Louisiana Tech Press Conference Transcript: Oct. 15


 

 

Oct. 15, 2012

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes and select student-athletes spoke with the media Monday recapping their game against No. 22 Texas A&M and previewing the upcoming game against Idaho.

Head coach Sonny Dykes

Opening comments:

“It was just good, tough, hard-fought football game. It was kind of an unusual football game. I have not been through too many like that where it looks so bad and then all of a sudden look so promising.”

“I really want to credit our players for hanging in there and playing for 60 minutes. That is something that is really kind of the cornerstone of our program, something that we have talked about and ignoring success and continuing to work and do the same things when things are not going well, and dealing with failure and continuing to grind.”

“You just put your head down and continue to do the right thing and something good will happen. That was kind of the approach we took.”

“We were down 27-0 and it looked like we were going to get blown out and our players did a great job of hanging in there, believing in each other. Again, that is a real credit to their character that they did that and we got back into the football game.”

“We had a little run right before the half, at the end of the first half by kicking the field goal. I think that gave us a little bit of momentum and confidence going into half.”

“What I told the guys at halftime was just if we make a couple plays in the third quarter, we have had a lot of success in the third quarter and if we can get on a little bit of a roll, it would not have been a surprise for us to get back in that game and it kind of played out that way.”

“Our guys got back in and we made a run. A&M answered and we answered back and scored and scored on another play and got an onside kick. We scored again and then failed on the two-point conversion.”


 

 

“It was just kind of a crazy football game, but again I think we were really proud of our players for the way they battled and hung in there and kept believing. You are not going to play that hard if you do not believe something good can happen if you continue to do that, so it is a real credit to them.”

“We were disappointed we could not quite get it done down the stretch. I do not really have an explanation for the slow start. I thought we practiced better last week than we have ever practiced since I have been here. We had better attention in meetings than we have ever had. There was more attention in meetings, more focus in meetings than any point since I have been here.”

“I thought our team was really good at the hotel. There were not a lot of distractions and same thing. I thought our pre-game meal was good. I thought we warmed up well. All the signs coaches look for in the locker room. I thought we were incredibly focused and confident and then we came out and did not perform well early on in the game and I am not quite sure why.”

“I had a sense that we might have been a little bit tight, but we tried to talk about it and talk about going out there and making routine plays.”

“Our focus all week was on ourselves and we just kept saying if we can go out and make routine plays we will have a chance to win the ballgame. We did not make them early in the game, but later in the game I thought we did a good job of doing that.”

“We have a good enough football team that if we play well and take care of the football we are going to win a lot of football games. We just got into too big of a hole early to be able to come back and get it done.”

On Quinton Patton’s performance Saturday night:

“It was good. It was certainly one of the best I have ever known. I just thought he was the best player on the field.”

“I thought their quarterback and Quinton were just two special players that were making a lot of plays. I think both of them kind of put their team on their back and gave them a chance.”

“Quinton just, I thought he played with more focus. I thought he played with more detail than he had in the past. I think that was great for him. I think he is continuing to learn how good he can be when he is really detail-oriented and focused on what is important.”

“He just competed incredibly hard. He blocked well. He played hard without the football and I think that is the sign of a really good player is when he is not getting the ball, how hard is he blocking and running?”

“Obviously when he got the ball in his hands he was hard to tackle. We kept throwing him screen after screen and when we did not get the block on a lot of cases and Quinton was making them miss every play. They had a really difficult time tackling him. I thought he played just exceptionally well.”

On Texas A&M Johnny Manziel’s performance:

“He is certainly different. The closest guy I have seen to him was Jeremiah Masoli when he was at Oregon, but he could not run like Manziel and probably honestly was not as good of a passer either, but he had that playmaking ability at the quarterback spot.”

“When I was at Arizona when he had a game-winning drive against us to beat us one year and tie the score to go into overtime really for the Rose Bowl, he kind of put the team on his back during that drive. I thought Manziel did it throughout the whole football game.”

