LA Tech Weekly Football Press Conference Transcript: Nov. 14

Nov. 14, 2017

Holtz Audio

Sloan Audio

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz spoke with the media Tuesday in advance of the team's Conference USA road game against UTEP on Saturday, Nov. 18 at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso.

Head Coach Skip Holtz

Opening comments:

"When you look back at FAU, I was certainly disappointed with the result when you look at the score in that football game. At the same point in time, I think there are some positive things in that game to take from. I know ultimately it is about winning and not losing and I am certainly disappointed with the result of the game, but there were some positive things going on that we can look at and take from this."

"Defensively, anytime you look a player to injury like a Jaylon Ferguson you get concerned, but I thought Matthew Ydarraga stepped in and played one of the best football games since he has been here. I thought he was all over the field. He was our MVP after watching the film with doing little things the right way. Sometimes when there is an injury, it gives a guy an opportunity to step up and I thought Matthew Ydarraga did a great job in this football game defensively. I felt like Deldrick Canty and Jordan Bradford played a really solid game up front on the defensive line. I thought at safety -- Secdrick Cooper, who had about 12 tackles was all over the field and stepping in and playing some linebacker for us. I thought Jordan Baldwin played one of his best games. Also DaMarion King and Elliot Blankenship -- I thought our safeties tackled very well. You talk about a guy who was leading the country in forced missed tackles and for us to only have six missed tackles on the day as a defense, I thought there were some really good things to build on from a defensive standpoint. Unfortunately, the negatives are the uncontested deep balls. The 14 points we gave up when we were in man coverage and a guy lost his eyes. They ran a reverse pass with the quarterback. They ran a double move where we lost our eyes and we weren't as disciplined as we needed to be. Obviously, on a third and 18 when we have them backed up and to give up a pass interference -- those are the types of mistakes you cannot make in a football game against a good football team. We had an opportunity to force them to punt and gave them that opportunity back with the pass interference, and then the two uncontested deep balls were definitely a point of frustration. As a secondary guy, you can play 50 really good plays and you have two minuses, and normally when those come in the secondary, they put points on the scoreboard. Those are things we cannot do and we have to continue to get better at, but I thought our safeties and defensive line really played a pretty good football game against a very explosive offensive football team."



"I think on the offense it was the same thing with things to build on. It was a zero turnover day against a team that was leading the country in turnovers. If you would have told me J'Mar [Smith] would have thrown it 50 times and not put the ball in danger against that defense, we will take it. I thought he really played a very conscientious game as far as not turning the ball over. It can be cleaner, he can do some things better, but I thought he gave us a chance to win with the way he played and the way he protected the football. I think guys like Teddy Veal, Rhashid Bonnette, Marlon Watts and Kam McKnight continue to have a really solid season for us. Adrian Hardy stepped in and had six catches. Unfortunately, he had the one penalty that hurt us a little bit. But some of those guys getting healthy again is really making a difference, and not just having them on the field, but making a difference with a guy like J'Mar having confidence to throw the ball in those directions. I thought there were positive things in the passing game. We had 512 yards on the day and 32 first downs. A guy like Boston Scott with Jarred Craft being out with his injury last week -- I thought Boston did a great job of stepping up and carrying the load. I thought he really played a good game. Up front, I thought [Joshua] Outlaw, [Ethan] Reed, [Shane] Carpenter, Kody Russey and [Michael] Rodriguez -- I think some of those guys on the offensive line did some really good things."

On struggling in the red zone:

"The elephant in the room and the negative on offense -- everyone asks with all these positives; how do you lose? You give up uncontested deep balls on defense that resulted in 14 points and you had four trips into the red zone where you kicked field goals where those had opportunities to be touchdowns. The red zone struggles, the defensive big plays and then the third quarter meltdown on special teams that more or less add to 21 points when you give up a kick return for a touchdown, you have a 7-yard punt and a 12-yard punt. It doesn't help your causes. That led to a 22-point third quarter and from that standpoint, you are playing catchup. I felt really good at halftime when it was 20-9. We had kicked three field goals down in the red zone and given up two big plays, but I felt like if we could go clean some of those things up in the second half we would have a chance. Unfortunately, in the third quarter we really struggled from a special teams standpoint. I have sat up here the last couple weeks and talked about the growth and some of the positive things we did, which was one of the frustrating things because I think our special teams had done some really positive things."

