Transcript from Al Groh's Weekly Press Conference
Q. Looking at how it started last year for Southern Miss, it wasn’t so pretty, but what has really clicked for them since that point?
COACH GROH: Well, they won seven in a row now over the course of two years. Just continuity. Larry Fedora is in there and has put in a new system in all three phases — we can kind of relate to him a little bit. We are dealing with him in two‑out‑of‑three phases. We put in a new system in all three phases and just as the season went on in, watching ‑‑ actually in watching their season in different time frames what it looked like early, in the middle and the end and now this year, you can just see increased execution in all the different schemes.
Q. Coach, you focus with your team on just playing between the white lines and not focusing on the outside environment. Are you pretty confident heading into the first road game of the season that your team is pretty equipped to handle that?
COACH GROH: We’ll see. Every team is different. We are taking a lot of players down there that we have never taken on a trip before. We began, as we have said, about a number of different things, that important for teams to understand, the lessons have to be brought up long before the occasion. We have been talking about different elements about going on the road, whatnot, for quite some time, actually, stretching back to last spring. So at least when those issues are brought up before the team here this week, it’s not as if, gee, I’ve never heard that one before. It will be just more reinforcement to what we have talked about.
So we have also talked about the fact that we have been to these kind of places before. You know, it can be challenging environments, so those guys who have been there before need to remember, and those who haven’t need to ask.
Q. You’ve been creative in the past with some motivational strategies, whether it was the shovel, the flashlight, so on.
COACH GROH: You’re following all of that? The flashlight is on my shelf, and the shovel is back where it started. Where do you think that is?
Q. On the sideline?
COACH GROH: Back in the garage. It’s fairly humble ‑‑ it never got a big ego over being on television.
Q. The worm.
COACH GROH: The worm. Don’t remind me about that one.
Q. In those situations, how effective are they and how do you determine when to use them?
COACH GROH: Yeah, good question. One of the important things and challenging things to do for anybody who is the head coach is to spend time thinking about his team. Just what’s the team need right now.
And with the combination of administrative duties, practice scheduling, whatever involvement in the schemes and the X’s and O’s the head coach has, sometimes it’s difficult to say, slow down, sit down and think about the players on the team, what they need to hear, or a phrase that I got from somebody else quite some time ago is, “Show the face the players need to see.” And it’s to find that time to really think about it.
If it’s always about a gimmick, then just kind of becomes like ‑‑ it’s like Vaudeville, what’s the next show going to be, what’s the next act going to be. So I think it has to be ‑‑ take a special occasion for it, and sometimes they really work out well, in the case of those ones you cited, they had a pretty good outcome on it.
So glad you reminded me of that. I might go to something ‑‑ I might put the worm third, though. I don’t know if I’m ready for that one, but that’s a really good point. But the shovel thing really was ‑‑ we had a team meeting that night at 7:00, and I’ve just been thinking about, we need a little something here. I don’t know that it wasn’t so much of a dynamic, great motivator at the time as it became a lasting symbol and it took on ‑‑ it really did take on an identity with that particular team, for the players to kind of say, look, this is the way it is. We are going to be this way every week and it became that.
And eventually, those things, all of those symbols, anything that the players get from the outside, always diminishes relative to what we refer to as the amount of self‑talk that they get. Okay, the outside talk, really only lasts but so long, particularly that designed to really get them up and going. Eventually it’s got to come from the player himself, what he hears from himself. But obviously some methods can kick start some of the right thoughts.
Q. From what you’ve told us about BJ, sounds like an issue that could be going on all season with him. Issac (Cain) moved up, do you have other options?
COACH GROH: Aaron Van Kuiken is the next one there. It’s been progressing here pretty decently. It’s just a case of, as it has been with a lot of guys and particularly with offensive linemen, there’s no position that’s as developmental as offensive lineman, and he’s been here for one year and now five weeks into his second year. So he’s in that developmental phase, but we are pretty positive about where he’s going.
Q. With Jameel (Sewell), there was that year away from the game, and was there anything you did to maybe help him ease back in when he came back?
