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August 26, 2013

Luke Fickell

THE MODERATOR:テつ Open up questions for Coach Fickell.

Q.テつ As you get ready to play a team you've never played before, what are the rudiments of getting‑‑ obviously you got a take from last year, they won three out of their last four, they got a new quarterback near the end of the year, how do you sort of plan for what's coming?
COACH FICKELL:テつ You don't always know.テつ The first game of the year, that's kind of the beauty of it.テつ Coach Vrabes (ph) is talking about it all the time, hey, we don't have a preseason game.テつ I'm used to having some preseason games and things.
So you don't really know so you have to really focus on what you do.テつ You have a concept and idea of what they have done last year, obviously what they were successful with in three of their last four games, but you have to be prepared for anything.テつ And the most important thing is we want our guys to go out there, feel confident in what they are doing.テつ It's about what we do, and you've got to be able to react and respond to the difference things they will give you.

Q.テつ When you look at the room, you will have eight new starters compared to the end of last year and stuff.テつ What will be your message to them?テつ What do you want to see out of them more than anything else on Saturday?
COACH FICKELL:テつ Hopefully we put them in the toughest situations they could possibly are have been in.テつ That's with the scout crew and different things we have done, obviously it's going to be different at some point in time; the style of offense, this, that or the other thing.
But in front of 107,000 people we don't want them to worry about those things.テつ We want them to say, hey, we know we have grinded through some great things, played in some great competition day in, day out; the offensive line that we have played again, the quarterback that we played against, the tailbacks we've played against.
We want those guys to feel confident in what they are doing, go out, let their actions speak and play the game of football.

Q.テつ How much of a setback for Curtis was the injury or concussion earlier in camp in how much time did he miss?テつ Is he ready to be the starting middle linebacker like Urban called him at the end of spring practice?
COACH FICKELL:テつ We'll see.テつ It's hard.テつ A guy that you would say, a guy that's a junior in college maybe wouldn't miss a budge because he's been here for two years and a lot of experience but the reality is he has not had a whole lot of experience.テつ He has not had a hole lot of game.
He started maybe three or four games last year at the beginning of the year so, that was a little bit of a setback but the great thing about it is Curtis Grant has come a long way.テつ And I don't mean just what he's done on the field, but his maturity and how he prepares and things like that.テつ I don't think it's going to hinder him.
For a day or two out there, it was hard on him, but the reality is if that was a freshman that missed ten or so days or ten practices or something like that, you would be much more worried.テつ I'm not worried about Curtis Grant, because his passion and his energy is what's going to show.

Q.テつ You had some issues early last season with keeping leverage in tackling, from what you can tell in practice, how do you feel about the basic aspects of defense?
COACH FICKELL:テつ We felt better about how we finished the season with that stuff.テつ The toughest thing about the first game of the year, we kind of stressed‑‑ we are going to stress it today.テつ We have not done a ton of live tackling.テつ Not that we have not gone to scrimmages and different things like that, but maybe our ones have not been against the offensive ones a whole lot.テつ We have not tackled a quarterback, that's for sure.
So a lot of those things in that first game, you're not used to.テつ You're used to tagging off a lot and you're used to pulling off the quarterback.テつ There's a lot of things that you've got to emphasize throughout this week that they have not done, and that's the thing that probably makes you‑‑ gives you a little bit of thatgut ache to say, okay, how are they going to react and respond, in open field, trying to attack a quarterback.テつ So used to running by a quarterback or don't get within three yards of Braxton.
Those things that you do, no matter who your quarterback is during camp, those are the things that during the first games‑‑ whoas, goodness sakes‑‑ leverage, shouldn't be an issue.テつ It shouldn't be an issue.テつ I tell you that ‑‑ we stressed that.テつ We did a much better job in the last few games of the year last year, and now the big issue is can you beat your tacklers and can you have confidence in what you're doing, and maybe not have done a ton this fall camp.

Q.テつ How strong a field do you have on how the front seven will play?テつ Do you feel good about it?テつ Are you interested in seeing how they are performing?
COACH FICKELL:テつ No, I feel great about it to be honest, I really do.テつ I know there's some things that, you know, just getting shirt up and tackling and different things like that, but you know, I really have a lot of confidence in what they have done, what they have shown, the maturity they have shown throughout the camp.
We played against a really good offense, and I think that's one of those things that those guys will realize as they go out there and they start to play throughout the entire season, that, wow, what they see on a daily basis from our inside drill to our pods drill to just even ones against twos is going to be very indicative of what they are going to see throughout the season.
So I think those guys, to me, the biggest thing is they have confidence in what they have do.テつ I have confidence in them and I know Coach Withers has got confidence in them, Coach Vrabel, Coach Coombs; that's one of those things that we feel really excited to see.テつ Obviously not saying everybody knows who that is or who they will be just yet, but I can sit here and tell you, I've got a lot of confidence in what they are going to do.

Q.テつ Puts a lot of pressure on himself and said his play reflected that, he was not real happy with the way he had practiced, how have you seen his development and how important is he to this defense?
COACH FICKELL:テつ Well, he's very important.テつ I think each and every guy‑‑ the one thing we are going to stress the whole time is, there are not a whole lot of names out there.テつ I know people know about Ryan and they know about Robe (ph) and they know about Christian, but the idea is we are not looking for the best 11 guys, and sometimes out of different things that happened, you say, here is your best 11 offense, give us who you think are our best 11 and then we'll rank our guys the best 11.
That's not always what we are looking for.テつ We are looking for the 11 best and those are the guys that work together and that's the thing that you're really going to see is Ryan, a guy that has to provide a lot of things for us, yes, he is, but he has to work within the framework of what we are doing.テつ Sometimes that's the problem, you put so much pressure on yourself, it's my duty, I'm this‑‑ the reality is we need you to do your job really, really good and I think he's hopefully gotten back to that a little bit.

Q.テつ Is he more disciplined in the last year; has that continued this year?
COACH FICKELL:テつ He has.テつ He has.テつ He's become what I like to say is a linebacker.テつ You see him start making linebacker plays instead of just highlight reel plays that he can make, the play that is we expect him to be able to do, doing his job and then obviously when the lights come on and the plays are there to be had, that's one guy that has shown that he can do it.
But sometimes you go into that junior year, you put a lot of pressure upon yourself and we already feel a lot of pressure on these guys and then you put it on yourself and whether it's coming from wherever, home, friends, all those different things, the reality is we need you to play within the framework of the defense, be really, really good at whatever it is that you do and the rest will handle itself.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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