Nov. 19, 2012
RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes and select student-athletes spoke with the media Monday about last week's game versus Utah State and this week's upcoming game at San Jose State.
Head coach Sonny Dykes
"I kind of have a casual look today. We are practicing here in a little bit, so I have got my practice clothes on, so I will go straight from here to the practice field today."
"It is good to get back and get going. I think when you lose a game like that it takes a little bit of time to get over it. That is what we did last night. Since it is quarter break, we changed their schedule a little bit. We kind of put the last game behind us and really turned our focus and attention to getting ready for San Jose State. That is kind of where we are."
"Last week was a tough week on us in a lot of different ways with preparation for the game and you know our players had finals last week. I thought that was a little bit of an extra drain on the guys in a pretty critical week, but it was just kind of the way the schedule worked out."
"But as I said, I was happy with the way our guys fought back. I was disappointed in the loss, but as I have said, we put it behind us and move on."
"San Jose State has a good football team; great record; a 9-2 team. They are just a good, solid football team. They remind me a lot of Utah State. They do it a little differently than they do, but it is a good defense, good offense and good special teams."
"They are just a good overall football team. We will have to play well. We are going to have a good week of preparation. Again, I think the change of schedule will be good for us. We have just been on the same routine now for about 17 weeks really without an open date."
"This will give us an opportunity to change some things up a little bit and hopefully get our players a little bit of rest and get away from football enough to recharge their batteries a little bit."
"As I said, this week it will be important for us to get in here in the morning and get our work done, and then get the players away a little bit. We will rein them in obviously as the week goes on, but it should be a good week for us that way and I am excited to get back out here and try to get another win against a good football team."
On dealing with last week's loss and a tough road game this week:
"I think both teams feel a little disappointed. I am sure San Jose was rooting for us Saturday just to have a chance to knock us off and get a share of the WAC Championships."
"I think both teams are dealing with some disappointment that this is not for the championship, but I think both teams have a lot to play for. We are both 9-2. One team is going to be a 10-win team. That does not happen very often in college football, so it is a very difficult thing to do; to win 10 regular season games."
"Our guys are playing for that, and I am sure we will be playing to make ourselves more attractive for some of the people in the bowl selection. As we talked about earlier, as Patrick alluded to, I think the opportunity to win 10 regular season games is something this program has never done as a Division I member, so those are all things that are out there for us."
"I think the biggest thing is our guys just like to compete. I think they like to compete, like to play. I think they know how important it is to represent our university and football program well. Playing on ESPN 2, I am sure our guys will be excited about that opportunity."
"I expect to load up and go play against a good football team, and I expect us to play well Saturday. I think we won 10 consecutive road games, which is quite an accomplishment, and we would like to keep that streak alive."
On the loss to Utah State and second-guessing calls:
"Not really. I think we did the right things down the stretch and gave ourselves a chance to win. Our defense really played well, so I think the decision to kick it deep gave us a chance. I felt like we could get a stop. We had two timeouts, I thought we could get a stop and get the ball back with time to kick a field goal, and it kind of played out that way, so it kind of worked well that way."
"Obviously you are always happy when certain play calls work and disappointed when they do not work, but we ran 107 plays in that game I think is what is was, and sometimes our players make bad play calls sometimes, and sometimes good play calls do not work as well as you want them to. That is football and that is the way it always works."
"I felt really good about the way we managed the game. I was incredibly impressed. For there to be three minutes to go in the game and we throw an interception in the end zone down two scores, and to still have to wherewithal to get the game to overtime; I thought it was pretty impressive."
On whether playing Utah State's defense will help against San Jose State:
"I think so. I think this is one of the better teams we have played all year that we are going to play, so our guys will be excited just about playing a good football team, and again, the implications of it all."
"They are different teams. They are similar in the fact that they are good, solid football teams, but San Jose is going to throw the heck out of the ball. Their approach is going to be a little bit different than Utah State's."
"Same thing defensively; San Jose is going to be probably not as exotic in some of the things they do defensively, but it is a very good defense as well. I think our guys will just be excited about going out and playing."
"I really feel confident about this group, so I do not think we have to have any long motivational speeches or that kind of stuff. I think this group will rally and want to go play, and again, they want to represent Louisiana Tech as best as they possibly can, so I think our guys will play incredibly hard and play well Saturday."
On similarities between San Jose State and LA Tech:
"We are both kind of emerging programs. When you are a program that is fighting for respect, and we have gotten a level of it this year just because of our start, I think our guys want to get back in the Top 25 and want to end the season in the Top 25. In order to do that, we are certainly going to have to win on Saturday."
