Louisiana Tech Press Conference Transcript: Oct. 22


 

 

Oct. 22, 2012

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes and select student-athletes spoke with the media Monday reviewing the Idaho game and previewing the New Mexico State game.

Head coach Sonny Dykes

Players of the week announcement:

“I will do my players of the week this week. Offensively: Jordan Mills. I thought he played well. That is probably the best game he has played for us. I thought he really played physical and did a good job.”

“Defensive player of the week was Mike Schrang. With all the injuries we have had at linebacker, Mike has really done a good job and continues to get better and better.”

“Special teams: Kendall Hayes. Scout offense: Jens Danielson. Scout Defense: Warren Bates. Scout team special teams: Andre Wiggins. It was good to see those guys help us out trying to get ready for last week’s game.”

Opening comments:

“Going back and looking at the film of the Idaho game, I thought probably the first half was as good of football as we have played. We gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown that was a little disappointing. We got out of our lanes a little bit and had some young guys covering kicks for the first time.”

“We figured it out the other day. We are averaging just under 10 kickoffs a game, so we have had a lot of guys that have had to cover kickoffs. We are trying to develop some personnel. They went out and blocked it well and they did a good job, then gave up a return, then gave up a double pass early on that hurt us a little bit.”


 

 

“If you go and look at the first half, I thought it was really solid. I thought that was the best we have played on offense probably at any point. I thought our guys were sharp and executed well – probably better than we have at any point.”

“I just thought they threw the ball well, caught the ball well, blocked well up front, ran the ball well. I thought Colby (Cameron) was really, really sharp, so that was good.”

“And then defensively, we tackled well. I think we ran to the ball better than we have been. The big thing we did was we got off the field on third down and that was encouraging. That has been something we have not been very good at up to this point is giving up too many third downs conversions.”

“I thought our guys really played well and did a good job. That is something Coach Spangler and our coaching staff really emphasized this week was getting off the field on third down. I thought our players really did a good job of doing that, so I was happy to see that, and we have to continue to do a good job on third down.”

“I think if you go and look at our defense this year compared to last year’s defense, I think the biggest issue has been just giving up too many third down conversions.”

“We have given up probably too many big plays, but the third down conversions have been a big thing we wanted to do, so again, we are going to continue to work on that and improve that area, but it was an improvement we made last week.”

“Moving on to New Mexico State, they have an explosive football team. That is the thing every year. They have good skill position players. Their receivers can always run well.”

“I think the quarterback, Manley, and the receivers and running backs are a really good group – probably toward the upper half in the WAC certainly. The quarterback has a big arm and can make a lot of throws. They have two receivers that are really impressive on tape.”

“Again, the running back has good speed. They have good return guys. They always find guys that can run on the back end, both kickoffs and punt returns, so that part will be a challenge for us.”

“Then defensively, DeWayne (Walker) is a really good defensive football coach. They play a lot of man coverage. They are going to try to challenge you on third down, walk guys down into your face and try to re-route you and really try to disrupt your flow offensively, and they do a pretty good job of it.”

“They have lost a couple of tough games this year. Their record is probably not where they think it could be or where it definitely could be based on them losing a couple of tough ones. Anyway, they are a good football team and I know it is their homecoming and they will be excited to play against us.”

On keeping the team focused:

“You know, I hope not. I do not think so. It kind of goes back to what we talk about all the time. We only get 12 chances to play, so every opportunity to play and you always have to prove yourself. What you did last week does not really matter.”

“It is always about our guys trying to get better and keep improving, and we are going to have to play well. That is the thing with us. If we do not play well, we are not a team that is good enough to play poorly and win, so I think our guys know that.”

“I think we will practice well this week and I think we will be excited to play. Our guys enjoy going and playing on the road, and I think they will be excited to go to Las Cruces and play.”

