Sept. 30, 2013
(On Saturday's 59-42 loss at Colorado State)
"It was a disappointing game. It was an odd game. It took a lot of different turns in the first half and second half. There are a lot of things we need to shore up before our next game to give us a chance to compete and win on Homecoming."
(On Colorado State's fake field goal)
"We were in our normal field goal block in that situation. We have the check if they do go to any type of offensive set, which they did. They went to an empty set. There was a miscommunication as far as who was supposed to cover the receiver coming out. It was cleaned up late. We did actually have a guy in coverage and he lost his eyes into the backfield, which you can't do whenever you're in man coverage. They cashed in on it. That one was on us."
(What do you need to shore up for this week?)
"Starting on the defensive side of the ball, tackling at the point of attack. It's no secret, it has been an issue for us throughout the season. We're going to try to attack that the right way as far as emphasizing it more in practice this week. Ultimately it just comes down to tackling and the willingness to tackle. They busted too many long runs where it should've been a stop for no gain or a relatively short gain. It's definitely an area we need to improve upon on the defensive side of the ball. On the offensive side of the ball it's just being consistent and efficient for extended drives. We go out there, we take it right down the field with a very efficient drive mixing the run and the pass. Then we come back and have inefficient drives that put us behind the eight ball as far as the score was concerned. Then we come out in the second half and put up nearly 300 yards and play about as well as an offense can play. Then we come back two straight drives and have turnovers. That was the story of the game, not stopping the run on defense and turning the ball over on offense. We don't really talk about stats as a team. I think stats are overrated. But one stat we do talk about is turnovers. Although we've been pretty good with the ball this year -- we're +3 in the turnover category -- we turn it over at inopportune times. We had a safety that was a turning point in the game. It was 28-28, Jameill [Showers] gets sacked and he fumbled. You don't want to give up a sack. But Jameill in that case can not give up the ball. We preach ball security every day and we work the drills every day. It's a main emphasis for our program. We turned the ball over, it scooted back and ended up being a safety in their favor. What that does is it gives them the ball immediately back. We held them to a third and long and then they broke a long pass on us with some missed tackles. Immediately you've got a nine-point swing. We got the ball back offensively and drove down into their territory and we were sustaining a nice drive and the young freshman fumbled on a play that really wasn't a violent hit or anything like that. He just had poor ball security. That turned into a 16-point swing, one that we weren't able to overcome and it happened in a flash, much like our scores did in the third quarter. That's how quickly a game can turn. It turned because of turnovers on the offensive side of the ball and the defense's inefficiency at keeping them out of the end zone in those situations. To me, that was the story of the game. I was extremely proud of the team being down 28-7 at halftime. This team didn't fold its tent. We talked about it not being an insurmountable lead to overcome if you just chip away at it. I really felt they did that in the third quarter and fought hard to get back in the game, and then the turnovers happened and we didn't overcome it."
(On the final offensive sequence of the first half)
"Number one, the runs were called with the thought of getting the first down. The first down stops the clock and gives you an opportunity to continue that drive. Where we were on the field in between the 50 and the 40, if we're not in a fourth and one we're not going to go for it at the end of the half because at that point we hadn't stopped them. They had enough time and timeouts to move that ball down the field. If we went for it at that point of the field, that's an easy chance for them to possibly get a field goal or even a touchdown before the half. That may have been an insurmountable lead. At that point of the game we needed to regroup and go back and talk about it and figure how we could get back into the game. I think we did that successfully as a team, but when we got back into the game we didn't take advantage of it. The momentum had swung our way at that point. That's a decision I will not go back and second guess, because those decisions are pre-planned. If the other team has an opportunity to score points and we're not in a position to get a first down that's makeable, then we're not going to make a decision to give another team points. It's kind of like coming out at the end of the half and a team is backed up and they've got 30 seconds left, I don't know how many times I've seen a team in that situation get a sack fumble or throw an interception and give the team easy points, where you hear the guys on TV say `Why aren't they just taking it down the field? What are they doing?' Sometimes you've got to play kind of conservative in that area to put the fire out or stop the bleeding. That's the decision we chose. At the time you want to get points, but you don't want to give up points. It helped give us time to regroup and come back and get ready for the second half."
