LA Tech Weekly Football Press Conference Transcript: Oct. 3

Oct. 3, 2016

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz spoke with the media Monday in advance of the team's Conference USA home game versus WKU Thursday, Oct. 6 at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston.

Head Coach Skip Holtz

Opening comments:

“It is nice to get a conference win. It is nice to get a win. We have been close, as we have gone through four games. It is certainly nice to win and see the smiles on the player’s faces, as well as the enjoyment they get through all the hard work and effort they have put into it. I thought it was a hard fought game. Sean Kugler has done a good job with the program there. Every time you play a UTEP team, you know they are going to be physical. You know they are going to compete. I thought they had a good plan with what they brought here to Ruston.”

“Defensively, we knew what we were up against with Aaron Jones and the talent that he has. We knew we had to make a stop as a defense. Our front seven did a really nice job of stopping the run. We held him to under a hundred yards. He had around a 4.5 yard average and he came in averaging 7.5 yards per carry. I thought our front seven really played well and answered the challenge. We started Jordan Harris and Russell Farris as the two inside linebackers. I think that really payed off for us. I think those guys really did a nice job. I thought our front four down linemen played their best game so far this year. We put some pressure on the quarterback. Jaylon Ferguson really showed up and had some sacks. Defensively, they were over 50 percent on third down. We still gave up 300 yards passing and a 64 percent completion percentage. As good as it was looking at the score, I thought we played well defensively, but we have to take a hard look at what we are doing defensively. DaMarion King played a much larger role for us in the secondary. I thought he tackles well. Xavier Woods played well. Secdrick Cooper had one of his better days. I actually thought our corners played better. We are getting better in some areas, but we are not where we need to be.”

 

 

“If you missed the second and third quarters, you would say the offense played well. I thought in the first and fourth quarters the offense did some good things. In the second and third it was not quite as clean as it needed to be. We had a penalty that stopped a drive. We had some missed opportunities where we felt like if we had executed, we would have been able to be more efficient. The hard part is not being able to get off the field on third downs. They were able to control the ball for 35 minutes and we only had the ball for eight possessions during the course of the game. Our average starting position was our own 15 yard line. I don’t remember the last time our average starting field percentage was inside the 20-yard line. The offense had a pretty tall task. The offense had to drive the ball nearly 85 yards if they wanted to score. We had four drives that were very efficient. There are some things we have to continue to get better at. We are still a work in progress. We just have to improve every week.”

“I did not feel like special teams were a factor in this game. Jonathan Barnes kicked it off well. There was not a major punt return or kickoff return. Our kickoff team did a good job of keeping UTEP in check. We have to get better at punting the football. We had goals for our net punt, to become a top-25 team in the country in punting. When you cannot punt it to your net, it is hard to average what we are trying to get to. We are not punting the ball well enough.”

“When you look at it, it was great to win. It was certainly not to the point where everyone gets to sit back in their chair and say we have arrived. We are a long way away from where we need to be as a football team. We are definitely going to be challenged this week. We are excited that we have an opportunity to play at home, two weeks in a row. It was great to play in the red out in front of everyone who came out. The crowd was loud, passionate and involved. I thought it was an advantage. When you have been playing on the road as much as we have, it is nice to get back home and play in your home stadium. We get an opportunity to do that again with Western Kentucky coming into town.”

“Jeff Brohm has done a great job in building that program. I have a lot of respect for him and the job that he is doing there right now. This game has all the makings to be a phenomenal matchup. Last year it was a 41-38 game and Western Kentucky went on to win the conference. They have had a lot of success against the conference and they are in good shape to win it again this year. This has all the makings to be a great matchup.”

“As an offensive football team, they have five returners on their offensive line. They are big. They have everyone back from a year ago. The only piece that changed out was the quarterback. Mike White has come in from Florida. We recruited him when we were at South Florida. He is a transfer. He transferred to Western Kentucky. I think he is a real talent. He is completing 64 percent of his passes. He is mature and an upperclassmen. He is doing a nice job of running their offense. I think he is distributing the ball and playing within the structure of what they are trying to get him to do. He is a real talent. I think what he is throwing to is one of the things that’s making this team so special. They are third in the country in explosive plays that are over thirty yards. They are second in the country in explosive plays of over 40 yards. They get the ball down the field. They have three receivers that are big play threats. They have a lot of speed on the field and they can hurt you vertically. They are scoring points. I think it start with Taywan Taylor, who has 33 catches. He is the seventh receiver in the country. He is a really talented young man. They have to very explosive receivers in Nacarius Fant and Nicholas Norris. They are making their presence felt. It is very hard to double team one, when you have three explosive players on the field like that, because they will throw to any of the three. I think Norris is 30th in the nation. They are doing a really good job.”

“With how explosive they are with big plays, they have to be licking their chops. We are 121st in the country in giving up plays over 20 yards. I am sure they are pretty excited. I said we have some things to shore up in the passing game. We have three days to do it. We have Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We have to get better at some things because we are definitely going to be challenged as a defensive football team this week. Their running back is big and physical. He is ranked fifth in the conference. Anthony Wales has six touchdowns and is averaging five yards a carry. Offensively, it is overwhelming. I always use the expression ‘Drinking through a firehose.’ It is hard to absorb all of the information that you are getting. They are very talented and explosive offensively.”

“On defense, that is where the biggest changes have been made. I have been really impressed by what they have done. They have added to transfers and a junior college player. They are definitely making their presence felt. They have added a defensive end and a transfer, as well as a linebacker. The linebacker is one of the top tacklers in Conference USA. They brought in a transfer a year ago from UAB who led the defense in tackles a year ago. I think those two guys inside are big time players. They are both about 240 pounds and explosive. As a combination, they are the best linebackers we have played as a pair. The difference is being made in the middle. They have added a junior college defense lineman in Chris Johnson. He is second in the league in tackles for a loss. The biggest difference is Omarius Bryant. He is a defensive tackles who was a junior college player a year ago. He did not play against us much last year. He went on to make his presence felt as the year went on. He is Vernon Butler. He is 6-3, 310 pounds. He is explosive, active and athletic. He makes things happen. He is disruptive. They have two defensive tackles and two linebackers that will go play in the NFL. They are really good upfront. They are giving up two yards a carry. That is one of the best in the country. I think it is second in the country in rushing defense. They held Alabama to 120 yards rushing. They are really good inside. Defensively, that is where the biggest difference in this football team has been. They have a really strong defense and an incredibly explosive offense.”

“They are ranked number one or two in every statistical category in punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return. They have the number two kickoff returner in the entire country. He is averaging 36.5 yards per return. They have a top-20 punt returner who is averaging over 12 yards per return. You just look at these numbers and it is pretty impressive. They are 3-2 right now, losing to Alabama and Vanderbilt, in overtime on the road. They made an unbelievable showing at Alabama, going in and competing.”

“It is going to be a great challenge at home. We encourage everyone to come out on Thursday night. We are going to need everyone’s support. We are going to need that energy, having the opportunity to play in the Joe. What has all the makings to be a classic matchup and what is turning into a rivalry series between Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky. We are looking forward to getting to work this week.”

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