Bobby Bowden - Florida State
On playing so poorly in the first half against North Carolina:
We had good preparation for the ball game, our kids seemed to really be into when we had all our meetings and everything, and I had even mentioned it to the coaches that they seemed ready to play. Now what caused all the disturbances, the delay of game, the off sides, the dropped balls, the fumbles and things like that because it seems like we had more of them than lining up wrong with our defensive team, because we could not get lined up ... Why? I don't have the answer to that.
On if he has ever coached team that had 16 turnovers but still won:
No, to be honest with you, now we've had games where we've had a lot of penalties, and to be honest with you some of our best football teams, and this not a plus, some of our best football teams were heavily penalized football teams and my response to that was usually 'well they're so doggone aggressive, they're so aggressive they get penalties.' You still don't want it, but maybe they'd still win. But we've had games where we got penalized, but I don't remember that bad and that awful.
On how important Jamie Robinson's interception was in the North Carolina game:
There's no doubt about it, and those are the kind of plays that win ball games and thank goodness we got it, we need more of them. On whether or not it's a good sign that the defense got stops and sacks in the second half: Well if they had not we'd of lost, it they had not we would have lost the game. It's a good sign, now the question is it going to last? On the importance of the win: Well after losing three ball games like they had you can imagine how excited that they were to win this football game, and of course how excited the coaches were, how excited the fans were, everybody. Now if you would have been winning every Saturday, you wouldn't have been excited, but the reaction was very strong just like you'd expect it to be. I've had that happen before, where I've coached football teams and say we're not doing very good, then all the sudden win a game and it's very exciting at that time. On if Ponder's performance in the second half reminds him of any other quarterbacks he has coached: Remember we played Miami, Chris Weinke's last year, they had us down 17-0 down there, we came back and tied it up 17-17, we might have gone ahead of them. And then they took it and made that last minute drive that put them ahead, then we drove back down and missed a field goal. That might have been a similar experience, although this one had more errors in it. I would compare his comeback, matter of fact I thought of it last night, was our comeback against Georgia Tech in 1992 when we joined the ACC and they had us down I think two touchdowns with 10 minutes to go or something like that and Charlie Ward had fantastic last 10 minutes. But he ran more than our quarterback did, Charlie ran a little bit more times, I remember him running for a touchdown of about 15 or 16 yards and running for some first downs, and yet Ponder did the same thing. I can't remember a better performance by a quarterback under that circumstance.
On whether or not he thinks the UNC win can turn things around:
Well, the answer to that is, yes it can. But the question is, will it? Did BYU turn things around? No. We had a great doggone ballgame and then the next week got beat - and lost, what, three in a row? Is it going to have that effect? It could, but nothing's a guarantee. So we're just going to see what happens. Again ? the effort of our kids is good. They're running hard, trying hard. But you're out of position and you missed a tackle and you missed an assignment. Those are things that we absolutely need to improve on. On whether or not he was surprised they played so well against UNC's pass defense: There's no doubt about it. I would think that anybody that knows anything about football, and knows anything about the conference, knows anything about North Carolina's defense, would be completely surprised. When we go out there to play them and we've got the No. 1 offense in the conference and they've got the No. 1 defense, we're looking at film of them and we're saying, "How in the world are we ever going to be consistent enough to get some points on this team?" Because they're so good. The first half is what you'd expect. The second half, gosh, you can't hardly imagine that much success. On the win taking some pressure off the program: Well, gosh, it's a weight off of everybody. I think everybody that is an FSU fan or a coach or a player, this takes a weight off the shoulder. But what does that mean? Seven more days of peace? On Lawrence Dawsey's good job coaching the receivers: I think the best thing they've done is catching the ball. And they're running good routes, though sometimes they're not. Most of the time they are. And they made key catches in that ballgame. It seems to me that we've been more successful on third down this year than any time I can remember. He might have hit three or four third-and-longs in a row in keeping a drive alive. But again, somebody has to make the catches. And we had a couple of very good catches, where the receiver got his head knocked off when he caught it.
It's the nature of competitive sports now. Whether it is baseball, whether it is basketball, whether it is football, whether it is any competition like that, the response of the fans is - I know how it is. I know how it's going to be. I know how to sooth it. There is only one answer and that is to win. You have to win. There is where the pressure comes. On Ponder's sideline demeanor when the team was losing: When you look at him on the sideline in a situation like that, you get a feeling of calmness. The guy is calm. He thinks he is going to win. But Ponder, don't you see we are behind 17 or 18 points?' There is still a calmness around him. That's just normal with him. On where Ponder ranks amongst FSU quarterbacks regarding leadership abilities: Oh, I would think he would rank up there with any of them. They are all different. They all have different styles. They all have different demeanors. Charlie is not like Weinke. Weinke is not like Charlie. Neither one of them are like Ponder. Ponder is nearly as quiet as Charlie, but not as quiet as Charlie. Ponder nearly speaks out as much as Weinke, but nearly as much as Weinke. They are all different, but with their different styles and demeanors, they are all winners.