“The thing that has been a struggle for us defensively, if you were to go back and look at us, we have not played well on third down. I thought we played incredibly well on first and second downs in that game, and then on third downs, credit A&M for putting the ball in their best players’ hands.”

“When it was third down and they needed a play, Manziel made the play. A lot of times we covered well, got pressure, did the things we wanted to do and he would pull it back and run. We had ankles on him and he would run past us.”

“It is hard to beat a good football team like that when they convert as many third downs as they did. That has kind of been our Achilles heel all year on defense has been on third down. Obviously we are aware of that and trying to get it fixed.”

“We have done a lot of different things. We have tried to drop guys and drop eight. We have played man coverage, we have played zone, we have zone pressured. We have done all these different things to try to give ourselves a chance and we just have not done a very good job of on third down of getting off the field and we really struggled with that Saturday.”

“I think a lot of that had to do with Manziel because I felt like for the most part our players are in the right spot. He just made a play.”

On the defensive performance against Texas A&M:

“Like I said, it is hard for me to sit up here and say we played great defense. We gave up 59 points and 600-something yards, but that is a good offensive football team and that is what they have done. I think they did it to Arkansas, scored 58 on Arkansas if I am not mistaken. They have done it against pretty good people and Manziel has made plays against a lot of good people as well.”

“Obviously we have to get better. That has been our theme all year. We have to continue to get better on defense. We are trying. We are doing everything we can. Our players are trying.”

“As I have said, I thought at times we played exceptionally well in early downs. We had three penalties in the first half that kept drives alive and against a good football team in A&M.”

“I mean that is a very good offensive football team. They have scored points against everybody they have played. They have moved the ball well. You just cannot give them second chances and we did that too many times in the first half.”

On leaving this loss behind and moving forward:

“I think so. You go through the little stages of mourning or whatever. I know it is just a football game, but these guys put a lot of work into it as we do as coaches.”

“You do have the deal where Saturday night after the game you are just exhausted and ready to go to sleep and wake up on Sunday. It is a funny deal because on Sunday it seems like it gets worse as the day goes on.”

“Sunday night is usually the worst night, and again I am speaking for myself here, you start going through the coulda, woulda, shoulda on Sunday night. And then on Monday you have to wake up and your focus is on Idaho definitely on Sunday, you start your preparation, but you have those second thoughts and wish I would have done this and could have, should have done this. If I get into this situation next time I will do this.”

“You go through that as a coach and take your notes and prepare yourself for that situation as it arises in the future. Then you come to work Monday and you have to get over it, so that is kind of the approach.”

“I think players are more resilient a lot of times than the coaches are. We are a big outfit of preaching one week at a time because I just believe that. I think that is how you have a good program is you win games.”

“To me it is a lot more important to win the games you are supposed to win than it is to upset somebody, so our focus better be on Idaho and all these good football teams we are getting ready to play.”

On missing an extra point:

“When you miss an extra point early in a ballgame, especially in a game that is going to have a lot of scores, you know it screws up the whole flow of the game. Basically that is a three-point swing.”

“We lost the football game by two points, so that is a lesson to our players that every single play is important.”

“There were a lot of plays run in that football game Saturday when you take our offense, their offense and our special team plays, there were over 200 plays. Every one of them is important and if you think it is not, you let up on one situation and it will get you beat.”

On this week’s game against Idaho:

“They are a team that physically they just whipped us last year. I mean we won the game. We were very fortunate to win it. Their defense just manhandled our offense really. They are big up front, big on the back end. They are always physical. That is kind of their deal. They are going to hit you.”

“Our players will be able to turn the tape on and watch them beat us up last year. The reason we won the game last year was we did not turn the ball over and they did. I thought we played exceptionally good defense in that game last year and really punted the ball well. Ryan Allen was a big part of our success in the game last year.”

“I think our offense will be motivated just because we got our tails kicked last year through the whole football game. I think they can watch the film and learn from that.”

