Louisiana Tech Press Conference Transcript: Sept. 24


 

 

Sept. 24, 2012

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

Head coach Sonny Dykes

Opening Comments:

“I will do my weekly players of the week here real quick and then we will move on. Offensively, Colby Cameron was the offensive player of the week. The defensive player of the week was Solomon Randle. Our special teams player was Antonio Mitchum. The offensive scout player was Johnny Ginart; Defensive scout was Kendrick James; Special teams scout player was Brandon Adams. And then, we will announce our weekly captain tonight when we talk to our team.”

“It was good to go on the road and get a win. We have been a pretty good road team. We have made ourselves a good road team I think in the last year, year and a half. Our guys enjoy going on the road and we look forward to the challenge and seeing something new and a new place and all that.”

“Our players do not really get intimidated, so that is good. They see it more as a challenge and they are excited about playing, so I think that is a positive.”

“I thought we got out to a bad start this week against Illinois. I thought we were a little sloppy early in the game offensively. We made some bad checks. We did not really execute as well as we had been. Defensively, they drove it on us. We got a turnover.”

“And the same thing, we kind of got off to a slow start. We gave up a touchdown and it was the first time all year we have been behind in a game. I was really proud of our players for not panicking. They just kept on doing what they were doing and kept on keeping on.”


 

 

“I thought we really played well offensively after that. We played good defense as well. We went into halftime at 21-17 and I think it was really important for us to take that opening drive down and score.”

“Quinton (Patton) and Colby (Cameron) made a heck of a play and got I think a 78-yard touchdown, and that allowed us to pull away a little bit.”

“I was really proud of the way we played defensively. I thought that was certainly the best game we have played this year. I thought our guys were more physical than we had been. I thought we tackled better. We still missed some tackles.”

“We still have to get that cleaned up, but I thought we were very physical. I thought we ran to the ball well, and I think anytime you get six turnovers, that means guys are running to the football and playing physical. I was really proud of the way our guys played in that regard.”

“But like I said, it was a good win. We were not probably as sharp as we had been offensively. Illinois probably had a little bit to do with that. I thought their defensive front was really impressive. Their guys were tough, physical, athletic and ran around well. They got off blocks, so our run game maybe was not as good as it had been.”

“I really thought Colby (Cameron) played well and Quinton (Patton) played well. I thought we got the ball down the field and we needed to do that probably more than we had in the past.”

“It was good to see a lot of different players score. Myles White had a nice touchdown on a screen play. D.J. Banks made a nice play on a play action. It was good to see those guys score and make some plays. They are certainly capable of doing it.”

“We have to continue to get better and better. As we play against better competition, we have to continue to make sure we improve and raise our level of play. I thought we did that for the most part Saturday.”

 

On Tevin King’s injury:

“It is one of those things that honestly, we do not know. We will not know until we get an MRI really. Everybody kind of has an opinion this way or that way, and there are some varying opinions, so we will just kind of see how it comes down. It is not really fair to speculate on it honestly.”

“But it is like anything, he obviously has some type of injury and we will work through it and see where we are. Somebody else will have to step up, and that is just the way this game is played.”

“Everybody goes through injuries. There are going to be injuries this year to players, and you hate it for the players and you hate it for our team. But, it is an opportunity for somebody else to make an impact on our program.”

“We will just see. We will know more probably this afternoon. As soon as we know something definitive, we are not going to not tell anybody. If we know he is hurt, we will tell you. We are not trying to hide anything, I promise.”    

 

On defense against Illinois:

“I was really proud of them. So much of college football is about matchups and we talked a little bit about that last week in the press conference. Certain teams match up well with other teams. It has a lot to do with what they are trying to do offensively and what your strengths are and what their strengths are.”

“Illinois was a team that wanted to run the ball. I still feel good about our defensive front. Those guys are good players, and I thought we had done some good things in the first couple of ballgames. We just had not been as consistent as we needed to be. I thought they were much more consistent Saturday.”

“I think we challenged them on the back end. I think we were a little more physical with our re-routes, both at linebacker and across the back end.”

“I think we just executed our defenses a little better than we had in the past. I think a big part of that had to do with us playing two in the past couple of weeks that are really good on offense and they were going fast, and that really created some issues for us defensively like it does for everybody.”

“This was a different style of offense, so it was good to see them play well. I think they are going to gain some confidence from that and we are going to continue to need to improve and continue to play well. That is going to be important for us to keep getting better and better.”

 

On Virginia’s offense:

“I think when you look at tape, that is the one thing that people have done against them is try to make them throw the football. They have done it at times. They have probably not been as consistent as they want to be in the passing game, but they dropped a couple of passes against TCU that would have been big plays.”

“The capability is there. Both of the quarterbacks have good arms. They can throw the ball. They have fast receivers that have good size.”