On whether this is the best offense he has coached:

“That is a good question. They are all kind of different, you know, but I do think this group is good. I think the thing that makes this different than what we have had in the past in some ways is the fact that we run the ball well and we throw it pretty well.”

“Usually you have an offense that is better at throwing or a little bit better at running, and this group is pretty good at doing both, so I think that is what makes this group unique maybe. I think we had over 400 yards rushing and passing last week, is that right? That is probably something that has not been done a lot in college football history.”

“I do not know what the deal is with that, but that is a hard thing to do. I do not think any offense I have ever been a part of has ever done that.”

On this offense compared to past Tech offenses:

“Back in the late ’90s, Louisiana Tech was kind of one of the schools everyone looked at because they were kind of ahead of the curve as far as the spread offense goes when Gary Crowton was here, what they were doing was pretty impressive, with Troy Edwards and Tim (Rattay).”

“I know Louisiana Tech has always been good offensively. That has kind of been their trademark, even going back to Terry Bradshaw and what they were doing way back when.”

“It is kind of fun to come in and try and put your mark on a school that has had a lot of great offenses and had a lot of good players. Like I said, it is a challenge for us because the bar has been set really high here.”

“As far as being able to look at it and say how this ranks with those in the past, it is hard for me to do. I just was not around those groups.”

“You know, college football is different. One thing about it is the stats are probably going to be better than they were just because, again, the game is played faster now. We line up and snap the ball faster. As a result there are a lot more plays, more yards, and more scores. It is just kind of a different game, so it is hard to compare a lot of those teams.”

On offense exceeding expectations from the preseason:

“You know what is funny, when you kind of look at it and you see how it is played out, it kind of makes sense a little bit. I think coming in you never really know. You are just not really sure how all the pieces are going to fit together. You have to stay healthy and we have done a pretty good job of doing that offensively.”

“There are just so many factors that go into it. We had to have some guys emerge. Kenneth Dixon has obviously been someone who has emerged that gives us a little bit of a different dimension than we have had. Ray Holley has been so steady.”

“Those things have kind of contributed and Colby plays so well. We have stayed healthy up front, which I think has been a huge deal.”

On Coach Slaughter (former LA Tech offensive coordinator) and his relationship:

“I have, but not as much. When I first got here, we actually did [talk] quite a bit. I have not as much recently. He was certainly someone that was kind of ahead of his time when it came to throwing the football. He is one of the ones I will probably in the offseason visit with more than I do during the season. He has a great mind and really understands football. He is a fun guy to talk to.”

On depth at skill positions:

“I was happy to see some other guys step up. Andrew Guillot really played well. I think that was probably the most productive game he has had at wide receiver, certainly this year and probably his career. He really stepped up and made a lot of plays. He really played fast. He has kind of been banged up and he is just a tough kids and it is good to see him have some success.”

“D.J. Banks just gets better and better. Myles White had a good game.  I think we had 12 different guys that caught balls that game. It is good. When you have people you can throw it too and can spread it around, it allows you to keep guys fresh.”

“Quinton (Patton) did not play a lot. I think he just played in the first half. I do not think he played at all in the second half, so it was good to rest him. He was a little banged up. It gave us an opportunity to play some guys that kind of work hard every day, and that is fun when you can play young players and let them get out there and have fun playing football.”

On Colby Cameron’s progression over the years:

“It has been fun. I mean it really has been fun to watch him progress just because he has such a high level of confidence. He is the best quarterback I have ever been around about doing exactly what we ask him to do.”

“He is just really smart, takes care of the football as well as anyone I have ever seen and just does not get too high or does not get too low. His big strength is his ability to kind of take emotion out of that position. I think when you have a guy that can do that, then I think you are going to get someone who is very productive and really does a good job of taking care of the football and that is what he has done for us.”

On having to sell the program to receive a good bowl bid:

“I think it is too early for that. I think at some point I think maybe you have to do that. We just have to keep on winning. I think that is the big thing.”

