Louisiana Tech Weekly Press Conference Transcript: Sept. 23


 

 

Sept. 23, 2013

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz and select student-athletes spoke with the media Monday in advance of the team’s game against Army in the Heart of Dallas Classic at the Cotton Bowl on Sept. 28.

Head coach Skip Holtz

Opening Comments:

“Looking at the review of last week, it is hard enough to lose it on Saturday but then having to come in and relive it and watch every play on Sunday is tough. To have to watch it all and grade it all, then watch it with your staff, and then with your team, I have now seen the game about five times. The more you see it, the more frustrating it becomes. It is frustrating in so many areas, but one of the things that makes it hard, is that it is hard to lose because we have made so many strides and we improved in so many areas as a football team from last week to this week. I am really proud of the way this team worked, but the thing that makes it so hard, is that the result is still the same, in losing a football game. I was really proud of the way the football team played.”

“When I talk about improvements, I thought there were an awful lot of things to build on in that football game. I thought this was the best game we have played this year with the offensive line. Some of those moves, and rolling guys that we had played in the past certainly paid off. I thought our defensive line played very well. We talked about one of those keys to giving ourselves a chance to win was controlling the line of scrimmage. I felt like we did that with our offensive and defensive line. I thought they both played really well up front. I thought our third downs offensively were the best we have had all year, almost 47 percent. We had 29 first downs as an offense. I felt like we executed much better than we have the past couple of weeks.”


 

 

“When you look at it defensively, you give up 13 points, 117 yards rushing, you created two turnovers, you had two positive field positions, you had two fourth down stops, there were so many positive things that happened in this game on offense and defense that is frustrating to lose it. I thought our cover teams, especially the punt team, was outstanding. Putting Kansas inside the 10 yard line four different times during that game was fantastic. I thought the cover team had one kick to cover and had a T-20, what we call it, and put them inside the 20 yard line at the 17 yard line. We just had a lot of things to build on and a lot of things that were encouraging.”

“There is not a moral victory, and we certainly were not going up there to just try and play it close. I was proud of the improvements we have made as a football team. We talk about a work in progress, but I was encouraged by the things I saw. Obviously, the elephant in the room is the loss. Three turnovers were our downfall, one down inside the five and then one of them going into the end zone. Things like that cost us 14 points. All of a sudden without changing anything else and it is 24-10, if you can just hold on to the football.”

 

“That is probably the glaring thing in the room. The lack of productivity in the red zone offensively, we got inside the 20 yard line four times and came away with one score. I thought the completion to Hunter Lee in the corner of the end zone was a beautiful play. We had some great individual efforts. To get down there and fumble twice inside the ten and inside the five and then to miss a field goal inside the 20 are things that you cannot do if you want to go win on the road against a Big 12 team. I think those are the glaring things. We gave ourselves a chance to win with a lot of the positive things we did, but we were not able to finish it with some of the mistakes that we made.”

“I give Kansas and awful lot of credit. I know they have been through a hard streak. I know Coach Weis and Coach Tim Grunhard, their offensive line coach, and Ron Powlus, their quarterbacks coach, both are Notre Dame grads. They have done a good job keeping that team together through some hard times. It is just unfortunate it had to end against us with a couple fumbles and a 52 yard field goal with no time on the clock.”

“I talked about some guys that really played well for us. On the offensive line, I am really proud of the way those guys played. We rolled seven or eight guys constantly in that game. Most of the offensive lineman played 35-40 plays a piece, rather than a bunch of guys playing 70 plays. I think that competition and that rest, I think both really helped these guys come together as an offensive line and I thought they did a great job.”

“The running backs, obviously Kenneth Dixon is back. He is full speed. He ran incredibly hard, and it is a shame because nobody feels worse about that fumble, but it is still not something we can tolerate. The same thing I would say about Ryan Higgins. I thought he went in there, he competed. For a freshman to get his first start at Kansas. I thought he went in there, he showed poise, I thought he made good decisions. He threw the ball well and did a lot of good things. He added some plays with his feet. It is the same things. It is unfortunate but you have got to hold on to the football. There is nothing more important than that ball. In a situation like that, we have got to put two hands on it. With time running down and with Ryan Higgins, put that ball in the outside arm and it is still our ball.”