"I am sure their guys feel the same way. They want to get in the Top 25 and they think they are probably worthy of it, and I do too. They are like us and have played a good non-conference schedule. They have some nice wins. They played a very competitive, hard-fought game against Stanford early on and lost. They have beaten good people and beat a really good BYU team Saturday."
"We are just similar; similar in a lot of ways. They can move the football and score points, so I think both teams are certainly capable of scoring a lot of points"
On the similarities between the Utah State defense and San Jose State's:
"It is a different style of play. Utah State is inclined to be a little bit more man team than San Jose on the back end. San Jose is a little bit more like our defense and where you have an idea of where they are going to be lined up. They are not going to show you a million different looks."
"Their deal is to kind of play fundamental defense. They will always have a little adjustment they do. They play us a little differently than they play other teams in the past on film. There will be some kind of adjustment we have to make. They will have some kind of scheme ready for us."
"One thing they do a really good job of is their offense does a really good job early in ball games of scheming big plays. They create good matchups and have always been able to make big plays early in ball games, so we are going to need to be really prepared defensively and make sure we are doing a good job of knowing our assignment and playing with technique and making sure we are doing our job on every play."
On making adjustments after slow starts in games:
"It is one of those things where in both cases I wish we did not have to make those adjustments, but really it was more about execution than it was us going in and making a lot of adjustments. In those situations we got sucked in and played better."
"The thing we talked to the team about is when you are trying to get yourself on the map as a football program it is a really hard thing to do. You are going to have some games that people on the outside consider to be big games, and in our program we consider every game to be big."
"Some games where people perceive it to be big games; you look at Texas A&M and Utah State and both times we did not probably play as well in those games early on in particular that we needed to win. Both times we had to rally late and gave ourselves a chance to win, but we dug too deep of a hole to get back in the game to the extent we wanted to."
"I think we have to do a better job of not paying as much attention to the hype as we have in those two perceived big games, because we certainly have to put our best foot forward in both of those games." "The other teams certainly had something to do with it, but I think we have seen in the second half of both of those games what this team is capable of and what we have to do to get them to execute and play at that level for four quarters."
On how you prepare the team to not have a slow start to games:
"It is a hard thing to. When your team is going through this for the first time; when you have representatives here from the Orange Bowl, people are talking about BCS and you have a BCS ranking for the first time in school history and a Top 25 ranking."
"When you have all these outside influences that are distractions and kind of what we have talked about with it being an annoyance in the past, you have to have a level of maturity to not let yourself get caught up in it and not let it affect you."
"I think to some extent most of that stuff has gone away and that is what happens in ball games. Typically that wears off and all of a sudden it is a football game and you have to play football like you have always played football."
"That has to be our charge in the future is when we get into these situations we do a better job of preparing our guys as coaches and we do a better job of just going out and playing because it is enough. We told them over and over leading up to both games that if we just go out and play Louisiana Tech football and play good, solid football, we will win."
"I think we made too many mistakes in both games and dug ourselves too big of a hole, but I do think people can look at those games and say those guys can play with anybody. I think we have proven that."
On the similarities between Johnny Manziel and Chuckie Keeton:
"It is funny. There is a difference. Manziel is probably more dynamic as a runner. Chuckie is a really good runner. Chuckie is probably a little bit better passer than Manziel honestly and probably works better in the framework of their offense a little bit."
"Manziel is such a talent that you almost want him to be creative and probably encourage him at A&M to be creative because he can just make plays that other people cannot."
"There is not that much of a difference between those two teams. There is really not. They are just two good football teams. I know it is blasphemy to say that because one is in the SEC and one is in the WAC, but the truth is there is really not that much of a difference. They are both very, very good football teams."
"A&M is probably a little bit more talented, but Utah State is probably a little bit further along in their execution just because that coaching staff has been there a long time and they are a little bit more diverse in what they do, certainly on defense."
"They are comparable teams. I think if Utah State was in the SEC, they would be a competitive team. I do not know if they would be a conference champion or anything, but they would be a competitive football team."
On whether the late kick against San Jose State makes a difference:
"Not really. It does a little bit because it is so late. The fourth quarter is going to be at 1 a.m. central time for us, but our guys stay up late anyway. It is not going to be anything that will be too difficult."
On losing defensive players to injury:
"I wish I had a little bit better answer for you. I do not know. They are guys that are kind of going to be like we have had all year from an injury standpoint. Not much practice on the front end, and hopefully we get them back on the back end."
"That has been part of the reason why we have just had a hard time improving much defensively just because we have not had anybody to practice with. We are practicing with guys sometimes that are not playing."
"It has just been a challenge trying to put all the pieces together and that is kind of an excuse, but there is some truth to it. It does affect your growth and the way your guys develop when they cannot practice the first part of the week."
