Nov. 12, 2016
HEAD COACH Skip Holtz
COACH HOLTZ: So many of these guys and the things they're doing out there on the field. Just their toughness, their focus, things they're doing, I'm really proud of them. It was not a very clean game. We made a million mistakes. We had a big punt return we gave up. We had a field goal block that went all the way back down. We made some mistakes. It certainly wasn't perfect and it wasn't pretty. But we were able to get it done. Our defense helped them to about 300 yards of total offense, and really, 300 yards and 35 points tells you some of the poor field position that they were put in a couple of times tonight. But like I said, just really proud of this team, really proud of the way that they went out there and the way the competed.
Q. Well, and offensively, we've talked, it's been the Trent Taylor, Carlos Henderson show. But today they combined I think for like seven catches for 36 yards. But you had other guys that stepped up. Ryan Higgins found some other guys. Alfred Smith with a 100-yard game, the touchdown to Marlon Watts. Those other guys start getting involved, you go from dangerous to almost unstoppable?
COACH HOLTZ: Yeah, it happened a little bit last week. And you're starting to see it more and more. They're doing it; people are doubling Trent and they're doubling Carlos. That takes four. That takes four of them out, and then the other two guys are in coverage zero. So there's no safety over the top and there's no help. So we threw a deep ball to Alfred Smith last week and he dropped it; came back, and Ryan's doing a nice job and not trying to force it to where they're two on one, and he's taking what the defense is giving, and some of these other guys are stepping up. And like you said, Marlon Watts joined the party and it was really nice to see Alfred Smith take that deep ball to the house.
Q. They say stats are for losers. I'm a big stat guy here, so I guess I'm a loser. It's not too often that you're going to win a game by, what was the final, 28 points and the other team has 27 more offensive plays.
COACH HOLTZ: Yeah. They controlled the ball. When you look at the time in possession and we weren't very good on third down, and they went for, I believe, six fourth downs and made four of them. So you look at it, they were -- they pulled out all the steps. They tried to run a throw-back punt return and couldn't quite get it off. They tried a number of tricks; they ran a fake punt. This was do whatever we gotta do, do whatever we gotta do to try and find a way to win the game, and they competed hard. They're a good football team, they've done a nice job and they're building their program, but like I said, just really proud of our players and what they were able to do.
Q. Weird night special teams wise. I mean you look down, your boy Shouse 54-yard average. Pleased with that. Two kick returns for touchdowns, which I don't know if that's ever happened in the same game in Tech history. So there were a lot of good things, but you mentioned a blocked punt, punt returns and things like that.
COACH HOLTZ: Yeah, there were some good things. As I told the team, I'm a coach. My job is to correct the mistakes. You know what I mean? And not rub everybody's back because they did good. We did. We're doing some good things, doing some great things on the field, and these guys are playing hard, and like I said, they're doing some really good things and making plays and guys stepping up, guys on defense, and all of a sudden you lose a safety in Cooper and you don't miss a beat. Carlos doesn't play in the second half, you see a couple of these other guys step up. A lot of great things, but you can't have a field goal block and run it all the way back. You can't have a fake punt go against you. You can't have a long punt return. You just can't make some of those mistakes and be a good football team. So those are things we're going to have to clean up, but overall, like I said, I'm certainly not trying to ^ complain about a 28-point win here at home against a game that was billed as No. 1 and No. 2. They've won four of their last five. The only one they lost was a four- overtime game so just proud of what they were able to do.
COACH HOLTZ: No. What happened, this week Trent was out during prepractice and kicking, and he made it. And I said, yeah, well, there's no line in front of you. He said, Coach, you call me whenever you need me. So we went to field goal that day, and I said, you know what, I'm going to be a smart aleck, and I said, all right, Trent, let's go. And he ran out there, he took his steps, he put it right through the middle of the uprights, and I was like, you know what, if we get an opportunity to kick an extra point and the game's in hand, I said, I'll give you a chance to kick it. And he said, that's all I want is a chance. He was a little mad at me because I didn't let him kick the 40-something yarder that got blocked, but hindsight he's probably glad he didn't kick that one because that was the one that got blocked. But he's a great athlete. These guys have fun. They've been working really hard, and I'm just really proud of everything they're getting done.
