Sept. 24, 2012
(Opening remarks on Saturday's 37-26 loss at Wisconsin)
"We're 1-3, and a realistic goal could've been 4-0. If I had said that to you a month ago, you would've said, `Who are you kidding?' But the way we've played, we certainly had opportunities in those three games.
"I think Richard Spencer's career is over. We may petition for another year for him. But he has an ACL injury. He was our best player on defense and knocked their All-American running back [Monte Ball] out. That started the game with a bang. We were definitely ready to play. We're always ready to play. We marched down the field in the first quarter. Nick [Lamaison] threw a perfect pass to Mike Edwards and he scored a touchdown. And then they blocked the extra point, and I think we lost something there for a while. We didn't play well in the second quarter until the interception by Drew Thomas, and Steve Valadez made the field goal to get us within nine points in the first half. I was very pleased that Steve did that. He ended up kicking a longer field goal later in the game that certainly helped our momentum.
"We made some great adjustments offensively and defensively at halftime. Our defense certainly came to play. We matched up very competitively in the kicking game. They played as well as anybody has played against us this year in all phases of special teams.
"I think that's the third game in a row where we've gotten into scoring position with our mayday offense, the two-minute offense before the half. We practice it every day and you can tell we're effective at that. We have a lot of confidence. We've gained confidence and trust in each other, and we played 60 minutes until the end. When you're trying an onside kick at the end of the game, it's not all bad. We played right down to the wire and were within four points in the fourth quarter and they scored twice.
"We weren't intimidated by the crowd. They're going to have a heck of a crowd this weekend at East Carolina. We did some things wrong in the game that we didn't have to do. There's no reason for it. I think we're pretty healthy. We're playing a really good team [this week]. We'd better be healthy."
"Richard Spencer made a great, great hit early in the game and Ball fumbled for the first time ever. I was very surprised to see that happen. We were very excited. We were sky high and things were going good. I felt right then that we were going to win the game. And at the beginning of the fourth quarter, our team did the jump around [with the Wisconsin fans] and our guys were going nuts. They were supposed to be intimidated, but they weren't. It was fun. Those are some memories to take from this game."
(Is this the hardest hitting team that you have had?)
"Maybe so. We are about as hard a hitting team as we've been since I got here. People all around the nation have said `Man, you guys hit.' Wisconsin had some massive people. I mean massive guys. We were outmanned at a number of different positions, but were not outfought or outhit."
(On Nathan Jeffery's health)
"Nathan didn't look like he was 100 percent to me [at Wisconsin]. He had his timing down pretty good, but he didn't have the burst that he had in the Oklahoma game. Groin injuries are tough to come back from."
(On the performance by the young running backs)
"The thing I liked is that our young running backs are taking care of the football. We had no fumbles. We're not turning the ball over at all. Offensively, we have had just one turnover [all season] and it was an interception. Xay Williams has really got talent. He's got speed. We saw that in Socorro camp. He made some highlight runs up there. He had a bruised thigh and that slowed him down for a couple of weeks, but he's on fire right now. Their defense was solid. They have good tacklers, and they're big and strong. There weren't many holes for our backs to run through."
(On Carson Meger not playing for the first time in his career)
"That was purely my mistake not playing Carson. We planned on playing him in the second quarter and didn't do it. He should've played and will play this week. He's a winner. I haven't lost confidence in him at all."
(On why the team is 1-3 and not 4-0)
"We have the confidence. We just have to keep the focus for 60 minutes. We probably haven't done that. The lack of focus is probably the most frustrating thing for me in the Wisconsin game ... the lack of focus in key situations."
(On the depth at safety with Richard Spencer out)
"Safety was not a concern for us going into the season. Wesley Miller can play. Shane Huhn has done a great job. He is vastly improved. Gage Sharp has done a great job in special teams. So they'll be playing now. And DeShawn Grayson, of course, is the guy back there."
(On getting Adrian James back soon)
"We're hoping he will be back this week. I don't know. He's our special teams captain and our best special teams player other than Richard Spencer. We would love to have him back. But it's a high ankle sprain and it takes time to heal. We'll have to see tomorrow."
(On East Carolina)
"I like a lot of things about them. The four-hour flight isn't one of them. They're really well coached. Ruffin McNeill is a real good coach, a great person and recruiter. He is an excellent defensive coach. They run the 3-4 stacked defense. That's a hard defense to attack. You don't know where guys are coming from. Their offense is pretty much Texas Tech's old offense with Mike Leach. Ruffin does a real good job. They get the skill players and they have a lot of good athletes on their team. They're big, strong and fast and they hit. They're like us in that area. Their running back who didn't play against us last year is back, and they have this new kid Cooper, a JC All-American who looked good in the last game. They're starting to run more than pass, but they'll pick you apart by dinking and dunking down the field. I don't know if they know who their quarterback is going to be. I think it's going to be Carden, but they kind of have a quick hook if the guy throws a pick. Last year their quarterback was really good. They played well here and we were fortunate to win. A lot of those guys are back. They've got a good club. They're well-coached and fundamentally sound on special teams as well."
(On preparing for the long trip to Greenville)
"We have to be careful. We have to hydrate on these trips. We need to get lots of rest, lots of sleep, cut down on the length of our practices and be healthy. The travel is a real factor. I think 15 percent of the teams win when traveling across two time zones."
(On opening the C-USA schedule)
"I'm really excited about this game. We haven't mentioned it to you guys, but there's no question in the back of our minds that this game is going to be crucial. We know the season is starting. Everything to this point was preseason football. The conference season is what it's all about. This game is what it's all about."
(On what he thinks of his team through four non-conference games)
"I think we're a good team and we can get better. We are going to get better. We have good character and good leadership. We're healthy. We're going to be smart in how we practice, and our guys have to be responsible in terms of eating right and getting their rest. We know how important all of those things are."