Louisiana Tech Press Conference Transcript: Nov. 12


 

 

Nov. 12, 2012

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes and select student-athletes spoke with the media Monday about last week’s game at Texas State and this week’s upcoming game against Utah State.

Head coach Sonny Dykes

“I will announce our players of the week. We have two on offense with Kevin Saia and Kenneth Dixon. Defensively, it is IK Enemkpali, and then on special teams, our player of the week is Connor Nichols. Those guys all did a good job for us this last week.”

“Reflecting on the game this weekend, we knew going in it was going to be a hard-fought game. I think Texas State does a good job, and coach (Dennis) Franchione does a good job of building those games up. We knew with it being a home game against a ranked team, we would get their best shot. They were well prepared.”

“We were very fortunate to get a couple stops in the second half and play well enough on offense to win the game. We were disappointed we gave up as many points as we did. We had some issues at times getting them stopped, and then we were not very good in our kicking game this week as well. I think that hurt us at times.”

“Texas State had a good kicker and punter. We knew that going in, and they had a good return game. We gave up a 20+ yard punt return and a long kickoff return, and they did a good job of containing us for the most part.”


 

 

“We were fortunate to win. We really were lucky to make enough plays to win the ball game, but I thought it was a good win for us. Any time you go on the road and win, it is always a positive, and again, we did what it took to figure out how to win the game.”

“Moving forward, Utah State is a really good football team. When you look at them, they are very solid on special teams. They are really playing lights out defensively, and really playing well offensively. When you look at their games, particularly in the last month, they have gotten out to a big lead on everybody, and had a lot of opportunities to play a lot of players.”

“They have done a good job of playing well early. It is going to be important for us to get off to a good start and play well for 60 minutes. I think it is going to be a hard-fought, tough football game. That is what we expect, and I am sure we are going to need to play well, take care of the football, get more stops and create some turnovers. I think that is the thing; we have not gotten any turnovers in the last two weeks, and it is something we have to do a better job of doing down the stretch.”

On injuries affecting the defensive side of the ball:

“It has hurt us all year just in terms of continuity. If you look at guys, it has been hard to get settled in defensively just because we have had so many injuries and so many different guys. We will get them back healthy for a week and then they will not be able to practice, and then we are trying to get them ready for a game. It has just hurt our continuity a little bit.”

“That is an excuse everybody has this time of year. It is a part of college football, pro football and a part of high school football. Guys get injured and you have to move on and get the next guy ready. I think it has affected us, but we just have to play better.”

“We have to do a better job of getting our players prepared as coaches, and then we have to do a better job when we get into the ball games. That is something that has been a little bit of an issue for us this year. We have not played as well defensively as we would have liked.”

“We have never really gotten settled in. I think that happened to us on Saturday. They hit a couple drives on us early, and we got a little rattled and lost some confidence. All of sudden, they had their way with us a little bit.”

“We have to continue to get better and improve, and I think we are going to get more guys back this week. I am excited about that. I think we are healthier now than we have been since really the Virginia game. I think that is good. We needed to get guys back.”

On playing 12 games in a row without a bye:

“It is kind of weird just because we have been so banged up. It has kind of worked this way. You know we had those high-ankle sprains at Virginia with Solomon (Randle) and Justin (Ellis) that I think are finally starting to go away. (Javontay) Crowe has had a little bit of an issue I think he is working through.”

“It has just been one of those years where we have had a hard time with continuity defensively, but as I said, we are going to need those guys this week and we are fortunate to be getting a good group of them back.”

On Kendrick James’ return to the lineup:

“I think his leadership is going to mean as much as anything else. He is a guy our players really respect and look to. I think he will be a great calming influence on us. I think obviously he is a good player and will give us a good option at the defensive end spot. But, his leadership is probably going to be equally important.”

On the opportunity to clinch a share of the WAC title this weekend:

“They know. They have known for really the last month where we have been in terms of understanding this is a big football game. I think we probably have not played as well over the last month as we would have liked to in some ways, but I think our guys have known this has been coming for a long time.”

