Louisiana Tech Weekly Press Conference Transcript: Sept. 2


 

 

Sep 2, 2013

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head football coach Skip Holtz and select student-athletes spoke with the media Monday in advance of Saturday’s game against Lamar at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston.

Head Coach Skip Holtz

Opening Statement:

“Happy Labor Day to everyone. I am sure everyone is going to have their cookouts and enjoy the rest of their afternoon, but I just wanted to make sure I wished everyone a happy Labor Day. Looking at the NC State game in review, it is certainly disappointing to see the results of what we achieved on the field. We said from the beginning that we were not going to make any excuses. We made a lot of mistakes, mistakes that cost you football games.”

“I thought this team played extremely hard. I do not think we played very smart, and I take ownership of that. I think as a head football coach, and assistant coach it is our responsibility to make sure we educate our players on mistakes that are going to cost us football games. You cannot go on the road and finish minus three in the turnover battle. We had four pre snap penalties and it seemed like on offense we were always at first and 15 rather than first and 10 because of the loss-of-yard plays or pre-snap penalties.”

“Obviously, I think the turnovers were the difference in the game. We had two drives where we were going down with the potential to put it in the end zone that would have made it a very interesting second half. Unfortunately with us putting the ball on the ground and taking points off the board it got to be a lopsided game. Not only did we turn the ball over, but on third down we were not nearly as productive as we need to be.”

“The field position battle definitely hurt us, but I thought there were some bright spots to come from this game. I thought the team played extremely hard. On the offensive side of the ball I was pleased with the way Scotty Young played in the first half and the way he competed in his first start.”


 

 

“Outside of the one fumble, I thought Kenneth Dixon ran extremely hard. Unfortunately we cannot take that fumble back and it does change the outcome of the game. I thought he ran hard and he is a fantastic player. That was my first opportunity to see him on game day, and he goes to another level on game day. He was impressive in practice but he goes to a whole new level on game day.”

“I thought our wide receivers played very well. We did not have a single drop in this game, which is something you always worry about in the opener. I thought Richie Casey, Jacarri Jackson, D.J. Banks, Sterling Griffin, Andrew Guillot, Hunter Lee, Jon Greenwalt did a nice job when given the opportunity to make a play. There are certainly a lot of plays left to be made out there. We left some plays out there offensively, whether it was a poor read, poor throw, or just execution type things. We just have to get better as an offensive football team.”

“Defensively, I was very encouraged with the play by our defensive front. I think the defensive line played like I thought they would. I thought IK Enemkpali had an excellent game. I thought Justin Ellis, Shakeil Lucas, Kendrick James, really played well. I thought Vontarrius Dora also had a great football game. It seemed like they were running at IK early, and one of their halftime adjustments was to run the other way. I thought Dora had an excellent second half, when put at the point of attack. I thought our defensive line was very solid in the game.”

“Linebacker wise, I thought Daniel Cobb was a great addition. You look out there and you see Cobb and Mitch Villemez playing their first football game for Louisiana Tech. I thought they did a nice job out there. Daniel Cobb was very active and was all over the field. Mitch had five tackles, four assists as well. However, we are not as consistent as we need to be. I thought they were active and a breath of fresh air but we are not as consistent as we need to be.”

“When you look at that game, we gave up about 550 yards of offense, which is an awful lot of offense, but in about 77 plays, we gave up about 270 yards. The thing that was the killer for us defensively was the big plays. We gave up 10 plays for 259 yards. It came through big play passes and big play runs and when you sit down and watch the film, the encouraging thing is that we feel like we can get better. We gave up inside leverage and man coverage on the long touchdown, where we were supposed to have a free safety in the middle of the field, but he bit on the run fake. I think a lot of those things are correctable and we are going to have to correct those to get better as a defensive football team.”

