Louisiana Tech Press Conference Transcript: Sept. 10


 

 

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

Head Coach Sonny Dykes:

“A couple of things I want to announce is that we do players of the week anytime we win a game, so our offensive player of the week is Tevin King. The defensive player was Javontay Crowe. The special teams player was Matt Nelson.”

“We do points on special teams as well. Kendall Hayes won that. It was good to see Kendall start to contribute to our program a little bit and thought he did a good job as a special teams player.”

“Then, we do scout team players of the week. Offensive scout team player of the week was Connor Smith. Defensive was Zach Voss. Our special teams scout team player of the week was James Banks.”

“We will also do a weekly captain, and this week, Jordan Mills will join our other captains as the weekly captain. So, I just wanted to make those announcements.”

“Getting to the game, it was an unusual football game to say the least. I looked down at my watch at the end of the first quarter. I think the first quarter was right at an hour long. It is a miracle we got done in under five hours based on the way it was going.”

“I was a part of a lot of strange games like this when I was at Texas Tech, a lot of high scoring games, but never one that was played at the pace this game was played at. It was a frenzied pace. I think it was a 115 plays for them, and then 94 for us. That is insane. You start thinking about the number of plays when you watch an NFL game, and they are running about 40 plays, so we are playing basically three games for their one.”


 

 

“It is just an interesting style of football. It was good to win. Anytime you go play a team that won 13 games the year before and win on the road, that is a big win for your program. Obviously, Houston loss some good players from the team the year before, but they have a lot of talent. That is going to be a good football team. They are still finding their way right now a little bit.”

“There is a tremendous amount of talent on both sides of the ball. Good defensive talent. Good offensive talent. They are good on special teams. That football team is going to win a lot of games. I think at the end of the season, we will look back at this and say it was a big time win for us and our program, because I think Houston will get on a roll and win a lot of games.”

“Moving on to Rice now, it is good for us to have finally played a game. It was a long time coming. We needed to play. It was important to see where we are as a program and see how our kids were going to handle certain things.”

“I was really proud of the way we started the game. It was important for us to get off to a good start, and we did that early in the game. We thought that was going to be very important to try and negate some of the positive energy they had.”

“Anytime you make a coaching change like that, I think there is going to be a lot of emotion, a lot of energy. Houston came out with a tremendous amount of energy and emotion, and it was important for us to get off to a good start.”

“I was really pleased when we took a lead early. They rallied to cut it to 21-20 at halftime. I was a little bit concerned at that point, just because Houston had the momentum. I was really pleased with the way we answered in the third quarter and I thought that was an impressive quarter of football for us on both sides of the ball.”

“About the 12:00 minute mark in the fourth quarter was the first time I noticed our players, defensively, looked a little worn down, and I think it showed in the fourth quarter. Playing 115 plays is a lot of plays. We got a little tired and a little ragged. We did not finish the game the way we needed to. I do not think it was conditioning as much as it was guys playing a lot of plays. That is a tremendous amount of plays to have to play. I think both teams were tired at that point of the game. It was kind of just trying to hold on and get it finished.”

“We had to recover two onside kicks, and our guys did it. I was really pleased that we found a way to win the game.”

“We talked to our players at halftime and just said, ‘I don’t know what is going to happen in the second half.’ I did not know if it was going to end up 21-20 like it was at halftime or if it was going to end up 56-49 like it did. We just told our guys to find a way to win. It does not really matter how we get it done. We just had to find a way to win the football game, and that is what we told our guys. They fought and figured out a way to win.”

On the offense:

“I thought it was a good first game. We made mistakes. When you have the kind of numbers we had, you hate to be too critical. I thought it was average really. We left some points out there. There were some possessions we had that we made some mistakes on and did not capitalize.”

“I did not think we played very well in the first half on offense. It seemed like we never got settled in. We made a couple of plays, but it just seemed like we were never in any kind of rhythm. A little bit in the fourth quarter, we got out of that rhythm as well. But, I thought it was fine.” 

