LA Tech Weekly Football Press Conference Transcript: Oct. 17

Oct. 17, 2017

Holtz Audio

Watts Audio

Blankenship Audio

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz spoke with the media Tuesday in advance of the team's Conference USA home game against Southern Miss on Saturday, Oct. 21 at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston.

Head Coach Skip Holtz

Opening comments:

"Coming off the open date, there were a lot of things we tried to get done. One thing we tried to do was evaluate our personnel and our scheme. It gives you an opportunity to take a step back, look at the season and say what did we do in the first half that we can do better in the second half that will give us a better chance to win some of these close football games. I think you have to evaluate what you are doing and who you are doing it with. One thing that stood out was the number of different lineups we have had out there on the field through the first six weeks. The lack of stability on the offensive line, the secondary and the receivers was probably the biggest thing that showed up. If we can get some stability, it would certainly help us continue to grow instead of feeling like we are starting over each and every week. Then we had to look at schematically what we had to do to give our team a better opportunity as coaches. We had a great week of practice. We had the opportunity to work some of the underclassmen and some of these guys got a lot of quality work and fundamental work, so hopefully we improved through the open date. The whole mindset was if you want to improve the team you have to improve the individual. That is what this week was all about. It was just getting back to fundamentals and doing little things the right way."

"Having this week also allowed us the opportunity to get some guys healthy. Deldrick Canty started practicing again last week. Joshua Outlaw started practicing this week. Michael Sam went a little bit last week and is full speed this week. I still don't know what the status of Bonnette, Hardy and Woodard is going to be for this week's game."



"We put some game plan thoughts together from last week and then as a staff went out on the road recruiting. We spent some time not only trying to shore up the 2018 signing class, which will be coming together in December with the early signing period starting, but also to look at some of the juniors and sophomores from around the state and around the area. We had 10 coaches out that went to different games on Friday and Saturday and had the opportunity to get some great in-person evaluations, which I think is the most critical evaluation."

"From those standpoints, I felt like it was a really productive open date for us. We have not had an open date around the middle of the season in three years. We had one after 10 games two years ago and after 11 games last year, so this has really been a healthy exercise to get some evaluations on where we are right now as a team."

On Southern Miss:

"Southern Miss has really done a nice job and I think Jay Hopson does a great job with his program. They are 4-2 right now. They had a tough loss to Kentucky in a very competitive game and they lost to North Texas, who right now is undefeated in our league. I think other than that, they are taking care of business."

"This is a game that for the last two years we have pretty much been out-coached, out-played, out-hit and we are 0-2 against them the last two times we played. We are minus-8 on the turnover meter. As much as we talk about turnovers and how important they are in winning and losing, if you are minus-8 in a two-game series, you are not going to win many games. We are going to have to place a huge amount of emphasis on ball security. We will have to do a better job as coaches and as players when getting ready for this football game."

"On offense, they are third in the conference when you look at them statistically. They have played two different quarterbacks. They have seven returning starters on the offensive side of the ball. The main guy coming back is Ito Smith, who has been a dynamic player there for years. I believe he is top two in the league in rushing with 122 yards a game. I think he is their second-leading receiver. Ito Smith is a great football player. He is physical and elusive, but yet he has breakaway homerun speed, which is why he is able to do what he does. He can hurt you anytime he has the ball under his arm whether he is a running back or wide receiver. He is definitely one of the more dangerous weapons in the league. They also have four different receivers that have gone over 100 yards at some point this year. I think top to bottom, this will be the most explosive tailbacks we face this year and one of the better receiving corps that we face this year because of the flexibility they have with so many guys with big-play potential."

"I think they have done some great things offensively, but when I look at this football team, what I really think they are doing a great job of is the way they are playing defensively. They are top 20 in the country in about five or six statistical categories. They are a defense that likes to suffocate you. They are going to have a lot of people in the box. They are going to make you execute at a really high level, and if you don't, there are going to be loss-yardage plays and turnovers. That is one of the things this defense is doing a great job of."

On the rivalry between Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss:

"This is a rivalry game. It is one of our most historical rivalry games. It is a geographical rivalry game. They are three hours away in a neighboring state. We are in the same division in the same league. Southern Miss or Louisiana Tech has won the division the last three years in a row. This game has come down to who has the opportunity to represent the West. We understand what is on the line. I think we are all frustrated with the way we finished up two weeks ago and the way that game finished up with a range of emotions. With the frustration from how we have played this team the last two years, I think this football team is really excited about having the opportunity to go play. I think everyone would have loved to play last week because of our mindset coming off a loss, but I think the open date came at a great time for us to have the opportunity to get some guys healthy and be able to put our best foot forward this week against a really good Southern Miss football team."


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