Oct. 23, 2012
Butch Jones Press Conference • 10/23/12
“Good afternoon. Just a brief recap on last week’s game then moving on to [Louisville]. I think regardless of who your opponent is, any time you make 14 points of mistakes you are going to have a hard time winning the football game. I think that’s what occurred Saturday night. Obviously the kickoff return is something that is inexcusable. We are working to get it corrected. We break up our special teams and we’ve run that scheme for over 20 years. And that’s the first time we’ve ever had a kick off using that scheme ran back on us. It is something that we take great pride in our special teams. Then the pick six; we can’t do that. If you would have told me that at the end of the day our defense would hold an extremely explosive offense to zero touchdowns, I’d feel pretty confident that we’d win the football game. That’s football. It didn’t happen. Now it’s how we respond.
“I’ve had a lot of questions. ‘How was your team? How is your demeanor?’ I’ll just say this: they reacted like a team that had won eight games in a row. Very disappointed. Very disturbed, which I would expect that. They’re all competitors. They take pride in their performance. But we’ve moved on. The great thing is it’s a short week. It’s Louisville week, one of the best football team we’ll face all year. It’s going to be a great challenge for us going into Papa John's [Cardinal] Stadium. Great environment. National television. Sold out. You couldn’t ask for anything more, but they present so many challenges for you.
“Offensively when you think of Louisville, you think of Teddy Bridgewater and he can manage their offense. Extremely accurate, knows where he’s going with the football. Not only can he beat you throwing the football but he can beat you running the football. Very big strong offensive line. Physical. Want to run the football. Great length out on the perimeter. Just a very, very good football team. Then defensively, blitzed oriented. They are extremely deep at the corner and safety position, linebacker position. Big up front. It’s going to be a challenge. I know they’re going to try to stop the run. They are going to put the ball in the hand s of our quarterback and say, ‘beat us.’ We have to do a good job on the perimeter of winning our one-on-one matchups. Then it comes down to special teams. We found out last week special teams are a critical element in winning football games. So a great challenge. we’ve had a great week of preparation.
“Make no mistake about it. Go back to when the season started at Camp Higher Ground, go back to our initial press conference. I said that this would be a team that our margin our error would be very, very small. Are we a good football team? Yes. Are we a great football team? No. does that mean that we’re not going to win our share of games? No. we’re going to win our share of football games by have a great synergy, by playing team football and being a team that does not beat itself. The formula for winning never changes. I think there’s a lot of positive. We’re sitting here 5-1. You work to this point to play meaningful games in the end of October all the way to November. What 5-1 does is it ensures us that here on out we’re playing meaningful games in November. We put ourselves in that situation now we have to take advantage of all the hard work and effort that we put into those weeks of work and to our offseason and spring football training camp.
“When you have 65 first and second year players, every week is a new week. Our players have to understand that we talk about snap and clear, but it truly is snap and clear. Each play has life expectancy of its own. It’s a story within itself. It has a history behind it and every play matter. That’s what I told our football team. You may play 70 some odd snaps on offense. Seventy some odd snaps on defense and maybe 15 – 22 on special teams, give or take because each game has a different flavor to it. But you never know what four to six plays are going to be the difference between winning and losing. That’s why you play every place as if it’s your last play. It might sound cliché and it may sound like coach speak, but it is what it is. That’s the game of football. There’s reason that ball isn’t round. It’s oval and the ball bouncing different ways. That’s what separates our sport from any other sport. All 11 players working together as one. We use an equation; one out of 11. Do your job. That’s extremely evident on special teams and also offense and defense as well.
“Again, it’s going take a phenomenal effort. Friday night great challenge but I know we’re looking forward to it. Our margin of error is very small. We have to be a team that plays with tremendous effort, tremendous energy. Everyone has to understand their job in the job description that goes along with doing their job.”
