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Kevin Gilbride Press Conference, 12.29.11

Q: What is clutch?
A: I wish I had an answer for that. I would say the good thing is that when it gets down to those critical situations, certain groups and certain people manage to tighten in their focus even more. Some guys, some groups and some teams get overwhelmed by it. Fortunately for us, that hasn't been the case. I think the opposite has happened. We actually get more focused, more zoomed in and have responded more consistently with more big plays in those situations than we do throughout the course of the game.

Q: Have you noticed your players feeding off of Eli?
A: I think having your quarterback that is obviously not a nerve bite is certainly beneficial. I don't think there is any question about that. He is the unspoken leader out there, you have 10 guys looking at one guy so that guy that they are looking at, it is imperative that he has poise and belief that we are going to get this thing done. I think the fact that we have experienced some success, everybody feeds into that. There is no sense of panic or that we can't get this thing done. The few times that we haven't, it has not been because we didn't move the ball, it has been a turnover here or a slip here or a tackle from behind there but in both those cases, we were moving down to score again.

Q: How concerned are you about the fact that Jake Ballard may not play?
A: It is a big concern because obviously Jake had worked his way into being a very important part of the puzzle. In the game in Dallas he was huge and as the game went on at the end and that last drive, they started using a technique that I hadn't seen until I happened to be watching television and saw Romeo Crennel do it in Kansas City and all of a sudden they were doing it. They were punting two guys in like a punt coverage against Victor and we couldn't win with Victor so we had to win somewhere else. There were a couple things you could do but one of the things and easy solution was to see if Jake could win and he made a huge play for us and got it right down to the one-yard line. It is a concern obviously. You wish Jake was there and could play but we have been fortunate this year that when guys have been hurt, people stepped up and filled in and have done a good job for us. We are looking forward to seeing what Travis can do. When he has been healthy, he has made some plays and hopefully he or Bear will do it.

Q: How much upside does Victor have?
A: I have jokingly said that he giveth and taketh away on a play-to-play basis. In all honesty, he has grown over the last three or four weeks. There haven't been any mistakes and he has made some terrific reads. It is really impressive to me to see the growth that has taken place. What I think is that there will be fewer and fewer mistakes as the year goes on providing that he stays healthy and everything else becomes faster. I don't see any reason why he won't continue to get better and better.

Q: Did his journey cause him to take so long to come along?
A: Where he was at, they threw the ball a lot and there is a lot of terrific coaches at the 1AA level. He at least had a background that he could reference and I think those things helped. When you are in that inside position and that is where we needed somebody to be, there is a lot going on. It is so much easier outside because you have a corner and if the corner goes deep or roles up and the safety is over the top, that is it, but inside you have somebody over your head, you have a linebacker, a safety and the other safety across, you have so many more variables in the equation of you making the final decision it is hard to make that position. He has struggled but I just have seen so many fewer mistakes. He has really reduced the number of errors he makes and he is making a lot of good decisions and you saw the great plays. Even on the ones where he reads it right and his decision was right. He is doing the right things and I am really proud of him and what has taken place because I don't know how fair it was to expect so much. We always knew we had a guy that we knew could do it but you never know if they are going to do it. He looked like he had the quickness and he had the ability to make some tough catches that he had shown in the preseason. He had the body type to withstand some of the hits that he was going to be taking inside but you never know. For example, the run after the catch, I was looking for a first down and we had a good call and made the first down but all of a sudden he goes for a touchdown so what was an 11 yard gain turned into a huge play.