Head Football Coach Steve Addazio
STEVE ADDAZIO: Came back with a beautiful drive, a couple series later got that thing within two scores. We had a season high offense over 400 yards of offense. Jon Hilliman had 122 yards rushing and 5.5-yard per average. Did a lot of good things in the game. We didn't stop the run. We did not stop the run. That was a huge deal in that game.
You know, too many -- we let up too many big runs. There was like three runs which comprised most of their offense in the first half. I thought the game was hard fought. I thought our kids played hard. I thought we competed. I thought we made a bunch of plays. I thought Anthony played really well. I thought Ben Petrula at center played a heck of a football game. We're running the ball well, we're throwing the ball pretty good.
You know, we had 30 minutes of possession to their 29, so I think the tail of the game came into inability to stop big runs, and then at the end of the game, we were still a two-score game, we're trying to get it back up the field, and we called a draw, we got a 1st down, we put the ball on the ground, and that unwound us right there, gave them a short field, and they scored right there, and then that just got silly.
So that's what it was. That's where it is. Any questions?
Q. Is there anything you can pinpoint about what allowed them to get so many chunk runs?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Got out of our gaps. We got out of our gaps, and we didn't tackle well at the second level. There was a couple times the safety should have fit the runs in there, and we missed tackles. Those were missed tackles, and a couple times we hopped out of our gaps, and they popped us for some big runs in there. You know, because they also made an awful lot of good plays on defense and on offense. There was a lot of good football plays in there, both sides of the ball. Like I said, it was a hell of a game, but at that point, you know, right around the midpoint of that third quarter, that series, that series that transpired there, we took a hit on it, and then we -- but then we came back on offense and ran one down the field. It was a beautiful however-many play and however-many yard drive for a touchdown which brought us back, and I'm going to tell you, at that point in time I felt like we still had a really good chance to win that football game right there, right, but we couldn't really -- our inability to stop the run, two 3rd down runs they popped for big ones on us, 3rd down, 3rd and 9, maybe 3rd and 11, somewhere in that range, and that hurt us.
Q. How did Connor Strachan being out affect the run defense?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, he's one of the top three players on our football team, so of course it had an effect, but I still thought we played really hard. Next man up. It's like last week, we had to regroup after losing our center, but I've got to tell you, we regrouped at the center position this week. We played a really good football team, and I felt like that kid played -- I didn't see the film yet, but he played his tail off. There wasn't a lot of issues there, okay. So now we had -- then the next week we're dealing with arguably one of our top three players on our team, so we've lost two of our top four players right now, and we dealt with that, and we'll keep dealing with it. That's life. That's where it is. Any team that loses two of their top four players it's probably going to take a toll on you a little bit. That and a dime will get me a cup of coffee. We've got to get going. We've got to go play, and I thought our guys did. I thought our guys played.
I've got to tell you something. I was enjoying that football game, okay, I really was. Just aggravated that we let that last seven minutes of the third quarter and then the first five of the fourth just let that get away right there, you know.
Q. The 515 rushing yards, that was by far the most you've been here. As a coach, how does that performance sit with you? It can't possibly sit well.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Our bell cow was defense, and we don't give up like that rushing yards like that, and we let it up on big plays. It wasn't like when you get ground pounded to death. Just let up big runs. That's what happened here. We don't do that, but we did.
Q. The way Anthony bounced back today and also the game Charlie Callinan had, a couple big plays there.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Charlie caught the ball, Anthony threw the ball, played with confidence. This is like the tale of two stories to me right now, and maybe you can see it on my face a little bit. I'm really proud of the way these guys played, and some of these guys that are in here, you can see like AJ and some of the unbelievable promise that we have with these players, okay. But it's equally frustrating that we couldn't stop the run today. We were out of our gaps a little bit there at the linebacker positions. We got new people in there, and then let up those big spots like that.
But yeah, I mean, to watch some of those guys play, yeah, you couldn't get excited watching Anthony Brown play today? Of course you could. He bounced right back against a marquee opponent in a big-time atmosphere and performed. Watch AJ Dillon; that guy is going to have a lot of future -- Jon Hilliman played his best football game here. He came back after that game, and he played like a monster today. Kobay White once again made some exciting catches, and in our return game Mike Walker about popped the punt return and about popped two kickoff returns, so I mean, there's -- and Charlie caught the ball so well.
