The Bulldogs head coach speaks about the big win against San Jose State and the upcoming bowl game.
Nov. 27, 2000
On the San Jose State game
"It was a great effort by our football team. When you have a big game and everything is on the line, it's nice to come up with a performance like that. We've had some other games this year that were big games that we came up a little big short in. TCU, at that time, was a very big game. We played hard, but we came up a little short. This was a do-or-die game. It was a high-pressure game, and I thought our team responded very well."
"I think the growth of the program was seen in that game. We've been in some big games. I think San Jose State hasn't been in that type of game where everything is on the line where it all comes down to one game. Our game last year with San Jose State was like that, and it was a complete dismantling. I think San Jose State is a very good football team. Going into the game, I don't think anybody expected that type of dominance. Our football team really understood what was on the line and showed real maturity in the way they handled it."
"I'd like to give a lot of credit to our football players. They worked very hard during the week in preparing for the game. They did a good job of what we call focusing on a target. They took it to the next level, and it showed."
On how Fresno State stopped Deonce Whitaker
"We've played good defense all year. Deonce Whitaker is a very good running back, but we've held him for three years. LaDaianian Tomlinson had 200-something yards in 40 carries, but on 29 of those he had three yards or less. But he got a couple of big ones. Deonce didn't get away from us. He had one that was over five yards."
"Stopping Deonce Whitaker was big. We are very blessed here to have a good defensive staff that really has played good defense here since Day 1."
"We've played very good defense against the run since we've been here. The one team and the one running back that has gotten us was Utah twice with [Jamal] Anderson. And I've said it before - Anderson is the best running back we've faced here. And he's showing that in the NFL."
On the offense
"We had great protection in this football game. This was probably as good as we've protected the passer. We ran some good routes and David [Carr] was right on the money. The running game, we pounded it for nearly 200 yards against a team that was prepared to stop the run. We ran the ball 53 times and threw it 25 times, but we won the game 36-7, so that's a good combination."
On David Carr's maturation as a quarterback
"If you really look back at the Ohio State, the turnovers is what everybody remembers. He just tried to make plays when we were down. We got down in that game early. It's really a shame that happened, the two fumbles really killed us. David then took it upon himself to make plays when he should have just eaten the ball or thrown it away or scrambled. Then he had a couple of throws where he was forcing it to get us back in the game, and that hurt us. As time has gone on, we've seen that change. He's scrambling, dropping the ball off, throwing the ball away and hitting second and third receivers. That part is better. He's learning to play within the framework of the offense. He's also worked when he hasn't had all his weapons there. But he still kept us in games and kept us competitive. He's been frustrated at times but never showed it outwardly. He's taken us to seven wins and to a bowl game. Heck, our four losses are to very good football teams."
"His day is coming where he can win the games when we are an underdog. We were an underdog against San Jose State. Everybody had us picked to lose. I don't think anybody really thought it was going to be 37-6 Bulldogs. I think David showed great toughness in that football game. He put some balls on the money early in that game, and they were dropped. But never did he showed any problems. He kept everybody up. He just kept throwing it and we started making plays, and that's maturity in a quarterback. David is a team player. That's maturity that he's always had. What he's gained is knowledge that if he stays within the framework of the offense, he'll be ok."
On having Rodney Wright and Charles Smith healthy
"It was good to see both of them on the field together. I still don't think Rodney is in game shape yet. The slant that he could, if he's in game shape he takes that for a touchdown. But having his presence out there made a difference. As soon as you put those two guys on the field, patterns open up a lot more. And if we can get Berrian back, with the three of them together, the whole complexion of the game changes. It changes just with Rodney and Charles in the game."
On the bowl game situation
"I'm not going to say I have a preference. I will say I'd like to go to San Jose because it's so much better for our fans. They can just drive there. But if the Silicon Valley Bowl decides to go with the champion of our league, we're not the champion. UTEP is. So if they go in that direction, we'll go to Boise and play Boise State, who's a heck of a football team. I have no control over where we go. I'm just a football coach. Until it changes, the biggest reward a football team can get is an opportunity to play in a bowl game. Right now, we are playing in a bowl game, and we're excited about wherever we go."
"There's six conferences that get a lot of attention. What we do is we play as tough a non-league schedule as we can. I imagine we could be a 9-2 football team right now. But we're 7-4 and we're playing the schedule we're playing, and we're going to keep doing that. You've got to beat those [tough] teams if you want to be considered one of them. I hope it's understood that is not an easy feat. But I think we've gotten to the point that we are well respected by those teams. Our day is going to come. Next year, three of our first four games are against top 25 football teams - Oregon State, Wisconsin and Colorado State. I don't know what else we can do here to get to where we want to go."
On bowl preparation
"Going to Boise State would be a very tough game. That would be like when teams used to come in here for the California Bowl. Playing at their home where their players never have to leave. Plus, they're a 9-2 football team. But if that's where we go, that's where we go. Once I know where we are going, we'll start setting up our schedule. We'll get our films in and start setting a game plan. It's a little different here with finals on the 18th. You've got to give guys time off to spend time with their families for Christmas. With these two bowl games, you've got finals and Christmas to work around. But until we find out where we are going, we are in limbo. After we find out where we're going, we'll set the schedule."