On if he feels comfortable with Louisville attempting to stop the run:
“I do feel confident. Again, I think everyone to the naked eye, they always think about the quarterback just like the coach. More credit when you when and probably more credit when you lose than really what’s deservingly so. It gets back to that one out of 11. We forget that we had a touchdown pass dropped in the first quarter of the game. It kind of changes the complexion of the game in a hurry. I think it’s everyone doing their job around our quarterback. We’re going to see a tremendous amount of pressure. We’re going to see man coverage. Football comes down to winning your one-on-one matchups. [Our defense] was here until 1:30 in the morning and I said, ‘Go home. Enough is enough. Let’s come back fresh.’ At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to their player on our player, ball in the air. We have to go up and we have to make a play. That’s what it comes down to. It’s going to be our receivers and our running backs beat man coverage. And our quarterback has to stand in the pocket, but also our offensive line is going to be challenged to provide the protection that we’re going to need to be able to defeat man coverage. So I do feel confident. I think it’s more so more than our quarterback, it’s the supporting cast around him.”
On the mindset of running the ball:
“We’re going to do what we do. The coaches and the players know the strengths of our team more than anything. The way our offensive line has been playing. The way our wide outs have been blocking and the perimeter play of our tight ends. We have some talented running backs. George Winn is a blue collar football player just like our football team. So we’re going to run. Make no mistake about it, that’s in our DNA. Again, our passing game compliments that. Each game has different turns and twists. We have to do a great job of adjusting. If they want to load the box and bring safety in the box and challenge us and blitz us, we have two win on the perimeter. The other thing in your run game is that if you’re able to break through the first level of defense, they is no body at the second level. I think it’s just a mindset, but we’re always going to look to run the football because that’s in our philosophy. I think that’s how you win football games consistently. How do you play great defense? You’re offense doesn’t leave you in negative situation. The big thing when we run the football is we can’t have negative yardage plays and we can’t turn the ball over.”
On Louisville’s defensive strengths and weaknesses:
“I think they have a number of strengths. First of all their defensive depth, they play a number of guys. They’re big. They’re physical up front. Their linebackers are run and hit guys that move well laterally. They have some very, very good corners and some very active safeties. They’re a pressure oriented defense, so I think sometimes when you bring a lot of pressure that lends itself to the big play. But that’s the same thing with us defensively; we bring a lot of pressure. So I think they have an tremendous amount of confidence in their backend which they should, they have extremely talented football players. Weaknesses? I don’t see a whole lot. There’s a reason why they are 7-0. There’s a reason why they’re one of the top 25 teams in the country. Again, it’s going to take a tremendous effort Friday night from all of us.”
On compensating for the loss of senior Walter Stewart:
“With the loss of Walter Stewart, I don’t think you can just replace him in a lot of regards. First of all, his productivity on the field, what he brought, his energy level. I always take the approach that this is another individual’s opportunity. It’s now Brandon Mill’s opportunity. I though he stepped up last week. He played his best week that he’s played. Elijah Shuler now gets an opportunity. Dan Giordano’s role becomes that much greater. So I think it’s an opportunity for other individuals around to step up. I think the other thing is what he brings to us, the value he brings off the field. We all understand that he’s the heart and soul of our football team. And even though he’s not actively on the field with us at this particular time, he’s still going to bring a lot to the table in that regards. It was a very emotional week for us last week to say the least. That’s life. There hasn’t been anyone that’s handled it any better than him. He’s still waiting on some secondary opinions to see on the status of where he’s at. I think it’s more so the productivity and leadership, but I think it’s an opportunity for others to step up.”
On the thought behind switching Tony Miliano and Pat O’Donnell on kickoffs:
“First of all, our punter is not healthy, his hamstring is tight. He’s a punter first and foremost, and he’s weapon with us. Second of all, the naked eye sees the great kickoffs that went into the end zone against Fordham, but they forget the four that we’re kicked into the middle of the field. And for us to be a successful kickoff team, everything is based on ball location and what we call ‘putting it in the box’. We approached the week, we had a daily competition. Tony won that job with his consistency and his performance in practice. The health of Pat had a little bit to do with that as well. The kickoff return was placed in the box it was just a little bit short, but we have to rally and we have to get the ball down. We didn’t make the play on that team. So there are a lot of things that maybe people on the outside down see on a day-to-day basis on why individuals aren’t playing. It starts with competition and it starts with health as well.”
