I thought the guys practiced really well today. We kinda have a challenge out to our backups to play better. It felt like our offense went in and didn’t move the ball at times. We did score on a long run, but then also gave the ball back. Had a chance to finish the game. Ended up not making it on fourth down. They (North Texas) went down and scored on our second and third defense. Really challenged those guys to practice better and play better. We are going to need those guys throughout the year. Things happen. Injuries happen all the time. It is our challenge of the week with them.
We have a big test ahead of us. Go on the road against a team that 52-3 last year they beat us. This is a big challenge. Really good quarterback. We are going to have to play well and practice well in order to have a chance to win.
Looking at the game tape against North Texas, what are some of the things that you saw that impressed you that you maybe didn’t see right away?
I kinda noticed most of it. The offensive line played really well, obviously. Anytime that you have 800 yards, no punts, no sacks, no turnovers that is a lot of people doing things right. I would say the offensive line even though I noticed it during the game. I don’t see all the defense all the time because I’m making adjustments and stuff. I didn’t realize that #9 (Jalen Guyton) didn’t have any catches, so obviously great job by our guys in doing that…that was good because that was one of our big challenges. Coming in he was one of the premier players in the country at his position.
In talking to Jason (Driskel) on Saturday night, he thought one of the main reasons why the passing game worked was probably repetition. Do you think it is more than that?
That is probably part of it. I still think we have a long ways to go there even though the numbers don’t look like that from last week. But you know, a lot of those are run type of plays. When you flip the ball to Willie (Wright) right in front of you, on the first play of the game, it goes down as a pass for 27 yards, it goes down as a pass but that is really like a run. If you really look at it, we didn’t hit a lot of down-the-field passes really. I think only three of them. He (Jason Driskel) did a good job of getting the ball to the right guys and they would catch and run. That was the good part. We still have a ways to go there.
How about on the defense where they held down North Texas’ high-powered offense? How much does that help in preparing for Western Kentucky or is it different players and a different system?
I don’t know how much that helps. As you mentioned it is a different system. I think that is probably a little missed in the storyline of the game with all the offensive records and numbers. I think that we didn’t give up an explosive play in the first half, if I recall right, on defense for one of the more explosive teams in the country. The stats ended up not great because of our backups giving up big plays at the end. But, our guys played really, really well against the best offense in the conference on paper.
In a way is it a positive that the defense struggled so that you have it on tape and can show them we have something to work on still?
Obviously, we would like them to go in and play well. The fact is, they didn’t on defense. That is two games in a row that we have given up touchdowns at the end of the game with our backups in there. We expect those guys to prepare and play like everybody else does. The good part is, it is there for them to see how important it is because you may be playing. The game may be tight because one or two guys go down in front of you.
Is there an update on Raekwon (Williams)?
I don’t think he will play this week, no.
Do you worry about the attention?
It is good and bad. I think that it is positive. You want that. With success brings attention. That is what you want on your program. From the standpoint of recruiting, national exposure. That part is good. We spent two weeks on that, over the bye. Bringing our guys back down to earth. Pointing out games where everyone assumes the team is going to do well because they did well the week or two before. It doesn’t matter. I think our guys understand that. They practiced like that last week and prepared like that. That is the big challenge with that is really everywhere they go, to class, to restaurants, people are telling them how great they are. It is hard, at any age, not to listen to that, especially at a young age. We kinda do the opposite with them.
What went into the decision to get Kalib (Woods) back and what was it like having him back?
That decision was made by the school. We did not know it until very close to the game. He played a few plays. He didn’t play a ton. It is good to have him back in there. He wasn’t a significant factor in the game. So hopefully he will see more (time), now that we know he is playing, and practice that way. We didn’t really know, so we didn’t practice him with the ones. He was still doing service team stuff and a little of our stuff.
Early ideas on the type of role that he will play or is it let’s see how he looks practicing?
Hopefully, he can help us. We had him all spring so we know what he can do. He had a really good year. Kinda unusual at the midpoint of the year, when your offense is really starting to click that you get back, on paper, the best receiver from the year before. Hopefully he can help us out there, because that is our position that is not performing as well as the other positions.
Willie Wright, what is it like to have him as a burner down field?
Willie has done a great job. As a true freshman, not coming in at mid-year so we didn’t have him for the spring and really gives us something that we don’t have at that spot, pure explosion that can just flat out run by people. It is good. He was banged up there. He had the big first game and got hurt. He only played like 25 plays and really for a couple of weeks he was really hurt there. You kinda saw that, losing him and early obviously Kalib (Woods) wasn’t there, Kam (Kamrin Solomon) wasn’t there. That is a lot of missing parts in there.