Gene Chizik Previews The Furman Game

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM Gene Chizik
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
Gene Chizik
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Nov. 3, 2009

Opening statement...
"We are excited about Homecoming and week 10 this weekend. After going back and reviewing last week we are excited to have won a big game at home against Ole Miss, but we are moving on and have some more challenges ahead of us. It should be a good weekend with Furman coming in. We have to get to work and fix things that were not as good as we felt like they need to be from Saturday and we have to try and play better this week."

On Zac Etheridge...
"Zac is obviously out for the season, but he is out of the hospital and expected to make a full recovery, which is a great thing. So we are pumped for him. He is in really good spirits right now. His teammates have had a chance to see him, and some of them have had a chance to go by and talk to him. He is a great young man and he will rebound well from this. We are just glad that he has made a lot of strides since Saturday.

On if Etheridge will play football again...
"We can't really go in that direction because we don't know one way or another. It would be hard for me to say, and we're just going to take everything day by day. It will all work out the way it's supposed to be, but just looking that far down the road right now, medically I just can't answer that."

On if he is up and about...
"He is walking and has full use of his arms and legs and things of that nature, so that's a great sign. I say this not having a medical background, but he is expected to have a full recovery. In consulting with our medical people that's what I'm being told. That's a bright outlook."

On things the team will work on this week...
"We have a lot of things that we need to get corrected. We have special teams issues as we saw last Saturday. On offense we have some things that we felt should have been much better and defensively we felt the same, because we gave up a few big plays, and on offense on third downs and fourth downs we could not convert. There are just little things in there that we have to be better at. So this is a game where we need to really see some improvement. So we would like to see those improvements this week."

 

 

On getting other players reps this Saturday...
"In terms of getting other guys on the field, we have to go in and try to win the game. And after that we will see about other guys playing, but we have to go in and win this game."

On handling depth at safety...
"We are going to work Demond Washington at safety. Again we have so few defensive backs right now that we have to be careful and we feel that this is a good move for us right now. We still have Mike Slade back there and T'Sharvan Bell. Our goal is to put the four best players on the field and if that is the way that it unfolds that is what we will do. "

On how loss of Zac Etheridge affects the team and fellow safety Darren Bates...
"It is a big loss. It is a communication gap. Zac is such a smart football player. He understood everything and watched film constantly. He is always in the film room, he always knows what the offenses are going to do based on formations and he always knew what we were trying to do within our defense and that was a huge help for Darren in the first nine games. Now he is going to have to fly solo and do some directing back there, which he should be ready to do because we are in game 10. He has to be ready to do that. He is a smart football player and can do that, but the communication gap that we will have with Zac not being out there will be somewhat of an issue.

On handling the nickleback position with Demond Washington playing safety...
"What we will do is try to keep him there and have someone else at safety, because he knows and plays that position and we don't want to disrupt that part of it. We are going to try and do this with as little disruption as possible, but Demond can still play corner. So this is a situation that we have to try and not give him too much stuff, because the safety position is going to be new."

On D'Antoine Hood's role on the team now...
"Hopefully he has progressed a good bit. Health-wise he has come back and he feels much better. D'Antoine has to step up to the plate, there is no question about it. When you have to come back and know the nickel and dime position you have to be ready to participate and he has to step it up."

On Walter McFadden's importance to the team...
"I am very proud of Walt. He obviously played a good football game last Saturday. It could have not happened to a better guy at a better time. Walt has been a great leader for us. He has been a staple at the corner position. He has played hurt. Sometimes at practice you have to put him on the shelf because he's beat up, but he is always there mentally, he is always there coaching other guys. He does a great job on defense and he is a big part of what we do."

On what it means for the team to see Etheridge up and walking around...
"This football team is close. They are very, very close and Zac is one of the leaders of this team. So it's really important for all of our guys to be able to see that he is ok. He is a staple for our team and all of our players look up to him. Again, we see this as a family. Anytime a family member goes down, you know we always say never leave a fallen team mate. It's important to these guys and that was very evident Sunday when we came in. It means a lot to them."