On playing five running backs and if he’ll reduce the number entering BIG EAST play:
“Well running back is a position of physicality. The running back is involved in pass protection, running routes, running the football. It’s still a long season. We have six games left and we’re going to need all of those individuals on board. I think in the last week and half Tion Greene has progressed ahead of schedule. I’m really excited about what he’s bringing to the table. He’s getting better and better every day and I think you’ll see his role in our offense continue to grow. But, we’re going to need all of our running backs.
On Tion Green’s play:
“He’s gaining confidence and how do you gain confidence? Through preparation and through the reputation you build in practice. He finally has himself in shape. He’s finishing runs. He’s playing with a level of physicality. He can make plays with the ball in his hand. The big thing is just the overall knowledge base. We’re also going to play him a little more on specially teams. So I’m very, very encouraged by what I’ve seen so far.”
On if Teddy Bridgewater has changed much from a year ago:
“The one thing that really separated Teddy is his poise as a true freshman. He’s been mature regardless of how many years he’s been the starting quarterback. I think this year you see an even [higher] maturity level. It’s his show. We always talk about the quarterback as the alpha male. He’s the individual in charge and you see that. They rely on him in pass protection. His players have a great belief. Just like him leading them from behind to beat South Florida in the one-minute drill. That’s him. He has great moxie, great confidence and, obviously, a great skill set. And yes, you can see him continuing to get better with game experience and with repetitions. The mark of a great player is that he elevates the play of everyone around him. He’s doing that and he is a great player.
On teams separating themselves in the BIG EAST:
“If you really look at it when you talk about the balance of the BIG EAST conference last year, I think it’s more balanced this year. To me, Syracuse is a great football team. I’ve watched them. I think they’re a byproduct of their schedule. They’ve had some very difficult games. Obviously, Rutgers is having a tremendous season. Louisville. South Florida, I’ll still say it, is as talented of a football team as we have in our conference. You look at what Temple has done. UConn has had some unfortunate injuries but they’re always UConn. You can go across the board, and I think that’s what separates our conference. You can have no off days in the BIG EAST conference. I think parody is at an all-time high right now. Even though you have two undefeated teams in Louisville and Rutgers, I think it’s still extremely, extremely strong. We have six weeks left and it’s going to be a tremendous challenge. That’s why we always take it one game at a time.”
On if previous success in rivalry games helps:
“Our players expect to win. But I know also I know what [Louisville head coach Charlie] Strong is how they’re motivating their players as well. I think it’s a double-edged sword. If you’re sitting there and you’re on the end of winning it for a few years in a row, I think your players have great belief, but they can never take that game for granted. Every rivalry game is different from any other game you’ll ever play in. you’re going to get that opponents best. They’re going to be at their emotional peak. You’re usually going to get a twist or a turn schematically that’s different. Or you’re sitting on the other side of it and you haven’t won it in a few years and you’re players are extremely motivated to go out and win the football game. You just take it in stride. You understand that when you play in a rivalry game what you did last year does not matter. It’s about this year. It’s a game that our seniors will live with the rest of their lives. This will be the one game that they remember the rest of their lives, their senior year in this great rivalry. You just treat as each rival is a different story in and of itself.”
On how the Keg of Nails rivalry differs from the Victory Bell game:
“It’s a league game. Usually this game has some times of championship implication behind it. Going there and playing in front of 50,000 people. It’s an us against the world mentality. I think the nature of the rivalry, being in a conference, the championship implication that it brings, the national stage, the great players. I think a lot of those things add to the rivalry. I think a lot of it too is our players know each other. There’s that respect factor. A lot of these individuals compete against each other in Pop Warner, in high school. So they respect each other. The institutions, athletic departments, football programs are extremely proud, have great fan bases. All of that adds to it.”