“They have been a team that has lost some kind of tough games, some hard-fought games. They lost a couple early that they had a chance to win. Robb Akey’s teams have always fought hard. They are always well coached, always going to be physical. They are going to line up I am sure offensively. They have made a little bit of a change to more of an 11-12-21 personnel. They are a little of a four-wide than they have been. But, they are going to be physical. That is their deal.”

 

On offense wanting to score every possession:

“That is the mentality no matter what. That is what good teams do. When you have an opportunity you capitalize on it, so when you get the ball you score whether you have to or you do not. That is really not relevant. You just need to try and score.”

“Just like on defense you want to stop them, get a three-and-out and get a turnover regardless of what the situation is or what the score is.”

“That is the mentality we are trying to build in the program that we are going to play as well as we are capable of playing. If we do that then we are going to have a chance to win every game on our schedule.”

On having the top offense in the nation:

“You know I did not know we did honestly. I am not a big stat guy. I never have been. It is not really something I paid a lot of attention to. I cannot say that I am not surprised.”

“You just do not know how all the pieces are coming together; you never do. You just never know how it is all going to fit. Then injuries are stuff that you cannot control.”

“We have stayed pretty healthy on offense. Obviously losing Tevin (King) was a big blow for us, but other than that we have stayed healthy for the most part and we have had a lot of continuity and it is the third year, so I expected us to be good. I expect us to get better.”

On freshman running back Kenneth Dixon:

“It is just getting him the football. I thought we ran the ball well. A&M is good up front and I really thought our offensive line played well and we ran it a little better than I thought we probably would be able to going in honestly.”

“A big part of that is Kenneth (Dixon) and Ray (Holley). Those guys are good with the ball in their hands. They are different. I think the fact that they are so different does kind of give the defense a little different element.”

“I thought he ran really hard. I thought Ray ran hard. I was really pleased again with the way we played up front. Kenneth is a physical runner and it does take its toll on you in the second half. That kid has a full head of steam now. There are not a lot of people that want to come through him.”

On Dixon adjusting his helmet on the touchdown run:

“Yeah, I have not seen that before. I have some buddies that coach at West Virginia and they watched our game Saturday night and they were really impressed with that run.”

“The guy gets his helmet pulled off and his head almost turned around backward and breaks a tackles and is fixing his helmet as he is making guys miss and running over people.”

“He is kind of one of those freshman now that kind of goes and that is what I like about him. He does not really know that you are not supposed to put your helmet back on when you are running for a touchdown. We are certainly not going to tell him any differently.”

On the fans Saturday night:

“I do not know. I kind of said my peace on that one. I do not really have much more to say on that one. I just want our program to grow every way possible. We have to grow as coaches, grow as players and I think we have to grow our fan base.”

On the start of conference play:

“It is different. The WAC schedule the way it is I think is different. It is kind of the midway point in the season.”

“In some ways it is good because I think when you are midway through, we are about 11 weeks in when you figure in fall camp and having the first week an open date, so these guys have been going a long time if you think about it. It has almost been going on three months and they have been grinding.”

“It is good to always have a new cause in some ways. I think it is good to be starting conference play. It will get us focused. Our guys know there are some really good teams in this conference and we cannot afford any slipups. They also know that we are going to have to play incredibly well to have a chance to win.”

“I think sometimes people just assume when you play against WAC teams and you are not playing against Big 10 teams or SEC teams or ACC teams or Big East teams or whatever with all the teams we have played, you say it is going to be a lot easier and it is not. It just is not.”

“I mean look at the WAC. It is the number one rated non-AQ conference I believe; at least that is what I have been told. It is a good league. It is a competitive league. Every team is unique.”

“Again, that is going to start with Idaho this week just being such a physical outfit. We are going to have to prepare for the physical nature they are going to bring.”

On A&M’s physicality helping out against Idaho:

“Yeah, it will. Idaho has kind of gotten away from that offensively. They are a little bit more of a spread team, but their deal is to be physical up front.”

“Again, we gave up the long run early, the designed run, but most of the runs, they hit us on a couple of runs with the quarterback that were designed, but I thought we played their running backs well.”

