Oct. 19, 2010
Marshall University Head Coach Doc Holliday Press Conference
Oct. 19, 2010 - East Carolina Week
Opening Statement: I would just like to start off by stating that AJ Graham has a high ankle sprain and is still in a boot. He is definitely out this week. We will re-evaluate him next Sunday and make a decision for the following week.
We are headed to Greenville to play an excellent East Carolina team. They just had a great win over North Carolina State. When you look at ECU, you have to start with No.17, Dwayne Harris. You guys have all seen him. He is an exciting player. Every time he touches the ball he has the ability to make a big play. Where he is really dangerous is in the return game. He gave N.C. State and Southern Miss major headaches. We have to account for him. Their quarterback, Dominique Davis, makes them go. They have done a great job with that kid. They've got a guy, No.88 Lance Lewis who is an excellent player. They have two running backs who can really play. They are coming off two back-to-back conference championships and have been to four-straight bowl games. Ruffin (McNeill) has done a great job down there. It is going to be a great challenge for our football team and we are looking forward to playing.
On Marshall's focus:
What we have to do is to work on Marshall getting better. We have to go out there every day and work on getting better as a football team. I told those guys, we can't be worrying about anyone else at this point. We have to focus on what we need to accomplish. Our kids have not been an issue at all. I get questions as to if our kids have bought in. They have been great. They have done everything we have asked them to do, from classes, to on the field and in preparation. They just need a win. I need a win, they need a win, and everyone needs a win. We are working extremely hard to make that happen. We have had a tough stretch. It has been tough on us, it has been tough on the fans, and it has been tough on the players. But they have great attitudes. There is still a lot of football left to play and it starts on Saturday with East Carolina and that is our only focus right now. The one message I have given to them is to focus on you as a player and as a team. We want to leave practice today as a better team than when we started practice.
On East Carolina and the sustained success they have had despite a coaching change:
Ruffin McNeill has done a great job. But that is what happens when you have a team that has won back-to-back conference championships and has gone to four-straight bowl games. It is a personnel-driven game and for anyone to think that ECU doesn't have good players, well they do. When you go to four-straight bowls and those championships back-to-back, you are able to recruit pretty well. When I was at N.C. State and watching that program, they can take players from State, North Carolina and Duke. They get them into their program, sit them for a year and they become great players. A lot of them are NFL guys. They have done a great job doing that. You have to give Ruffin [McNeill] credit; he has done a great job. They found themselves a quarterback; they have three seniors on the offensive line, but they haven't missed a beat. They have lined up against BCS teams and have been competitive, and of course they beat a very good N.C. State team last week.
On ECU quarterback Dominique Davis:
He makes good decisions. He manages the game. He gets the ball into the right people's hands. He gets the ball out of his hands quickly. People say that they like to get after him, but not too many people have been able to get to him. He does a great job of getting the ball to the hot receiver. When you put pressure on him, you don't see him get sacked much. Southern Miss had some success of getting to him in the first quarter, but other than that not many people have gotten to him. You have a hard time getting to him because he gets the ball out of his hands so quickly. When you do blitz, you have No.17 out there that created issues, or they will take a vertical shot to No.88 who can make some plays as well. He is athletic enough to get out of trouble. He will run a quarterback draw every now and then, but he is not a run first quarterback, he wants to get the ball out of his hands and get it to his playmakers.
On getting the Marshall running game going this week:
It would be great. It would be great to get it going any week. If you can control the football and keep it out of their hands it is going to help a bunch. The thing is, they have outscored people. Southern Miss has them down 20-0 in the first quarter, but they came back and beat them. Of course they have a kickoff return and some special teams plays that helped them, but they flat out beat them. Against N.C. State, they just outscored them. Hopefully who can play some defense and slow them down while scoring some points yourself, but they have done a great job outscoring people up to this point.
On the ECU defensive struggles:
It is probably because they have lost some great players. But they thing is, they have been getting better defensively every week. And they have some athletes on that side. They lost their defensive end for the season, but they just got their safety back after a one game suspension.
On Aaron Dobson:
We talk constantly with him that great players make great plays all the time. And Aaron Dobson is a great kid, and he is going to be a great player. He should be a red-shirt freshman playing right now but he's not. He is playing an awful lot of snaps and he just needs to be more consistent. He has the ability to make great plays, and he will. He works extremely hard. He is going to be fine.
On everyone needing to do their job:
The theme I have had since I've been here is, `Everyone do your job.' If everyone does their job then we will be fine. Once you lose a couple of games people start to analyze. The plan to win is infallible. I was talking with to Dan Mullen at Mississippi State. He and I were together at Florida. The plan to win at Mississippi State is no different than the plan to win at Marshall. We are doing the same things. He just beat Georgia and Florida back-to-back. So what we are doing is right. It is in place. We can't flinch and we need to continue to work hard. Good things are going to happen and I truly believe that. Our plan to win won't change.
On the health of Landis Provancha:
Landis Provancha has a problem. We are going to see how he progress this week but if he can't practice, obviously he is not going to play. We are not quite sure where he is, but I doubt he goes today.
On if Marshall will split time between the two quarterbacks:
Probably. I don't want to put myself into a situation where I say it is going to happen and then it doesn't happen. We are going to see how it goes. Eddie [Sullivan] is going to be ready to play, Brain [Anderson] is going to be ready to play, so we will just see what happens.
On special teams struggles:
Our problem is, when you watch Southern Miss and UCF, our punt team is solid. We have our best players on our punt team. We have the Lee Smiths, the Mario Harverys and the Devin Arringtons out there. When you get to the other kicking aspects, our depth issues show up. We have the best possible people out there. But I can't take Aaron Dobson, who is playing 80 to 90 snaps a game, and put him out there on kickoff return. I can't take Antavious Wilson and play him every snap on special teams. I think what is happening to us is, you look at the kickoff return issues, our depth is becoming an issue. With that being said, I am going to take Lee Smith this week and put him on the kickoff return team. I am going to take Donald Brown and do the same thing, because I have to. When you look at those games against USM and UCF, out front guys had a hard time blocking their front guys. It is Jimmys vs. Joes, and right now on special teams, their Jimmys and better than our Joes, unfortunately. I keep saying it is a personel driven game, so once we can continue to recruit the best players, we are going to improve in that area, but for right now, we are playing the guys we have. It is not an effort issue. Those guys are busting their tails out there, unfortunately, I look out there against Central Florida and they have big No.49 Bruce Miller out there on the kickoff return team. They can do that because they have a guy behind him on the D-line who can go in there and play half the game. If I took Vinny Curry and put him on special teams he would be sucking wind because of the increased plays. But regardless, we have to get better there, and we are working hard to do so. Demetrius Evans was doing great for us out there, but he got hurt on the first play of the game against UCF. Evans is a great kid who is going to be a great player. I wanted him to be in there 20-25 snaps a game for Dobson so Dobson could get a rest, but unfortunately he gets injured the first snap of the game, so his status is up in the air. He hurt his shoulder.