The big thing we did was take care of the football. Honestly, I think that is the reason we won the football game. We did not turn it over. We ended up with 11 penalties, which is a lot of penalties. It is too many, but there were not a lot of dumb penalties you usually have in the first game. There were not a lot of illegal procedures with substitution issues. We did not battle any of that kind of stuff. I was really proud of our discipline. I thought that was a big part of the reason we won the game.

On freshmen running backs: 

“You worry about playing true freshmen, just because, ‘Are you going to see the same thing you have seen in practice in the game?’ That was a concern, but I thought they both responded very well. They did what we asked them to do and, again, they took care of the ball, which is critical.”

“I thought Kenneth Dixon really got better as the game went on. I think he is going to be that kind of runner. I think he is a guy that is going to have to get stronger and stronger as the game progresses.”

“I think we saw the explosiveness of Tevin on the long runs. He had some really tough runs for a guy that is 170 pounds. He runs physical and finishes well for a small guy. He plays low. We have to get Kenneth to get his pads down a little lower. Physically, I think Kenneth can be a factor, especially during the second half of games.”

On quick start:

“I just did not think we played very well. Quinton Patton did not play well. He played kind of like a young guy. He did not play like a senior. He did not play like he has been practicing. I think he probably tried to do a little too much. I think he has to get settled in and understand he has to play a little bit more in our system and just kind of searched a little bit early.”

“We never really got into a rhythm at first. We were sloppy at times, offensively. I did not think Colby played great the first half either. He has been practicing better than he played in the first half. The thing that helped us win the game was, we did not turn the ball over. I thought Colby really did a good job of taking care of the football. I was really pleased with that.”

On Houston coming back:

“I never got that feeling. I did not have a sense of panic from our players at all. I think that really starts with us. There was more of a calm feeling from me in particular and our coaching staff. We felt like we had been in that situation before and felt like we were mature enough to handle it.”

“I think it starts with the coaches and trickles down to the players. The overall feeling on the sideline was, ‘Let’s find a way to get off the field and get them stopped.’ But, when we knew we needed to make a play, we felt like we were going to make it.”

On what to continue to do well against Rice:

“For the first time out, we gave up a lot of yards and points, but I thought our tackling was pretty decent. I thought we tackled okay. We are going to have to continue to do well and tackle well this week against Rice.”

“The turnover thing is always going to be big for us. Creating turnovers defensively was a strength of ours last year and a strength of ours Saturday. We are going to have to continue to do that.”

“We had two fumbles we could have gotten on in the game that we did not quite recover.”

“We have to improve getting on the football and covering the ball when we have opportunities to do it. We just have to continue to work on our execution on both sides and on special teams as well.”

“I did not think Ryan Allen had a great game. He kind of was average. So, our good players have got to play good for us to be where we want to be as a team. There were a lot of average performances Saturday.”

“I think Saturday will probably be the same thing. That is the deal with our football team. If you go back and look at us last season, we have not been a team that is able to put people away. That has been the thing that has been disappointing for me.”

“For us to be the kind of program we want to be, we have to learn when you have a 21-point lead, you have to get a stop on defense, score on offense and pull away from people. That is something that if you look at our history, we have not been very good at. We have to learn to do that, because if you let good football teams hang around, and especially teams like Houston that can score like they can, you will look up and they are onside kicking it with 30 seconds left in the game and you might get beat.”

“We have to learn to do that, and that is something that is just mental. I think we have to develop more of a killer instinct and learn how to close people out better than we have.”      

On Rice:

“We looked at enough of Rice over the summer to know that they were going to be pretty good. I have not seen Rice on film much in the past. I just have not crossed their path much. I looked at them this summer and saw the type of players they have. I knew they were going to have a good football team.”

“I really have a lot of respect for their coaching staff. I think those guys really do a good job coaching. I think David Bailiff and his assistant coaches are good coaches. They have been around. Their team will be ready to play.”

