“We talked all week that they run a unique scheme. They do a lot of zone-replace blitzing. There are guys coming from everywhere. It’s a look that we’ve not seen much over the last two years, and everything is a learning experience to make sure we get those things picked up. There was some pressure, but regardless of any pressure, where the guys are coming from, we have to protect the football. And that’s a big, big point of emphasis. It’s been a point of emphasis since we got here. We’ve got to continue to stress that on every level and regardless if it’s some things that happened that were that were unique, we’ve still got to make sure we’re protecting the football at all times.”
On the youth and inexperience of the team being a factor:
"You know, obviously, it would be easy to take an excuse and run with it. I’m not gonna do that, regardless of who’s playing for us. Whether we have the tight end situation or whatever we have with young guys playing, it does not matter. We’ve got to execute, we’ve got to be a fully functioning offense, we’ve got to work together.
"We have to have composure. It was a unique environment. There were no fans, the sound system, all of those (things), it would be easy just to use that (as an excuse), but we’re not going to do that. We are going to get better in every single phase. And just regardless – we’re playing old guys, we’re playing young guys, playing new guys, playing experienced guys – it does not matter.
“The expectation, when our guys get on to the field, is to play at a high level. Our guys are committed to that. Our guys understand that if they’re earned the right to play in this football program, there is a high expectation for them. And we believe in them. Any mistakes that were made, we will work really, really hard to correct those. We’ve got a bunch of high-character young men in that locker room that want to get better. They’ve got the tools to get better. They’ve got the coaching to get better and they will get better.”
On the effectiveness of the run game:
"It’s just same thing, the execution piece. I thought we were getting some good movement on our powers and on our counters and then the zone running game. They were loading the box. There were some throws that we wish we had back, obviously. But at times, we looked like a high-functioning offense, an explosive offensive, a dynamic offense. All the things that we aspire to be.
“And then we turn around and hurt ourselves and have unforced errors. And you cannot do that against a defense that’s as aggressive as they are. But there were some things that were clicking. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to make sure we’re protecting the football at all times.”
On falling behind 17-0:
"It’s just one of those things. We’ve just got to continue to evolve. One of the basic tenets in our program is to start fast. We did not do that today. We had a delay. We actually left the locker room to go out there for the noon tip, and then get sent back in for 35, 40 minutes. I thought we handled it very well.
"Two weeks ago, when we played Florida State, did not handle it well coming out to start the game. Today, with that delay, that’s completely on me and just got to understand that this is a new environment, this is a new situation that we’re playing it.
“And, regardless of how ready they were the first time for the noon tip, we’ve got to recalibrate, we’ve got to regroup and we’ve got to take the field with the same energy and the same juice we were ready to go out with. But this is a different year. There’s going to be unique circumstances every single week. There’s going to be unique personnel roster changes we have to have every single week. And we’ve just got to just put the ball down. regardless of which one of our outstanding young men are playing for us. They’ve got to come in and the expectation is to play at a high level, because they’re prepared to play at a high level.”
On plan for the delay:
“Just that I had to find a way to regroup, recalibrate, adjust. I don’t pride myself on very many good pregame speeches. I thought I had one today. And then we get out on the field and we have to turn around and come back in. So I’ve got to regroup, I’ve got to get the guys regrouped, recalibrated to go out there and, regardless of the circumstances, we’ve got to put the ball down and I’ve got I’ve got to get ready to play at a high level.”
On cutting the lead to 23-20, then giving up a long touchdown pass:
"It’s the second week in a row and there were times we did this last year. We fight our butts off to get us into a good tight ballgame. We let ourselves get in a hole, then we fight our way back, and we get it within a three-point ballgame, and then we let go of the rope and we give up a big return and we give up a big pass play, a big shot play.
"We cannot do that in this program. It’s happened far too often. It happened today. We actually addressed it right before the kickoff. It still popped for a big return. We addressed it as the defense was running out on the field – they still got the explosive play. So the big thing in our program is not letting go of the rope. Do not relax.
“When you fight your way back, you cannot then relax. You’ve got to pour it on. We had a lot of momentum, and then we just let that momentum go. Those are learning experiences we’ve got to learn from it, and that’s on me. And we will learn from them moving forward.”
On the approach to the open date:
"These kids – these young men, excuse me – they’ve been going at this thing since June 15. In order to maintain protocols, in order to maintain the high level of health and safety, these guys haven’t had very many days off or anything like that. They’ve been going full tilt, with one day off a week since we started our walkthroughs and their OTA’s on July, 22, coaches included.
So, just this week, we’ve got to regroup. We’ve got to fix the unforced errors, we’ve got to fix ball security. All of those things we’ve got to improve on. But also, we’ve got to make sure we’re taking care of these guys. The roster has been hit. It is what it is. We’ve just got to make sure we get some guys hopefully back, and hopefully they’re ready to step in and contribute.
"And the guys that have been playing for us have to continue to improve. And I know you’ve alluded to a lot of young guys. Hopefully, (with) three games of experience, we can build on those things, learn from the things that they’ve seen in the first three games and step up on Friday night – ESPN, national-television audience, downtown Atlanta.
"Brought that up to the guys in there, and we’ve got a great group of young men. I’m blessed to coach them, but there are a lot of things that we’ve got to continue to improve on. And I’m committed to doing it. They’re committed to doing it – fixing their mistakes, fixing our mistakes.
“And again, everything that happened today is on me. These penalties are on me, the unforced errors are on me. And I know these guys will have my back, and they will learn from it at a high level and get back when it’s time to get back and ready to work, they will get back to you getting ready.”