Oct. 22, 2012
(Thoughts on Saturday's 24-20 win over Tulane)
"We're really thrilled with our victory on Homecoming. It was a great night. If you weren't here, you missed out, because it was a fun game. It was exciting until the very end. It was definitely well played. I thought [Nick] Lamaison played the best he has played in while. He was almost perfect on his reads. He only made one mistake. Unfortunately he pulled a hamstring, and he has been living up here in the rehab room all of yesterday and today. He will work hard to come back. But when you put the reins in Carson Meger's hands, you're ok because he's a great field general and a leader. He can run our offense. We don't have to change it with Carson. He's a veteran. He has been in the game before.
"We didn't score a lot of points in the second half, but we didn't have the ball all that much. They put together some drives and we bent but didn't break. I felt like we could play better defensively in the first half, and coach Patterson had a mental adjustment period with them at halftime. We tackled much better in the second half. There were too many missed tackles in the first half.
"Xay Williams hurt his shoulder again. He got tackled and landed on his sore shoulder. So Xay's shoulder is sore, Nick's hamstring is sore, and Nathan Jeffery is still sore with the groin. We'll just have to see how that goes. Josh Bell came in and did a great job. L.A. Dowell ran extremely hard and Autrey Golden did too. We seem to have some really good backs and we were real balanced statistically."
(On the defense's first half struggles)
(On Nick Lamaison's status for the Houston game)
"We did have problems in the first half. There were some schematic things, but I think the main thing was our open field tackling wasn't as crisp as we would like it. We're going to have to be a better tackling team this week."
"I've got a feeling that he's going to play. I think the hamstring is worse than it was last week. The question is how much he will play."
(On giving up big plays in the first quarter of the last two games)
"A week ago it was just a complete bust by our secondary. This week it was the guy ran a better route, turned our defender and they were right on target. I think we're ok, to be honest. We're going to have to be ok because they're going to throw the ball 70 times a game against us this week. We'd better be tighter on those receivers."
(On the offensive line's performance versus Tulane)
"I think it was one of our best games for the offensive line. We really came off the ball. We still need to work on fundamentals. We're playing too high on offense and defense, and we're going to have to go against each other 1's on 1's and do some good blocking and tackling."
"Man, they've got speed. Their running back is a tremendous, tremendous player. Their quarterback Piland is very, very good. They threw the ball 65 times and they had over 500 yards passing [against SMU]. Their quarterback did get a concussion. He got hammered late on an illegal play by the linebacker. They knocked him out of the game. Each of their quarterbacks threw two interceptions. You can't beat anybody with nine turnovers. They did score 42 points against a team we couldn't score a point against. They just ran into a nightmare at SMU. Everything that could've gone wrong went wrong.
"This will probably be Sims' last year in Conference USA. He's a junior but he'll probably turn pro. He's that good. He's a tremendous running back and wide receiver. He's really a good player. Thy have two linebackers in the top 10 in sacks and tackles for losses. They run all over and blitz like crazy and take chances. They had three straight wins going into the last game and it erupted on them and SMU took advantage. They have one of the best punters in America. They messed up in the kicking game and dropped a couple of punts too [against SMU]."
(On what's different about this year's Houston team and last year's)
"What's different is what's been different the last nine years we've played them. They don't have Case Keenum. He was there for nine years, right? Other than that, there isn't much different. They have speed to burn. They can run. They're a track team. Their defense plays hard. But they've given up big plays and they've made mistakes."
(On how to stop Houston's high-speed offense)
"There are two ways. SMU came after them and blitzed a lot. And they knocked their quarterback out of the game and put heated pressure on the next two backups. Or, it's have them get their yards and come up and tackle them, and don't allow big plays. They're a big play offense. You have to take angles. I would think it's hard to play man against them. I think just playing zone and keeping the quarterback in front of you is the key. We have to put pressure on the quarterback and mix up the coverages."
(On the keys to beating Houston offensively)
"It would be nice to have a gun loaded with all our bullets. It would be nice for Nathan Jeffery, Jordan Leslie and Michael Edwards to be ready to go. We're going to have to score more than 24 points to win, I would think."
(On Houston's offense)
"They pass a lot and they run the offense fast. They run 100 plays. Every second, they run a play. They go fast, fast, fast. They're the fastest at the no huddle offense of any team we've seen this year. Will we run the ball to keep it close? I don't know. That's a strategy, no question about it. That's the strategy we had against Oklahoma, but they didn't speed it up like these guys. And maybe with a backup quarterback playing, he may not be able to pick up the tempo. I'm not really sure what we're going to do. It's only Monday."
(On the team's struggles in the city of Houston)
"You're right, we should have had more success there. We've played some close games with Houston and Rice, but we haven't played very well. We tell our guys that this is a business trip and we're going down there to play a game. But it's hard when the players have family there. That is a distraction.
"This is a very important game for us. There's no question about it. We have the week after that to get well, so everyone is going to play as long and as hard as they can. We need to win in Houston. We need to beat Houston and save our season and this game is going to save it. You're going to see everything in our playbook. We're going to give it our very, very best effort."