On if Etheridge will be at the game on Saturday...
"We are going to play it day-by-day with him. We aren't rushing anything with him. We are just glad he is ok and moving around."

On what goes through your mind as a coach when you see your guys hurt...
"I always look at a guy down on the field and say `how would I feel if that was my son?'. That's how I gage it all. If you are a mom in the stands and you see that how would you feel as a parent. I feel the same way. You go out there and you assess the situation and it just rips you up. There's nothing good about it. So that's the way I see it. That's somebody's son out there on that field. That's a tough thing to see."

On how his expectations for Travante Stallworth have changed throughout the season...
"Well I think he is one of the younger guys that have really come on. When they all got here it was a whirlwind. They don't really get the whole picture. Travante is the kind of guy that really has come along and he gets the big picture. He understands where he can fit on our special teams. He understands his role offensively better than he did when he got here. He took Onterio's spot on some things and he is assuming the roles that he needs to assume to help us win. He understands that. I think he has grown up. He is maturing, even though he is a young kid, as a football player."

On if the freshmen class is meeting his expectations...
"I'm really proud of a lot of those guys. I've got no complaints. Some of them have really contributed. Some of them are really talented, but just aren't quite ready to contribute. Everybody learns at different places and times. But as a whole I'm really pleased with them. They are great kids, they work hard and a lot of them have contributed a lot to this football season."

On if he could go back and redshirt any of them, would he...
"Not really. I think we handled everything the only way we could and should have."

On what Terrell Zachery has meant to this football team...
"He is a guy that has really come on. There are the routine catches that are open and there's a window and you get some yards. He has gone up and made some tough catches. Even early in the early season when you hit him on a double move and there's nobody around him and he catches it and he runs for 100 yards, he should do that. Those are some tough catches on Saturday. Those are the catches that spark a football team. Chris throws the ball about the only place that you could put it where they can't get it and Terrell goes up and jumps for the ball and does get it. It is what I was talking about last week. That was what we needed somebody to do. I think he has come on as wide receiver. He has come on as a blocker. He is a tough guy and certainly him catching the football Saturday gave us an edge."

On the defensive front in the Ole Miss game...
"I'm really proud of them. The four-man pressure was probably the best we've had all year. Antonio Coleman is getting a little bit better because now he can play with his thumb and he can grab and that makes a difference to a defensive lineman. You've got Antoine Carter on the other side really coming on. He is really coming back to where he was before he had gotten hurt. You've got some inside guys. Jake Ricks is a big presence out there. Mike Blanc is a big presence pushing the pocket. Nick Fairley, some of those guys. They are working better together now week-to-week. I think over all it was their best game. It certainly made a difference in their pass rushing."

On if he has ever thought about changing the schedule to have an off game in the middle of the season and not after 11 weeks...
"We will go back and re-evaluate it. Everyone would love to have one right in the middle of the season, that's the perfect world. It doesn't always end of being able to be that way. But we will go back and look at it. The thing that is challenging for us right now with 11 straight weeks of football is the depth of the roster. But we move passed it. We have to be smart about how we practice and how much time we spend out there. Everybody doesn't have that break at the fifth game. Sometimes you get it at week 8, week 9. We just happen to get it after week 11. We'll always continually evaluate things and see if there's a better way."

On if it is beneficial to move out of the SEC (non-conference game) for Washington to learn a new position...
"I think so. That's not speaking one way or the other about any opponent. I just think its going to be a learning experience for him. It gets challenging if your first time is against Georgia. This is probably the best time for us."

On if there is a difference in the attitude of the team from last year with having six wins and being eligible for a bowl game...
"We haven't talked a whole bunch about it. We really talk everything week to week. I'm sure that they understand that is the case. But the attitude of the team has been the same all year. They have been really good. They go out and practice hard every week. We feel like they are prepared. We expect them to the same thing every week regardless of what bowl game they are in."

On if it pleases him that the team has done what he expected...
"I go back to us preparing like we do every week and really putting our blinders on and focusing on the opponent and playing that opponent and us being able to execute on Saturday. It doesn't matter who it is. It doesn't matter where we are playing. We have got to prepare the way we always have and if we do that, we have a chance to win."