 

“We have never taught a player to reach. We have never taught a player to put the ball out inside the pylon. I have said it before, the ball is just too important. The negatives the can happen when you take it away from your body are not worth the positive things. I would like to get four more downs from the one to see if we can get it in, rather than hold that ball out. It is unfortunate because I thought those two guys played two of the best games for us as an offense. It is just unfortunate that they were the two that made the mistakes down in the end turning the ball over. For the wide receivers it is the same thing. We played a lot of guys. A lot of guys rolled.  A lot of guys caught passes. I thought we played steady but have to create more big plays in the passing game with our wide receivers.”

“On the defensive side of the ball, I think those six or seven guys up front played a really good game for us up front. I think Daniel Cobb is as active as ever. I think he had eight or 10 tackles in this game. I think that is a couple games in a row he has hit the double digit mark. He is very active. I think they tried to do a little bit more running the ball. I think we have to get a little more disciplined in the things we are doing at the linebacker position with our eye control, and making sure we are finishing our gaps. I thought Daniel was extremely active. I thought both feet did a really nice job. He went in there and played a significant amount of plays and did a good job. I though Adairius Barnes and Le’Vander Liggins continued to grow up. They get better and better every week. The better that they get, the more comfortable that they get the more we can be aggressive as a defensive football team. I thought at the safety position Grogan played well. I think Thomas McDonald show up. For a guy to step in there and make the interception that he did. He is a guy that we probably need to get a couple more plays to.”

“Overall I thought we had some guys that played really well. If you could change a play, you know what, it is a different outcome. Unfortunately we cannot. What you have to do is learn from it and sometimes it feels like somebody threw a spear through your chest when you lose a game like that. I know a lot of the players hurt. I know that they have worked extremely hard to win. As we have talked about it, we are 1/3 of the way through the season. We have 2/3 left, and if we can learn from some of the lessons and some of the mistakes we have made, then we have the chance to have a very successful and productive year, even with this start at 1-3.”

“We do not have time to feel sorry for ourselves, or have the pity party. It is time to pick yourself back up, roll your sleeves back up and get competitive. As I told them, if you do not like where you are, let’s change it. If we do not like the results we are getting then let’s change it. Let’s do something about it. Let’s get in here, watch film, correct some of the mistakes we made last week, and let’s improve as a football team.”

 

“We have Army this week. I will say a couple things about this game. I love having the opportunity to play in the Cotton Bowl. I have had the opportunity to be there a couple times with all the great history in the cotton bowl and the tradition that is there. With the state fair weekend and the circus that goes around it, I am excited to be able to play there. Also for the fan base that we have there in Dallas, that makes the four to five hour drive from Dallas five to six times every year. We are going to have an opportunity to go to them. We get the opportunity to play in their backyard. Obviously with the wealth of talent that is in Dallas and the recruiting that we do in Dallas. This is a huge asset for us to have the opportunity to go over there for our fan base to go over there and for a lot of recruits in the Dallas area. We are excited about that.”

“Looking at the game itself, Army poses a lot of challenges for you. Everyone knows that with the service academies comes the triple option. Defensively you have to play very vanilla. You have to play assignment football, and the way you learn to play it is to have your scout team run their offense and you don’t play with a football. Somebody has to tackle the dive, somebody has to tackle the quarterback, and somebody has to tackle the pitch on every play. It is not following the ball, and running to the ball.”

 

“It goes against everything that you teach defensively. You have to play assignment oriented football. Santiago there quarterback is the one that makes it go. He does a great job. He is very talented with the offense that they run. I think he does a great job. They have a good running back. Their top two running backs did not play last week. I do not know if they will be back for our game or not. The third tailback goes in and rushes for 125 yards against Wake Forest last week. They are a top 10 rushing offense. They are going to rush for 300 yards a game. I do not want to say you know you are giving that up going into it but they are going to pound the rock and with all the different blocking schemes and as well as Coach Ellerson knows this offense, I think it is just a matter of time before they hit one. They are eventually going to split a seam and we just have to play great assignment sound football as we get into this game.”

