Oct. 31, 2011
What intrigues you about Thursday's matchup between UCF and Tulsa?
I know UCF is playing at home and looks like they got their feet back under them against Memphis. Tulsa is a team that won 10 games last year. Once again we face a good, talented quarterback. They are a very athletic team.
We haven't really gotten into the guys like normal because of the off week. We will look into the UAB game and clean it up, but our guys and Coach Rippon will be in the office the next few days preparing for Tulsa.
Conference USA now has two teams ranked (Houston and Southern Miss). Talk about how the conference has played out this year.
You (the media) have seen this conference and I guarantee a lot of the teams (in conference) can line up and play with a lot of teams. We have a team in Houston who is #13 in the BCS and Southern Miss who I am shocked wasn't ranked earlier in the season and higher than they are. They beat Virginia, which has beat Miami, who beat Ohio State. It is a good conference. This conference can play with a lot of people
You spoiled Southern Miss's ranking...
It was great win for us. At the time we didn't know what type of team they were when we played them. They have a great quarterback who has started four years and Larry (Fedora) has done a great job that takes care of business. When you have a good team, a loss can rattle a team like that.
Outside of recruiting, do you use this week as an evaluation week?
There is no question about it. You try to self-scout a lot, to see what you do during certain situations and how you do certain things. It gives you an idea of what Tulsa is seeing.
Was Saturday a culmination of everything you have tried to do all year?
It is what we have tried to do. When I took the job, I talked about the plan to win and plan to execute to win. It starts with playing great defense, and for most of the year I think we have done that. We lead the conference in takeaways and are one of the tops (in conference in turnover margin). Part of our plan is to not turn the ball over and, outside of one game, I feel like we have done that. The third thing is executing in the red zone and I feel like we have done that. Finally it is our kicking game and our punting. The kicking has gotten better and Saturday it was solid.
I think that was the first time since I've been here that all three phases have worked like they should. That is what Marshall football is all about.
After a game like that (against UAB), how does that change the frame of mind of the team?
I am happy for these guys. Vinny (Curry) will tell you, since we all have walked on campus we expect a lot of them on and off the field. The team and these guys have battled, especially our seniors. We have been hard on them. We get them up early and to bed late and we expect them to live right and do the right things. You can finally see all that hard work coming together. They have all been great, didn't flinch, and deserve a few days off.
Vinny Curry called Devin Arrington a safety with a neck roll. Does that touch on his evolution of moving from linebacker to safety?
I think Devin has done a good job and with his position switch. I think he has handled it well. Wherever he is next year, I think it is going to help him because he has played in space all year.
I am proud of the defense. They have worked hard and this defense swarms, carries themselves well and we practice so hard. It showed Saturday.
I am happy. We really haven't changed our way of playing, it is just us executing. Our players are making plays. Our quarterback is making plays, and does things when he needs to do things. We have some athletes who are really starting to make some plays.
Quarterback (A.J. Graham) didn't really have to move Saturday (no rushing attempts), and it didn't change when some linemen went down...
It is a tribute to our line. Those guys have been banged up and received lots of criticism. I really like them and have liked them. These guys have grown up and the back-ups have played a lot. That's really going to help us.
The offense line is something that has to develop. I can fix a receiver quick. I can fix a defensive back quickly. I can't fix a lineman quickly, because they have to develop.