JIM MORA’S DAY AFTER CALL (SYRACUSE)

OPENING STATEMENT: “This was a hard one for me. It’s hard to talk about it because there are so many mixed emotions. I’m terribly disappointed in the outcome of the game. We knew it was going to be a tough one, knew how good they were and yet I’m disappointed in the way the game unfolded. When I say disappointed, I’m not disappointed in the players, I’m disappointed in me and what happened. I did not expect it to get out of hand like it did; I thought we were going to have more success in all three phases, which we didn’t and that’s disappointing to me.”

“And yet, at the same time and this is why it gets hard because I’m so competitive and we all are, there were things in that game that as we continue to build this program, that we can build on. As a coach, it’s really hard sometimes to overcome that feeling of disappointment and it’s so important to do so at this point in time in our development of this program and find the things that we can build on, while not ignoring the things we didn’t do well.”

“We did a decent job on the run. However, the QB hurt us. We did a decent job in pass rush, however we let him out of there too often. We did a decent job of running the football, but not like we need to. We did a decent job of protection, however we struggled to find ways to get open down the field. What we need to be able to do is find a way to eliminate the word, however, because that is the word that means basically you didn’t get it done. I need to continue to impress upon these guys that if we stick to what we are doing in terms of work ethic, attitude, the commitment they’ve made, hanging together, we’ll come out okay. That’s what I’ll keep stressing.”

“I think one of the things that really disappointed me last night was it’s important to me that our fans are proud of their team. That affects me. I felt like I let them down. I want them to see the good things, not just the score, but we all look at the score and the result. That disappoints me that I feel like I’m obligated to them and I don’t like letting them down. We need to learn from it, apply those lessons and move on. We have obviously a tall task this week playing one of the top four teams in the country, on the road. We have more injuries that are going to force other guys to increase their workload. We talked about Brian Brewton last night. Collin McCarthy, our starting defensive end who is a really good player is going to be out, he hurt his calf. We are banged up and we just have to circle the wagons, rally the troops and force onward. I’ll tell you this and I mentioned this last night, these young men have a certain determination to them and a resolve that makes it fun to be around and it’s inspiring. I’ll keep leaning on that.”

HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS QB ZION TURNER’S PERFORMANCE AND AS HE’S PLAYED, HAS HE GOTTEN MORE CALM AND COMFORTABLE?: “Yes. You’d have to look hard last night and beyond some things that happened to find that, but I have. He’s a stoic guy. He took the sack and lost the football and we don’t want him to lose it, but he read the play right. There was a receiver that couldn’t get to the right spot at the right time. Of course we want him to hold onto the ball and he’ll improve that, but as he plays more and more we are going to see more good things out of him and less mistakes. Playing quarterback in Division I football is not easy. There will be growing pains and he’s going through them and we’re going through them with him. But, we need to help him. We need to get off the field on third down, give him short fields with takeaways. That’s our obligation as a team to do and as a defense to do. We need to help him.”

YOU’VE COACHED A LOT OF FOOTBALL GAMES AND I KNOW THIS ISN’T THE FIRST DISAPPOINTING LOSS YOU’VE HAD, IS THERE ANYTHING THAT MAKES THIS LOSS DIFFERENT: “They all suck, they really do. They are all equally as disappointing. I don’t really believe in moral victories; you either win or you lose, but I do think you can take things out of a loss and apply them going forward. I was thinking back on my career and I can remember one game that was like this, not many, but one. I was the head coach of the Falcons in 2004. We went into Arrowhead Stadium to play the Chiefs, we were playing pretty good and Coach Vermeil was their coach. Priest Holmes had 8 TD’s against us rushing the football that day. We never quit though, kind of like our guys. We weren’t going to win the game, at halftime it was evident, especially in the NFL with the score being what it was that we weren’t going to win. But we challenged each other to keep fighting and competing. And then the next week we went to Mile High which was probably the second toughest place to play at that point in time, we got down 17-0, early. We came back and beat them maybe 42-17 or something like that, but we beat them, came back and imposed our will on them. I felt the same feeling from the guys after the game last night as I did after the Kansas City game; just utter disappointment, just got it handed to you and yet there was a resolve. I’m going to keep leaning on that, keep encouraging the guys to be that way. We know it’s going to be tough here, we know there are challenges. My job is to make sure I help guide them through those challenges. If I walk into there disappointed, I’m not doing a service to anybody.”

HAVE YOU RECOGNIZED ZION’S PRE-SNAP READS ARE GETTING BETTER EACH WEEK?: “Absolutely. He’s a student of the game, he has been his whole life. He’s a smart kid and processes things quickly. He does go to the right place. On the play you mentioned, it wasn’t a good throw, but it was a good read. Talk about the blitz where he got sacked and he lost the ball. Initially, on the field, our feeling was he needed to get rid of that ball. His eyes, when you watch the film, told us that he knew he had to get rid of it, he knew where to go with the ball, even under duress, but the guy wasn’t there and open to throw it to. Those are positives, they are just disguised in a real negative play.”

MORA ON THE OFFENSIVE APPROACH: “I thought one of your guy’s questions last night was going to be, why didn’t we go in a hurry-up mode on offense? I was going to tell you that I thought about that, but the way the score was, the best thing for us to do for our growth long-term was to just play football, run our plays and try to execute on defense, rather than just scramble. There was a certain point in time where the score indicated it was going to be likely impossible for us to win it. And so I made the conscious decision and told Nick, it’s 0-0, how would we handle this, let’s play football, call the plays that we like, let’s put our guys in good situations and not create chaos and go no-huddle. You can second guess that and you’d be right to do so, but I felt at the time it was the best thing to do.”

THOUGHTS ON THE CROWD SATURDAY AND WERE THE PLAYERS ABLE TO FEED OFF THE ENERGY?: “Driving in on the buses, it looked different. The flags flying, the people tailgating and the energy. We do the Husky Walk and had to stop the buses shorter than we normally would because the crowd was so big and we wanted to say hello to everybody. Walking in, you could feel a buzz. You feed off of that. Our student section was full before the game. That’s one of the things that is so disappointing is we are trying to build a program, trying to engage your fans and you need to reward them by showing them something that brings them back. That’s one of our goals. You play for your fans, your family, each other, the students. I don’t know if you noticed this, but after the game, we stood in front of the band, they played the fight song and that’s what we are going to do, win or lose because that’s what you are supposed to do. You are supposed to recognize the people that are supporting you and we are going to make sure we do that.”

WAS THERE ANYONE WHO STEPPED UP IN THE LOCKER ROOM AFTER THE GAME, OR WAS IT SILENT IN THERE?: “That’s a great question, man. Here’s how it happens after the game so you know what our routine is. When we get in the locker room, win or lose, the first thing we do is get together in the middle of the locker room and we get in tight; win or lose because we are all in it together. We take a minute, I learned this from Mike Holmgren because there are people from all different backgrounds, different religious beliefs, so we have a moment of silence where everyone can regroup, reset or pray in their own way. I typically talk to the team about my thoughts. They don’t really say much, but I can tell when they are listening and are engaged. Then I’ll ask one of the leaders to come in and break the team down; they’ll usually have a few words to say, nothing too extreme. At that point everyone is diving into themselves and processing their own emotions. There was nothing that needed to be said last night because there was a feeling. We just need to keep building on that.”

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3 months ago
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