Oct. 15, 2013
Press Conference Audio (Courtesy: @HerdCotton)
"We had a couple of coaches that stayed in Florida for recruiting purposes. Everyone else is in the office working on Middle Tennessee State University. Our kids came back in Sunday after the game. They lifted weights and ran. We put that game behind us and they had yesterday and today off. We'll start back to work tomorrow. I think it is important this week that we get better as a football team in all three phases. That is what you should do in an open week. Tomorrow, Thursday and Friday the focus will be on us getting better in all three phases. We'll take Saturday off and we'll come back Sunday. Sunday will be a Tuesday practice for us because of the game being on Thursday. Monday will be a Wednesday and Tuesday will of course be a Thursday. Wednesday will be a Friday travel and we'll go play the game on Thursday night. That's our schedule and we'll start back tomorrow with the preparation for our kids."
On the player's confidence level following the win against Florida Atlantic University:
"As you go back and review that game, I think there were nine minutes and 57 seconds to go in the game and we were down by 9 points. Three things had to happen to go win that football game and all three of them did. We started at the 9 yard line, so we had to go 91 yards and score to get back in it. Our defense had to go out there and get a stop on that series or it's over. They found a way to do that and we got the ball back deep in our own territory. There was another time that we had to take it down the field with only two minutes and some seconds with zero timeouts. We had to get the clock stopped, get in position to kick a field goal and Justin Haig had to go in and kick it after they used two timeouts to ice him. All those things had to happen for us to win that football game and they did. Leadership on the sidelines, locker room and all the things that we've been talking a long time about are starting to take effect. We won the game because of it. I don't really enjoy winning games like that, but it is better than the alternative. I think you can grow as a football team when you find a way to win one like that. It's been a while since we've done that around here."
On last-second games:
"I've been through a lot of them. I've seen too many of them. They're great when they end up like the game did on Saturday. It's hard for a team to lose one like that. That's a tough deal to have to deal with, but I'm sure FAU will be able to do it. We work on that hurried field goal in practice, but we didn't get into that situation. You work on those situations, but until it actually happens in a game it's a little bit different. Our kids did what they had to do to win the game. That was great to see."
On facing adversity all year and it contributing to the win against FAU:
"You learn to overcome adversity and you learn to never look at the clock, never to look at the scoreboard and to play every snap like it's the last snap. At the end of the day you can look up at the scoreboard and see where you are. They did that on Saturday. If they look at that scoreboard with 9 minutes on the clock, then chances are you won't win that game. They just kept playing and playing and found a way to win. There are a lot of teams out there that would've loved to have had a one-point victory over their opponent on Saturday. We're just happy to get out of there with a win. FAU is going to make a lot of noise in Conference USA before it's all said and done. If they would have had quarterback Jarquez Johnson playing in the game against Rice then they win that game on the road. They played a freshmen quarterback and almost pulled it out. They've beaten UAB on the road and they beat South Florida. If you look up at the end of the year, I have a feeling they are going to win some games."
On the Herd winning despite not displaying its best performance:
"I remember when I was coaching for University of Florida and we won the national championship that year. We played a South Carolina team that wasn't a great and had to block a field goal on the last play of the game to win. We don't block that field goal then we don't go play for a national title. Anytime you have a great season, no matter where you are, there could be one or two games that define your season. Whether you are very successful or just having an average year it may be one of those defining games."
On the special teams performance:
"There's no doubt that special teams won that game on Saturday. We have to make a little better decision on that one kickoff return that we brought out there. If we don't do that then we dominate every phase of the kicking game on Saturday. Devon Smith has been close on punt returns. He finally was able to get one last Saturday that helped us a bunch. Curraj being able to kick those non-returnable kicks was a big, huge help for our defense. We punted the ball a little better, still not where we need to be, but are getting better. Of course, Haig made his extra points and field goals. Overall, I think our special teams played better, but we still have to get better in all of those phases too because we can."
On the young players play on special teams and defensively:
"Michael Selby, as a freshman to go in and play the amount of snaps he has played, is tremendous. Clint Van Horn would play a lot more the previous week, but he had a concussion. He played a lot on Saturday and played well. That gave us the ability to move Garrett Scott over to left tackle at times and we'll be able to keep that rotation going with our tackles. That should help us in the future. Cory Tindal...maybe the two best plays he made all day came on the punt team. He ran down there and made two big time plays in space."
On first thoughts on Middle Tennessee State University:
"I have great respect for that program. That's a team that went into Georgia Tech a year ago and beat them up pretty good. They have a quarterback in Logan Kilgore that has just about every record in the book for Middle Tennessee. So it starts with that guy and they've been to bowl games multiple times in the last years. They're well coached and have athletes. Plus we have to go to their place. It will be a challenge for us and we're just now starting to get into them in regards to schemes and that type of thing. They will definitely be a challenge for us and they are a good football team."
"He can really throw the football. He can run it too. That FAU quarterback, Jaquez Johnson, was an extremely physical kid. We had more missed tackles on him alone than I think we've had all year. I think eight or nine of them were just on him. Kilgore isn't the same type of physical runner that Johnson is, but he can still beat you with his feet if you're not careful. He can really throw the football too."
On what the defense has learned the last two games:
"We were able to get a stop on that last drive. We just have to keep playing those guys and we did not play our best game defensively, but at the end of the day they found a way to get a stop to give our offense a chance to go win the game. Our offense had nowhere near its best performance, but they all found a way. I think that's the important thing at the end of the day. You find a way to win, but we want to play better and we have to play better. We have to get better in all three phases. Again, the special teams, as mentioned before was the strength of the team. We just have to continue to feed off of each other and get better. I think we'll do that."
On the FAU game being won because of strength and conditioning:
"I think it was. If they weren't in great shape then the three things that had to happen on the last three drives probably wouldn't have occurred. If they weren't feeling very good about themselves at that point then they may not have been able to do that. I don't think we've played a game all year where I thought we were outplayed physically or out of shape in any form. I think we're a strong football team and it showed those last three drives of that game. There's no doubt that I'm sure that helped us."
On Marshall being on top of East division following East Carolina loss to Tulsa:
"They can take one look at it and don't have to be very smart to know we are right where we want to be. We said all along that all of our goals and dreams are in place. They are. We are sitting right where we want to be sitting at this point. We control our own destiny. That being said you don't look ahead five or six weeks down the road. You look ahead to next Thursday because that is the only one that matters at this point, preparing for Middle Tennessee. Kids are kids and they have dreams and goals and they know they're all still out there. We control that. We have to make sure we get better every day in practice and go play our best game a week from Thursday to try to keep those goals and dreams in place."
On being at the top of the division and everyone wanting to knock you off:
"I think anytime that you are playing a conference game regardless of where you are they are all important, from everybody's standpoint. Every time you line up to play a conference game it is like playing a championship game or even a playoff game. They're all important. I'm not sure one is more important than any other at this point because at the end of the day what really matters is five weeks down the road you are hopefully still playing for a championship. We have ourselves in position to still make that happen, but if we concern ourselves with anything other than Middle Tennessee then there is no way that our dreams and goals are ever going to happen.