“What’d you guys do during the rain today?”
“I was really kind of encouraged by the progress we made. I think there was a lot of improvement from scrimmage one to scrimmage two. A lot more guys were able to execute. I think there’s a lot that we have to work on. I think the key to the drill is, can you ask yourself the question ‘Can I do my job on a consistent basis?’ That means three things: Can I play with the kind of effort, the kind of toughness, and be responsible to know what to do, how to do it, why it’s important to do it that way, and do it over and over and over, regardless of the circumstance in the game and regardless of the situation in the game. I think we had more guys that can do that today, but I also think we need to have more guys that can do that with confidence, that are young players that have a chance to contribute to this team. That have to develop that confidence between now and then.
“So there’s a difference between having success and being successful. You probably heard me talking about that before. You can have success on one play. To be successful, you have to have success on play after play after play over a long period of time. That is what makes you a consistent performer and a successful player. So that’s what we need to be focused on. That’s what we really need to try and do. Every player has to look at, ‘Can I do that? Can I do my job?’ And when they look at film, they have to self-assess so they know what they have to work on and when we go to practice next week, then everybody can go practice with a purpose in terms of what they need to improve on so we put ourselves in the best position to be able to play our best that we can in the first game against a very good team. That’s the key to the drill. One of the things that was a little discouraging today, we moved the ball early in the scrimmage a couple times offensively, stalled in the red area, turned the ball over in the red area. Those are not the kind of things… We have to be able to finish drives. Score points. We had a rain today, but it was 22 minutes. We stayed out there in the rain and got some lightning and had to go in but it was 22 so I was saying ‘That’s just like halftime, so let’s see how we go out play in the second half.’ I actually thought the energy was a little better. A lot of good things that are encouraging today.
“From an injury standpoint, Bo has been ill for two days. Pretty sick. I’m talking about ill enough to be in bed. We don’t think this is a serious illness or anything like that, but we didn’t think it would be good for him to be not in a position where he could be resting. Josh Jacobs, we talked about that before, did not scrimmage because of his injury. I don’t know, he’s still day-to-day, when he’ll be able to come back and keep working. Donnie Lee, who has been a very productive, good team player for us, got a knee injury today. We’ll have to confirm the seriousness of that for us with an MRI. That’s about it for us from an injury standpoint today.”
You said you wanted it to be more game-like. How was the communication?
“It was good. I had a headset on and we were very decisive about what we were doing. I think we play better tempo-wise offensively when we go fast, which may be a good thing for us. We did both today. The organization and the communication was good. We didn’t have issues, didn’t have problems. We didn’t have delay of game or substitution penalties, any of those issues.”
Was Coach Daboll upstairs or downstairs today?
“Coach Daboll was on the sidelines. We had press box organization today. The coaches that are going to be in the press box were in the press box, the ones who could be on the phone and talk, the ones who couldn’t be on the phones and talk, the ones doing administrative work on the sideline. Worked the special teams, substitutions just like a game. So it was much more game-like for probably the first 60 plays of the scrimmage, back and forth. Which is 30 plays from each team. Then we did some situational stuff with good against good.”
What did you see from the special teams today? Any improvement?
“We were much better. JK made a 51-yard field goal. Joseph kicked two field goals, made one, missed one. Andy was 3-3. We kicked a couple of them when it was pouring down rain. It was really a good sort of situation for us to have to play in. We’ve had some good wet ball practices in fall because we’ve had quite a few rainy days, but it certainly paid off. When I was at LSU, we played a game against Oregon State in the first game of the season, and it rained as hard as you’ve ever seen it rain for a whole game. I think we won the game by one point. There may be a certain situation like we had today. Missouri, a few years ago. Sat in the locker room for 45 minutes or an hour, came back out and played a game. None of these experiences are bad, they’re all good for players to learn how to respond to.”
What progress have you seen from the two backup quarterbacks?
