Transcript: Dave Doeren weekly press conference
Here is a transcript of head coach Dave Doeren's weekly press Monday press conference.
“Well excited for our seniors this week, and, obviously, to have rivalry week and senior day at the same time for 12 guys that have been through a lot and have done a lot for our program. It's always an emotional day for the young men and for their families. For me as a coach, it's always a very, very proud day to be with those guys in our last college football game.
“As I've said before, it's a day that I remember very well as a player. Probably the only game that I remember almost every snap of, as long as that was now. These guys, all of them, even the ones who've been here for a short period of time like Tabari [Hines], have made a lasting impression on me and our staff. Emanual McGirt, what he's been through. Will Brown, one of our walk on seniors, is just a great young man to be around. The Dabbs twins are getting ready to go off to the world and one of them is going to be a doctor.
“Stephen Griffin to Tabari Hines, Deonte Holden [a] sixth-year senior, Kishawn Miller, Jarius Morehead, Larrell Murchison, Jackson Quiggle and James Smith-Williams — 12 very special young men to me and our staff and our team. “Then you get to play our final home game against our rival and a great one to have a rivalry this close together. Every one of these games that I've been a part of, it's been very heated. I know how much we want to win. I know how much they want to win. I know what the fans are like, the whole deal.
“For our fans, we will be in all red and want to have you guys out there wearing your red for us and cheering these young men on and honoring our senior class the right way. Look forward to having you do that. I know how much this game matters in the state.
“With that being said, I think for us as a football team it's about putting together four quarters of football and finding a way within the good that we've done, like the second half last week, of being consistent throughout. Of just executing, playing hard, not giving people things. That football game that we just lost we won the turnover margin, and that was improvement
“It’s just keeping ourselves from giving up the explosive plays, which is a challenge against Carolina's offense. They're obviously playing well with Sam Howell at quarterback and their tailbacks are very impressive young men. Their receiving corps has made a lot of plays for him throughout the season. I think coach [Sam] Longo does a nice job schematically with what they do. “Defensively they're very sound, think [Chazz] Surratt, may be the most impressive guy considering he was a quarterback a year ago and now he has 100 tackles as a linebacker. That’s really a unique story for them. So it's going to be a great football game and really look forward to the opportunity to compete and go out there and play. And I know our players do to.
Questions with media
I know you've had your own things going on, but how much have you paid attention to them this year or seen them? I'm guessing the Georgia Tech game you probably watched their Georgia Tech version, but how much have you just kind of peripherally followed them?
“I've watched them every week. With our schedule being what it was, with the Thursday games and four Saturdays we didn't play, I’ve had a chance to watch a lot of college football. We've had a lot of crossover opponents that they've had. So we've been able to watch them, whether it was through coaches’ film or through watching the live copy at home.
“But yeah, very aware of what they've been doing throughout the season.”
Know that they've had like, the world's most interesting season that you could possibly have?
“I don't think so. I think that would be us right now.”
They have played close games pretty much every week. You figure it's going to be that way.
“Oh, yeah. It's a four quarter game. It doesn't matter what your record is, it doesn't matter what your injuries are. None of that matters. I mean, last year, they were a team that hadn't won a lot of games and took us overtime with nine wins. We went up there a few years ago, and they had 10 wins, and we were fighting to get into a bowl game and we killed them. “It's one of those games you got to show up and play. Nobody cares what happened the previous 11 weeks. It's about what happens on that Saturday.”
How important was the second half come back at Georgia Tech, gave you something positive to build on this week?
“It was very important. I think our guys showed a lot of heart. Thought coming off of an implosion where we were gaining momentum in the second quarter with a field goal. Get a three and out on defense. We're going to get the ball with two timeouts left and about 90 seconds to do something positive, knowing we got the ball again to start the third
“To have the costly fumble on a punt return, and they score. We went in, obviously, in a tough spot. To see the resolve of the guys and how they came back and held them to seven points in the second half, and offensively had a chance to win it. There's a lot of positives in that.