“I thought Logan McPherson punted the ball like a true freshman. When the first kick to start the 2013 season goes out of bounds, it is not exactly what we had practiced for. I do not think he kicked his best, and I think he is capable of much better. He averaged about 36 yards a punt and I know that he is better than that because when you chart about 300 punts through the course of the camp; he has been up over 40 yards. I hope that with some of the jitters being gone, he can feel a little bit more comfortable and some of his talents, which we have seen on the practice field, can come to light.”

“Another bright spot was the way we covered. We faced a return man that was averaging 9.3 yards per carry a year ago. We held him to three yards per return. I thought our cover team did an excellent job and this is one of the things I always talked about as one of my concerns going in, was the kicking game. I thought the kicking game really did a nice job.”

“When you look at the overall aspect of the game, we did not go for a moral victory. We did not go just to gain experience. We went up there to win the football game and we were not able to get that done. From that standpoint it is disappointing, but I am encouraged because most of the mistakes that I see on the field are not talent oriented. They are things that we can get corrected, which are what we are going to have to do going into this week’s game against Lamar.”

“Lamar is a very young program but it is certainly not one we are going to take lightly. When you look, 6 FCS teams beat FBS teams last week. If you look at the manner in which they did it, and you look at Lamar coming off a 75-0 victory last week. 75 points is a lot of points to score. You still have to pitch it, catch it, throw it, block it, execute, and to score 75 points shows how far this program has gone.”

“I think Ray Woodard does an excellent job as a football coach. When you watch him, he played defensive line, and his background is on defense. He played defensive line at Texas and was in the NFL for a few years.  He is very aware of schemes, and he knows what to do. He is a sound fundamental football coach. He has been a high school coach in Texas, a junior college coach in Texas, and now he is the head coach at Lamar. I think that junior college experience has really helped him.  As a young program they have an awful lot of upperclassmen who have come whether through transfer or junior college, and I think they are a very talented football team.”

“When you look at Lamar defensively they run a 3-4 defense, which is a different look than we have been able to see throughout camp. We are going to need a great look from our scout teams so we can get acclimated to this look. Lamar returns their top four tacklers. They have a very active defensive line. The nose guard is 6’6 290 pounds, who is a transfer from Oklahoma State. I think their linebackers are very active in the 3-4 system. That is who you ask to make plays in a lot of the movement and confusion.”

“I also think their secondary is very talented. They are improving and getting better every week. I do not think it is a game that we can take lightly as a defense. I don’t think you can take any team lightly that just scored 75 points. I really like their quarterback; he has a very quick release. They do no ask him to hold the ball long and throw it way down the field. They get the ball out of his hands in a hurry. They run a lot of bubble screens. They return four starters on their offensive line. They have a big physical running back and they have two transfer receivers. One from Oklahoma State who was a third team all American last year and a big 6’3 wide receiver who was a transfer from Houston.”

“They have their punter, their kicker, their deep snapper, their holder are all three year letterman. They are all senior who have a lot of maturity. Their punter averaged 47 yards per punt last week. This is a game we are taking very seriously, especially in light of the way we played last week with the mistakes we made and the way Lamar played last week winning 75-0 and so many players returning.”

“For us the expression that you make the best progress from week one to week two, I certainly am hopeful of for this football team was we move forward. We have to go out to practice this week, we have to work hard on those things. We had a long team meeting last night just to talk about the things that we have to do. Most of the mistakes that we had are correctable, and we just have to do a better job of coaching them.”

On whether the fumbles were bad luck or fundamentals:

“I think the coaching side of you will not allow you to say the fumbles are bad luck. I will not say there was a lot of concern going into the game, but there were a lot of question marks. Your quarterback had not taken a snap, you have four new starters on the offensive line, you are new at linebacker, you are new in the secondary and there were just a lot of question marks going in. Experience at tailback was not one of those question marks. When you watch films from a year ago, that is very uncharacteristic of both of them (Tevin King and Kenneth Dixon), yet we put the ball on the ground three times, two of which took points off the board. If you are able to push both of those touchdowns in and not drop the ball, its 24-21 at halftime and you’re in a heck of a game. That is even with four pre-snap penalties, such as lining up offside at the corner after a third and five stop. Some of those mistakes are just things we are going to have to eliminate.”

