Louisiana Tech Press Conference Transcript: Sept. 3

Sept. 4, 2012

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head football coach Sonny Dykes and select student-athletes spoke with the media Monday about last week’s postponed game against Texas A&M and this week’s upcoming game at Houston.

Head Coach Sonny Dykes

Opening Comments:

“It is good to be back in game week. It seems like we have been practicing for months and it is nice to get a chance to finally go out there and play and see where we are. I have really been proud of our football team in the way they have been able to handle the changes in plans. I think they have shown a lot of maturity. I think they have shown focus.”

“They were excited obviously to open the season last week and really did a good job of moving on. We got a lot of good work done last week. We had a really good Wednesday practice last week. We were able to address a lot of the first-game things we needed to address: substitutions, kicking game, special situations. We had a pretty good team period that was basically almost like a full game last Wednesday and then did a regular practice on Friday and did some of the same thing with our team period as well.”

“We have tried to prep as much as we can to try to get over some of the mistakes that are made in the first game. A lot of that has to do with substitution and making sure we have the right personnel in the game at the right situation. We have gotten some of those kinks worked out. We are going to need to.”

“We are just excited to go play. This is a team that beat us last year. They have got a lot of good athletes. Houston is always going to have guys that can run and be an athletic football team. That is just the makeup of their team.”

“Their quarterback played a lot last season when Case Keenum was hurt and played very well in Case’s absence. He probably did not play his best game last week against Texas State, but he is a guy that has experience.”



“As I have said, they are going to have really good skill position players. Charles Sims is probably one of the best running backs we will play against this season. I think they will feature him this week, without a doubt. He will be the center point of their offense and they will try to get him involved in the game early and often, so that will be a challenge for us.”

“Defensively, they have a lot of good athletes. Lloyd Allen did not play the first half last week. He is a defensive end that runs around and makes a lot of plays, presents some problems.”

“[D.J.] Hayden, the corner, I think is one of the best I have seen on tape. He is long and athletic. I know he is a pro prospect, one that a lot of people like.”

“It will be challenging for us. As I said, they are always going to have good players. They are going to be solid in the kicking game. Tony’s teams are always going to be good on special teams.”

“It should be a challenge. We are just excited to play a game and see where we are and have a chance to get back and reassess everything and try to keep improving.”


On not overlooking Houston:

“I think the easy thing is to just look at Houston. They won 13 games last year. We got a chance to play them. We know what kind of players they have got.”

“I think the fact that we have played them and our players know what kind of players they have got; know what kind of team they have got, so we do not have to do a lot of convincing.”

“I think our guys realize that, especially in a first game with a new coaching staff, some strange things happen sometimes. But, I do not think that is indicative of Houston’s football team at all.”  

On Houston’s loss:

“I was a little surprised. But, you never know. The thing about college football is it takes time to build a program. When you have a coaching change and someone comes and takes over, they are going to implement their way of doing things. That just does not happen overnight. That takes time and it is one of those things where everyone wants it to happen instantly, but it just takes time to develop.”

“It is a trust factor between players and coaches and schemes and players trust in schemes. Players have to trust in each other and trust the coaches. Unfortunately, that just does not happen overnight sometimes.”

“There were some growing pains last week. But, as I have said, I think the Houston team we play this week will be completely, 100 percent different than the one we saw last week.”

On Houston changing schemes:

“You just don’t know. I think that they do what they do. They have been successful running this type of scheme. So, the change from last year to this year is really not that big of a deal. It is more subtle than it is anything else.”

“They are replacing a lot of guys. They are replacing a lot of skill players. They are obviously replacing a quarterback and it takes some time for those guys to get on the same page.”

“Like I said, they are going to be athletic. The quarterback is good. We have plenty of evidence that he is a good football player. We know that.”

“For us, it is going to be about us going and playing well. I think that is the thing about our team; it is always about us. It is about us taking care of the football, creating turnovers, trying to play penalty free, playing fast, being physical and putting our best foot forward. If we do that, we will be okay.”

On Houston’s change in Offensive Coordinator:

“It does not [change our plans]. It cannot really. I think we are just going to assume we are going to see the same thing. That is all you can assume.”

“They have been practicing what they are doing since the spring, so you have to assume that is what we are going to see on Saturday. We will adjust and prepare if we see something different.”

On Houston’s advantage with playing their first game:

“Yeah, I think so. I think when you play a game like that and do not play very well, and I am sure they feel like they did not play as well as they could have, it strengthens your resolve in some ways. You come back more focused, more dedicated.”

“As I have said, I think we will see a better Houston team. They are going to know what they need to improve on.”

“Right now, all of our stuff looks good. All of our players look good. The defense looks good. The offense looks good. Our special teams look good. Everything looks good right now because we have not been tested. You can try to test them as much as you possibly can with them going against each other, but at the end of the day, it is different.”

