Countdown to Kickoff
Coach Mike Shula Press Conference: Kentucky


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Coach Mike Shula
Coach Mike Shula

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Transcript of Opening Comments and 1st Five Questions

Opening Comments:

“We need to have another real good week this week of preparation. We’re back at it in the SEC. Our preparation as a staff right now and our thoughts going into this week as far as working with our team coming in today for the first time---first of all, we had good work on Sunday night—but I think the biggest thing for us right now is that we need to practice well, (and) get our confidence going. It’s going to take everybody on our field, scout team included. As everyone knows, Marc’s (Guillon) going to start.

“We’re playing Kentucky at Kentucky. I’ve never been there but I hear it’s a lot louder than what a lot of people think. And I think the biggest thing for us is that we’ve got to get a lot better as a football team in our execution. You look back from last Saturday’s game and you look at how the game went and the reasons for things happening the way they happened. The turnovers were a big part of it. The penalties were another big part of it. That’s going to be our focus this week. We’ve just got to concentrate on doing all the little things. We’ve coached hard all year. We’ve practice hard all year on all those things but we’ve got to do a better job as coaches. We’ve got to do a better job as players of just preparing ourselves. And we’ve got to get ready for an early kickoff. It’s going to be an early day Friday getting there, and we’re going to go practice there. It will be an early kickoff, something we’re not used to so (it will be) a little bit of a schedule change there. I think I realized a year ago that with a lot of young guys, it’s important to stress those things, too. So today’s going to be an important day for us, and (we need to) just go one day at a time.”

Mike, looking at Kentucky on film, first of all, just talk about general impressions. And, second of all, what do they do in the Indiana game as you watch them on film? Is it just a case of everything comes together for them, and, is that the film you really concentrate on from them this year?

“We look at all their tapes. Indiana was a big play game for them where they had touchdowns in a lot of different ways. When you look at their team defensively, they do a lot of stuff. They are well-coached. They are very well-coached in all three areas. Special teams, I think that’s where it shows up probably more so than maybe some other teams that have good special teams. But these guys, they do more stuff on special teams. They have more different kinds of returns, different schemes. Defensively, they like to blitz you. It’s a three-man line but they’ll mix in some four-man line this year which they didn’t do much of last year. They’ve got a real good blitz package where they blitz not just linebackers but safeties. Offensively they give you a lot of formations. The quarterback is a big part of their offense as far as running the football. They’ll throw screens. They’ll have misdirection things. They do a good job in the running game. They’ve struggled when they’ve turned the ball over, too. That’s football. You want to protect the football, obviously, and when you don’t, usually you put yourself in a hole.”

Mike, having played the position yourself, is it a difficult decision for you when you have to make a change at quarterback? Are there concerns about maybe affecting Marc’s confidence when you make a move like you did Saturday?

“Yes, you think about all those things. But Marc is our guy. He’s going to be our starter this week. I have confidence that he’s going to win the football game; otherwise he wouldn’t be our starter. And our team does, too. I know the next question is, do you anticipate, if things don’t go well for him? No, I don’t anticipate that at all. I anticipate him playing well and us doing a good job. We’ve got to do a better job, the other guys around him, too, and as coaches of giving ourselves the best chance to execute. Which is not going to be easy going there to play.”

Was it based on wanting to keep the confidence in him about making the decision to name him the starter now?

“It’s based on us feeling that he gives us the best chance to win.”

Mike, can you talk about the improvement of the defense in general and of the secondary in particular, and, with the offense not clicking on all cylinders how important it is that they’ve kept you in games?

“Yeah, it’s been important. It was important for us last year, too, early in games when we didn’t click well. This year even more so because we’ve done a much better job throughout the game, especially this last game where we did turn the ball over and it could have been a lot worse. We kept ourselves in the game defensively. And I think that has a lot to do with every little thing you talk about defense, the mindset, the attitude, the way the guys are coached, and the confidence. Talent wise I think we’re better and we’re playing better. There are a lot of guys that are making plays and then there are a lot of guys that are around the football, more so than probably at any point last year. Now the thing about it is we’ve done some good things, we’ve got some confidence, but now we can’t stop it now. We can’t have a let-down defensively. We’ve got to do a good job right from the beginning because, as we know, this game is a game of momentum. I think both teams going into this game could use some momentum early, so we’re going to try out best to get that momentum early.”

Coach, you said get confidence going---do you see on the offensive side that there’s a lack of it now?

“No. I think that’s every week though. If we would have won last week, I still think it’s important to start well and play well early and get confidence. And I say that more so because we’re younger I think.  We’re learning each and every week.”