Q. Final question. We're finally at a bye week after 11 weeks of football, and it might not have come at a better time right now. You got a couple of guys beat up. I know Carlos didn't play in the second half. Trent took the big hit. So really, this might be a perfect time, although at the same time we've won, what, seven in a row now. So do you want a bye week?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, we need it. Like you said, we're beat up, and I know Ryan Higgins has been nursing a groin the entire last five weeks, and it's gotten to the point where he can't even practice some during the week. So need to get him healthy. We finish our fall quarter this week, gives the guys a lot of opportunity for this last week to really get on top of these grades and finish this quarter up strong. So you know what, we're going to lift tomorrow, probably meet a little bit on Monday, practice Tuesday, Wednesday, and then I'm going to give them a couple days off for the weekend, let them get out of here, go home maybe Thursday, Friday, Saturday, get some rest and then come back. But this week is all about Southern Miss and ^ then next week's going to be all about Southern Miss. Normally during an open date I do a lot of underclass training and development, but that's what the bowl game is going to be for, and this just gives us two weeks to get ready for Southern Miss.
Q. Well, congratulations on the win and congratulations on qualifying for the conference championship.
COACH HOLTZ: I appreciate it very much. Really proud of these players. So much credit goes to them for what they've been able to do on the field and they've gotten it done.
Q. Carlos, you guys get your second division championship in the last three seasons. How does it feel?
Carlos Henderson: It feels good. It feels really good to go out there and execute it the way we did knowing it was a big game for us, knowing what was at stake, knowing what was on the line, and to win in the fashion we did, I really appreciate those guys working hard and our coaches for coaching them. And I appreciate the whole organization. It feel good, real good.
Q. Having been in this position this time last season coming down to the last game, having the chance to clinch the division and the team falling short, does that drive you guys that much more today?
Carlos Henderson: Yeah. Like you said, last year was a bitter feeling. It was a bitter feeling. We wanted to get that taste out of our mouth. So we came out today with our jobs and everything we had to execute at the right time and we just came out executing and got the job done.
Q. Carlos, this is the last time Trent Taylor will be on your field. You guys have developed quite a relationship. Y'all are close. What have you learned from him as a player and what does it mean for you to be able to play with him?
Carlos Henderson: What I learned from Trent. Trent is an excellent receiver. He works hard day in and day out in practice. I learned to develop good practice habits looking at Trent. Trent is a great competitor. It's just amazing playing with Trent. Trent is just one of those guys that's never going to give up and one of those guys that lead and one of the guys we need on that team and I learned a lot from Trent, and I'll miss him. I'll miss him. I'll miss playing on the side of Trent.
Q. Seems like 800 something yards the last three or four games. What fuels you out there?
Carlos Henderson: I've just gone out there do what I could do to help my team. I don't really care for the individual accolades. I'm just a team player, I go out there and try to help my team on every game, and I go out there and try to do everything that I need to do for my team to win.
Q. You guys pretty much set the tone right out of the gate with a kickoff return. What was the atmosphere like on the sideline?
Carlos Henderson: When we make plays like that, that's always good. That's always good for the sideline, energy that's always good for our team going into the game. So I think that helped us. That helped us gain more confidence. We had confidence, but that helped us a lot, give us momentum to play hard and just to go out there and do the best we can.
Q. Kind of going off of two questions ago, I feel like people have asked you after big games, you've had two different five-touchdown games this year, and every time, it's I'm happy for my teammates. I want to thank my offensive line, my coaches. What's it going to take for you to brag about yourself after a good day?
Carlos Henderson: I can't, because without them I wouldn't be able to make the plays I'll be able to make, and without my coaches putting me on the field I wouldn't be able to execute and produce for them. So I thank my coaches and my teammates. I just love those guys. Without them I would not be getting the results or whatever I'm getting, so I appreciate those guys.
Q. The kickoff return, (indiscernible).
Carlos Henderson: My coach talked about how we had to make a big play on special teams, again, to keep the tone. I just saw creases, and I just -- just hit it. I really can't explain how I did it.
Q. How important is special teams play going into another big game with Southern Miss?
Carlos Henderson: Special teams will be really important because special teams flip the field, gives the opposite team good field position, so special teams will play a big role because special teams sometimes wins games, and I think special teams will play a big role as a take on Southern Miss two weeks from now. So it's important we execute like we did tonight on special teams again versus Southern Miss.
Q. You started the year one and three, won seven straight games. How do you explain the turnaround, winning the division with still two weeks left in the season? Two years ago against Rice it took you all down to the wire in the last game to wrap it up. How do you explain just the way you all have evolved throughout the years?