“They will be much more confident, probably, than we would like for them to be after going on the road and beating a Big 12 team and playing the way they did against UCLA. They will come into this place and have a ton of confidence. It is going to be up to us to play well and if we have a chance to close things out, we have to get better at doing that.”

On developing killer instinct:

“It’s like anything with young people. You have to do a good job of pointing it out to them. You just have to understand there are certain moments in a game that are critical. They are all important, but there are times in a football game from a momentum standpoint where you say, ‘You know what, we are either going to let them back in the game here or be able to put some distance between us and them.’ We have to understand those situations better and figure out how to get it done.”

On defensive performance: 

“We have to tackle better. Those were some instances where we got out of position a little bit with our safeties, and did not get underneath some stuff as well. We have to contest more throws. That was the thing that was disappointing for me was we gave up too many easy completions in that game. We have to contest more throws and play a little tighter in our coverage.”

“Our underneath coverage needs to get a little better. Houston has a good scheme. They know what they are doing. There is a reason why they have been as successful as they have been, regardless of who the players are in those situations. It is a tough scheme, but we just have to play better fundamentally.”

On Rice WR Sam McGuffie:

“He is obviously very talented. He went to Michigan out of high school; was one of the top recruits in the country. I watched all the YouTube videos with him jumping cars and buildings and all kinds of stuff. It is pretty interesting stuff, but he is obviously a good athlete and a good football player.”

“I think they are going to continue to try to get him the ball. He does a good job in space. He runs tough, is a physical, explosive guy. We have to do a good job containing him. We really need to tackle well because they are going to find ways to get him in space. It is going to be important for us to come up and make a tackle.”

On McGuffie/Sims comparison:

“They are different. Sims is a little different guy and the way they use him is different. McGuffie is probably a little more explosive and a different type of player. He is a guy they are going to get the ball to. They are going to be creative and find ways to get him the ball in space. We are just going to have to do our best to tackle him and get our hands on him.”

On stopping the run:

“For us, I think it is always important to stop the run. That is the funny thing about football. When you do stop the run, you have a tendency to win those games. When you can run the ball, you have a tendency to win that game. There is a correlation between being successful and being able to stop the run.”

“Our intention is always try to be solid in our run defense. We obviously have to improve our pass defense. That was an issue for us Saturday; something we have to get improved and get better at. That was a good test for us. I do not know that we will face anyone the rest of the year that is as good at throwing the football as Houston will be. That remains to be seen, but they are pretty good at throwing and catching.” 

On the offensive line:

“I thought those guys played well. We had good protection most of the night. Colby kind of left the pocket a couple of times when he did not have a lot pressure. He has to do a better job of sitting in there and getting the ball out on some third downs.”

“I thought we played pretty well up front. Our pad level got a little high as the game went on. We have to finish blocks better than we did. It is a good group.”

“Larry Banks played a lot. That was the first time he played for us. I think he played 45 plays. It was good to get another guy in there. It allowed us to move some people around.”

“Josh Parrish is probably going to have to play some for us this week at the guard spot. Darrell Brown is someone I think will have a chance to get in the rotation at some point as well, a true freshman kid. He has really been a good player for us.”

“That is a group we expect to be good and I thought they played pretty well without giving up a sack Saturday. We ran the ball decent, but we have to finish blocks a little better than we did.”

On Colby: 

“He did a good job on the zone stuff, reading the defensive end a couple times. He had three pretty important runs off the zone read stuff. I thought he did a pretty good job of getting down. He got tossed pretty good over on the sideline one time. They got them on a penalty.”

“He just has to be smart. We do not want him getting hit when he does not need to get hit. I thought he did a good job of getting down most of the time.”

On newcomers:

“We had a lot of guys contribute on special teams, and I thought that was important for those guys. I thought Bryson Abraham played well. He had some jitters early, but once he was settled in, I think he played with more confidence. He just has to continue to play better. He is going to be a good player for us. I was impressed.”

“Le’Vander (Liggins) played a lot for us last year, but this is the first time he played a lot on defense and I thought he played well for us.”

