LA Tech Weekly Football Press Conference Transcript: Nov. 7
Nov. 7, 2017
RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz spoke with the media Tuesday in advance of the team's Conference USA home game against Florida Atlantic on Saturday, Nov. 11 at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston.
Head Coach Skip Holtz
"I want to start by saying I know how hard hit so many people around the country were with some of the shootings that have been going on lately and just our thoughts and prayers go out to so many people in Sutherland Springs for the pain, heartache and unnecessary suffering for so many people. It is a trying time in our country right now and our thoughts and prayers definitely go out to the people in Texas who are going through such a hard time."
"In review of the North Texas game last weekend, as we said after the game, it is certainly frustrating to be so close and not be able to close the door. To have the lead in games like South Carolina, Southern Miss and North Texas and not be able to close it out when having the opportunities that we did like at UAB and not being able to put points up there at the end has been very frustrating. It is a shame because there are so many people on this team that are competing so hard and some great individual efforts through about 57 minutes of the game. You cannot ask a lot more out of these players than what they are giving us right now. As frustrated as we are, that frustration needs to kind of turn to anger and then turn to determination and passion to get it resolved and get it fixed. We all have to look at ourselves, myself as a head coach included, and things that I could do better, things the staff could do better, what we can do a better job of with giving our players an opportunity to execute, and what we could do better as an offense, defense and special teams in order to close out some of these close games."
"I think from a special teams standpoint, it was probably one of our strongest performances of the year when you look at the job our kickoff team did, the way Jonathan Barnes is kicking off with the amount of touchbacks that he has, the kickoff return team had two returns that got out to about the 28-yard line, the way Brady Farlow is punting the ball. There are just so many positives and some guys really stepping up. Jaden Cole had a great play as a freshman who went down and made a tackle that helped flip the field. Guys like Trey Spencer, DeJuawn Oliver, Alex Zayed -- so many guys that are really playing a key role for us on special teams. I think when I look at our special teams performances, there were a lot of great individual efforts that I think put ourselves in a position to win the game. That is why I said it is frustrating because there are so many positives to build on, but ultimately there is a win-loss column at the end of the day and those strikes are not falling on the proper side."
"Offensively, it was good to have Rhashid Bonnette back for his first game back as he has missed I think three of the last four games. He came in and made his presence felt. Teddy Veal continues to be really solid. Ethan Reed played his second game over at left guard this week and I thought did a really nice job. Joshua Outlaw in his first game back after missing a couple with his ankle I thought played really well up front. Marlon Watts continues to play steady and DeJuawn Oliver. I thought J'Mar [Smith] made some great plays with his feet, with the touchdown right before half. There was a scramble on fourth down where he found Rhashid Bonnette, a scramble on third down where he found Kam McKnight. I thought he did some really good things when the play broke down with his feet and with his arm to help keep some drives alive."
"Defensively, I was really proud of the improvements we made. Some guys continue to stand up and really do a great job for us. I am really proud of the way the corners are playing. We talked a lot about some of the injuries that happened earlier in the year with Michael Sam which has given the opportunity to guys like Amik Robertson, Trey Spencer and L'Jarius Sneed, who was back after missing two games. I think some guys really stepped up and played well. Secdrick Cooper and Darryl Lewis continue to play well at safety. Matthew Ydarraga has been a guy that has really stepped up with the injury to Deldrick Canty a couple weeks ago and then with the injury to Jaylon Ferguson going out of the game. He has really stepped up and played some great minutes for us. I thought Canty played well. It is great to see Courtney Wallace really start to come along. Courtney has really started to come into his own. We talk about improvement on your football team and a guy like Courtney Wallace is really showing great signs. He redshirted last year with a broken foot as a defensive lineman. He got up to about 350 pounds and he is now back down to about 315 and really starting to play well with his conditioning and he is playing with a lot of anger inside. I really like what he is doing."
"Like I said, it is frustrating to have so many positive things going on with the growth of some of these players and to see how close we are, but yet we are not there yet. We have been in a series of one-point losses during the course of the season so far, which is unusual to say the least that a team would go through this many close games in a football season, but like I said, we have to find a way to finish some of these games out because we are doing some really good things during the course of the day."
On hosting Florida Atlantic this week:
"This week, it doesn't get any easier. FAU comes to town this week. Lane Kiffin has done a great job with this team. This team has an awful lot of talent. They are 6-3 right now and they have been on a string of reeling off five straight wins in the conference. You look at their five wins and they are not close games and against some of the better teams in our league. You are talking about Western Kentucky, Marshall, Middle Tennessee and North Texas. The way they are playing right now, they are playing really good football and I think it all starts with what they are doing on offense."
"They have a tailback right now that is leading the conference in rushing and all-purpose yardage with what he is doing. I think he accounted for about 250 of their 350 yards this weekend, but [Devin] Singletary right now is playing really well. They rank in the top 20 as an offensive football team in the country. They lead our league in rushing. I think they are ranked seventh in the country in rushing. They rank fifth in yards per carry in the nation. Singletary is a really special back. He is very patient. They run a lot of zone schemes and he is very patient and very difficult to stop because he is very hard to bring down, but yet he has the speed and vision that when he gets out into open space he can make a lot of things happen."
"Defensively, I think they are playing really good defensive football. They are not giving up very many big plays. You look at their big plays through the season, it was like eight in the opening game and then it starting going down. It went from like eight to seven to five to two. They are keeping the ball in front of them. They are very athletic. Again, they are doing an unbelievable job. They are No. 1 in the country in creating turnovers. I believe they have 24 turnovers on the season, which is really impressive as they are nine games into the season. I believe that is with 18 interceptions. You can tell the athleticism they have as a secondary, and as a defense, they run very well."
"This will be a great challenge for us this week not only to play with confidence after losing a number of close games, but also with the caliber of opponent that we have coming in here this weekend. I am hopeful this week that we can get a number of players back from an injury standpoint. Jaqwis Dancy has missed the last couple of weeks with an ankle. We will find out a little bit more today, but I am hopeful that he will be back. Elliot Blankenship should be back. Zach Cousar has a chance to be back. O'Shea Dugas -- I am very hopeful he will be back. I know that with both Russell Farris and Brandon Durman, our two linebackers, we are going to learn a little bit more about them today out at practice and hopefully we can start to get some of these back."
On frustrations with injuries:
"It will be for our 10th football game and we have not had the same lineup two weeks in a row on the offensive line. I think that is the biggest frustration we have right now on the inside. You want to see growth from game one to game 10. You want to see your team develop, evolve. We talked a lot during the course of the year and the beginning part of the year about the process we are going through with a lot of new faces. You end up playing some guys early and they gain experience and they keep getting better and better as the year goes on. You hope by the time you get to mid-October, November that you are playing really solid football. The frustration we have had is just it seems like every week you are going out there on Tuesday trying to find out who you have and then trying to put the pieces together to put the best picture together on game day. We have been close, but we have not been able to get that done. Hopefully, we can get some of these guys back, develop a little more continuity and have a great week of practice. I do know the one thing is that the culture of this football team for the last four years that has been built is a blue-collar approach, hardworking and determined. That is the only way I know how to get through this difficult time right now is to get back up on the practice field today, get some of the game plan things implemented and polished up this week, and then hopefully we can go put our best foot forward on Saturday."
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