Oct. 29, 2016
LA Tech 61, Rice 16
Oct. 29, 2016
Joe Aillet Stadium
HEAD COACH Skip Holtz
Q: Congratulations on a dominating victory over the Rice Owls, 61-16, and I'll tell you, the Bulldogs moved to Bowl eligibility, 6-3 on the year, 4-1 in the division in, Coach, what was supposed to be a rebuilding year for you.
Skip Holtz: Yeah, I mean, everybody talked about how in the world are you going to replace a Jeff Driscoll, a Kenneth Dixon; seven players off that team from last year made an NFL roster or practice squad, five on an active roster and two in the practice squad.
I think it's a real testament to these coaches, the way that they have recruited, the way they are working it to these players to their development to Kurt Hester. We came here four years ago, we talked about building a program, and it wasn't going to be predicated on just a couple players or having success in one year, but we wanted to be able to do it year-in and year-out. And right now, we've got an opportunity to play a lot of young players tonight.
I thought the third quarter, we took a lot of the starters out and the offense did a good job of maintaining the tempo and still running the thing and moving it. Again, all the way really through about middle of the fourth quarter, I thought they did a good job of running it, and same thing defensively. I thought there were a lot of good things tonight, and I'm just really proud of this team and really proud of the way they competed.
You said so much in just Bowl eligibility, you know what I mean. That's huge right now, being the first team in the history of the school to do three Bowls in a row, pretty special feat by these young men. I'm really proud of what they have been able to do.
Q: Going back to that year, I was one of the ones asking those questions: What is the offense going to be like under Skip Holtz, what is it going to be like. And here you come out tonight, put up 61 points and the last time I did this, only put up 17 down at El Paso. So I was told if it was 17 points or less, I was finished, so I certainly appreciate it –
Skip Holtz: Glad it wasn't 17.
Q: -- certainly a well-oiled machine, everything going your way.
Skip Holtz: Yeah, you know really, doing some good things. I think Todd Fitch has done a really good job. We talked about the comfort level with him and I and how much we've been together and for the history that we have been together in this game; but I think he comes in, we understand each other; we talk to each other. He's a phenomenal set of eyes in the box. He's got a great mind.
I think the staff has done a great job. Tim Rattay, Joe Sloan have been here through the whole thing. Robert McFarland with the offensive line and Mickey Joseph has done a really nice job with the running backs.
I think those guys on offense have done a nice job. We talked about, we wanted to have balance, and this is a different offense than Ryan 5spearheaded four years ago. There's different weapons around him and certainly he's got a much better understanding of what we're trying to get done. It's fun to watch it when it's hitting on all cylinders like it was tonight.
Q: One of the toughest things as a coach is to be down by a lot at half-time or be up by a lot at half-time. Your guys came out tonight with the same intensity with a big lead at the half as they did in the pregame.
Skip Holtz: They really did. It's a testament. We sent Ryan down; we sent Carlos down; we sent Trent down; we sent a lot of guys down. I told the players, I don't expect a drop-off, you know what I mean. We're going to call our offense. We're going to run it wide open; hide that ball early in the third quarter. They tried to blitz us and go man, and you know what, they were able to execute.
J'Mar did a good job except for that one fumble. Thought he did a really good job of running the offense, and some guys really stepped up and did a good thing. You know what, it's a testament; those guys have been practicing and working. And our one battle cry that we have said from the beginning, we've just got to keep getting better.
We're getting better on defense, we're getting better on special teams, and we're getting better on offense from where we were at the beginning of the year. And even as great as this win is, and Bowl eligibility, and getting us to 6-3 with five in a row, we still -- we've got three more games left. Two more before the open date and we've just got to keep focusing on improvement and what we've got to do to get better.
Thanks to everybody that came out and supported this team tonight. It's always undefeated at the Joe, we have four games here and we've got one more left. Can't say thank you enough to the band, our students and everybody that came out here ask supported us tonight.
WR Trent Taylor
Q: How does it feel to break that record?
Trent Taylor: It feels great honestly. I know this university has produced a BUNCH of great NFL receivers. There's a bunch that's come through here and just being able to pass that record tonight, it felt wonderful. It feels even better when you look around and you've got all your teammates there behind you, supporting you 110 percent.
They are all just happy to see me do it and it's a great thing to be able to celebrate with all your brothers out there.
Q: You set that record on a night where this team -- what does it say about the program?
