LA Tech Weekly Football Press Conference Transcript: Oct. 24

Oct. 24, 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 Rice Saturday, Oct. 29 at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston.

Head Coach Skip Holtz

Opening comments:

“Let’s start by talking about FIU. It is great to win a conference game on the road. This is our second road win and our first conference road win. It is always great to get a road win and this was against a team that has been doing some good things. As I said earlier in the week, I give Ron Cooper an awful lot of credit for the job he has done with this football team. They are playing hard, playing smart and not making a lot of mistakes. It was a great win for us on the road. To win on the road, late in the season, your best players have to play their best football for you. Right now, that is certainly the case when you look at our best players. They are having the standout performances for us. I think it was the most complete football game we have played this season, as we continue to talk about getting better every week. I think we are making some strides in that. I saw significant strides in our special teams. Our kickoff team had two tackles inside the 20-yard line. I thought they did a really nice job of containing field position for us. Our punt return had a 19-yard return that set up a score. Our punt team downed a ball on the one-yard line, putting them in a hole. Our kick return had a 50-yard return and a 92-yard return for a touchdown, so far and away our best special teams performance of the season.”

On Bulldog defense:

“Even though we gave up way too many first downs, they were very patient to dink and dunk, throwing the ball underneath. Again, we did not give up the big play over the top and our defense created four positive field positions, with Xavier Woods’ turnover that he was able to return and set up a score on the two. We also had them punt three times, backed up. It gave our offense great field position, with the special teams and the defensive performance.”



On Bulldog offense:

“Offensively, having another zero-turnover game is huge. We had 7.2 yards per play average. Overall, it was a complete game. I was really proud of the way the team played and what they were able to do on the field. If you really want to find a negative, we had six pre-snap penalties, which is way too many. We had four on offense and two on defense before the ball was even snapped. Those are things we have to eliminate. When your best players are playing your best football for you, you have a chance to be pretty good.”

On impact players against FIU:

“Look at the impact Carlos Henderson had. He maybe did not have the 300-yard performance as a receiver, but you look at his all-purpose yards and he is a dynamic player for us and we have to get the ball under his arm. When you do, good things happen. Whether that is kickoff returns, a reverse, catches, running out of the backfield, we are trying to do whatever we can to get him the ball. Ryan Higgins continues to protect the ball. There were a lot of good things offensively. Trent Taylor continues to play well, so does Jarred Craft. I thought Boston Scott came in and gave us a spark in the fourth quarter. He had some hard-nosed, physical runs. On the other side, Jaylon Ferguson continues to be a guy that is going to hassle quarterbacks. If opposing quarterbacks want to drop back and throw the ball, he is a guy they are going to have to contend with. He continues to play well. Xavier Woods, a captain, intercepts the ball and runs it back to the two-yard line. Jordan Harris is playing well for us. We are starting to create some depth on our football team right now, especially defensive. We played ten defensive linemen in this game, significantly. Cedric Johnson had his best performance of the year. At linebacker, Dalton Santos is getting better and better. I like what Brandon Durman is doing for us. Ephraim Kitchen is coming back and this is the second game he has played with some significant action. I think he gets more comfortable. He is a freshman, but he is one of our more talented players on that side of the ball. Cyril Noland-Lewis and Prince Sam are playing well. It is great to get some of these guys’ reps and opportunities, especially as we get down the stretch. We are going to have injuries and guys are going to have to step up. I like the progress and the focus we are playing with and I like the way some of the young guys are starting to come along.”

On Rice:

“Another conference game that has been a battle between two teams competing for the West the past couple of years. Right now, from a record stand point, Rice is having what would be considered a down year. They have lost some close football games. I’ll tell you what though, when you look at a David Baliff coached football team, these guys are playing incredibly hard. They are third in the conference in what they are giving up on first downs.”

“Defensively, they have six returning starters and to say that they are multiple would be an understatement. They play pretty much very front you can play. They play every coverage you can play. They are very active and a pressure oriented football team. It is also starting with Ellerbee, their linebacker, who is third in the league in tackles and all over the field. He is a very active football player. Out of the top-20 players in the conference in tackles for loss, all our defensive lineman or linebackers, except for one and that is the safety for Rice, Tabari McGaskey, who is 14th in the country in tackles for loss. That shows you the aggressive nature, when a safety is that high in tackles for loss. They are going to give you a million looks. They are very complicated with what they do as a defense and they play really hard.”

“They have a senior quarterback who has done a good job of protecting the ball. In seven games he only has four interceptions. Their offensive line is big and their running back is by committee. They give you a lot to work on. You really wish you had more than a week to prepare, because of how multiple they are on both sides of the ball. We are excited to come back home and play in Joe Aillet Stadium. Right now we are 3-0 at home and excited to have a chance to come back and play a conference game at home. I am really excited about it and encourage everyone to come out and support this team, this week. It is definitely an advantage to play at home. On the road you will have the opportunity to go places and see different things. Going to Boston and Miami, you really only got to see the inside of a bus and a hotel room, but that is not we tell them. We tell them they are going to Boston and Miami. We got the opportunity to travel a little bit, but we are excited to come back home.”

Update on Jaqwis Dancy:

“He is going to have an opportunity to come back to Ruston tonight. It will be the first time he has really been back. He is going to check out of Memphis today, after his first wave of treatment. He will be here for a couple of weeks, before he has to go back. We are excited to get Jaqwis back and we want to thank everyone for their support, prayers, emails, tweets and everything. The way everyone has reached out to Jaqwis has made a huge difference and lets him know just how special he is to the Louisiana Tech family. I want to thank everybody for their support and let you know how excited we are to get him back home tonight and get an opportunity to wrap our arms around him, rather than just talking to him on the phone.”


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