A potpourri of things to discuss from today s weekly press conference. I can t decide where to start because there s a lot going on with this team right now. And quite frankly, none of it is good. Freddie Barnes, you re first up.
Barnes is out for possibly three weeks with a sprained knee. Coach Gregg Brandon hopes Barnes can get back by the end of the season. Barnes production has tailed off this year but he s still Freddie Barnes. He s an integral part to this team and will be missed. That being said, BG has been pretty fortunate on the injury front. Almost every injury has been a pull or a sprain, and you can live with that. Essentially the same group of guys that played the opener at Pitt is still around. Brandon added that Willie Geter and Chris Bullock are banged up. In a perfect world Bullock would have gotten more touches Saturday, but Brandon said it wasn t an option due to Bullock s health.
This will make many of you happy the locking the gate tradition is no more. Brandon took that dog out back and buried it. I know I m in the minority here, but I thought it was sort of cool. But it got to be too much because the whole darn team was doing it (last year it was just a couple of guys and I didn t even notice it was going on until late into the season). Miami had every right to feel disrespected Saturday because BG didn t leave the premises. Luckily it didn t get too ugly (although Anthony Turner accidentally tripping over Miami s flag wasn t pretty). Brandon said this:
We talked about it as a team. We don t need to be going over there. To be honest with you, the captains were out for the coin toss. We came out and were standing on the boundary and there s the team over there in the corner. We addressed that and we re not going to do that anymore. It s kind of been a ritual through the years. It got a lot of attention because Miami was coming out of the lockerroom. It s unfortunate, but nothing happened thank goodness. But we re not going to do that again.
I don t want to say Brandon was asked tough questions today, but they weren t exactly softballs either. He was actually very good about it and handled them with class and maturity. (For those of you who have never met Gregg, he s a very nice guy. I don t think there s an exact type of coach that is more suited for having success. There are nice guys who stink and nice guys who win. Conversely, there are surly guys who stink and surly guys who win. But I think you have to stay within your personality. Consider Tennessee men s bball coach Bruce Pearl. The guy is absolutely nuts, but his players know that and that s why he s a winner.)
Anyway, what I m getting at is this. Brandon was asked about his lack of emotion during Saturday s post game press conference. If you recall, after the Boise game he was downright scary and nearly foaming at the mouth. Saturday he was calm, which I must admit, did not look great after losing to a rival who isn t very good. This was his response:
It s important that I m consistent. Win or lose, the kids are looking to me to lead. It s tough when you re losing to assess things right after the game. To get mad or angry in that situation I ve learned is not the way to handle that. One thing I don t think we can do is get too emotional in those situations.
I agree to an extent. Emotion is for message board posters and guys sitting at the bar working on their 10th Sam Adams. Coaches need to have perspective. At the same time, I would have liked to see Brandon raise his voice at least once Saturday. It s go time for the Falcons. Check that. It was go-time for the Falcons. Now it s holycrapweareabouttoscrewupaperfectopportunityatamemorableseason time.
Brandon was asked whether he agreed with Tyler Sheehan s opinion that the team is having discipline issues during that week and that those issues are showing up on Saturday in the form of bad penalties and lack of focus. Brandon disagree with his quarterback:
Oh, I think he s just searching for something --- it s frustration. That s Tyler s opinion. I don t know if they necessarily tie together. What you do in the heat of battle on the football field, and how you are off the field, I don t know if they tie together.
Sheehan, though, did not back track from what he said Saturday. I asked him if he thought there was a discipline problem within the team, to which he said:
For the most part, yeah. We have a lot of guys who have great discipline and they show it week in and week out. It might not even be relevant to anything at all with football. But stuff that happens off the field is showing on the field as well. Coaches have addressed it and until we get that fixed we re not going to be as successful as we want to be.
I then told Tyler that some guys might not be comfortable saying what he said publicly. I asked if he, as a quarterback, felt obligated to show tough love. He said:
I think it s something that has to be addressed. Trying to be a team leader, you have to address it and put your foot down.
Tyler added that the coaching staff instituted a zero tolerance policy at the beginning of the season in response to the messy offseason. It s just something that we really have to focus on and we have to keep guys out of trouble and just stay on top of guys. I think we ve done a good job of that lately but on the field we haven t been.
I ll spare my opinion on this subject for now. Read Thursday s End Zone for my thoughts. If you re not sure what I m talking about, the End Zone is something new we re trying this year at The Blade. Each college beat writer --- Maureen Fulton, Joe Vardon, Matt Markey and myself --- write a six-inch column every Thursday about something related to our respective teams. I really enjoy doing it and I think it s a good addition to our paper.
Brandon was asked about Corey Partridge s fine game Saturday and the coach spoke very highly of his senior captain.
For a kid that doesn t practice much during the week because he s so beat up, he shows up on Saturday and does a great job. He can go for a little bit in practice and then he has to rest because he has a bad knee. He s been banged up with a number of things through the years. He s a warrior. He s a competitor. He s earned his stripes.
I d like to think I could do what Partridge is doing but I couldn t.