“Those are good backs. They can run. They are fast, physical and big. I thought defense played more physical Saturday than they had at any point this year. I thought we were the more physical team in the game. Our challenge will be can we do the same thing against Idaho?”

 

On Shakeil Lucas’ performance:

“He has matured. That is what you like to see in players. That is what makes it fun to coach is when you see a guy grow up in front of you and go from basically kind of immature kids to grown men and Shakeil has made that transformation and it is showing up on the field.”

“His mentality is better. He works harder. He is more consistent in his approach day-to-day and again, it shows up. As you said, he has changed his body physically and has kind of gotten rid of the baby fat he had and replaced it with muscle.”

“I thought he has really played well for us this year, and that is what really makes coaching fun is watching these guys grow up and kind of see them come into their own. Shakeil is someone who has done that. He has taken on a little bit of a leadership role with our team and has come a long way.”

On facing possible letdowns in WAC play:

“Like I said earlier, I think you gauge success by getting the most out of what you can do, whether it is our team, individually or whatever. Some guys are going to win the Nobel Peace Prize and other guys are going to go on to be really good at whatever it is they are doing; teachers or whatever they decide to do in their future.”

“The thing we try to teach our players is you owe it to yourself, your family and your teammates to be the best that you can be, and that is certainly our message individually to people and to our team.”

“We want our guys to be as successful as they can possibly be in whatever they choose and obviously football is part of that. We measure our success and how we feel about ourselves by how we perform regardless of who we are playing.”

“We were a good enough team to beat Texas A&M Saturday. We were a good enough team to beat them without making any miraculous plays, by playing at a high level consistently, and we just did not do enough.”

“We will measure our success by how well we play against ourselves the rest of the play, and really I am not trying to slight anybody. That is the way we have done it all year.”

On sticking to the game plan down 27-0:

“The good thing about us is if we were a triple option team, it would be hard. You are going to have to start throwing the ball, but our offense can score points in bundles.”

“That is one of the great thing about our offense if you can. You are never out of a football game. You can always hang in there and come back, and we made a lot of miraculous recoveries when I was at Texas Tech.”

“We won games when we were down and out and I learned a lot about that as a coach to keep coaching and keep your players to keep playing and expect something good to happen, because when we get on a roll, you guys have seen this year, especially in the third quarter of football games, we are pretty good when we start playing well together.”

“Our challenge is to play it for an entire football game. Really we have not done it for a whole half yet. We would like to make that progression where we just play lights out for a half and then hopefully three quarters and then hopefully for a full game.”

On the best defense being a good offense:

“No, not at all. I mean the best defense is a good defense. That is what you want. We won a conference championship last year because we were good on defense. Anybody who participates in sports knows that good pitching is going to outlast good hitting and that is the way it is.”

“When you can play good defense consistently, that is going to give you a better chance to win over the long haul than have a great offense because you are going to have some bad days offensively from time to time.”

“So much of that runs through your quarterback and if he has a bad day or gets injured, then you are in trouble, so defense is the most consistent way to win. It really is. I understand that and we are trying to build a program by having good defenses.”

“Again, we won that conference championship last year because we were good on defense. We are hoping to be good on defense this year. We have not been great yet. Again, we have shown some flashes at times of being pretty decent, but our goal is to have a good defense.”

On scoring a non-offensive touchdown in last four BCS games:

“Yeah, I think it has just been some weird games. I think that goes back to what we talked about in terms of defense giving up numbers and points and all that, but also making some plays.”

“When they are scoring touchdowns; that is obviously making a significant impact on the game. I do not mind ranking and stats and all that. It is not a big deal to me. Our job is to try to win football games and there are a lot of different ways to do it.”

“But again, we want to be good on defense and our defense has done a good job of creating turnovers. We won the turnover margin again Saturday. I thought we should have had one more. I thought we could have had a fumble down on the goal line, which obviously would have made a big difference in the ball game, but they did not see it that way.”

