LA Tech Weekly Football Press Conference Transcript: Sept. 26
Sept. 26, 2017
RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz spoke with the media Tuesday in advance of the team's non-conference home game against South Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 30 at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston.
Head Coach Skip Holtz
"Losing hurts, especially when you put so much effort, time, belief and work into each one of these games as a player. To come of a loss is hard. It was a game that I don't want to see we should have won, but it was one we definitely could have won. We had our opportunities in this game. You go through the range of emotions where they take the lead with 4:52. Offensively, we take the ball and go down the field and take the lead back, give them the ball with 51 seconds. There was a lot of scoring in the final five minutes of that game. To just finish up on the losing end of that game, it hurts. I am proud of the way this team competed. I am proud of the improvements we have made in the last four weeks when you go from where we were three or four weeks ago when we played Mississippi State and the number of turnovers and number of mistakes we had. I think we are improving, but at the end of the day we made some critical mistakes. I did not think this was going to take and Hercules effort. We did not have to leap tall buildings or do anything special. We didn't have to score two touchdowns on one play. We just had to do our job. We weren't able to get it done. From that standpoint it was frustrating."
"I think it helps our team realize just how good we can be, but also how important it is to do your job. We had a couple mistakes in the fourth quarter. We throw an interception down in the red zone when it is 13-0 and we had an opportunity to go up 16-0. We force a ball and I understand the mindset with a young quarterback. These are good teaching moments for us as an offense and as a young quarterback. Defensively, we have them at third and two after the interception. We have them backed up on the 11-yard line. They try to throw the ball, everyone is in man coverage and one guy decides he is going to tackle the quarterback. He leaves his man and leaves a guy wide open and they throw an uncontested first down play. We made too many mistakes going down the stretch in order to win this game."
On the positives from the South Carolina game:
"I don't want to dwell on the negative. There were definitely a lot of positives in this game. Offensively, we talked about starting fast and we started the first and second have with a 10-play and 14-play scoring drive to put points on the board. We matched their ball control offense. We had a game-winning drive where we were down 14-13 with 4:52 and took the ball 84 yards down the field to kick a field goal to go up. Unfortunately, we weren't able to hold on to it. Our quarterback J'Mar [Smith] who has been completing about 50 percent of his passes was at 70 percent. I think J'Mar is growing up not only game by game or week by week, but he is growing up series by series. You can kind of see the maturing process going on during the course of the game. Jarred Craft continues to run hard and protect the ball. Teddy Veal and Rhashid Bonnette stepped up with I think 16 catches between the two of them. Marlon Watts showed up and had a couple big catches for us. I think Kam McKnight played his best game. Up front, Ethan Reed continues to get better with his snaps at center. I just think there were a lot of positives on the offensive side of the ball and the same with the defense. They pitched a three quarter shutout. It wasn't perfect by any means. On third down, we weren't as good as we wanted to be, but we didn't give up uncontested big plays. We played solid and hard up front. I thought our really played a good game. Amik Robertson is like a J'Mar Smith where he grows up in every game he plays. He has less and less mistakes and more positive plays. There were a lot of positive things defensively to build on. In the kicking game, I have great confidence in Jonathan Barnes. It was good to get Davan Dyer some game experience and for him to get out there and average 40 yards a punt. I think our special teams did a great job and Jonathan Barnes is kicking touchbacks most of the time. There were a lot of positive things to build on in this game, although we can't do it with a smile on our face and a win."
"What is really important for us as a team is to move forward to South Alabama this week and we have the opportunity to come back and play at home. Before we can move forward, we have to make sure we bury this game. We have to make sure this game doesn't beat us twice. We can't let it linger. We can't have a pity party and feel sorry for ourselves. They have 24 hours mourn it and it's over. We lost it. It is in the books. We can't change it, but we can make some corrections and get better. We have to take that hurt, anger and upset feeling that we have and turn it into positive energy, a competitive nature, determination and what we are going to do to move this thing forward. Right now, I think that is the most important thing we have to do as a football team to get ready for South Alabama. I think we have great leadership on this team. Many of the guys I mentioned -- the captions, the leadership council -- are going to have to do a great job and we are going to have to be really mature as a young football team to be able to put this behind us and move on."
On facing South Alabama this week:
"As we get ready for South Alabama, it does not get any easier. I know people will be quick to look at schedules and records and say, `Well, they are 1-3, so that means they are not very good.' Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is going to be a great challenge for us at home not only to come back from that loss, but I am glad we have the opportunity to play at home. We need to come back and play in front of our home crowd, be at Joe Aillet Stadium and have the comforts of home on our side to help us this week. I think Joey Jones has done a great job with this program from the beginning. This is a team that a year ago went to a bowl game. This is a team that a year ago beat Mississippi State. When you watch their 2016 film and their 2017 film, they are better this year than they were a year ago. That says something when you look at their production. What they are doing offensively schematically and what they are doing defensively -- they have eight returning starters that are back and they are better. They have a couple young players and transfer players that really make them better. People look at how they lost three. Well, they lost to Ole Miss in a hard-fought football game, they lost to Oklahoma State and last week they lost a double overtime game to a Sun Belt team and they had two touchdowns called back and penalties. I am sure it is a game that they are as frustrated with as what we had on the road. They are a run-oriented football team that controls the ball. They put you in a lot of conflict plays with what they do with the run and pass and they make you make a decision in which one you want to stop. Defensively, they are only giving up three yards a rush. They are playing 12 guys on the defensive line. They always have fresh bodies in there. Their linebackers are definitely their strength. I think Coach Jones has done a great job of building this program."
On moving forward from last week's game at South Carolina:
"As we talk about some of the positives we can take from last week's game and talk about some of the things we have to channel with the loss from last week and take that into the challenging opportunity we have this week with South Alabama. I am ready to play game five. I wish we could play tomorrow because I think everyone is ready to play after the stinging loss at South Carolina."
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