“I’ll just open up real quick and then I’ll let you fire away. I’m certainly happy for the team. I’m very happy for Aaron Kromer and the job he’s been doing. There’s nothing better than getting your first win as a head coach. I’m proud of the way the defense played, certainly the way they rose up in the second (half). I was proud of what they did there. They stuck with it. I didn’t think it was always pretty in the way we did it. There were too many big plays, but we were able to overcome those explosive plays against us by creating some negative plays of our own. We had I think two tackles for losses, the five sacks helped and then certainly the turnover. When you can negate some of the issues you have early that certainly helps. I want to enjoy the win, but I think we all realize, certainly as coaches we do and we’ll be talking with the players here in a little bit, that we still have a long way to go defensively, so we’ll focus on what it is that we need to correct. Having said that, I’ll open it up.”
You mentioned being able to create those turnovers. This game, you seemed to be able to create those big plays more consistently. Can you talk about that?
“I think it was a combination of a couple of scheme things, the effort on the part of the players, certainly the front four at the end there getting to the quarterback when we really needed them to do that and we were trying to cover on the back end, the combination of all of that. There was what we would probably term one or two coverage sacks in there, certainly one of the earlier ones. That’s a credit to the secondary and the secondary coaches. That makes a huge difference. We want to eliminate the explosive plays that we gave them, but if that happens, you have to negate them.”
Have you seen a different side of Aaron Kromer now that he’s picked up his first win?
“It’s only been a few hours. I haven’t, other than seeing Aaron right away in the locker room afterwards. I’m not so sure I’ve seen him other than for three minutes today. My guess is from past experience that it feels pretty good. It’s just like, when we’ve sat here for these Mondays and I’m sure Aaron would say the same thing, and it’s a little bit different because we have the bye week, but one hour shortly after you put it to bed, you don’t have a lot of time to think about it and enjoy it. You’re on to the next one. With what we’re facing this week, I don’t know if Aaron’s already talked about it, but it’s the bye week and you’re self-scouting and you’re evaluating your own defense in this particular case and then moving on to the next game. There’s not a lot of time in this league to be down when you lose, or to get too high when you win. That’s just the way it is and I think he’s gotten used to that.”
When Aaron Kromer looks back on what his experience was like after the season, what do you think that will be like?
“I don’t know that. You’re asking the wrong guy. You’d have to ask Aaron. I’m sure he’ll handle it the right way.”
You have three young guys in the secondary in Corey White, Patrick Robinson and Johnny Patrick who have gotten a lot of playing time with the injuries in the secondary. Can you talk about those three guys a little bit?
“I appreciate you bring them up because all in all I think they did a pretty good job. There’s a lot in there that we need to get right and quite honestly, and this will happen with any team, when the pass rush is getting to the quarterback and making them throw it a little sooner or making him move his feet and making him get off the spot, it helps the back end people and it certainly helped us yesterday. I think those young guys would certainly go up to the big fellas and say I appreciate what you did because it wasn’t always pretty on the back end either. But those guys in the situation where you lose a veteran like Jabari Greer, there’s a scramble on the sideline to get it right. Johnny Patrick has prepared himself and got in there. Corey White, you bring up a good point, when we coach these guys, we coach them to be perfect. I know they want to be perfect, but sometimes we forget Corey White is a young 22 or 23-year old guy that was playing at Samford University (last year). There’s still a learning curve here and all three of those guys are still going through it.”
Martez Wilson had an up and down final series of the game with a penalty and then a huge sack and fumble recovery to save the game. Can you talk about his ups and downs?
“The one (penalty) that I recall that he had, I don’t know if they called hands to the face (illegal use of hands), I’m not sure what they called, but it’s an aggressive penalty. Now do we want to get those? No, you have to get that hand out of there immediately. It happens in this game. Guys are in there battling and defensive players put it in the offense’s facemask and it happens the other way around too, but as long as you get it out of there quickly it’s not a penalty. An aggressive penalty like that, they’re going to happen. I’m not going to be drilling Martez for that one. It’s the offsides and the undisciplined ones, but he certainly had a relentless attitude all the way through the game and it helped at the end.”
What does it say for him to come back at the end of the game to come back after the penalty and make two really good plays to end the game?
“He did. He forced a quick throw. We were a little bit fortunate there. Not to take anything away from Martez, but I think their left tackle was a little bit hurt. To Martez’s credit, he realized it, adjusted his pass rush game and got two what we call edge rushes that did make a huge difference on the last two plays. That was big for him to recognize that.”