“I do not think we can just say it was a fluke. I think we have to coach against it and be leery of it. We have to run with two hands on the football, and we have to carry it like Larry Csonka did for the Dolphins with two hands on the ball. If that is what we have to do, that is what we are going to do because you cannot win many games when you are minus three in the turnover ratio, I do not care who you are playing.”

On working with so many skill players:

“Scotty Young goes in and throws the ball without an interception. We really hammered home that we had to be able to protect the ball. I thought he did a really good job competing in the first half. I wish we would have thrown the ball a little more accurately in the second half. That was a positive question mark.”

“Another big question mark was the receivers. To see the way they went out and competed, and gelled with Sterling as a new addition, Jacarri who missed all of spring with a wrist injury, and then D.J. Banks, Richie Casey, who was unsure if he would receive a sixth year waiver. Three weeks ago we were very concerned with what we had at the wide receiver position. To come out of the game playing the way they did was a question mark that turned out very positively.”

“I am also very encouraged with the way the linebackers played and those were probably the two biggest question marks. I think some of the question marks we had that did not play the way we wanted them too is in the secondary. I think they made mistakes that we can correct. You cannot give up the inside in man coverage; I do not care if we have to line up five yards inside of them. We have to force them to make the harder throws across our face and force them to get the ball to the perimeter. Those are great learning lessons and great teaching lessons and I think we will grow from there.”

On Scotty Young’s aggressiveness:

“I am pleased with the way he competed, he stood in there, he took some shots early against some of their pressure, he made some throws early, and for a question mark going in, I even said to coach Petersen at halftime I was proud of the way Scotty was competing.”

“I would like to see him build on the second half and not just be conservative with the ball. We need to get to the point where if you are going to run this offense your quarterback has to be an aggressive player. There is a fine line between protecting the ball and keeping it away from danger, and making some tough throws.”

“We missed D.J. Banks wide open going down the sideline. We had a three vertical with a guy going right down the middle of the field that we did not see. Those are plays that Scotty has been able to make and when we watched the film it is things we have to do. That is where we need to see improvement from Scotty. We cannot leave those plays out on the field; you only have so many deep ball opportunities. There were three deep ball opportunities that I am not saying would have went in the end zone, but it definitely had a chance to flip field position and give us a chance to make a big play. We are going to need our quarterback to make those plays going forward.”

On the defense making critical third down stops late in the game:

“It is crazy to say this since we gave up over 500 yards of offense, but I was encouraged by what I saw on the defensive side of the ball. I was encouraged by our front seven. We have to get better; we have to get cleaned up. We are certainly not perfect but I think in the secondary that is where most of the question marks were. I was really encouraged by the goal line and short yardage situations with our defense. Most of our stops came in short yardage situations, not in long. They had a number of long yardage situations that they converted. However the front seven, in short yardage situations bowed their backs a little, stood up, and did a nice job. They were inside the ten yard line six times during that football game and had to kick three field goals. I was encouraged with the way our front seven played, but on the back end we have to get better.”

On defending home turf and getting the fans excited:

“It is hard for so many new starters, to have to start on the road.  This is where you are comfortable, this is home.  This is the opportunity to play in front of your family and friends, in a familiar setting right here at home. It is important that we have the opportunity to come back and play at home, be focused, be dialed in. Hopefully we learned a lot on the road. Our fan support here has been outstanding. We ask that people continue to support this team. I think people will see a team that plays hard, plays together, and play passionately. We just have to play smarter. We are really excited for the opportunity to come home and play this football game.”

