Can you assess Brandon Peters’ game and did he do enough to earn another start?
“He really acquitted himself well. Moved the football team. Played very, very well. Yeah, he did a lot and from the first time he went in there, just feeling the deep zone and feeling the linebackers drop and taking that extra half second to take a breath and hit the checkdown just was good ball. He was good.”
Brandon himself said his biggest advancement since fall camp was communication. How much has he addressed the things you talked about before the season?
“He’s made big strides. Really good in that area. It’s been—and was good out there today.”
What did you see on the touchdown pass to Chris Evans and—
“I thought Chris made a heck of a catch on it. Thought Brandon saw it well. Good protection, and Brandon put it… you know, a little short, but Chris adjusted well to the ball and made a nice catch.”
And then the next time out he had a two-minute drill. What impressed you most about Brandon’s game today?
“Today? Well, the things I talked about earlier. I mean, just that he was playing the position. He was playing good ball. Two-minute drill, I think that’s definitely… that’s a real bright spot to go in there—what was it, his second drive, I think, and get organized and get our team organized in the two-minute drill on the field. That’s something a quarterback doesn’t usually have happen to him on his second drive of playing football but I think it went really well for him, and that was great to see.”
[After THE JUMP: questions about special teahaha just kidding it’s more stuff about Peters]
Obviously the quarterback position has been one of high contention all season long among the fanbase. At what moment did you decide it was right to make the switch to Peters and why?
“We had made that decision… well before the game that he was going to play. It was time. It was time for him to play.”
Outside of a few plays that the defense gave up today, how happy were you in their performance today compared to last week at Penn State?
“Just keep admiring how hard they play. Our guys are really competing, really working, straining when they’re out there. I think that showed up defensively. Forty-some plays and they give up fifty-some yards. Three plays where we gave up over 100, but hard-working unit. Played very well today.”
I’m curious, when Brandon does go in the game, for you, you guys obviously prepared him as best you thought you could but at some point he has to go in the game. What are you thinking as a coach when it’s like, Okay, you’re in the seat? Were you nervous for him? Did you expect him to go out and play well? I’m curious what’s going on in your head at that point.
“I thought he was ready. You base a lot of things on practice. Good in practice, good good in the games. Now, that’s not always the case, especially with young players that… sometime they’re not good in the games and they’re good in practice. It was great to see him be good in the game, too. That was good. That—young players, when they’re good in the games, that helps their confidence. That builds their confidence.
“We all felt good. Nobody was more nervous about what was going to happen. We thought he’d be—we thought he’d do good. I think he did better than everybody thought, too.”
That was my question. Did he exceed what you thought from where he’s at right now?
“Yeah, yeah. I mean, that was—yes, yes. Yeah, you’re going in, consistent. Every drive he was moving the team and touchdown drive on the two-minute drill and eighty-yard drive or seventy-five yard drive to start his first series in football, starting quarterback in college. I would think that it’d be very good for his confidence and build on it. We look to build on it.”
You had two 100-yard rushers and the pass blocking looked better. Can you assess both sides of the blocking, the run blocking and the pass blocking?
“Yeah, thought our running backs played extremely well but you have to start and give the credit to the offensive line, a lot of credit to the offensive line. There were some nice big holes. Coach Drevno, nice job with the run scheme. We had some nice schemed-up runs and they were executed extremely well: tight ends, fullbacks, receivers, and especially the offensive line.
“And pass-pro was very good as well. Played good up front. Played physical. I mean, it wasn’t going to be—well, didn’t think it was going to be real nice out there. It was going to be physical. Our guys responded.”
You mentioned Brandon had been getting better and better at communication in practice. I assume that goes to the loudness thing you were looking for. Was there a breakthrough moment in a practice where he busted through his shell to a certain degree? Did you see a particular moment?
“Yeah, I think probably late in training camp it was like, wow, he’s a lot louder. He’s really doing the job. That sounds good. That sounds real. He’s been good. I think we talked about it last week. You guys were asking me where things were, and always look at it as a process and now for a couple weeks, for a couple weeks now we’ve felt that he was ready and it’s time to… [pushing cupped hands over upward] like a bird leaving the nest. [laughs] Kids leaving the house and going off on their own. I mean, it was time. It was time. Right, dad? Me and my dad talked about that last week and this week. It was just time.”
You mentioned the plan to put Brandon in the game today. Is the plan going forward to use both of them in games or is Brandon your starting quarterback?
“We’ll see. Right now I feel really good about the way he played and feel good about him now taking the next step and being the starting quarterback and getting a great week of—now knowing he’s the starting quarterback in practice. As I sit here now, that’s the way I feel about it.”
You talked about the defensive intensity from the get-go. How much of that was due to Mo Hurst? Very first play from scrimmage he drops a sack. How much does he mean to that defensive intensity?
“Um… a lot. There’s times in the practice where he’s unblockable. I mean, he just wrecks everything, and then he does that in the games, too. It’s very impressive.
“I thought our whole front was impressive. Again, I just go back to… they play so hard. The hard work, the strain, really shows up in the games the way Mo plays, Rashan, Mone. Great to see Aubrey Solomon get his first start today. Thought he acquitted himself very well as well. Chase Winovich, the same. Same with the backers, same with the secondary. They compete. Young, but they compete.”
Seems like when you go with a quarterback you put all your confidence in them. Did it with Wilton. Did it with John. Just wondering, how difficult was it when you made the decision to maybe move toward Brandon and give him shots? How difficult was it for you personally? Throughout your career, have you ever had to juggle a decision like that for this amount of time? Was it difficult for you to do?
“Um, no. That’s just what we felt was the right thing to do. We felt when we made the decision that he was going to play that was the plan and we stuck to the plan.
“Are decisions difficult there? I… and, you know, we’ve got our coaches there, too. Nobody looks at it or thinks about it more than I do and our coaches do, and they’ve done a great job and he’s done a great job getting himself ready.”
With John, did you guys lay it out to him like ‘John, something’s got to happen or we’re going to go with Brandon?’ What was your guys’ talk with John and did he know this was coming?
“We told the whole team that this was going to happen in our Monday meeting, that they would play and that Brandon would play in the game.”