COACH GROH: We had a number of conversations about football, life, things on and off the field, which is ‑‑ none of these players, but particularly that position, that is so well known, none of them are just a helmet. They are a real person in there. And so there are a lot of things about being the person who is much more significant than just being the player that will hopefully show up a lot more in the performance than the player talk does, that the person shows up a lot more.
Q. In your previous season turnarounds, has there been a common thread in being able to reverse the team’s fortunes or anything the coaches have especially emphasized in practices?
COACH GROH: Well, certainly because there have been a number of those, we have looked back at some of those circumstances. One was a great determination on the part of the players to just make things better; a willingness to continue to grind and work and a belief in the system that allowed them to maintain their confidence that, one, what we were doing and how we were doing would work out. And then along the way in each particular case, there’s been some circumstances where just strategically and tactically we might have said, look, we are going to reshape things a little bit here at this particular time. So there’s been elements of all of those. Certainly not the same percentage to each particular circumstance, but Alan missed all of those in each one.
Q. When I asked you last week about how the TCU game got set up, you said you really didn’t know. How did this series get up and how was this series started? And as the head coach, how do you not have ‑‑ how does something like this happen not to your knowledge?
COACH GROH: Well, we were looking at a number of circumstances to fill, because I think as we have detailed, we had made an arrangement with the MAC conference. They called the ACC and asked with the situation they had, when Temple was going into the MAC, in order to get Temple up and going with as full a schedule as possible, they were going to have to move some games. And I think they tried to broker some games with a number of conferences, called the ACC and one of the games they were brokering was that if you have any team that’s willing to go to Middle Tennessee for one game on the road, then we will promise you three MAC opponents of your choosing at home. And this is the time that the 12th game was being created.
And so we were trying to line up 12th games at that particular point and all of a sudden, here was the opportunity, seemed it would work out pretty well and the games were going to be at home at which time we were trying to move up to seven home scheduled games and they were all with Division I opponents. Seemed like it worked out perfectly. The imperfect part of it was that the MAC failed to live up to the agreement. And so therefore, we were forced to, on short notice, try to schedule a number of games.
Q. And are there any games ‑‑ will they be forced to live up to this agreement at some point?
COACH GROH: We don’t have any MAC teams on the schedule.
Q. Just wanted to get your assessment of Jameel from last game. He seemed to show arm strength, especially the two positive plays towards the end of the game. Maybe if you want to compare it to 2007, but did he kind of assert himself a little bit more as far as when you determined how that position may play out?
COACH GROH: Good observation. Having said good observation, I’ll go back and say what I said to Jameel last Thursday evening at dinner, particularly about his practice on Thursday but about his overall week all together. I told him, I thought you had a very strong presence today and you threw the ball with conviction. You know, you made your decision and threw the ball with conviction. This is where I’m going to go with the ball and I think there’s going to be a good end result.
And whether every play, that doesn’t mean that every play necessarily turned out perfect in the game, but those plays that he was involved in during the course of the game, he had a very good presence about him throughout the game and everything he executed, whether it was run or pass, he did with a strong conviction.
Q. Kind of a follow‑up to Jerry’s question, when you have two new systems in place, that you’re trying to get working, and they are not working real well, and the fans are starting to express their displeasure, do you worry that the players will lose faith, or do you have to do something to make sure the players stay committed to what you’re trying to do?
COACH GROH: Oh, sure. That’s always a factor. I don’t think the players lose faith based on what fans think. I think players take their reaction based on results, because as we have said in this room on many occasions before, confidence is a result of demonstrated performance.
You have two young wide receivers the other day whose confidence is probably elevated from where it was last week. They have stepped up and made plays. They have some demonstrated performance. Jim tells me that Matt Conrath is on the list of players who might possibly be here today. He played very well in the first game and exceeded that in the second game.
So I don’t think anybody needs to tell Matt Conrath anything. He can talk to himself about where he is. That’s a critical issue with players all the time, individually and collectively. Your team can be doing very well and if a player is going through a tough stretch, it’s just like that baseball team that has won eight in a row, but this guy has gone 0‑for‑19. His confidence is not as great as the other eight guys in the lineup.