“They just have not gotten on track yet. We just have to make sure they do not get on track against us because they are capable of being a very good offensive football team. They are big up front. They have two really good backs, and like I said, a lot of good wide receivers, so it is going to be a big challenge for us.”

“I think we want to make them [throw the football]. They are going to try to come at us I am sure and run over us. They are big and physical up front and we are going to need to be able to hold up in the run game. If we can, I think like anything else, they will throw the ball.”

“That is probably the part of their offense that is not playing as well as they would like for it to. We need to force them to throw. That means we are stopping the run.”

 

On road atmosphere:

“I think that is one thing we have done a pretty good job of is not getting too caught up in too much of that. We just see it as us going to play a football game and playing against a good team, a team that we are going to need to play well against. I do not know that the environment or atmosphere has made big of a difference.”

“I think when you play in the WAC and you are going to play the money games like we do every year, typically we are going to go where we pay a lot of money and where they pay a lot of money is where they have big crowds. All that stuff works together.”

“I think our guys are excited to go do that. We are going to play in some stadiums probably in front of 1,500, so you have to be a player that does not get caught up in that. You have to play the same whether it is 110,000 people or 1,500 people.”

“Again, I think that is the sign of a mature football team when guys that can adapt to both those situations. I am sure that will be an issue on Saturday. We are going to need to play well and not need to worry about anything but doing our job when the ball is snapped and playing as well as we are capable of playing.”

 

On trailing against Illinois/maturity coming back:

“Yeah, a little bit. It has been a weird year. We have not trailed much. I do not know how many minutes this year we have trailed. It is probably four minutes in the game I am guessing in three ball games total.”

“We are going to be behind in some games at some point and I was proud of the way we answered the call on Saturday. We are going to need to be able to do the same thing during the course of the season and especially this Saturday because this will be a very hungry football team we are playing against.”

“I am sure they feel like they did not play as well as they could have against TCU. They missed some opportunities. I am sure they will be ready to play us.”

 

On Tech’s pass rush:

“Yeah, we thought we could be good. IK (Enemkpali) is a good pass rusher and we had problems offensively dealing with him all spring and during fall camp as well. He is a good pass rusher.”

“Losing Kendrick (James) kind of set us back a little bit. Vontarrius (Dora) has really come in and done a good job for us and Kevin Kisseberth has really done well at the other defensive end spot. He has been a guy that has shown up consistently and is really playing hard and making a lot of plays for us.”

“That has been a good group. We can get push at the tackle spot, which always helps when you have a guy like IK (Enemkpali) that can beat people with speed.”

“You have to step up a little bit and then your tackles have to get push as well, so it was good to see Jon’al (White) get in the backfield some and Justin (Ellis) getting back there and Shakeil (Lucas) getting back there.”

“We felt coming into the year that our defensive line was going to be a strength, and it seems like those guys are doing well now.”

 

On Virginia’s defense on film and against Georgia Tech:

“Not much [film watched] just because Georgia Tech is so differently offensively than what we are. That triple option is such a different animal. That tape does not really do us a lot of good. You watch it just to look at their players. It is more of an evaluation of their athletes and players than it is their schemes just because it is going to be so different for that than it is for us.”

“Georgia Tech made some big plays. That is the thing that they did is they got some one-on-one matchups and made some plays. That option offense is tough to defend. I hate preparing for that and playing against it just because it is so different and you do not see that very often.”

“Virginia I am sure did not feel like they played a great game. But like I said, we are not going to be able to gain much from watching that.”

 

On Tech’s speed on offense:

“We have some guys that can run and they are fresh. We really work hard to keep our guys fresh. I think that is the thing. When we get there Saturday, we want them to run full speed, so we practice accordingly and try to get our guys to the game with fresh legs so they can go out and play at a fast tempo and play fast when the ball is snapped.”

“That is the key for our offense. I really think that is so important for offensive football in general. Having speed puts pressure on the defense.  Quinton Patton obviously runs well and Myles (White) and D.J. (Banks) run well. We have a lot of guys that can make some big plays.”

“We are probably going to get Jacarri Jackson back this week. We are excited about getting him back and getting him in the mix. That gives us four or five guys that run pretty well. We are going to need it.

“That is the thing. This is going to be a tough defense to grind it out against because they are big up front and physical. They try to take away your run game and make you throw it and become one-dimensional.”

 

On Jacarri Jackson’s (WR) return and meshing offensively:

“You have to be careful of that. That is something you always have to balance a little bit and we will see where he is.”

“He is going to be rough around the edges just having not played in a while. He is going to need to get on the same page with Colby (Cameron). He has been out there in non-contact a little bit, but he will get thrown to the fire a little bit more. I am anxious to see how he does and how quickly he can start to help our team because he is certainly a weapon if we can get him back healthy and get him playing at a high level.”

