Nov. 1, 2006
Q. Inaudible question about his experience during the Insight Bowl playing with a coaching staff that was fired?
Tom Zbikowski: Everyone knows that coach had just been fired and someone that’s recruited you and been in your home, that’s someone you probably want to represent. You look at the way they played last week, I think they played pretty strong knowing that their coach was probably going to be fired. I know he’s been there for I think four or five years. He’s recruited every single person that’s in that program, so they feel a strong tie to him, and they are going to be playing hard.
Q. Looking at your team now, defensively, what do you think you need to improve on the most over the last quarter of the season before a Bowl game?
Tom Zbikowski: I think everything is pretty well stated. Our second half play has been pretty dominant and we’ve got to try to do that in the first half and play a complete game.
Q. How do you go about that, is that in practice or just a mental thing?
Tom Zbikowski: I think it’s just an approach you take, really, in practice, getting a fast start on Tuesday and getting on top of things and making sure you’re prepared in all aspects of the game, what happened yesterday and we’ll see what’s going to happen in the game on Saturday.
Q. What were your first impressions of John Sullivan?
Tom Zbikowski: John Sullivan? I met him, All America game, senior year of high school, just got to meet him, got to know him and then I heard he went ?? had every single All?American as possible and showed his status when he came to recruiting, got a lot out of that.
Q. Knowing him as you do now, is that something you can totally see out of him?
Tom Zbikowski: Knowing him now I see him in Notre Dame gear, so I think he takes whatever’s free. (Laughter).
Q. When we watched that practice during fall camp you were mixing it up with your teammates a lot. Is that something that carries over to game day for you, mixing it up with the opposition a lot, verbally?
Tom Zbikowski: Verbally, it does sometimes, but I usually let somebody initiate it before. I don’t really like starting it unless it’s necessary. But it’s a part of football. You’ve got to have fun. You’ve got to make things interesting and that’s just part of the emotional part of football, you get competitive.
Q. Have you had many verbal exchanges over your career?
Tom Zbikowski: I’ve had some good ones. I can’t say what was said but there’s been some good ones.
Q. Any marquis guys?
Tom Zbikowski: I don’t know, somehow someone is trying to start a fight with me or something, they always bring up boxing. That’s what usually starts it.
Q. Any notable names, though?
Tom Zbikowski: Not that I can remember. I mean, there probably has been, but the list is long.
Q. Getting back to the second half, the way you guys have been good there, looking back at the last couple of weeks, what have you done better, is it an adjustment or in some ways the offense has put points on the board and you can play looser?
Tom Zbikowski: It’s both those, it really is. Definitely you come in, it seems like every single team we play, they got a new wrinkle, a new formation, they got something new every single time against us. It’s happened pretty much every game, and I think once we get a handle, players get a feel for what they are doing and the coaches get a chance to adjust, I think that’s why we’ve been able to do that in the second half. But it seems like almost every time someone has something new for us.
Q. How can you cope with that, is it the huddle on the sidelines when you try to decipher what a team is doing and you’re not really sure?
Tom Zbikowski: You’ve got to go back to the basic rules of the coverage, of the blitz, or, you know, whatever you’re doing, get back to what you were taught and the rules of that and try and play off of that, make sure you’re making the tackles. If something does happen, you have to feed off each other and help each other out.
Q. Do you rely on the coaches to figure it out and tell what you to do as opposed to you guys figuring it out?
Tom Zbikowski: It’s got to go both ways. You’re going to see different things when you’re on the field and they are to see different things either in the press box or on the sidelines. There’s got to be communication with coaches and players or players and players.
Q. Is there an example that you can see, that it took a second to figure it out?
Tom Zbikowski: For the last game, Navy, they had a couple formations that were new. Trying to think about what UCLA did, they did a couple dish things. I could go on with the list because every team has tried something new. North Carolina is a lot different because if you look at past four games, they have gone from four?wide, five?wide to two tight ends and running it in most of the time. That’s another thing that’s a different aspect that we have to get ready for almost every formation possible.