Q. Tackles, some years you have rotated players to give them breaks and it looks like Nick (Jenkins) is out there an awful lot. Your thoughts? And you mentioned Matt; how is Nate doing at the other end?
COACH GROH: Nate is doing well over there. It’s a position that seems to suit him well. Again another issue that I think that actually you and I had discussed one time before about the fact that had the personnel situation been a little different when Nate came in, he might have gone there in the beginning. But between the three positions, Chris (Long) was at one, Jeffrey (Fitzgerald) was at another and I think (Sean) Gottschalk was in the same class or thereabouts, and Brendan Schmidt might still have been here. At that particular time, that was the way to utilize his skills the fastest.
And we don’t want to jump him back and forth all over the place. But we wanted to get the most talented players, most experienced players on the field this year and with Nick having gotten so many snaps last year, we thought that we could get them both on the field in this particular way. But Nick is doing a real nice job. Unless you are Vince Wilfork, that position is not going to have the opportunity to check in with the kind of numbers that Matt had the other day; but the two of them are in the same boat, and for us to think that the two of them in combination have only played 14 games, I mean, they are looking at careers in excess of 50 games, and they have only played 14 and performing as they do; there’s significant room between where they are and where the ceiling is. So yes, he’s done a real nice job.
Q. Taking a look at Southern Miss and their two wins, what’s the best thing that they have done on the field in those two victories?
COACH GROH: They played two pretty good games in every respect. They are 15th in the country rushing the ball. They haven’t given up a hundred‑yard rusher in seven games. The quarterback is performing very well. And they are off to a good start. As I say, they have won seven in a row so clearly they are playing good ball on all phases.
Q. Kind of piggybacking on what Hank was asking about the team not having the distractions bother them, do you feel that this group has done a good job of not allowing the distractions or the displeasure of the fans bother them or what the people are saying on the radio about this team? And second part to this question, do you think this is a good spot, this week, to go on the road against Southern Miss and not allow more displeasure with the team?
COACH GROH: We just ‑‑ what we say all the time, we play whoever, whenever they give them to us. It really doesn’t make any difference to us when they give them to us.
You know, there’s a lot of story to be played out in the course of this season, who is distracted, who is undistracted, who is focused, who is not focused, who is confident, who is not confident. These seasons are books. They are not chapters. You know, somebody actually brought something to my attention the other day that the longest‑tenured coach in the NFL and obviously one of the very best is Jeff Fisher. And because of his success and how he’s done things, I mean, to be a head coach in the National Football League for 16 years is pretty remarkable and as we saw the other night, it looks like his team will be in the hunt again this year. They went through a phase a few years ago where they were 14‑17 and I’m sure they did some things to switch things around or make changes personnel‑wise and scheme‑wise but they had a philosophy and belief in place, and sometimes if you just ‑‑ in a circumstance where all of the chips get loaded in front of to you start with, you have to shuffle them around a little bit to get things back to the way you want them to be.
Q. Moving to special teams, you said you were looking for those game‑changing plays this year. How has that gone so far and what will you do going forward?
COACH GROH: I think you can answer your own question, can’t you?
Q. What does the unit need to do?
COACH GROH: Have you seen any? So I think that’s probably the answer to the question. What’s the answer always? Better execution, better performance.
Q. What is your philosophy with that particular group on going downfield in the passing game? Obviously didn’t do it a lot early. You had some success late. Do you need to do it earlier in the game to keep teams from stacking the line?
COACH GROH: Depends on the type of game that you’re trying to run. We had a particular plan in mind the other day. Keep in mind that we were playing the No. 7 team in the country from last year and one of the ways they got that way was to have the highest time of possession in the country. So that clearly is a factor in their success. So right away, when we see that and with when we see how they put it together, it said one of the components of being a team is you’ve got to get their time of possession down. And so one of the ways to do that is to maximize the amount of time that goes off the clock while you have it. And we are in a pretty good position to do that. And, in fact, although it was mpedy intention not to go back in history, we did have a third‑and‑long situation in which we stop the team. Unfortunately we have to go back on the field after that play. Had that gone the other way, there’s really a real good likelihood that the half might have ended zero to zero and we would have had in place exactly what we were trying to do and that we would have gotten the game to the point where we would have been in control of the clock and the scoreboard and even with that, we had the ball longer than they did in the first half.