(What can you improve on moving forward?)
"You can improve upon fundamentals. You can show when the effort is there and when the effort is not there, and you need to constantly point that out. As a football player, you can improve on anything. It's a willingness to want to improve on that. As a coach, I can improve on things. It's a willingness to want to improve on that. Everybody can improve. I will never take a status quo approach like `Hey, this is what we've got, this is as good as we're going to get.' I don't believe in that. We're going to work at it. Every day the guys behind them need to work to try to beat those guys out. If they're performing better they'll get an opportunity. If certain individuals continually show that they can't do the job, there will be a change whether it's with the guys on our team or guys that we recruit. We're not going to be status quo. But we do need to improve."
(Are some players more fundamentally sound than others when they come here from high school?)
"I would say that depends on which programs guys are coming from. Some guys come from programs that are outstanding fundamentally and some other kids don't. That's on an individual basis. What we need to do is not worry about that and worry about what we can do to help them fundamentally get better. The only way you can do that is emphasize it and work on it. You need to work fundamental drills so you don't fumble the ball. You need to work fundamental tackling drills so when you are in that position you make the tackle. It's just going to come down to hard work and acknowledging that there needs to be improvement there. That's the first thing, is admitting that you have a problem and need to work at it."
(Is Richard Spencer back in your good graces?)
"It wouldn't say it's good graces. He has been injured. He got an opportunity to go out and prove that he can play and play healthy. I think it was a big mental stepping stone for him, playing in that game and coming out of it healthy. He'll be a starter moving forward. With any of the guys who have been sidelined that were previous starters, and I'll put Germard Reed in that category too - he got his first extended playing time because he was healthy and he played fairly well so he'll get his opportunity to start. Being a head coach, I'm going to always try to have the best players out there. But if the guys aren't healthy, they aren't healthy."
(How are Nathan Jeffery and LaQuintus Dowell's health?)
"I'm hoping to have both of those guys back full force this week which will benefit us offensively, and in Dowell's case on special teams as well. That's getting back basically three players, when you talk about the contributions L.A. Dowell makes on special teams."
(On Louisiana Tech)
"They're very athletic with good team speed. They lost a lot of people from last year. In many ways they're a lot like us. They're young in some areas. But they have great athleticism. That has always been the case with them. They have very good size up front and in the defensive line and some very active, fast linebackers. Offensively they play with two different quarterbacks. They probably haven't put up as many points as they've wanted to. But you can see they're getting better and better each week in their system offensively because they have a new staff as well. It's going to be a challenge for us. We're extremely excited to come home. We've got to get a win for the home folks because they have been outstanding. We need to reward them with a win on Homecoming this weekend."
(Will Jameill Showers throw the ball more this week given his success last week?)
"Again, what are they giving you? Coverage dictated a lot of the things that we did in the third quarter. It wasn't like we came out thinking we were going to sling it on every down. That's not how it operates. If there's a quarter that we get 200 yards rushing, it may be because they're giving us a box that gives you looks where you can run the ball. We have several things that we can go to offensively. What I like is we have balance. It's not one of those deals where they say `If you load the box against UTEP, they can't do anything.' We can throw. And there have been situations where we have ran the ball very well. I'd like to see us be more balanced throughout the drives where we're mixing in running and throwing and being efficient at it. There have been times we do that and our offense really hums. I have been pleased with the production at the four-game standing with the offense. But I think the offense can get better and better."
(On the offensive line's protection of Jameill Showers)
"We struggled a little bit at the end of the game against #56 [of Colorado State]. We knew going into the game that he was an outstanding player. Being a former line coach, those guys work hard. I have been pleased with the progress of the offensive line from day one up until this game. Maybe it's some situations against a player like that where we'll try to give the tackle a little bit more help. On those particular plays he didn't have help going against a very good player. We'll face a similar type player this week, so we'll have to make some adjustments to get ready for that."
(How do you generate more of a pass rush?)
"I kind of liken that to tackling. I don't think it's the scheme at all. I think it's a matter of getting to the quarterback, feeding your blocks and executing your technique. Teams have been running on us a little more than throwing it. We really haven't faced a true spread, air it out passing team yet, but a lot of it has to do with an inability to stop the run. We've got to shore that up before anything [else]."