“Defensively, their nose guard, #98, is a player. He is big, he is physical and under center most of the time, kind of like what we saw last week. Their free safety is very active. Outside of those two they play about three deep. They roll numbers and you are not going to out tempo this group. You are not going to out condition this group. You are not going to wear them out. They run a lot of people at you and run a play a lot of different people.”

“One of the things that they give you problems with is that you never know where they are. You look at them every week, and they go from play action in a split six, to a 4-3 to a double eagle. They give you an awful lot of different looks. I think they really make you simplify as an offense. It will be a great challenge for us but I think as a football team we will respond off the loss last week. I hope it hurts bad enough that we are willing to make some changes and we are willing to do some things we have to do to be the type of football team we want to be.  We are looking forward to the opportunity this weekend.”

 

On the kicking situation:

“Kyle (Fischer) started out really strong. We talked about it being a neck and neck horse race going through camp. Kyle edged him (Jonathan Barnes) out there in the last week so he got the nod early. He did not kick very well last week and started out in the first half 0-2. I do not know what the problems were whether it is the hold or the mindset. We changed holders in the third quarter and he put it through the upright. The reason that I am very hesitant to make the change at this point is because if Kyle Fischer was going to be our field goal kicker, than I was going to redshirt Jonathan Barnes. If it gets to the point where Kyle cannot be productive enough for us to win football games then we are going to have to make a change.”

 

On whether he expected the offense to take this big a step forward from Tulane to Kansas:

“You know, it felt like we did. I was really excited about the week of practice. I know Coach Petersen was really excited. Coach Rattay and Coach Sloan talked about it. I think all the coaches were really excited. I think Ryan brought a great energy, brought an enthusiasm, and brought a sense of urgency to the table along with his talents. Thursday was the best practice we had the entire season. As coaches it makes you feel better when you go out there on Thursday and only had to repeat one play, one time. Everybody was in it, the offensive line, the quarterback, the way we were throwing and catching it. If we were going to play how we practiced, we felt like we really had the opportunity to play well as an offense and it proved to be true. Ryan did a nice job, he brought a lot to the table but sometimes when you have a young quarterback that has to step in, all the offensive lineman say, we have to pick it up.  We talk about if somebody were to get hurt you cannot ask one guy to pick up all that productivity. Everybody has to pick up about 10 percent of it. If everybody picks up ten percent of it that is how we are going to carry it. That is the approach we took and the mindset that we had. I thought everyone rallied around Ryan being a freshman quarterback, being on that scene and embraced it and I thought he did a really nice job.”

 

On if Ryan Higgins locked down the starting job or with Scotty coming back, if there be a battle:

“We are going to have to look at it this week, but certainly Ryan has put himself in there. Scotty is coming back off his rib injury. Was able to play and practice a little bit on Tuesday and just a little bit more on Wednesday, but we just felt like Ryan had a good week and we needed to go with him. There was no reason to risk that. We will look at that this week and we will make that decision. Right now, Ryan has definitely put himself in the ball game and put himself in that driver’s seat with the way that he played last week.”

 

On when the starting quarterback decision will be made:

“I would like to know more on Tuesday. I would like to know Tuesday as we go out to the field what we are going to do. Even I try to say quarterback is like every other, but it is not. It is a leadership position. You would like to have the guy that is taking the bulk of the game reps, as the guy that is taking the bulk of your reps at practice. The guy that is running with the ones and building that chemistry with what you are trying to do.”

 

On when he made the decision to start Ryan Higgins:

“Early in the week, I said he was probable, because I felt like by Saturday he is going to be good. However, with Ryan taking a bulk of the reps, Scotty was cleared to play Saturday. If something had happened, Scotty could have gone in. But with Ryan getting the bulk of the work during the week because of Scotty’s injury early, Ryan responded well and did some good things in practice and that is why we made the decision we did.”

