August 26, 2003
"On the season, we will probably have 17 to 20 newcomers play, which is quite a bit. We signed 26 and within that 17 to 20 there maybe some non-scholarship players so that number is a little distorted. Seventeen to 20 is still a lot of newcomers. The other thing about the season when you look at what we are trying to do from a win-loss perspective and when you look at striving to make improvement, I think with our numbers, roster and our schedule, mental toughness is probably going to be the difference. The reason I say that is we are going to go through some adversity. You have a group of kids who have not had success in nine years. How do they get through adversity, whereas programs that have won, they get through adversity because they know there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They know what it feels like, and they know what success is like. Here you have a group that has no idea what success is like, so it is easy to give into adversity as soon as it strikes. I see those two issues as we get to start the season, a lot of newcomers will play and we have to find out how mentally tough we are. If we are mentally tough, I think we have a chance. If we are not mentally tough, I don't think we have any chance."
"I think any first game, the no talent issues that we call, the things you can excel at that don't take any talent, are critical. We have been trying to work on those things and really try to eliminate them. If we have a long list of no talent issues when we come back from UConn and headed to Seattle, if we have a long list of things that we have to work on that take no talent, lining up right, jumping offsides, not being in the right gap, poor alignment, 12-guys on the field, 10-guys on the field, missing a substitution, if we have a long laundry list of those things, we probably lost the game. If we have a short list of those things, we probably played pretty well. I think that is true with any first game."
Thoughts on intensity of practice:
GD:"I thought we had a good day today. Good programs come and practice hard everyday, they don't need external motivation to have a good practice. It is just what good programs do. If I am not mistaken, the Colts first team played more snaps this week than they did last week. They are intensifying as they get closer. Tony (Dungy) knows what he is doing. Young kids think, ok, we passed the shuttle, we got through camp and now, we will take a breath. No, the only reason you passed the shuttle and made it through camp was to get ready for the game. It is a means to an end. When you are involved in these programs, sometimes they don't know what the end is. They don't know what it tastes like. They don't know what it was like last time they had success and how hard they practiced."
Thoughts on positives from the team:
GD:"I think they have worked hard and they have been very attentive. We have had one guy late for a meeting since we started in early August. They have been terrific. I always say that we have fabulous kids. But we have a lot of positives, their work ethic. You can see the progress in Victor (Adeyanju) by way of example. You can see Isaac Sowells coming on. You can see a lot of guys getting better; there are a lot of positives. The issue when you get in these situations is there are a lot of positives with the guys on the other sideline, too. So you don't get anything for doing what you are suppose to do. You have to stop them and put points on the board."
On the offense with LoVecchio:
GD:"Matt has taken to the offense. He did a good job in the spring; he has done a good job in camp."
Thoughts on the newcomers:
GD:"There are several, but until they play in a game, I am going to avoid mentioning them. They could just be practice players, no pressure. I think we will wait until we play a game to decide who the good players are. We know who the good practice players and good drill players are, but we can't chalk up a win as a result."
On the linebacker position:
GD:"I think three of the four signees are going to contribute at linebacker. Josh Moore, Jake Powers and Cleo Harbison, they are going to contribute. They are new on the scene that you didn't see in the spring and that helps us. Casey Nowinski is in the two-deep. He is a walk-on guy from Andrean (Ind.). He is going to help us. Then you have Kevin and Kyle, who are the only two scholarship guys from the spring. We have helped ourselves at linebacker since the spring."
Thoughts on UConn:
GD:"I see them as the same team as us, and same talent level as us. I think the University of Connecticut does a tremendous job with the commitment to their athletic programs. You look at their men's and women's basketball programs, everything they do institutionally is pretty impressive from an athletic standpoint. I think the state is the same way; obviously the new stadium they built is rallied around the university. To make a move from I-AA conference team to a BIG EAST I-A team, to beat Iowa State, to be 6-6 in this infant stage of their I-A development is extraordinary. I don't think a coach, or athletic director can do that by himself, I think it's intuitionally controlled. It is very impressive what they have done. They are a good football team. We are a match-up opponent.
