bleedCrimson.net: Your team was able to overcome some mistakes during win against Minnesota and didn't allow some bad breaks and mistakes to compound on each other.
DeWayne Walker: It's just been a continual preaching to them about playing off of each other. Teams aren't going to be perfect on offense, defense and special teams but that's why they call it teams. If there's some mistakes on one side of the ball then the other two phases need to pick up the slack until that side gets their rhythm going. That's why I'm going to continue to preach to these guys that we will win as a team, offense, defense and special teams. As long as we can play off of each other and as long as these guys understand that, we'll be able to overcome adversity.
bc.net: One of the things that really stood out in the game was that your team, both offensively and defensively, was very physical with Minnesota. This wasn't a case where you're trying to beat them with smoke and mirrors, you really out-physicalled Minnesota.
DW: Yeah, that's something that we talked about all of last week especially with the offensive line. I know that Coach Martin and Coach Lenzmeier and everybody, we were disappointed. I stressed that even with the run defense and we practiced a little physical last week and we'll continue to do that just to bring that physicality to the game because I think that physicality can bring teams down if they're not prepared for it.
bc.net: You got a very solid performance out of the defense on Saturday, obviously if someone just looked at the statistics they might say, "Hey, you gave up over 400 yards," but the defense got stops when they needed to and essentially you forced five turnovers with the two interceptions and the three fourth down stands.
DW: That just shows really the hard work. I tell you what, our defensive staff, they worked their butts off and I know they've been ridiculed at times but it was great to see that the defensive coaches got the kind of play out of the defense that they've been looking for. Now that biggest challenge is trying to continue that style of play. If we can, they're going to give us a chance to win more games.
bc.net: From an execution standpoint it felt like in this game, maybe for the first time since you've been the head coach, that your team played an entire four quarters of football start to finish.
DW: That's what we've been waiting for. I know a lot of people were kind of surprised and were saying, "Where did that come from?" If people were paying attention you could see about a quarter and a half, almost two quarters of the Ohio game we played pretty good football on both sides of the ball, we just got off to such a slow start. It was good to see that the guys were able to carry that quarter and a half over to Minnesota and just gave everybody a nice glimpse of the potential of this football team.
bc.net: You've talked about wanting to get the team to play your style of football. How close to that was their performance on Saturday?
DW: It was pretty close. Pretty close on all three areas. Obviously there are going to be mistakes that you've got to clean up but the best compliment that any coach can give your football team is that you're tough and you're well coached. If you can get those compliments from opposing coaches that just lets you know that you're doing things right and you're headed in the right direction.
bc.net: This week you take on UTEP. How quickly did your team have to erase the Minnesota victory?
DW: It's going to be a dog fight. We're not going to make any apologies. We want to win this game. I think we're taking a better football team into this game but at the same token we know we have to earn it. We have to work hard this week in practice. We have to be positive and we're definitely giving their team respect but we want to win this game. Not winning this game really puts a damper on beating Minnesota and I know the coaches and players don't want that. Yesterday we had a meeting at 3:00 and that was it. I told them I didn't want to hear anything else about Minnesota, I didn't want to hear anything about San Jose State. Everything is about UTEP and UTEP only. That's it. We're going take one game at a time, one play at a time and hopefully we can emulate what we did against Minnesota, we can do it this weekend.
bc.net: From an offensive standpoint in the Minnesota game, it really seemed like a different, more aggressive play calling. Have you and Coach Martin found your niche and how you want to call games from an offensive standpoint?
DW: Yeah, you know it's funny. Coach Martin and I were talking about that after the Ohio game. He was like, "I should have taken the handcuffs off of Manley a lot sooner." He was just trying to ease Manley into. It's the first game of the season and he's our starting quarterback and he didn't really want to just throw him out there. I think what he did in that last half of that game [Coach Martin] was like, "I should have done this earlier." I just think that Ohio game, we learned a lot about our football team. We didn't know certain things about our football team but that second half and the last quarter and a half of that football game I think everybody looked at each other and went, "Okay, we think we know what we have and what we can do." It was good that they showed that last Saturday.
bc.net: What are some of the things you'll be working on in terms of cleaning up some of the things from Saturday's game against Minnesota? What will you be focusing on with the tea in practice this week?
DW: We've got to continue to play physical. The run game on both sides of the ball, we still need improvement. I know defensively it's going to be a space game. We're going to have to do a good job of tackling in space and playing good space football for the most part. I think our receivers are going to see a little more bump and run so we're going to be able to attack their press coverage and obviously just score more points. I think this offense is capable of scoring more points. I know Doug would like to score more points in the second half. Third down is something I know offensively we want to improve on. Despite everything there's still things that we can't ignore that we're going to have to improve if we want to have a chance because at the end of the day regardless of how much we think that we've improved, at the end of the day this football team [UTEP] has spanked us two years in a row. To me it doesn't matter who their quarterback is or which guys are hurt. None of that matters. We have to go into this game ready to fight and try to get us another 'W'.
bc.net: Have you noticed any different demeanor from your team this week versus maybe the first week?
DW: No, not really. I just think that they know now, okay, now we know what standard that we've raised for our football team. Now we've raised the bar and we're capable of playing this way as a team and being able to beat other quality football teams. I know they were talking, "We're going to party on the way back coach, we're going to make some noise and have some fun on the flight back." You could hear a pin drop. Those guys, all of them, were dead sleeping which is a good thing because that just brings me to believe that these guys left it on the football field. These guys played hard. That's the way it should be. It should be quiet after a win. You do all your partying in the locker room and get all your hugs and all that but on the plane ride home these guys should be resting and should be sleeping because of their efforts.
bc.net: From a confidence and the mentality of your team how important was it for your team to get a win like you had against Minnesota so that they can see all the hard work and what you've been preaching to them for the past two years start to pay off?
DW: I think it's critical. It's like anything else. When you go to work everyday you want a paycheck. It's no different with players. They work their butts off and their paycheck is "W's". You've got to give these guys a lot of credit. The last two years they didn't have a lot of paydays. I think it's great early in the season, these guys have worked their tails off all spring and all summer and all fall camp and to be able to get a signature win early in the season, we'll find out if this football team is going to take advantage of it and I've got a pretty good feeling that they will.