On the lack of turnovers this season: 

“We actually have put it on the ground more than we like, we have just been able to recover it a little bit.”

“Number one is playing hard because when we have put it on the ground, we have been able to get on it because our guys are running to the football and playing hard and I think that is where it starts whether it is offense or defense is by your effort.”

“The second thing is we pay attention to detail and our players are constantly coached on how to carry the football. They are constantly coached and evaluated.”

“It is one of those deals where if you are a guy that has bad ball security, you are not going to play until you show that you can take care of the ball, so competition will force people to get in line a little bit, and that is our philosophy.”

“We are not going to put guys out there that are going to turn the ball over and we are not put guys out there that are not paying attention to details. That kind of improves that to get better at taking care of the ball.”

 

Quarterback Colby Cameron

On putting Texas A&M behind them:

“I think we have done a good job with that.  As the coaches say we have the 24-hour rule where we can, even if we win or lose, we can celebrate or sulk for 24 hours and once that 24 hours is up it is over.  So now our focus is on Idaho and I think the team and I have done a good job with moving on.”

On Texas A&M’s defense early in the game:

“I think we just did not get first downs.  It was not solely on A&M.  I think I did not start off too well.  I could have completed balls that I just did not.  I think a big credit goes to just me, in general, being the quarterback and trying to get ourselves in that momentum.”

On taking the responsibility as the quarterback:

“I think that is just the role that you play as a quarterback.  I signed up for the job and you have to take that responsibility.  That is just how it is.  It is not like ‘feel sorry for me.’  I am the one who throws the ball and has the opportunity to win games so I think that is just how the quarterback is.”

On Idaho:

“They are always a tough team, real physical.  I think that they will bring it.  I think they are really hungry at this point in their season.  We just have to focus on having great practices this week, and focus on the details.  I need to get more in-depth with film, but I feel like I kind of know their personality just by playing them in the past three years.  It will be real tough and physical and we are excited to play them.”

On preparing for teams you’ve played against before:

“You just have a feel for their personality and how they handle themselves.  It makes you feel a little more comfortable knowing how they are.  Obviously they are going to be a different team than they were last year, as every team is, but we are excited for the challenge.”

On staying focused week to week:

“I think our team is just pretty mature in the aspect of we focus on that week and that game.  We have a lot of seniors that help us and let the guys know that any week, any team can beat us.  We have learned from the past that if you focus on other games those teams can come in and beat you.  With the leadership and the seniors that we have, they do a good job at keeping us focused on a week to week basis.”

On the focus of limiting turnovers:

“I think it is just the reps that we have had with our team in the offseason, and just running so many plays, seeing so many looks that you get comfortable knowing where you can throw the ball without throwing an interception.  It is not like I am going into games saying ‘okay, I am not going to throw this ball because it is going to get picked.’  You are just comfortable with how the system works and where you need to put balls.  And our running backs have done a good job just taking care of it.  They are pretty tough with the ball, and always we practice that not turning it over.”

On confidence on the last two-point conversion attempt:

“We were real confident.  I do not think a lot of teams could have stopped us at that point.  We were moving pretty well, and had just really good rhythm.  Going into that we obviously thought we could score.  We had a matchup and I overthrew R.P. [Stuart], but going into it we were confident that we could get it done.”

On bouncing back from the failed attempt:

“I think you just learn from it.  Learn how to, like for me in that instance, learn how to throw a ball to just give my guy an opportunity to catch it.  That is what I learned.  I think everyone was pretty mellow.  We did not freak out.  I think that there are just little details we can focus on that can put us in a better position to win.”

On not overlooking Idaho:

“They are college football players just like we are.  They have done the same things that we have done.  It is not like you can say they are a bad team just because of their record.  They all have talent because they were recruited just like we are so we know that they are going to bring everything that they have.  Obviously, anyone has a chance to win just because of the talent they have and them being able to recruit just like we were.”

