Oct. 8, 2012
Looking back at the SC game, obviously we lost the game but I thought there was a lot of positives in that game that hopefully we can build on going forward. I thought we ran the ball much more efficiently. We didn't run the ball a bunch of times, but when we did run it we had more success than we have in recent weeks. The offense looked more like what we want it to look like. We spread it out more, a little more dynamic offensive attack, which should be the case the rest of the way. That's more of what we hope to be. As far as the game itself, a couple of plays in the fourth quarter really determined that game. They made the plays when we did not. Most notably the 83-yard touchdown pass and the pick-six. That was really the difference in the game. I thought our guys played hard. They fought the entire 60 minutes, which is what we expect. A lot of penalties in the game. That was part of the storyline in the game as well. Really hurt our cause getting that touchdown at the end of the first half called back. That would have given us the momentum going into halftime. Overall, I thought we did some good things. We've still got to make more first downs, which is a product of converting third downs and continuing to run the football better so we're not in third and long situations.
Looking forward to UCLA. Both teams in need of a win. We both have two conference losses. Obviously it's a big game for both teams. They have a lot of weapons. The tailback is phenomenal. He has nearly 800 yards halfway through the season. On pace to have an outstanding year. He is gaining over seven yards per carry. The quarterback is doing a nice job, he's fourth in the conference in pass efficiency. Defensively, they are athletic, just like they all are in this conference. Number 7 (Tevin McDonald) is one of their headliners. We have our work cut out for us. The players are back to work today. With fall break we adjusted the schedule a little bit and it's a noon kickoff, so we decided to practice earlier. We're excited about another opportunity, and we'll go down and play in the Rose Bowl, which will be a great experience for our players. Last time we were down there was not a great experience, so hopefully we can change that.
On the LDS missionary age change:
It will certainly have an impact. I think it will have a positive impact as far as the athletic side. In the past you're juggling when to send these athletes out who you know are going to go on missions. Depending on when they turn 19, do you play them for a season, do you play them for a whole year, are you going to send them out right away? I think this is going to lay some common ground and the rule of thumb will be to send them out right after graduation, because the average graduate is 18 years old. If we're able to get these guys out uniformly in June or July, then we will be able to get them back in time for the season two years later. Obviously we will probably utilize a redshirt year, they may not be in great shape. I think it's going to standardize things in the long run, and big picture I think it's going to be a positive for us from an athletic point of view.
On the offensive line:
I neglected to say that when I talked about things that we can build on, that is one of the things that is much improved. The cohesiveness and the continuity. Miles Mason really stepped up. His production in fall camp had not been very good, and during the first few weeks of the season, but a light switch went on and last week he stepped up to the plate and really played well in the game. Hopefully we can stick with those five guys and start to develop even more continuity and consistency and hopefully that can be a group that can play together the remainder of the season.
On the linebackers:
I don't think that group is a disappointment, but it's a work in progress for certain. Jason Whittingham and Reshawn Hooker played quite a bit on Thursday. As I mentioned earlier, had they not both sustained injuries during fall camp or during the season they probably would have played sooner. Disappointed, no, do we have to get better, yes, but we like the potential of that group.
On forcing fumbles:
We seem to be doing a good job of that. We practice it like everyone else in the country does, but where we're lacking, we've got to get more interceptions. We have created some turnovers through fumbles, but we've got to continue to create more, and really through interceptions. Two interceptions through six games is ridiculous. We've got to get better on the back end turning the ball over for the offense.