On Sterling Griffin’s performance last week:

“I think he has grasped the offense well. I have great confidence in him because I have seen him do it. I have seen him do it the past couple years at South Florida. I was excited to see him get out there and compete again. He is a lot like Tevin King, coming off an ACL injury from a year ago. I thought the way he went out there, the way he played the game, and the way he performed speaks volumes for him. He has missed a number of seasons with injuries whether it is an ankle or a knee, or a broken foot, he has been through a lot. To see him go out there and perform and put all of those things behind him, I thought that showed his maturity and what type of man he is. I was very proud of the way he went out there and competed in this game.”

On the disadvantage of bad punting:

“Punting is a big part of the game when it comes to scoring. I looked at the stats at halftime and we were averaging 38 yards per punt and they were averaging 51. When you look at it, we were losing 13 yards per possession and that adds up. It is difficult when your offense has to drive 80 yards every time you get it, and we did not help ourselves with the pre snap penalties.”

“Defensively, the first kickoff I chose to defer because I thought we could get them backed up with a new quarterback. I thought we could get a stop and then let our offense start with great field positioning. It sounded good before the game, until the opening kickoff sailed out of bounds, and they start pretty much at midfield. It took about three seconds to get rid of that theory.”

“I think from a kicking game stand point, that huge chunks of yardage did not allow us to win the field position battle. I thought our kickoff and punt coverage was good enough to win the field position battle. We have to get more productivity out of our kicking game. One of the goals we have as a football team is that we want to net 39 yards per punt. When you average 36, it is hard to net 39. We have to do better with our punting and we have to find some answers to get more yards out of that.”

On so many FCS over FBS upsets last week in college football:

“I think there is great parity in college football, probably more so than just talent. I think the parity comes from the rule changes. It is an advantage when you are watching hurry up offenses, teams that can jump to the line and snap the ball quickly before the opponent can line up.”

“One of the biggest differences from the FCS to the FBS, I have coached in both, is the interior play. Your offensive and defensive lines normally are not as deep as they are at the FBs level. That goes from scholarships numbers, to recruiting. I think there are a lot of quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs, defensive backs, safeties that are playing in the NFL from lower level schools. I think there are a lot of players out there at the skill positions. But it is a little harder to find those 6’7 offensive and defensive linemen that can run and are athletic.”

“I think with the new rule changes that have gone on in college football the last few years, I think it is giving the underdogs an opportunity to step on the field and not only to play but an opportunity to win. We draw the line from an image standpoint which I think is getting further and further away the image of the two but I think the product on the field with the rules and the restrictions in recruiting, I think the products on the field are getting closer and closer together.”

On walk-on tryouts Wednesday:

“The walk-on program needs to be huge for us. It has to be. Right now we are coming out of camp at 77 scholarships and a big part of that is 30 plus players walking out the door, and only being able to replace 25 with new scholarship players under NCAA rules with initial scholarships. Being down eight scholarships is a big disadvantage. There is a reason when somebody goes on probation they take three scholarships from them, it is costly.”

“Right now with that many seniors walking out the door, we are below the number we need to be at. I think the only way we can make that up is with a great walk on program. We put four walk-ons on scholarship last week. We put Paul Harris on scholarship, who is a senior quarterback. We also put Jabari Prewitt, Blake Martin, and Ahmad Wallace on scholarship.”

“When you put four walk-ons on scholarship, when you have a walk-on tryout, you have some people coming out. You have guys not only looking at an opportunity to be on the team, but the opportunity to contribute and play. I also think there are another four walk-ons that deserve a scholarship. You start to look at some of the guys who are out there playing.”

“Kyle Fischer is kicking for us right now as a walk on, but he is a guy that has an opportunity to earn one. Marlon Seets has an opportunity as a running back to run one. I think walk-ons are a critical part of our program right now so the NCAA allows us to let these guys come out the first day of school and we are going to have a meeting to let them know they need physicals and everything else. Then we will have a try out on Monday, with all the new walk-ons to give them an opportunity. We need some numbers on this football team right now.”

