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Coach Mike Shula Press Conference: Southern Miss


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Coach Mike Shula
Coach Mike Shula

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Transcript of Opening Comments and 1st Five Questions

Opening Comments:

"First of all, Ray Hudson will undergo surgery today and he will be out for the remainder of the season, Ken Darby will start in his place.  Spencer Pennington will start at quarterback.  Keith Brown, hopefully, will be back this week; we'll see how he does in practice.  He looked good Sunday, when we had our light workout.  Our team is a little beat up right now, but the focus is good.  Everyone feels a lot more confident after getting a win.  We realize we have a tough Southern Miss team coming in here.  They're tough every year; this is probably the best Southern Miss team Alabama's faced in a while. It's a better team than last year, they're undefeated, ranked 25th, play solid defense give you a lot of looks offensively, even though their starting quarterback is out, Damian Carter came in, won the game for them in overtime.  He's got more experience now and looked very good doing it in overtime.  He's very athletic, runs the option, they do a lot of things offensively and special teams, they've always been known for their special teams with their coverages, their returns, they've got one of the best returners in the country, one of the fastest in Eubanks, so they bring a lot to the table and their well-coached, Coach Bowers as done a great job and they're very deserving of their 25th ranking, or 24th I guess, in some polls."

Mike, with Spencer (Pennington), should we consider this a deal where he won the job on the field or is it an injury thing and the other guy gets better and he comes back.

"Spencer's our starting quarterback this week.  And we've got to get Marc (Guillon) back healthy; he's not 100% yet either.  He seems to be feeling better so far than he did at any point last week, towards the end of last week."

How much do you go back and look and last year's game plan to get ready for this game with Southern Miss?

"We do that a lot for the teams we play each year and just compare how they played us, compared to how they're playing this year and later on after we played them last year.  Obviously the personnel is different in some areas and then last year because of their quarterback starting as a freshman last year and now the changes they've done they've had with this year with the other guy, Almond, and now they're going back to Carter.  But they've got good personnel, they've lost a couple guys that were good players on defense and other guys have stepped up.  Boley is one of the better linebackers we'll see all year and very physical and athletic, gets to the football and makes a lot of plays.  Defensively they've had a lot of turnovers; I think they've got nine interceptions in four games so I think they're very opportunistic that way."

Mike, I think there's a feeling among fans who are looking at the schedule that this game is really the season if you're going to go to a bowl game.  Do you encourage that kind of talk with your players or do you deflect it away from them?

"We treat this game like all the others we've talked about, just focusing on one week.  I think there's a little more incentive because Southern Miss is, we know they're a good football team; they're a lot better Southern Miss team than we played last year and they were good last year.  They've only lost one game since we played them last year and that was the bowl game.  Homecoming too, I think our guys take a lot of pride and want to play well at home on Homecoming weekend."

Coach, kind of a two-parter, can you talk about what Ken (Darby) does well and how he's impressed you and how tough it is, what a challenge it is for this team to have to replace yet another, one of your offensive leaders.

"I think Ken, in a lot of ways, similar to Ray (Hudson), you know Ray kind of waited patiently for his opportunity, he played last year and contributed and helped us win some games last year and all of a sudden had his opportunity to start and got a lot more carries and flourished really, for the first half of the season.  I kind of think Ken Darby can be the same type of, could have that same type of productivity.  He's kind of waiting his turn, he's showing signs of elusiveness, speed, toughness, quickness and now he's going to have a greater opportunity.

"As far as our team dealing with injuries, I think our guys have done a great job that way.  Just focused in on each guy doing their job a little bit better, haven't really made a big deal of it.  We're getting better depth in positions, even though we're young in some areas, we've had some injuries at certain positions where we've been fortunate enough to have probably as good of depth on the team and that's at running back and at times linebackers with Juwan (Garth) being out.  It's just a matter for our guys of focusing in on their own responsibility and not letting a lot of other things effect them that we can't control and injuries are part of it.  There's nothing we can do about Brodie (Croyle), there's nothing we can do about Ray (Hudson), so the mindset has got be `Hey, let's move on, the guys that are here, it's a great opportunity to step up and we're the guys that can do something about weekends and game days.'"

Coach do you think you can get away with throwing the ball just 12 times like you did last year against this Southern Miss defense?

"We're going to attack these guys however we feel is best and do whatever it takes to win the ballgame.  I think Spencer, the way he played last week, he's got a lot more confidence because of it, I think we all do.  I think you've got to try and have balance every week, but I think then again you have to look at what you think is the best way to attack these guys."