Louisiana Tech Head Coach Derek Dooley, Select Student-Athletes Talk with Media at Fan Fest

Aug. 16, 2009

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Derek Dooley and select student-athletes met with members of the media during Tech's Fan Fest at the Thomas Assembly Center Sunday afternoon, previewing the 2009 season and talking about the first week of fall camp.

LATechSports.com was on hand to listen to the press conference and has several quotes from Coach Dooley and the student-athletes.

Louisiana Tech Head Coach Derek Dooley

"We are seven practices in to camp so far. This is a good time - seven practices in - to get a good evaluation of who we are, where we are headed and what we see down the line. As I have said several times, we have a lot of people coming back. WE have 17 returning starters and we have a lot of guys with playing experience, more than we've ever had. I've also said that it is a concern that the few seniors that we did lose were the heart and soul of the team. The Weldon Brown's, the Brannon Jackson's, the Quin Harris's - that's what you need when you hit the adversity, which we are going to hit, which we'll hit in any football season. While we're trying to develop the leadership and we feel like we have the emerging leaders and a lot of guys who are being vocal and leading by example, you still never know until you hit adversity."

"The other thing that is exciting is the amount of attention and exposure that we are getting, especially nationally. We've had a couple of really nice articles written about our team .We are on TV more times this year than ever before and we have two nationally televised games in Ruston, which has never happened before. I think the players feel good about that. At the same time, it raises caution because we have a very difficult schedule ahead of us. Playing six bowl teams, two SEC teams on the road and only five home games, we have a challenge in front of us."



On the offense...
"Offensively, certainly the glue of our team is the offensive line and Daniel Porter. Based on the production from last year and the experience they bring, I'm very pleased with how they've come in the first seven practices. They showed that not only have they not missed a beat, but they are showing that they are gaining confidence together. Our pass protection has never looked better at this time and we need our core of those guys to be very good. So far they are headed in that direction."

"We have depth and experience at tight end. Chandler Spence has shown some encouraging signs. He is a young, redshirt freshman tight end. I think he has the ability to be helpful to us not only this year, but be a regular hand in the future."

"Concerns on offense are obviously throwing the football. It has a bit of an Achilles' heel the last two years and we want to throw it. We want to be able to push the ball down the field and attack the defenses in all parts of the field. I think we're getting better. The four young receivers that we have are all light years ahead of where they were this time last year. Hopefully, if they continue this pace, we'll be a lot more effective throwing the football. The same goes for Ross [Jenkins]. He's not where we want him to be, he's not where he wants to be but he's making progress. I would say the pass game is a work in progress but with a lot of encouraging signs. I think Cruz Williams has a chance to help us on some deep balls, pushing it down the field and I think Phillip Livas is starting to see a better receiver without the football. He has always been good with the football."

On the defense...
"Defensively, just like the offensive line and Daniel Porter, the defensive inside and our safeties are a strength of our team right now. That starts with D'Anthony Smith, Antonio Baker, Deon Young and Terrence Calais. There's a lot of experience and a lot of production there. The concerns are at the corner. We have all new faces except Terry Carter but Terry is making progress just like the younger players. You can't forget how young these guys are - Terry is a sophomore. Olajuwan Paige and Josh Victorian are at the other corner spot, battling it out. The other concern is rushing the passer. The same concerns on offense - throwing the ball - are the same we have on defense, including defending the pass, rushing the passer, trying to find some edge rushers.

On the kicking game...
"In the kicking game, we had a big concern losing our kicker and our punter and having two freshmen come in to get it done. However, I have been very encouraged by what I've seen. I think the program is in good shape for the next 3-4 years with these guys but that doesn't mean they will be good now. Matt Nelson has shown a lot of good things as a kicker. We have a chance to be better than we have been since the really good kickers were here. I think he is everything we hoped he would be. Cade Glassgow, who has a lot of technical work to do as a punter, I think in time he is going to be a good, steady hand for us."

