LA Tech Weekly Football Press Conference Transcript: Sept. 19

Sept. 19, 2017

Holtz Audio

B. Scott Audio

Durman Audio

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz spoke with the media Tuesday in advance of the team's road game against South Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 23 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.

Head Coach Skip Holtz

Opening comments:

"Going back to last week, anytime you can find a way to win a game and a conference game on the road and a conference game against the two-time defending champions on the road, it was a good week. I am really proud of this team and what they were able to do. I kept using the analogy last week of how do you make a teenager a young adult. I think we took a little step forward. As I told the team, I think we went from 14 to 15 years old. I don't think we are ready to have the keys to the car yet, but I think we are progressing, maturing and growing up a little bit. This is the third time we have played that game in 365 days. We have played Western Kentucky now three times and you are talking about one of the better teams in the eastern division with what they have done. To know that we have won two of the last three, this was kind of the rubber game. That is kind of how we approached it and I am really proud of the way our team hung in there."

 

On last week's road win over WKU:

"I was really excited about what we were able to do as a defensive football team and I think the secondary is gaining confidence. The elephant in the room a year ago is we said we have to get better at pass defense. Playing a senior quarterback in Mike White, we were challenged and I think we gave up some underneath stuff early, but I thought as the game went on rather than playing more hesitant, they started playing more aggressive."


 

 

"Offensively, I think J'Mar Smith is trying to get out of his own way right now mentally. He has been overthinking everything and wants to play so well and trying to overanalyze everything. I think Tim Rattay has really done a good job of just getting him to go play and let his instincts take over and not overthink everything. He certainly did not play perfect, but I think he has grown and gotten better each and every week as a sophomore quarterback. Jarred Craft continues to play well, as well as those guys up front. At receiver, we started with a lot of names, but with some of the injuries we have had, we've had to move some guys around for week three. Teddy Veal went inside and really answered the call with nine catches and some big catches especially on that last drive. What made that move possible is the continued development of Marlon Watts and Rashid Bonnette."

"I think the key to the game obviously was the fourth quarter. It seemed like we played with much more of a sense of urgency and nobody panicked, nobody flinched. We were losing and rather than everyone getting uptight and upset, everybody just picked up and played with a sense of urgency. If we could play with that sense of urgency for four quarters, we have a chance to be a better football team. That is why we talk about how we are learning so much about our team as we get into the 2017 season."

On the kicking game:

"Jonathan Barnes is not an unknown. He is as clutch of a kicker that I have been around. He is very poised and very confident. Granted, it was an extra point that he had to make at the end of the game, but he never panicked and he is just very comfortable in that moment. We have a new deep snapper in Cameron Linck and I thought he went in there and executed. I thought the whole operation was really a positive thing in the kicking game as we went 3-for-3 with our field goals on Saturday."

On bouncing back from the loss to Mississippi State:

"Coming out of it, it was great to win, but as I say, we had 24 hours to mourn and sulk over the Mississippi State loss and have our pity party with some of the mistakes we made, but then it was time to go to work. I thought the players had a great week of practice. I thought the Mississippi State game was a great lesson for us. I think this team is very proud and they want to be good. They understood some of the mistakes they had to correct and I thought they went out and did it."

On looking ahead to South Carolina:

"Now, we have to see how we are going to respond to success because we have another great challenge in front of us this week playing another Southeastern Conference team, this time on the road. I have spent a lot of time at South Carolina. I spent some wonderful years there coaching with my father and had some great memories, met some great people. I know how rabid that fan base is. I know what that stadium is like with the atmosphere and it is going to be a great environment for our players to have the chance to experience."

"On the field, I think we are going to play a really good football team. When I sit down and look at them offensively, we will play a guy who was a top five passer as a freshman in the Southeastern Conference a year ago in [Jake] Bentley. I think he is a very poised quarterback. He is very comfortable in the pocket and in the spread and throwing the ball, but yet he runs the ball extremely efficient as well. He is a thorn in the side of a lot of defensive coordinators and we are going to get the opportunity to deal with him this week. I think he will be a real challenge and one of the better quarterbacks that we are going to play. They don't turn the ball over very often. They are 14th in the country in takeaways. They have seven takeaways already in three games, which scares me a little bit. We have been really good at giving it away and they are really good at taking it away. That is not a good combination when you are going on the road to face a talented team like South Carolina. On their offensive line, they have four returning starters. They are big up front as you would expect an SEC team to be. They have a really good running back and a good group of receivers as well for Bentley to throw to, even with the unfortunate injury they had this week to one of their star receivers."

"Defensively, I think they do a million different things on defense. They give you a lot of problems. They play four-down, three-down and give you a lot of different looks. They play a lot of different coverages, which will be a challenge for our young receivers and quarterback. They are very big up front, very athletic at linebacker. Their linebacker [T.J.] Brunson is second in the league in tackles and a very active player. Their safeties are really solid with what they do. They don't have a lot of weaknesses. They are a football team that is very solid across the board."

"It is going to be a challenge for us going in to that stadium. It is going to be a challenge, but one I think our players are really excited about now that we can step back out of the conference and get the opportunity to play a Southeastern Conference team. I know our football team is really looking forward to the opportunity this weekend."

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