Q. Changing gears, Brady doesn’t like to talk about his numbers and all that stuff, but the rest of the team, are you guys conscious of that, some of the things that he’s done here in the past season?
Tom Zbikowski: Just the 10,000 yards, because that was announced at the stadium but that’s about it. I don’t really know much else.
Q. I think he’s working on like 169 straight passes without a pick. What would it be like to go up against a quarterback that’s that careful with the ball?
Tom Zbikowski: You definitely are going to try ?? you want to make something happen, if there’s something you want to attack. But you know he’s going to be smart with the ball also and if the situation comes to throw the ball away ?? but you just, I mean, it’s hard to say what’s going to happen. I know you want to get pressure on him to see if he can throw it or cause a turnover, but you’ve just got to try to make plays on the receiver and make pass breaks.
Q. Just because you know he’s not going to make a bad throw ?? inaudible ??
Tom Zbikowski: You’ve got to play your game. If you see an interception, you’ve got to take it, no matter what is our quarterback.
Q. Has the captain talked to the team this week about not overlooking a team that’s 1?7?
Tom Zbikowski: Talking to Coach Lewis and when he with were in the defensive back meeting, this team has a lot of similarities to Tennessee last year. They have a lot of talent, a lot of speed, a lot of athleticism. Just for whatever reason, the past couple of games that have not gone their way, the past couple of games for us have gone our way. We take it week by week and know they are going to come out playing. It’s hard to overlook such an athletic and talented group like this.
Q. The offensive players talk about how calm Brady is in the huddle and is a little more boisterous on the sidelines. Is he a leader of the whole team, or does the defense look towards him sometimes too or more towards you?
Tom Zbikowski: It’s hard to say. During a game, you’re separated. Once you get off the field you’re trying to catch your air and hopefully offense does something good and then you get back on the field and try and stop them.
So during the game it’s hard to be leader of the entire team, but definitely when offense is being productive and points are being put up, we can go out and play loose and relaxed and try and make plays. Definitely you can be a leader just by actions and saying things on the field.
Q. Inaudible question on if he saw the 60 Minutes piece on Coach Weis?
Tom Zbikowski: I saw a little bit of it. I was giving Coach Polian a hard time.
Q. Has Brady gotten away with the comment about Coach Weis can be a jerk ?? inaudible?
Tom Zbikowski: I don’t know, if he says he is, then I think most of the guys on the team would get away with it but if it comes out of nowhere, I think Brady is probably the only one that can get away with it.
Q. A couple of years ago before Coach Weis got here, just a rough season, now people are talking about you’re not winning by enough. Is it weird that the program has changed that much in just a couple of years and now you really need to beat people instead of just beat people?
Tom Zbikowski: You love the expectations have gotten higher here, but, you know, with this team, as long as you’re winning, that’s the biggest thing. That’s the only number we care about. We don’t care about how many passing yards, how many interceptions, how many tackles, how many so on and so forth. We just want to win games. As long as we’re winning games, we’ll continue to keep getting better from week?in and week?out.
Q. Coach Weis gave you a compliment the other day, saying when he got here, there was talent here, just needed to be reshaped, and you guys have done a lot of the work. What has that like just changing last year and now that you’re a senior, the program is establishing.
Tom Zbikowski: I think we’ve always worked hard. Every college program, every college kid works hard, just the amount of time you put into football and school and off?season training. Definitely makes it all worth it when you start to win. There really isn’t much difference between how much work you put in, whether you have an L in the column or a W in the column, you’re putting in the same amount of work. Just that score at the end of the game makes it, you know, makes it worth it.
Q. Before the Army game, your last home game, will you start thinking about sentimental things yet, or just that you have to win this game?
Tom Zbikowski: We’ve got to win this game. That’s what you look at. Once the year is over and you get a chance to take your breath and look accurate back on what you’ve accomplished with that year and the four years previous, you definitely want to get a little closer and spend more time with the guys that you spend time with working and working out and blood, sweat and tears and all things like that. You’ve got a couple games left you’ve got to be focused on, those games.
