Kyle Whittingham addressed the press today, looking ahead to UCLA this weekend.
Sept. 10, 2007
It was a disappointing game against Air Force last week. I thought we prepped well all week, and we had good practices each day leading up to the game.
I thought that we'd be more efficient but the same issues that we had against Oregon State showed up against Air Force. We were unable to run ball and were not able to stop the run. I thought that we made strides with our running game against Air Force but we didn't make enough.
It was disappointing that it was a conference loss because that puts us in the hole from the get-go. We didn't have enough offensive production. When you score 12 points, that isn't enough to win a modern, Division I college football game.
Offensively, I thought that Tommy Grady got off to a slow start, but he did much better in the second half. Defensively, Air Force ran a similar option-style offense that we were used to seeing. In the end, the Falcons went back to what they always hang their hat on.
I thought that Louie Sakoda was a bright spot for us. He nearly averaged 50 yards per punt and kicked two field goals for us.
The degree of difficulty increases for us when UCLA comes to town this week. We are facing adversity right now, and the only way out is to pick up our swords and battle out of it. That's where this team is at right now.
On the running back situation
The separation we wanted among our running backs did not occur last week like we had hoped. Darrell Mack is probably going to be our starter against UCLA. It's unfortunate that we haven't sorted out our running back situation, but there's a lot of football season left and we hope to see that separation come soon.
On the difficulty the team has running the ball
I think that problem lies equally between the running backs and the offensive line. The offensive line isn't functioning at a high level. It has to be one cohesive unit and, right now, it isn't. The offensive line hasn't stepped up, and it needs to. But, on the whole, I think that both the line and the running backs have played an equal part in the problem.
Brian Johnson is progressing with his rehab. He's not going to play this week, but we hope to have him back in two weeks against UNLV.
On Tommy Grady's performance last week
That was Tommy Grady's first collegiate start. He was a little tentative at first. We thought that he flushed out of the pocket early, and, when you do that, you don't let the play develop and you tend not to look down field. I thought he did better in the second half. If he improves each game like he did in the second half against Air Force, then I expect to see some good things from Tommy.
On the team's resolve
I have to give credit to this team for its performance last week. We had a chance to go to overtime against Air Force. We fought all the way to the end, and we had the right call on the last play of the game. There was a big hole on the right side and we just didn't hit it.
On the team rebounding from its losses
The guys on the team are looking around and saying, "What's going on, here?" This is not what any of us expected, and this wasn't the situation we expected to be in. There's no magic fairy that's going to come down, tap us on the head, and make everything right again. We have to fight our way out of this.
On scouting UCLA
I've only spent time watching UCLA's offense. They have a great running back (Kahlil Bell) and a couple of great receivers. They have Ben Olson at quarterback, and we remember him from last year. UCLA also returns most of their offensive line. They're a good team, and they are well-deserving of their national ranking.