We have to focus on playing a complete game against these guys. That's something we have yet to do. It's come down to the last play in the last couple of matchups. We just haven't put it quite together with a complete game. We'll have to have a solid contribution in all three phases in order to beat these guys.
It would've been nice if you hadn't called that stupid pooch punt in the first game too.
Are defenses respecting your pass game at all?
"Yeah, I think so. Maryland was highly over-committed to stopping the run and did a very good job of it. We had six drops and that's the frustrating thing, otherwise we have a chance to put it away. We have to open it up a little bit more, if teams are going to over-commit like that. We have to make sure that the guys we're throwing it to are more consistent throwing the ball. If we do that, we'll be fine."
No, not really. If they were they'd be zoning us to death, because we have speed. I'd play man/man all day against Clemson. We also did a crap job of reading Maryland's fronts and blocking people period.
Do you think about the game here two years ago and what was going on back then?
"I talked a little bit about it last week, but no, not really. I kind of reflected on how far we've come in two years. We have a lot of respect for coach Johnson and that program. I'm proud of where we are. You're trying to build the best team you can. We're about building a great program here and that's what we're in the process of doing. We just have to stay the course."
Can you talk more about some of the big picture here. You said you have come a long way in two years, but the other side of that is that you were 3-3 last year, 3-3 this year and you're now 16-11 overall, taking out Coastal and PC, it's about .500. Talk about the steps you think you've made.
"You don't change a culture overnight. I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I knew that we had pretty good distance to make up in order to be the type of program I wanted us to be. That's not just the scoreboard. That's the coaching staff, the way you talk to the players, it's our support staff, it's everything, your practice habits, it's off-the-field stuff. You can't get the cart - being the scoreboard - before the horse. We've made a lot of progress in some of the areas we've needed to make, not just with the team, but in building a program. We had never won the division and we did that last year. We took over a team in the middle of a chaotic season and we played better and did it with a lot of guys who aren't here anymore. We went to the Gator Bowl and then over the course of last year we became a more physical football team. Nobody has lined up and whipped us. There is a difference between losing and getting beaten. We've lost some games that we're not happy about but we haven't lost to a bad team. We haven't lost a game we were favored to win. We just have to stay the course. I think we've made a lot of progress with our staff. We've gone from having an o-line that was a real weak spot and now it's a strong spot. We didn't protect the QB well to now we protect the QB well. We now have a team that's committed to running the ball. We've changed the philosophy on defense. We went from 14 sacks to 36 last year.
"I wish we were a little bit better record wise, but you know this season isn't over. There's a lot more ball to be played. We have an Atlantic Division banner hanging up and we put guys in the NFL last year. We're graduating our players. We have a great APR and we don't have many guys getting in trouble around here. If we have an issue, we don't hide from it. Ultimately most people look at the scoreboard. At some point that'll be the case, but right now we're in the middle of getting this thing going. We're recruiting at an extremely high level. We're recruiting very well. We red-shirted just about everybody we signed last year. Those guys are in that weight room, in our power hour and they're learning how to earn it and work. They're learning how to be humble and they're coming together as a team. We'll put in another 24-25 guys this year. We'll have the nucleus of a championship team. We've tried to make the best of our situation.
"I've said it before, the best is yet to come."
Uh, what the hell is that? That sounds like a Tommy Presser. Looks like the same culture to me: dumbass assistants and bad coordination of the offense, and a coach that throws out garbage and the fanbase eats it up.
On Running when you can't throw:
"I think we called 44 runs in the game where the run wasn’t great. So that tells you a little bit about what we think. We’ve got to cut it loose. We’re going to try to be balanced, and we’re going to try to get balls to the guys we feel confident about.
"Our line has allowed us to be halfway effective at times, but last week we didn’t protect great. And that was part of our issue. We’ve got work to do. We’ve got to try to make improvements each week. I think Maryland did a good job with their open date, coming up with some wrinkles here or there. It was the type of game it was, and we weren’t going to blow the scoreboard up and roll up a bunch of yards.
"As we move forward, we’ve got to try to get back to what we do, and that’s be balanced. That’s what we’re going to make an attempt to do, and I’m confident we can do it."
You called 44 runs and the only run-based drive was the last drive with Tajh and the goal line/red zone situations.
"Last week was his first week where I saw a whole week of a healthy guy. In warm-ups, he threw it great. When I saw him running around, making plays with his feet, not apprehensive, I said, ‘Hey, I think this guy is back.’ He made it through that game without getting banged-up again, so this week should be a great week of work."
Did the injury affect his throwing motion?:
"That’s a question you should ask him. I don’t know. I’m not inside of him. He’s the kind of guy who’s going to grit his teeth and show up to work and compete. He’s not going to tell you how bad he’s hurt. … He’s throwing it better now than he was two weeks ago. He’s also practiced every day. When Hopkins got hurt Wednesday, it looked like his puppy died. This is a game of adversity. And the guy is dealing with it. He’s battling. He’s trying to lead. He’s dealing with a lot of different conditions."