TEXAS A&M FOOTBALL
COLLEGE STATION, Texas- Coaches and players met with the press on Tuesday at the weekly football media luncheon, held at the Bright Complex on the Texas A&M campus.
Head Coach Dennis Franchione comments
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
COACH FRAN: Hi guys. How y'all doing? Ready for another week? Weren't too drained after the game I take it?
THE QUESTION: I kind of was.
COACH FRAN: I understand that. I understand that feeling. That was a long day.
THE QUESTION: I lost about 5 pounds.
COACH FRAN: I haven't had time to look. I just know I got home at 9:00 o'clock after a 2:30 game.
THE QUESTION: What does the head coach do after a game like that? Crash?
COACH FRAN: Pretty much. Have something to eat and crash and burn. That's about it. You know, you would like to think you play an afternoon game it's kind of like getting an extra day of the week. I did get to watch a little bit of the games on TV, not very much but a little bit. I try to see what I can so I can vote intelligently the next day. Do you guys want to talk about Monroe? That wasn't on your list, huh?
THE QUESTION: Coach I heard you are on the rules committee this year, can you talk about that a little?
COACH FRAN: I just went on; I've never been on the rules committee before. This is my first time. In May at the Big 12 meetings they asked me to. I got nominated to be on the rules committee.
THE QUESTION: Why is the term so short?
COACH FRAN: My term?
THE QUESTION: It seems like it.
COACH FRAN: I don't know. I don't know how long my term is, I just got put on it. There was somebody that went off for whatever reason, maybe job change or something I'm not exactly sure. At our conference meetings they asked me to be the representative and I said I would do it. So I don't even know how long my term is to be honest. Just know I go next year.
THE QUESTION: Any major things you want to change?
COACH FRAN: Not really. I haven't given it a lot of thought. I think when the season is over you have time to reflect and I think I'm going to demand a goal line camera, though.
THE QUESTION: Coach Darnell was talking about you guys wanting different redshirt rules now that the 12th game has been added.
COACH FRAN: He's talking about the football rules committee. You're talking about AFCA rules. That's fine. We can go there. There have been a lot of discussions about five years of eligibility and no redshirting. Among coaches I think there's a lot of feelings that that would be a good use of the rules and of the 85 scholarships. Freshmen in October and November may be more ready to help and with the 12 games the injuries and those kinds of things they're all staying on scholarship for the most part for five years anyway so why not. There are a lot more implications to that rule change than just football obviously and so for whatever reason it has not passed but it's been up several times. It's about to the point where it's going to pass or go away I would guess here before long.
THE QUESTION: You guys probably don't look at it this way but some people look at this as the final dress rehearsal before you get into the meat of things, big picture wise. What do you want to see this week? What do you want to get out of this game? What are your priorities of areas you want to see the most improvement in?
COACH FRAN: The first thing I want to get is a win and then I think continued improvement across the board. We can all pick out areas on offense and defense and kicking game. I don't have to name those for you specifically. We want to get better at a lot of things on offense, the passing game as you guys have talked about. We want to get better on defense. We want to find out more about our team. I think you get a feel as you go thru these games, whose playing good and who's maybe up and down and whose getting better and what can you do to get people better. You find out more things that you can hang your hat on as you go into a conference schedule. It's a constant evaluation and it's an ever-changing evaluation and there are a lot of areas that are like that for us right now. Two games are hard to completely have a feel for yet.
THE QUESTION: You said after Saturday's game that the passing game needs to get better and you said it again yesterday. What exactly in the passing game are you talking about? What components need to improve?
COACH FRAN: I think it's all components. I don't think it's one area. I think it's protection, route running, catching, throwing, it's timing, it's coaching. We had a long discussion about that and we've got seven or eight areas that we talked about and really it's across the board. There's no one area that I think needs to improve. If there is it's us. We have to do a better job as coaches putting our guys in good positions to do it and that's what we're trying to do is evaluate that and make sure we put them in those positions.
THE QUESTION: When did you have that conversation, yesterday, Sunday?
COACH FRAN: We've had one every day for the last three days.
THE QUESTION: So it's ongoing?
