Tuesday, October 18, 2005
"I apologize for being just a little bit late. I actually went over and saw Tyrone (Prothro) and dropped off a letter from President (George) Bush that he was pretty excited about getting. Tyrone is in good spirits. We have a statement in the back from Dr. (Les) Fowler regarding Tyrone, so pretty much anything that needs to be said about that is pretty much in that statement there. But he is in good spirits and doing well.
"Obviously this is a huge week for us. Our football team knows we've got to play a lot better than we did last week. Specifically, we've got to tackle better defensively; we've got to hold on to the ball offensively. We've got to be better in the plus territory and eliminate some penalties where we didn't do some of those things last week. We know we're going to have to execute much better this week to give ourselves a chance going up a very talented football team, especially up front on both sides of the football. Their offensive and defensive lines are big. They're athletic. They've got a lot of speed. So I think by far the biggest challenge of the year and our kids are looking forward and are excited about playing this game. They realize the tradition of this game, the magnitude of it. The younger guys who don't know quite a whole lot about it will find out in a hurry. The older guys have done a good job all year in regard to teaching these young guys a lot about what it's like being here and playing in games like that, and I would anticipate the same thing as far as the older guys getting the younger guys as well as themselves prepared for this weekend."
Coach, talk about their secondary and having not allowed a single passing touchdown all season as far as the SEC play is concerned.
"They do a good job in the secondary. Of course, they lost one of their big players also in Jason Allen. I think their secondary is athletic. They've got good cover skills. They also benefit from that front seven, especially their front four, the pass rush that they get. They're also pretty good against the run, so it will be a challenge for our wide receivers and for Brodie (Croyle) and our offensive line, obviously, in pass protection."
Coach, any public comment on John Parker Wilson and what if any punishment you might be giving him?
"No. We're going to handle his discipline like we do everybody else's: internally. We're not going to release publicly what his discipline will be. It will be consistent with what we do."
Coach, is there anything that you were hoping for back at the first of August, best case scenario, that has not happened for you so far as far as the team developing and individual players--anything like that?
"I think the biggest thing you look for as a coach is the consistency week in and week out. We're not there for sure. I think that was evident last week. We felt like we played a pretty good ball game two weeks ago. But our execution has to be at a high level, especially now where we're at in this part of the schedule this week. We've done some good things. We've had some young guys that we feel good about that have played pretty well and have gotten some experience, but, as you know, you've got to go week to week and you've got to prove yourselves week to week like I've said in here and just like I'll say in our team meeting. The consistency, the special teams I think, just improving there with our return game and eliminating the penalties."
Coach, if you could, talk about the two quarterback system that Tennessee seems to be running. Either one of those quarterbacks fit better into what you guys do defensively? How do you prepare for the two of them?
"You just kind of watch tape and you see how each guy reacts to pressure, if he's looking at certain receivers, if they do different things when one guy is in there compared to the other guy. You look at our tape from last year. We feel like they've got two quality quarterbacks. Obviously (Rick) Clausen's got more experience and they've won as of late with him in there and have been productive other than the last week that they played. We have to look at really, the games we've seen this season as well as last year when (Erik) Ainge played. They can do a lot of things because they've got a lot of talent on offense. They can run the football. They're big up front. They can spread you out and throw it. They've done a lot. They've used more personnel groupings this year probably than any other year, so we've got to make sure we get prepared for that."
Mike, could you talk a little bit about the improvement Brodie's (Croyle) made in all aspects of the game between this year and last year?
"I think he's playing better because he's out there more and we hope we keep him out there. He's gotten better each week. I think he's just more comfortable seeing the field, more comfortable in the pocket, moving around in the pocket. Knock on wood, his accuracy's been very good. Mechanically I think you probably can't say enough about what he does and how he gets his feet set and follows through on all those things. Those are things that he has worked on a lot in his career, and I think you see them paying off because those are things that come real natural to him. He's out there not having to worry about those things and just worry about reacting to what he sees. And I think he's got more confidence with our receivers because of their experience now."