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Well we came out and practiced last night. Obviously the loss to Houston was a tough loss for us.
You know, you can't take anything away from Houston because they did a good job. They executed, they did what they wanted to do. But we had our opportunities and, you know, we turned the ball over on offense, which really hurt us. Defensively, we couldn't get them stopped in the 4th quarter when we came back and took the lead a couple times. That generally doesn't happen to our defense. We couldn't get off the field on 3rd down, and we missed too many tackles.
But the one thing I can tell you is that our players came out last night, you know, it's the quickest turnaround ever. Had a good attitude, practiced hard and practiced hard again tonight. Tomorrow will be a normal Thursday for us so we'll get to cut it down a little bit, but you know, the guys came back and have worked extremely hard to get ready for this game. So, you know, we've put it all behind us and are looking forward and moving in the right direction I think.
On the Quarterback Situation
Yeah, you know, I think I know who the quarterback is, but we told them that they would get their reps in practice and that we'd grade the reps, and I haven't had the chance to talk to the quarterbacks yet. So obviously I'm not going to tell anyone else before I talk to the quarterbacks and tell them.
The other day when we came out of the Auburn game we really felt like Lamar gave us the best opportunity. They did a nice job on defense on securing the edges and forcing him to throw the ball. As we got into the 4th quarter, I felt like Kyle gave us the best chance to operate the offense that could get us back in the game. And he came in and did a nice job with it, you know, just like he did against Kentucky. You know he hits hands and he executed what we were asking him to do in that part of the game. And I think he's had a good week of practice, as have the other one, so we've just gotta grade the video tonight and then meet with the quarterbacks tomorrow.
What stood out to you after watching the tape?
We have a bunch of good guys who made plays. I was really happy with Micky Crum and the production we got out of him; his ability to catch and run. Jaylen and Treveon Samuel did a good job.
We're not being able to run the ball the way we need to. We had a couple series in there where we were able to get the run game going a little bit, and Kyle helped us with that because he could operate it, you know, work from under the center and do the things that we could take advantage of what they were doing.
Defensively, the biggest thing that I was disappointed with was the way we tackled, and our inability to keep a running quarterback in the pocket. You know, being disciplined in our pass rush lanes and keeping him in the pocket, when we knew that was what he was going to do. We just, uh, we've got a lot of work to do.
We're playing a real good team in Clemson. Their defense doesn't look like it's missed a beat. They're physical. Their front seven is very, very good. Their linebackers come downhill and tackle well. Their corners like to play press man, so that will challenge us there, but I think we're looking forward to that.
Then we've got a quarterback who's completing 70 percent of his passes up to date, and can run. So it's a good challenge for us, but I think our kids are looking forward to it, and I know our coaches are.
On the challenges that Deshaun Watson presents
Well, first he's real experienced, so he operates their offense very well. He throws the deep ball extremely well, as he did last year. When they made the switch and brought him in a year ago, he completed deep ball after deep ball. And then he has the ability to run. Now they haven't asked him to run the ball much yet this season, but we know that he has that ability.
On the atmosphere Thursday night
Well this is a big game for us. Obviously we're playing a very good football team. I think the atmosphere is going to be great. You get excited for that. You've gotta be able to stay focused. Hopefully the two games that we've played and the competition that we've played will help us, and you'll see improvement from last Saturday to this Thursday.
How do you address tackling in a short week?
Well we work on it. We work on the technique, we work on the drills, we work on where our eyes need to be. We have a tackle circuit that we always go back to, and it usually comes that you need to keep your eyes where they belong and utilize the technique that we work on in practice. We got a little bit away from our technique, which is something that we had been doing very well.
Is it Kyle or Lamar at quarterback?
I told all the quarterbacks that they would get their reps in practice, and then I'll grade their reps with the offensive staff. You know, I haven't watched the practice from today, haven't met with the offensive staff, haven't met with the quarterbacks, so I don't feel comfortable saying anything on who it might be until I've met with the players and the coaching staff.