On touchdown pass to Ray Holley:

“They lined up in a two safety look which gave me a good indicator to be able to find Ray [Holley] one-on-one with their middle linebacker.  It was a great call at that time, and Ray made a great play and got past the linebacker.  He made it pretty easy because the two safeties split pretty wide.  I thought I overthrew him; I was scared for a second.  I was just trying to make it easy for Ray to catch it, and I guess it is pretty easy because he is a running back and receiver so I know he has good hands.  I just had to give him an opportunity to catch it.”

On starting the last season of WAC play:

“I think it is one that we want to make memorable.  Obviously the WAC is not going to be here anymore, and our kids will not know about the WAC.  By us telling them stories they can know about it.  We just obviously want to take it week by week and so we can get that point where it is a memorable season.  I think we want to be known as a team in the WAC, when you do talk about it, our name is definitely brought up.”

On challenges of starting conference play so late:

“I guess it is tough not having a bye week.  Guys are getting, not beat up, but a 12 week season straight is pretty tough.  I think we just have to do a good job of maintaining our bodies.  I think it is good just knowing that we know our rhythm and how we play so it will be easy to transition into conference.”

On Quinton Patton’s performance:

“He is something special.  He is awesome to have on your team.  He really shows and put himself into another category which I do not even know how it would feel like.  He is a great competitor and the best thing about him is he ready to move on to Idaho as well.  He is not going to be stuck in the A&M game so it will be fun to see what he will do this week because you know he can probably even break what he has done.”

On his older brother Jordan Cameron’s, a tight end in the NFL, thoughts on Patton:

“He says he is a great player.  He tries to follow our games so much and he always texts me after the game that [Quinton Patton] has talent to play at the next level.  He is definitely a receiver that has gifted abilities that are hard to surpass by people just watching it.  I guess it is exciting for ‘Q’ and what he has.  Just hearing it from people who are at the level is pretty cool.”

 

DT Shakeil Lucas

On if he gave Andre Taylor, who pressured the quarterback on his interception play, a high-five:

“Yes I did.  I said I would take him out to eat.”

On the interception still being a blur:

“I am still amazed that it happened and that it happened to me.  I am just blessed that it did and at the right time.”

On feeling like a wide receiver:

“It was all hands.”

On putting Texas A&M behind him despite his interception highlight:

“I have been looking at it and all, but it is not that hard.  You just have to move on and try to make a better play this week coming up.”

On thinking about Tyrone Duplessis when he makes a play:

“I do all the time.  Every time I make a play, even if it is an assist tackle, I think about him.  I just wish he was there to celebrate it with me.”

On Idaho:

“I still remember the big hit they did last year on Lyle Fitte.  Those guys are always physical so we are looking for their best punches coming in this week.”

On starting a new unbeaten streak like last year with a strong defensive effort:

“We go in every week trying to make it that game that the defense is going to be that defense.  We are just looking to be 1-0 and have that great defensive game.”

On maturing as a football player:

“I have just been smarter with everything, eat right, work out more, and get extra with Damon [Harrington].  He helped me out a lot, and just being focused with it and just being consistent with it.”

On change in his energy level:

“Playing at 290, 288 this year, with me playing at 265 some games last year, it is a big difference.  Being in the trenches with those double teams, it has helped me out a whole lot.” 

On playing against Texas A&M and their quarterback:

“It was real tough because when you think you have him bottled up in the pocket he could make plays with his feet and just keep the play going.  Their receivers did a nice job of getting open for him.”

On having to make plays to get back into the game:

“I just feel like we should start playing earlier.  We waited too late to start playing and came up one play short.  We just got to start from the kickoff with being a great defense.”

On pressure to create big plays:

“I always feel like there is more pressure for me.  I try to be a leader to step up for my defense because we have a lot of young guys and new faces.  By me playing the past couple of years it helps.”

On mentality of looking for the big play:

“Coach Spangler always coaches us that every play that they have on offense is an opportunity for us to score on defense so we go into every game trying to score.”

On being pissed about being one play away from beating Texas A&M:

“Yes, it really pisses me off [that we didn’t win that game].”

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