Carlos Henderson: We feel like our backs was against the wall. We felt like we had no other option but to win. We say we wanted to achieve before the season started and that was to make it to a championship. I just credit to those guys for just playing, just unbelievably playing good, great. It's just wonderful to have those guys out there making the plays and executing how they're supposed to. And that's what got us this far.
Q. Did you know Trent had that much of a leg?
Carlos Henderson: No, no. That was a surprise for me. I'm glad he made it, though. That was big time. That was big time. No, I did not know Trent had a leg like that.
Q. With the roll that you guys are on right now, would you say the bye week is coming at a bad time?
Carlos Henderson: Nah. I wouldn't say that because we've been going like 10 weeks, 11 weeks straight. We still will continue to work hard at practice, focus on our next opponent and move forward, no dropoffs or nothing like that. It really came -- I can say it came at a good time because we're kind of nicked up, banged up. So we need a little rest.
Q. The past couple of games I guess defense is starting to figure out Trent Taylor. How do you feel about being more and more involved in this offense?
Carlos Henderson: As I be more involved in the offense, I think I'm put in positions to make the team better as the coaches say. Trent being involved that open up Windows for other guys to have success, like Alfred Smith had tonight. I think Alfred Smith had a great game tonight. He stepped up big time when we needed him, and I think that was good.
Q. Going down to Southern Miss, do you think there will be some talk about what they did when they came here last year?
Carlos Henderson: Oh, yeah. We scheduled this game -- we served this game on the schedule knowing how they did us last year. It was pretty bad, and they can't beat us in our own house. But we focus on -- when we go down there, we're going to focus on winning and just playing to our best ability so we can finish doing what we're doing.
Q. You only had two touches, three touchdowns trailing your five catches. You were still able to squirrel out points. What do you think that says about the development of the offense with guys like Alfred earned 26, Marlon had that long touchdown where you and Trent don't necessarily have that huge game on the offense.
Carlos Henderson: That's good. That's good, because sometimes they find the scheme for me and Trent, and that gives other guys opportunities to make big plays and being able to execute for the team. I think that's big time how they stepped up tonight. I'm so proud of those guys. I complimented them on their game tonight and how they played. I think that's going to play a big role going into Southern Miss and going into the championship. They'll be big for us. To have other guys step up like they did tonight, I think that'll be awesome.
Q. A couple of New Orleans guys, Tarzan and Marlon getting a couple touchdowns, but Tarzan has had a rough year this year. Today was kind of his coming-out party, and then Marlon gets his first career touchdown today. What's it like to watch those guys grow up in front of your eyes?
Carlos Henderson: It's good, because I had to grow up in front of a lot of guys that was here last year but not here today. That was real eye opening and real good to see your teammates stepping up like that, in a game like this where a lot's riding on the line. It felt great. It felt great for those guys to step up the way they did, and I can't commend them enough for executing their job how they did. That was a good job on those guys' part.
QB Ryan Higgins
Q. Ryan, knowing where you guys were at this time, similar time last year, having a bowl game to end the year with the division title on the line, falling short, coming into today, how much motivation was that knowing with some help you could take care of business tonight?
Ryan Higgins: It was a big deal. Just the energy and how everyone was locked in the locker room and last night in the hotel and everything, it just felt -- everybody felt really confident knowing that if we take care of our business, like you said, with a little help, we can put ourselves in great position and lock up the west and I'm thankful we were able to do that tonight.
Q. Coach said there was a lot of celebration in the locker room. What's the feeling amongst the team right now having -- I mean still work to be done, but you got the first one out of the way.
Ryan Higgins: Just elation. Everybody is -- our fight song that we sing, we have a couple of versions that we sing at the end of every game. Just seemed that much more intense and that much more -- just an amazing feeling and just -- especially during the senior year, it's just -- it's magical.
Q. As a senior getting to do this in your last game, having waited your whole career here to be able to get into these kind of moments and capitalize on the moments and doing it in your last game in Joe Aillet Stadium. For you personally what's that emotion like?
Ryan Higgins: I don't think it's quite hit me yet, and I hope it doesn't for a little bit. But all last night and all in the field, you know, we were talking, this could be our last drive at the Joe or whatever. And we just kind of reminded ourselves each drive and each chance we got, like, hey, this could be the last one, let's make it count. And just really can't describe -- I was getting a little emotional when Coach was talking right before our fight song. I mean it's just indescribable really.
Q. On the interception did you know that was offsides?
Ryan Higgins: I'm pretty sure it was. Like I thought it was, but I was just I guess more angry than anything. And I was just thinking like just in case, and I got yelled at for chasing them down by Coach. But that was good.
