LA Tech Weekly Football Press Conference Transcript: Oct. 3

Oct. 3, 2017

Holtz Audio

Fitch Audio

Ydarraga Audio

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz spoke with the media Tuesday in advance of the team's Conference USA road game against UAB on Saturday, Oct. 7 at Legion Field in Birmingham.

Head Coach Skip Holtz

Opening comments:

"I will start by talking a little bit about last week against South Alabama. Coming into the game being a young football team having played in three very emotional games with Mississippi State, Western Kentucky on the road and then South Carolina on the road, I was really excited to see how this team was going to respond. I was really pleased with the way they came out and started in the first quarter and some things we did as both an offense and defense, but most importantly to find a way to get a win. That is what the ultimate goal is with what we are trying to do. It certainly wasn't pretty at times, but I was really proud of the way the team competed, hung in there and found a way to get it done at the end."

On Jonathan Barnes:

"When you sit down and look at the win Saturday, obviously you have to look at the achievements of Jonathan Barnes not just in that game with his field goals, but with what he has done in his career here and having the opportunity to set the field goal record. You are talking about some pretty exclusive names when you talk about the past kickers that have been through here. To mention Jonathan Barnes' name in that company, it is pretty awesome company he is sitting in. I think the thing that made me the most proud is the talk he gave in the locker room when we presented him with the game ball about it being an individual award but also being a team accomplishment. He talked about the defense and the job they have done to give him that opportunity and he talked about the offense. One thing he did not mention was when you have a guy like Jonathan Barnes, as soon as you cross the 50-yard line, you feel like you are in the red zone. You feel like you have three points on the board and it is a real comfortable feeling as a coach to go into a game and know you have somebody that has been in so many game-winning moments and kicked so many pressure-packed field goals on your side."



On the defense:

"I was proud of what the defense was able to accomplish. You have staples every week with upperclassmen like Secdrick Cooper and to see the job Jaylon Ferguson continues to do and Russell Farris as a linebacker. I felt like Elliot Blankenship and DaMarion King stepped up their game and did some good things. It is not just those staples that are playing well every week, but it is some of the new faces and young guys that are stepping in. The mark of a good football team is one that continues to show improvement, which is one of the challenges we have as we continue to go through this season. I think L'Jarius Sneed played an excellent football game outside of a big play he gave up early. Amik Robertson continues to get better and better as a corner and Aaron Roberson did a really nice job at the corner position. With Deldrick Canty's injury, Matthew Ydarraga got the start. I thought he stepped in and played a really solid football game. We started this season with a lot of staples, but I think depth is really starting to show itself as we go through the season. These young guys are really buying in and getting better fundamentally, and I think it is making us a better football team."

On the offense:

"I think J'Mar Smith is really maturing and growing up. He had five turnovers in the first two games. He had one in the last two games and did not have a turnover in Saturday's game. I think he is feeling more comfortable as a football player in this offense standing in the pocket with the ball under his arm protecting it and making the reads. With the number of receivers that are catching balls, it shows a little bit that he is really allowing the defense to determine where the ball goes. He is doing a really good job of reading defenses, not trying to force the ball, calling protections up front and controlling the offensive line. I like his growth."

"Boston Scott provided a huge spark for us in the third quarter when we were sputtering by averaging 12.7 yards a carry. He got the running game going for us a little bit and caught a swing pass to make a play. He had about 170 yards of total yardage in that game."

"We had a number of different receivers step up and catch balls. If we can play the second and third quarters like we played the first and the fourth, then we will have a really good football team. Until then, I continue to say we are a work in progress and have to keep getting better with what we are doing."

"Overall, like I said, it is nice to win. It was a good win for us against a really competitive South Alabama team who plays extremely hard. Now, you go into week six and this is kind of where the line in the sand was drawn where we needed to get through the first five games of the year and now we get into conference play. This is kind of the start of a whole new season for us. Hopefully the lessons we have learned in the first five games are going to be able to help catapult us forward because we are going to need every one of those maturing moments as we move into conference play."


"I've got great respect for Bill Clark and the job he has done with UAB's program. We were over there three years ago and felt very fortunate to get out of there with a win. He is a fundamental football coach. I think he is as competitive and as solid as a fundamental football coach as we have in our league. I don't think there is anybody that could run the helm at UAB with the adversity that they have been through in the last three years - for him to stay there and continue to fight the fight, I think it is admirable. I've got great respect for him as a man and a football coach."

"I saw a statistic where UAB is the oldest football team in the country. They are filled with upperclassmen, transfers and young players that are helping round out their depth chart. I think they have done a great job of recruiting and seeing this thing through. I think him staying there is one of the reasons this program is so competitive with where it is back in year one. I think he has some really solid and loyal players in that program. This is a very competitive football team."

"When you look at them as an offense, they can run the ball and throw the ball. They have a dynamic passing game that can hurt you with big plays. They are putting a lot of point on the board. They have rushed for 150 yards in the three of the last four games. I think their quarterback in responsible for 11 touchdowns and one interception right now. He is one of their leading scorers and a very productive player. He can beat you with his arms, beat you with his legs and beat you with his mind. This is a really talented offensive football team that we are about to play and they are getting better and better every week."

"Defensively, they are very physical. I think they have two of the best defensive tackles in our league. They are giving everyone problems and making running the ball between the tackles very difficult. They play a lot of different coverages. They are running pretty much every coverage you can run with a lot of man coverage and pressure. They are going to make you execute at a really high level."


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