 

LB Daniel Cobb

About first game at Louisiana Tech

“It was fun.  I loved it.  It had been awhile since I had been back into a real game playing football and it was great.  The d-line played great.  I loved playing behind those guys.  They get after it.  You have IK [Enemkpali], Shaq [Shakeil Lucas], Jelly [Justin Ellis], [Vontarrius] Dora, Chuck [Kendrick James], [Malcolm] Pichon, all of those guys.  So it was good being able to play behind a line that keeps the offensive line off.”

About Lamar scoring 75 points in their season opener

“You can never take any team lightly.  Like coach [Holtz] said, these teams that went out last weekend and won games that were not supposed to win or nobody counted on them to win, if we go in thinking it is going to be a walk-through game we could get beat.” 

About preventing big plays like the ones versus NC State

“We just have to get back in practice.  It was some of the little things that we were messing up in practice that we messed up in the game.  It is just working on it and practicing it more and eye control basically.” 

About inexperience of secondary playing a role in giving up big plays

“I do not want to blame it on youth and inexperience because you look how sometimes all around the nation true freshmen are playing and being all-Americans.  It is just eye control and preparation.  Maybe that is where it comes in the film room, the youth and inexperience of not preparing the right way, but there was no excuse.”

About the defense’s change in confidence as the game went on

“There was definitely a sense of we can play with these guys.  They are not better than us, they are not world beaters, but again it was the little mistakes and big plays that beat us.  We were supposed to get overpowered by the o-line, but we gave them a fight.  They had to fight for everything they got and they felt it the next day.” 

 

WR Sterling Griffin

On playing in his first football game in a while and leading the team in receiving

“I just felt good to be back on the field.  God has blessed me with the opportunity to be back on the field.  Coach Holtz and his staff believed in me and gave me a chance to come to here and compete.  That is what I have been doing.  It was really a blessing.  It felt real nice.”

On Scotty Young’s performance

“I believe Scotty [Young] played a good game.  He controlled the game well.  He controlled the ball.  I do not believe he threw any interceptions or had any dropped passes.  We could have played a lot better on the outside at receiver and helped him a lot more, but I believe Scotty played a real good game.”

On how difficult it has been getting the timing down with the quarterback

“It is not as easy as it looks.  We work during practice.  We are constantly working, constantly just whenever I get a chance to catch a ball from him.  When he is warming his arm up, I am just trying to get that feel and that confidence.  Right after practice sometimes, we pull him to the side and just run routes just to get that timing down.  I believe it is coming along good.  We are going to continue to do those things so it can get better and progress through the season.”

On relationship with coach Holtz

“I believe my relationship with coach Holtz has helped tremendously, to know that he believes in me, giving me the opportunity to come here.  I just know how passionate he is about the game.  That he is someone I wanted to play for and that I want to be coached by.  He is a tremendous coach.  He loves the game, wants to win and wants to take care of his players.  He does everything he can to put ourselves in the best position to succeed, not only in football but in life.”

On previous injuries still being in the back of his mind

“I do not believe it is a question mark at all.  I believe I am healthy.  I just go out there and compete, try my hardest to do what the coaches ask me to do and try to help my team win.”

On the offense getting into a rhythm as the game went along

“I really did.  As I watched the film yesterday, I see where there are a lot of positives on offense.  We have a tremendous quarterback and running back, and the offensive line and receivers; we have a lot of receivers.  I believe we needed that game.  That game was like a reality check.  So I feel like we are going to come out this week, work hard in practice.  We are not going to take Lamar for granted.  They are a great team.  We are going to compete and work hard and continue to build off the positives that we did see in the film.” 

On not overlooking an FCS team like Lamar

“When you look at all the teams that played this weekend that lost to lower-level teams, you realize competition is everywhere.  We do not want to take them for granted.  We are going to go out this week and look at them as they are coming in here to beat us just like we were going into NC State to beat them.  We are just going to prepare as if we prepared last week, the same way this week.”

On former teammates at South Florida losing to McNeese State

“I talked to them and the other team just came out to play.  They played McNeese State and McNeese State watched film, came in with a great game plan and played.  That is all it is.” 

 

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