 

On how much of a factor Higgins’ turnovers will play a role in his decision to start him vs. Army:

“I think it is hard to put the interception on Ryan when he throws the ball and it hits the receiver in the sternum and bounces up in the air and then gets picked off. I think it is hard to put that on the quarterback. The same thing happened a week ago out here against Tulane. When he drops back, gets to his third step and gets hit in the ear hole and fumbles. I think those are hard turnovers to put on the quarterback. I think he has done a nice job throwing the ball and the first turnover this fall that I am giving to him is the one he had the fumble on. The others are breakdowns either in protection and routes or someone dropping a pass. But this is the dilemma that we have right now. Ryan is bringing an awful lot to the table as a young energetic emotional quarterback, but the turnovers are why we went with Scotty from the very beginning. Scotty does a great job protecting the ball. If we can get Ryan to eliminate turnovers, or if we can get Scotty to continue to progress and develop as a leader, than I think it is going to be a heck of a battle and we are going to have two to choose from.”

 

On how he handles the emotional ups and downs dealing with players:

“We talked about it last night. We have a victors club, and you have to play at a certain level and grade a certain way to get into the victors club. We also have a rule that if you have a turnover that you cannot get in it. Kenneth and Ryan played two great games for us but they turned the ball over. It does not matter how well you played, if you turn the ball over, it is well known that that is the most important statistic when it comes to winning and losing football games. We have to coach it, eliminate it, and do whatever we can to eliminate it. Those two feel worse than anyone else about those two turnovers. It remains the fact that we cannot turn the ball over and win. I would rather them run with two hands on the ball and gain four yards and fall down, than I would have them run for 15 and turn it over at the end of the run. I think you have to praise them for what they did, you certainly cannot ignore that. I told both of them that they did not cost us the game, but they both had an opportunity to win it.”

 

On what the discussion was before Kenneth Dixon’s last fumble:

“Well the guy I was worried about was the freshman quarterback. I went over and talked to him. I went over to him and said at minimum we have three points on the board. If the pass is not there, throw it in the back of the end zone, throw it away, we have a field goal. We took the approach that the three points were on the board. I did not say that to the tailback. I did grab the quarterback and cover all of those scenarios because you do not know. Maybe you are going to run the ball or throw a screen and something breaks down, just throw it in the second row. It does not need to be six. Whether or not coach Juluke said that to Kenneth, I cannot answer that.”

 

On how he is imitating the Army triple option with the scout team:

“I definitely think we have a scout team quarterback when you look at Michael Mims and Paul Turner. Both from West Monroe that are out on that scout team right now. I think both of those guys can do a great job simulating the quarterback.”

 

On why the offensive line improved so much from one week to the other:

“Well, I think Vince Cano played a lot better. We had all the pre-snap penalties and we have tried a number of different things from quarterback calling the cadence, to the guard tapping the center to get the cadence to the center calling the cadence. We are doing whatever we can. Cano was a defensive lineman a year ago, and now he is your starting center.”

“We are trying to work out some of these bugs and find out what they feel most comfortable doing. We did some things that Cano was very comfortable with and put some of the cadence in his hands and I thought he responded and played very well. We probably challenged him more than anything.”

“I know Matthew Shepperd, Cano, and (Jeremy) Graffree are guys that have not been getting a winner or getting in our victors club, but they are all seniors and competitive. We moved Mitchell Bell up to start instead of Graffree and Jeremy responded with 40 plays in the game with his best performance so far this year. Same thing happened with Jens Danielsen at the left tackle. By playing Darrell Brown an awful lot, Jens Danielsen turned in his best game of the year. I think it was a combination of some of the moves, some of the competition and some of the competitive nature of the offensive line. It is a proud group and they want to be good.”

 

On calling the pre-snap cadence with the offensive line:

“We did it earlier as well. We did it earlier, but there are also problems with that without getting into all the details of it, but there are some problems with the snapper calling it. When we went to a freshman quarterback, we thought we ought to put a little bit more pressure on a senior offensive lineman rather than the freshman quarterback. We have tried to look at a couple different things, but we started it that way and in the opening game of the year we did it that way and still had five penalties. I think everyone is starting to get a little bit more comfortable. If we went out at practice and jumped offsides 10 times and then did it in the games five times, I understand that. When you do not jump offsides the whole week of practice and then go do it on Saturday, that is why, as a coach, you talk about some of the youth and inexperience and getting wide-eyed on game day.”