"You lose that football game and we are now 4-6 and in the big picture, to try and get to bowl eligibility you have to get to six, so we have to find a way to win two football games. We have two games left. There is still an awful lot to play for. If you can take this team to a bowl game and say thank you to guys like Jarred Craft, Secdrick Cooper, Deldrick Canty, Jonathan Barnes and Boston Scott -- guys that have been key plugs to what we have done here and the success we have had the last three years -- that is one of the things that drives us right now to find a way to finish this thing up the right way. This is a season that has been frustrating for all, but hopefully everyone is frustrated enough where we can roll our sleeves up and clean up some of the mistakes so we can put our best foot forward and find a way to go win a football game."

On facing UTEP on the road this week:

"We have to focus on UTEP this week. Everybody wants to talk about the big picture of two. We don't have that luxury. Right now, you cannot win them both if you don't win the first one. We cannot win two games this week, we can only win one. We have to put all our efforts, thoughts and everything we are trying to do to find a way to win the game against UTEP. I know Coach Price is the interim head coach and a very experienced coach. I have known him for a long time. He does a really good job as a coach. I think this is a very physical group when you look at UTEP. The last couple years, they have been power I, run the ball downhill. They get big. They play very, very physical and their defense shows that in the way they play. This is a very physical football team. Everybody wants to look at their record and see they haven't won a game. They lose a one-point game to Western Kentucky. It is always hard to play out there. We have struggled out there. They missed a field goal a couple of years ago out there for us to win. Even last year, it was 14-7 in the fourth quarter against them right out here and we scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to win 28-7. I think they are a competitive group. I think they are a physical group. There is certainly not any quit in them. They are going to play extremely hard. They have very talented players, a big offensive line. Four of them return. Their best player on defense is their linebacker, Alvin Jones. It seems like he has been there forever. I know his brother Aaron Jones was the tailback there, but he is a force. He is far and away their leading tackler and incredibly active on defense with what he does at linebacker. This one is as much about us as anything. Just like when I talked about some of the positive things from last week, we cannot give up uncontested deep balls for touchdowns. We cannot get in the red zone and kick field goals and then come back and say we want to have a chance to win. We have to get those things cleaned up. I think this is a big week about us cleaning up and playing to the level that we want to play at more so than it is just trying to find a way to win. We have to get better and clean up a lot of things in our own house before we can get that done."

On this being finals week for the players:

"It is going to be a busy week for our players. This is our last week of the quarter. We have a lot of final exams this week, a lot of final papers due. Thursday is our last day of class, so it will be a very busy week for our players academically. At the same point in time, there is still an awful lot to play for and I think we need to look at what we need to do to get better as a football team. As coaches, we need to look at what we can do to coach better, what we can do to teach man coverage better. We have to look at what we can do as an offense in the red zone to give our players a better chance to have success. Those are the things we are focused on right now with trying to get some of those things cleaned up as we get into the football game this weekend. Like I said, there is an awful lot to play for and I think our players are really excited about having the opportunity to play."

On injuries:

"We expect Brandon Durman to be back this week. I expect Jaylon Ferguson to be back this week. Russell Farris had an opportunity to play a couple plays last week. Jury is still out on Jarred Craft on whether or not he is going to be able to play, but I do feel like with the other three, it will be nice to have them back. Getting some of the receivers back and some of the linemen back with Outlaw back last week and getting Jaylon Ferguson back. We just got Canty back and getting the two linebackers back. I think it will be an adrenaline shot right now and a big boost of confidence for our football team."


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