Boston College Head Coach Tom O'Brien Talks To The Press
Oct. 2, 2000
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - Boston College coach Tom O'Brien
Teleconference from Sunday, October 1, 2000
How many times did you watch Vick's 82-yard touchdown run?
Only the one time, live and in person?
"No, I watched it today. We had three people get hands on him, and we had a chance in the backfield to make a play and did not do it. He ran right through a tackle."
"No, we won't know until Monday."
Did they take the MRIs today or are they happening tomorrow?
"They took them today, but they won't be read until tomorrow."
Can you talk a little bit about how your team will regroup after yesterday, and the importance of October to this team?
"We spent so much time moving people around and trying to practice guys to create depth that we lost sight of trying to get better as a defensive football team. We're caught in a spiral right now where in the last month we've had six defensive guys go down with knee injuries. One of the things that you want to be doing this time of year is setting your lineup and practicing and playing and that's the only way that you can get better. When you have to keep replacing and moving people around, it's like my first two years here. My biggest concern right now is that we're not getting any better-we're getting worse because we're treading ground while everyone else is getting better. We've had eight knee injuries in the last five weeks. It's been a tough thing on our football team. What we have to do is make some projections on Tuesday or Wednesday as to who'll be healthy and who will not, and try to piece together an offense and a defense and try to get better. We're looking at the month of October and last year was the only year that we've had a winning October since I've been with this program. That will be a key to our success this year and it starts Saturday against Connecticut."
Were the knees related to conditioning, is there anything you can do to strengthen the players' joints to try to prevent these types of injuries from happening?
"No, we had the best out-of-season program this year than we've ever had. Some of them are just freak things. The two in the Navy game were just tough blocks. Ledbetter got hit in practice and was bent over backwards. Williams got his in scrimmage by a guy diving trying to keep someone in bounds. They're just things that happen that for some reason when it's raining it's pouring with knee injuries. On tape, Washington's was nothing unusual and I can't even see on film how Ordway did his, if it is a knee or not...there's something, though. Last year we stayed healthy and everyone played every game and you look down the list and everyone started. The continuity of that football team allowed us to keep getting better. We haven't been able to do that this year."
Was Cedric's injury the first major blow on offense this year?
"Marc Colombo had one in preseason and made it back just in time for the West Virginia game, but he's fine now. The last scrimmage and the last whole week-he was out a good ten days before he came back, and he wasn't full-go at West Virginia, but he's healthy now and the offensive line as a whole has progressively gotten better."
If you started the year and said 'Who can't you lose off your defense?,' you start with Garay and Bradley and go right down the list, and those are the guys who are out now.
"The young guys are just going to have to step up and play now."
Who steps up for Ordway?
"Walls will go there. Walls will go to field corner and Poole will stay at boundary."
Who will be Walls' backup?
How is Sutton? Will he factor into the mix more this week?
"He's fine now, but I don't have the answers for now. We just watched the tape and had our Sunday practice and tomorrow we start planning for the game, so hopefully by Tuesday I may have some answers."
Was Sutton still ailing last week?
"No, he practiced last week, but he was down on the scout team because we're only practicing four corners. It's getting to the point now for some of these guys that if you lose your turn your going to be losing your job."
You said yesterday after the game that there was no thought of leaving Tim Hasselbeck out there after the two touchdown drives. Is that still the way you feel about it?
"Sure. It's no different than any other position. We're going to continue to play the backup quarterback for the first series of the second quarter. That's one of the things that's etched in stone. We're playing two-deep in every other position."
What about riding the hot hand until it cools off and then bringing in the backup?
"Then you get into time and we tried it that way before, but I've seen in my experience that the first series of the second quarter he's going in. That way everybody knows when it's happening and you don't have people looking over their shoulders asking 'am I in this series or out?' Everybody knows what's going on. We ran the ball twice and nobody blocked, and he completed a pass but the receiver couldn't get the first down, so it wasn't like everyone else was ripping up the field at the same time. The benefits totally outweigh the negatives, because you get him in the game, you put his hands on the ball and it's going to help you down the road if you're called upon to play in the third or the fourth quarter."
It seemed like this practice started last year with St. Pierre-that it didn't occur when Scott Mutryn was here. Was that something that was decided in the last couple of years?
"It's something that I decided to do last year. It's in the best interest of the program. Looking back I think that I should have done it with Tim, too, when he was backing up Mutryn. There was such a stigma in college as to who was your starting quarterback, and that was one of the reasons I didn't try it here. Look at the Navy situation. They're down by a lot against Georgia Tech and they keep the kind in the game into the fourth quarter and he ends up going down. Then you've got a backup that hasn't played in a year coming in here to start. I don't think you should ask a quarterback to do that. You look at last year when Brian had to play at Pittsburgh. We were much better off than if he had never taken a snap until that point."
Have you taken a look at the offense when Tim's in there and the offense when St. Pierre is? It seems that whenever Brian's in you run the ball on the first two downs and throw on the third.
"Last year we threw the ball on the first play when Brian got in, so it varies."
Can you talk about what Lennie Walls brings to this team?
"Obviously he brings size out there, he's still very raw, but he makes plays. Some guys you can coach forever and they don't see things on the field. He's someone who sees things on the field. He's blitzed well, he's picked up fumbles and ran with them, he's sacked people, and he made an interception on Saturday. I think that there's a lot of refining to do before you can say that he's an accomplished quarter, but we've gotten a lot of productivity out of him and I don't see how we can not keep him on the football field or get him more involved. Each week his performance has increased to the point where he played 50 plays last week, as opposed to 30 the week before and fewer before that. So we've gotten him on the football field."
How are his abilities in coverage, is his speed able to make up for his technique?
"-There's only one way to find out. I thought he made a good play on that long throw. Now, I don't want to get into the officiating, but I thought that he made a good play after watching the tape. Just the fact that he was there, he made a mistake, recovered and was there."
"That's part of it, but I have no idea as to how long Antonio's going to be out. We had a situation where Crane went down with a back injury in practice last week, and I didn't know if he was going to play, and it just got to the point where I said to Justin that he was mentally ready to play but physically not ready to play. In the last month or five weeks he's gotten himself physically ready to play somewhere if someone did get hurt. In my mind it was sooner rather than later that he would get to play, and now he can play in eight games. He got 25 plays and that's what we'd like to do-get him 20 or so snaps a game. He's going to back up, get in the rotation and play and letter for us."
If Crane is able to play that will put five guys on the inside. Is there any thought of putting Justin at end or is he a tackle this year?
"Like I said, by Tuesday I might have some answers, but not for you guys until Saturday. We played everyone this week. That was a heck of an offensive line-the best we've played this year. If we're playing 60 plays a game with those guys than we're really in trouble, and we try to limit the amount that the younger kids play. Guthrie played the most but he's the most mature and should be able to handle it. Two observations going back to the game, that I saw were confirmed by watching the tape: First, we really played hard and physically. That's what kept us in the game. We missed a lot of tackles and we did some dumb things offensively, but it wasn't for lack of effort and it wasn't for lack of intensity and being physical and going after him.
"In some cases, it was a brutal football game on Saturday when you look at some of the hits on both sides of the ball. I'm proud of that. The other thing that I have to mention is that I guess I took a shot at the crowd last year after the Miami game, but those people that waited for the team to come off the field and cheered them while they went through the tunnel to the locker room, I think that the team really appreciated that. That's important to us. It was an electric atmosphere in the stadium on Saturday and it really helped this young football team, and it didn't hurt that we had some recruits in too, and they may come back talking about how great the crowd was and how gracious they were at the end. That goes a long way in recruiting when you have kids on campus."