On the freshmen...
"As for the freshmen, I am pleased with all of them. There's not one I'm disappointed in. A lot of the ones that are standing out are the areas of concern because we're pushing it on them a little more. I feel really good about our two young running backs, Tyrone Duplessis and D.J. Morrow. They have both come in very mature and have quickly adjusted. They work their tails off, they are physical, and they are talented which is good because we need it."

On the secondary...
"I am very enthused about the young players in our secondary. They are very athletic and physical. Quinn Giles and Javontay Crowe, Chad Boyd - all of those guys have been really showing up in the freshman class. Up front, Jordan Mills is a big man at left tackle and we need some depth at tackle."

On goals of season and winning a bowl game last year...
"Ultimately, our goal is consistent performance and competing for the WAC Championship every year and ultimately winning the WAC championship. But we aren't close to that. We haven't beaten Boise State since I've been here. We haven't beaten Nevada, we haven't beaten Hawai'i. So there's three teams in our league we haven't even beaten, much less winning a championship. Are we excited about what we did last year? Of course, but we really haven't done anything."

On Chris Todd being named starting quarterback at Auburn...
"We haven't even discussed Auburn yet. We have so many problems in Ruston that we're not even looking at Auburn yet and we won't until about a week and a half before the game. Now that doesn't mean that the coaches haven't. I think all of that is premature talk. Auburn is one game out of 12 and we are not going to tune our training camp towards Auburn. Our training camp is designed to build a foundation to help us in the season."

On who has stepped up at running back...
"Right now, Myke Compton is the number two back. However, I think those two young guys are going to push him. Myke hasn't been that productive as a running back in a game. He has been phenomenal at special teams and he's been our special teams player of the year two years in a row so he is important to our program. But he brings some notches on his belt, experience. It is going to be especially important those first couple of games when you are on the road early. If you haven't been in the fires, you can get a little starry-eyed. It happened to us at LSU, I'll never forget it. We win the SEC title in 2001 and then we go up to Virginia Tech, which is a hornet's nest, and we had a bunch of young guys. We threw them in because they were going to be good - which they proved to be a year later. But you talk about starry-eyed and we got it handed to us."

On Phillip Livas...
"I've seen a lot of improvement in his work ethic when he doesn't have the football, developing as a receiver and not just a guy where we can flip him the ball and he can go. He's been working on his route running, on being able to catch some of those tough catches that little guys and little-handed guys don't make. We need him to catch those curl routes, slant routes and out routes, not just catching those little sweeps and bubbles. The more threat and more versatile he becomes as a player, the more we'll be able to get him the ball."

On what Antonio Baker and Daniel Porter bring to the team...
"What I am blessed about with Baker and Porter - and this happens every day - take punt team, for example. We are blessed to watch the effort that they give in the seven-minute punt period in coverage, their technique, their toughness because it is important to them. It is such a great example to the young guys when the freshmen don't know how important special teams is or what kind of work ethic is needed to be a good player. That is something we are fortunate to have here. Our best players happen to be our best workers, who also happen to have the best competitive character, who also happen to have the best off-the-field character. I don't know if we fell into it or what, but I'm glad I have a great model to show. They understand that talent alone gets them nowhere."

Safety Antonio Baker

On being a senior...
"I think about it every day. It is like a clock winding down. It's unreal right now. I am just taking each day as it comes right now and knowing that time is running out, I just want to make the best of it."

On what he's seen at LA Tech in his career...
"There's been a lot of major changes - major changes in coaches, in the school overall. We're getting a lot of good things and a lot of the community buying into what we're doing here. It's a really good feeling about the whole town and the school."

On his role as a senior leader...
"I am starting to get into the role of a vocal leader but I'm used to just leading by example. I'm really getting into teaching the younger guys on what to do and how to do it. We are working hard to get ready for our first game."

On prospects for this year's team...
"I really feel that we have a great team to give a run for the WAC [Championship] right now. We have a great team. Boise State is also a great team, so is Nevada and Hawai'i, but I really feel like we can make a push this year."

