OPENING STATEMENT: “It was obviously a tough afternoon for us as a football team. I think as we go through this process, we have to work for ways to find enough success in the pursuit of it, which will ultimately allow us to achieve it. We have to find those hidden victories as we pursue success that allow us to recognize what it’s going to look and feel like. That’s a stolen quote. I don’t if you guys know this, but Dick Vermeil has been a big part of my life, for my entire life. He coached with my dad at UCLA and then in 1976 when Dick Vermeil took over the Philadelphia Eagles after a particularly tough stretch, that’s what he said. We have to find enough success in the pursuit of it to ultimately allow us to achieve it. I think two or three years later, the Eagles were in the Super Bowl. And so I think that was a very important lesson that I got last night from a very close friend of mine and Coach Vermeil. I stay in touch with him, he gives me words of wisdom as often as I need them and he’s someone, along with my dad, that gives me perspective at times like this. I appreciate his words and they mean a lot to me because I think they are very telling in the situation that we are in right now. We went back and looked at the film very hard, we started looking at it on the bus. I had most of the game looked at before we even got the wheels off the ground to come back to Connecticut. I watched it several times since because every time you look at it, you find something new. We are trying to identify guys that can help us win. We are trying to identify better ways to put players in position to have success. We are trying to identify those that are doing it the right way. We are trying to identify guys that aren’t doing it the right way and figure out why they aren’t, whether we aren’t coaching it right, which is where we always start, or if they are unable maybe to do some of the things we are asking them to do, which is also a coaching issue, to constantly trying to find ways to get these guys in position to have success. I don’t have to tell you guys, you watched it, you were there, it wasn’t fun. So we’re on to North Carolina State now, players will come in for dinner at 6 o’clock and I usually just say a couple words to them at dinner and then we’ll watch the film in the morning with them; I’m sure they’ve already watched it. We’ll learn the lessons we need to learn, see the things we need to see, fix what we can fix and move forward.”

WHAT SMALL VICTORIES HAVE YOU FOUND SO FAR AND WHAT REASON CAN YOU GIVE TO UCONN FANS FOR ENCOURAGEMENT, SEE ANYTHING YOU DID LIKE THAT YOU CAN BUILD ON?: “I don’t know that I can give them anything for encouragement today. there weren’t a lot of positives that came out of that game yesterday. I don’t know how you find a lot of silver linings in a 59-0 loss. I mentioned I haven’t been in that situation before, it was not fun. Trying to find answers. I’ll be completely honest with you, Michigan, they are a different looking football team than most football teams out there. That’s why they are a top four team in the country. They are big, physical, fast, they have depth, they have 140-guys on their roster, they can come in waves at you, they are dominant. I think we counted six quarterbacks that played, maybe it was five, but I think it was six. We only have five quarterbacks on our roster and one just got here a week ago. They are what we are working to become from a personnel standpoint, from an execution standpoint, a coaching standpoint, all those things. I guess, to go back to the question, what kind of positives did I find? I’ve asked these guys that regardless of the score, to put forth a certain amount of effort and competitiveness that they can be proud of. While the score didn’t reflect that, there were a lot of plays where guys were really fighting their tails off. The guys that weren’t, we need to figure out why they weren’t and we either need to make changes in terms of who plays, or figure out how to motivate them to play with greater effort. That’s the first step obviously is to figure out ways to motivate them to play with greater effort.”

IS THERE AN UPDATE ON NATE CARTER’S INJURY?: “It’s a significant sprain. They’ve decided to do an MRI on it tomorrow. I’ll know better after the MRI, but it’s significant enough that they feel they need to do an MRI. They tried to numb it a little bit yesterday, tried to pad it up and do everything that they could. He came back like the warrior that he is in the 2nd quarter to try to fight through it and it was pretty evident at halftime when he walked in and I looked at him; you get to know the look in a kid’s eyes. His eyes said I want to coach as bad as I can, but he could barely raise his arm. It was not fair to put him out there in that situation where he couldn’t protect himself, especially against an opponent like that. I hope that by not playing him in the 2nd half, that helps his recovery speed up a little bit, but I’ll have a better answer for you probably Tuesday.”

YOU REMINDED ME OF THAT CLASSIC 1978 EAGLES NFL FILMS PRESENTATION, WITH COACH VERMEIL AND HOW EMOTIONAL HE WAS WHEN THEY MADE THE PLAYOFFS FOR THE FIRST TIME, DID YOU TALK TO HIM LAST NIGHT, OR YOUR DAD; ANY ADVICE SINCE THE GAME?: “I didn’t talk to Coach Vermeil, I talked to my dad and I talked to a close friend of Coach Vermeil and he reminded me of that quote. I don’t know if you know Carl Peterson, but his nephew, Cole, is on our staff and I’ve stayed in very close contact with Carl, who congratulations to him, he’s been nominated as one of the guys they are considering for the Hall of Fame, but Carl, I stay in contact with him. It wouldn’t be surprising if I get a call or text from Coach Vermeil in the next few days. He usually gives me some pick-me-up when I need it. I did talk to my dad and others, guys in the NFL. I had a good talk to Coach Harbaugh after the game and even Dino [Babers] last week. Everyone says the same things. Don’t take any shortcuts, build this thing the right way, it’s going to be tough and it’s going to take time. I don’t want to relent to that concept of time, or being too patient, but you saw Michigan walk out there yesterday, that’s what we aspire to look like and we’re going to work to get there.”