“It has been great to get these four games under our belt and hopefully everyone is settling down a little bit and understands to go execute on game day rather than trying to do something special.”

 

On putting pressure on Vince Cano to be a leader on the offensive line:

“We put pressure on the entire offensive line because they did not play very well the first three games of the year. I thought they played okay at Lamar, but this was far and away their best game of the year. We have kind of lit a fire under all of them about if we want to get where we want to be and be as productive as we need to be as an offense, we have to have an offensive line to be able to do it. We challenge all of them: Cano, Sheppard, Graffree, Bell, Tre Carter, Larry Banks. We challenged all of them this week and they really responded.”

 

On Kansas’ defensive coverage:

“We went in and said we were going to make them spread out and cover us down. That is where so many of the bubble throws came from. I lot of it was a read, so when they were loading the box, we were throwing bubbles, and when they went out and covered them, we handed the ball off. We felt like if we could get a running game going, that is where we would challenge the offensive line and Kenneth Dixon to get past the first wave of defense. I thought they did a great job with it. It was designed, but it was not as much of a call as it was a read.”

 

On red zone numbers:

“At this point in the year, I would say at least 25-30 percent trips have been turnovers or missed field goals. That is where you get to 103rd [offensively]. We turned the ball over at NC State, twice we have turned it over here and we have missed I think two field goals in the red zone. Those are our biggest red zone woes right now. If those numbers changed and we hold onto the ball, I don’t think we are talking about this now.”

 

On the frustration with out-playing teams yet still losing:

“It is probably a little bit of a mix of everything. We have to keep coaching against it, talking about it and watching film on everything. We have to get there. There are some areas we have improved as a football team, but certainly putting points on the board has not been our forte this year.”

 

On Kim Dameron’s work with the defense on fourth down situations:

“We had two fourth down stops and I think one of the things I think Kim has done a great job with the defense is being able to do so many different things; being able to play zone or man and we have been much more aggressive after the opening game at NC State. We started disguising things much more so people were not able to read when we were in zone and when we were in man. I think the defense has done a great job of grasping a new system. Some guys have really developed. We have talked about Daniel Cobb, Mitch Villemez and Beau Fitte and the way they have come along. We have talked about (Kentrell) Brice, (Lloyd) Grogan, (Thomas) McDonald and (Terrell) Pinson at safety and the way they have come along. The two young corners have matured. I think it is a combination of what he has done schematically to give them an opportunity or a chance, but I also think it is the way they have developed and grown as individuals to make our defense much better.

 

“As far as the fourth down stops, they went for it twice and were stopped both times. You talk about the strength of this defense and it is the four linemen. You start looking at the weight of Jelly (Justin Ellis) inside and the way IK (Enemkpali) is playing right now with rushing the quarterback; he has just been a force. I think when they made the decision to run it twice, that is kind of playing into our strength as a football team. I am glad they did that and did not throw it because we are better against the run than we are against the pass. I thought we had one of our better defensive performances Saturday.”

 

On if it makes him feel better that the team’s strength is defending the run vs. Army:

“No, it does not because of the way they run it. It is not about running to the ball. It is not about hunting in packs. It is not about just plugging a gap. It is about tackling the dive, the quarterback and the pitch and they make you play from sideline to sideline. They do not allow you to hunt in packs. They do not allow a Jelly (Justin Ellis), an IK to converge on the dive or where the ball is going. From that standpoint, that is what is scary because as soon as you put two people on one guy, they spit it out and all of a sudden they are running around the edge.”

“I think whatever you do, you have to be simple with it because every defense you put in you have to stop the dive, pitch, hand sweep and counter play, so every defense has to make sure they see all the plays against it. You really do not go into this one complicated. You go into it very simple, whether that is covering the gaps and playing the four-down or playing with three-down and giving everyone responsibilities. You are limited because you cannot blitz it. There are a lot of things you cannot do to it because they are going to have a lot of answers for everything you are going to do. Coach Ellerson has been running this offense for a long time and he knows it really well, so we have to make sure we are simple enough to go out and execute it.”

