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An Interview With Coach Bob Davie

Nov. 18, 2001

COACH DAVIE: I thought we really played hard. We had some things happen that should not have happened. The first path they threw on us, it was just a silly mistake. Then the duck play, they ran for the touchdown right after that, really was a guy overreacting a little bit and really missed the tackle and he scored.

A little bit later in the 2nd quarter, they ran an option over in front of their bench where we just simply did not take the pitch. We came and we kind of froze on the quarterback and really had an unblocked guy on the pitch. So there was some things that happened that should not have happened.

But also, I thought their quarterback, I thought that he made some throws. They made a couple of throws, No. 40 made a couple of catches. As I said yesterday, I’ve watched them a lot. I’ve watched them every game, several, several times and they have really improved as a football team, as an offensive football team. I really mean that. I wish I would have told them myself after the game. I am impressed with how far they have come offensively. I can see why they had over 400s yard three straight games before they played us.

But defensively, there were a lot of good things. We actually had 12 tackles from us, which is an awful lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage. We had two fumbles ?? recoveries, scored on defense, sack, we had a sudden change situation after Julius’s fumble where we held them to a field goal, and we had a goal line stand right there that first series in the fourth quarter and held them to a field goal. A lot of positive things. We had the two holding penalties which negated two interceptions, one of them I thought was a good call before the half, Justin Smith grabbed the receiver as he came off. The other one I did not see the holding penalty on Watson they called a bump?and?run on the corner, the line receiver, but was in no way a factor in the play. But a lot of positives.

I thought we really, really played hard on defense, provided field position for our offense, they come out of the gate with 300 yards on offense. I knew going into the game that with ?? to be quite honest, with Donald Dykes and Glenn Earl both out we had to move Ron Israel to free safety and Justin Smith at free safety, I was nervous about that. With a bunch of formations and them playing option football, I was nervous. I thought they both played and did some good things, but they also made some mistakes.

As far as offensively, I felt like we played very well. We actually took a step back from the Boston College and Tennessee games. I thought we struggled early in the game. You know, Carlyle, early in the game, it was 3rd and 4 on the first drive and he takes a pretty good shot on his hip. I think he is going to be okay, but he limped around, rattling a little bit. On the first drive, we settled for a field goal. We had the ball at the plus 49.

I think what happens, any time you play an academy, you know, some frustration sets in. You almost get in the mindset that you should score every time you have it, and that breeds to sometimes playing a little bit tighter than you should, and you guys have seen that just about every year. It’s like you think you’ve got to be scoring more points and you think sometimes they can’t make a play, but they do make the play. I saw that happen. The second series, it was 3rd and 2 and we don’t make it, we’re out, three and out. The third series, Julius fumbles on the first play. The fourth series, it’s 2nd and 2, Carlyle makes a poor decision. He throws the ball down the field in double coverage. To be quite honest, we did not run a great route, either. So we were three series in a row, one, three and out, a fumble, an interception and we finally score the touchdown, but we are struggling there.

We get the pass to Carlos Campbell that gets us out of trouble, and I think probably could have called Carlyle for being across the line of scrimmage when he threw the ball, but they didn’t call it and we get the first down. We run it to John Owens, good to see him catch the ball. I was pleased with Terrance Howard, how he played. Then we get it back on the plus 33. About 4th down, we went for it on 4th and 6th, would have been 47?yard?field?goal into the wind ?? looking back, probably should have tried to kick the field goal. We don’t get any points in that series after getting to the 33.

We go down, we have a 4th and 1, we don’t make it. In hindsight, probably should have kicked a field goal there, but 4th and 1, we run the power and the back cuts back and the linebacker jumps over the top and they stop us. The first half was very frustrating particularly on offense.

Second half we come out, Javin drops the ball on third down, the first series, but really, we did not have much going right there. Then we go 3 and out. Then I think what really gave us a spark was Tommy Lopienski on third down breaking out of there and making a run. Kind of like we got the weight of the world taken off our back after that happened. From that point on we played a little by looser and more explosive on offense. After Tommy’s run, we go in and score, I think Gary Godsey has the big catch on the crossing route. The very next play Julius takes it and scores.