Now, you can clearly see the time of possession flip dramatically in the second half, and part of that had to do with the increased volume of incomplete passes. That also resulted in more plays for their team, greater time of possession and the result that we got.
So clearly we can see how one circumstance dramatically affected the conduct of the game and so I would say at that particular point, while it wasn’t spectacular, it had us in position to do what we wanted to do, which was to win the game. But if you think I’m going to express that in the Herman Edwards style, I’m going to disappoint you.
Q. Could you talk about the need for going downfield in the passing game?
COACH GROH: I just gave you my answer. It’s about managing the game and putting the game together in terms of giving yourself the best opportunity to win.
Now had we had a large number of incompletions based on that’s usually the case with a lot of vertical passes in that particular game, and they would have had the ball for 19 minutes in the first half, then perhaps we would not have been able to run the kind of game we wanted to and get some outside interference in that, we were putting the game together the way we wanted to. And our players were going to go in at halftime against the No. 7 team in the country last year and say, hey, we got these guys here pretty good. We have got a real chance here. So clearly that event dramatically impacted the game and how we were trying to conduct the game.
Now had there been other games where we would have liked to do more, yeah. In the previous game it was our plan to go vertical the first 15 plays. So what all of these games are about, it’s not so much about calling plays. It’s about framing the game that gives your team the best opportunity to win.
Q. What you just said about the vertical game. Is that the strategy you plan to take throughout the season?
COACH GROH: It goes from game‑to‑game. Or as we say, in making our plan every week, a team has to have the flexibility to play the game you need to play and every game requires a little bit different type of game to be played.
Q. With the home atmosphere how it is now, are you worried about how it is going to affect recruiting, and if so, what are you doing about it?
COACH GROH: I’m just ‑‑ I think myself and the team are just focused on what we have to do to get ready for this week’s game. But if that be the case, then if there’s somebody who is creating a less than positive impact and they really care about their team, then they would be wise not to create a less than positive impact, wouldn’t you think?
Q. Can it be somewhat fortuitous that you have a road game this week ‑‑ you have addressed the negativity that’s in the air. Is it possible maybe to just take them and go off somewhere and play a game elsewhere and you’re not really worried about what impact that has on the team?
COACH GROH: We have a saying, Hank, that it’s all between the white lines. That’s all that really counts. Except in a few memorable circumstances, there’s not much history of anybody coming off the sidelines, much less out of the stands, to impact any particular play. And so there’s nobody who caught any passes for us the other day. There’s nobody who sacked the quarterback the other day, other than the people who were on the field, and people can’t do that at home and when you go on the road, there’s nobody on the other side who can come out and make you play badly, either. It’s just whatever happens in between the white lines that determines the outcome of the game.
Q. Most BCS conference schools don’t visit non‑BCS conference schools with the frequency that you do. Is that a matter of philosophy or ethics or something of that nature?
COACH GROH: No, it’s become an issue in scheduling and that’s a very good question, part of it is the economics of scheduling. Now with the 12th game and the demand for these games, there’s the payout that certain teams can get to go to the stadiums that have 85,000, 90,000, 95,000 and the payouts that teams can get to go to those places, that’s where they are going to go.
And those schools, obviously if they are going to get 100,000 for their game, they are not going to go anywhere else that the revenue for the intake, the amount of money that goes into the bank on Monday is less than staying at home. That’s why you see certain teams scheduled the way they do and playing seven, eight, nine home games. They are able to do that.
If you are in the lowest strata of that, then those are the teams that are always traveling and never get anybody to come and then there’s a lot of teams in between that get in the home and home; that the payout that can be provided isn’t such that you can just schedule everybody at home and so in order to get a certain level of game, you have to agree to go someplace else.