“How are we going to react to the negative things that happen or the positive things that happen? They know. They are a little more battle-tested than we are, but it is what it is. We are just going to have to go and play well.”

On keeping players focused:

“Not being to play last week was tough. We tried to give them Saturday off and let them go watch football. I think that was a big deal; letting them have a chance to sit back and watch college football.”

“You get refocused. I think it made them probably excited to play. They had the chance to watch people from all over the country play. I think it was good for them to enjoy that day off. They came back yesterday and you could tell there was a renewed sense of purpose and excitement, and those types of things are what you expect to feel on game week.”

“I was proud of the way they handled the situation last week with the game being postponed.”

On watching football Saturday:

“I watched pretty much every game Saturday. You always end up watching the ones where you know people or have former players and that type of thing.”

“I watch some of East Carolina. I know some guys that coach at East Carolina. I watched Arizona play late that night. I watched Michigan and Alabama for about two series. So, I had a chance to watch some games.”

“I tried to keep up with the Houston game. That is the thing I was doing, was following that play-by-play and trying to keep up with what was going on in that game and some of the opponents we play as well. I tried to keep up with San Jose State and Stanford. Obviously, San Jose had a really good showing against Stanford.”

“It is always fun to kind of sit back and see how the people you are going to play against later in the year perform.”

On Week 1 upsets:

“A lot of those games, if you look at it, Washington State probably did not play their best; Houston probably did not play their best, UTEP and Oklahoma, and Toledo and Arizona.”

“Three of the four teams you mentioned all have new coaching staffs. That is kind of one of the things you would expect going into that.”

“When you are changing a lot of things and you have a new staff, there are always going to be growing pains. I think one of the things you realize is, none of us coaches have magic plays. It is all about execution and that takes time.”  

On leaders in the locker room:

“I think a lot of our seniors have done a good job of understanding it has been a challenging week and have gotten and kept us focused with all that was going on. The good thing is, that shows we have a little bit of maturity in our program and on our team and I think that will certainly pay off for us down the road.”

“Nobody specifically comes to mind, but I think it is more of a collective effort with the way they have dealt with things rather than individually.”

On Texas State scheme against Houston:

“The good thing is we got the film. We got the film and I know some of our guys know their guys, so there has been some dialogue I am sure. Really, everything is on the tape.”

“We got a chance to see it and evaluate it. As I have said, there will be some changes. There will be some personnel changes I would think. There will maybe be some scheme changes.”

“Again, Houston will be a lot better football team this week than they were last week, without a doubt.”


Senior running back Ray Holley

On finally getting the season started:

“I cannot wait.”

On the mindset of not playing Texas A&M and watching other teams play:

“It was a great opportunity for us really.  We got to see how the first week games were being played and we got to see how teams were coming out and how they prepared for their games and it gave us a chance to really see that we have to focus this week.  We’ve got our first week coming up and the first week is never an easy one.  And preparation is key to success so we saw that and we saw a lot of teams seemed they had to get their jitters out and hopefully by us watching that we did that and we’ll be ready for that first game.”

On reaction of Texas State upsetting Houston:

“I think a lot of us were surprised.  You never know what to expect especially with a team coming into D-1, and they did a great job when you watch the film.  Texas State must have prepared really well.  They executed great.  They have a lot of athletes.  Their talent is up to speed with ours.  I think Houston was just not prepared for what Texas State was going to offer them.  They were not certain and I think they will be ready to play this week.”

On what Texas State did to Houston that they learned:

“They played fast and they played extremely hard.  I think just effort, to give great effort and I think if we do that that’ll give us our best chance.”

On managing emotions after Texas A&M postponement:

“That is part of the game.  Things happen. Misfortunates occur.  I think our team is mature enough to understand that and I think we will be just fine.” 

On seeing Texas State rush for a lot of yards on Houston:

“I think if anybody licked their chops it is Kenneth [Dixon] and Tevin [King].  They have got us playing receiver so we will see.”

On added emotion from last year’s loss to Houston:

“I think there is a little fire in our eyes.  We lost a tough one last year to them.  To their credit they did a great job and came back.  I think we are prepared to come out and get another good game under our belt and maybe come out on top this time.”

On his fumble last year in Houston game:

“It was later on in the game I got the ball and the hole opened up.  I saw the hole so I hit it, and I got up field and safety came down to make a play.  I saw him get low so I got low and covered the ball with two hands and he made good contact.  His helmet hit the ball and I fumbled the ball.  That is part of the game and I am moving forward.  We practice year-round ball security and I think misfortunes occur and it will not happen this time around.”