“I think we will be excited to play. Anytime the season starts, your first goal is to win a conference championship, and that is true with us. This game is going to be a big determining factor of who wins the conference championship.”

“We are going to need to play well. We are going to need to play better than we have been. It is going to need to be one of our best efforts this year to have a chance to win.”

On what makes Utah State a tough team to play:

“They have really been dominant. If you look at them, they are playing really, really good defense. That is the thing. They are just not giving up many points and drives and yards. They have just been a dominant football team defensively.”

“That has allowed them to pull away early in ball games. You go and watch the film and you look up midway through the second quarter and they are usually ahead 28-0 or 24-0 or 31-0. It seems like they have gotten off to a great start with people and have really been able to hold them off.”

“They are just playing well. That is the thing. You can see they are playing with a lot of confidence. They have a lot of leadership on the team. They do things the right way. They are in a great position defensively play after play after play. They have a lot of maturity in that group, and they are just playing at a high level.”

On whether Utah State will be the best defense Tech has faced:

“It certainly is statistically. I do not think you can argue with that. I think Texas A&M has a good defense and done some good things, but yeah I would think so. I think this group right here collectively is really, really good. You just look at them, and they are never out of place. Guys are in sync, and they just know how to play good defensive football.”

On the importance of playing this game at home:

“Yeah, it is big for us. It is a huge advantage to be at home this week. The way the schedule played out with them having a bye week before this game is tough on us, but I think us having the game at home helps us.”

“It is going to be senior day for us. We have a lot of seniors on the football team. They are going to want to play well in their last game at Joe Aillet Stadium. There are a lot of things that will be involved in this game that will be emotional for a lot of our players.”

“We are going to need to do a good job of sorting through that and remembering that football is all about doing their job and playing one play at a time and not to get caught up in the distractions that are out there. We are going to have to play well and our guys know that.”

On fan support playing a role in Saturday’s game:

“Yeah, I think it is a big deal for our program. I really do. I think games like this are always important to your program because it is a great measuring stick.”

“This is an 8-2 football team that lost two really tough games to BCS teams really. BYU has a good football team and one of the best defenses in the country. Wisconsin has really played well as of late. Utah State was a play away in both of those games from winning, so they are a good football team, but they are a better team now than when the season started.”

“The thing that is unique about this is when you get a chance to play in a big game like this, it is important to take the next step as a program. I think it is important for us to play well and beat a good football team at home.”

“I think it is important of our fan base to be supportive of what the product is and come out and support it. I think they will and I am looking forward to a great crowd on Saturday.”

On whether the offense feels as if they are pulling the weight of the defense:

“The good thing about this group is I have not seen any of it. I have not seen any talk or finger pointing and that kind of stuff. I think our offense right now has enough confidence that we feel they can score what they need to score in order to win.”

“When you have that approach, a lot of times you are living on borrowed time because a lot of times if you come up against a really good defense it is going to be difficult, and it will be for us on Saturday. We know that. Our players know that, so we are going to have to play better team football on Saturday than we played over the last couple of weeks.”

“Defensively, we are going to have to play better. We are going to have to play better in our kicking game. We cannot afford to have two three-and-outs we had on back-to-back possessions against Texas State.”

On Utah State’s offense:

“They do a little bit of everything. They run some option and they are a typical team that runs a lot of different things. It is a similar type style to San Antonio a little bit just in the fact that they play very multiple with tight ends, not with tight ends, two backs sometimes and one back.”

“It is just a little bit of everything. They have a really good offense and know what they are doing. They are well coached. The quarterback has really gotten better at playing at a high level.”

On the defense wanting a good showing against Utah State:

“Those guys are excited I am sure to get back out there. I think any time you do not play well, you want the next Saturday to come around as soon as possible. Our guys will prepare well this week.”