"We have some guys I think that have gotten a little bit healthier. We have a couple that got banged up Saturday, so we will see how all the parts fit together. Like I said, I wish I had a better answer, but I do not know how they will progress over the week."
On future bowl possibilities:
"There has been a little talk, but it has not been too much really. I think it is kind of one of those things where it is out of our control. We just have to play our games and where they stick us, they stick us. We will be happy to go."
"Our guys just want to play another game, and it will be huge for our development for our younger players. We have a pretty aggressive schedule we will use to get ready and start working on next year's team and preparing for this year's game as well. It will give us a huge head start for spring football next year."
"I think that is why it is so important to go to bowl games is you get 23 practices really to get better as a football team. You have to use every opportunity you can to not only improve this year's team, but next year's team as well."
On how much it helps that ESPN 2 will broadcast this next game:
"That is big. I think you want to have exposure for your program, and I think we have made a name for ourselves to an extent this year. When you are a non-BCS team, it does not happen overnight. Boise did not become Boise in one season. It was a progression. It was a lot of work and consistency."
"That is how you learn as a program is you have a game like Saturday night and you have an opportunity to teach from that game. You show the players the film and really you learn as coaches."
"We talked about the two things you have to learn from. Keep your head down and keep grinding. This football team is never down and we have proven that against A&M and we proved it Saturday against Utah State. We proved it last year against Nevada, so when you have a frame of reference like that, you can walk into halftime down 17-3 and after a really bad performance and tell your team that they have been there before."
"We rallied and won these games late and your players have a frame of reference. What you do now is you play a game like we did the other night and lose and then learn from it and now leading up to the game you have another frame of reference of avoiding distractions."
"We have to do a good job of putting everything out of our minds except just going out and playing football, and I think that is something again that we can teach from and our players will learn and we will grow as a program. The next time we are in that situation we will handle it better."
On whether he sensed the team was distracted early last week:
"Not really. Again, I am not trying to place blame. Utah State played a good football game, and really truthfully we turned it over four times and they did not. That was probably the difference. We had two interceptions, a blocked kick and a fumble, so when you look at that, that is a simplified way to do that."
"When you lose a football game, it is always a lot of different things, but I do think our level of play early in the ball game was not up to our standards and certainly not what we have done most of the time this year. It does give you a chance to learn."
"We try to just talk to our players about playing one play at a time; do not being distracted by anything. That was kind of our theme during the week. Sometimes you do a good job of getting messages across and other times you do not. Next time we will do a better job of getting the message to them."
On the team's Thanksgiving plans:
"We will practice Thursday morning and then have a Thanksgiving dinner together about 1 p.m. Thursday, so instead of practicing at one in the afternoon that day we will practice at 11 a.m. We will do our meetings and stuff in the morning, practice at 11 and then have Thanksgiving at 1 p.m. That is the plan."
On what Thanksgiving means to the Dykes family:
"When you have a 4 year old daughter and an 18 month old; before you have kids, I am not sure you really get the whole Thanksgiving thing. Once you have kids you get into it a little more honestly just because you realize how lucky you are to have a good family and healthy kids and how lucky we are to be here and be part of a Division I football team, a successful team and a team that has great fan support."
"Thanksgiving is a big deal for us, our family and our team because it is a chance to kind of reflect. I think that is the hard thing about this business and coaching is that you really do not have time to reflect during the season at all. It is always on to the next thing. You do not really have time to smell the roses."
"We will hopefully look back after San Jose and be able to enjoy it a little bit for what it is. It has been hard for us this year just because of the games building and the magnitude of the games building. You want that."
"You want to be playing for things in December. When you are playing big games in December that means you are where you want to be and you have accomplished your goals to put yourself in position to play in those games. I said December, but I meant November. I am getting my months wrong."
"That is kind of the idea. But as you said, Thanksgiving to me is about family, and that is what this team is. We are a big family and it is a great opportunity to spend time together and get to appreciate each other."
On the lack of defensive turnovers forced in the last three games:
"I do not have an explanation really. Utah State did a good job of taking care of the ball. I thought their quarterback was smart. If you look at what they did, they dropped back, went through a read or two and then he got out of the pocket pretty quickly. He pulled the ball down and ran with it and did a good job not forcing it."
"I think it started there. We had a couple of opportunities. I thought we were trying to strip the ball and got close to getting the ball out and just did not quite get it done. They had a kickoff return where I thought we were going to get it out, but did not do it."
"Turnovers are a funny thing. Sometimes you get them, and then sometimes you do not. We have to do a better job of getting them. That is three weeks in a row we have not gotten any. As a result, we have been in some dog fights, so it is important for us defensively to get turnovers."