YOU’VE SAID YOU’VE NEVER COACHED IN A GAME LIKE THAT, TAKEN THAT SORT OF LOSS, HOW DOES THAT IMPACT THE APPROACH TO THIS WEEK AND AS YOU GO ON?: “I have it written down right here. We have to eliminate the ‘if only’s.’ If only we had done that, if only we’d had done this, if only this hadn’t happened. We have to eliminate those excuses because you can find them on every play. I think what’s really important; let’s accept the challenge and measure ourselves against ourselves and our potential and our standard; not our opponent and not the scoreboard. That’s an approach we have to take right now. Are we playing to the best of our ability every play, are we preparing as well as we can during the week, are we doing everything we can as a staff and as a team to maximize our potential every week. And then are we going out and are we playing to our standard. If we can say those things, then the scoreboard will tell one story, but the real story will be in the way we prepared, played and competed; not necessarily in the score. Eventually, that’s not okay, you can’t judge yourself on that; it needs to be on wins and losses. That’s completely contrary to the way I’ve always thought, but I think the situation that we are in, it’s important to focus on ourselves as we build this thing and go through the process. Saying that, I don’t want anyone that hears this to think, at all, that we are relenting or that we are just cashing it in. There’s way too much pride and way too much competitiveness here. We have eight games left and I see no reason why we can’t be a very, very good football team by the end of the year; one that people are proud of and most importantly, one that our players are proud to be a part of.”

HOW CLOSE DID CAMRYN EDWARDS GET TO COMING INTO THE GAME AND WHAT ARE YOUR LONG RANGE PLANS FOR HIM?: “He’s going to play offense now, for awhile. He’s been playing scout team offense for us during practice and has looked pretty good over there. Our defensive players have said that Cam is pretty good at back and he can run that outside zone scheme. Now he doesn’t have really a firm grasp of what we are doing offensively because he hasn’t been there, except for a couple days last week, but he’s a smart kid, he’s a good football player and those in CT have probably watched him more than I did because he was a heck of a player in high school. He was equally good on offense and on defense; he was pretty darn good on offense, so I think he’s a guys that can potentially help us there.”

WHAT IS JACKSON MITCHELL’S STATUS, HE DIDN’T PLAY MOST OF THE 4TH QUARTER YESTERDAY?: “He was banged up. In the 4th quarter we were getting young guys playing time. We got just about everybody in on defense; Jesse Polansky got to play, Tim Passmore, Lee Mollette, Isiah Davis, Donovan Branch, Nathan Voorhis, Hunter Webb, Tui Faumuina-Brown, Jordan Morrison, we were getting guys action; we wanted to see guys play. Jackson is fine, he’s banged up, but he’s made a million tackles this year already, but he’s fine.”

ARE YOU STILL SEEING IMPROVEMENT IN ZION?: “To be honest, it’s very hard to see. He is making improvement, he is. The inability to throw it down the field isn’t necessarily Zion. We haven’t been able to shake anyone loose down the field. We have some down field routes, but we haven’t been able to shake loose and then when he’s throwing it down there and it’s a 50-50 ball, we haven’t won at the moment of truth. So it looks ugly. You’re being really nice, it was ugly, ugly. Any improvement that he has made is absolutely disguised and it’s unapparent to the observer, unless you have a chance to sit down and break down the film and know exactly what we were doing. I’m just hopeful that he can stay healthy for another week, continue to improve and as we get in the second half of the season, that he can have some breakthroughs. He’s working at it. Cale [Millen] too. He’s a guy that we are going to have to play a little bit as well. He’s played in some games; he’s big, physical, can run; we put him in there basically just to run, but we are going to put him in there to throw as well because his shoulder is feeling good and we need to use him some. It’s always tricky when you have a young quarterback that’s struggling; do you leave him in and let him struggle and do you try to find those successes in the struggle, or do you yank him and maybe hurt his confidence. It’s dicey, so we’re trying to make the right decisions with all of our players.”

HOW ABOUT VICTOR ROSA? HE WAS PUT INTO A TOUGH SITUATION, BUT IT LOOKS LIKE HE’S A TOUGH KID: “He’s tough as heck, tough as nails; he’s a stud. Yes, he had the fumble where he dropped the handoff, but Victor Rosa, I’ll take guys like him all day long, he’s a tough son of a gun. So is Nate, all those guys are. I think we’ll get Devontae [Houston] back this week, so that will help the running game. I love Victor. I love the way he practices, love the way he plays; he’s a stud, he’s a stud.”

2 years ago