COACH FRAN: Yeah, it's not going to be an overnight decision. I mean, E.J. Shankle is a young receiver he has had a couple of drops and he has made some nice plays as well. Roger Holland played the other day and he's going to get better. How do we utilize these guys? It has to be ongoing, it's not just we sit down Sunday make a chart and that's it. I think it's how does Roger and E.J. grow in the offense, how does Jamie McCoy or Terrence McCoy come along? How do guys improve or where are we impacted by injuries? It's going to be ongoing.
THE QUESTION: Do you include the players in these discussions? I mean I know you trust Stephen, do you include him?
COACH FRAN: We talk a lot with the guys especially him and I think that's a constant ongoing thing.
THE QUESTION: Since there are a lot of different factors, does that make it a lot harder to address and correct?
COACH FRAN: Yeah. I don't think there's any doubt that that makes it a little bit harder. It's not like they are pitiful, there are some very fixable things here. A lot of it hasn't been very far away. Are we going to be Air Coryell? Probably not; but are we going to be able to be efficient enough to balance our offense? I think we can. We just have to get to some things that I think we are as coaches hopefully getting a feel for that we can do these better and maybe some of these things. We've protected our offense a little bit. There are some things I think we can get to more often and will get to more often in game plans.
THE QUESTION: Along the lines of big picture questions, with Miami around the corner are you happy with where this program is at in terms of the two games under your belt and where does it need the most improvement?
COACH FRAN: Well, we're 2-0. I'll take any ugly 2-0 there is in the nation and we're never completely happy. We are always trying to get it better.
THE QUESTION: Does anything surprise you at all about where your program, where your team is right now and where you thought it would be at this point in the season?
COACH FRAN: I thought we would be throwing the ball a little better like you guys have said. We've played two a lot better teams than we had this time last year and I think you have to keep that in consideration. I'm disappointed we didn't drive the spike on Saturday and get that game finished a little earlier when we had the chance, but we still came up with more points than they did.
THE QUESTION: Do you anticipate having Chris (Alexander) back this week?
COACH FRAN: It's early but we hope. That's a sly way to ask about injuries.
THE QUESTION: We asked about Mark Dodge a little bit earlier and you know defensive coordinator said...
COACH FRAN: Deferred to me? And my answer is it's not season ending. I anticipate Mark playing.
THE QUESTION: This week?
COACH FRAN: (Nodding head) good question, though.
THE QUESTION: Due to the quick turn around to Miami do you want to try and keep a guy like Mark out a little bit more and let those other two linebackers play?
COACH FRAN: We will evaluate how the week goes and how guys come along and things. That may be some of our thinking, it kind of depends. We've got three games in 13 days so managing this schedule is important and we spent a lot of time talking about how to manage the team practice wise with three games in 13 days, one major travel day in those 13 and one of those days being about a game and a third or half, whatever you want to call it. That's a delicate balance that we have to find a way to do a good job with.
THE QUESTION: Do you think Marquis (Carpenter) has earned a starting job?
COACH FRAN: He's getting really close I think. He's played pretty well. He's been pretty competitive and I think it'll be interesting to watch the week of practice now and see how things go. He's been more consistent than ever before and I think that's been his weakness a little bit is inconsistency and he's starting to go show a lot of consistency. He played pretty good Saturday.
THE QUESTION: Where has he improved the most this year to last year?
COACH FRAN: I think just what I said. He's down in down out more solid, more consistent. In the past Marquis would make some good plays with balls in the air but he would also maybe give up a big play with it and you don't want a corner that's fixing to make a big play where we just don't know if it's for us or them. You don't want that to be the mode of operation and to his credit he's really been purposeful about working at being more consistent and being a down in down out guy that you can trust to play more that way.
THE QUESTION: Speaking of Monroe, Charlie Weatherbie has a phenomenal grasp of running principles. What do you see from them, I know they have two good running backs?
