First, I want to apologize that you haven’t had a blog for the past few days. I was on vacation last week and Monday.
I’ll be at the basketball games on Thursday and Saturday. Hope to see you there.
Anyway, enough about me.
Here’s an end-of-the season review with football coach Bill Curry. Answers have been paraphrased in some instances.
Q: What will be the emphasis in the offseason for the team?
A: The priority coming off the severe disappointment is to have a plan to immediately get to work on the things that really matter.
No. 1 is final exams
No. 1a. is any sort of misunderstandings or controversies related to academics…violations, that sort of thing.
We have to go right to work, getting ready for our football team to be improved. We are already back in the weight room. The team is enthused to work, to get better starting now; not starting in January, starting now.
Coaches are meeting with players, talking academics and performance. And I am meeting with players. I’ve met with 20 so far. We will talk about goals, aspirations, why we played the way we did. We’re trying to incorporate their goals into what we are doing. We started doing this last Monday.
I’ve learned that immediate positive work reinforcement improves grades, morale, strength, conditioning, all those things. You need to strike while people are feeling the sting of knowing we didn’t come close to fulfilling their potential.
These are things that would seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times things are allowed to linger. We aren’t going to do that.
The short answer is to go back to work.
Q: Were things allowed to linger last year? Do you think that contributed to the problems?
A: I think what lingered was the notion that somehow we had done so well. The immature response to having done well is, ‘Oh it’ll be easy now.’ We didn’t anticipate that. As we began to have disciplinary issues, we realized that we weren’t the same. We were working from that point forward to correct it. We didn’t have the same psychological mindset as we had during the season.
Q: What position is the priority in recruiting?
A: We really need some of everything. That’s the truth. We need defensive linemen, linebackers, a corner; we need a wide receiver, we need some offensive linemen, a quarterback.
Q: Every coach sets up their recruiting differently. I didn’t know if, because you are about to lose a lot of offensive linemen, if you were going to try to replace them man for man.
A: We have backups that will be ready on the offensive line. Defensively, we need more people.
Q: Speaking of the defense, will you switch your base to the 4-3, instead of the 3-4. The change seemed to work.
A: We have discussed it. We won’t get into that. Right now the coaches are mostly on the road recruiting.
We will make decisions about structure and strategies and those kinds of things after we get back off the road. The coordinators will be here in December most of the time. They’ve already begun work on it.
Q: Do you anticipate any changes on the staff?
A: There’s always a possibility that there could be changes, but there’s hasn’t been any change to this point.
Q: To be more direct, will you make any changes on the staff?
A: I haven’t made that decision yet.
Q: Have any players approached you about transferring out?
A: [Long pause] I have had a player or two talk about quitting football, but not about transferring. Nobody has come in with an ultimatum, or ‘This is what I’m thinking about.’ That’s why I’m having face-to-face meetings.
Q: How did this year better prepare for the team for the CAA in 2012?
A: I think it was slap in the face, a reality check. ‘Here’s what you have to do to win.’ Everybody knows we are going to play tougher teams next year. I think five of them are still playing.
It was, I think, a huge spark, to launch our enthusiasm. It is evident in our work already the last few days.
Q: There were a lot of negatives last year. What were the positives?
A: Guys didn’t quit. They kept fighting down the stretch. Even though we didn’t do well in the fourth quarter, which was the most obvious shortcoming of all, neither did we fold the tent. I think a lot of teams would have thrown in the towel under similar circumstances, teams that wouldn’t go out and try to win the last few games, but we did, we tried.
I think that’s important.
I think, too, that we learned the real hard way, how priceless field position is, when we went through that stretch of letting people return kickoffs to the 40-yard line over and over, and the penalties.
Football is a game of field position and turnovers.
While our running backs committed zero turnovers on the season, we did turn it over more than we should at times. When we did, it really hurt us.
We relearned some of the basics of football in some of the most important of ways, and those things tend to stick.
Q: A lot of coaches like to use different scores or moments from the previous season to motivate the team for the next season, Saban using the Auburn game as an example. Is there anything you will use from last season?
A: I’ve never been big on looking back. We’ve already had a team meeting and talked about what happened and specifics. We’ll only look back to reference what we have to do going forward.
There may be a phrase that we will come up with when we come back in January. For now, it’s strictly school business, getting in the weight room, keeping your body working right.
Having the breaks are important.
Q: Was there a position group that you were pleased with?
A: I’m proud of our running backs for hanging onto the ball. It’s hard to go through a season without turning over the ball. I almost don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to jinx it. Our running game improved. It wasn’t 100-percent consistent, but it improved. We hung onto the ball well.
The most obvious key in today’s college football is that the quarterback now dominates. There was a time when you could be a big physical team and the quarterback could be like a conductor. You can’t do that anymore.
The quarterback has to think on his feet, see things, thousands of repetitions based upon working with his receivers.
We ddin’t have privilege this year. We had a variety of people playing quarterback. That changes with each personality on the field. Things change drastically.
We had four people play center. Those are facts, but facts you usually don’t deal with. They were never used to say ‘Don’t expect us to play well this week.’ We didn’t bring it up. We wouldn’t unless you asked.
Defensively, there were times when we were short-handed, especially with the absence of Jake Muasau, who was our playmaker. That doesn’t change the fact we have to tackle better, and do things better.
Q: You still plan on coaching through your contract?
Q: You and athletic director Cheryl Levick will talk about a succession plan at some point?
A: We will talk about it.
Q: To say a succession plan will be discussed implies one might be needed, that you won’t coach after your contract. Or is it just that you will decide once your contract is done?
A: You’ve got it right, when the contract is done [I'll decide].
Q: Who will you miss most?
A: I’m going to miss all these guys. They pitched in. They came here because they believed in something that might happen and helped us put it together, even though we didn’t put it together on the field.
I expect all of them to graduate and I want them to remember this as a tough proving ground and a time to grow up. I believe they all have. They’ve learned how to deal with something without complaining and how to deal with the rest of their lives.
I hope I hear years from now how much they said they respect each other after the game. It’s an open time. It always has been.
Naturally, you have certain people who give you a lift. I’m going to really miss Brandon Jones. Who at 6:15 in the morning is going to give me a lift. If I was feeling sorry myself, I could look up and Brandon is sitting there ready to write down the next thing I say. Certain people help motivate the coach.
Brandon, because he was here from day 1, I’ll always remember being that attentive upbeat presence.
Q: Will you continue to look at transfers?
A: Yes. I didn’t expect to have this many. We never anticipated this many seniors. But you don’t turn down Joseph Gilbert and Clyde Yandell if they show up. If we are fortunate and if we have a spot, then we will anticipate that there will be some. It’s a fact of life in today’s football.
Q: I didn’t know if there had been a philosophical shift away from transfers to start building the team through four-year players.
A: There is a philosophical change there. We aren’t visiting junior colleges the way we were a few years ago. I felt we needed to make a splash in the first two years. I felt like this year would be a step up. I was wrong. We have to live with that and go about our business.
I’d have given anything had this year fulfilled my expectations. Go on with the plan, which is to build the program in a league that is very sound academically and athletically. We want to be good members in the league, competitive members.
– Doug Roberson
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