Oct. 21, 2013
"We're coming off a bye week. It was a very productive bye week for us. We got a lot of work done after a tough home loss to Tulsa. Again, we're trying to work on the things that we need to correct for the short term and the long term. We had three quality days of work. On Wednesday, we gave the redshirts and the guys on the scout team the opportunity to go out and scrimmage in a live setting. There was a lot of energy in that scrimmage. It was fun to watch the young guys go out and compete."
"They are extremely productive running the ball. They are #1 in Conference USA and they're ranked nationally. They are averaging close to 230 yards rushing per game. They had almost 400 yards rushing this past weekend against New Mexico State. They have big, physical backs. They have two backs that are both 235 that carry the load for them, and two quarterbacks that are outstanding running the ball. They are multiple in their formations and they attack teams differently week to week. They change what they do, which makes them even more difficult to prepare for. They do a nice job of executing. They are extremley well coached on both sides of the ball and offensively they present some issues for us."
(On Aaron Jones' health)
(On evaluating the team at the midway point of the season)
"We're hoping to have Aaron Jones back this week. We'll see how he progresses throughout the week, but it has been moving in a positive direction. We'll also find out during the week about Adam Ayala, Katrae Ford and LA Dowell. All three of those guys we've missed for quite some time now, and we're hoping to have all three back healthy going into this road stretch."
"Obviously we're extremely disappointed with our record. At this point of the juncture you have to evaluate where you're at and attack the problems you have. You have to focus on the last half of the season and try to get progressively better. That's what I tell the guys, I'm not judging you on wins and losses or this season on wins and losses, but I want to see continued improvement. That's going to be our focus the next six weeks, trying to improve weekly in small areas and big areas and compete."
(On playing five of the last six games on the road)
"Sometimes when you're struggling, going on the road takes away some of the distractions. We have three really good teams coming up and we'll accept the challenge."
(On what he did during the off weekend)
"I sat on my couch and watched the Big Ten Network after watching my daughter play volleyball in the morning. I watched my son Robert [Purdue offensive lineman) play live for the first time this year. They played a very tough Michigan State team. And I watched my son Patrick's team, Michigan, play Indiana in an extremely different game. One game was 14-0 and one game was 63-47. And from there I watched my daughter's club volleyball game that night. It was a fun filled day watching my kids play. It was very gratifying."
(On Rice being a model for building a program)
"Absolutely. I think they are very well coached. I think coach Bailiff has done an unbelievable job there. I knew where that program was. When you're coaching in the NFL, you get to evaluate a lot of teams because you're looking at players. Where they've come from a couple of years ago is unbelievable. They are extremely solid on both sides of the ball. And if we were going to use a team as a model for rebuilding a program the proper way, they would be an example for us. It does take some time. You have to do it the right way and stay the course and fight and work till you get there."
(On the bye week)
"I think we really needed it from a health standpoint more than anything. I don't think any of the players I mentioned would have been able to play this past Saturday, and that would have left us really shorthanded."
(On recruiting during the off week)
"All of the coaches went on the road all over the country, and the focus of this recruiting trip was to look at mid-year junior college players. As I've said in the past, we're not going to sign many junior college players, but when we do, whether it's to fill a need or a position, we want to get guys who can come in at midterm where we can have them for spring ball. We had to get a jump on the road in order to do that. We were looking at some defensive linemen, junior college tight ends and linebackers and we made a lot of headway in that area."
(On Rice's proficiency running the football)
"They're going to try to run the rock against us too. It's an extreme challenge, not only because they're physical and they run the ball and they've got physical backs, but from a scheme challenge they are very multiple. Rice does a great job. They have really smart players that can handle changing their schemes from week to week. A lot of teams just have to run the same things over and over. You'll watch [Rice] one week and they're doing some option type things, and the next week they're doing basic zone type stuff. They mix it up and they do a great job of handling that from week to week. That's why they're so efficient running the football."
(On Aaron Jones)
"I'm Aaron Jones' biggest fan and not only from a football standpoint. If you spent one day with him you'd realize what a great character kid he is. He really exemplifies what we're trying to build with this program - good student athletes who compete on a daily basis and work hard and basically don't say a word. He's special and he's going to get better and better with the strength program. Even just over the progression of the summer he added 15 pounds, because it was probably the first time that he stopped and lifted weights. His brother is in the same category. I can't say enough about him and the future he holds. I'm excited for the young man."
(Without a lot to play for the rest of the year, is Aaron Jones winning the freshman rushing title something that you can strive for?)
"With no disrespect, I think there's a lot to play for from week to week. I don't care what your record is. In the game of football there are new opportunities each week. We're going to go out there and try to challenge and accept those opportunities and get after it each week. For a young man like Aaron, he does have a lot to shoot for. If he was the leading rusher in the conference or the leading freshman rusher, those are great individual accolades that I'm sure we'd all be proud of. It's not just the running back when things like that are attained. It's the offensive line, the tight ends, and the receivers getting in there blocking. There is a lot that goes into somebody being productive in the run game. Certainly we want to see him do the best he can in every category, but there's certainly a lot to play for with us."
(On what can be done to help the slow starts defensively)
"What we're going to try to do is go more up tempo practice periods and do it at the beginning of practice rather than in the middle of practice, just to get the kids used to coming out right from the stretch and getting into a live setting. We have started slow in particular on the defensive side of the ball, and they've settled into the game which tells me they can do it. I don't have the extreme answer for that. Maybe it's youth. We have to do something about it, and we're going to try to attack that in practice by upping our tempo earlier so these guys get a better feel for doing it sooner."