“I think Devin Leary continues to get better and better and his confidence, and he stood up, I mentioned this in post game, in the locker room and talked to his teammates as a leader. They're playing hard for him now. They believe in him. I think that's something we obviously didn't have early when we were going through all the stuff we're going through.
“That was a huge positive, and so now it's just growing from that confidence we gained in the second half and knowing that we've got to put together four quarters like that.”
There's obviously been reasons for the number of passes you've thrown in games that you have, but you were real patient with the run and consistent with it against Georgia Tech. Was that something by hook or by crook you were adamant upon doing last week? And then was that kind of what you thought going into the year that you had Bam [Knight], you had Jordan [Houston] and Ricky [Person] and thought these are your top end skill players and could use them in that way to be effective?
“Our offense is not built to throw 60 times a game. That's not what we recruited all these guys for. We want to be balanced. You guys know that. But we want our run game to set up our pass game, we do. And we want to take advantage of light boxes when we get them. We want people to have to put numbers in the box, which makes it easier to throw.
“There's been games, as you mentioned, were doing that wouldn't have given us a chance to come back because we're down 21, but that's who we want to be. As you guys know, we want to be physical. We want to win the line of scrimmage. We want our offensive linemen to take pride and pancaking people and get backs to the second level, let them do their thing and corners and safeties have to tackle your backs.
“That's a part of how we built this team, and we have good talent in the backfield to feature. As we're going through what we have injury wise on the perimeter, I think, Jordan and Bam and now Ricky's back in the fold. The hard part, kind of an intermission of the season, as you know, as we lost a lot of our tight ends. That hurt our run game some.
“Now Cary [Angeline], and I think Thomas Ruocchio showed a lot of things in that last game helps us. We had to move Derrick Easton to play some tight end because we're down to that. And Derrick comes in and does some good things for us. It’s allowed him to have a role, but it's a lot different than when you had Dylan [Autenrieth] and Dylan [Parham].
“We've had to just kind of each week, with a piece being pulled out, figure out how we're going to do this, and I thought last week we're able to do it pretty well in the run game. And that sets up our quarterback, I think, for a lot of things because, as you saw last year with Ryan [Finley] and the year before with Ryan, when people have to put numbers in there, it opens up a lot of RPO game for us.”
Maybe you've had a lot of disjointed weeks this year because of the schedule. This week you have a regular week, but you've got a holiday in the middle and it's a family kind of holiday. How does that affect how you prepare? And do you have anything planned for the kids on Thanksgiving?
“It is Thanksgiving week and we're going to take time to be thankful with our players. We don't have school, Wednesday, Thursday. So today and tomorrow are normal days for the guys. Then since we are a morning practice team, we don't have to come in as early with the guys to give them a little more rest. We still stay in the morning so our routine is not completely different for the players.
“Then get a little more sleep that way and then Thursday after practice will cut our developmental guys loose to go home, and they’ll rejoin us for the game Saturday. Our travel guys that are local will be able to go home and see their families and then Thursday night we take the whole team to Angus Barn, to their pavilion, and it's an awesome feast. The guys look forward to it. I know I do. And hopefully the game pants will fit on Saturday.”
You mentioned you understand this rivalry and how it works. All those games were against Larry [Fedora], and I don't think I'm breaking news, you did not have a wonderful relationship with Larry, you do have a tremendous amount of respect for Mack, does any of that dynamic change for you? And in this game, or how you go about this?
“No. I don't think I had a bad relationship with Larry. I think when your rival coaches, there's going be certain things that you don't do together. Right? And I thought we were very cordial with each other, but I'm going to compete hard against whoever that guy is.
“And I'll do the same with Coach Brown. Have great respect for him, always have and always will. But when you put the ball down, it doesn't matter who's on the other sideline. You're coaching your guys and you want to win.”