 

On how the team is handling the loss going into its final non-conference game:

“It is [a turning point game]. That is one of the reasons I like to meet with them Sundays because whether you win or lose, you are able to put it to bed and move on to the next week. Today is the players’ day off. It is an academic day for them on Monday. We have a lot of tests coming up this week. This week in the quarter system is a heavy test week for a lot of our players. Academically, I told them to kind of get away from here for the day, get your feet on the ground, put some time into it and come back Tuesday ready to go. That is one of the things I like about Sunday night is being able to watch film, put it to bed, let them see their mistakes and now it is all Army as we go forward.”

“It is conference coming up, which we are excited about. We talked about last night that after this game we have seven conference games left, and I think we are all excited to get to that point. When you look at all these non-conference games, that is really the thing they are giving you a chance to do is gain experience as you get ready for conference play. I would have loved to switch Tulane and Kansas. I like to play all non-conference first and let the young guys make mistakes, get in there and see where we are going to be strong and what we are going to need to hide going forward. I am really excited to get into conference play after this week, but right now we have to focus on Army and what we are going to do with them.”

 

Linebacker Daniel Cobb

On feeling better and better about his performance:

“It makes me feel good, but then again it would not be possible with IK [Enemkpali], Jelly [Justin Ellis], Shaq [Shakeil Lucas], [Vontarrius] Dora, Chuck [Kendrick James], [Malcolm] Pichon, all of those guys up front moving the offensive line and making it easy on me.  I give all the credit to them.  I tell them that every day and coach Dameron with his play calling and coach Koonz is a great coach so it is not just me.”

 

On comparing LA Tech’s d-line to others:

“This is the best d-line I have ever played behind to be honest.  Some of those guys up front they can do everything.  Big Jelly [Justin Ellis] at 300-plus pounds with the way he runs.  IK [Enemkpali] is the strongest defensive lineman I have ever been around.  He throws 300-pound tackles and then goes to make the sack.  That is crazy.  He reminds me of Von Miller actually.  Playing against Von Miller and seeing him in person, IK and him are the same person in my eyes.”

 

On playing Army’s triple option offense:

“When I first got into college, the two teams I said I would never want to play, not because I was afraid of them or it would be hard, are Navy and Army.  That is because of their offenses that they run.  The whole game is smash mouth football.  If you mess up one time, one little crease, they can go to the house.  It is difficult, but I think our coaches are going to get us ready and we will be ready for them.”

 

On how much Army’s offense tests discipline:

“The whole game, from the first snap to the end, it will test discipline.  I have a lot of respect for those guys with what they do.  It is not just about football.  They are going to get their dates and assignments after they graduate to go serve our country so I know they are tough.  Football is like a break for them.  They go out onto the field, they go out into the woods for a week during school and then they get to come take a break and play football.  They love it.  They are going to fight the whole game.  We are going to have to be very disciplined.”

 

On being from a military break ground:

“My dad was in the army for 25 years.  All of my uncles were in the army so I moved around a lot as a child.  I remember waking up as a little kid and going to run and do PT with my dad and the troops.  I wanted to go out and go to camp with them and stay out in the woods and train.  I know a lot about army.  I know the discipline and how they fight.  They are trained to never give up every day, 24-7.  It is just not in them to stop.  Even if they are down by 50 points, they are going to keep fighting and running their offense to a tee.  We will have to be prepared and disciplined.”

 

On what it means for him to play Army: 

“I respect army.  Most games there is usually a little trash talk every now and then, but I do not think I can trash talk army.  I respect them that much.  It is an honor for me to play them because I know it is not about football.  After, they have to go serve their terms and they are going to be fighting for our country.”

 

On if this game suits the defense:

“I think it is going to play to our advantage, but at the same time the way they run the ball is not like every other team.  It is tricky.  They arc tight ends, pull tight ends.  They let people free and then make us make a decision on the quarterback and [running] back.  If you make the wrong decision there is a crease there.  It is going to play to our advantage if we are disciplined.  If not, they can crease us all day.”

 

On if the Cobb family will be in attendance:

“My dad and uncles are going to be there and my mom.  It should be a good turnout.  I am excited.”

On if the Cobb family will wear Army or LA Tech gear:

“LA Tech, of course.”

