Nov. 18, 2013
BOCA RATON, FLA -
On the Team’s Performance at USM
Not surprised. Our guys prepared. When you prepare to win. We prepared to come out to play fast right off the bat. Our guys did that. It is always a positive as a coach, when you prepare a certain way and then the guys go out and execute it.
The Offensive Line’s Match up with USM?
They did a lot of things differently, defensively, throughout the course of the season. A lot of different types of blitzes, a lot of different types of stunts up front. So we wanted to simplify it for us up front. We went to a little more of a gap scheme so that any movement or pressure they gave us we could just gap them down and our guys could just run straight downhill. We told the running backs, all week, that we were going to run downhill, right at them, take one cut, we were going to run north, at the end of the play we were going to hand the ball to the official and they did that.
Why is the running game succeeding?Consistency. We have consistency with the linemen right now. The last five or six game we have had the same five guys playing up front which is critical. Our running backs understand the run game Quez (Jaquez Johnson) is executing the reads. He is getting us in and out of plays at the right time so he understands the offense. All those components are coming together. We have done some good things in the last few weeks. It was just that when we weren’t taking care of the football it didn’t look as good. But, we are taking care of the football better and now we are getting different results.
What difference does the quarterback in the running game make?
It is huge, because now the defense has to account for him. So often times defensively they are trying to add an extra guy defensively to the run fit. When you add the quarterback in, you equal out the numbers. And, you have a guy like Quez that is smart enough to run it and tough enough and athletic enough to add that component at a high level.
We have a lot of areas to clean up. We really felt like we left some run game out there in that (USM) game. We had the opportunity for a few other big plays. We needed to finish them off a little bit better at the end of the game, in the run game. We evaluated ourselves, as a staff, and even our second team guys have got to come in there and be ready to go, be ready to execute as the next line in. Obviously, we have some things we have to clean up in the pass game. We had some opportunities on third and long. We could have continued some drives there, in the pass game we didn’t execute as well as we need to.
The Pass Game
We have to have to have more consistency there, whether it is throwing, catching or being in the right spot on the route those types of things. We have to do a great job of that. Our guys came out yesterday. We had a quick workout yesterday and we focused on some of those things. So, we need to improve there.
Point in the game when you thought we don’t have to throw the ball?
You go with what works. I wanted to keep our foot on the pedal. I told our guys, no matter what the score, no matter what the situation, we were going to play extremely hard and I told them all week, don’t think about the scoreboard. We are going to pursue excellence in whatever situation it was. At some point there at the end, we said hey the running game is working so we are going to stay with that. So in the fourth quarter, I wanted to throw the ball a little bit and I wanted to get Greg (Hankerson) in there to throw the football a little bit. It was stated that it was my inexperience with of the trick plays. But, that really is my experience. Because I told those guys we are going to play aggressively, we are going to play to win and people have been ganging up on our punt protection and our field goal protection all year. We had not run a fake all year and so we thought we had the fake we just didn’t execute it as well as we need to, but our guys need to know that I’m going to call those things and they need to be ready to execute it. We are going to play aggressive no matter what the score is.
Did you put Damian Fortner in to try to get three 100+ yard rushers?
Yeah we tried to get three 100 yard rushers, especially for him. He has come in and done a great job, especially the last two weeks. We tried to reward him a little bit and reward the offensive line. That is something they take great pride in.
Is the running game your identity?
Our identity is pursuing excellence and whatever it takes to win. And, in that game it was to run the football and from the very beginning we said we were going to run the football and we were going to play up-tempo. That’s how we practiced and our guys did a great job playing that way. In that football game we were able to run the ball so we were going to stick with what was working to help us win. If we have to go out and throw the ball to win then we need to be ready to execute that as well. Overall, for me, you have to be balanced. They have to defend the run and then the pass both ways. Whatever is working or whatever we need to do to win will be our identity.
On Christian Milstead Stepping Up with Two Interceptions
It’s funny, Saturday before the game I said for the last three weeks I had been watching the defense closely and Christian Milstead was a guy that I just saw going about his business, working hard in practice every day, doesn’t say a whole lot just continued to work and prepare. Because of that, I asked him to speak to the team before the game on Saturday. And, then he goes out and gets two interceptions, returns one for a touchdown at a critical moment in that game. Again, his hard work paid off.
On Senior Martin Wright
You know, I noticed all those guys up front. They were on Mullins the entire game. They got after that QB the entire game. Whether it was Cory Henry or Brandin Bryant or Martin (Wright) even some of those young guys who got in there. Trey (Henderickson) got in there and got a sack. The young guys who got in played extremely hard, but Martin is a senior and it is down to the end of his guaranteed games here. So, he is playing extremely hard and giving it everything he has.
What do you see in New Mexico State?
I see an offense that is extremely explosive. They have scored at least 34 points a game in their last three games. They have had a very difficult schedule. They have some very explosive guys and some weapons on offense. They score a lot of points. Defensively, they are very sound. They play hard and their special teams play hard too. Again, they have had a tough schedule and they had Boston College 34-34 with five minutes to go and they had Boston College pinned at their own five yard line at the end of that football game and there was a penalty to get it to first and five then Boston College gets a big run to win the game. They are playing good football. Again, we are playing another team right now, that on tape when you watch them you would not think they are a one win football team.
On having a good group of running backs and Damian Fortner being in that group.
I’m very proud of Damian (Fortner). Personally, he was in my dog house at the beginning of the year. I questioned his commitment, but he proved. He just came out to practice every single day, worked hard, kept a positive attitude and I think really to prove me wrong. He continued to work and when his opportunity came against Tulane and he had more this week, he is prepared, because he had the right attitude he has been able to perform at a high level when called upon.