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September 10, 2012

Manny Diaz

Q. Do you miss living in Mississippi, Coach?
COACH DIAZ:  Do I miss living there?  One of the things in this profession is you get to move all different types of places.  One thing we try to do with our families is we've enjoyed everywhere we've lived.
What I remember about Mississippi is the people were very nice and very welcoming to us because we had a great year when we were there and I'm sure there will be some familiar faces.  Most of the people in the stadium weren't rooting for me when I was there.  So there will be some happy faces and a bunch of sad faces and angry faces too.

Q.  I know you're only there for a little bit, but can you give us some perspective and share some insight about the team?
COACH DIAZ:  Some of the guys on their football team, I was involved in the recruiting process.  We were trying to recruit them to Mississippi State, some of the guys on the team that were on their team a couple years ago.  So you've shared the field with them.
But as I said last week with NewMexico with the first year coaching staff, you can tell and watch Ole Miss play, and they're a team that's not carrying the past with them.  They're playing fast, playing free, playing hard, and they're extremely aggressive on both sides of the ball.  They've been aggressive in their offensive play calling and they do a lot of things to try to create explosive plays.  They're always hunting the big chunk play.  As we know in this game, you don't have to hit on very many of those to win a football game.  So they're a very, very good football team.

Q.  Coach Brown says they called it a Vince Young style offense.  Is that accurate?
COACH DIAZ:  Well, it's an offense that is really all about deception.  It's, as Coach Brown mentioned, there is some carryover from what we've seen the last couple weeks.  But it's always about where is the ball going?  Everything is disguised very well formationally.  Being able to run the ball inside, throw it quick and throw it deep.
They can do all those things in all the looks that they present to you.  Then they've got a quarterback that's run the show.  Bo Wallace has done a nice job.  He's got a presence about him and he's making the plays when you're there.  So they have skill.  They've got a group of backs that are very good.  They've got Waters who can go down the field and win one‑on‑ones and get the football, and now they have a guy in the middle that can get it to them.  So it's quite a challenge for us.

Q.  (No microphone)?
COACH DIAZ:  You can watch on tape what he's doing when he carries himself.  He can make bad plays, good plays for them.  What he's also doing is he's not making bad plays disasters.  It might be a throwaway or scramble for six yards when he's covered.  But he's not throwing it to their team and taking bad sacks and stuff like that.
On the flip side, third or fourth play of the game they had a double move, you know, bang.  Right on the money.  UTEP went into the exact same play at Ole Miss, they had a little stutter going to the wideout.  UTEP's quarterback kind of rushed it and set his feet and overthrows by about a foot.  This guy sets his feet, and it happened afterwards.  They called the play second, sets his feet and throws a beautiful strike for a 50‑yard touchdown pass to Moncrief.  So you know the guy's capable of making a play which is something that scares you.

Q.  This one that you had to have last week instead of the triple option, was it that same discipline in the deception that they create and maybe some of the trick plays?
COACH DIAZ:  It is, and that's always one of the funny things in the whole triple option conversation.  There is never a day when you don't have to have discipline on defense.  There is never a day that eye control is not important, because whether you're playing anybody on our schedule, everybody does things to present to you where you have to make sure you're locked in.  This is an offense that is just more dynamic.  There are more things that they can do.
It is our first taste to the fast tempo offense.  Lot of things that are similar to what they do week‑in and week‑out in this conference.  Then the added element of going and playing on the road and everything that's there.  Every time something good happens to them and the role that comes with that and the momentum that comes with playing on the road and having to fight the ups and downs of the football game.

Q.  How long‑‑ shutouts are so hard to get in major college football no matter who you play.  How long do you allow yourself or your players to enjoy a shutout, or do you still have to pick away at what you need to do?
COACH DIAZ:  Yeah, what we do as a coach, we have a 24‑hour rule.  24 hours after the game the game's over regardless anyway.  But as a coach win lose or draw, we come in and coach the film.  Because what happens is the film might be 60 or 70 plays long, however it is.  I'll use Wyoming as an example.  Wyoming there were two plays on that film that we didn't like.  Those were the two plays that got in our end zone.  Some of the plays that we didn't love.  There may have been a bunch of plays we really enjoyed.
In NewMexico there were no plays that caused touchdowns, but there might have been ten or 12 plays that we could not stand the sight of.  So what you do is you still come in.  You want to be a trick in coaching and what great players do is great players fix their mistakes when they don't get punished for them.  A bad player waits until they get punished by their mistake to finally fix it.
So if we didn't cover the guys we can cover, we didn't play our run depth, but the game didn't punish us.  Maybe they didn't filter that guy on the play or run the ball into that gap on the play.  Can you fix your mistake without getting punished by the game?
That's why you see week‑in and week‑out in college football where some teams can look like this one week and look entirely different on the up or on the down from week to week.  It's a constant state of fixing our film.  Our film never tells us whether we won our lost the football game.  All we do is watch the defensive plays.
Our film from Wyoming had nothing to say whether we won or lost the football game.  But the next one was different because there were no touchdowns on it.  But we look at what's on the tape.

