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Transcript of Head Coach Doc Holliday's Tuesday Press Conference

Marshall head coach Doc Holliday

Oct. 11, 2011

Opening Statement:

            For homecoming we have a team coming in here that is very similar to us. Rice opened up with Texas, they played Baylor and on the road against Southern Miss. They've played a very challenging schedule and have wins over Memphis and over Purdue. They are in the same boat we are, we both need a win. We'll have a great week of preparation. One thing about this football team is that they are a lot better than what people think they are. Don't look at the record, look at who they've played. We will have our hands full. I think anytime you're located in Texas, you'll have athletes. They have a tailback Sam McGuffie that started at Michigan as a freshman. David Bell does a great job coaching them. They are well coached and extremely physical. Again, we have to have a great week of practice and preparation. Then we'll be ready to go.

On what Rice does well:

            They create a lot of issues for you offensively because they have an option phase in their offense; they can throw the ball, they have a lot of quarterback runs incorporated into their offense and present a lot of issues by using different formations. The thing they do excellent is that they play extremely hard. They line up, play very physical and play very hard.

On the play of Rice defensive end Scott Solomon:

            Just go turn on the tape. They play extremely hard. They got a lot of those kids from Texas and that's great football getting played down there. They may not be the most highly recruited kids, but football is important to them. You can tell by watching them. They all play hard. Not just Solomon, that whole defense will get lined up and come after you.

On the depth of Rice:

            The front four, three of them are seniors. They have seven returning starters on that defense. They have a lot of people that have played a lot of football. Their quarterback is just a sophomore, but he replaced a kid that played as a senior. So evidently he's better than the kid they started a year ago. They have McGuffie who is eligible and used to be a starter at Michigan. They've got some good players.



On both Marshall and Rice's issues running the ball:

            Well just like us they lined up against good teams to start the season. A lot of their issues they are having on offense are because of who they are playing against. I talked to Manny Diaz at Texas last night, who I was with at NC State and Manny said, "Doc they are going to play hard and are going to come after you". Texas has better athletes than Rice. Baylor is an excellent football team. It's hard to gauge how good Rice is because of who they've played. They've played a heck of a schedule. I think they've played the sixth toughest schedule in America at this point. That's not an easy thing to do. They are a lot better than what people give them credit for because of who they've played.

On Rice running back Sam McGuffie's skill set:

            You know, if you go to Michigan and start as a freshman then you're pretty good. Number one he was recruited at Michigan. Number two he started there as a young kid. They play two or three different tailbacks. He is a talented guy when he gets the ball in his hands and he has had some injuries too. He hasn't been totally healthy, but he is an excellent player. He catches the ball out of the backfield a lot as well. Rice likes to get the ball to a lot of different people out there.

On Marshall's schedule so far:

            I'm not happy at all where our offense is. I'm not. We have to get better. Defensively, four of the six teams we've played are in the top 18 in the country. Not in the conference, in the country. It's not an excuse. We simply have to get better. We have to make plays and yes we've lined up against some good teams just like Rice has. Unfortunately, we're both where we are and we both have to win football games.

On the pressure Rakeem Cato has endured playing as a true freshman:

            It has been a lot on him. It has. Hopefully, you get better playing people. When you line up six straight weeks against those kinds of teams, you hope to have taken something away from and become better for it. We've gotten tougher and that will help us. Again, Rice is in the same situation. Coach Bell is probably saying the same thing I am right now.

On changes in the offensive starters:

            I am thinking of changes and that may happen this weekend. We have certain standards and expectations that we expect every player to live up to. If they don't, they sit and watch with me and the other guy plays. With that said, A.J. Graham will start (at quarterback) Saturday.

On quarterback change:

            It's not totally about Cato's play. I'm not going to get into everything with you, but A.J. will start the game on Saturday.

On what A.J. Graham can give Marshall on offense:

            We're going to see. We're going to find out. That's why we're doing what we're doing. He's going to get a chance to play and we'll see how he does. We're going to find out Saturday what Graham can do in the starting role and I think that is the right, fair thing to do.

On Marshall's defensive effort vs. UCF:

            That entire defense, if you take out a couple of the early drives, played extremely well.  They've played well all year for the most part, and they're getting better. But we have to be able to win with defense around here and they have to keep playing like they're playing to give us a chance.

On Saturday's weather conditions at UCF:

            I've never been associated with a game like that. It was really wet, and didn't stop. You know when you get in situations like that, if you can't run the ball you can't win. We couldn't be one dimensional and throw the football and win the game like that.