Could it be a situation like Auburn where we don't know until the first play?
Yeah, you know, we've gotta watch the video. See where we're at.
On the offensive line
We made some improvements. They played hard and they did a nice job in their communication. We knew we were going against a defense that's a little bit wild, and does some things different, and they did them very well. They blitzed a bunch from a bunch of different passes, and our communication in the passing game was pretty good. We didn't get as much push and finish in the run game as we would have liked. So we have to work on that.
Do you emphasize more mental or physical things during a short week?
Well on a short week it's more the teaching and the technique work. You know, we couldn't go out there and have -- I don't know how many hours it was from the end of the game until last night but it wasn't very long -- but we couldn't put on full pads and go out there and tackle. That doesn't do you any good. So we just work on the drills and the technique, you know, run, gather, run and the different things that we do.
What did Lamar learn from the Houston game?
I think the number one thing he needs to learn is that this is college football, and they have really good players too, and you can't try to do too much. You have to what operate the offense, do what the progression tells you to do, when I'm presented with the opportunity to run and use the gifts that God gave me, I need to do that instead of try to cast the ball down the middle late. So he needs to learn that. I think it's just a case where in high school he was able to use his abilities, and now he's playing against guys who were the best players on their high school teams too.
Who's more to blame on the fumbles on the handoffs?
We always put everything on the quarterback. It's his job to put the ball in his stomach and utilize his technique. That's not always true because sometimes the running back doesn't get his elbow up and doesn't hit the right path, but then what the quarterback should do if the running back isn't there, is he should run the play for him. That's the rule is that if the running back's not on the path or he's not where he's supposed to be and you can't make the handoff, then you run the play for him. It's something that shows up every year. We've had our quarterbacks do that every year, and that's where the inexperience comes in.
What needs to happen to get the run game going?
We just need to be more physical and utilize our technique and finish. I think that's the biggest thing is being able to finish and get our hands in the proper position, drive our feet. We've got a good challenge this week. This will be the best front four against the run that we've played. They're very good technicians, and they really do a good job with their scheme. Their linebackers play tight and run through gape. So we're going to be really challenged and we're going to have to run the ball to win the game.
On the reaction to the loss
Yeah you know, Sunday was real quiet. They came in and ate dinner and there wasn't a whole lot being said. You walk in the team meeting room and there wasn't a whole lot being said. So, you know, you feel bad. That's always a tough thing in the game of football. I always envy basketball and baseball when they get to go out and play the next night and get it all behind you. But I thought they did a real nice job of understanding that we need to put it behind us, come out Sunday night in a short period of time, have a good attitude, work hard and earn the right to win on the practice field. We've had two good practices, so I'm excited about that.
Could the short week help before a big game?
(Laughs) Yeah! I hope so. That's a good question. It's hard to say "Yeah! A short week really helps!" But we've shown the ability to play well after a short week. I think, I might have the days wrong, but I think we played like Memphis on a Friday night and TCU on a Wednesday night. We have experienced dealing with the schedule. My philosophy is get them to the game with fresh legs and a fresh mind and we'll have an opportunity to win the game. So we're kind of dealing with those schedules that we used before. When I was here before I think we played every night of the week except Tuesday, I think it was. So we're used to dealing with it and putting a good schedule in front of it.
I think our kids got rested up. That's why we've practiced at night the last two days -- just get a little extra meeting time and not try to do a whole bunch of new stuff. That's kind of how it works.
How important is leadership on such a young team?
Yeah, I think it's one of the key things is leadership from within the team. That's one of the things I try to make the players understand is that they've got to take over the leadership, they've got to do their responsibilities and their obligations to their teammates. This is the only time this team is going to be together, and the seniors and the juniors that have been around, they've got to see if they want to make it a special season or not.
On the status of the three injured receivers -- Quick, Staples and Carter
They're not available.