So that’s how some of these games come about.
Q. You said in the teleconference that you did not want Chase (Minnifield) to catch that punt, that he caught at the three, and you did want him to catch the next one. I think in the first one, he started at the five and the next one at the 10 if I remember correctly. Just wondering if you could just discuss your general philosophy on those.
COACH GROH: Well, we don’t want the ball caught inside the 10‑yard line and so the issue is not where the player lines up. The issue is the decision that the player makes to catch the ball. Whether you line up on the 10 and move back yards or you lineup on the five and move forward, it’s the decision as to where the ball is coming down. So it’s just an issue of where we think he’s got the best look. More than likely, in fact, probably had he lined up on a five‑yard line on the second one and had a better sense of where the ball was coming down, he would have moved up and caught the ball. So it’s where it’s caught, not so much where he lines up.
Q. Now that you’ve played Perry Jones, how do you see his role evolving as the season goes forward, and was he only on the one team kickoff return the other day?
COACH GROH: No, he was on another unit. He played ten plays total on special teams. And this is a very ‑‑ he’s fun. You know, every day, out there in practice, he’s lively. He’s energetic. He’s a very positive kid. He expects to do well at whatever he does. He’s kind of one of those little light bulbs that light things up wherever he goes and has a high expectation of success and did a nice job; he does every play in practice that way. He did a nice job on special teams.
You know, more than likely, his primary role this year will be on special teams and we can certainly see the possibilities where that role might expand.
Q. Riko (Smalls) goes from quarterback to wide receiver back to quarterback. As a coach, how fulfilling is it to see a guy that’s willing to be that Marques Hagans‑type guy that just wants to do what helps the team?
COACH GROH: Those are the kind of guys that a team is built around, that are really interested in whatever their contribution can be. That’s a very tricky thing with a college football team, it is the trickiest of all teams, because no team has got as many players on their rosters in all of organized sports. No team has got as many players on their roster as a college football team. And therefore no team has a higher percentage of players who are not seeing significant game action. When you think that a college team has got half as many players on their active rosters as an NFL team, a college team has twice as many, and nine or ten times as many as a college basketball team. So there are a lot of different roles to be shared, and there has to be a real built‑in awareness of guys being willing to understand their roles and do their very best, whether that’s be to scout team right guard or the starting wide receiver.
And that hopefully becomes a cultural thing within your team, and is there from year‑to‑year, but it still has to be renewed. It doesn’t just automatically regrow itself.
Q. How important is it in the way you guys are trying to run the spread, to be successful running the ball in and what can you do to get that part of the game going?
COACH GROH: Like so many offenses, it really helps ‑‑ one, it helps control the clock, as we talked about the other day. That if you can control the clock by making first downs and by doing that, then that’s one of the ways to keep your hand kind of on the tempo of the game. So that’s a very important factor, No. 1.
Then obviously the balance that it creates in your selection, and how it impacts the opponent’s thought process as far as pressuring the quarterback is concerned.
Q. With Vic banged up, obviously he plays a key role on the field when he’s on the field. What do you see his role being on the sideline? Does he give Chase the advice that through his experiences with punting, do you see him over there in the offensive huddle, the defensive huddle, bouncing around?
COACH GROH: Certainly those of you who have had the opportunity to have a conversation with Vic, it probably is pretty clear to you that he’s a person who minimizes conversations, and they are certainly never about him. They are always about the team. But as I have said about him in so many other different ways, he’s right up there in the top of the list of players that we have had who have a love of their team and their teammates at the highest level, and to whom the team means everything. Throughout the course of last week, he was highly verbal in between every play in practice to the players on offense, encouraging them, coaching them, providing enthusiasm, and as much as I am between the head set and concentration, I really am not aware of very much sound during the course of a game. But that was one voice that seemed to be behind my shoulder the whole game, and celebrating successes, encouraging players when they needed it; that just confirms why we have had fun since Vic has become a major topic of conversation. We just didn’t have a lot of questions about Vic for four years. All of a sudden he is there listed at quarterback and everybody wants to know about Vic, so it’s giving us the opportunity. You talk about things that we have known about for a long time and that’s why we have been able to say that he’s one of the most respected players that we have had here and is respected by everybody in the organization, whether it’s coaches, players, secretaries, trainers, whoever it might be.
