Nov. 2, 2007
Q. For both you guys, how hard is it to, in effect, pick the poison against this type of offense? You’ve got quarterback, fullback, a load on the outside, and then they come back the other way. Can both of you talk about how you have to read their options as they run the option?
Tom Zbikowski: You’ve really got to pay attention, definitely at safety, because they try and take you deep so many times with passes. That’s the fourth option that they have that they have really been able to utilize this year. No one has really been able to slow them down. You know, you almost just start feeling comfortable and you start getting in a rhythm, then they hit you with something else, so you’ve got to be reading your keys on every single play.
Maurice Crum Jr.: It’s definitely important to be fundamentally sound and just do your job and don’t try to do too much because when you try to do too much, that’s usually when they break you.
Q. Does the fact that you play them every year, you guys have seen them a lot, does that help, plus the off week?
Maurice Crum Jr.: Yeah, I’d say it helps, definitely a benefit, especially for me because even though I don’t see it week in and week out, some of those plays stay in your mind, but we still do have some young guys who haven’t seen this and have to get accustomed to it, so we have to — us being familiar with it have to help those guys out.
Tom Zbikowski: Yeah, playing against it a couple times and getting an extra game, too, when we played Air Force, kind of the same style offense, you kind of see the same plays and how they run it. What they do, they do it very well, and nobody can stop it. It’s been tough to stop. We’ve got a challenge ahead of us.
Q. Tom, give us a bit of a background of the military in your family.
Tom Zbikowski: Yeah, both my grandfathers were in the Marines. My dad served in the Army for a little bit. I don’t know if he got kicked out or not. Knowing him, he probably did. He was in there for a while. You know, both my grandparents died when I was younger, so I just heard about it through my parents.
Q. But this game does mean a little bit more to you because that they served?
Tom Zbikowski: Yeah, it definitely does because they both were serving during World War II. Definitely just to have that tradition in the family, that a lot of those kids that we’re playing have that same tradition.
Q. It means a lot to you guys at the end of the game to go and stand with them when they play their alma mater?
Maurice Crum Jr.: Yeah, definitely, because it’s so much more than football. You’ve got to respect those guys for what they do day in and day out because football is the easiest part of their day, so you can only just respect them.
Q. Tom, talking with some of the fifth year guys yesterday, they mentioned that even if these last four games are kind of a buildup for next year, that that’s still rewarding for them, that they can watch team next year and feel they helped them get prepared over the last month of the season. Do you feel any of that same benefit right now?
Tom Zbikowski: Yeah, I definitely do. When you start building relationships with some of the younger guys and see them play, you still feel part of the team. Even the next couple years when you’re watching and seeing them, what they’re doing, even when I talked to older guys when I was playing, they still feel a part of the team and part of my individual accomplishments just because you’re always getting help from older people just because they’ve been through it before.
Q. Does that change your perspective or what you want to accomplish over the next four weeks to try to help guys get in a better spot for next year?
Tom Zbikowski: I mean, it doesn’t really change too much because we still want to win. That’s the biggest thing is win these next four games just to get the momentum for them for next year, but also for us going out on a good note and winning these games that we need to win.
Q. Your dad kind of let the cat out of the bag that you’ll be back next year. Kind of talk about that decision. Was it easy? What kind of factors, pros and cons went into it?
Maurice Crum Jr.: Well, that’s kind of what he thinks. My main goal is to finish the season out just like before. I mean, that’s his opinion, what he thinks I should do. But for me personally I’m really just focused on finishing the season out and getting these guys ready, and then I’ll figure out what I’m going to do at the end of the season.
Q. You haven’t made a definitive decision?
Maurice Crum Jr.: I’m not. That’s just his opinion, but I’m not certain yet.
Q. Can you guys talk about the impact of Robert Hughes, the death of his brother, has had on you guys this week? I know that there’s a bus full of people going tomorrow. Are you guys participating in that?
Tom Zbikowski: I’m going to it. Definitely coming, getting a chance to know him, too, he’s one of the better guys on — we’ve all got good guys on the team, but he’s definitely one of the good guys. I saw him come in the locker room yesterday. I mean, it’s tough, you can’t really say much. You can’t really say much to him except for give him support, but I’m definitely going tomorrow.
Maurice Crum Jr.: For me personally, I won’t get a chance to make it because I’ve got other stuff I’m involved with. But I do plan on spending some time with Robert and sending some cards and stuff to his family. But it’s tough, especially for us, because we’re kind of his family away from his family. We’re kind of like his brothers here, so it’s tough because we feel like he is a part of our family because we’re family here. So it’s tough to deal with any time you have hurt in your family.
Q. This question is going to sound disrespectful to Navy and I don’t mean it that way, but if you were to be part of the team that lost to them and ended the streak, would that be embarrassing? Would you feel that emotion under the circumstances?
Maurice Crum Jr.: I wouldn’t say so. They’re a good team, and they’ve shown that week in and week out. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Losing is what’s embarrassing, regardless of who it’s to or when it occurs.
Tom Zbikowski: Yeah, I think they’ve been scoring points on everyone. It’s not like — it would be tough to lose to them, but I think it would be a big deal outside of the locker room of how many times we beat them in the past with the streak and everything, but they play hard every single year. They always give us our money’s worth every single year. There’s been a couple times that I’ve been here that they almost did beat us. We were on teams that were pretty solid.
Q. The guys on the offensive side of the ball are talking about how valuable each possession is. Does that put a little more burden on you guys in this game because the offense hasn’t been scoring a bunch, and if they can only score a certain percentage of the time that they have the ball, you guys have to be exceptional then on Saturday?
Tom Zbikowski: That’s another reason why their offense is so successful, because I remember my first time playing them and then every time they start driving, you look up at the clock, it seems like the first half is almost done and they’ve only — you’ve been out there for two possessions. The offense doesn’t get much chance, and when they do that, they definitely have to put points on the board.
Maurice Crum Jr.: For us, that’s our job week in and week out, to get the offense back on the field. Especially with this offense, it’s hard, too, so we have to capitalize when we can and do our part to get our offense on the field.
Q. Can you talk about the bye week? Obviously it helps in terms of getting your bodies back in shape physically. Can you talk about the mental aspect, getting recharged in that area, especially with how this season has gone?
Maurice Crum Jr.: I think it came at a good time for us and it gave everybody a chance to relax their minds and not stress so much about Saturday. But at the same time it gave us time to get ready to go, get guys kind of refocused in and try to finish out the season.
Tom Zbikowski: It’s always good to get a little bit of a break, especially since we’ve been going since pretty much training camp, not really having too many days off. So any time you get a chance to go home and see your family and relax at home for a little bit, it’s always a benefit.
Q. Was it more important this year as opposed to in years past with the mental barrier of how the season has gone?
Tom Zbikowski: No, it’s always important to get away from football just for a little bit. We only get to see our families when they come up for games, like an hour or two after games. So it’s good to go home and get a home cooked meal and hang out with family.
Maurice Crum Jr.: Yeah, it’s just a plus, and it’s always great to have during the season. Again, it just recharges you for the rest of the season.
Q. Did you go home, too?
Maurice Crum Jr.: No, I stayed here.
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