Q.  With the 4‑2‑5 defense, what are you trying to accomplish?  Why would the defense employ that scheme?
COACH DIAZ:  I think that's actually probably made more is brought up about that than probably what really is.  I think in this day and age, football has changed now.  The most common personnel in offensive plays now is 11 personnel, one back, one tight end on the field and three wideouts.  So what people have done, you have two choices.  You can say, you're a 4‑3, but they'll put a nickel back in the game.  You might have played 4‑2‑5, 60% of your season and adjust to that.  Or you can say you're a 4‑2‑5, then on a third of the plays where you might get only two outs in a game, you might put an extra linebacker in the game.
It's just a guy.  It's a body for body.  It doesn't usually change the way the four deep linemen play or the linebackers play.  Like I said, 4‑2‑5, 3‑4, whatever it is.  People talk about the arrangements too much.  The difference is how they play.  Are you attacking style, or read style?  To me the spread offense goes to throw.  The spread offense goes to run.  Everybody can see that.
People generally don't understand an attack style 4‑2‑5.  A read style 4‑2‑5, and read style 4‑2‑5, and the same thing with 3‑4, the way the Patriots play their 3‑4 defense is dramatically different than the way the Houston Texans have the 3‑4 defense.  So that's what is usually harder to see for the casual fan.

Q.  Is attacking the read?
COACH DIAZ:  You'd have to ask the offensive coaches.  I'm not studying their defense.  They ask me to hold the score down.  I've got plenty to worry about with their offense.

Q.  What are some of the challenges that come with playing a road game for the first time?
COACH DIAZ:  Well, number one, you have to make sure your inexperienced players can handle all that goes into travel.  It's really a 48‑hour experience.  It goes from when you wake up Friday morning, you have to pack differently.  You have to make sure your tube of toothpaste has less than three ounces, that type of stuff.  You know, again, with the airplane, the travel, going to a foreign hotel that you haven't been in, and understanding why we're going.
Then the added element in this game is because we're playing so late at night, we are not going to Memphis to go sightseeing.  We're not going to stop at Graceland.  We're going with the intention of trying to win a football game.
So the older guys will be more into that.  The younger ones it will be more of an issue.  Last year our first trip was out to L.A., so we have time zones and a lot of things.  So it is important to handle the trip and understand why it is we're going in the first place.

Q.  The numbers would indicate that their offense is extremely balanced in the first couple of weeks.  Did that make it even tougher because you can't key on one thing in particular?
COACH DIAZ:  It is.  And everything you do, you have to be able to handle the run and the pass.  But what you look at is how they're achieving those yards and how they're achieving yards is they're achieving them in big chunks.  Two long touchdown passes to make it 14‑0 this past week against UTEP.  It's what we talked about.  The difference between week one, week two, is no wrong plays, no wrong touches or passes for touchdowns.
Again, you're going against an offense that's probably trying as hard as anybody we play to create long runs or passes for touchdowns.  So that will be a major factor in this game.

Q.  Can you speak to Nate Boyer and what he's meant?
COACH DIAZ:  Nate's a guy that everyone on this football team respects.  Everyone in this football program respects Nate Boyer.  People commonly try to make similarities between this game that we are associated with and combat.  Obviously, it's almost an insult to do that to real life combat.
But Nate is a guy that's been in both arenas.  Still understands it's hard work going through two‑a‑days.  It's hard work going through the off‑season program.  Understands the ups and downs that our players go through.  Then can balance it with this other part of his life where he understands that the stakes are real when you say things like team work and camaraderie and accountability and dependability.  Those are just things that you put on the wall.  Those are things that cause life and death to occur.
When he speaks everyone on the football team listens.  He's been through the best training program there is.  He's been coached by the best there is because our military forces have got the playbook on how to create the ultimate fighting force in this world.  They can't go 11‑1.  They have to go 12‑0 every year, and Nate's read through that playbook.  He's been in that game plan.  When he comes to us and he speaks, everybody in this program from top to bottom listens.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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