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23 September 2015

Week 3 Conference Call Transcripts: at Houston (9/27/15)

HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
 
(On his relationship with Tampa Bay General Manager Jason Licht)
“Jason is a great friend of mine. He was a regional scout for the New England Patriots down in Atlanta, Southeast Conference, ACC, when I was coaching at Georgia Tech, so we’ve known each other close to 15, 20 years, I guess. Just a good friend, a good friend. Then when I went to the Patriots, he was working there, so we worked together for a while. So he’s a very, very good friend. Always been very good to me in my career.”
 
(On a story from his time working with Licht)
“You know, I don’t have – he came to, when he was a scout he would come by Georgia Tech and I was the pro scout liaison at Georgia Tech. I don’t remember – if I remembered a story, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you [laughing].”
 
(On Tampa Bay rookie left tackle Donovan Smith, who was coached by O’Brien at Penn State, and whether O’Brien gave him any advice about entering the draft as a junior)
“No, no, I didn’t speak to him about that. I think I saw him maybe at the Senior Bowl and said hello to him. He’s a great kid, I’m very happy for him and really liked coaching him at Penn State.”
 
(On Smith as a football player)
“Very big, very large guy that was athletic. Football-smart, hard-working guy. Definitely enjoyed coaching him.”
 
(On former Houston and current Tampa Bay safety D.J. Swearinger)
“I’m sure he is [motivated to face Houston]. We’re all motivated to play. He’s a good competitor, a guy that showed up every day and worked very hard.”
 
(On Houston’s quarterback situation and Ryan Mallett’s performance in Week 2)
“I think we all need to do better. The coaches need to do better, we need to play better. I thought Ryan, at times, looked really good. Other times, there’s probably some plays he wishes he had back. So he’s got to have a good week of practice, try to clean some things up. But he’s a hard-working kid and I believe he’ll get better.”
 
(On whether the 0-2 start has been frustrating for Houston)
“I think it’s always frustrating when you start out like this. Both games for us have come down to the last possession and we just haven’t been able to get over the top. We have to play better in the first half of these games. We dig ourselves too big of a hole. We’re really focused on Tampa Bay and we know they’re a very, very good team, well-coached, it’s going to be a tough game on Sunday. We’re just trying to put all of our efforts into Tampa Bay.”
 
(On switching from grass to artificial turf in NRG Stadium)
“We have a similar surface in our [practice] bubble, so we’ve practiced on it in that bubble quite a bit, on that surface, so we’ll go ahead and walk through on that surface and things like that, but we’ll continue to probably practice on grass.”
 
(On working with defensive end J.J. Watt)
“The guy is a great player. He’s a hard-working guy, he’s got great talent along with just a tremendous work ethic. He’s a good leader. He does everything we ask him to do. He’s out there every day, he brings the same work ethic to practice day-in and day-out. He’s everything you’d want in a great player.”
 
(On linebacker Jadeveon Clowney)
“He’s gotten better and better every time he’s been out there. He’s been out there quite a bit now; since August 17, he hasn’t missed a day, and I think any time you get that many reps and that many practices under your belt – and then the two games – you’re bound to improve. He’s been working hard. He’s done some good things in both games and we’re going to continue to play him more and more.”
 
(More on Donovan Smith)
“He was a real good player for us at Penn State. I really enjoyed coaching him. I think he’s playing well for the Buccaneers right now and I know it’s a big challenge for our guys going against him.”
 
(On his experience with HBO’s Hard Knocks)
“Wow, that’s a loaded question [laughter]. I think that there are two discussions there. First of all, the people that produce and direct Hard Knocks – Matt Dissinger, the director, great guy – great group of people to work with. But the process of Hard Knocks, I wouldn’t recommend that. No, I would not recommend that for a team or coaches.”
 
(On why he would not recommended Hard Knocks to a team)
“Just being mic’d up all the time and having cameras in your face all the time – that’s not something a football team is used to. Although, I think our guys handled it very well. It wasn’t a distraction; it was something that we handled very well, but it’s something that I don’t think you really need for a football team. That’s just my opinion though.”
 
LINEBACKER BRIAN CUSHING
 
(On what he saw from the Tampa Bay offense against New Orleans and the challenges
“I think that he looks a lot more comfortable, in terms of Jameis [Winston] going into his second game and kind of finding his groove and figuring out how he wants to attack defenses. I think they got so far behind [in] the first game, it was kind of just trying to come back and overcome that deficit the entire game. For the second game, he felt more comfortable, got in a groove, got some plays going. Obviously got Doug [Martin] running well with the ball and was able to make some critical throws.”
 
(On Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston saying that he can’t wait to face Texans defensive end J.J. Watt)
“I understand his excitement, but eventually that time has to come around when what you said, you have to do. This is the week. We’ll see how excited he is. J.J. is obviously a hell of a football player, but Jameis is good too. It’s obviously going to be a great challenge for him. J.J. is probably the best defensive player in the league and it’s always a big matchup for an offense to face him and the rest of our defense.”
 
(On what he sees from Winston)
“I think just the maturity. Now it being game three, he’s going to be more comfortable. Got a big win on the road, it’s never easy in the NFL, so he’s got that under his belt. He’s going to be feeling a lot better going into this game and, like I said, once he gets into a groove and starts running a little bit and making plays and extending plays is when he’s really dangerous. Obviously, going to try to get after him as best as we can – disguise some coverages and obviously not make it easy for him.”
 
(On where Houston needs to improve on defense)
“I think we need to get better on first down and just stay consistent and play four quarters of football. You watch the film and it’s kind of, ‘Really good, really good, really good’ and then a big play is given up. We’ve just got to eliminate that. A big way to do that also is get more turnovers, get the ball back for our offense – [that] will be really critical and really important for us as well. Any time we can do that, that would definitely benefit our team. I would say eliminate the big plays and get the ball back more and win the turnover battle.”
 
(On what he has seen from Tampa Bay rookie guard Ali Marpet)
“Another guy that’s improving. Just very young in his career, obviously, so there’s not much film on him where we can really grade him as much as you’d like or figure out what he likes to do or whatnot. There might be some surprises in this game. [He’s] done a good job so far, but obviously you know, he’s a rookie and all the other rookies are on the field or younger players with little experience, so just being aware of where they are and seeing how they matchup against guys.”
 
(On whether Houston feels extra urgency this week after an 0-2 start)
“I mean, yes and no. Yes, obviously, because we’re 0-2, but, no, because every single game is important. We know that. Just looking at our division, too, it hasn’t been as successful as everyone would like, but you know for us, it’s pretty good for us, knowing that we’re not far behind and can still come back. We’ve got a lot of football left. We approach every single game as a must-win. It’s the next game and no one goes out there with the objective to lose.”
 
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