Q. Sound like it’s going to be fairly cold Saturday, does that make it more fun for a defensive player?
Tom Zbikowski: I wouldn’t say it’s more fun when it hurts a little more. I’ve always loved playing in cold weather. I mean, I couldn’t tell you why, just because I guess I’m used to playing in that. I love cold weather and that’s where football is supposed to be play and once you get to that, the stakes are higher.
Q. The way you answered the question about the Army game, it sounds like you’ve made a decision about next year, is that accurate?
Tom Zbikowski: That’s you saying it, that’s not me saying it ??
Q. No, I’m just asking if you have.
Tom Zbikowski: No, there isn’t a decision made. You know, definitely keep an open mind and I won’t be making a decision until the year is over.
Q. Every time you play Navy, do they tweak what they do the first time that they have the football based upon last year or is it just a matter of getting used to the speed of the game again?
Tom Zbikowski: Just getting used to the speed of the game. But from series to series is when they make those changes, they will start, instead of blocking the corner they will come down and either block the contained pitch player or they will be blocking the safety. And then they will start blocking the series after that. It changes from series to series to series. I think that was the biggest thing. We got a couple little wrinkles here and there from formations we haven’t seen in the past.
Q. Can you make an adjustment within the series or do you almost have to wait until you come to the sidelines?
Tom Zbikowski: You can make the adjustment when you see them starting to crack on the safety where the corner has got to make ?? come up a little faster. But then also they have got to be setting up for some ?? whether it’s going to be crack and go for a pass play. So with that offense, you know they are going to be setting something up .
Q. Were you looking for something on the first series ??
Tom Zbikowski: Just looking back with UCONN and the way we played the previous year, just them trying to hit that big pass, I was definitely overconscious of the pass. I was a little kind of making sure there was not going to be a big play. When that happens, you take a half a step too late and they have gotten yards already. Definitely have to make those adjustments out there in that first series.
Q. Have you benefitted from having Coach Lewis on the field during game?
Tom Zbikowski: I think so. There’s someone you get a come for level to just because every single day that’s who you’re in meetings with and discussing. On the sidelines and it’s game time and things are flying, you get a chance to go back to the chalkboard and what was discussed earlier in the week.
Q. You guys are having those meetings, you play a team that’s 1?7, are you maybe looking for more anything goes with a team that’s 1?7 as far as fourth downs or half?back options; literally there’s nothing to lose?
Tom Zbikowski: There really isn’t. They can do anything they want and nothing worse is going to happen because it’s not like you can get fired twice. Double passes, anything is going to go, so you’ve got to be ready for it. Also like last week, they had two tight ends trying to run down your throat so we have to be prepared for anything.
Q. Is that more difficult than, say, your typical team that you have an idea of what’s coming in?
Tom Zbikowski: It’s a lot more difficult. Usually on Tuesdays we put up the personnel groups that an offense likes to run, and yesterday was a pretty long list. So we’ve got to get ready.
Q. I don’t know if you heard that Coach John Smith got fired from Michigan State or not, but when a team is in that situation, is that like a cloud that hangs over the team, do you have a feeling for that and the possibility of your head coach being fired?
Tom Zbikowski: Yeah, it’s kind of tough just when you’re going through the season and things may not be going the way you planned and like I said before, I mean, Michigan State, North Carolina, they work as hard as we do. The coach puts just as much time in. It’s unfortunate when things like that happen, but it’s tough on a team. You realize, coaches have families, too. This is what they are doing to provide food, provide shelter for their families and when you get fired, obviously it’s never a good situation. You just try and make the best that you can for the rest of the year.
Q. Having been injured and kind of having to deal with that, how important was it for you to get back out there and start to feel like you were at full speed again?
Tom Zbikowski: You know, was definitely important on a personal level. I knew the team would do just fine if I wasn’t playing because I know there’s a lot of talent on the team. But just as a personal feeling of just getting back out and hitting people and knowing that you’re not going to have any problems and there’s a big blitz and you’re not going to be feeling any pain.
Q. Do you feel like you’re back at 100%?
Tom Zbikowski: You know, I definitely feel a little more strength just because that’s a process of getting back to full strength but there’s no pain when I’m making tackles or making plays.
