburn: We’ve got some people in the defensive line that can create some problems against other people’s offense. What happened to us early when we tried to bring pressure we just did not execute our blitzes. We had a corner-fire on one time against the exact same formation we run against in practice, we run it so much I want to tell Ellis (Johnson) to stop because we want to get a play off. We had guys running free, a guy stops on a blitz and a guy was supposed to cover a flat and didn’t. In practice we can’t pick it up. In fact we ran it at Green Bay and you can’t pick it up. Yet they got a 15, 20 yard completion because we didn’t execute it. If it’s executed no way that ball should have gotten off.
That’s what bothered me so much about the game, not so much that we lost but the way we lost. The fact we didn’t execute. If they’d done something we hadn’t prepared for that’s on the coaches, on me, but that’s not the case. There was nothing new out there at all. And definitely in the case of the penalties and fumbles. I say that to point out to our players that if we eliminate those things and execute the things we work on we have a chance to be a good football team. We’re a lot better than we were last year. I wasn’t sure after Murray State, I just wanted something else to gauge that by. But we are definitely a better football team.
The key is last year after getting beat by Auburn our confidence was totally shot. We cannot let that happen this year. We’ve got to get better from here, stay positive, and do the things it takes to win.
On Derek Ambrose’s experience: In a lot of ways it’s phenomenal. His parents came to see me this summer and you never know what to expect. They were just thrilled, they weren’t even concerned about playing time. They said our son is a different person than when he came here. They came to visit him and say thank-you for giving an opportunity. I was very pleased to see him run as well as he did the other night. He was a good special teams for him last year, but every time we tried to give him an opportunity to get involved in the offense we either had a rash of fumbles or missed assignments.
We play a scrimmage with those players every Monday, the ones who do well get an opportunity to play. If they don’t do it out there on Monday I’m going to assume they can’t do it on the field on Saturday.
He’s still a freshman, though. One thing I’m learning is not say too much about these young guys because every time I do it goes up in that brain somewhere and short-circuits stuff! He’s got a long way to go and we work on punting, he’s still working to get a feel for it. But he can punt the ball. He’s got to quit shanking that one-a-game he likes to do, but he’s a good punter. Brooks Crabtree is a good punter but Blake definitely has the hang time and range, it was a big factor in beating Murray State and it kept us in the Auburn game. Right now we need every advantage we can get and he does give us a little boost in field position.
Emotions about this game: We’ve got some players in that same situation, they have handled it extremely well. I understand that more than half their staff lost everything, I can’t even imagine what their staff and their players have gone through. Your heart goes out to all people directly affected, we’re all indirectly affected but this team has been directly affected. But we are going to play a football game Saturday night and during that game I don’t think anyone’s mind will be on the situation and circumstances outside the stadium. That’s what we have to focus on. This football team must focus intensely on that because the emotions will be running high and running against us.
Tulane’s team: They are an experienced team all around. They have a great deal of confidence considering they finished the season so strong. This season those players go in with experience. Those guys have been in the arena and won’t be intimidated or nervous or distracted by anything. Particularly with what they’ve gone through, if they’ve continued to practice through the course of all the moves they’ve made surely nothing will take their focus away Saturday night.
We’re going to practice pretty hard this week. Normally we go out Monday in shorts, we went out in pads to let them know we’ve got to bring everything we’ve got. There’s nothing normal about this situation, it’s not going to be business as usual. There has got to be more brought to the table than normal if we’re going to have a chance to win this football game.
Jerious Norwood’s status: He says he feels a lot better but we’re going to give him time to rest. He’ll start doing some things but of course he won’t have contact during the week.