Oct. 31, 2011
(Thoughts on Saturday's 31-13 loss to Southern Miss)
"After looking at the tape and putting everything together, that was probably the best team we've played this year. USF may have been a little quicker and Houston maybe has a more explosive offense, but as far as overall team is concerned, Southern Miss played very well. Their defense was solid from the beginning of the game to the end, although we did move the ball at times. Their special teams coverage was solid. They punted the ball away from our returners. We came close to blocking a couple of PATs. So we were just a little off in the kicking game.
"We covered hard and Ian Campbell did a tremendous job of punting. I thought Mike Edwards had a couple of real difficult punts to field. I don't know if I would've recommended he pick them up on the bounce, but he did and he did a good job. I think their offense is a solid offense. Their freshman running back, who hasn't played a lot for them, made some good runs against us. We missed way too many tackles on the back end of our defense. But in the third quarter they had 130 yards rushing and passing or something along those lines. I thought we had them on their heels and we were really pumped up [in the third quarter]. We handled their hurry up offense well. We executed some good plays and third quarter was back and forth, then they got the long drive starting at the beginning of fourth quarter. That took the wind out of our sails. Most of the games in our league are decided in the fourth quarter, and they had the ball for 13 minutes and we had it for two minutes. It was a combination of not stopping them and not being able to get a first down in the fourth quarter.
(On Southern Miss)
(On the Miners)
"They played like a real good team. They'll challenge Houston. They had to come all the way from Mississippi, and this isn't an easy place to play. I don't think they were looking forward to it by any means. They overcame that part of it, and that might be one of the reasons why it was close in the first half. I'd like to think it was us. It was a physical, physical game, and we didn't get any injuries. They were hitting us and we were hitting them and they ended up outlasting us in the end, but I think we're still a pretty good team and we're going to have a chance in our next game. I told our guys it's a new season, we have four games left and we certainly have an opportunity in those games."
"I like this team. There's a good dozen players looking in the mirror and saying it's my fault [the loss to Southern Miss]. It was very unusual that Jeremy Springer
would make a mistake [on the false start in the fourth quarter] because he's a very smart football player. He just got caught up in the action. We're certainly going to support everybody who makes a mistake. I think we're going to get [Travaun] Nixon and [Darren] Woodard back, and that will help our open field tackling. We broke down a little bit and missed some tackles on the long runs and catches late in the game."
(On Travaun Nixon's role this week)
"I don't know if Travaun will return punts for us or not. He was suited up for the game on Saturday to do it if we needed him. I was pleased with how Mike Edwards handled the ball because there were some tough punts. He made a great return and we got a late penalty which was stupid on our part. It kind of upset me that we would do that after the whistle blew."
(On Richard Spencer's performance against Southern Miss)
"Spencer played his best game on special teams and in the game. He played very, very well. I was pleased to see that he was one fired up dude. He was crushed after the game when we didn't win. He made some big hits and some big plays. We need him to play well."
(On the depth chart at punt returner)
"Our depth chart at punt returner will probably be Mike Edwards and then Travaun, depending on how Travaun feels this week. If not Devin Patterson will come in there and Devin does a great job."
(On the Rice game Saturday)
"We're traveling to Rice this weekend, which is a big game for our team. We have 14 kids from the surrounding area of Houston, which will bring a lot of parents to the game. It's their Homecoming, which I'm sure will provide some enthusiasm for them. Their record isn't very good. I think they're very well coached. Coach Bailiff is a tremendous coach and a credit to the profession and a good friend of mine. When you look at their schedule, they opened up with Texas and played them pretty good. And then they beat Purdue. They got beat by Baylor and Southern Miss, but it was a good game against Southern Miss, a close game. Then they beat Memphis and lost a close game to Marshall on the road. They played Tulsa decent and Houston ran away from them on TV in a rainstorm. They were ahead going into the second quarter. My teams are 1-2 down there. We've had some close games. We lost by one point and lost by a basketball score, 56-48. I think us playing down there is a distraction for the 14 kids. So we're going to look at it like we did Tulane, look at why are we losing in the past to Rice. It's kind of an interesting note why they beat us when it seems like on paper we should beat them.
"Nick Fanuzzi will play [at quarteback] when they throw the football. Turner Petersen ran the ball well at quarterback against Houston. They are loaded at the running back position. Their Michigan transfer [Sam McGuffie] was all world in high school. He was one of the best running backs in the country. He hasn't played in the last two games and may be ready for us. I like their running back, he just broke a 95-yard run for a TD against Houston. Jeremy Eddington will return kickoffs. He is also a running back and he is playing tremendous. Their defense is solid up front. They did break down in the secondary against Houston. But they kind of threw the kitchen sink at them, trying to stop them, and got burned. They had nothing to lose. It would've been a great victory if they beat Houston at Houston. Rice can play with anybody and they've always given us problems and I have to find a way to fix that. Our team is healthy and they should be ready to go."
(On UTEP struggling in November historically)
"I don't know what excuse I'm going to have to tell alumni at the end of the year if we don't win in November. Fans remember the games in November, and so do I. We'd like to go out strong. There's no reason we shouldn't because we're healthy. We just have to take it one game at a time. The first hurdle is to play well at Rice, because we haven't done that."
(On keys to winning in November)
"I think the most important aspect to us doing well in November is two things - being healthy and having a goal that is within striking distance. If you don't have a goal in striking distance -- if you don't have a chance to have a winning season or go to a bowl game or you don't have a chance to win a conference title -- it's difficult to finish strong in November. I'm looking forward to November. Let's start fresh and learn from it and move on as quickly as possible and get on to Rice. Don't cry over spilled milk. It's done with, let's move on to this game and do everything we can to win our first game of the November season."