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September 24, 2012

Manny Diaz

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach Diaz. 

Q.  Everyone laughed at me when I mentioned that this offense put up 84 points against Savannah State.  I'm guessing you're taking this offense seriously, aren't you?
COACH DIAZ:  Yeah, their numbers speak for itself.  They're in the top 10 in virtually every offensive category imaginable.  I don't know of anybody else in the country that could lose their starting quarterback and have a guy come in and set the record for total offense in school history. 
There's no great speech needed this week.  They have our full attention. 

Q.  Speaking of the quarterbacks, speak to the system, how efficient it is. 
COACH DIAZ:  First of all, to me it speaks to the coaching.  You have to give the coaches some credit, not just in the system that they use but the preparation that goes into it.  I think it has to speak to the other 10 guys that are on the field.  Their linemen do a good job, their runningbacks I think are both good players, combined for over 200 yards against us last year.  They open up the passing game and have a group of wide receivers and had a group of guys that made plays for their quarterback down the field. 
The quarterback is going to be the lightning rod of everybody's attention.  There's a lot of guys around him at that school that are helping him to his success. 

Q.  How much more difficult is to prepare for two different styles?
COACH DIAZ:  Well, you still have to prepare for what they are going to do and what they are going to do best.  We're still early enough in the year with no matter what quarterback played, you still have to have the mindset of stay loose and adjust.  If they had no injury, with a bye week, they could come out with some different wrinkles to their offense. 
What you have to do is you have to teach your defense.  We need to get good at what we need to get good at, understand the concepts of our defense, find out who they are, what they want to be.  You never know till you get in the game, then go on from there.

Q.  How much more difficult does it make it with a spread offense that can run it so well?
COACH DIAZ:  What it does, this is the day and age in which we live in.  They force you to defend 53 yards of width and have a passing game that can get you there, at the same time the most simple thing in football, run the ball in a straight line, which is ultimately what got us last year. 
They make you defend everywhere.  So it's a strain.  What they do a nice job of, everybody has to tackle.  They do a nice job in some of their blocking schemes to get the ball in the perimeter, make your DBs tackle.  That will be a factor in this game. 

Q.  In this game there will be some names, they seem to have more balance, there's not one guy you focus on.  Does that make them more dangerous when there was one guy you could focus on?
COACH DIAZ:  That's true.  I'm sure they would rather have a first-round draft choice in their wide severing crew.  In a way you would still rather not defend a first-round draft choice.  I don't think that's going out on a limb. 
Last year at this meeting we all would have talked about Blackman and Weeden.  It just shows you in this game, they have a system that is predicated on taking what the defense gives them. 
So we will have to be sound regardless of who the people are.  They have enough weapons at all the positions to be effective against our defense.  So from right down Main Street all the way to the sideline, we have to be good no matter where they at. 

Q.  What will you say to your guys throughout this week?
COACH DIAZ:  We're going to get better at playing defensive football.  We have to get better fundamentally, understand our schemes, get better at tackling.  Just the things that win you football games.  Keep harping turnovers, taking the football away. 
We're going on the road.  We have to understand there's going to be momentum plays just like last week.  If we can make our momentum plays, those are the things that can carry you through to victory.

Q.  After three games and the bye week, where is this defense in your mind?
COACH DIAZ:  We're five days away from going to Stillwater.  We're 3-0.  That's all we can be.  We asked the NCAA if we could be 4-0 because we played well in some of the games we played, and they said no. 
What I enjoy, coaches enjoy, we have a group of guys that are really hard workers, that really want to do right.  We're in the process of improving every week.  That's all we can do is improve every week. 
At the end of the year we sit and look at our body of work, talk about how we did.  All we're trying to do right now, whatever we did yesterday, try to be better tomorrow.

Q.  Do you like the competition at linebacker?  Jordan can't go, Mack mentioned you wanted to see a freshman or sophomore step up and get there. 
COACH DIAZ:  We've been putting different guys in different spots.  The best thing as a coach is competition.  I think we've got good players in that room.  It's easy to say, Hey, if this guy doesn't do it, the next guy steps in.  I think we've got guys that can do that. 
Going back to now that we've changed going into conference, it's really hard to win with 11 on defense in this conference, especially up front, because they have the really hard job. 
As much as I'm concerned about who runs out with the first 11, we have got to make sure, when you look at their points, their snaps per game as well, we'll never last if we just play two linebackers or three linebackers.  It's a week where we have to have depth.