“I think Tua has really progressed nicely. He had a good day today. Probably had a few more opportunities, made a couple of explosive plays. He’s making very good progress. I think Mac is doing the same. But we have to sort of say ‘OK, who are we going to get ready to play here?’ We have the first quarterback, Jalen, then we have a guy that we have ready to play as a backup. Then we have to bring Mac along the best we can. He’s made good progress. He had some opportunities today and didn’t do a bad job.”
A little off topic, but on Monday you have the solar eclipse. Anything you’re doing for the team?
“We’ll set it up so if the players want to go out there and get some sunglasses and look at it, I guess they can. That’s not something that I’m really that focused on right now. I watch the Weather Channel everyday, they’re already saying what it’s going to be like in every city in America. So what’s going to be significant? You can watch the Weather Channel, you can see what it’s going to be like in Portland, Oregon. Clayton, Georgia is the No. 1 place in the country. There are all kinds of people there. My house will probably be the only empty house on the whole lake. I’m going to watch it on TV. Maybe we’ll have a team meeting about how we’re going to do this. I haven’t thought of that yet.”
How important are second scrimmages?
“I think every day as a coach, you want to see the players execute well. That’s the No. 1 thing we’re looking for. We talk about effort and we talk about focus, but the ability to execute on a consistent basis, that’s what makes you a good team. Everybody doing their job, that gives the unit the best chance to be successful. I want to see that all the time. I think what you look at as a coach is ‘Where are we in all that?’ Wherever we are, that’s where we have to progress from. I think that we made progress in this scrimmage. I’m pleased with the progress that we made. Are we where I want for us to be? The identity of this team, regardless of what anybody says, regardless of where anybody ranks you and rates you, and we certainly appreciate the fact that people acknowledge the program here, but this team’s identity is based on what they do moving forward and the games they have in the future. That’s what the players should be looking at relative to what they need to do to improve, and that’s what every unit (inaudible) and I hope we’re focused on.”
How did the pass rush improve?
“We have work to do on pass rush. Not only how we pass rush, because we have guys that can rush, but how you affect the quarterback. And it’s not just sacking the guy. I’ve talked about this many, many times. You have to able to affect the quarterback, the rush has to be control the guy in the pocket, and we need to continue to work on that. I like some of the things that I see in the pass rushers. Look, you have to make decisions in pass rushing just like you have to make decisions when you’re covering a guy, just like when you’re batting in baseball, is it a ball or a strike? Do I use this move based on the way the guy sits? How do I push the pocket? Do I go outside, inside? Do I stay in my lane? There’s a lot to it. I don’t want to get pushed by the quarterback so I try to beat the guy with speed. Now I’m getting pushed by the quarterback. Now we’re playing with 10. All these things we’re working on to improve so we can be effective pass rushers. Not just pass rushers, there’s a difference.”
Two weeks until the season, how do you go into this week? Anything different? When do you turn the page to FSU?
“No, we kind of have a plan about when we start working on against Florida State. Philosophically, you know I’ve always been one that thinks you can practice too hard and everybody gets stale by the time you play the game. I think we have work to do on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll sort of make an assessment on where we are, and then decide where we go from there, if we’re ready to start preparation for the game and have a couple extra practices for it, or exactly when we’ll do that.”
You’ve talked about Jalen’s progress this offseason, taking off or making reads. How has he developed making those decisions?
“I think Jalen has developed more confidence as a passer. I think his ability to scramble is still a tremendous asset for him. I think he’s learned how to use that a little bit better and be an effective passer. I think systematically we’re better in that regard. I think that when people look at passing efficiency, it’s about 11 people, not about one, not just about the quarterback. You have to protect, you have to run routes the right way. There’s a lot of chemistry between the route runners and the quarterback, the timing, decision making, accuracy, a lot of things that involve a lot of people. Jalen has certainly improved in that regard. I think our entire teams needs to improve relative to that as well.”