 

On fewer penalties against Illinois:

“It was certainly better. It is a little bit like I said after the first two weeks.  Style of play has so much to do with penalties. We only ran 59 snaps on offense the other day, so we did not get the ball a ton. The game was not as fast. There were not as many plays.”

“What happens too when people are going fast is fatigue sets in a little bit as well. That is when you get penalties a lot of times is when your players are tired. They reach out and grab the facemask or they are worn out a little bit and have a tendency to jump offsides and do things like that.”

“Part of the reduction of penalties I am hoping was because of something we have emphasized and gotten better at, but I think a lot of it has to do with the style of play and how the game was played on Saturday.”

“I anticipate this game being a similar style. I think Virginia will try to slow it down. They are going to huddle. When they play that way, it puts a lot of pressure on you offensively because you have to make the most of your possessions.”

“I am sure they will try to keep the ball away from us. It will be important for us to execute and move the football. We will not get as many possessions as we have gotten in some of these games probably. But, we are going to need to be better with the ball when we have it.”

 

On room for improvement on offense:

“We were sloppy Saturday. It was really kind of a sloppy football game. We had three turnovers and did not do a particularly good job on third down. Part of that is we had a lot of third and longs. We have to do a better job of getting in third and manageable situations. We have stayed out of a lot of third and longs just because we have run the ball so well, and we did not run the ball as well as we need to on Saturday. We are going to need to run it better this week and get ourselves in manageable situations.”

 

On fewer offensive plays against Illinois:

“I think we only ran three plays in the second quarter if I am not mistaken. Sometimes that happens in games. You thing we wanted to do defensively is not give up big plays and make them drive it.”

“Illinois did a good job converting some third downs early in the game. I thought they had a good game plan. They tried to attack us underneath a little bit in coverage and get the ball to some of their backs on some crossing routes.”

“I thought Tommy (Spangler) and the defensive staff and the players did a good job adjusting. We were not able to do that as much as the game progressed.”

“I think that is something too that makes a big difference is when you score some points, I think it gets people out of their game plan a little bit. Once we got ahead of Illinois a little bit, they had to change really what they wanted to do against us. That helps you defensively when they are doing something they really do not want to do.”

“But, we have to play better than we did. It was a good game. The thing that we did was we created all those turnovers, which I thought was big. The difference in the ballgame really was the turnovers I thought. We have to be a little sharper than we were.”

 

On turnover margin (+21) in last 10 regular season games:

“We have always tried to emphasize taking care of the football on offense. That comes with having some guys that have played a lot and having experience makes a difference with not turning the ball over.”

“Colby (Cameron) has not thrown a pick all year. I think that is one thing he does a fantastic job of doing is not forcing balls. He always done that and I think that has been one of his strengths is taking care of the ball.”

“That is a huge thing in college football. When you are getting extra possessions because you are getting turnovers, it gives you extra opportunities to score, good field position and everything that goes along with that.”

“We put our defense in a couple of binds the other day. I thought the biggest play in the game probably was right after we fumbled that punt, our defense stopped them right there. I think it was on the 10-yard line. Illinois got a chance to really get back in the game and we held them to a field goal. I really feel like that was as big of a series as there was.”

“We turned the ball over early in the game and they had it at about the 15-yard line going in and they scored, but we just cannot do that and put our defense in those type of situations.”

 

On Virginia being conservative on defense in past games:

“I do not think so. A lot of it goes back to what we talked about earlier in style of play. They had been playing games against Penn State where it was kind of a slow-paced game in Richmond and Georgia Tech was huddling.”

“They just have not played that many snaps and played against offenses that do a good job of taking care of the ball. I think that had a lot to do with it more than anything else honestly.”

“When you play the style of play we do and the style Houston and Rice does, there are going to be turnovers in those type of games normally just because there are a lot of snaps, some higher risks stuff going on rather than just handing the ball off.”

“We have done a pretty good job of taking care of the ball and I have been really pleased until Saturday. It was tough. Three of them are too many. We cannot make those kind of mistakes and be a good football team.”

 

Colby Cameron

 

On scoring 52 points:

“I think it kind of goes back to how well our defense played.  When you get six turnovers I think it is easy to convert on short fields like we did.  There is definitely room for improvement.  We did some things well but obviously we need to clean up certain areas of the game.”

 

On halftime changes:

“I feel like the first quarter we did not start off too strong.  We had a couple drives in the first quarter I thought we played well on.  We ran the ball and got a good tempo going.  Then in the second quarter I just feel like we were not on the field much so it was hard to get a rhythm.  I want to say they had the ball for 15 of the 15 minutes in the second quarter so it was just hard to get a rhythm, and then we finally got out and made some adjustments at halftime and let our receivers and everyone do their work.  I did not want the ball in my hands.”

