Sept. 6, 2004
Recapping Saturday's game, well it was definitely disappointing. Our staff had a chance to review the tape and there were some great opportunities where we could've changed the outcome of the game. Offensively, we talked about at the end of the game with the turnovers that we had. If we would've just done a little bit better in that area (taking care of the football), we would've scored a lot more points and had some positive results in the end. The defense at times had some struggles in the first half, but I was encouraged with what they did in the second half. We made some adjustments at halftime that were very effective. They had a couple of plays against us in the second half but for the most part, they scored three points in the second half and it was good to see some progress on that side of the ball. We are still very young on the defensive line and the defensive front with some new players. Those things will get worked on in terms of getting that experience and technique and hopefully be a little better this week. We are going to play against another challenging offense in Illinois. They have a lot of experience back. Four of five starting offensive linemen are back. They have a quarterback that is returning for his sixth year. He completed 16-of-18 passes in their win last week and looked very sharp. They have some good running backs, the same backs that played against us last year. A good group of receivers too so it will be another great challenge for our defense to make steps and improvement. I know offensively we're excited about moving forward again and taking that next step further from last week. We had some success with production. We are going to take care of those issues with the turnovers. We feel really good about the progress that was made last week and we are ready to make those next few steps this week.
Is there any chance Justin London will play this week?
He does have a chance to play. He worked out both Sunday and today. He ran around and did some things with our training staff so we are encouraged with what his possibilities are. He still needs to practice so I don't want to get too excited too early. But he does have an opportunity.
How much did you notice that you missed him last week?
Well he is the guy that controls the front and the guy that makes all of the linebacker adjustments. He is always missed. That is a leadership position, the middle linebacker position. He makes the signal calls for our defense so it will be good to get him back in the scheme.
Looks like you had two injuries in the game in Spencer Havner and Jarrad Page.
Spencer just had a shoulder sprain and we didn't think it was anything more than that. He actually came back in the second half and played very, very well. Jarrad has a bruised heel that is still bothering him now. He might not even practice tomorrow. We are going to give him some time to get some of the swelling down and the soreness out of there. We are shooting for him to get going on Wednesday. I think those were the only two significant injuries.
How did the offensive line play when you looked at the film?
Very well. Very well. It was a very positive contrast to the last time we played. We had no sacks. We ran the ball effectively. We allowed Manuel White to have a very productive game for us. So it was a great start for that offensive line.
How pleased were you with Drew (Olson)?
Drew was solid. He can get a lot better. He missed some opportunities. We had the chance to make some bigger plays and he chose the conservative route and hit the back and the back made 10 or 12 yards, which is a good play. As he gets more familiar, and particularly as the season unfolds, he is going to sharpen up and do some great things. But I was very encouraged by his start.
When you watch the tape on defense, was it missed assignments or did they just get beat physically?
It was both. There were some assignments where we just didn't get the call of adjustments that happen during the course of a game. And then there were some where we just got beat. They had a great blocking scheme, guys blocked and they made a big play. That's football. That's going to happen. Our job is to do a better job with our assignments and then eventually start winning those battles. That was a very experienced offensive line that we played against and it was a good test for our young players that played. They will have a better expectation going into this game.
Discuss the play of Manuel (White) and Maurice (Drew).
It was encouraging. I'm excited about both of those guys because of how effective they can run the football. Manuel is one of those dual role type of players. He can do a number of things for our offense. And he showed some of that last week. Maurice will get better as well. He is a great runner with the ball in his hands - whether he is catching it or whether he is breaking through the line of scrimmage. We are excited about both of their progress.
How about the play of the wide receivers?
The timing was there. We are tying to encourage more plays this week. They didn't have many opportunities because we threw the ball to all of our skill players. That is what our offense is - we utilize everyone. It was good to see Tab (Perry) get his feet wet. We will increase his role as we move forward. Craig (Bragg) made some plays. Junior (Taylor) had the opportunity to make some plays. That is an area that we will continue to keep working on. It's a young group with some of the experience behind that top group. Those guys will continue to get better as we build the offense from week to week.
Is Tab behind in learning the offense?
Well he missed quite a bit of time in terms of the building blocks of the offense. He is catching up in that part. This is actually a good stage for him because you don't utilize everything in your playbook in any given week. He is learning the playbook probably at a different pace or different methodology. He is learning from game plans. He will catch up.
Does that restrict his use in a game?
No, not at all. There are things that carry over from game to game. You don't want to totally change everything that you are doing. There are a lot of times week after week that stay constant.
Will a 9:00 a.m. start time affect your preparation for this game?
We are going to have to get up a little bit earlier towards the end of this week. We are going to practice Thursday in the morning. We are leaving Thursday afternoon and then we'll do some work Friday earlier in the day that will hopefully get us ready for a Saturday morning game.