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September 6, 2011

Dabo previews Wofford

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Opening statements: "Good opener for us. Going back over the tape it was good to just play a game. We've got some video to teach from now and start growing some of these guys up who haven't played yet. All our mistakes were very correctable things. The biggest thing is that I want us to get better each week. That's what we're trying to do.

"Injury-wise we're in pretty good shape with the exception of Rashard. Buice will be back. I'm anxious to get him back and also be a real factor for us on special teams. Breeland and Corico will be limited today, they'll be in green today.

"Wofford is going to be a challenge for us. It's continuing our schedule of champions. They're coming off a great year after winning 10 games. They do a good job of recruiting to their system. You watch them play and they play very physical and smart. Very smart, sound and disciplined. Their offense is a big challenge. They do a lot of things, I mean a lot of things. They use their personnel very well. They led the nation in rushing last year. No. 7 for them is their workhorse. Our defense describes him as Chad Diehl with moves. He's a very durable player that makes them go. He scored 22 touchdowns last year. Their QB is very efficient in running their system. They don't throw it a lot, but they average 19.2 yards a catch. When they threw it, it was a big play.

"For us, we have to tackle better than we did last week. We have to play very physical. The key for us is first down. We have to put these guys in some long yardage situations. I'm anxious to see how we do against these guys. Defensively, they're mostly an odd front. They have mostly four linebackers on the field at all times. They pursue, play with great energy and they're rarely out of position. It's really about us trying to get better this week. We need to go play with great energy and see if we can get to 2-0."

Q. How concerned are you with Rashard?
Dabo. "It's really kind of a strange deal. He probably could play this week. He feels pretty good. He doesn't have any swelling, but what they're going to do is fit him for a high-tech, special brace that relieves some pressure from the area that's bothering him. We'll see if we can hold him this week and see how that goes. If it responds well, next time he plays and he's comfortable with the brace, hopefully he'll be fine. If not, he may need some surgery at some point. He's our biggest concern right now. The strange thing is that he feels good. It's not something we need to get worse."

Q. Is it an MCL?
Dabo. "It's like a defect kind of thing. At some point he probably needs to have surgery on it. We'll see if that'll take some of the stress off."

Q. Talk about the transition from Troy to preparing for Wofford?
Dabo. "It's very different. There's still some carryover, especially with Wofford's secondary. Defensively, it's a completely different setup. There's no carryover there. But it's football. It's still tackling, playing with your eyes and getting off blocks. From that standpoint, we have a chance to take another step."

Q. Talk about the importance of these in-state college football games.
Dabo. "We don't take anybody for granted. We have to prepare as hard for these guys as we do anybody. They're a load. They're a challenge. And they're capable of beating you. They've been to Columbia twice the last few years and they were competitive down there, losing 27-13 and 27-20. They'll come in with nothing to lose. If you don't match that kind of energy and go out and turn the ball over, you'll find yourself in a long battle. If you're not ready, these guys can beat you. I do like keeping it in-state. I think it's great for the state of South Carolina. It's good for their fan base. They don't have to travel a long way, so it maximizes their revenue."

Q. Texas played a record 18 true freshmen. You see a trend of more true freshmen playing?
Dabo. "I don't know about other places but for us we knew this was coming just because of the way we were recruiting. We've been pushing scholarships the first two years to get us in a position to sign the class we signed last February. As a result we're young. We had to rely on freshmen this year. But they're the right kind of guys. They fit what we're looking for. We're excited about them. We have some guys who are just beyond their years. And that's a credit to just going out and doing a good job in recruiting. Nobody talks about Robert Smith, but he's as good a player as we signed. He's a football player. He showed up in his first game. Coaches love him. We think we've done a good job in the last couple of years in our system and how we recruited."

Q. What are your thoughts on DeShawn and Grady in their first game?
Dabo. "They did a good job. I almost had to look the other way in the first quarter. They were in there early. And not just those two but Tavaris was in there too. They did a good job for their first game. With those two in particular, they had a couple of great effort plays."

Q. What would you like to see Tajh improve on this weekend?
Dabo. "I just want to see him start like he finished last week. I want him to play like he's capable of playing. Hopefully Tajh has that behind him. He was pretty good, now. He was 13-for-13 at one point. The amazing thing about it is, it's the second-most passing yards in a first start to Charlie Whitehurst, and he really only played a half."

Q. Was it all Tajh's fault in the first half?
Dabo. "He didn't play well. He had some basic execution things. We had some other guys who didn't play well. We had a few miscues where it was one guy. Tajh just wasn't quite himself in that first half."

Q. Chad said he was ticked when he came off the field because he felt like he left 21 points out there.
Dabo. "It wasn't anything complicated. We just weren't doing some basic things we had been doing. And then third down. If you're 0-for-8 on third down, if you just hit three of them, that's nine more plays you get from a conversion standpoint. I was disappointed with what we were doing tempo-wise and execution."

Q. Those basic things that you weren't doing well, what about the one-yard you needed at the goal line?
Dabo. "We didn't block a linebacker. The first call, the third down call, we didn't run with a lot of purpose. But on the fourth-and-inches, we didn't block a linebacker. You don't block a linebacker, he can make a play."

Q. Are you concerned that you can't be this vanilla in play-calling going forward and have the kind of success you want?
Dabo. "No, I'm not concerned at all about play-calling. Play-calling was fine. I just think that we played tight for whatever reason. When it's all said and done we won. That's the most yards we've had in an opener around here since 1985. At the end of the day, we were productive. Very efficient."

Q. Chad always talks about how much he wants to run the ball. Have you considered the possibility that you may have enough talent there that it could be your most productive asset?
Dabo. "I just want to win. We had runs called, but we took a pass because of communication. There are a lot of built-in answers in this system. You saw a little bit of that Saturday. That will vary from game to game. I know this; if we can't run the ball effectively, it'll be a long season. At the end of the day, we want to be a balanced football team. As much play action as we have, if we can't run the ball effectively, that's a problem. And we ran effectively the other day. I think Andre was right around 5 yards a carry. Now it should have been better."

Q. What have you seen out of Stephone?
Dabo. "He's special. He's special. Kevin will probably tell you the same thing. He is a very instinctive, talented freshman. He's got the whole package. To see the way he played Saturday was impressive. He just played that wheel route like he'd been playing the last four years. He probably could have had the interception. On the sack, he went from point A to point B like a rocket. I just think he is a special guy. I've seen that in practice but you want to see it in a game. Defensively, we're a pretty complex system, especially where he's playing."

Q. Do you see a lot of Georgia Tech's principles in Wofford's offense?
Dabo. "Oh yeah. They've got Georgia Tech. They've got Auburn. They've got a little bit of everything. They must do a great job of teaching. They've got a lot of different things that they'll do from a personnel thing."

Q. What did you think of Maryland's uniforms last night?
Dabo. "I don't think that would fly in Clemson. I had to turn my TV down. It was kind of bright. I saw the second half. I thought both of those teams looked good and played really hard. From a uniform standpoint, it was kind of hard to watch."

Q. From a tempo standpoint, what did you think about Maryland?
Dabo. "I thought they did a good job. They're much different from what they've been. Looks like they use their personnel well. Their quarterback is a good player. I haven't studied them a lot. Their back ran hard and it looks like they've got some good skill guys."

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