bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the opening loss to Ohio?
DeWayne Walker: It's just unfortunate that we couldn't get off to a faster start. That's kind of been our achilles heel for the last couple years. I thought once we got going we started looking like a football team. The offense started moving the ball and we got some pretty good stops in the second half to at least try to make it more interesting. I just think that against a good football team like Ohio, you can't get yourself in a hole, you can't snap balls over quarterbacks heads, you can't blow coverages, you just can't do those types of things against good football teams.
bc.net: Some of the issues that the team had in the game, were they more the type of things that you can fix versus in the past couple years just not having the right personnel?
DW: Yeah, I think it's all fixable. I think offensively when we could get ourselves rolling on all cylinders, if we get our run game going, that's probably the biggest thing on offense, when we can get in unison I think our offense will ignite our whole football team. I really do think our offense has to be the energy bunny.
Defensively we're going, our front four, we're not the biggest so we're going to have to be a team defense type of unit. We're going to really have to rally around each other and play good team defense. I think we're capable of complementing the offense and we've got to play better on special teams, our coverage teams, especially on punts. We've got to do a way better job. There are some concerns there that Coach Murph is going to have to get fixed. But again, if we can improve some of these areas that we lacked in this past week's game, I think we've got a chance to be pretty competitive as we get through some of our other non-conference games and our conference games.
bc.net: Offensively you talked about the run game, what do you need to do to get that on track?
DW: Just execute. There's some fundamental things that we're going to correct this week to make it a little easier for our guys just lining up and block the guy in front of them. That's more of a coaching thing than it is a player thing. We're going to try to make it easier for them and hopefully that'll give them an opportunity to stay on their blocks and move the ground on the ball a lot better.
bc.net: One of the big things that stood out from the game that you really haven't had the first two years is those big explosive plays.
DW: We've got some playmakers. Receivers, those guys can make plays from an offensive standpoint. Defensively it was good to see us take the ball away. That's kind of been something we've struggled with the last couple years and we managed to get two takeaways. So, those two are positives. Obviously special teams, Taveon is always going to give you a chance. I think once Austin Franklin gets a chance with our punt returns, I think he's going to have a chance to make some plays for us as a punt returner. There's pieces in place. You hate to lose your first game and we didn't really play well early but there were enough bright spots that if we build on it as the season progresses I think we're going to continue to see a football team that gets better and better.
bc.net: Your team was able to respond to adversity throughout the game, you got down big a couple times but the team continued to play hard and your team scored the last 14 points of the game.
DW: Yeah, that's the positive part that if you want to take something out of it because it wasn't like Ohio backed off. They were still playing. They didn't put in their backups, they didn't say, "Hey, we've got this thing in the bag," they kept playing so to see our offense start moving the ball and scoring some points, our defense got some key stops to allow us to make a run at them. If we could have gotten a couple touchdowns in the last five minutes of the games, we could have made it pretty interesting down the stretch. Those are all positives but again we've got to be able to put together four full quarters to be able to give ourselves a chance to win some games.
bc.net: After you looked at film and graded everybody out, who are one or two players on offense and defense that really stood out and had outstanding games for you?
DW: I think you've got to look at Todd Lee, Taveon, Kenny, even though he had a couple drops. Kenny did a good job. It's pretty proven that if you give Manley some time, he's going to make some plays for you.
Defensively, I think Donyae Coleman really played a pretty solid game. I thought the secondary was pretty good for the most part. LaVoy, even though he wasn't perfect he showed some signs that he's going to continue to grow and be a good player for us.
Again, there's some bright spots. You hate to be too positive after a loss because obviously you lost for a reason but I just think that if we can keep improving week in and week out, I think when we get to our conference games and our rivals, I think we're going to have a better football team.
bc.net: On Saturday you take on Minnesota. They're coming off a close loss against USC with a somewhat similar situation as your team where they scored a couple touchdowns late to make it pretty interesting.
DW: Yeah, they're a much better football team. Their coach, Coach Kill, they've done a heck of a job. They're playing hard, they're sound. Their fundamentals are good. He's done a good job. I'm sure he had them pretty jacked up getting ready for USC. We're going to have to play better just to compete with them but that's what we need to do though. We need to go in and fight them and improve as a football team. The fourth quarter we'll take a peek at the scoreboard and see where we are but we've got to go fight these guys and improve in the areas that we can improve as we improve our football team through these games that we're going to have in the future.
bc.net: As a coach who has coached at the BCS level, when you have a team like Minnesota who is coming off a season opener against a big-time opponent like USC, how do you counteract that emotional letdown and as a coach who is heading into playing a team coming off of a game like that, how do you take advantage of that if there is a letdown?
DW: They have a very good coaching staff and I'm sure they're going to be on those guys. I know he understands that, he's been a head coach for a while. I'm sure he and his staff are going to do everything possible to make sure that these guys don't take us lightly. But at the same token, kids are kids and they're going to look at us, "These guys aren't SC." I think we'll find out Saturday how his team is going to respond but he's a good football coach and he's going to have these guys ready to play and we're going to have to worry about what we can do to improve our football team and we'll see where we are as the game progresses.
bc.net: What are you expecting to see from them on offense and defense?
DW: They're going to run the ball at us. They're going to line up and they've got a big quarterback who is going to be hard to tackle. They've got a good running back, their receivers are good enough. I know they have one receiver, McKnight, he's a good looking player. He'll be a challenge for us. I think they're just going to line up and do what they do. Coach Kill is going to look at his football team and say, "Hey, we've just go to keep playing and keep improving as we get ready for conference play."
Defensively, they're tough. They put a lot of heads in the box and basically say, "You're not going to run the ball on us." They take their chances of getting their guys outside. I think we'll have some chances in the passing game. They'll make it hard on us to run and try to make us one-dimensional and just try to mix it up.
This will be a tough test for us but I think it'll be good for our football team for us to continue to grow as a team.
bc.net: This weekend is also a homecoming for you going back to Minnesota, the place where you started out and the beginning of DeWayne Walker football.
DW: I was there about three years ago, my wife and I went back. My old college roommate still lives there, he's pretty influential in the community. It was good going back by the University and going back and seeing the football facilities and walking my wife around. All that was fun. I'm sure there will be some old friends who will be at the game but it's a business trip. It's not June or July for me so it's not vacation time. We need to go and focus on trying to fight a team that's proven.
bc.net: What were a couple of things that were pivotal in your time there at Minnesota as a player that helped contribute to you deciding to become a coach?
DW: I was fortunate, that's where I met Tony Dungy, he was a graduate assistant there before he was able to get a job with the Pittsburgh Steelers and just even back then being a backup and being able to help with some young kids that were good players. A kid, Andre Harris was a freshman and I was able to help him with some of his techniques and he ended up getting a shot in the NFL. Kerry Glenn was another corner, he ended up playing with the Jets. I didn't know what I was doing back then, these were good freshmen players that came in and played pretty early and I didn't worry about the competition. Just looking back I just remember those times and those days and I was coaching back then and didn't even know that that was something I really wanted to do. It was a good experience. There were really some good players. Marion Barber Sr., was a starting running back, he played 10 years in the NFL. There's guys like Dana Noel that had an opportunity in the NFL, [Karl] Mecklenburg was on that football team, some good players were on that team. It was a good experience. I had a chance to be around not only some good coaches but good players and good people.