Q.  What does losing Jordan mean?
COACH DIAZ:  Well, I mean, obviously Jordan is a guy that everyone on the football team respects a lot.  Jordan is a guy that has more experience than anybody else in our room. 
I look at the second half of the game in Oxford, other guys filled in.  Kendall Thompson, Demarco Cobbs, not having taken a snap at Will linebacker all week in practice, helped us see the game out. 

Q.  (Question regarding Dalton Santos.)
COACH DIAZ:  Well, it's really more just sort of there's kind of a big vat of guys and we're sort of stirring them around, trying to figure out who bubbles to the top. 
Like I said, all the guys we have listed are two deep at linebacker.  What we're trying to do is what any coach is trying to do, put our 11 best football players on the field given the offense we have to defend against. 
Dalton has done a nice job on special teams and has continued to get better every week.

Q.  Over the last couple weeks you heard a lot about the defense played well.  Whenever you're coaching this group for the upcoming week, do you operate more under the school of thought that 31 points or when the game was in the balance against Ole Miss that this unit made the plays necessary to get separation where 31 doesn't matter?
COACH DIAZ:  Right.  The answer is probably both and neither because in one way it doesn't matter anymore.  I mean, whatever we did, if we would have shut out Ole Miss, held them to negative 20 yards, here comes a big offense.  It's irrelevant now. 
The film that we created, we have to correct from last week.  There's no doubt I thought 38-10, if you offered me that, I would have shaken your hand off five minutes into the third quarter.  So a lot of good things happened.  We ruined some things with some big plays. 
What you have to do is fight hard to correct those big plays.  At the same time that's my point to you.  The players see all the good that got us to 38-10, also some not good things on the way to 38-10.  No matter what happens, all we do is correct it. 
The players can stay out of, Were we good or not good?  We look at all of our plays.  We don't have to decide where we're at.  All we have to do is win the game.  That's the cool thing about this sport, do enough to win the football, correct what we don't like, improve on what we do like. 

Q.  Do you tell your guys to play till the clock strikes zero? 
COACH DIAZ:  You're talking about the Tampa/New York deal?  There's a lot of differing thought on that.  I've got mine, but I don't think it matters this week for me. 

Q.  A lot of guys said during the bye week, they focused on tackling.  So many missed tackles, is that something you were trying to work on?
COACH DIAZ:  What we showed was, again, everything we try to tell our defense, this goes back to when we assess performance, we don't talk in vague terms that can't be backed up.  When you can show a football team that two missed tackles gave a football team a quarter of their offense, wow, that gets my attention.  How do we not let that happen.  Good, let's move on. 
If those are two things we can fix, and we can, gosh, how would we have felt about that day if we stacked all those other plays up? 
That's what the players understood.  That's what came out when we got through reviewing last week's film.  I think the guys have responded really well this past week in practice. 

Q.  After the Ole Miss game you hinted you might use the bye week to open spots up.  Can you talk about what the week of practice was like. 
COACH DIAZ:  To me the bye week, it was a week where we could focus on us getting better, focus on your depth like you're mentioning, try to bring more guys along.  It's a week where you're not heavy into game planning, scheming.  We're trying to maintain our game sharpness. 
But it allows you to pause.  We went back as a defensive staff, reviewed every play of the first three games, start to look at trends, not in game order, but defense called.  Where are we getting what we want, where are we not getting what we want.  It was a great sort of self-evaluation. 
Then you bring that to the field.  The players understand it, get it.  Then, like I said, work on Texas.  If can you work better on being Texas, you can bring everything you need to play in the next week. 

Q.  At the end of games, does the NCAA or schools need to find a way to not let fans rush fields?
COACH DIAZ:  Yeah, again, that's above my area of expertise.  I know certain conferences have certain rules on that.  I'm not aware of what it is here. 

Q.  Have you ever been a part of that, anything bad happen?
COACH DIAZ:  No.  Been there, but never had anything like that happen. 

Q.  You haven't given up a sack all year.  They have monsters on the offensive front. 
COACH DIAZ:  Well, like I would say, sacks have a lot more to do with the offensive line that's good at blocking.  Certainly their line protects well.  It's their quarterback play, the passing game, it's the nature of getting the ball out.  You won't sack 'em unless you cover 'em.  They're sound in all the protections. 
It's one that the credit is really spread out from their coaching staff down to the other 10 guys that protect the quarterback. 
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, coach. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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