Q. A reminder to everyone that you got some wheels?
Ryan Higgins: Yeah. I had to shut some people up.
Q. With this offense at the beginning of the season it seemed like everything was going through Trent and then Carlos came along. The two of them the offense just continued to spread out even more. How have guys stepped up to add to this offense?
Ryan Higgins: I really can't say enough about guys like Alfred Smith and Marlon Watts and D.O. Just guys that are -- when they try to double or triple Trent or Los or both of them, whatever they try to do, it's just -- it's a comforting feeling knowing I've got guys like Kam McKnight and Conner Smith that I can trust them to run the right route and be there when I need them to be. And we're kind of on the same page. I have confidence in their abilities, and tonight I had a couple of guys really step up and make some good plays, and I'm glad I got to get them the ball.
Q. Is that a long time coming with Alfred, to see him go off like that?
Ryan Higgins: Yeah. Like Coach Holtz said, he was getting a little frustrated, but that's a really unselfish player, a guy who blocks harder than anybody and doesn't complain about not getting the ball or anything like that, does his part. And I was really excited for him to be able to have a great game statistically.
Q. When you hear Coach talking about the one and three start, how everyone was freaking out and now here we are talking about you're winning the division championship, won seven straight games. You're 8 and 3. How do you explain this turnaround, this run that you're on right now?
Ryan Higgins: I mean, really, like Coach Holtz said, we were so close at Arkansas, so close at Middle Tennessee from the start of the season being completely different. I mean we knew all along what we were able to do, or capable of. And not exactly sure what really sparked everybody gelling and able to move so smoothly, but I'm glad it happened.
Q. Being a guy from Hutto, not far from San Antonio, was this one a little sweeter for you?
Ryan Higgins: Yeah. It was. I knew a couple players -- and players I didn't even know were on the team came up and talked to me a little bit after, guys I played with in Peewee or something like that. And really just anytime we play a team from Texas or anything like that, I take it a little more personal, just not really even sure why. But it was just nice to go out in a big way last game in general^ .
Q. Could it be that maybe some folks in Texas didn't believe in you maybe as much as the Tech coaches back in the day did and you sticking it out at Tech? Do you think that might make you play harder?
Ryan Higgins: Yeah. Definitely. More so in games like against Texas Tech and stuff like that, I really felt like -- because Coach Kingsbury recruited me when he was at Houston and just really wanted to -- I was playing with a chip on my shoulder, I guess. But yeah, I mean I'm proud to be a Bulldog and I'm proud of this team.
Q. Knowing you're in the title game, are you going to talk at all about a chance of posting it, going on the road like you did a couple of years ago against Marshall?
Ryan Higgins: Yes. That's the plan is to play in Shreveport, that's everybody's goal. That's what we're trying to do. Really just we know whatever we -- it's in our hands. We take care of business in two weeks and we'll be playing in Shreveport and that's everybody's focus right now.
Q. When defense is kind of doubling up on Trent the way they were tonight, and the last game as well, how refreshing is it knowing you have McKnight and you have Alfred Smith and a few other guys who can play out there on the field?
Ryan Higgins: Like I said, it's really comforting knowing that -- it's kind of like pick your poison. Doesn't matter really in my eyes what they do, we're going to be able to find somebody to get open and I'm going to do whatever I can to get them the ball. And I trust them to not only make the catch, but make a play, make somebody miss, and I was really proud of a lot of guys who stepped up tonight.
Q. What's your take away from a game like this? You put up 62 points. Trent five catches, Carlos has two. Pretty much shut down on the receiving end. And pass offense is kind of what's carried the team the entire year and here we are 62 points. What do you make of, I guess, the evolution as a team where you're able to score?
Ryan Higgins: I think it says a lot about -- our special teams the past couple weeks has made some great plays, couple scores, and Los is a freak, of course. But just really -- it's nice knowing that -- of course, I'd love to throw it 100 times a game and all that. But it doesn't matter what we do, we're able to move the ball down the field, and everybody on offense is unselfish, whether it's just giving the ball to Jarred or Boston or throwing quick screens. Everybody just wants -- we're all going for the same thing.
WR Trent Taylor
Q. Trent, I'm sure you couldn't have written a better way to have your last game, with so much on the line, you guys taking care of it. Did you at points, maybe not the traditional receiver way, but overall a great game for your team. What's kind of the emotion like, last game in the Joe and such a successful one?
