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October 21, 2003Opening Statement:
"I once had a great coach that gave me a very valuable lesson with this expression: 'A man learns from his mistakes directly proportionate to how much he suffers from them.' I think we have all suffered enough from this past Saturday's game. I told the players I wanted them to suffer a little bit with us, as we did as a staff. But that is over. The staff has done a good job thus far of getting ready. We will be back with the players today, and we look forward to three days of practice to get ready for Clemson. I'm not sure if you all know, but Larry Edwards was named freshman player of the week, which is exciting. He has led our team, three weeks in a row, in tackles. There is a lot of good things happening with our running game now. Two weeks in a row we have been over 150 (yards) a game, which is good. It is going in the right direction. Hopefully we can maintain that or make it better. Of course, Darian has had three games in a row now without an interception. I hope I don't jinx him. This game that we are going to be playing (Clemson) , is in a great venue to play football in for many, many years, for many, many teams. We are hopeful that we can go down there and get better and play a great game and possibly win that football game. That would be terrific."
Q: What has been the cause in the improvement of the running game in the last couple of weeks?
A: "I think that we are working better as a unit up front. I think that we have played some stiff competition. I think that playing those kinds of teams and realizing the necessity for us to become more two-dimensional, but also pickup our passing game. But I think our offensive line, I have said this all along, is the cornerstone of our team in terms of experience and the most talent in terms of the combined talent of all the players. I expect them to play well, and I think they have been playing better. The runners have run hard too."
Q: How do you get over a loss like that?
A: "Well, I learned from Marty (Schottenheimer) after a devastating loss against Indianapolis. In the first round of the playoffs after we had a bye week, we were the NFL's leader in defense. We lost to Indianapolis, I don't know if it was 9-7 or 9-6, but it was a pretty bad feeling, it really was. Lamar Hunt, the great owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, after stewing for about an hour up in my office, he came in my office and sat me down and he said, 'You guys did a great job, you fell short, let's do it next year.' And Marty, very soon afterwards, came up with this expression that I use around my football players. You have heard me say it before: 'You can't feel sorry for yourself, because that is a waste of time.' You can stew about it, and I was very angry about it and very disappointed in it. I told the players I wanted them to suffer. I talked to them on Sunday about that. But there comes a point when you have to put it behind you. Some people try to put it behind right away. I think in this case it was important for us to be a little angry about it and a little upset about it for a while. But its behind us totally, as a staff and I think the players that I have talked to within that last 48 hours, it is behind them too. We are anxious to get started again."
Q: You have talked a lot about Dick Vermeil, you were a player and a coach with him. What did you learn from him?
A: "Stay the course, stay positive and continue to work on the character of your team. Upgrade the talent level, but continue to work on the character of your team."
Q: What do you look for this week in practice, in terms of trying to gage whether the team is emotionally over the loss and building back up?
A: "In light of today's weather too, you know we have nice weather. We are going to have an 80-degree day today. I'm looking forward to them concentrating and demonstrating some enthusiasm of getting back out there to play and practice. That is what I'm looking for. An excitement to be back together out there, practicing in order to get ready for our next opponent."
Q: Talk about Darian Durant, and how he has been able to improve so much this season.
A: "Well, I'm going to give a lot of credit to his coach and offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill, who is steadfastly upheld him to a higher standard of accountability each week. He hammers that home. That is very important to his growth as a quarterback and leading this football team, those intangibles. He's getting better and better. I have said all along that there is a lot of things about Darian that you like an awful lot. As he continues to develop, he is going to be a really great man and a great person. He has got a lot of great character traits that you like. He's extremely competitive, but when he focuses in and funnels all of his energy into taking his game to another level in terms of managing the game, he is really good. He has done that and we are proud of him for that."
Q: What will be the defensive challenge this week against Clemson?
A: "They run the football more and better than they have, but their receivers are big. They are tall. They are fast. They are playmakers. The quarterback [Charlie Whitehurst], I have said before to you guys, I would have loved to have him here. He was my number one guy when I got in here of that recruiting class. Of the three big quarterbacks here on the east coast, he was my number one guy. He's got a tremendously live arm. He's very, very dangerous. I think he will continue to develop, as he goes around, into a great quarterback in this conference."
Q: Is there a particular key into trying to defend Clemson's tall receivers?
A: "You know they are going to be able to catch the ball over your head. They are going to be able to out-jump most of your corners. So you got to mix coverage. You have to try and jam them up on occasion at the line of scrimmage and disrupt. But more importantly, you need to have people around that receiver besides the corner, to try and strip, disrupt and tackle the catch. You know, minimize the gain. They are going to make some throws that you want to try and play a good chess game with them, to not let the quarterback have all day, which has been a problem of ours. You have to pressure some. We need a big day from our linebacker and secondary crew. And we need our offense to control the ball some."