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Q And A With Tom O'Brien

Oct. 19, 1999

Q: Your thoughts on the Pittsburgh game?
A: After looking at the tapes, I feel we got a great effort out of our football team. It was a very physical game and a very hard-fought game. At the end of the game, we were able to make a play. Probably the key to the game was that, defensively, we held them to 45 yards rushing. They had come in averaging around 167 yards rushing. We were scared to death of their big back, but we did a great job there. We gave up some passing yards, but in five scoring opportunities when they got in the red zone, they came away with only one touchdown, three field goals and a blocked field goal.

Q: Can you discuss the remaining schedule, which seems quite challenging?
A: I think the hard part of the schedule is over. To take this young football team the way we did, and to go through these six games with the expectations that were put upon them - everybody was talking 6-0, 5-1 - to put that upon them was tough. Now we enter a phase where nobody gives them a chance to do anything. We've got everything to gain and nothing to lose. We can relax and go out and play football. Mentally, it will be a much better situation for them.

Q: Was the plan originally to sit Tim out (in the Pittsburgh game) and then to bring him back as the starter against Miami?
A: No, it wasn't planned, but that's the way it operates, and he knew that from the start. You don't lose your position because of an injury. That was explained to both quarterbacks before the game. Brian knew it, and Tim knew it. Some day Brian's going to be in that situation, where he may not be able to play a week, but you come back. Tim came back, it was going to be his job anyway, and we went back to the way we were prior to the game. You can't lose a spot because of injury. If you miss three or four weeks, that's a different story.

Q: Looking at Miami, obviously their 2-3 record is misleading. It seems as if their quarterback really came on in the last game.
A: He was tremendous against Florida State. I looked at that tape earlier today, and I think he may have set a record for passing against Florida State. He's very athletic. He escaped a lot of times against those Florida State rushers, and that helps, because they play a lot of man-to-man. Even when he was in the pocket, he was very accurate. That's the thing that impressed me most about him, that he would pass that accurately against their man-to-man defense.

Q: What kinds of problems will Santana Moss pose?
A: He'll give us all kinds of problems. He's a tremendous receiver, and so is Reggie Wayne. They've got bookends out there, and they have a power running game. It's a football team coming in here that has everything. Their record is misleading. They played very well against the No. 1 and No.2 teams in the country in FSU and Penn State. They're extremely talented. They have great speed on defense, great recoverability, they can get out of position and make plays. We'll have our hands full on Saturday.

Q: Miami had, in effect, an open week. Can you comment about some of the concerns you have about that?
A: Number one, we're in the eighth or ninth week of the season, and they've only played five games. So they're going to come in here fresh and we're tired and a little beat up after playing five games in a row. Pitt had an open Saturday before us, Miami has had an open Saturday before us, Syracuse is going to have an open Saturday before us. It helps to get your legs back, it helps a lot with quickness and health-wise, and it definitely helps in preparation, there's no question.

Q: What did your team show you in winning its fifth game of the year?
A: I think they showed tremendous heart, tremendous emotion, the fact that they could play for 60 minutes. It took us 59 minutes to beat Pittsburgh, until we got the ball back at the end. They came out with the mindset that they were going to refuse to lose the football game. After the pregame meal, we said that if we were still playing at midnight, we were still going to be playing, somehow we were not going to stop until we won the football game. We got back to the way we were in the first couple of games of the year, when we started to get better. We let it slip there a little bit in the fourth and fifth games, and got it back.

Q: Did you feel it was a game that marked an important milestone, getting that fifth victory?
A: We'll count them all up at the end. I hope it's not the last victory of the year. We forgot about Temple, and we focused on Pitt. In order to win more than four, we had to win number five. We've won five, and in order to win more than five, we have to win number six. We need to focus each week, and put everything we have into beating Miami. If we do that, we'll have six and we'll go look for number seven.

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