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Tom O'Brien Looks for a More Physical Performance Against Army




A transcript from the Tom O'Brien press conference on Sun., September 3, to summarize the West Virginia game.

Can you give us any kind of injury update on Antonio Garay and D.J. Sutton?

"No, they both had MRIs today and we won't know until they're read. They won't be read until tomorrow (Monday), but with tomorrow being a holiday I have no guarantee of that. That's all I know."

Who steps up into the two-deep if Garay is down for a few weeks? Does that mean one of the true freshmen will have to step up?

"I don't know what we're going to do. I think my first choice would be to take (Kevin) Crane and move him back inside and hope that we can get (Derric) Rossy back this week to help us at end.

How's Rossy's progress?

"He was out there running around tonight at practice. I'm not putting out a two-deep right now. Army doesn't play until tomorrow so we won't exchange anything until Tuesday."

You said yesterday right after the game that it was the worst performance that you'd ever seen from an offensive standpoint. Twenty-four hours later, do you still have that belief?

"I haven't changed my mind a bit."

Now that you've had 24 hours, is there a clearer picture as to what might have contributed to that?

"We just weren't physical. We were too soft up front. We were soft running the football. We were soft blocking. We didn't protect the quarterback -- we almost got him killed. There was no one on the offensive side of the football that had a winning performance grade-wise. I can't remember that happening in a long time. Usually someone plays well enough to win and we didn't have one guy."

Even (punter Kevin) McMyler?

"He's not on the offense, he's a specialist. He had a heck of a day."

You have to be somewhat heartened by the effort of the defense, though, correct?

"I was heartened by the fact that you had Sean Ryan playing in his first college game. So was Tom Gordon, Keith Leavitt, Doug Goodwin and for the most part (Frank) Misurelli -- he played a little last year but got hurt and never came back. Playing against that big offensive line, Ryan Burch played in his first game ever on defense and (Curtis) Bolden and (Josh) Ott were both playing their first game ever. The front seven just hung in there and that's a big powerful line and that's a heck of a back. He made us miss a few times, but for the most part I think we did a pretty good job against their running game.

"Paul Cook came in and made some plays and some special teams for us. Willie Poole played well for us on the outside and Lenny Walls got in the game and it looks like he's going to be able to contribute. Looking at the effort of those kids, not all of them played good, some of them weren't doing what they were supposed to be doing and we had some breakdowns. But, you have to consider the situation that they were put in. To hang in there like they did and play as hard as they did until we ran out of gas a little bit at the end there was good. At the end they had that last drive for a field goal and they broke one. We gave up three big plays. We gave up two long passes and we gave up a long run. If you wipe those three plays out-which I know you can't do-you've got a good defensive effort.

Is Walls a guy you see as having a bigger impact as he gets acclimated to this level of football?

"I would hope so. I'm not praising anybody anymore." (laughing).

Is there thought of looking at him in a linebacker position?

"No, not right now. He's not a physical enough player to move him inside right now. He's 190 pounds, 6-4 and when you play against a fullback that's 280 like we did the other day, he might get broken in half. We need help in the open field with running and being athletic and he's someone who I think that adds to our football team in those regards. I think our skilled kids in the secondary did a pretty good job yesterday with the exception of two long passes. The first one, [D.J.] Sutton just stood there and got ran by and the second one we didn't make a play. We were in position but their kid went up over our kid and made the play."

Coach out of the 23 running attempts between Washington and Green, was that just a function of getting down early and trying to pass your way back in or was that part of the game plan, trying to exploit West Virginia's secondary?

"No, we weren't running the ball effectively, so I think coach (Dana) Bible wanted to throw the ball a little more hoping that we could get something going that way. In the third quarter, William took off and ran the ball with some authority up there and got some points up on the board, but then he ends up getting a leg cramp and had to come out. He did a much better job running the ball in the third quarter with some power, which is the way we have to run the football."

Do you think that the ineffectiveness of the running game was a result of the running backs or was it the line not doing their job?

"It's a combination. Nobody played well on offense."

Was the reason that Green was out when it was 17-14, was that the cramping?

"Yes."

He was going to go back out?

"He was out after that series. I don't know what the rotation is, but if that was supposed to be his turn in the series then he would have been in there, and I know that that's why he wasn't in there then, because I asked."

Were you a little disappointed on Tim (Hasselbeck's) day?

"No more than anybody else. You can't single anyone out... they all played poorly."

Was there any talk amongst the senior leaders after the game about trying to eradicate this performance?

"There wasn't any talk, nobody said 'boo'. On the bus, on the plane, at all. They knew that they played poorly."

This week you have Army coming up, a team you haven't played in a long time. They've undergone a radical change from what they usually are in terms of offense. Can you talk a little about the challenges you face this week?

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"We get to see them on TV tomorrow against Cincinnati. Looking at Illinois State film, his background is Eastern Carolina and Illinois State, they play with a one-back or no-back set, three wide receivers with a tight end or h-back in the game, so it's a wide open offense and it's a similar defense to Virginia Tech. That's what we expect and we'll have it confirmed tomorrow."

Is that going to give you an edge, with them playing on Monday?

"Well, I don't know what the weather's supposed to be like in Cincinnati, but if they have to play in a greenhouse effect like we had to yesterday it will. You worry as a head coach after a game like yesterday that it'll take so much out of you that you won't be able to practice the following week. We did a pretty good job with our substitutions, and we played a lot of guys. Only (Jonathan) Ordway and Sean Guthrie played over 60 plays on defense, so we rotated pretty well. The offensive line played a good number of plays, but we weren't shooting to get anybody 70 plays like we did with Ordway."

Is there any thought of changing the running back rotation this Saturday?

"No, it'll be the same."

Going through what you did Saturday, do you say "Let's wipe the slate clean and start over?"

"Absolutely, that's what we do every Saturday. When we walk out of the stadium and through the tunnel, no matter if we win or lose it's always 'That one's over let's get ready for the next one' and there's never been a more important time for that than now with this football team."

Can a game like that could be demoralizing?

"I don't think so, we've been too good. I know we can do it, we just have to go back o the practice field and we have to go back to work. We have to go back to being a physical football team and we're going to do that this week. If we lose some games, then we lose some games, but we're going to go down to Army and be a tough physical football team the way we have to be at Boston College. We aren't going to lose any more football games because we aren't physical. We might get beat be we won't be outhit like we were on Saturday."

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