Q. Inaudible question about being calm in the huddle?
Brady Quinn: I guess it’s just part of me being that way in the huddle. But there’s times when I get excited, I want to make sure the guys know more about the score and we need to get back in our groove of things and forget what just happened. I’m like everyone else, I’m going to show a lot of emotion.
And I think being quarterback, you’ve got to have a confidence about you, because when the game is on the line and everyone else is all excited, you’ve got to be the one that everyone kind of looks to and it’s a sense of focus.
Q. Are you always calm or do you always look calm; in other words are you ever in a mind to ??
Brady Quinn: I’m usually pretty calm, especially with the playbook, it gives you a lot of options to get out of a situation. You can make a change and get out of it and go, here we go, let’s go with this.
Q. And did you watch the 60 Minutes episode?
Brady Quinn: Yeah I got a chance to see it.
Q. Definitely today, you knew it would be broadcast nationally, didn’t you?
Brady Quinn: Yeah, I did. The funny thing is I didn’t realize they took it out of context, before we were talking about all that, he was really trying to get me to say something and he asked at times, can he be rough. And at times obviously Coach can be tough, he would be somebody you would not necessarily call your friend at that particular time. But you need that. That’s what you need in order to win. Coach has had a lot of success and he knows what it takes. It takes that sort of attitude, or if you want to call being a jerk, I’m sure everyone in that locker room would say yeah, I want a coach who is going to be a jerk is going to win every single game.
Q. We asked him yesterday and he also mentioned that there was a payback, he told us that if we wanted to know about it, we should ask you. Can you tell us what the payback was?
Brady Quinn: I can’t go into what the payback was, but there was payback, and he is the head man, so he’s obviously ?? he’s of a high position to do things. So there is payback, and I don’t know how many more times I think I’m going to be able to take some of those consequences.
Q. Can you sympathize with what North Carolina is going through, at least the players, being in a similar situation a couple of years ago?
Brady Quinn: Looking back you can obviously see the type of situation that they are in and kind of think about or reflect on our situation back then. I think that goes into our type of mode because obviously we take it one game at a time. When you look at it, you think what do they have to play for. Well they have to play for a lot. They are playing for their coach, trying to send him off the right way. Winning this game, especially the senior guys and you’ve had a rough season, you want to have some win to say, at least we got that one or that’s something special.
So that’s where that comes from. Again this is a team that especially watching film, they really haven’t defensively ?? they are tough, and they have a lot of athleticism. They are a team that cannot be underestimated or looking at their schedule or how they are ranked right now.
Q. What is John Sullivan like in the huddle?
Brady Quinn: Pretty quiet for the most part. Obviously there’s times he’s trying to communicate with the rest of the guys on the offensive line. For the most part he’s pretty calm. He doesn’t crack a whole lot of jokes but when we do have a few moments, Coach will chime in with Darius or Rhema or Jeff. But he doesn’t always do the best job of running along with them.
Q. Other offensive linemen say he thinks he has to be right and interject into every conversation, does he ever try to pull one over you in that respect?
Brady Quinn: That’s just his thing. When he’s out of the locker room talking about all sorts of random facts, he’s the king of that. He’s the one that’s always right about some trivial question that nobody has any idea about. He’ll come up and say, yeah, that’s this. You look at him and say, he’s pretty confident and I’m sure that’s probably right, but I think you know he’s probably pulling that somewhere else. That guy, he comes up with more stuff.
Q. What’s the most bizarre one that he’s done that with?
Brady Quinn: I’d have to think about it. Only example is he says I’m kind of like a snake because every Thursday night we take the linemen out and we go to a place where I’ll pay for the meal and it’s sort of buffet?style, all you can eat I’ll always out?eat him. I’ll go without an entire week but I have one big meal, like this game and the next week and next Thursday which clearly isn’t the case, but he claims it’s good, I guess he feels a little inferior that he can’t even eat as much as me because he ways 80 pounds more or whatever it is.