COACH FRAN: They've got a really good offense. They do an outstanding job with their quarterback and their two tailbacks they've got a good offensive line. I think they've got like 135 or 140 starts among their offense. They have all 11 starters back from last year. You look at last year's schedule I don't know if y'all have or not but they go to Lexington and it's 44-42; they go to Kansas and it's 19-17. They played a lot of people really close games and I think we have to be prepared to fight our tails off again this week. They can control things offensively with what they do. It's a totally different kind of running game than Fresno or Montana State's was. It's more of a zone read type of attack and the tailback does a great job with what they're doing and the quarterback is quicker than all get out running with the ball and doing things. So they're hard to defend because of that and they move the ball. Did they have two 100 rushers Saturday against Clemson? They're going to move the football. They do it every week. They have a veteran group and we just can't let them control the game with their offense.
THE QUESTION: Are you glad that this type of challenge is coming next after the second half and overtime last week? Are you glad to get your defense back out there and say "hey let's see if we improved, and get it going again?"
COACH FRAN: Yes and not necessarily no, but this is a totally different concept. It's not the power type running game that Fresno did in the second half as much. They're almost always in a one back set. They may motion back to two back sets. They're not under center a great deal. They are mostly a shotgun read zone team. This one requires some discipline of playing dive and quarterback much more so than Fresno did. Theirs was a totally different kind of attack. Hopefully our guys have worked against us enough and have seen enough stuff that they can get a feel for it. Monroe is going to make yards now. They have a good scheme and they execute it well, they know what they're doing. They're going to move the ball on everybody they play.
THE QUESTION: Would you talk a little bit about the unexpected adventures that Nick LaMantia had last week?
COACH FRAN: From going from linebacker to in the game as a fullback?
THE QUESTION: Yeah.
COACH FRAN: Well, finding a back up for Chris (Alexander) was our goal and Nick was a guy who is a great student and a quick learner and great learner and loves to play the game and was somebody that we said "hey we need to look at him and see if he can give us that." He got thrown into the fracas a little bit Saturday and for the most part had some good response and then also found out he's got a lot of work to do yet. That's not unexpected by us as coaches. We just have to get him a little bit better and he knows he's got to get better, too. But there's hope for Nick at that position.
THE QUESTION: He kind of embodies that number he wears don't you think?
COACH FRAN: Oh, I don't think there is any doubt. Nick is pretty much a consummate No. 12.
THE QUESTION: What is it about him that makes you want him to have that number?
COACH FRAN: Well, you earn it every week. Every Thursday we make a decision about who's going to wear that jersey and Nick won't give it up. He hasn't let anybody take it away from him and that's a real credit to him. The spirit and passion and commitment that he brings every week and the practice habits and his work habits are incredible. He's a member of our leadership counsel as a representative of all the 12th men so he's highly respected by everybody, coaches and teammates. That's I think what being able to have the opportunity to wear No. 12 is all about. We kind of like for some other guys to get in there and wear it once in a while, too but Nick has pretty well put a lock on it and he fights them off one way or another.
THE QUESTION: Fran, I guess you were in your first year at Alabama on September 11. What do you recall? You were getting ready to play Arkansas, is that right or South Carolina maybe?
COACH FRAN: Southern Mississippi.
THE QUESTION: What do you recall? I guess you played that next Saturday right?
COACH FRAN: We did not.
THE QUESTION: Oh, you were off?
COACH FRAN: We were supposed to play that week and I remember the buzz going around the building and walking down to the video room where there was a television on and seeing what was going on and kind of wondering if this was real or really happening. It seemed like every few minutes there was something more devastating going on. The tough part was managing our players because unbeknownst to me many of them had family in that area and so they were all concerned about their family that was in that area. The first thing that we heard is that you're going to play Saturday we're not canceling games and so managing our players' emotions and preparing for a game was difficult. We went to, if I remember correctly, Wednesday about maybe 3:00 o'clock before we found out we were not going to play. I couldn't fully realize how much a relief that was for our players until they said we're not going to play. I think they were working through it and trying to manage it and understand they've got a game to play and with respect to Southern Miss they knew it was a tough game as it always has been and yet deal with all kinds of anxiety and emotions from the happenings. A lot of them couldn't get a hold of people on cell phones and things like that so that was kind of 48 hours there of a unique experience for me to have a team going through those things and not completely being able to grasp the magnitude of what they were going through until it was finally said that we're not going to play. It was a tough day, or two days.