“I have always believed that if you keep on winning and keep on playing well, people cannot help but take notice of your program. We just have to keep improving, keep getting better and better, and just kind of keep on worrying about the stuff we can worry about.”

“My job as far as selling the program, that is part of being a head coach, but at the same time you want to focus on trying to get your program better and winning games. We spend more of our attention doing that than anything else.”

On holding back in games after scoring in bunches:

“No, I do not think so. It is hard. That was a hard game. They got off to a bad start with the opening kickoff. We were 12 second into the game and had already scored. That was a tough way to start and it kind of snowballed a little bit.”

“When you put your young guys in the game and your backups, you want to see them play well, so we went into halftime and really tried to challenge them. We turned the ball over three times and that was really kind of inexcusable, but I thought for the most part they came in and did a good job.”

“Josh Robinson played and I thought he played really well. For a young offensive lineman, he ran around and played well. Really, he has been playing on the scout team for us and I thought he came in and did a good job. That was really encouraging.”

“Brandon Davis ran the ball pretty well. He fumbled it, but I thought he showed some promise.”

“When you put those guys in, you want them to perform and it is their opportunity to go in and play well. Hopefully, we will have that opportunity in the future. I do not know if we will again, but any time we do, it is good to see those guys go in and play well.”

On Kenneth Dixon’s performance this season:

“The record stuff is funny. We do not really talk about it much, or do not really talk about it at all as a coaching staff. It is one of those things where we try to get through the season and then at the end we can look back and say you did this and did that and it was good, and all that.”

“That is what has been impressive about Kenneth is his maturity and how he has taken everything in stride. He really likes to play football and really works hard every day. He is just a good, good kid to be around and competitive. He has a real bright future.”

“I think he has a chance to break a bunch of records and that kind of stuff is all about being fortunate and staying healthy and all that. He is a good back and we will see what he can do the second half of the season.”

On Dixon not feeling like a true freshman:

“It is kind of the same thing. He came in early. I kind of feel the same way about him that maybe he feels, just because he came over this summer and was here and working out a lot.”

“He got around our players and really wanted to learn the offense, and I think that put him ahead of the game. Playing as a true freshman is not about how talented you are, but how you adjust and adapt, and he has done that really well. He has picked things up fast.”

“The running back position is often a position where guys play early, just because it is not the most difficult position to play from a mental standpoint. He has been able to step in and pick things up, and has really gotten better and better.”

“He showed some signs in fall camp of being pretty good and what I like about him now is he is a lot better player now than he was at the beginning, so he will continue to get better and improve. There are a lot of things he can improve on, and I think he has a chance to be a really good player.”

On playing younger guys on defense against Idaho:

“It is good. You want to see what those guys can do and how they are going to be able to adapt, play and how they are going to tackle. Those are all things you do not really know until they get game experience, so some guys that you think look better in practice maybe do not play as well, and other guys that do not look great in practice play better.”

“That is a little bit like trying to evaluate running backs because you do not tackle them, so they are hard to evaluate because you look at Kenneth (Dixon) and he kind of gets a hand off and runs okay, but if someone if buttoning him up, he just looks like an average back. If they have to tackle him, he looks like a really good back because he is difficult to tackle and runs so physical.”

“It is kind of the same thing defensively. You see guys that run to the ball well and break down well, but when you put them in game situations you do not know if they can tackle. I thought some of our young guys did a good job doing that.”

“You know, Malcolm Pichon and Vernon Butler were better at the tackle spots. Mike Schrang, I thought, played well at linebacker. Beau Fitte got his first defensive action and he did some good things. Ty Hook, I thought, did some good things as well. It was good to see.”

“Kentrell Brice is starting to show up more and more on special teams and I think he will start to have a little bit more of a role defensively for us as we move forward. So, it was good to see some of these young guys continue to improve.”

On Dixon being the best freshman running back he has seen:

“I am trying to think. He is certainly probably the best I have been around that I can think of offhand.”

