OPENING REMARKS: “[We] continued our preparation for Denver. We had a good, spirited padded practice today. Obviously it’s a very big game for us, a big game for Denver, starting the second half of the season. It’s a great challenge for our team, but our guys are excited, really focused on trying to go out and play our best game, understanding that this is a big game and we’ve got to continue to put our best foot forward every step of the way.”
Q: Are teams stacking the box more?
HALEY: “It depends on the teams you’re playing, and how they are playing. I wouldn’t say we aren’t getting much out of the ordinary. Pretty much week in and week out you’ve got to be able to run the ball against eight in the box, nine in the box. I think that’s the key to being a successful running team is being able to run when they know you are going to run. Like I said, we’re getting better, I think we are making progress and this week will be a big, big week again for us offensively to be efficient running the ball and throwing the ball. What we’ve got to be better at on is first down, just in general. Offensively when we aren’t efficient on first down, it kind of puts us in the hole in second and third down and we just can’t afford that so we are putting an emphasis on being better on first down whether we are throwing it or running it.”
Q: Does the way Denver has been playing on offense tempt you to put nine in the box?
HALEY: “No, I think that we’ve go to, our defensive philosophy regardless of who we are playing, is we’ve got to stop the run first. If we don’t stop the run then we’ll probably have a problem against anybody we play and Denver’s no different, and they happen to be running the ball really well right now so defensively we must do a good job against the run. They’ve got a number of guys including the quarter back that run it well, and at the same time we’ve got to be able to defend that pass but that doesn’t change week in and week out.”
Q: How’s your defense responding to [Jerheme] Urban and [Tyler] Palko playing the role of [Tim] Tebow and understanding what Denver does offensively?
HALEY: “I thought the last couple of days, but today with the pads on we had a great practice. Probably in my opinion one of our best practices that we’ve had. Guys were into it, and some of that is getting to do some different things on the show team that are interesting and exotic so to speak, I thought everybody did a terrific job. The guys giving the quarterback look were excellent so it was a good practice, good work and I feel like we made progress.”
Q: Did you watch a lot of tape from him at Florida trying to prepare for him?
HALEY: “I haven’t. Defensively we had a couple of guys do it just to make sure we aren’t missing anything. I haven’t watched any Florida tape this week but I made sure I visited with all of our [Southeastern Conference] guys and just kind of picked everybody’s brain to see potential things we could see.”
Q: Do you ever see the NFL going more to the style of quarter back you see in college?
HALEY: “I don’t know. You see in our league, sometimes we are affected by college football, but more so form the standpoint of personnel I think. As college has gone more spread, what’s been tougher to come by are fullbacks and tight end but they are still showing up one way or another. I just think it all depends on who you have and what you have and how you best maximize the players that you have on your team. I think Denver right now is doing a very good job of playing to their player’s strength.”
Q: How are quarte backs coming out now NFL ready versus 10 years ago?
HALEY: “Boy we’re really going off the track. How are they different, more NFL ready?”
Q: Are they less ready for the NFL now then they were 10 years ago?
HALEY: “I don’t know. We’ve had some young guys step in and be performing pretty well here, which has not been the norm 10 years ago. Very rarely do you see some of these guys come in and perform and produce like they have, like you are seeing even this year so I don’t know. That’s probably a question for somebody else.”
Q: Would you say that first down calls in this situation are the plays you feel most comfortable with?
HALEY: “I think we break first down up, and always have, from a standpoint of drive starters, things that are relatively safe or block them up chunk plays. I think it all depends on what you’re getting defensively and how you want to attack. On first down, I think philosophically you’re making decisions during the week, in the game, depending on what you’re seeing. Generally, you’re going to get something different on first down than you are on third down, especially a team like Denver.”
Q: Is it even more important for your defensive line to control the gaps with this offense coming in?
HALEY: “For us, in a two-gap defense, it’s very critical every single week, as far as everybody understanding their fit and what they have to do and everybody doing their job because if one guy gets out of sorts, then that creates a weakness. When you talk about a team that is running the ball real well, that is very, very critical because again, when you’ve got a quarterback that can run, they’re gaining an offensive player essentially. So, that means our defense, we have to make sure that everybody is fitting correctly, but I wouldn’t say that it’s more important one week or another unless we were playing a team that was throwing the ball every down.”
Q: What is your take on Joe Paterno?
HALEY: “I think that the entire situation just is upsetting to me. The allegations are disturbing, as I said yesterday, but really just not for me to comment on. I think we’ve got to stay focused on what we’re doing and how we’re going to get better every day here and play our best game this week. Like I said, it’s an upsetting story each time that I see anything about it. That’s close to home in a number of ways, having five kids.”
Q: Were you a Penn State fan?
HALEY: “No, my father went to Pitt. Like I said, he was recruited by Paterno to go up there. It’s just a lot of people that you know and we’ve got a lot of Penn State guys around and it’s upsetting. But, we’re staying focused on what we’re doing.”