So, I think we played a little bit tight on offense. I think looking back, we probably ?? this sounds funny, we probably try to block all their fronts and all of their twists and kind of slowed down our tempo a little bit and got the ball back a little bit deeper than previous games where we tried to block everything. We probably did not throw it enough play?action on 1st and 10, we could have had a lot of yards on that. But once again, you kind of go in a jar a little bit because you are looking out there and thinking you should be able to run the football, and you can, but they are twisting and moving around and you don’t want to make a mistake. And I think being so tight breeds making you even tighter. I think at end of the football game we were playing better and I think we are capable of playing better.

So, glad to have the win. Obviously, we’re going to have to play a lot better the next two weeks and I think we are capable of doing that.

Injury?wise, Donald Dykes is going to go ahead and practice. Hopefully he’ll be ready to play. Glenn Earl will go ahead and practice. He’ll probably be tentative with the shoulder. Tony Fisher, David Givens right now are questionable at best. I just talked to the doctors. They are probably going to try to go a little bit, but they will not be full speed, obviously, early in the week. Grant Irons will be out with a hyperextended left elbow. Terrance Howard will be okay. Rocky Boiman continues to have a sprained arch, he’ll be limited during the week, but he’ll be okay. Julius Jones has a back, but he’ll be okay. Wisne is out and Ryan Roberts is out. That’s the injury update.

Q. With all of the injuries that you just mentioned, what’s practice going to be like this week? Are you concerned with getting the proper work before the game Saturday?

COACH DAVIE: No. We’re actually a lot better than we were last week. You think of all those names I just mentioned did not practice at all, didn’t play at all, so we’re better. We’re better.

I think we have to be smart this week, though, if the weather is going to turn a little worse. We may have to practice inside. Also, we leave on Thursday. It’s a long trip out there. We really worked hard over the last couple of weeks with the open date. So I think we may have to back off a little bit contact?wise, but certainly, we are in a lot better shape than we were a week ago. And certainly in a lot better shape than the last time we went out there to Stanford two years ago. We literally could not even practice then.

Q. When do the players start thinking about 7 ?? inaudible ?? what is the goal now?

COACH DAVIE: I think it will be probably after we win 5. I don’t think we’ll look too far ahead. What I know is that it’s really fun to win a game. It is really fun just to win a game. You know, there’s a big difference between winning and losing. But it’s going and playing Stanford. I don’t know where Stanford will be ranked. I think they were ninth in the BCS poll week. I imagine they will jump up a little bit. We are there playing on the road, we need to prove to ourselves and prove to the fans that we are a good football team that can go and beat a good football team on the road at night. And that is the simple goal right new.

I was up all night, I was just so excited about getting in here today and building on a win and trying to go become a really good football team here at the end of the year. It’s one step at a time for us, obviously. We are just trying to get to .500. We have not been able to dig out of that hole all year, so it would be nice to get back to even.

Q. Given what’s happened this season, it’s still nice to have the players know they have something ??

COACH DAVIE: I wish you could watch the tape. I wish you could see how hard these players play. I also see how hard Navy’s players played. You know really I am impressed. You look forward to every Monday, the pro scouts come in and watch the tapes and the feedback you get has just been ?? that’s the positive thing. I mean, if you take that tape and watch it, you’ll see a bunch of guys playing as hard as they can play. It doesn’t look like any different than if they were 8?0. I think that’s something you’re most proud of as a coach.

Q. Your defense has not played really well this year, can you talk about the senior leadership, Shane Walton, Harrison, they kept on going when they could have gotten really frustrated?

COACH DAVIE: Yesterday, I thought Shane Walton played his best game. You look at the tape, he did so many things. You look, he jumped inside and kind of overreacted and missed a tackle, but he really played good. Tony Weaver has been a leader for us, a tremendous leader. He has matured so much. He was a guy that is more of a peaks?and?valley guy a few years ago: When it was real good, it was good, and when it was bad, it was bad. He has really been mature.

I thought Grant Irons played probably his best game. Really played hard. Harrison, you think about where he’s come in a year. A year ago, he was a young guy that was kind of like that stock market, up and down, too. But he’s really become consistent this year. I look at Ron Israel out there. He is nowhere near 100%.

So across the board, Clifford Jefferson, all of the stuff he’s been through, comes back and has really competed well the last couple of weeks. So I’ve been really pleased with that.

I feel really good about the leadership, particularly on defense. I think those guys have been steady in the boat all year.

Q. Do you think that win almost ?? just forget about what actually the mechanics of it are because everything is going to be so different the next two weeks from what you went through this week that you just take it for what it’s worth, a win, and the good feeling and just go on?