Trent Taylor: I mean, this program is growing tremendously. I mean, just for the four years that I've been here so far, I mean, from this fieldhouse to the level of play that we like to stay at, I mean, everything's been changing.
Everything's been growing here at Louisiana Tech and I'm glad that I've been able to be a part of it, helping this program grow and hopefully once I leave, it will continue to grow and be a national powerhouse.
Q: On the catch where you set the record, I can't remember a time where a wide receiver has turned around and stiff-armed a guy that was coming up behind him. Can you talk about that play a little bit?
Trent Taylor: Yeah, it's a little tough for me to get those long runs going. I might not have the best speed in the world, so sometimes you've got to do that. But I mean, having that catch to break the record on that one – that was a cool feeling, instead of it being a little two-yard double route or something like that. But I mean, it was a great feeling.
Q: I'm sure you were already asked this, but what are your thoughts when you come up from that catch and you hear the crowd? I know you said earlier that you haven't really thought about it too much, but it's inevitable, seeing it on social media and hearing your teammates talk about it, when you finally accomplished that goal.
Trent Taylor: It was incredible if I'm being honest with you. Once I got the catch and then I heard the announcer say it, and just to hear the whole stadium start screaming and cheering for me, just looking around, seeing everybody standing up, cheering for that accolade, it was a cool feeling.
And then just looking around, seeing your brothers out there on the field and they are all congratulating me, as well. That's definitely a moment that I won't forget.
Q: Last couple games against Rice -- said they were expecting a close game and sure enough it wasn't. Did any of this surprise you, being able to start so hot and go up 41-0?
Trent Taylor: I wouldn't say I was surprised but I knew it wasn't going to be something that was given to us. Like Coach has told us all week, if we're 30 points better than them, let's be 30 points better than them, and not go out and play down to a lower team's level.
And I think we did a great job of going out there and executing as an offense and especially as a defense. They a tremendous job out there tonight. I mean, yeah, that's what happens when you come out there with the right focus no matter who you're playing, then we got the job done.
Q: How many times in a conference game do you get to rest your starters for almost a complete half; what does that do going forward the next couple weeks?
Trent Taylor: I think that was huge for us. I didn't play a snap in the second half, so I mean, most of the starters are able to get their legs back before -- well, I don't think we really lost our legs tonight. We just did our job in the first half and we were able to get out.
Going through this last stretch of the season, I think that will be huge for us, just to get everybody back healthy and continue with our success.
Q: Coach said last week -- was this the most complete win, collectively?
Trent Taylor: I guess could you say that. I know our defense out there, they were dominating the whole entire game. It just sucks to see them get a couple touchdowns at the end of the game, but I mean, they played great. I love seeing them out there dominating, just controlling the game.
It was kind of wearing out the offense because we were just going right back on the field after three downs. It's great to see them with all that success.
Q: What did it feel like to see your own sideline, the twos that are in there, they are able to move up-and-down the field, it should make you feel good for the future. Can you talk about the State of the program and going forward?
Trent Taylor: Right, we know that our twos, they can go out there and compete, just like the ones can. I mean, they have got to be guys that are ready to go in the game if anybody goes down, and I mean, what you saw tonight, I think we do a great job with our ones and our twos, just keeping our twos prepared for any type of situation, and they went out there tonight and showed that.
Q: This defense has taken their bumps this season. What have you seen in practice that's improving to see the performance they had today on the field?
Trent Taylor: I think they just have a mentality of, you know, don't look around and start blaming people. You've just got to keep fighting, keep chopping at the wood every single day, every single week.
I mean, they haven't given up on each other on that defensive side and the offense definitely hasn't given up on them. We believe they can get the job done any week and that's something they showed tonight and they are continuing to get better every single week, and I love seeing that.
Q: Another dominating performance in October -- in two of the last four years, and I know you're excited for the home stretch, but sad to see October go with the way y'all have been playing?
Trent Taylor: I mean, it's whatever -- I don't know why we've been so successful in October. I guess it's just something that, I mean, something random that happens. I don't really think too much about it. I think we're all feeling good and confident going into November and the rest of December. I like the way things are moving right now.
Q: How do you feel at this point, as opposed to maybe the last couple years, specifically the last year heading into November for the home stretch?
Trent Taylor: Shoot, I don't know. I think we're kind of in the same position last year, just got to finish it out. And then kind of play against Southern Miss to see who will go to the championship. I think it's kind of one of those same type of things.