Q. They would say just point to his hair or that ?? is that fairly accurate?
Brady Quinn: It is an interesting haircut. I was hoping we would see a lot more fans come out with that sort of ‘do, and the Mohawk, it’s almost a medieval looking haircut. If he’s up there, he gets nasty up front and he really works it, he does a good job.
Q. David Grimes has come on lately. What has he done to get more balls thrown his way?
Brady Quinn: Again I don’t think there’s anything he’s done out of the ordinary. He’s continued to work hard and continued could get himself open and he’s blocked well, too, down the field which a lot of times is overlooked. He’s done a lot and stepped up making a good play and trying to take everyone else out of the situation. He’s done a great job of finding a way of getting up and I think that first touchdown pass, he did a great job of adjusting and making a play when we needed him to do. More than anything else, it’s a sign of him maturing and getting on the same page as me, this is the first year where he’s got a ton of points.
Q. And do you have more confidence in him maybe now that he’s been out there for the first few games than the start of the year?
Brady Quinn: I’ve always had confidence in him, he’s always in the winter and summer working out with me and catching balls so I’ve had a lot of confidence in him the whole time. It’s finding him to do what he’s capable of.
Q. Dependable and dangerous, what does that do for your offense?
Brady Quinn: It’s another weapon and makes us that much more dangerous, defenses have to prepare for not a couple guys but a whole bunch of guys coming out at them and in the passing game that’s tough to defend.
Q. He seems like a quiet man what he talks to us, is he the same with you and the rest of the team?
Brady Quinn: You have to understand those wide receivers, they are a crazy group. If you just look Atlanta different personalities from Jeff to Rhema to David, may seem calm at times, he’s from Detroit, he can’t be that quiet. He definitely tries to chime in along with Rhema; it’s almost like a little brother in a way.
Q. When you’re studying tapes during the week, how does that process work? I know sometimes in the NFL they will give you a defensive tape, but how many tapes do you get, do you take those home?
Brady Quinn: I take them home. I watch film here as well but it’s different because they know I’m going to put certain games on the tape so after you’re done watching those, you maybe make a cut?up to it to see maybe different looks or different coverage looks. You come in here to do more than that kind of thing, but at home I’ll watch a lot of games in its entirety just to see the flow of the game and try to get a sense of how a defensive coordinator is making a call in a given situation or how the defense plays in different parts of the field. There’s a lot of different things that you can point out from watching film. That’s something Coach Weis definitely taught me is how to watch difficult many and dissect it.
Q. How many hours a week do you put into football not just with practice but studying?
Brady Quinn: I don’t know, too many, I think when you compare it with studying and school and everything it. Probably should be a little more even but at this point in my career, football is something I love, and I’m passionate about it and I enjoy watching film. I enjoy just sitting in the film room seeing what the defense is doing and going out there on the field and really executing, knowing that I’m prepared well for a game.
Q. And Sunday night, Tom Brady against Peyton Manning, is that one you can watch especially?
Brady Quinn: I’ll be watching, it should be exciting. I watched this past Monday night, looking at him, going, hey, we’ve got that play, or I know what he’s thinking or I can kind of feel for him in certain instances when things break down. It’s fun to watch an NFL game and compare it a lot to your offense or your type of situation.
Q. Do you remember the last time you threw an interception?
Brady Quinn: No, those are things you don’t really try to think about.
Q. Michigan State, I think the zone blitz to the lineman ??
Brady Quinn: I think I remember that one.
Q. It’s been 169 passes since you’ve thrown an interception, since you could not remember how long ago it was is there a tendency to start to be a little bit more bold and try to squeeze some things in there that maybe when you’re not quite as conscious of throwing an interception?
Brady Quinn: Sometimes. Although every week, you know, we have a list of things that we feel is our type priority as an offense to do and if we do this, we have a great chance of winning and every week, you’ll see zero turnovers, that’s a big emphasis we try to hold in practice and in our meetings that that’s the biggest X factor is when you allow a team to commit turnovers whether they are inferior or not, they are going to have a better chance of winning that game or they are going to lease out a chance or a possibility of giving them some hope or momentum. The biggest thing is if you can eliminate turnovers, for the most part, that’s usually going to be the deciding margin whether or not you win.