I thought our offensive line played well today. I really did. I was like proud of them, man. They've been beat up, and we've lost three starters off that unit. They played against a very stout defense today, and I thought they played well. So got to go back, and we've got to look at the big plays we let up in the run game on defense, and our offense, we've just got to keep hammering away right now. We can throw it and we can run it, we've just got to do it with more consistency. We're playing good opponents -- heck, we opened up with Northern Illinois on the road at their place; they just beat Nebraska at Nebraska. We've played some good football teams now, and I can still see the growth in our football team.
But as you pointed out, letting 500 yards of rushing up, we don't do that. And we've got to get going. We've got to look at -- we're going to have to adjust a little bit to our personnel right now, okay, is the bottom line. We're going to have to make some adjustments to our personnel right now, simple as that. We did it on offense last week, and we're going to have to do it again now. We found out about Connor probably on -- I don't even know what day it was, maybe Thursday. I can't even remember what day it was. It was late in the week and there wasn't a whole lot we could do at that point, so we rolled.
Q. Three of those big run touchdown drives really happened with Harold Landry on the field. I know you've said your strategy with him. Is there frustration when you don't have Landry on the field?
STEVE ADDAZIO: You know, listen, I've got to go watch the tape, but I can just tell you this: I don't know which ends are in all the time, but it wasn't the ends that created those missed gaps right there. It was the linebacker safety issues in there. But I didn't answer your question because I really don't know, you know. I know that seems to be a topic of conversation. I mean, nobody is trying to hold Harold back. I can tell you that right now, okay. But I told you before what our plan was with him, and you know, that wasn't the problem with those runs hitting. That much I know.
Q. How odd was it for you to see so many chunk plays in the same sort of window of time? What does that do for the shape of the game?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, you saw what it did. You saw it. That's what happened. Like I said, when you go through this game, I mean, we've got 30 minutes of possession, they've got 29. Know what I mean? There's still over 400 yards of offense here. We did a lot of good things.
That answers that question, yes. And those chunks are what torqued this game right there because it was a close game.
Q. In terms of the way they played defense (indiscernible)?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, it's back breaking. It's back breaking. But when you talk to these guys in the locker room, their morale is not down, they're mad. There's a lot of pride, and they're mad. We've got to go back, and we've got -- we're going to have to make -- we're going to have to make some adjustments personnel-wise right now. I keep saying that. We're going to have to do that because we're going to have to make some additions, changes, we're going to have to look for some more people to refit where we are right now, and that's a job that we've already -- are processing, but probably couldn't quite get done in two days.
STEVE ADDAZIO: I mean, at that position, no, I'm not comfortable with that depth right now, no. Just like I'm not comfortable at the center position's depth. You can't go -- we're through two of them now. I can't go through three of them. I don't know how many teams in the country could to be honest with you. It's hard. These are realities. They're just realities. I've got to deal with it. And I am. We are. I thought we dealt with the offensive piece of that pretty well today to be honest with you, and we'll deal with the other piece. We've got good players, good coaches. We'll get that fixed and move forward, okay.
Like I said, you watched the game I watched. I know there was big plays in there, but there was a point coming -- I came out of halftime, I felt like, wow, we really got a great opportunity here right now, and then in the third period, and then that critical series right there, like I said, tilted it. But for the half, you know, we ran that draw, we bobbled the snap, and we bobbled the handoff. And I said to myself, okay, I have two choices here: Call a time-out, try and take one shot at the end zone, and I chose that. With this young quarterback, I wanted to get into halftime at 14-13 and let him feel a surge and feel good about what took place there. I was worried that we could have an exchange problem and/or a sack fumble at that point, and I didn't want to take away the momentum and the fight and the confidence of that young quarterback at that point in time, which would have been maybe -- I could have maybe got one more shot off to the end zone.
But I just said to myself, all we need to do now is get a strip fumble here. We don't need that right now. We're playing really well, we're playing really hard, and this kid has got a great look in his eye, and that's a really important thing you've got to keep in mind with those young quarterbacks. You've got to keep that great look in their eye. So that was the decision making there with the offensive staff to be honest with you, okay.
