Tracking Mack: Sept. 12
Opening statement: I talked to some friends of mine in central Florida down in Orlando today and also Terry Bowden on national radio and he said this has become the biggest event in the history of Central Florida on their campus; opening the new stadium. It will be fun for us and also a great challenge. With them upsetting N.C. State in the opener, they have had a really great football team down there over the years. I remember them beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa. We have talked about Daunte Culpepper. They have had about 21 NFL players in their short history and George O'Leary is one of the best coaches in the country. It's good for us after a tough game last week we have to get ready to play, get excited about going, and our guys always like going on the road. It has been fun for them, and they will enjoy this week because it will be a great challenge.
On if Coach Ken Rucker will be going: No, Ken still can't travel. He has come into the office a couple of days this week. He has not been on the field practicing with us, but he is making great progress and they would just not let him get on a plane yet, and he's sure not ready to be in the sun yet. We're not sure when he will return to practice, but he has done an amazing job in only his third week of coming back to the office.
On Jamaal Charles: We were impressed with Jamaal in the first game and really impressed with him in the second game. We thought he ran behind his shoulders even better the second game and the two longest runs he had were up inside where he broke away. One of them cut clean up for 39 yards and the other 20-something-yarder was an inside run - both of them inside the tackles. He kept his vision, he stayed square, and he got up inside and bounced outside for a big play. Those are the types of things we can get on film that will help him see that he will get his big runs if he just keeps running north and south.
On how big of a challenge UCF RB Kevin Smith is: Kevin Smith is a great player, not a good player. We have made it hard on 100-yard rushers around here, but he's going to carry it 35 to 40 times. He's a guy that got 217 yards against N.C. State. When you look at what Chuck Amato did over the years, N.C. State has got really good defensive players and it has been hard running the ball against them. He has definitely got our attention, and I'm glad that they won in their opening game because that got our attention. When you watch their film, they have really good players and they are well coached. That will get rid of the TCU game really fast and get us back down to earth and get us back to work.
On the team enjoying traveling to hostile environments: It's kind of us against the world when we go on the road. We have been really good at home, but we have had one of the best road records in the country and I really think it's because they understand we have some band members there and some crowd there, but Central Florida will have more people. It's very seldom that you get to open up a stadium and make history. It looks like a beautiful stadium and Orlando is a great city. Most of our kids have never been to Florida. Some of them wanted to go to the Gator Bowl (last season) so they could get to Florida. It will be a great trip for us and fun for the kids to get to see a different part of the country and still have a great challenge, too.
On how well he knows George O'Leary: I know George pretty well. We were in the league together for three years, but I knew him as an assistant for Bobby Ross and saw what he did in the NFL and have great respect for George and everything he has done. He is just a football coach. They are sound. They're going to line up and make you beat them. They're not going to beat themselves. You go back and look at their games against teams similar to Texas, they have played Penn State to a point, and they have played Georgia to a point. They played South Carolina about three years ago in George's first year. This bunch played Florida last year; they're not going to worry about Texas coming to town. George has played in games like this his whole life as a coach. He has coached in the NFL, and they'll be a well-coached football team that plays hard. They had a week off, I noticed today that Kansas State has a week off, so it seems like everybody gets a week off before we play, but that's okay. It just gives them two weeks to prepare.
On what impressed him most about Colt MCCoy's leadership against TCU: The hardest thing to do for a college football player is put the last play behind him, good or bad, and go to the next one. In both of those cases, we thought they were tough breaks and great plays by TCU, but at the same time, he takes things personally. He is really hard on himself. He walked into the dressing room like he couldn't believe either one of those, but let's go on now; we're going to win the game. I don't think I have ever been more impressed with him than the first half at Texas Tech, a place where he knew most of their players, and he has a lot of friends there that are in school in West Texas. It was really important to him. For it to start wrong and him turn it, and I thought the same thing the other night. There won't ever be any more pressure on him than throwing two interceptions in the last three minutes of the half and for him to play a near perfect second half. We are really impressed with the way he turned it.
On which game will be more difficult, the TCU game or the UCF game: It's always the next one. College football has gone crazy. You look up and you see the scores last week and they scare you to death. What has happened is that everyone has good players. The history means nothing anymore. Who you are means nothing. It's how you play on that day. You get into a game where you don't manage it well and you can get beat now. It's not like it use to be. It used to be an absolute shock for the underdog to win and now we're seeing it weekly. As I've said it's better for the fans, it's better for the media, it's tougher for the players and harder for the coaches. It is what it is and parity is here to stay. We talked about it four or five years ago, but I think it's here and I don't see it changing. Scholarship numbers will only get fewer, they won't get more. You better just get ready to play each week and especially when you are on the road. You can get beat much easier on the road.
On practice so far this week: I thought a little stiff and sore yesterday because it was such a physical game, and really a good practice today. I was excited about today. I could tell the guys are getting more excited about playing again and going back out there with a renewed confidence. Yesterday was an okay practice, it was good, but it wasn't like last week, and today was. Everybody seemed serious and they're pumped up that Central Florida is so excited about us coming. They don't get to go on the road a whole lot, when they do it's usually in conference, so an out of conference game for us is exciting and especially when it's a city they have never been to.
On who will step up as back-up guard if Adam Ulatoski isn't ready: What we would do right now is Michael Huey would be the back-up right guard. Britt Mitchell would be the back up left guard. Then you would have the two freshman tackles and Buck Burnette is the back-up center.
On Jordan Shipley practicing: He has done a good job this week. In talking to him in pre-game last week, we were not sure whether he would play or not. He said he was about 90 percent, so we did not play him because we want him to be 100 percent. He has practiced this week and if nothing changes between now and game time, we are planning on taking him and letting him play.
On the young players: We're getting a lot of the young defensive players in, but we're still not getting the young offensive players in like we want to. It was because we were backed up and we had no rhythm and we couldn't get out there, and then all of a sudden you look up and the game is over. We would really like to get the young offensive guys in. We're going to try again this week. We want them in early in the ball game if we can and that's a hard decision. We don't want to break momentum. We're still working some things out offensively, so it hasn't been an easy two weeks, but we need to start developing more depth. I really like what we're doing at linebacker and in the front, but we're not there on offense yet and we need to get that done.
On John Chiles not getting in during TCU: We thought there was just no reason to put him in with three plays left. We were going to run straight up the middle and there wasn't any reason not to. We could have, but we thought he hadn't wasted his red-shirt year and if he got in three plays then got hurt next week it might be a waste of his time. We didn't put Tray Allen in either. We didn't put anyone in really that we felt like there was some chance they might not play. We're planning on playing John, but we didn't think three plays was worth it.