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I enjoy these quotes from Coach Chizik's press conference:
On the defense being able to respond at critical points...
"I think that's a great point. We haven't always played great defensively throughout the course of the game from the beginning to the end; it's hard to do that these days, especially with the explosive offenses that we've been up against. Defensively, I keep using the word resilient because here's what I like about our defense: they keep fighting, they're into the game, they know that during parts of the game they have to play better, they have to get things fixed, somebody has to make a play. You can go back to previous games before this. We've made a habit, obviously, of making games really close, but a good amount of the time defensively when we seemingly haven't been playing well, somebody steps up at the end of the game and has been able to make a play. We talk to them all the time about, `Don't look at the scoreboard, don't look at the stats, don't look at that stuff until the clock says 0:00.' I think they've really sunk their teeth into that conceptually. We know we need to play better on defense, there's no secret to that. However, I'm very proud of them for the way they keep responding. We tell them that you have to be at your best when your best is needed, and there are many times when I can say they have done that."
On having to remind the younger players of the one-game-at-a-time mentality...
"I think that slowly but surely they're getting that. I'm really proud of them the way they've prepared every week. I really don't expect this week will be any different. They'll be excited to play and they'll be excited to practice today and rightly so. They should be. Our coaches ought to be excited to coach and all of those things. As far as them understanding the day-by-day improvement that is needed and everybody bringing their game up a level at every position in practice today, let's not go to Wednesday, let's just talk about today, I think they all understand the importance of that. I'm pleased with them buying into that's how we prepare. I think they've done a good job with that."
On comparing this year to 2004 and having a team that just wins every game as opposed to being a dominant team...
"I'd rather be the one that's dominant, but obviously that's not happening and it's going to be hard to be that way. They're just two different teams and two different chemistries. It's a different mixture of guys. This team has so many young guys in the mix and you have one of the bigger senior classes, I'm sure, that's been here. I've only been here two years and I know it's certainly bigger than the one last year. It's a big senior class with a great mixture of young guys in there that are pulling their weight that these older guys didn't know who they were when they came in. I think that the chemistry of the team is still unfolding. As far as whether we win the games by one point on the last play or whether we win them by 21, we just want to win them. They're finding ways to do that. I think as we proceed through this, I think our team chemistry has improved week-by-week, quite honestly. I think that might be one of the biggest parts of the puzzle when you're on a journey and you're trying to win a championship."
On having been around a team as close-knit as this one...
"I've been on some really good teams that had really outstanding chemistry and this is one of the ones that has to be right up there. Again, just the way the young guys and the older guys have kind of clicked and bonded and the emergence of some players that weren't necessarily the guy at the beginning of the year. That has happened with our quarterback. Just a different dynamic, but I think chemistry-wise, it's really getting better every week."
On stressing team chemistry and becoming one...
"I don't think you can play the game any other way. I think there's a disconnect there somewhere that eventually there's going to be a crack in the foundation somewhere. I'm not saying every team has it, I'm saying usually the ones that end up being really good football teams, they have that chemistry in there somewhere that you really don't understand how and why it became what it was. In the teams that I've been around that have been really good teams, they have it. I think it's extremely important."
On the importance of coaches being able to stay calm and not freeze up during big games...
"I think it's huge. I think that's what our job is. That being said, it is really easy to sit back in your living room on your rocking chair and when that split second decision has to be made and somebody doesn't do it exactly right, everybody's up in arms. Those decisions in that split second become tough. You have to be really focused and locked-in and that's easier said than done. However, that's what our job is. That's what we are expected to do. When there's a lot of pressure and time's winding down and you have to make this decision and that decision, it gets hairy sometimes. I think most of the time coaches do a great job with that."
...........and a few quotes from Cam:
On whether or not he impresses himself when he watches film...
"I don't think Coach (Gus) Malzahn even gives me the space to even do that. It's fun to watch sometimes, but we're always so `on to the next one' attitude, like `we're doing good things, but in order for us to keep doing good things we have to go on to the next step.' While walking up the steps you just can't stop at every step and say `Wow this is a good step,' you have to keep going to the top."
On whether or not they have shown everything they can do offensively...
"I don't know. I go in there every week and think, `What does he have up his sleeve this week?' Somehow or another he brings a rabbit. Somehow or another he's going to bring something out this week. I really don't know, but I'm always tuned in to see whatever he has to offer, and I'm willing to buy."
On the importance of getting everybody involved on offense...
"It's very big. I never want to be very evident to the team as if I'm just in it for myself. Anybody who knows me knows that I would never have that type of attitude. I think we have a lot of great guys on this team, starting from the offensive line to the skill positions, and I know this. The main reason I came here was because I won't be able to win the games by myself. I will have help, and I've been having a supporting cast and vice versa. I'm just trying to help these guys, and they're helping me, but they're capable of making plays which makes me look good. They don't get the credit that I do, but I just admire the guys that are on our team because even though you come to the sidelines and you have that look on your face I can sense, and I have this feeling and I go to them and I say, whoever it is, `I'm getting you the ball. Regardless.' I felt that way for Kodi Burns for a long time, but Kodi is a man of good character. For half the season he hadn't even gotten a touch of the football, but as far as him being a key contributor to this team as far as blocking and doing everything he's supposed to do, he didn't even sense that on the field during his gameplay."
TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
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