On coaching rumors and addressing the team about it:
"We really do not address it with the players. They know how this deal is. They read stuff like everybody and know that with a lot of it there is not much to it. They know I am going to coach them as hard as I can coach them, and they are going to play as well as they can play. Really, we do not address it, so nothing has changed in that regard."
Running back Kenneth Dixon
On if he was feeling better after being sick last week:
"Yeah, I am feeling better."
On having to get an IV in order to feel better and play:
"Yes sir, as soon as I had it I felt a lot better. It was just the fear of needles that was bad."
On the change of schedule helping the team out:
"Yeah, I feel like it is a good thing. It is always nice to change things up I guess."
On whether he could have imagined the type of season he has had:
"No sir, I just do what I have to do to help the team win."
On what he expects when facing San Jose State and the similarities with Utah State:
"I guess the same as it was against Utah State and the same as it is every game; just run hard and take what you can."
On which teammate will eat the most food on Thanksgiving Day:
"Probably me. Yeah, I eat a lot."
On what he is thankful for this season:
"I am thankful for my teammates. I am thankful for my coaches giving me a chance to come in and play. I am thankful to be here and thankful for all of it."
Wide receiver Quinton Patton
On working with Kenneth (Dixon's) stage fright:
"Yeah, we are going to work on it just a little bit with his short answers."
On coming back after a tough loss to Utah State:
"Yeah, we had a tough loss Saturday, but we have a 24-hour rule. We come here after a loss or a win, take it to the chin for 24 hours to either congratulate ourselves or feel sorry for ourselves, but then it is on to the next game."
"We have a lot to play for; a 10-win season. Tech has never had a 10-win season. We will have another good bowl game. We wanted to be a BCS buster, but it is always good to go to a bowl game. It is always good to be recognized at the end of the season as one of the best teams." On having the majority of his yards against Utah State come in the second half:
"The second half was just like the first half really. We started throwing the ball down field like we did in the first half, but in the second half we just started making more plays when it was coming down to a physical ball game. In physical ball games sometimes, they are going to call some calls and not call some, so you just have to play through it."
On the similarities between LA Tech and San Jose State:
"There is not a team like my team."
On having Caellan Carmichael, the Make a Wish kid, at the Utah State game:
"It was heart-touching to see Caellan here again because you do not know what people are going through in their lives and we take stuff for granted. You should never take anything for granted because it might seem like you are having a bad day and feeling sick or something, but you just do not know how other people are feeling and it could be much worse."
On whether the Utah State loss was tougher to get over:
"Every loss is tough. A loss is a loss. A win is a win. It is just like every other loss; every other win. It is just 24 hours to get over it and keep believing. With every game, you want to win, but in reality and a perfect world you are not going to win every game."
On Utah State and San Jose State being similar:
"We just have to bring it like we did in the second half and just make the routine plays. In football, you may never see those plays again, but you just have to make those plays when the ball is thrown to you no matter what the defense is doing; just make the play."
On adjusting to the physicality of the Utah State defense:
"Yeah, it was an adjustment because some things were getting let go in the game that I did not know would get let go, but I am not one to complain about calls. I am just a natural ball player. You just have to make those plays."
On the impact Ruston has made on his life:
"It has changed my life since I have been down here. I have made many friends I want to keep for a long time and coaches I want to communicate with for a long time; for the rest of my life. You will be seeing me around here like Karl Malone, Coach Weatherspoon and Coach Dykes."
On changing the practice routine up because of quarter break:
"It is a good thing to change stuff up because sometimes football teams get bored with the same thing over and over for 11, 12 and 13 weeks and since camp just doing the same things. It is good to change things up and let us rest at night instead of practicing early so we can have the whole day off."
On the slow starts this season:
"To tell you the truth, I do not know. Sometimes we start off fast. Sometimes we start off slow. It just happens to be that we started off slow against some of the big games as you said, but every game is a big game in football. It is hard to win in this league."
On the rankings and outside noise being a distraction:
"No, we do not pay attention to that noise."
On being a team leader and getting the younger guys focused:
"I just try to tell them the polls do not mean anything because there are teams working that are not ranked that is working as hard as us or harder than us. At the snap of a finger, with one loss you could be out. With two losses they will not even know you existed in the top rankings, so I just tell them you have to win every game every time we go out there."
On teams playing him more physical as the season has progressed:
"Yeah, I have seen more physical play these last couple of weeks by defenses, but that is football. It is a brutal contact sport and I love it."
On what he says to opposing defenses to get in their head:
"I don't know; whatever comes to my head. I do not know. No comment."
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