Q. Does it disrupt, you’re a big schedule‑planner guy, does it disrupt the schedule and the plan when you have more work to do on just the offense and special teams and do you do more of that and less game planning just to try to get what you guys are doing right?
COACH GROH: I didn’t realize you had me psychoanalyzed that closely.
No, I think unless your team is a steam roller, which few of us have one of those kind of teams, it’s a concentrating of issues and missions every week. That’s what the season is.
Q. You guys gave up eight sacks against TCU. Disappointing, obviously, in the initial two days after the loss. Have you seen them kind of reassess themselves and say, hey, all right, we had a real bad game, we are going to change that?
COACH GROH: No. We are pretty happy about it. I think the players are, too. I’m sure they don’t need to be told. They were the ones out there. They know the results. They saw the video.
We all want to do better. Not what we had in mind. We all want to do better and we are going to stick together to do that, continue to grind it out and keep asking ourselves the question, which we do basically every day of the year, what else can we do to get the results that we want. That’s an organizational question. That’s an individual question.
Q. You spoke last week about the quarterback’s mobility and his ability to be a dual threat, giving the offense a 12th man and now having Riko get into a quarterback mode, is it safe to say you are leaning away from Mark Vericas as an option at quarterback?
COACH GROH: Not saying that at all. Very dangerous to do so.
Q. You said that you regretted putting Vic at holder on Saturday. When looking to his health with regards to playing quarterback again, do you have to not ignore, but sort of take his cries of, ‘Coach, I’m ready,’ with more of a grain of salt?
COACH GROH: Well, we know the individual fairly well. The placing of the ball and the proper spinning of it and everything is so integral to the operation. We have a player who says that, and the doctors tell us, this is okay for him to do. And obviously we are hoping that the ball gets snapped at the place that we usually expect it to be. I’m not saying that I’ve changed my opinion on what I said. If I knew the ball was going to be snapped over his head, it probably would have had a different decision.
But the saying goes, the time to worry is before you place the best. We will count on the ball being there for the most important part of the operation which was going to get it set down properly for the kicker who is not an experienced kicker and has been used to working with nobody but Vic. So a lot of times when a kicker gets off a little bit, it’s because his holder gets changed.
So in a game where we thought every point we could get was going to be really important and in that particular case, we wanted to score first. We had a third down and eight situation beforehand which doesn’t mean we don’t want to make the first down, but in those circumstances, a lot of times, first time down the field, it’s common for a lot of teams to say, at the very least, we want to protect the field goal. Well, we did that and then we went with the field goal. I would say really two things that don’t like major events, two things that really distort a little bit the plan that we tried to put in place was the missed opportunity for points there and then the third down play we had in the second quarter which they followed up with a score in two plays.
Q. Is the decision to play him less ‑‑ is the doctor saying he’s okay?
COACH GROH: Yeah, definitely. Vic is very important to us and the player’s health is more important than anything. So if we had had any indication that his being involved ‑‑ in the role that he was in, now clearly we didn’t feel comfortable about putting him in a more contact‑oriented role, but we felt very comfortable that his well being would be okay in doing what he was doing.
Q. Following up on the motivation question, how much of football is determined by talent and the execution, and then to what degree do those emotional intangibles come into place?
COACH GROH: A tremendous amount. We had some great examples the other day in games. You know, certainly the most striking one was in Tallahassee, that a team that looked like they might be a Top‑10 contender the week before, if I saw the information correct, score twice in the final 14 seconds to win, against Jacksonville State. Clearly their talent didn’t decrease from one week to the next so, it must have been in terms of their focus on the game, or so often is the case in competition, the athletes, or the teams, really feeling like there’s something to prove.