On thinking the Houston game was part of his final year at Tech:

“That was one of the toughest losses I have ever been a part of as long as I have been playing football.  Knowing that was my senior year, that one really hurt but God blessed me with another opportunity.”

On simulating games in practice:

“I think what we are doing to try and simulate the game, game situations and game scenarios is the best way we can prepare.  We are never going to be able to prepare like Houston did.  They played a full game and they understand the substitutions, they understand the timeouts and the refs playing an impact in the game, all that.  We do not really have all of that but what coach is doing by us simulating a game against one another is getting us as prepared as we can.  I think what we are doing is a good thing.”

On Houston’s emotions:

“Only they know.  I think it could be a variety of different ways.  All we can assume is they are going to come out and play harder and play more aggressive and play smarter and that is how we are going to look at it so we will come out expecting the best from them.”

On season-ending injury last year:

“I got the ball outside and came around the sideline maybe 10-15 yards down field.  The safety came down and as a running back I am hard-headed, I want to put my head down and get a couple extra yards and the guy made good contact.  What happened was I got my x-ray during the game at halftime and they did not see anything in the x-rays so I was going to come back, and unfortunately I was not able to.” 

“Later I found out I had three compression fractures in my thoracic spine and it was a season-ending injury. Fortunately it was the early fourth game and I was able to get my redshirt.”

“I am blessed and I thank God every day that I am back and I think I learned from it. I do not expect that to happen again, not that I am not going to put my head down, but I think I will be a smarter player and I am just excited to go back out there.”

On rehab:

“I just immobilized myself for the first few months after the injury.  Just immobilized myself and let it heal on its own.  That is what I did and I am ready.” 

On having a favorite position and which is the hardest position:

“I am a running back at heart.  I would say that is my favorite position, but I will do whatever it takes to help this team win games.  I have been playing receiver a lot lately and I think that is the most difficult for me because I am not use to it.”

“This extra week gave me another week to get better at it.  Although it is hard it is becoming easier and it is becoming more of who I am and I am just trying to be as versatile as I can and help this team win.” 

Junior defensive tackle Shakeil Lucas

On practicing for three different offensive coordinators without playing a game yet:

“It is basically all the same.  It is pretty much going to be the same offense so we are just getting ready for all of it.”

On surprise of Texas State win over Houston:

“I was very surprised.  I was not thinking it was going to turn out like that but, like they say, anything can happen.” 

On being more excited to play Houston:

“A little bit, but no because they were not expecting to lose like that so I know that they are going to try and come out and give us their best.  So we have got to prepare like they are going to give us their best.” 

On this past week:

“It has been a little stressful because of course we were ready to play, we were ready for Texas A&M but like the coaches told us we just got to get back focused and get ready for Houston so we just got back down to the nitty gritty and just started grinding again.”

On toughest part not being able to play last week:

“It was just getting on the schedule of a game week.  As soon as we got ready to travel they told us it was canceled so we were all excited, ready to travel for the game and they told us it was over.” 

On having a Saturday off:

“I got to see a lot of my teams play with a lot of people I know.” 

On having to play 12 straight weeks:

“We have been preparing for this and you never know how it is going to go so we just have to go with it.” 

On extra motivation from last year’s Houston loss:

“We are planning on finishing this time around.  We gave three good quarters but a game is four so we have to finish all four.” 

On what the defense learned after last year’s 1-4 start:

“The biggest thing we learned is keep pushing and eventually we are going to get on track like the seven straight wins.  So we just had to keep playing and keep going as one and not start to point fingers and everything.  We just came together and together we came strong.” 

On Houston’s running back:

“He is a good player.  He has been in the system for a long time and I expect to get his best and we are just going to stop him.” 

On what Texas State did against Houston to win that they can use:

“Not that much because they had a three down front.  We are planning on doing a four down front so we really cannot see much of their blocking schemes but we are just going to try to get the same type of pressure they had.  They were running to the ball and tackling well and we are going to try and do the same.” 

On being more confident against Houston:

“No, we are still the same way.  We are just trying to stay focused, not trying to get a big head because that is how you can lose thinking you are supposed to win so we are just going to go in thinking they are going to give us their best and we are going to play hard.” 

On motivation from last year’s loss to Houston:

“Sometimes it comes up, but we do not try to dwell on the past.  When you are a player you still think about how we had them up 34-7 and they came back in the fourth quarter just like that and we do not want that to happen again.” 

On worry of Houston having the same type of offense as last year:

“You think about it but you cannot worry about it because that is how you start messing up.” 

On challenge of seeing Texas State beat Houston:

“It goes to show you that you have to worry about yourself because when you start worrying about who you are going to play that is when you can lose.  You can slip up and lose.  So when you worry about yourself there is nothing else you have to worry about.” 


For complete coverage of Bulldog Football, please follow @LATechPWalsh on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.


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