Tuesday, September 10, 2002
"Darrell Dickey is someone I have a lot of respect for. This team has 20 starters I think back from last year. They beat Middle Tennessee. They won the conference last year, went to a bowl game playing with a lot of confidence. Most of you know that Darrell Dickey and I have been very close for a long time. Darrell was our quarterback when I first got into college coaching at Kansas State. His dad gave me my first job. Grant Dickey is an offensive lineman on our team, and, thanks to Jim Dickey, Grant Dickey's here because he made sure we knew about him but we already did. And (we) made sure he didn't go to North Texas, too. No, he was not going to do that. He was a heavily recruited young man, had a lot of opportunities, but a lot of connections in this game. I don't know if Jim Dickey will be here or not this weekend. I called him a couple of weeks ago just to kind of see if he was going to make it and offer our house and our golf course to him, but I don't know if he'll be here or not.
"This is a good, solid football team. I think their first two football games show you that. They played Texas very tough, 27-0. Got into some bad field position in the first half and it resulted in to some points and they held them to 28 rushing yards I think for the game or something around that total. Only about 35 or 40 yards of total offense in the second half, sacked their quarterback eight times. It's a good, solid defensive unit. Don't get out of position very often. Well-coached. Will be well prepared. Played these guys in 1999 at TCU and it was 10-3 until late in the third quarter so it was a tough, close game. Offensively, they are very patient. Very deliberate. Very disciplined. Their whole football team will play tough, hard-nosed football. They're not real fancy, they're just well coached. Play hard. Our staff knows a lot of these players on this football team from our time back there and we know what kind of players they are and how hard they'll play. Won't beat themselves in hardly any way. It would be very uncharacteristic of them. They make you beat them. They will be very patient. Take the air out of the ball a little bit and try to take it down to the fourth quarter with the chance to win. They've done that in a lot of their games and we have to have a lot of respect for this team, number one, because they beat Middle Tennessee last year and we know what that kind of game was like for us. We're going to have to be able to play. I think that's one of the keys for us as we come back out to practice this week is to get our players refocused and ready to play and to build on what we've accomplished. I believe they'll do that. I believe they're hungry to get better. I know the coaching staff will do a good job and will have a good plan. As a coaching staff we don't prepare a lot differently from one week to the next. It'll be pretty much the same kind of agenda for us and the same kind of energy at practice and those kinds of things and I think that will get our players ready to play."
Coach, how much mail and email and all of that have you received since the Oklahoma game?
"Quite a bit. But I normally get quite a bit. I got a lot of positive comments about the effort in that game."
Coming up on last week's big game and the big preparation for it--you say you don't do anything different--but how important is it to come home to Bryant-Denny after such a tough loss? How will you prepare your team and will that be something uplifting for them to look forward to?
"I believe it will be. These kids haven't gotten to play at home yet even though we played in Birmingham and wore crimson and had most of our fans there, it's still a little bit like a road trip in a way. This is coming home, and our stadium's pretty special. I mentioned last week that we weren't going to look past Oklahoma to our first home game. I do believe that will be an important part of our preparation in getting to come back and play in our stadium."
I wanted to ask you about the special teams a little bit. Can you duplicate that kind of success, can you do the same type things you did or now that they're on film, is it going to be hard to do that? And, secondly, have you ever seen a game that was impacted as much from special teams play as that?
"We go into a game with everyone of the areas that we had success in, and what makes last week's game somewhat significant or big is that we on-side kicked and faked and did all kinds of things. But we go into every game with those kinds of plays available to us. It comes down to the circumstances, the situation of the game and just how much we believe they are there. And in this game every one of them was very calculated and we felt like they would be successful. If we would have had fourth and seven on the field goal fake, we probably would have kicked. But fourth and three, we thought we could make three yards with our fake. We called a punt fake during the game but we had to check out of it because they gave us a different look. So it's not going to happen week in and week out because you just don't get all the same situations week in, week out--the down and distance, the field position, the front, you just don't get all those kinds of things. But when you get them you want to be prepared to take advantage of them and we were. And that's the important thing. And week in and week out, we're prepared to take advantage if we get the right situation. But to just do something to do it is not what we would do. Certainly that game there were a lot of major impacts in that game from the kicking game in a lot of different ways, and, maybe, as diversely as any game I've been involved in."
Fran, how happy are you for those guys because special teams guys a lot of the times they labor in obscurity and hardly ever get a chance to shine until--sometimes when things go wrong they stand out--but how happy are you for them when they have a great game like that?
"Well, it's great. I think it's a real boost for our team because when good things like that happen in special teams you hope your players are going to take more pride in those plays. I think we have had to come a long way in that mentality since I've been here. I felt like when we got here special was something that, `well the backups play on special teams.' And that's not our philosophy as coaches. We put the best player on the field for that play. And if that's a starter, that's who plays. I think it's taken us a while to get that mentality dispersed to our team. The success and the big plays I believe are going to help us on down the line. We made dramatic improvement from week one to week two and we can't always get excited about kicking game plays when we make good plays because you're not going to block a punt, you're not going to fake a field goal, you're not going to onside kick and recover every week. You have to get excited and take pride in the consistent play week in and week out in the kicking game to where it does not hurt you and when the opportunity is given to you then you have a change to make a play."
Coach, this is a follow-up on the Tom's question---the fact that some of these plays are on film, can you say how many different fakes and those type things do you have in your arsenal, 10, 20, 15?
"We basically draw one up in the dirt before every punt I think sometimes--no, no. We go into each week and Coach (Mark) Tommerdahl and the coaches do a great job, for instance on our punt team, looking at what they do and then devising our fake for the week. And we have several different kinds of fakes that we have used down through the years. It changes from week to week based on our opponent. And that's the same way with field goals. Some weeks we'll have a pass, some weeks we'll have a run. It can vary from week to week. We just try to take advantage of what they're going to give us and the opportunity. But we always have something in every game. Every game."