So I think while you hear the number change, depending upon who is saying it, I heard it three to one, five to one, ten to one, but the point is the same, regardless for those people that say that morale and attitude is to talent as ten is to one. And as I’ve said, I I’ve heard it five to one and three to one, in other words, there’s a great disparity between just how important, the way the mind is, and if we look at all of the performers that have tremendous success and one point that we have stressed and we have cited certain individuals, whether it’s ‑‑ I mean, they are pretty obvious individuals and they have great natural talent, too. But whether it’s Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or Tiger Woods or Derek Jeter or athletes of that nature, their most deadly weapon is their mind and their ability to focus on the task at hand and to be mentally strong and competitively tough no matter what is going on around and one of the reasons we are able to do that, we don’t know what’s going on around. They are just focused on that pitch, on that play, on that shot, and what the previous shot, has nothing to do with how they approach the next one or the previous pass, or what anybody else thinks about that pass, or whatever the case may be. They are just focused on performance and it takes obviously a tremendously strong mind to be able to maintain that type of focus, because there are all sorts of other events going on around them or other input, whether it’s from other players, coaches, themselves, fans, whatever, and those people who are just lasered like that, you know, a guy like Derek Jeter, I mean, to do what he did, and think of who proceeded him, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, all of those players. Nobody ever got as many hits as fast as he did.
Q. Is that controllable for coaches, though?
COACH GROH: You try, I think that’s a thing ‑‑ yeah, I’m sure that Michael Jordan was a mentally strong player. Vic Hall was a mentally strong person and a competitively tough person. And hopefully we have created an environment that he is very comfortable in. But for us to say that we made Vic into that type of competitor, you know, or Heath Miller or Marques Hagans, that would be taking ourselves awfully seriously. But we do try to promote those values and build that in those players who came in with lesser strength. That’s like saying John-Kevin Dolce, if you’ve ever seen John-Kevin, the way he’s muscled, he came to Virginia with a pretty impressive set of muscles. So what we have tried to do is run a program where he has the opportunity to continue to build on that.
But a lot of players came here not as muscled up as him so we try to conduct a strength program to allow them to get close to being that way. I use that analogy, to say that we have the same thing going on with trying to develop that type of mental strength and toughness. Some guys come in that way, but the rest of it is developing that within your team culture as players come in all the time do. It certainly is a big factor. And I think you get guys, how do players like that perform the way that they do, with a guy like Jeter, every day is important. Every at‑bat is important. Every pitch is important.
You know, they are trying to prove ‑‑ Tom Brady, every pass is important. I’ve been up there watching Tom in mini‑camps and he is running the two‑minute drill four months after he’s the MVP in the Super Bowl like it is the Super Bowl. Well, it is, so that when he has to make that play in a game, it’s the same play that he made in May, because he performs it with that urgency in May, therefore, that there are more people that are watching is irrelevant to him. It’s just make the play. And the more people you can have on your team focused that way and clearly that starts with your coaches, that have that perspective on things and that’s why you always hear coaches talk about that’s the way they have to be and the way they have to get their teams; look, the last game doesn’t count for anything. It’s not going to help us win. It is not going to make us lose. Nobody can come out of the stands and make a play for us and nobody can tackle us. We have to focus on what we have to do to get ready mentally, physically, tactically and then you have to go out there and out play the other guy on every play and that’s how competition goes. One more here and then we will get our players guests in here.
Q. It may not be worth a whole lot but Ras-I (Dowling) was picked to the all ACC preseason team. We are used to seeing him get his hands on a lot of balls, pick off passes. Has he been off his game at all the first couple of weeks and if so, any idea what’s going on?
COACH GROH: You know, there haven’t been very many balls up the field on him. We mentioned last week that I think we had 24 passes thrown five yards or less from the line of scrimmage. Well, it’s going to make it hard ‑‑ and that’s why teams do it, safeguard the ball. It’s going to be difficult for any guy to get a lot of picks on that circumstance. But there have been some plays up the field that you know, I’m sure he would like to change, and then we are working with him to try to do that.