Countdown to Kickoff
Coach Mike Shula Press Conference: Georgia Game


Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Coach Mike Shula
Coach Mike Shula


Georgia Game Press Conference
Opening Comments & First Five Questions Transcript


"I just barely made it. I just got back from taking my wife and daughter home from the hospital. I had to rush over here. It's been an exciting week for me. Sunday morning--just extremely special. Our daughter was born as you all know at almost two in the morning. It's been a great week just that part of it. I have a bunch of girls back at home now. And everything is going really well. Like I said, we just brought them home, literally a half hour ago, so things are moving forward.

"As far as this week, as far as our players--I think everybody is looking forward to our challenge this week, playing on the road in Athens against a great football team. SEC Champs last year. Very well coached by Mark Richt. A game that is a big challenge for us for a lot of reasons. They are talented with (David) Greene as their quarterback, (David) Pollack, defensively. He was voted, I think, one of the best players in the league last year. Everything. And just going to play another game for our players, getting the old one out of our system. That's the best way we know how. Our guys have done a nice job of moving forward. We had a long talk after the game Saturday. We had a long talk Sunday. They've done everything we've asked them to do. They are in the right frame of mind, and we have to have three good practices just to give us a chance to go out there and play well and make it pay off on Saturday.

"It's our first road game obviously. Playing against Georgia--any SEC team on the road--I think our guys are looking forward to the challenge. I know it's a place that's extremely difficult to play. As a lot of you know, when I was a junior we went over there and played. It was a national TV game, and I've got a nice memory about that game. But the thing I'll remember is the crowd, right from the start, in the stadium was huge. It was electric. I'm sure it's going to be even louder and even bigger than what I remember. Those are all things that we've got to get our team prepared for to be focused to all those things that you need to get done on the road as far as crowd noise and snap count, things like that. That's what we'll be talking to our players about."

Coach, obviously playing a bunch of young guys--what have you done to prepare them for what you are about to walk into this Saturday? Or is there anything you can do to simulate that atmosphere?

"It's something that the young guys are going to have to experience. It's hard to tell them what it's going to be like. They're going to have to go through it themselves. We can have some of the older guys talk about it. We can do some things, crowd-noise-wise. We can simulate some of those things on the practice field. Now we're not going to do that today. We may do it tomorrow or Thursday. We'll talk about that as a staff. We've done that in the past when I was here. We've also done it on some other teams, just kind of had some speakers out there with crowd noise. We'll talk about whether or not we're going to do that. It's something I think you talk to your players about just really focusing in on the job at hand and not worrying  about crowd noise and not worrying about the crowd gaining momentum against you. You have got to make your own momentum by going  out there and knowing what to do and just playing with a lot of confidence and not thinking but just going out there and reacting."

Talk about the resiliency of the players that you've seen since you've been here. At some point do they almost need something good to happen during the game to almost re-assert that resiliency?

"You'd like to think not because you talk to your players about not waiting on something to happen, not waiting on someone else to kind of kick start us. Be the guy yourself to do it. Let everyone else follow your lead. It's easier to say than it is to do. The thing that I think we've all got to remember--and our players--is we're just a few plays here and there from being 4-1 or even 5-0. And those are the things that we want to look at. I think if you just kind of look and get caught up in the total picture and not look at and attack each type of thing and realize, it's a little bit what we call perception versus reality. Reality is we're just a few plays away from being, like I said, 4-1 or 5-0. And I think that's the mind set that we've got to have: we're a pretty good football team now. Our record doesn't show that, but we can easily get that turned around just by getting the things corrected and building on the good things that we've done."

Mike, the personal fouls and the unsportsmanlike penalties--how do you coach against that but at the same time coach you guys to play with aggressiveness and emotion? Talk about that fine line.

"Just to be smart. I don't think that's a problem on our football team especially from the guys that committed the penalties. They are not those kinds of guys. They are tough things. We have to realize, `hey, these are the rules, we have to play by the rules.' And at the time we didn't realize that, otherwise we wouldn't have been penalized. So it is a fine line. You don't want to limit your players as far as playing with emotion, playing with aggressiveness. But we've also got to make sure we're a little bit smarter."

Mike, can you talk about the health of Justin Smiley and Brodie Croyle and their status?

"Justin made it through pretty well, a little bit sore after the game. Hopefully he'll be better this week. Brodie, like we said the other day, it's going to be close whether or not he's going to get out there and play. He's going to try to practice. He's getting treatment in the last couple of days. We'll see how he is today, whether or not he can do anything today and then take it day by day after that."

Is there any relationship, do you know Mark Richt at all?

"I think my first memory of Mark is watching him at UM. I think I was still at in grade school at the time. (He smiles). No, I think I was in high school. And then from there I remember when he was in camp with the Dolphins. I just knew a little bit about him then but I've followed his coaching career and just have a lot of respect for what he's done, staying at FSU for such a long time and doing what he's done. I saw a picture in their media guide today of him with his two Heisman Trophy winners, so I think that speaks a lot about a guy and what he's done as a young head coach now in such a short period of time. I think he's got respect not just from his players and the people in that area but from everybody in the SEC and everybody in the country and he deserves it."