Countdown to Kickoff
Coach Mike Shula Press Conference: Hawaii Game


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Coach Mike Shula
Coach Mike Shula

Opening Comments & First Five Questions Transcript


"We're starting a busy week, obviously, for us just because of the travel.  We're trying to get a lot of things done early.  We worked last night to try to get a jump start.  We're going to work again this afternoon and then just try to stay about a half a day ahead just knowing the long plane ride.  Once we get out there we're going to practice once more as far as Wednesday goes and then we'll have our Thanksgiving day practice, have our Thanksgiving day meal and just get ourselves focused for the game because this team is a very good football team and our guys realize that from last year, the guys that were here.  They're even better this year.  They do a lot of things well.  They're on a roll. They've won four of their last five games, so it's a good challenge for our football team.  We've got to be able to be focused on a trip like this where there are a lot of things going on and you're kind of thrown off your schedule.  I thought we had a good night last night and hopefully we have a good day today.

Can you discuss Timmy Chang, what you see there and how good he is and whether you think he's a system guy or a guy who has a future beyond that?

I think he has done a great job within that system.  I think he also brings things to the table, whether or not it's just finding ways to get the ball in the endzone.  They put a ton of points up on the board, it seems like, week-in and week-out and he's the guy pulling the trigger.  He's experienced in what he's doing, has a good feel for the offense, and he's got some good player around him, too, to help get the ball in the endzone.

Justin Smiley's got a decision to make in the future.  What is his room to grow in the year?  Where does he have room to grow as a player, and also if you could just talk about what he's done this year on and off the field.

"As far as answering questions leading to his future - we're just worried about this week and then we'll worry about things after that.  He, like a lot of players, can get better in all areas.  What he's meant to our team?  He's meant a lot to our football team.  He's a good leader, he plays with a lot of emotion, and especially when Wesley (Britt) went down, he's been one of the strong points of our offensive line."

Mike, will it be difficult to kind of get them motivated, get them back up this week after the disappointing loss, and number two, if it was under your control would you play this game?

"Well, it wasn't under my control so there's no sense in me answering that question.  Am I excited about playing another football game?  Yeah.  As far as getting the players up I think, yeah it's probably more so than other games, it's a little bit tougher, but these guys have shown me that they can respond, can pick themselves up off the floor and get back and get ready to go.  We talked to them last night about `hey, let's all get our best effort, get all 11 guys playing their best game, whoever is on the field.'  We have not put that game together yet.  There's a lot of reasons to be motivated for us.  For our seniors, it's their last game.  They want to go out on a high note.  The guys that are coming back - go into the off-season with some momentum.  It's a good Hawaii football team as you watch them on tape.  You're playing on ESPN - all those things are reasons for our guys to go out and win football games."

Mike, talk about the changes in your kickoff return game.  Not just with Brandon (Brooks), but also with Tyrone (Prothro).  Do you feel like that's more of a weapon for you now?

"I do.  I think any time you get, in all due respect to some of the other guys that were back there, you get a little more speed out there I think you become more dangerous.  The way Brandon just hit (the kickoff return at Auburn) full speed, it was hard for guys that were going to try to tackle him if they took one false step they were in trouble and that's what happened.  The other thing on that return specifically is that we had Brandon (Brooks) and Prothro back there, both of those guys are freshmen.  Then we had the two key blocks that were made were made by Tim Castille and Le'Ron McClain.  So four freshman right there involved have done a lot of good things for us that sometimes are seen and get stated and sometimes don't.  Those are things that are kind of exciting about what they are doing for us now and what they might do for us in the future."

Can you talk a little bit about the decision to move Matt Lomax over to tight end and how he performed?

"I thought he performed fairly well.  He did a nice job of blocking.  He also did a nice job of communicating some things that helped us actually later on make some adjustments.  As far as the decision with David going down and our tight ends have been kind of nicked up.  Even our healthy guys were injured.  So we felt like Matt gave us the best chance last week to go out there and play the position.  He's flexible enough in his mind, so to speak, where he's already played center, you've seen him play guard, you've seen him play tackle, and we just said why not play one more position.  Now, this week, unfortunately, he's begging for a pass route.  There's always a cost with every decision you make.  Clint (Johnston) is getting healthier and also Donald Clarke, so I'm not sure how much we'll play Matt there if we do at all.  If we do he probably won't catch a pass, though."