“As I have said, it is going to be nice to get a lot of guys back and get the guys in the positions they play, let them practice there all week and get them to the game probably better prepared than we have been just because again, they are going to have more opportunities to practice and see the looks we are going to need to prepare for the game.”

On the importance of balance in the run game:

“That is big for us. When we are scoring points and playing well, we are able to run the football. It just takes a lot of heat off your quarterback. A big part of the reason Colby (Cameron) has had the success he has had is our run game. He does not feel like he has to force balls. He does not feel like he has to make plays single handedly.”

“I thought we blocked better up front last week than we have in the last couple of weeks. I thought Kenneth Dixon ran better. I thought he looked fresher and looked like he looked a couple of weeks ago. I thought he got a little worn down, and he looked like the old Kenneth Dixon Saturday. We are going to need him to run well against Utah State, but it is always important for us to get our run game established.”

On the lack of sacks given up this season:

“Yeah, that is a byproduct of a lot of stuff. The style of offense we have is not…we do not run a lot of down-the-field passes. We run a lot of quick passes for the most part. It starts with your styles and schemes, and your offensive linemen are obviously playing well. You are not getting hit that much and you are not getting sacked.”

“The receivers are getting open and Colby (Cameron) is doing a good job of getting rid of the football. It is a little bit like the no-interception streak he has going. That is a byproduct of a lot of people. It is kind of an individual stat, but it really says a lot about the group collectively.”

On familiarity with winning a WAC title helping the team stay focused: 

“Well, I think so to a degree. I think anytime you are playing for something big against a good, good football team, players get that sense and they will be excited about playing at home, and as many guys as we have suiting up for the last time at home, those are all big deals.”

“I think our guys will be excited. I think there will be some emotion, but we have to work through that. The funny thing about emotion is it runs out pretty quickly and you have to go play the game and get settled in.”

“We have to do a good job of not being too emotional, being excited to play and not go out there and expend too much energy early in the ball game and not be able to maintain it for the whole game.”

On the team’s mood after the Texas State game:

“Really for the last month, we have been happy to win, but in a lot of ways disappointed we did not play as well as we could of. That is a sign of a good football team. When you go to Las Cruces and win by 14 points and not play great, we did not have any parties on the plane. It was kind of the same thing on Saturday.”

“Our guys know they have to play better. They know it is hard to win a football game in college. Look at people that got upset this week. Louisville got blown out by Syracuse. I do not think anybody saw that coming. Notre Dame goes to two or three overtimes against Pittsburgh.”

“With really good football teams, it is hard to win them all and play at that level week in and week out when you are talking about young kids, and really that is what they are. There is a lot of emotional stuff involved, matchups involved and staying healthy.”

“So many different factors go in to winning and losing week after week after week. We have to do a good job. 9-1 is a good record for us, but we know we are going to have to do better.

On using other upsets in football as a warning for the team not to let up:

“I think it is. It definitely is. I think you can talk to your guys about other people, but again, what you run into is they are young men and sometimes think their situation is different than somebody else’s. But we are to the point now where with these last two ball games we know what we are getting ourselves into.”

“These are two really good football teams. All you have to do is watch the tape. We are not going to show them the tape this week and show them how good they can be. They will see how good they are. It makes a difference.”

On Utah State’s quarterback Chuckie Keeton’s ability:

“He has always been a guy that can make plays. That is the thing about him is he can run around down on the field and run and get you a first down. What I like about him is he plays with a lot of emotion and confidence. He is doing a lot better job taking care of the football. He was a little reckless at times last year with the ball, and he does not do that this year.”

“He takes tremendous care of the ball, and I think that is the biggest part of why their offense has grown and gotten better. They do not turn it over much anymore. He is just a playmaker.”

“He is one of those quarterbacks that if you cover him, he takes off and if you rush on him, he will break a tackle or sidestep somebody and run down the field. Those guys are always a pain.”

On whether facing Johnny Manziel this season helps with helps with covering Keeton:

“I think it does to an extent. The schemes are different and the style of play is different. Our guys have seen a pretty good quarterback that can scramble and pull the ball back and really run fast, and Keeton is really similar in some ways.”

