Q&A With Mark Whipple
Nov. 1, 1999
What are your thoughts on last week’s win over Rhode Island?
“I was pleased with the first three quarters. We were ahead 31-3. At halftime Marcel Shipp only had four yards, but it was 28-3. We had a touchdown called back because we didn’t line up right, and we had another one where the guy lost the ball at the one yard line. I thought we did a lot of things we could be happy about without one of our key players having a typical day. Adrian Zullo had a good game. Jimmie Howard, one of our freshmen, had two catches for touchdowns. Eric Bross and Steve Ley both caught the ball pretty well. Our defense held Rhode Island to six three and-outs to start the game.We were pretty pleased at halftime. Last year against Rhode Island, we went in at halftime down 10-0. We wanted to play well in the first half, which we really haven’t done all year. We did that and we really kind of put it on cruise control in the fourth quarter. We were very pleased with the win.”
Is your team playing with more confidence now?
“We are much more confident at this time than we were earlier in the year. We are much more relaxed. I think we all felt a lot of pressure early in the season. Everybody expects us to play the perfect game and that did not happen early. Then you win one great game, and things start happening and you start to feel better about yourself. This is a different team. We are much more proficient on defense. But we still have a number of areas where we can improve.”
What did you think of Jimmie Howard’s play against Rhode Island?
“Jimmie Howard is a player who had a lot of I-A offers, but we hung with him and he eventually committed to us. Adrian Zullo has taken a few knocks in the past few weeks, so we felt we needed to give him some help. We put Jimmie in and he made two great catches. We need him to get in the game a lot more. He has only touched the ball five times this year, and he’s averaging over 25 yards every time he touches the ball. I have to be smarter and start using him more. He did a great job on Saturday.”
How do you feel about Kole Ayi’s play so far this season?
“If there is a better linebacker in the conference, I have not seen him. I am just glad we only have to block him in practice. He is a great athlete and a great kid. He has done so much to improve himself. He is a great leader, and he is the core of our front seven. He makes the big plays.”
Looking ahead, what do think your chances are of making the NCAA Tournament?
“I think our guys got a taste of the playoff atmosphere at Delaware. But there is nothing like actually going through and experiencing the playoffs. I think our guys expected a lot early in the season. There are five teams in this conference that, if they win out, should get consideration and should get into the playoffs. I think we are one of the five. November is championship month. It all comes down to the next three weeks, and I think we have a legitimate shot. Hopefully we learned something last year.”
What are your thoughts on playing Richmond this week?
“I told our players that we didn’t do anything last year in this conference. If we want to be on top, we have to beat the champion, and that’s what Richmond is. They have the whole package. They are as talented as anybody we have played. They dominated Hofstra in the second half, and we have great respect for Hofstra and the way they play the game. We are very concerned.”