“We had a back at Texas Tech named Taurean Henderson that was really good player. He caught a lot of balls. We were not handing it to him much, but he caught like 120 passes one year or something crazy like that.”

“If he (Dixon) is not the best, he is certainly one of the best.”

On possible top-tier bowl bids:

“We just win. We just have to play well and win. I think that is one of the many motivating factors we have for playing well. If you look at it all, there are a million different reasons you want to go out and play well, but that is certainly one of them in the back of our minds.”

“When we play well and win, as I said earlier, people take notice of us. The more games we win, the more we establish ourselves as a program and the more people will be interested in Louisiana Tech, so we just have to continue to do well and play well, play hard and as well as we can play.”

“I think those are all things – they have a plan, I am sure, for that, the WAC people do.”

“The big thing we have to do is just make sure we are attractive enough and that somebody wants us. You do that by winning games and hopefully by being the exciting team and having fan support, and all those things kind of go hand in hand to help elevate your program.”

On being back in the AP Top 25:

“Yeah, that is good for us and gives us credibility. I think it at least gets us in the conversation about being a team that is worthy of people’s attention, and that is what we want to be.”

“As I have said many times, you do not want to be a one-hit wonder. Last time we got in the polls, we did not handle it very well and did not play well against Texas A&M and got beat because of it. Hopefully, it will be a challenge for us and we will handle it better.”

 

Ray Holley

On scoring 70 points:

“It is fun.  It is nice to get a chance to watch the game.  It is fun to be a part of and it is what you dream about.”

On Kenneth Dixon being a surprise:

“As far as relating to what he did during camp, he is not a surprise at all.  He was doing those things in camp.  We were just talking about it in the other room.  At the time we thought ‘man, that was a good run right there.  That might have been a flukish run in camp as a one-time thing.’  He has proven time and time again that he is going to do that week in and week out.  He is a talented back and he loves the game so I am sure he will keep doing it.”

On the offensive success being a surprise:

“It may surprise us a little bit because putting up those numbers, you can always hope for them.  I do not think you necessarily expect those numbers.  We have been working extremely hard.  We have established that balance.  Colby has done a phenomenal job taking care of the ball.  You got guys like Kenneth [Dixon] stepping up and making the plays he is making and you have the offensive line blocking.  Things are clicking and the offense is working hard and we will keep doing it as long as we stay focused and stay humble.”

On ever hearing the defense comment about their offense:

“I never hear any of that.  That is what we want to impose.  We want them to think that way but we never hear it.”

On defenses wearing down:

“You can definitely see it in their body language.  Defenses start lining up slower.  They start yelling at each other to get in position.  We start disrupting their organization.  You can see it when it happens.  It gives us a spark on offense to moving a little bit faster because it is motivating to see.”

On trying to repeat last Saturday’s performance this Saturday:

“We are not overlooking anybody.  That is our team’s character.  We are not going to do that.  We are going to come out and work hard this week.  We are excited for another game, another opportunity.  New Mexico State is going to be just as excited to play and you never know.  In college football, every coach I have been a part of preaches that you never know what could happen.  I think our team has a good personality.  We will be ready.”

On splitting time with Kenneth Dixon:

“Splitting time with anybody is the same.  You are just out there working hard for your team trying to make plays.  It is fun to be a part of something so special that Kenneth is doing because he is a freshman.  At the beginning of camp he asked questions.  You could tell he was eager to learn and get better.  He is just going to continue to get better.”

On the progression of this offense the past three years:

“When coach Dykes came in and brought in his new staff and new offense, I guess it was just unfamiliar territory for all of us.  Anytime you get a change of staff you have got to get use to what it is they do.  What it is they bring to the table.  A lot of it was trusting what they were bringing in, and I think it obviously took us three years to fully trust the system.  It was just a matter of understanding the concept of what we are doing and losing the selfish thoughts and selfish attitudes because I think our team understands now you may run a route just to get someone else open.  You are not running the route to catch the ball and score touchdowns.  Yeah, we all want to do that.  It will happen as long as you are doing it for our team, to better our team and the success of our team.  I think just understand what they are teaching, and really grasping that concept has helped our offense.  It is a great offense if we can work with it and we have been able to do that.”

