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October 29, 2012

Manny Diaz

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach Diaz. 

Q.  How much can you look at the second half defensive performance and say you're seeing some progress, more where you want to be? 
COACH DIAZ:  I think you can take a lot out of that.  Really you can almost look at the entire game minus the two drives.  There were two drives back-to-back in the second quarter where we played poorly and Kansas made some plays.  Give them credit.  They had shown some things they hadn't shown before. 
Our guys battled, did a lot of good things.  I don't think they had a run for more than seven yards in the second half.  There's real live things for a team that we can take confidence from. 

Q.  When a team runs it 32 straight plays, are you almost like, When are they going to throw it? 
COACH DIAZ:  Yeah.  Well, there's no doubt.  That's what it comes down to.  When you look back, of course they ran it every play for two quarts, you can look back.  Usually what you're waiting for is the shot.  
But Kansas had a good plan.  They were going to run the football.  We talked about it last week.  Felt like their backs were really good players, and they are.  Keep the ball in the hands of their best guys. 
It was really important for our guys to stand up to that challenge.  Like I said over the course of the 10 or 11 times they had it, 10 times we did a good job.  The pass interference in the fourth quarter, it was going to be our fifth three-and-out of the day if we don't draw that flag there. 

Q.  As you head into Tech now, why do you think this will be different?  What do you think has changed?
COACH DIAZ:  Because week by week we're just older, more experienced.  Every week we get something else.  Every week something else is coming into focus for some of these guys.  We're learning to be a more physical football team. 
Like I said, teams develop their physical nature in different times.  We were a more physical team earlier in the year than we were this year.  Part of that comes down to age versus youth.  We're growing into it. 
I'm excited to see how we'll match up with their offense. 

Q.  Can you talk about Seth a little bit. 
COACH DIAZ:  What you see is, again, a senior quarterback that has a great relationship with all his wide receivers.  They've been in this offense now for a few years.  Just comfort level. 
I think the thing that really has set him apart from even what he was able to do last year when he put up great numbers is the confidence on his outside receivers and on the vertical ball.  That's where they as an offense have made their biggest improvements in being able to stretch you vertically down the field.  The wide receivers are coming down with it more than they're not.  That gives them a chance to be explosive in the passing game. 
Again, he's a guy that's seen it all and can make all the throws.  It will be a great challenge for us. 

Q.  With as balanced as their offense is, which is more important, stopping the run or the pass?
COACH DIAZ:  I don't think you can vote sort of one way or the other because they are so balanced.  Then again, like most teams, any good defense tries to take away what is easiest to do.  So they do a great job with their run game, but you can stop the run game, they throw screens, a three-step, which turns into their run game as well. 
They put great strain on your defense in terms of, again, defending them right down Main Street with the run game, sideways with the screens.  If you don't stop that, you're going to have a hard time stopping them throwing the ball down the field. 

Q.  Talk about the progress of the linebackers. 
COACH DIAZ:  They're getting better every week.  Every week they kind of grab something.  There's a difference between thinking you know and knowing you know.  Every one of those guys came out of two-a-days thinking they knew what to do.  Then you get in the game and they're just becoming more confident in their reads, more confident in their keys. 
What happens is when you're more confident in the game mentally, then you can play the game better physically.  It's really hard to be physical and aggressive if you're not completely certain on where it is that you're going. 
We are not a finished product.  But you've been able to see the last few weeks every week they're getting a little more, which is exciting for those guys. 

Q.  Do you feel like they're almost starting to play and react as opposed to thinking?
COACH DIAZ:  That's what it's all about.  There's no doubt, that's what it's all about.  What they've all learned is that the game at this level is a mental game.  Everybody is big and can run and do all those type of things.  The thing in your DNA doesn't get you by in college football (indiscernible).  You have to get your assignments down, understand where your key is, we try to teach it very simply, get your key, let it go. 
It sounds simple.  But when you have to do it with the offenses we've had to play against, it's been a learning experience.  That's where having that steady hand next to you is good.  We've had two guys in there that have been both inexperienced.  Communication fosters confidence. 
I was saying, it's like in class, when you think you know the answer, you're going to say it under your breath.  The more confidence you have, the more confidently you'll speak up that you know the answer to the question. 
It has been a process, but we are improving and they are starting to play a little bit faster. 
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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