On Utah State program growing at the same pace of LA Tech:

“I think they have done a good job with their program. They built it doing it the right way. As I said earlier, you watch the film and see their players. They know what to do and know where the other guy is going to be.”

“Gary (Andersen) has done a good job and they have two really good coordinators that have done a good job of molding the scheme to fit their players. I have been really impressed with what they are doing on both sides of the ball. They are a good, solid football program. They are good on offense, defense and are really solid on special teams.

On the importance of turnovers this week:

“I think the turnover battle is always big, especially when you are struggling a little bit defensively. You have to be able to get some stops. We have not been very good on third down defensively, and turnovers are the way to combat that and it is a big equalizer.”

“We have to get some turnovers, and that is going to be important for us on Saturday; just getting another possession and taking away one of their possessions.”

 

Colby Cameron

On Quinton Patton being a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award:

“No, it is not real surprising.  He has been a tremendous player for us and it is just nice, being a quarterback, that you have such a great player like him out there on the field.”

On what Patton does to give defenses problems:

“He is just a great receiver.  He runs great routes, he blocks well and when the ball is in the air he always makes a play.  He has just done an awesome job for us and I am just happy he is on our side.”

On wanting to play their best football this Saturday against Utah State:

“Utah State is a great team.  I think it is encouraging for our team knowing that we have not played our best on both sides of the ball.  We have not played a complete game and I think once the offense, defense and special teams can all get on that same page I think we will have a real explosive game, and I think this week will be good to just focus on the little things and get better at the details.  Hopefully, we can play like we know we can.”

On continuing to keep the offense rolling:

“We are just going to focus on the details and do the little stuff right.  I think that is a big thing with our offense is we cannot get ahead of ourselves.  In practice, we cannot try to do too much.  We just have to stick to the basics and do what is involved as part of our scheme.  Our scheme is real basic and I think that is what helps us be so successful so we are just going to keep working hard and try to keep doing what we are doing.”

On getting some defensive players back this week despite not having a bye week:

“It is tough.  It is real tough.  Everyone is kind of beat up, but I think that is just kind of part of football and the season.  I think guys are just probably being more responsible with their bodies, getting more treatment during the season so they can be healthy.  It think that is going to be a big part of our success now is that guys are coming back and we will have more bodies to fill in spots that we have been missing so it will be nice to have them out on the field.”

On breaking the NCAA record of most consecutive pass attempts without an interception:

“It is pretty cool.  It is so funny that you think about it because people ask questions and stuff, but I really did not know as much about the interception.  I did not know that was a big stat.  People are like ‘yeah, it is an NCAA record’ and I am like ‘okay, cool.’  It is cool to be a part of and just to see guys that have been listed in that category, but yeah it feels nice to get it done with and now just get to worry about football.”

On being jinxed into throwing an interception:

“I have been hearing it for the past couple of weeks.  I guess we just have to keep doing what we are doing and not think about it because, I do not know, I guess it is part of the game and it will happen sooner or later at some point.  Hopefully, just keep the streak alive.”

On having superstitions:

“I do not.  I know sometimes in football you do things and you are like ‘is that a superstition?  Am I being superstitious?’  I try not to be.  I try to just go with the flow and let whatever happens, happen.”

On Utah State’s defense:

“From last year, we know that they are always well coached.  They always have a pretty good defense.  We are just looking forward to the challenge.  We have to definitely look at film today and get their basics and base stuff down.  Since we have been here, their coach is a great coach and we are just looking forward to the opportunity to play a good team and to really see how well our offense can do against a good defense.  I think that will be the fun challenge to see just the expectations and how we can really play against them.”