On Andrew Guillot career night receiving:

“I am happy for him, I really am.  It is inspiring to see.  It is inspiring for the entire time.  I am sure it is inspiring for the coaching staff.  It is inspiring for the people watching.  They talk about all the time his ACL tears.  I think he has had three.  When he bounces back and he cares as much as he does about the program, it is good to see him get some love and make some plays.  He is going to do that just like everyone else on our team.  It really is fun to see.  I am happy for him and I am sure he knows that.”

On if the offense could have scored 100:

“I guess at the pace we started out at, maybe, perhaps, but you never know.”

On feeling like the hunted by the WAC opponent Idaho:

“I think, again, we just focus on ourselves.  I think you could look at it that way, but I do not think our team does.  I think we look at it as looking ourselves in the mirror and say ‘what are we going to do today?’ We may be the hunted, but I do not think that is what our focus is.”

On being a versatile running back:

“It is fun.  It makes it a lot more fun to be versatile.  It is exciting to be able to go out there and know that I am not going to have to block on this play or I am not going to have to shove it up in the hole and get two yards.  I can actually run a wheel route or I can run a post.  I guess that is the innovative offense coach Franklin brings to the table.  It is fun to be a part of and I am glad I can take that role on.”

On his run with a lot of spin moves:

“I think it was just the momentum.  Momentum carried me on.  I did not really elect to spin, I just kept spinning.”

Jamel Johnson

On the Idaho game:

“It was great.  It was fun.  It was the first time in my Tech career I got to sit out the fourth quarter because we were winning so that was definitely a plus.”

On the starter’s attitudes on the sidelines in the fourth quarter:

“It was good times.  We were just keeping the young guys in it.  We got to see the young guys play and make their errors.  They always cry about wanting to get in the game so it was definitely good to see the young guys get their shot.”

On how helpful it is working against the offense:

“It is just how balanced they are.  I do not think there is much a team can throw at us that we have not seen, from a big back to speed backs to speedy receivers to great quarterbacks.  Colby [Cameron] is pretty stingy with the ball.”

On how often they intercept Colby in practice:

“He might decide to throw one during 7-on-7, but that is about it.  He is pretty stingy.  If the receiver cannot get it, no one can get it.”

On their success on third downs versus Idaho:

“We have struggled on third down this season.  Last week, going into conference play, that was something we focused on a lot and it just has been third down, third down.  At random times during practice everybody is yelling out ‘third down!’  We just put focus on third down, and that was big for us going into this game and we accomplished our goal.”

On improving their pass defense:

“It is just playing the ball, playing the ball in the air.  We have left a lot of opportunities out there this season, just that split second of getting the ball or knocking it out.  Just playing the ball in the air is big for us going into the rest of this season.”

On his hair colored red:

“I think red is working right now.  I am not going to change it.  It is red right now to get the guys fired up.”

On the importance of the defense to have a strong game in the conference opener:

“It was definitely important, just that confidence booster.  We have had a rough start.  We have played some great athletes and going into conference with a game like Idaho was a game we needed for sure.”

On the dynamic of experienced guys and young guys on the defense:

“For me, it has helped me grow as a player because I have those young guys out there, I kind of have to know what I have to do and what they have to do.  I make sure I do what I do and in a way make sure they do what they do.  It has helped my outlook on the game.  I watch film different.  I approach every game different.  I approach game plans different.  My overall knowledge has grown because of it.”

On talk of the polls and the records:

“We just take it game to game, week by week.  We try to take it week by week, and those weeks day by day.”

 

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