That's the answer to that, why that took place at that point in time. But again, I'm not a smiley face sticker guy, but boy, there was an awful lot of good stuff that went down in that game and stuff that's real, and we've just got to keep building and keep developing it and handle the personnel issues that we have been thrown our way right now. Just got to handle them, and we'll get to work on that immediately.
Q. Right before half there was that a tough decision for you to let the clock run down and did part of you want to take a shot downfield?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, yeah, but responsible for the psyche of that quarterback right now, and at that point -- everything is risk-reward. We can talk about this ad nauseam, too. Is there a right or wrong answer? I don't know. Yeah, you take the shot and you score, it's the right answer. You throw a pick and you get a strip fumble and it's the wrong answer. But at that point in time, I felt he had a good look in his eye. Our team was playing really hard. We're in the middle of this game. The percentages of dropping back to about the 45-yard line and launching a ball to the end zone and everything happening clean, the ball is launched, it's gone, all that going well, it's not a very high percentage. You know, you play the percentages, and that's what we did. That was our whole mindset there. It's really not that complicated, agree or disagree. That's why there's many flavors of ice cream.
Graduate Wide Receiver Charlie Callinan
Q. No matter where you are, how much do those kind of chunk plays affect a game?
CHARLIE CALLINAN: I mean, it's great whenever we have those chunk plays, we -- oh, our opponent? If anything that motivates us. We see that as we've got to go harder. We've got to keep going next drive, next time we get the ball back we've got to push hard and go out and make plays and erase that, whatever they just did. You know, if anything it brings us together, to answer your question.
Q. How deflating was that 4th and 1? You're right there down by a point, you're in their territory, you get a stop --
CHARLIE CALLINAN: Yeah, I mean, as I'm sure you heard Coach Addazio say, that was a big turning point in the game, and I'm not one to comment on the offense as a whole, but we just tried to keep pushing after that. Obviously that was tough because then they went back and had their big drive after that. But our guys are working hard every day, and we weren't fazed by that at all. We were ready to go and ready to re-bite and get back in there.
Q. Did you feel like offensively you guys were able to do some things, make a step from last week?
CHARLIE CALLINAN: Yeah, I feel like every week since the beginning of the season we've been taking strides, and this week was great in terms of throwing the ball. We threw the ball a little better than we have in the past. So next week we're hoping to take an even bigger stride and have a great game against Clemson.
Q. What did you see from Anthony this week? Obviously he had a tough week last week. What did you see from him throughout the week that kind of led into a bit of a bounce-back performance today?
CHARLIE CALLINAN: Yeah, you know, everyone, every quarterback is going to experience a bad week from my experience of being a fifth-year playing for four years. Quarterbacks, they have tough weeks, and it's really about how they respond, which signifies how they're going to play the next week. He's been awesome. He really rallied the troops together. We got a couple great leaders on this team, and he's one of them. It's just great to see a young guy who's starting his third game to come back and have the poise and be a great player.
Q. Explain what happened on your catch for the touchdown on the 4th and goal. Anthony made a fabulous play getting hit, throwing it off his back foot, you making the catch. At the end what did you see on the play?
CHARLIE CALLINAN: Which, the second one?
Q. Yeah, 4th and goal.
CHARLIE CALLINAN: I went up, ran a wheel route, pulled it down, hit the ground and I secured it throughout the catch, and kid got his hand in there after I was on the ground. I caught it, the ref saw it, they reviewed it, and they couldn't overturn it. Yeah, it was a hell of a play. Anthony made a great ball, threw it up, trusted it. He trusted the receiver was going to be there in the spot that he needed to be, and he makes plays like that all the time in practice, so it's really no surprise to me, but it was a great way to come bounce back after the tough drive of the defense.
Q. You guys I think were down 15 after that play; when you're coming back to the sideline, what was the energy like, and obviously I would assume the feeling was you guys are definitely back in the game?
CHARLIE CALLINAN: Yeah, definitely. It's a two-possession game at that point. I don't know, it was probably beginning of the fourth quarter, and we expected to get four or five more drives in that quarter, and all we need is two touchdowns. Do the math; less than half of the drives we're about to have we just need to score, so the game is fully in reach, energy was high, guys were pushing. It was great to get that momentum swing back towards our way, and even for the defense, got them all excited, too.