On Ross Jenkins...
"I have seen a major change in Ross Jenkins, he has come a long way. He has really been leading the offense and taking command of the field. I think he's going to do a good job this year."

Defensive Tackle D'Anthony Smith

On getting stronger with the strength program...
"I have definitely gotten stronger since last season. Coach Damon [Harrington, the strength coach], his workout program changed dramatically this summer. We were doing everything from working in sand pits to flipping tractor tires. I feel I did get stronger. It's not just me, either, it's the rest of the defensive line, the defensive backs, everyone. He had us tie two 45-pound weights to our waist as we were doing pull-ups and we did three sets of 10 reps of that. In the sand, we were in volleyball-like sand pits and were working on agility drills in that. It was like being on the beach without the water and with the heat. But it has helped a lot. I think we have less injuries coming out of the summer because of that."

On the D-Line...
"This is probably one of the first years where we are a complete unit. Anyone on the defensive line could drop out and there would be someone just as good to take his place, including me."

On comparing this year's defense with last year's defense...
"We lost a couple of key leaders last year but myself and a couple of last year's freshmen - Adrien Cole in particular - have been working to step up and be this group's leaders."

On taking pride in being one of the top defenses against the run in the country last year...
"We take pride in that but we don't want to be constricted to just that. We want to be the top in all categories and we are working hard on that."

On winning eight games last year...
"That was great but I think that was just us laying the foundation. I really see a lot of great things in the future for this program and last year we were just laying the foundation."

Quarterback Ross Jenkins

On entering the season as the starting quarterback...
"It's great [to know you're the starter entering camp]. Last year I came in having to battle for it but I'm not worried about that right now. I take the same approach to camp every year, no matter what the situation. I just want to get in and get the team back together and to build on the chemistry that we formed last year. Then I just want to work hard on the things I need to do to lead this team and help make us a more productive offense."

On the passing game...
"Going into the offseason, we really focused a lot on the passing game. Over the spring and summer, we really worked hard at improving that and it has showed going into camp. I think we have had a pretty good first week of camp and we've seen some improvement in the passing game. That's just going to help us gain confidence even more."

On playing with Phillip Livas...
"Number six [Phillip Livas] can make some plays anywhere you put him, both on special teams and as a receiver. You can do pretty much everything and he is definitely a threat that you have to recognize and teams started to recognize towards the end of last season. They will have to do that this year too, which will hopefully open it up for some other receivers to start making some plays. He is an exciting player to watch and every time he gets the ball in his hands, he has a chance to do something special."

Season tickets are currently on sale as the Bulldogs play five home games at Joe Aillet Stadium, including Nicholls State (Sept. 19), Hawaii (Sept. 30), New Mexico State (Oct. 17), Boise State (Nov. 6) and San Jose State (Dec. 5).

Tech ticket manager Zach Williams also said season tickets will continue to be sold up to the Bulldogs first home game against Nicholls State.

One of the best deals is the Family Pack. For only $275, the Family Pack consists of two adult and three children tickets for all five home games.

Single game tickets and season tickets can both be ordered by logging onto www.LATechSports.com or www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000.

Williams also said group single game ticket rates for the east side of the stadium are being offered. Groups can purchase 20 to 49 tickets for $8 each, 50 to 99 tickets for $7 each and 100-plus tickets for $6 each.

Single game tickets for road games at Auburn ($40) and Navy ($32) are on sale to the general public as well while LSU ($45) tickets are available only to season ticket holders and LTAC members.

Tech fans with youngsters are encouraged to sign them up for the inaugural LA Tech Kids Club. For only a $30 fee for the year, LA Tech Kids Club members receive free admission to all Tech home regular season sporting events as well as additional benefits such as club t-shirt and more.

To sign up for the LA Tech Kids Club, contact Nicki Brostek at 318-257-2507 or e-mail nbrostek@latech.edu.

For complete coverage of Bulldog Football, please visit the official home of LA Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.


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