Sept. 10, 2011
Southern Mississippi Head Coach Coach Larry Fedora:
Let me make sure that you know that Marshall understands how much credit I want to give them. They played a tremendous game, were well coached, and they didn’t make many mistakes. They won a football game today.
On our part of it, we had five turnovers and a punt blocked. We, as a football team, didn’t give ourselves a chance to win a football game today. We need to go back to the drawing board and make things better. We need to work on a lot of things. We still have major breakdowns in our special teams and offense that need a lot of work, and can improve quite a bit. We will get back to work tomorrow and make things better for our team.
On Vinny Curry and who won the line battle:
How many sacks…3? There you go. That’s not very good. You give a guy three sacks in a game and that’s too many. But give those guys credit, they got it done.
Talk about the pressure on QB Austin Davis:
Yeah there was pressure on him (Austin Davis). You can play for four years, but you’re always going to have guys around you. Yes, they had plenty of pressure on him. He was shaky early on, but he settled in. He did throw three interceptions, including one that was on a Hail Mary, but truth betold, no one played well enough to win.
You had a tough time running the football today. Did that affect your gameplan?
Any time you can’t run the football, you have a hard time winning. If they make it one-dimensional for you – it’s going to be tough to score. Marshall probably blitzed 75% of the time, whether man or zone, maybe more of that, and despite our efforts to get a running game going, we could never cut their defense.
Were you surprised by Rakeem Cato’s play?:
I wasn’t surprised. He looked good last week against WVU. He shows great poise. I told Doc, that you’ve got a true freshmen that is quite special.
Was it tough to battle given their special teams today?
How many times did Whitehead punt inside the 10 yard line…five times? Stats tell you that its hard offensively to move the ball when you are pinned inside the 10-yard line five times. Even moreso, they stepped up a bunch of times defensively and kept us from getting going offensively.
Would you say your squad was flat after halftime?
We weren’t flat. Even though we turned it over in the third play, it was more bad execution offensively, rather than flat. It just put that much pressure on the defense, especially after allowing a touchdown right before the half.
What’s the biggest difference between Marshall today and 11 months ago?
They play a lot harder today. Last year I didn’t think they played that hard. In the WVU game, they played a lot harder too. They played hard last week, they played hard today. Our offense never got them on their heels today. Marshall was in control the entire game.
Turnovers on Offense:
We didn’t get anything going offensively. None of our offensive line, wide receivers, running backs, etc. has done anything special, or even normal. We shot ourselves in the foot several times. Take the thirds and shorts, and several times we jumped offsides and made it even longer. I mean the game hasn’t changed. We couldn’t complete third downs and turned the ball over, thus giving them more chances. But yet, we STILL had a chance. And yet, we didn’t get it done.
Marshall Head Coach Doc Holiday
I’m proud of this football team. I’m proud of the fans. One thing I tried to stress this week is that there are three components to winning a championship. It starts with the President and Athletic Director that are committed to winning championships. They’ve proven that with the 30 million dollar facilities that are coming. A coaching staff that has a plan to win is infallible. The third for that faction is the fan base. That they show up and they show the kind of support that championship teams get and we got that today from the time we got off the bus to the walk. This is what Marshall Football is all about. This is what it’s supposed to be about. I’m just proud that our kids came out and played the way they did. This is a great win for us, but its one game. We have to enjoy it tonight and come back tomorrow to prepare for the great challenge ahead of us in Athens.
On players overcoming adversity:
Not only the team overcame adversity, but the coaching staff did as well. What a bizarre deal we had last weekend. The coaches went back to work and didn’t miss a beat. We started on Tuesday like we always do. We had a great week of preparation and it showed out there today. I like this football team. I don’t know how many games we’ll win, but I like this team and what they’re all about. They’ve been able to overcome adversity. They play extremely hard and as long as we do that we’ll be fine.
On the player morale after being down 14 points:
We talk about overcoming adversity and we didn’t do that early in the season a year ago. About midway through the season these guys started overcoming adversity and they did it again today. One thing we talk about all the time is to continue to fight. You play 46 seconds as hard you can every snap. Then look up, see what the scoreboard says and we did that today. As long as they do that from here on out and they will, then we’ll be fine. I think our defense, except for the one ball that went over their head, played tremendous. Our staff did a great job, offensively I think our young guys grew up and did some good things.
On completing offensive drives:
I was looking at the stats here and we were four-for-four in the red zone which is critical. We came away with some touchdowns down there and had one called back, that was just an aggressive play by Aaron Dobson. We made some plays down there and some of our young kids made some great plays on offense.
On Vinny Curry coming back from injury in second quarter and being igniting the team:
He just does such a tremendous job. Omar Brown is out there. Our defense is rock solid. We have solid guys like George Carpenter, Tyson Gale and some unsung heroes in there that kind of hold that defense together. They just kept plugging. Austin Davis is a four year starter and has as good of skills that will walk in this stadium. Those guys just kept fighting and fighting. Unfortunately we made it too hard. The game should have never gotten to the point it did, but it did, we won it and that is the important thing.
On Rakeem Cato’s play:
I was looking at the stats; he was 27 for 42 and had a couple of turnovers that are unacceptable. He will learn from that. He’s a great kid, he likes to play and I’m proud of him. He’ll get better and better as he goes along. Number one we were at home. He’ll start handling it more and more as we go along. He’s a guy that’s just been on campus. He was not here for spring ball like most players. He started practicing in August and has grasped more of the offense than I ever imagined he would be able to. He’s a special kid.
On special teams:
Special teams won the game for us. Punter Kase Whitehead pinned them within the eight yard line five times. That’s unheard of. It wasn’t just him. Our missiles out there like Dobson and Booker. We are using our guys with speed to get off the blocks and get down the field to down the ball. We forced Southern Miss to have a long field almost the entire second half. I think we stuck a couple kick returns back at them for some yardage. We didn’t match up with either of these first two teams a year ago on special teams. We didn’t match up with them athletically. I think now we’re coming closer. I’d be surprised if we didn’t win the kicking game after watching the tape. Our special teams had a blocked punt to go along with Whitehead’s punts. We had some good plays in the kicking game and that’s why we won the game.
On Coach Fedora saying Marshall played harder than last season:
Last year we weren’t very good. I know that was embarrassing. We just didn’t play well. We’re a much better football now. We’ve grown so much. The culture has changed and our kids know how to win. Southern Miss is an excellent and talented football team. He’s a heck of a coach. They’ll go back, regroup and they will win a bunch of football games.
On getting veteran players to lead the young ones:
If they haven’t bought in by now, then they have the wrong coach. I don’t have a lot of older guys. Most of our experience is on defense.
On Cato’s ability to keep the play alive:
This will be the first full game that he will see himself on tape. There was a couple times where he could have run for the first down, but forced a throw instead. He’s going to get better and better. I’m proud of him and he loves to play.
On improvements that need to be made:
Our third down conversions were under 50 percent. We have to do a better job of getting off the field. There were times in the first half that we had them in a third down situation, but we couldn’t get off the field.
On depth of the defensive line:
Fred (Tate-DL Coach) is doing a good job at rolling those guys. We played probably eight or 10 of those guys. We have several guys that can roll in there and play. Getting Jeremiah Taylor back helped a great deal. He is a heck of a player. It’s hard for us to get the young guys as many reps as we’d like them to have.