On taking away from other ranked teams getting upset:

“I think you just have to go into that know that we do have to play well no matter who you are playing.  We could be playing a not-a-great-record team or an awesome-record team, but I think it is just college football in that it puts in our mind that we can be beat by anyone.  I think it just gets us more focused knowing that when we see teams that play at 12 o’clock earlier that day that get beat, you know going into that you really have to focus and you cannot take an opponent’s record for granted.  You just really have to play hard and know that you have a chance that you could lose.”

On balancing emotions of this Saturday’s game:

“We know it is for the WAC Championship basically, so it is important to us and it is in our mind, but we are just going to go into it like we have throughout this whole entire season.  It is just go week by week and since this is Utah State week we are just going to try to do the little things right to get a win.  Obviously, once that win, if we can get it, will make it important.  I think we cannot get ahead of ourselves saying ‘alright, this is the WAC Championship,’ but it is in our mind.  We just have to focus on the little stuff in order to be successful in the game.”

On rarely being sacked:

“I think it starts off with a great offensive line.  Those guys have worked together all year.  They have done great for us and they always just keep getting better each week.  Obviously, Stephen Warner has been the man calling everything.  He has done a great job, and all those guys collectively have been just awesome.  Then we have a great running system with both backs that can do everything.  They can catch the ball out of the backfield and they can also, obviously, run the ball with Kenneth [Dixon] and Ray [Holley].  You can see with all the records that Kenneth has broken that we do have a great running game.  I think that makes it easier on the quarterback dropping back because teams cannot just bring pressure because we can run past them.  I think that helps a ton, and then going to our scheme, coach Franklin does a great job.  We can get the ball out pretty quick and I think it just makes team not want to blitz us because we can get it out so fast, so they have to drop back in coverage which means they are not rushing many.  I think all that together kind of sums up how we do not allow many sacks.”

On having so many options correlate with his no interception streak:

“I think that is just all part of coach Franklin’s scheme and how we run our offense.  I think that just helps knowing where to go with the ball and just being comfortable with the system that he runs also helps not forcing balls where I guess they do not need to be so.  It is a little luck, and at the same time, it is just how we have been coached.”

 

Mike Schrang

On the defensive struggles against Texas State:

“Texas State came to play.  They had a good scheme.  Being a ranked team now, we are going to get everybody’s best efforts.  They are very well coached.  They have a great staff.  That was about it.”

On seeing other ranked teams lose:

“You are going to get everybody’s best shot.  Texas State last week played very hard.  Knowing we are a good team, we are not going to have anybody overlook us anymore.  It is the same thing with Louisville going down.  I did not watch much of the game, but I saw the score.  Being a ranked team, and especially going into somebody else’s house, they are going to bring their best game.”

On getting more defensive players back for this Saturday:

“It helps us.  It gives us more depth in positions where players do not have to play as many plays.  It helps us get more rest and have fresher legs for the game.”

On having Kendrick James back:

“It is going to mean a lot.  He is a captain.  It is great having him back.  It is too bad he had to miss the games that he did, but as a defense we all love him and respect him.  He is going to bring a lot back to our defense this week.”

On playing 11 weeks in a row without a bye:

“It definitely takes a toll on your body, 11 weeks in a row with practice and game, week after week.  But it is something that you just have to go through and push through.  We have lost some players due to injuries, but every team does during the week and during the year.  We are not going to make an excuse for it.  We are just going to keep going and try to win the next game.”

On it being easier to focus with it being Senior Day and with the WAC title on the line:

“We usually stay pretty focused every week.  We just try to win the next game that is on the line.  This week, we going to prepare just as hard as we always do, but knowing that there is a WAC Championship game, it will bring more energy to practice and players are excited about this game, definitely.”

On being able to match Utah State’s defense:

“They have a great offense as well, and we are definitely going to have to step up this game as well and we know we will.  We work hard, and we are going to work harder this week to try to stop them and help our offense out.”

On Utah State’s offense:

“They have good players.  [Chuckie] Keaton is a very good quarterback.  He makes plays on his feet and through the air.  They have a good offensive line.  They have playmakers on that side of the ball that we are going to have to stop.”

 

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