Do you think you’re going to get wind on Saturday?
Yeah, there’s a good chance we could get some weather on Saturday, at least looking at the forecast, so that’s why we wanted to get out here in the elements today. Tough day. I thought we kicked it well, I thought we caught it well. Especially early, it started gusting a little bit. I thought we executed pretty well today. It’s tough; you’ve got that air blowing, that wind blowing in your earhole, but I thought the guys handled it pretty well.
Did you get the competition in practice you talked about on Monday?
Yeah, I think we have. We’ll make some decisions as we move forward throughout the weekend, but I thought the guys came with the right attitude, but I thought we put two good days together. We’ve got to finish it off tomorrow.
Do you think we might see any new starters?
(Shrugs). I don’t know, maybe. Is that how I answered your question on Monday — maybe? I don’t know. We’ll see. Tomorrow is a big day, too. We’ll see what we clean up and what we throw out. You usually throw a lot at the guys Tuesday and Wednesday, see what we like, and then make some decisions on some things we think that might be overloading a little bit, but we’ll kind of see. I like what the whole group is doing. I think they’re all pushing each other and that’s kind of the whole goal, is for us to push each other to where we want bet.
Do you use the New Hampshire loss (in 2006) as motivation with the guys at all?
No, none of those guys were here. They don’t really give a crap.
So how do you motivate them to play an FCS team?
We don’t care who we play; we care about ourselves. We talk about it’s about us all the time. It doesn’t change if it’s Syracuse, or if it’s the last game or this game. We have not played a great game yet; we have not put three clean phases of football together, so that’s much more important. It’s much more important than anything else.
Is there something this week that you’d like to see from this team?
Well, I think first of all we have to take care of the ball better. We had the ball on the ground way too much on Saturday, and I don’t want to discredit Boston College, but we fumbled a snap, we scrambled with bad ball security — you can’t do that. You can’t do those kind of things. We’ve got to take the ball away. We’ve had the opportunity now, we could be in double digits. We’ve had the ball, what, five other times we had the chance to get it out or interceptions where we haven’t gotten it in the last two weeks. That could really help us. And then I just want to see us continue to mature as a team, play cleaner, get three phases together playing for 60 minutes. We have not done that yet. We’ve just got to keep working to get that, keep focused in the execution at that level.
Does it test the players’ maturity when they go up against an FCS team?
I don’t think they care who we play. That’s for you guys to talk about and for our fans to talk about. We talk about who the young men are that we’re competing against, their strengths that we see in our opinion, who they are, what they do schematically, but, then why would we play the games? We had no chance at beating Nebraska last year on the road (so) why did we even go? We could have saved about $85,000.
That’s why we play the games and you look at what the teams have done throughout the country, any team can win on any Saturday in college football. I think that’s why it’s so much fun. ULM has done a great job when they go to Arkansas, (but) are they going to end up in the SEC now? No, that’s not going to happen. They’ve just played two really good games, and they’ve played well and they’ve got good players. Everybody’s got good players, like the 10 Chicagoans that we’re playing against this Saturday. I promise you they’re going to be excited to play in front of their family and friends with a chip on their shoulder because it didn’t work out here for a lot of those guys. So you can keep going down all those roads with that, and if I say that to the team they’re going to look at me like, “Coach, I really don’t care. So what.” We know that we need to get better. We watch ourselves on tape; we’re critical of ourselves and that’s going to continue, as long as I’m the head coach, to be our focus, because all the other stuff is completely out of our control.
I’ve had a bunch of fans send me messages (asking), “Aren’t you mad that you aren’t ranked?” No, I don’t really care. It doesn’t matter. If it were me, I don’t know why we’d rank anybody prior to October anyways. It’s a waste of time, because nobody has played anybody yet. Wait until you get to the conference play for about three weeks, if you want to talk about things that are out of our control. But even then I wouldn’t give a crap if we’re ranked or not. It doesn’t matter. What matters is, is we’re starting to play better football and I think we have each week. We (had) 600 yards on Saturday — we’ve got to be better in the red zone, the tight zone and take care of the ball, but it’s not like our offense was bad. I’ve seen some NFL that are BAD, bad. 600 yards is not bad; we’ve just got to score. So that’s kind of where I’m at right now.
Traveon Henry is a Florida kid and had a Florida State offer. Did you have any skepticism that you’d be able to get him?
We had a great relationship. Marty Long did a great job recruiting him and I thought we built a great relationship with him. He’s a high, high academic young man from a great family, and I’m just pleased, obviously, with his growth. We would have played him in the opener if he didn’t get a little dinged up, and three tackles on kickoff in his first experience was great, too. He got his lips knocked off on the first kickoff. I mean, he got double-teamed, lifted off his feet and knocked on his can, and he gets up and gets in on a tackle. That’s kind of exciting for a little puppy to do that.
Have you been impressed with Brandon Williams, and has he been more consistent this year?
I think B-Dub’s been good. I think he’s pretty critical of himself right now that he’d like to have his average a little higher, but also, it’s kind of cool last week only having two punts. Now the one punt was my fault — I should have backed up, I should have taken a delay of game. Now, they could decline it, but I should have taken a delay of game to help us out; we should have gotten two punts inside the five. But he’s been doing really well throughout his whole career. I’m really proud of him.