COACH DAVIE: I think that’s a good point. You know, obviously, we don’t play wishbone again. But like on defense, what we do, what we did this morning, we took about eight plays that Navy had and show exactly why they had that play ?? and then eight other times. They ran that same play against that same defense because we were in the same defense the whole game. Basically played one defense.

We showed on the other plays how when you play it right, it actually is a negative?yardage play and how it’s just that critical that you execute every time the ball snaps, and that’s been a little bit of our problem. You know, there’s some things that have happened that just, quite frankly, should not have happened.

So what we did is we take each game as a learning experience. So you show when you play it right and you show as opposed to when you play it wrong. Doesn’t matter if you are playing the wishbone or you are playing Tennessee.

And on offense, we really do the same thing. So you’re trying to just teach each week, and like I talked about several weeks ago, just get a bank of fundamentals that you feel strong about. So we’ll cut that tape down and just use the things that we can teach off of, but we won’t show the whole tape.

Q. Rushing 400 yards in four straight games ?? inaudible ?? any different in terms of the option, forcing him to pitch it ??

COACH DAVIE: Yeah, you can see the width of how they are playing their linebacker, different ways they are slanting the front. They realize that Carlyle is the big playmaker. I thought Navy did a good job with that. Tennessee, took the pitch out, took the ball way from him right away. They were coming hard and we have to be able to do some different things with the option.

Yesterday, we really only ran one option, but we need to be a little more mobile with some of the things we are doing. But no question about that. You saw it the last two weeks.

Q. After the game, Kevin talked about Carlyle checking out of a lot of passes and turning into the run. Is that just a young guy, is that the rule on this rather than going after it?

COACH DAVIE: Well, I think we ?? looking back on it, we could have helped him a little more. They bluffed us into making some checks, to be honest. You know, where it’s easy ?? it’s easy maybe to be in the press box or easy to watch the tape and say, “Oh, he’s just bluffing he’s not really coming.” But for the quarterback on the field, he was coming and he was sensitive to things ?? he saw ?? he’s a smart guy and he sees things and he checks. Sometimes you wish he didn’t see so many things.

But with that said is why I think he’s going to be, really, a good quarterback, but we need to lock some things in. They talked us into checking in things that we probably shouldn’t have.

Q. As a young quarterback is it one of those things where you see four steps forward, one step back and he has to learn to readjust?

COACH DAVIE: I think he took a step back a little bit yesterday, for whatever reason. Maybe it was because he got nicked there early. They took a pretty good shot. Navy, because they were just helter?skelter on defense, they gave you every look and every kind of ?? some things he had not seen before. I thought he took a step back.

Q. You mentioned playing on the road, at night, anything special ?? do you do anything differently to play?

COACH DAVIE: Well, we will talk about it, but I doubt there’s going to be any real creative thing that comes out of it.

You know, it’s playing better and executing better. As simple as that sounds and as cliche as that sound. We just ?? we just have to go play.

Q. Did you get a chance to talk to Bowling Green’s team when they were here?


Q. Do you get credit for the win ??

COACH DAVIE: Got a sarcastic shot ?? inaudible ?? laughter ?? because I talked to Bowling Green’s team, but that I didn’t do a good job ?? how could I take a sarcastic shot about doing something for a friend like that?

Yeah, he brought his team here to the dining hall on Friday and I had a chance right before the pep rally to go over and talk to his team and it was good to see him. He actually thought at that time that they were going to beat Northwestern and he really felt totally capable of beating on them. I told their kids same thing I told ours: You know, they are seniors, it was their last trip and we are sitting here at a time when there’s airplanes falling out of the sky and airplanes going into the World Trade Center and envelopes with anthrax and so many things going on, to just enjoy every second of it, enjoy every second of the game. I was glad to see Irvin win, he’s done a heck of a job. They have Toledo this week. They beat a Big 12 team, beat a Big 10 team. And the biggest thing I told him was don’t screw that defense up, because they are tenth in the nation . Whatever you do, don’t start coaching that defense. Let them keep doing what they are doing over there.

Q. How do you manage to keep an upbeat attitude ??

COACH DAVIE: Well, if I’m not going to walk out of there feeling good about a win, I’m not going to feel good. I’m not going to let somebody’s sarcastic remarks affect me one way. So, I was fine with that. NBC kind of hung me out on that field a little bit on my own there at the end. I kind of like to travel in packs a little bit right now. Don’t try to be too individual right now. (Laughter).

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