But we've got to continue to remain focused on each and every week, just like we did tonight with Rice and go out and execute each game.
Q: With Ryan, we've all known that he can run, but we haven't seen his running ability that we saw tonight. Do you think seeing that makes your offense even more difficult to stop?
Trent Taylor: Yeah, we've always known that Ryan can run whenever he can get in some open field. I mean, he's just waited for his opportunity for that. He does a great job of rolling out of the pocket and extending the plays. You know, throwing it, rolling out. I mean, he just finally had an opportunity to take one distance, and he definitely did that tonight and took advantage of it.
Q: Xavier, without a doubt, the performance from beginning to end, the defense, what you guys have been doing in practice and in previous games to get this right and have a performance like this?
Xavier Woods: Keying in on the little details. Today we didn't have any confusion on coverages. We were locked in. We were communicating. That's been our kind of downfall these past couple weeks. Just having some breakdowns in the call. I mean, it would be ten guys doing what they are supposed to do and one guy not doing what they are supposed to do and in defense, that can create gaps in the holes, but today we did a great job of communicating.
Q: When you're already playing your best defense as you come into the last three or four games of the season –
Xavier Woods: This is what our defense is supposed to be. Our defense supposed to play be this as a standard. We play like this -- we play like this every week, can't too many people can beat us.
Q: What type of lift did he give to the offense -- getting more opportunities going forward and scoring touchdowns tonight.
Xavier Woods: Yeah, he's the faster back, kind of a lot smaller. He's smaller and he's kind of the faster back. He's just change of pace. I tell him in the locker room (ph), he's change of pace back. He kind of is, kind of shifty, speed guy. He just brings something else to the offense.
Q: A lot of people don't like being labeled –
Xavier Woods: I always make fun of him, but I mean, take it as a compliment, man. Do what you got to do and do it well.
Q: What was the moment like seeing Trent get that record-breaking catch in the first half?
Xavier Woods: Man, I'm pretty sure he set out to do that, but that guy's great, man. To come -- season not even over with, so he's going to break the record by a landslide, man. This guy's just great. That's one of the greatest receivers in the game right now.
Q: The team is now Bowl eligible -- what's it like to be part of a program that's becoming steady –
Xavier Woods: We started off -- I think it all started off with the first year we got here, we were terrible. We were terrible, man, like 4-8 and from that point on, just the seniors, seniors on that team, freshmen on that team are seniors now, just don't want that feeling again, man. And from that point on, we just setting the standards, setting new heights and Bowl eligibility, it's not the highest goal we have. Definitely, conference championship. It's just a steppingstone to where we got to get to.
Q: Do you find yourself seeing the program continually raising that standard? We're talking about pulling the starters in the conference game, not many teams can say that.
Xavier Woods: Both sides of the ball -- all three phases of the ball, special teams, offense and defense, play their best, and play the way they are surprised to play, play to their standard, that's what you get. That's kind of the picture that you get. Come out in third quarter and get their rest and get the young guys some playing time. Might have to play later on, if injuries or something.
Q: Second half we got to see Eric Kendzior more than we've seen him all year. Looks like he got a little heat on his back side.
Xavier Woods: Kendzior has come a long way. But that's not -- he still has a long way to go, but it's great to see what he's doing right now.
RICE HEAD COACH DAVID BAILIFF
Q: Talk about today, your players definitely showed a lot of grit in the second half?
DAVID BAILIFF: You know, there's a lot of -- you hate losing. But there's a lot of obstacles we hit this week, and some of these kids really had a very gutty performance to even come out here and play.
We've just got to get some guys back, get healthy, learn from this one. Got FAU coming to town. But we do, we need some guys back. We need to get that -- we need to just, like I said, learn from it, keep improving. This one's a hard game. It's a hard lesson, but some of these guys, I'm quite proud of.
Q: You have a lot of freshmen that played their first football today because of injury, sickness, etc.?
DAVID BAILIFF: You look out there sometimes defensively there's five of them. But it's football. You don't win with a healthy club. We've got to step up and it up to us as coaches to get them ready to go.
Q: I'm sure you challenged them at half-time, several guys came out and definitely we could see they were playing all the way through four quarters?
DAVID BAILIFF: I tell you, a couple of them came out here in the first quarter and that stomach virus hit them. They just kept trying to play and they kept trying to play and just, you know, we've got to get all that stuff behind us. We've got to keep improving and we've got to try to get a win at home next week.
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