On Christian Ponder's leadership:
Well, Ponder is the heart and soul of this football team. There is no doubt about it. I don't think there is a quarterback in the country that plays better than him right now. I mean you talk about your Heisman Trophy guys, they are playing pretty good but he is playing better than all of them.
On Rod Owens:
Rod has been one of those guys who has done what we asked of him really every game. You can count on Rod. He's supposed to be here, this is where is going to be. Some of the other guys are not doing that, they are getting better at it but Rod is very dependable.
Tom O'Brien - NC State
Q: Can you talk about the open date and what was your focus?
O'Brien: We do what we always do on an open date. We try to get better as individual football players. We spent a lot of time working not only with the older guys but we gave the younger guys an interest, too. They got as many reps once we got to teamwork. We coached the freshmen as much as the older kids.
We worked really hard with the older kids on fundamentals, try to do enough teamwork situations. We ended up with, I don't know, maybe 40 plays, in different situational things with them. The younger kids got as many plays too to try to make them better. So hopefully the scout team will be a little better and we'll be a little better as a football team coming out of the open week.
Q: C.J. Wilson is listed as the starter at boundary. What did you see there?
O'Brien: Well we just feel that he gives us the best chance that we have in the secondary. That was part of last week to try realign the seventh different starting group in eight games. It's been a struggle, but hopefully he'll be the answer.
Q: People seem to be really focusing on Willie Young on your pass rush. Coach Archer said last year they can focus on Willie Young but you have Nate Irving coming on the other side. You don't really seem to have that this year. Anything can be done to counter their protection of Willie?
O'Brien: We have the same structure but we don't have the same guy coming from the other, that's all part of personnel and matchups. I think what teams have done the last couple of weeks is they're either doubling him or chipping him to get out which is to be expected. We got to work hard on the other guys. That means other guys are singled up and they have to get in and make a play.
The idea of moving Willie, we could do that some. We'll look into that, but I don't know if that's the answer to what we have to do. I think the best thing to happen is to try to create some one-on-ones for him, but then somebody else has to step up and rush the passer.
Q: Specifically from the front line?
O'Brien: Right, there's one on ones there and we're just a step away from getting there.
Q: In your first year you had a bye week and the team really took off, is this a similar situation?
O'Brien: No this one is different. The first year we were here we were doing different things with different people and what we were coaching them wasn't what they were capable of doing. We changed some guys position to fit what we had to do to win. That certainly is not the case this year. We know what we want to do. We just haven't gotten the execution out of some of the guys we have to get the execution out of, specifically in third down situations to get off the field.
Q: James Washington is out for the year, how does that impact special teams with T.J. Graham out?
O'Brien: Well with T.J. hurt, he was No. 2. It's just an unfortunate injury Thursday in practice. Concentrate on academics and get ready for spring ball.
Q: How has the team come back after the losses?
O'Brien: We've had good practices. I don't think that they've shown any sense that they're down or they don't think they're capable of doing things. Talking with a couple of kids, they understand what they have to get done. It's a question of making it work and making it happen. It has to come from them. That means us trying to coach them a little better and have them trying to execute a little better, and that's what we have to get done.
Q: What positives have you seen in the first seven games?
O'Brien: I think Toney Baker has been a great positive. He's added a lot to the offensive football team. I think we haven't been as consistent as we'd like to on offense. We have to get that. Obviously on defense, we know we have some situations in the secondary and they're still ongoing. Hopefully we can solve that. The positive is those other kids, they're playing hard. They're giving it all they got, we just got to help them get to the spot they got to get to.
Q: Without Washington, is Barnes the third back?
O'Brien: Barnes is the third back.
Q: Does Florida State remind you of any teams?
O'Brien: They have so much speed on both sides of the ball. They're really skilled on the offensive side of the ball. Ponder, he's having a fabulous year. I think 12-to-1 in touchdowns, only thrown one interception, leads in total offense, second in passing efficiency, so he's really come alive. Certainly they have done a great job throwing the ball the last three weeks, I think 300 yards a game.
Defensively, you put the tape on, the names and numbers change but it looks the same. They've got great speed and great ability to make up ground and get you on the ground. I think they look a lot like they have on defense in the past. Now that Ponder is grown up, they're much better on offense than they were a year ago.
Q: Ponder is already working on his MBA. Russell Wilson is about to graduate in three years. How much does having guys really smart at quarterback help?
O'Brien: I think it helps them immensely because it helps them at that position. There is so much for them to learn and understand. You see two kids kind of grow into their role, understanding what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to do it. We talked about changes, that's one thing you don't have to worry about and that's always good. You can worry on other issues.
Q: Do you have to be smart to be a good quarterback?
O'Brien: I think so in today's, you don't have to. You don't have to be anything, but it's better if you are smart and talented."