Got a full transcript of Willie T's press conference yesterday. We cut it down a bit, but let's sort through this with a fine-tooth comb (at least until our video clips of last week are ready for the film room tomorrow).
"I wouldn't say better feeling. Losing sucks. That's the worst feeling ever. I was encouraged by our football team, knowing that we improved in some areas where we didn't do well the week before. That's something we always talk about, just improving daily. That's important for our football program and where we're at is that we can consistently improve in a lot of areas and if we continue to do that I think we'll get the result that we are all looking for. It was good to see our guys play with attitude and make some improvement last week. That's what I told them last week, starting the week off I was the attitude coach. I was looking for guys that were going to play with attitude. Work every day in practice and see to it that we improve and I thought we did in a lot of areas."
Love this quote. Losing does indeed suck, and it should be the worst feeling ever. And he's looking for the same thing we are, which is just improvement. This is a bad football team, and competing for championships isn't realistic: but getting better each day certainly is.
"We had some interceptions right in our hands, we had a fumble that we recovered but guys that believe that can make plays would've scooped and scored in that situation. Kind of like what happened with us. Those guys looked to make those plays. We talk to our defense about doing that. Visualize making plays. Study film, watch it. You gotta dream about it, visualize those things happening so when they do come, you take advantage of it and its not catching you by surprise. It's what it kind of looking like on defense when the ball came into our hands it was like woah, I can't believe that ball was right there. Rather than yes, this is my ball. We're not there yet, but that's part of learning to make those plays."
I also associate this quote with the receivers on offense, especially the "woah, I can't believe the ball was right there" part. Sometimes when you're not used to having success, you have no idea what to do when everything goes right. Until we get it right more consistently, this might continue to happen.
"Bobby is our quarterback. I stand by all our players. Bobby is going to start the game at quarterback for us."
Matt Floyd might see this differently... although to be fair, standing behind Matt Floyd while all those people carrying pitchforks and torches were chasing him would have been a rather dangerous position.
"I know everyone wants Steven to get in there. "Put Steven in!" It doesn't work that way. We're not just gonna do that to a kid or a football program. When Steven gets to that point where he's the man and showing us he's the man, we'll put him in there. We're going to play Steve as he continues to learn the offense and get better. At the end of the day, we need some production from that position... But that comes with everyone else playing good too. Not everyone is playing well, you put Steven in there and the same thing is going to happen. Everybody on the offensive side of the ball has to be responsible for their jobs and doing their jobs to the best of their ability. I think if we see that from everyone else at the other positions, I think we'll see our quarterback position play better. It's because we'll have guys blocking for them and catching for them. He's going to be confident that he can throw it to a certain spot and make it happen. Those guys get all the blame, but it's a team effort and I don't care what quarterback is out there, they're not good unless their teammates play well around them."
Hey offensive line and wide receivers, are your ears burning? It's true no quarterback can succeed with a line like a sieve and wide receivers that drop as many chances as they catch, but are they in a scheme that plays to their strengths? At this point I'd say no, but when you're building your program sometimes you have to do things your way. Sometimes that requires short-term pain for long-term gain.
"If we don't turn the ball over we got ourselves a good football team. Not only are we turning the ball over, but we're turning the ball over for points or we're turning the ball over on our side of the field and making it easier for opponents to score... It's one thing we cant have as a football team is a morale killer. We need a lot of good things. In that ballgame, when we were taking care of the football we were in it. I told them before the game, if we don't turn the ball over we're going to win the ball game. We didn't play well enough, we didn't play as a unit well enough to make the winning plays."
Here's where I disagree with our Bus Driver. He does not have a good football team. He's got a football team full of sub-optimal talent that certainly isn't a fit for the system he's trying to build. He's attempting to make chicken salad out of chicken crap, and no one could make this a "good football team" without injecting steroids or other players into the roster. This ceiling for this team is "mediocre" or "average," and I think "good" is just a bridge too far.
I also point to this study on momentum in football from the Sloan Sports Conference this year that basically says momentum, at least in professional football, doesn't exist. It's not momentum that's hurting this team, it's a lack of talent.
"We cant help other people beat us, and that's what other people are doing right now."
"It's not going to happen overnight. If it was easy, I wouldn't be here. It's gonna take time. We have to stay stern and firm in our beliefs in the way we do things and those things will start changing for the better. I see it happening, it's not happening like that (snaps fingers), but it's happening. Just one instance on the sideline this past week with offense struggling and the defense playing well, Dede Lattimore going over to the offense and saying "hey guys we're going to get you the ball back. Don't worry about it, just stay in your heads we're still in this." That's big time. I haven't seen that from our guys since I've been here. But to get that from a senior to me that's the sign of our football team starting to get it. Starting to realize what were saying about believing in each other and have each others back. The more we get that, the better we will be as a football team. The more we'll get to the point where we are playing for each other. That's something we're really trying to get our guys to understand. They got to play for each other."
"I got a text from a player after the game, I wont call the player's name out, but he said "Coach Im sorry we didn't get that win for you. We're going to get that first win for you coach I guarantee you that we're going to do that." That was nice, I appreciated it. It let me know the guys are working and really wanted make me happy. Im happy. Don't try to win for me, win for each other. Win for each other, win for themselves, win for their family, win for the university. You don't have to do it for me. Coach T is gonna love you regardless and be there with you. I know they're trying hard and they want to do the things I'm asking them to do."
I love every word of this. All we can ask is that these kids play hard for themselves, their teammates, and their university. It's going to be a long year, but as long as players and units get better, I think that's all we can ask.