Trent Taylor: Yeah, there were some emotions that played into the game tonight. I mean it felt great to be able to get up a lead early on them, and so then like once you get that lead, you can kind of sit back and just enjoy the moment and just enjoy the time with your teammates the rest of the game. It was a wonderful feeling. There was multiple times throughout the game where I just kind of stopped and paused and looked around at the stadium, just realized this was my last time playing here, and I've enjoyed every moment of it.
Q. When you look at this time similar time last year, you guys having a chance to clinch the division at home, coming up short, knowing going into today with some help you'd have that opportunity again. How much did that fuel you guys coming into today?
Trent Taylor: Yeah, that fueled us a lot. And I mean we knew that UTSA was a good football team. They've beaten some good teams in our conference, and we knew we had to come out with the right focus to be able to win tonight, and obviously we were able to do that, which we got up on them early. And I mean the way just everybody came out with the right focus and the right intensity, I mean it was a great feeling to be able to do that in the last game at the Joe.
Q. Same thing I asked Ryan, but I guess you had one goal, crossed it off, but as you look toward the Southern Miss game, how much are you looking forward to being able to play the game in the state of Louisiana as opposed to having to travel?
Trent Taylor: Yeah, there's going to be motivation going into that game, with just the opportunity to play at home, if we get that win, and the fact that they came into our house last year and beat us pretty bad. So I mean even without the motivation of being able to play at home for the championship, they beat us pretty bad last year, so I mean we're definitely going to go in there with a chip on our shoulder, ready to give them everything we've got. I mean that do I understand of sounds bad. But I mean we definitely have some motivation going into that game, and there's a bunch of it.
Q. Trent, five carries, 25 yards. How are you feeling about the defense?
Trent Taylor: I don't know. I never really thought about it. You know, just -- you never know how the game is going to play out, and especially with our offense. Like Ryan was saying, you know, everybody on our offense is completely unselfish, I mean which you can see tonight with the touchdowns of Marlon Watts and Alfred Smith. Those guys deserved their touchdowns for sure because they go out there every game, and they block for me, they block for everybody else who gets the ball, which they do a great job of doing that. And they've just been waiting their turn patiently and they got it tonight.
Q. How far do you think your range is for kicking?
Trent Taylor: I hit a 50-yarder the other day in practice. But I think I might have had a couple extra steps going into it, so I don't know if that really counts.
Q. Was there a line?
Trent Taylor: No. There wasn't. So I mean Coach Holtz still doesn't believe me that I can do it. I just gotta keep kicking it. I'm going to do that all day, every day for the rest of these practices just so I can prove him wrong.
Q. You really got a 50-yarder?
Trent Taylor: Yes.
Q. Add that to your stats. In all seriousness, though, was it nice to be able to get on the scoreboard in some way in your last game here?
Trent Taylor: Yeah. Going out for that extra point, that was some fun stuff. Moments like that you're definitely always going to remember because everybody was just looking at me, laughing as I was walking out there. Kam McKnight was making fun of me saying I was about to shank it. It was just a good time. And once I put it through the uprights, everybody just came over there and started jumping on me. Stuff like that is the type of moments that you will remember forever.
Q. You can kick it. I heard at Evangel you played quarterback, a little bit of D line. Is there anything take Trent Taylor can't do?
Trent Taylor: My quarterback days at Evangel were not too good. I don't like to look back at those. I had to go in for the state championship game my senior year as quarterback, and it didn't go too well. So no, I'm not a good quarterback.
Q. You're a decent point guard.
Trent Taylor: Yeah, I like to play basketball a little bit.
Q. What do you make of those transformation, seven straight wins. Being in this position you are now, looking back at the last seven, eight weeks, probably not -- internally you probably thought you're capable of this, but I don't know how many people externally, as Coach Holtz was saying, what do you make of this transformation the last two months?
Trent Taylor: Yeah. Like Coach Holtz was saying earlier, once we got to the point of 1 and 3, nobody flinched. Everybody still believed in the system. Nobody turned to the other players and started blaming each other. The offense wasn't blaming the defense, defense the offense. I mean we just kept to the course, and I think that's what it takes to be a successful team. Whenever you reach some hardships, you gotta be able to look to the guy to the right and the left of you and just know that they still got your back and they're going to keep fighting and everybody believes in each other. So that's key.
Q. Did you all hear any of that noise in the locker room, externally? After that 1 and 3 start?
Trent Taylor: Not too much. I mean you get your obvious -- I mean just the regular stuff you hear across campus, but I mean I don't think anybody just took it too seriously. We all still believed in each other.
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