Q. On that first touchdown you had, seemed like you had really tight coverage there. What did you see on the throw from Anthony, especially with that tight window?
CHARLIE CALLINAN: You know, he threw a great ball. We've been looking at that play a lot, and as of this whole week, the game -- I don't know if you guys watched the Georgia game last week, but a couple of their players had post routes on floods that were wide open and they beat the corners well, and the safety had a tough time getting backside over to cover. So we knew there was a good possibility that that play would come open, so when he called that play, my eyes lit up, and I guess so did Anthony's, and he threw a strike right in there perfect position, and I got to go up and make a play, so it was a great job by Anthony.
Q. I know you say one game at a time, but talk about the games with Clemson you have coming up.
CHARLIE CALLINAN: Yeah, so I mean, biggest thing is sticking together. There's going to be a lot of talk from students or press and media, just a lot of outsiders getting in our ears, and our biggest thing is that we're going to need to kind of tune them out, stick together, trust in the coaching, trust each other that we're all going to have each other's backs and go out there and give it our best shot against Clemson.
Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Anthony Brown
Q. What improvements did you see in your game from last week to this week?
ANTHONY BROWN: Just finishing plays here and there that I needed to. There's still a lot of plays that I missed. I'm just going to have to get on the film and watch that.
Q. Those two touchdown throws to Charlie Callinan, looked like you threaded the needle, got through tight coverage. What did you see on those plays?
ANTHONY BROWN: Charlie ran a great route, and he was open, so I threw it to him, and that was it.
Q. Anthony, it seemed like you had a lot of success rolling out, moving the pocket, especially when you were trying to target your tight ends; do you think that's something moving forward that can help you guys move the chains on 3rd downs?
ANTHONY BROWN: It can definitely help anyone. Right now we had a couple missed opportunities -- actually I had a couple missed opportunities, one of the very first ones, it was a short on throw, still got to make that play. But moving forward, yeah, it's a really good tool.
Q. Talk about the run game with Jon and AJ. How did that help you with your play action passes and getting guys open downfield?
ANTHONY BROWN: The run game helps a lot for the throw game for anybody. Establishing a run game pulls defenders down. It does a lot for receivers to get open. So that was that, I guess.
Q. How did you feel going into the locker room at the half, just a one-point game?
ANTHONY BROWN: Felt really well going into the locker room. We had a mindset that we were going to come out and finish. Some unfortunate things happened in the third quarter, mid third quarter, and they took the momentum and they kept going with it.
Q. All their chunk plays, how did that affect what you were doing?
ANTHONY BROWN: It affects the team, period. A chunk play on offense from us --
Junior Defensive Back Lukas Denis
Q. Talk about those chunk plays being momentum builders for them; how much does that pull the plug on what you guys are trying to do?
LUKAS DENIS: Yeah, I wouldn't say it pulls the plug, but it definitely gives us something to refocus our focus on. We've got to get back on the drawing board, figure out what happened, what went wrong, how we can avoid that from happening again. So I mean, we just went right back to the sidelines, told Coach what we saw, what happened, we saw it from above, and then we tried to stop that from happening again.
Q. Talk about what kind of problems did Wimbush present? I know you were preparing for a running quarterback. How was he able to break free on some of those plays?
LUKAS DENIS: You know, he's a dual threat guy, so you've got to stay honest and stay true to your ability. When you're in coverage for a while, guys like that, they can get out of the pocket and just run around, and that's something that he's really good at. He's talented. He excels at that. We've just got to be more disciplined and stop that from happening in the future.
Q. (Indiscernible.) How did you guys in the secondary prevent him from being a non-factor really?
LUKAS DENIS: I would say every day we come in here, we watch film, we try to pick up tendencies, cadences and things that they do in their game and incorporate them in ours so we can stop things like that from happening. He's a really good receiver and he's been having breakout games, but I think we were able to do a good job containing him.
LUKAS DENIS: You know, just miscommunication. Just not doing our jobs when we had to. But I mean, we're going to get back on the film, see what went wrong, come back in here tomorrow and get it right so it doesn't happen again.
LUKAS DENIS: Throughout the night, I felt we did a good job, and they were just -- there was a key few plays that they had breakout runs or we'd stop them and stop them and then one would spurt out. We've just got to keep our heads on right and know that we can be the defense we want to be. We can be the best defense in the country.