“Vontarrius Dora was somebody I thought played better and better as the game went on. Vernon Butler played a lot of snaps as well and showed he is capable of being a good player for us. It was good to see a lot of those guys out there and getting some playing time.”

“D.J. Banks, this was his first game experience and I thought he probably played as well as anybody at the receiver position. He did not get a ton of opportunities, but I thought he blocked well and ran routes well.”

“Jon Greenwalt has a chance to be a good player. He has not practiced as much as he needs to. He has been a little banged up. He had a hamstring in the spring and missed time in the spring and then some of fall camp. But, he is continuing to get better and better.”

“We have a lot of good newcomers in the program, some guys we think can contribute. We just have to keep bringing them along.”

On Colby/D.J.:

“Colby can answer more than I can, but I thought he just missed a couple of throws really. We were not as sharp throwing and catching in the game as we have been at practice. That is kind of what happens in first ball games. Guys get better and better as the season progresses. We are going to need to clean up our passing game. I thought it was average at best.”  

 

 

Colby Cameron

On the first half versus Houston:

“I think the first half we did not get into much of a rhythm.  There were some penalties that we got first downs that we did not earn I guess.  They just kind of gave them to us so it was hard to get into a rhythm.  Once we got into the second half I think we had more drives that were longer and I think our team finally found a pace we could play at.”

On beating Houston after losing to them last year:

“It is always a good feeling winning on the road, especially versus a team like Houston when you know they are going to put up points whenever they want really.  They have done that for so many years.  It is just a good feeling knowing that we played for the full four quarters and that we came out with a win.”

On Coach Dykes’ expectations for the offense:

“Being the first game I think we knew there were going to be some hiccups.  I think we can all just get better with the details, especially me at the quarterback position.  I think I made some reads that were not very great and I think moving forward we can always improve.  We are not going to set our limits real high, so we know we can always make improvements.”

On closing out games:

“I think we can do a better job at maybe game management.  I think as the season goes on you learn how to figure that out because it is still game one.  It is a learning process and as the year goes on I think we can get a lot better.”

On Rice’s defense:

“I have not watched a whole lot of film [on Rice].  I watched some during the summer and their last two games I kind of briefed through them.  They are a good football team.  I think we just have to stick with our game plan and play fast.  I think that is what helped us in the game this past weekend is we played real fast and the tempo was high and I think when we do that our offense really excels.”

On improving the timing with wide receivers:

“I think it is a focus thing.  We just have to work on the details.  I think sometimes I was off, maybe my footwork was not right and I was throwing balls over their heads.  Just timing-wise I think we will get the depths from the receivers stand point when they are running their routes.  It is a good thing we can work on it this week and keep improving.”

On fellow Californian Jon Greenwalt:

“It was great having him in the game.  I think he was eager to play and I remember talking to him before, it is fun making the Cali-Cali connection when you are in the game.  He did a great job.”

On Tevin King:

“He has been great all camp and he has been great in the spring and so I was really anxious to see what he could do in the game.  He definitely made some highlight reel runs.  It was great having that front row seat seeing him do what he can because he is a great player to have.”

On Kenneth Dixon:

“It’s like thunder and lightning those two guys [Kenneth and Tevin].  He is a big [running] back.  He did a great job for us.  Just being a freshman I think it would be tough coming in but he showed up and showed a lot of maturity playing the game.  I think that he will just keep getting better.  He did a great job for us and the good thing about him is he wants to get better and keep working and so we are excited to see what he can do.”

On the confidence of scoring on a 99-yard touchdown drive:

“It just shows us that we can score from any point on the field from all the way going 99 yards to if we get the ball inside the 20 or whatever.  I think it is a confidence booster for our offensive line, receivers and running backs knowing that we have the ability to score from that depth.”

On Quinton Patton:

“Quinton is a competitor so I think he will look at the film and learn little things that he needs to focus on and improve on and he will do that.  He has done it all last year.  He has just been great for us and I think the good thing about him is he is not selfish at all.  He knows that if he is being covered and we go to other receivers that he is still a leader out on the field even though he is not getting the ball so we are excited what he will do in the upcoming weeks.”