On starting free safety position:
GD:"There are a lot of guys who can start at free safety, we rotate quite a few. We will probably play more than one. It could be Joe (Gonzalez), Will (Lumpkin), Ty Henderson or Matt Foss. It could be one of those four, or a combination of them.
On Herana-Daze Jones's position change:
GD:"I think it has been positive. Physically, his measurables make him more secondary type than linebacker type. I think it was hard for him to perform last year. He did a good job hanging in there, taking on a 300-poung lineman. So, I think this is a better position for him. There is more upside to his growth in the secondary then there was at linebacker, only because of his measurables. He was never going to be a real big kid; it was always hard for him to gain weight. It is one of those program decisions you have to make. You know long range that is the right spot to be and yet you went through spring practice with two scholarship linebackers. That doesn't make any sense. I think Herana-Daze is an example of doing the right thing long range, even though it may be painful when you do it. We have new linebackers, who knows where they will lineup Saturday, but we do know Herana-Daze will line up right because he has played there. It's a growing pain.
On new field:
GD:"It's a tremendous addition. It has helped us this time of year, of course we wanted to do it earlier but it was understandable. The two practice fields are getting worn right now. We have done everything we can to move around and really try to be careful, and they were good fields. Most places will use their intramural fields so they don't wear out their varsity fields. That is really the standard procedure around the country. We don't have that situation, so we have to go on those two fields. The artificial turf allows us to rotate three fields instead of wearing out those two fields. I wanted to stay in Bloomington for camp, but if we didn't have the artificial we may have had to go away. Another reason it is so critical is, there are only two schools in the Big Ten that don't have priority registration for student athletes, us and Northwestern, so we start our day at 3:00 as opposed to most people starting at 2:00. Once it starts getting dark earlier, we have no lights on our practice field, which is another $300,000-400,000 investment. We would have no place to practice between our class schedule, not having the lights, having two fields, we could squeeze by the academic issue rather than the facilities/financial issues. This new field is a soft version of the old artificial surface. I can't say enough about it. It is a tremendous plus for us."
On Connecticut's offense:
GD:" They are multiple. They do a lot of things. Georgia Tech's and Maryland's offense is similar. They are going to be in two-backs, one-back and shotgun. They will line up in the wishbone on the goal line. They are very well conceived. They ran the identical number of plays that they passed last year, right on the number. (Dan) Orvolosky is a good quarterback. He is playing with a lot of confidence because they have a four game winning streak. They broke a bunch of records, shut Navy out, which is hard to do, and scored a bunch of points against Florida Atlantic, Navy and Iowa State."
On UConn entering the national landscape:
GD:" Their intentions were to become a BIG EAST team and I believe they are probably ahead of schedule to do that. I don't think there were any ever any intentions by Connecticut to be anything but a BCS team. I think we are on equal footing. They are as much a BCS team as we are."
On LoVecchio's progress:
GD:"It's been steady. He has done a good job personality wise coming in here, being a very visible transfer within the same state and having a lot of name recognition. Last year he spent the entire year on the scout team, I thought he handled it superbly. He did whatever the defensive coaches wanted him to do. He worked hard and never complained. He came to the games, made some close friends on the team, I believe he is very comfortable here from a social setting and as a team member." I could tell he was a little rusty when he came in the spring. Spring challenged him. He had a very good camp; now the missing piece is what it's going to look like on game day.
GD:"We have talented receivers. We have some receivers that can make the difference in the game. I think if they can make the difference in the game, they can make a difference on the season. (Courtney)Roby, (Glenn) Johnson and (Travis) Haney are very talented. They have all worked hard. The only missing piece of the puzzle is.. can they do it under the pressure of the games? If they can do it in the pressure of the games, we will move the ball offensively, which will give us a chance to win some games. We are talented on the perimeter; I don't think there is any question. We are talking about their talent, which means we are not talking about their past performance. I would like to be here a week from today and talk about their performance."