 

On comfort of being ahead in games:

“I think it just helps knowing that we are able to score.  I think in the past sometimes we have not been able to score on a consistent basis, but I feel like now we can score when we just get a little rhythm going.  I feel like once we get that rhythm and those first downs it makes it a lot easier for our offense to get in the endzone.”

 

On watching the defense:

“They did a great job.  I guess people have been criticizing them the past couple weeks for how they have played.  I love how they stepped up to the challenge.  All the guys, they have not once settled at all.  They always are improving to get better and they have done an awesome job all three weeks cause they have improved each one and we are just excited about what they can do cause I think we know the potential of how great they can be.”

 

On challenge of playing Virginia:

“I think right now we can only stop ourselves.  I think we have made a lot of mental mistakes and I think that is what has been keeping us from excelling on the field.  I believe that our talent can get us anywhere we really want to be.  Our o-line has done a great job, our running backs have done a great job, and the receivers.  I think if we just do not have any mental errors we will be alright.”

 

On improved connection with Quinton Patton:

“I think we are just getting more comfortable with each other.  First game is obviously the first game of the season and I think everyone was a little jittery, and then now playing that first home game he just improved from week one to week two.  This game I think he just felt even more comfortable playing his third game.  I guess having a couple of practices under your belt knowing that we have played and not just going off summer practices he has adjusted little things that he can correct and I think it has made it a lot easier for me to get him the ball.”

 

On getting close to breaking into Top 25:

“It is a cool feeling.  I think the team is really mellow about that, but since I have been here I do not think we have really had a shot to even reach a mark like that.  It just shows you how the hard work of this team has paid off and I think people are excited about where this program can go.”

 

On winning in money games:

“It is a good feeling.  I think our team has confidence in ourselves.  We do not perceive ourselves as the underdog and we are the small team coming into this big team’s atmosphere.  We have a lot of confidence.  It is kind of like Boise State did how they were that small team and then they just started getting on a streak and winning over these big schools.  I think that is what we are trying to do is start to get our name out there with some big wins versus some well-known schools.”

 

On attitude in road games:

“I think playing on the road is just kind of like our team is against everyone else.  We do not have many people with us at the game so it is like they have their 50,000 against our 76 who travel or whatever.  I think it just brings us closer as a team.  We know that we have each other’s back during that time and makes it a lot more fun to just be in the moment with our team.”

 

On Jacarri Jackson’s return from injury:

“During the summer we spent a lot of time with each other so I think that will help.  Just even him being off for a little bit I think all that summer time we put into it will help him ease into the situation that he is going to be thrown into.  With JJ, he is just a tremendous athlete and I think even if I am a little ahead of him or behind him with balls he will be able to adjust and do a great job for us.”

 

On mindset of not turning the ball over:

“I think during the week we practice looking at certain schemes that they play to where I can go with a certain route not to turn the ball over, but then once game time comes you just do your own thing and see what happens.  I think the preparation going into the game is really key in having success not turning the ball over.”

 

On looking ahead at the schedule:

“Obviously we know [Texas] A&M is going to be there just because we planned on them all summer.  We are just focusing on this week because this is the next best step that we can take in this program.  If we overlook Virginia, who is a good team, they can easily beat us and so I think it important for our guys just to stay focused on a week-to-week basis on the teams we play so those big games that we do have coming up will be even more special.”

 

Antonio Mitchum

 

On the defense’s discussions prior to Illinois:

“Like always we want to go out and perform at our best.  The first two weeks we did not do as good as thought so we came out, talked about finishing games and coming out and capitalizing.”

 

On the defense proving doubters wrong:

“It is about that time.  The defense wants to step up.  It was about that time we get it clicking and rolling so we are just going to keep it coming.”

 

On stopping a big school’s offense:

“It is amazing.  We did not have enough fans as we wanted to travel from Louisiana Tech and going so far, but it was pretty good going out there and just playing and having our teammates.  It is all we really need.  It is like our family, our coaches and our team just there for one another.”

 

On his breakout performance:

“I just go out to play as best as I can play and help my team to a win.”

 

On his fumble recovery for a touchdown:

“It was fun because I was running and I saw a man blocking Chad [Boyd].  It hit him in the back and I thought Chad [Boyd] was aware of it so I was like ‘Chad, Chad, the ball, the ball hit him in the back, get it.’  I did not think he really knew it hit him in the back and then Chad tried to recover the fumble and he did not.  I was running free and I was there so it was a good feeling and experience to get the ball and recover it for a touchdown.”

 

On who realized the ball hit the return team:

“I really think no one did other than me and probably the snapper.  I really do not think anyone else really knew what was going on so it was kind of funny.”

 

On Virginia’s offense:

“I have not watched film yet so we are just going to go out this week, watch film and learn their offensive scheme.”

 

On forcing turnovers:

“It is that GATA defense, that GATA defense.”

 

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