On Patton’s touchdown catch ruled incomplete:

“I think he caught it, coming from a quarterback.  Any catch in the endzone looks pretty good, but a call is a call.”

On taking hits:

“It is not good knowing you are going to be hit but it is good knowing that you are actually playing now.  Having guys come after you in practice you get kind of complacent with how you know guys are going by you but in a game you are really focused in and tuned in knowing they can actually hit you.  It was fun getting an opponent to compete against Houston.”

On team’s mentality in remembering Tyrone Duplessis:

“Tyrone was a great player for us and it just shows how much we miss him and what he left behind.  I think it gives our team motivation to play for him just because we know how he was around the field house as a LA Tech football player, and not just a football player but a friend to us and I think it just gives us that extra motivation to play well and we actually have something to do it for.”

On first home game:

“We are really excited.  I think throughout the offseason we have known about the great fan base we have and to finally come back to the Joe and have our great fans support us is exciting.”

On the number of plays run by the offenses:

“When someone asked for the time on the sideline they said it was eleven o’clock or so.  The first quarter was unbelievable.  It was just fun being a part of a game that you kind knew what was going to happen just because of the fast paced offenses and it was just a great feeling to be a part of and to actually come out with a win.”

On the defense’s thoughts on the number of plays

“I think the good thing about the defense is that they have always stepped up to the task and I think it is a new week so they are ready for another challenge.”

 

Craig Johnson

 

On having punt return being called back:

“I have to credit the other ten guys that were on the field with me at that time.  It was a good play.  I did not know it was a block in the back until one of the fans up in the stands said there was a flag so that was tough.”

On the wear and tear of the game:

“It was a lot of exhaustion.  A lot of defensive players were playing.  Houston had a fast offense and so everyone was kind of exhausted the whole game, but we still stuck through making plays and executing our jobs.”

On excitement to play Houston:

“We were real excited because we were ready to play again.  We really wanted to play against Texas A&M and that was canceled so we had a good chance to play against another good top offense so it was real great.”

On finally getting to hit an opponent:

“It was great.  The whole camp they were talking about how our defense was not supposed to be sound from last year losing Jay Dudley, Broha and those guys but we had some people step up and even though we lost Kendrick James at the defensive end position we still had young guys step up and make some plays for us.”

On former linebacker Jay Dudley helping out on the sidelines:

“He was helping us out before the game, during the game, at halftime giving us some pep talk in the locker room to help us out.”

On fiery attitude compared to Quinton Patton on the field:

“I would say Quinton is more of an energetic guy than me, but that is a different person when I am out there on the field.”

On déjà vu from last year’s Houston game:

“Not at all.” 

On Rice’s offense:

“I really cannot answer that question because I have not seen any film on Rice yet.”

On improving tackling from Houston game:

“Do more tackling drills, angle-pursuit drills.”

On punt returns against Houston:

“The punter I could not get a bead on.  I had trouble misjudging the ball.  I will try to work better on that in practice, but he was a good punter up for the Ray Guy Award just like Ryan Allen.  He was a good punter.”

On scenario of returning a punt:

“As it is happening you see a lot going on.  You have to tune the crowd out.  As it is being kicked you just have to watch your wall and figure out what is going on, make a couple of moves and then just head for the goal line like tunnel vision.”

On tuning out the Houston crowd:

“Well with me my whole goal is I love to play away games because I like getting in the crowd’s head.  Me going into the endzone, that was good feeling.   

On Houston’s quick slants:

“They were doing a lot of A-1 motion that our defensive coordinator calls it when the [running] back motions.  And they knew we were playing outside leverage on the number two receiver so they knew that we could not get a real good reroute on him so they would just dump it over the linebacker’s heads.”

On when he knew the game was getting crazy:

“It came to me at the point when I almost [got tackled for] a safety on that punt return.  That is when I felt it.”

 

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