 

Wide receiver Hunter Lee

On the move from H receiver to Y receiver:

“It has been a lot more physical.  At Y, they teamed me with Jon Greenwalt.  It is typically more of the bigger guys, the ones that can go in and block the defensive ends or the middle linebackers.  That usually is not the most fun thing to do, but it is a challenge.  I have enjoyed it and it is just another spot to work at and get better.”

 

On how the offense has changed with the quarterback change:

“Really, I have not seen too much of a difference.  We are learning the same plays, same offense.  It is really just different guys getting the ball out.  Honestly, I have seen the same team moral.  Not to take anything away from both of them, they both play good football games, but we just have little things to work on and correct those.  Then I think we will be a force to be reckoned with on offense.”

 

On his touchdown catch at Kansas:

“I definitely expected myself to make that play. A buddy I live with was telling me that somebody had tweeted – some sports writer – that I had the wingspan of a small hamster. [laughter] I guess so! But I was very lucky to make the play and I sure got excited.

Question: If it was a guinea pig do you think you would have made the catch?

“Oh, absolutely.”

 

On what it means to play a game at the Cotton Bowl being from the Metroplex:

“It is awesome.  As a kid, I always went to the Cotton Bowl.  I have seen Arkansas play there and Oklahoma.  It is a great stadium and a great atmosphere.  Whenever you get to go to your hometown to get to play football again it is pretty exciting.  I will be sure to have some fans at that game.”

 

On if he has enough tickets:

“Hopefully.  It looks like Daniel Cobb is trying to take them all.”

 

On what the coaches have done to try to get him more involved:

“We have different packages.  We see the three-back sets so we are able to do many variations out of that.  We can run the ball.  We are starting to run more screens, dishing the ball out to more guys.  Really that is about it.”

 

On what is was like to see Trent Taylor have a long reception:

“It really excites me just to see the talent that he has and what he can become.  That really makes me look forward to the future of Tech when looking at the now.  He can contribute any way he can.” 

 

On stopping the redzone deficiencies:

“I really think a lot of it is just really focusing on ball security.  Those turnovers, most of them are because of fumbles.  I really think just being cautious of being loose with the ball when we get to the redzone will help.  We just really have to fine-tune some things.  We left a lot of points up on the board and if we correct those we will be good to go.”

 

On having the work ethic of a smaller football player:

“I get it all the time.  I have gotten from so many people that I look like I am in the band.  People mistake me for being in the band.  I do not expect any more really.  I think we just have a chip on our shoulder.  Gilly [Andrew Guillot] was a walk-on, I was a walk-on and Jon [Greenwalt] came from a JUCO.  I feel like we all have an understanding that we just have to do as much as we can, if not all, just go above and beyond to make plays and be the best receivers we can be.”

 

On relishing the underdog role:

“I would say so.  I know I can speak for myself I can expect a lot out of myself.  I expect to make big plays, to make two or three people miss every time I get the ball.  I feel that for the most part.”

 

On if you feel like the team has not really been beaten yet:

“Last week, we had a great week of practice.  Guys really bounced back.  Leaders are stepping up and being vocal.  I feel like that is going to be the same thing this week.  We know the season is not over.  I am sure a lot of people have compared it to the 2011 season, and we have to do just that.  The defense has been stepping up, playing well.  Offensively, we have a lot of things to work on and I can promise you this, we are going to come to practice and give everything we have got.  We are going to work and bounce back from this.”

 

On being on the 2011 team and knowing this season is not over yet:

“Having that, I think is big.  For these young guys, they have not experienced something like that.  Young guys look up to older ones that still know that we can do this.  We can still win conference.  We can still go to a bowl game.  I think it is big.  It keeps us from that snowballing effect and just doing worse and worse.  I think we need to just group up together and look up to those older guys.  Just stick together through this time and we will be good.”

 

On if he considers himself one of the older guys:

“I do.  It is weird to think of.  I do not feel like I have been here for that long, but I expect myself to bring the younger guys along with me to help them get better.  If somebody is out of line, I will straighten them up.  So I consider myself an older guy as weird as it feels.”   

 

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