Nov. 16, 2010
Opening statement: After getting the opportunity to see the Memphis tape, I've said it the last three weeks, if you execute the plan to win, you're going to win. The first thing is playing great defense, and we did. We held Memphis to 241 yards total offense and 40 yards rushing. That's three weeks in a row we have shut down the other teams rushing offense and we are going to have to do that again this week to have a chance. The second thing is to eliminate turnovers. I was disappointed with our first half against Memphis. We turned it over twice and that can't happen. We created two turnovers in the second half, so that was a wash. Scoring in the red zone we were two-for-two. The last three weeks I think we were eight out of nine scoring in the red zone and that is very good. The most improvement we have made over the past three weeks was with our kicking game. We hit seven out of our 10 goals. If we don't get that return called back then it would have been eight out of 10 goals. We have done a good job at changing field position and giving the other team a long field, while giving ourselves a short field.
As far as SMU is concerned, June Jones is a great coach and has been very successful everywhere he has been. They will be well coached. When you think of him you think of run and shoot offense and throwing it all over the place. But they have the leading rusher in Conference USA. This game is going to be similar to the one against UTEP. As far as our defense is concerned, number one, we have to stop the rush and we cannot get the ball thrown over our heads. Zach Line is a great tailback. The quarterback is a heck of a player. He started as a freshman, Kyle Padron. He is second in yards per game in conference and he is fourth is pass efficiency. He gets the ball where it belongs and does a good job at managing the game. They have three wide outs; Robinson, Beasley, and Haynes. That are excellent players and they have a great offensive line. Defensively they are ranked top three in conference. They are lead by Taylor Reed and Pete Fleps. We are going to have a great week of preparation. We can't wait to go out there and play that game.
On Marshall's momentum after the three game win streak: I think when you're playing well it's nice to keep playing. Fortunately we've done that the past three weeks. Those people that are banged up, it's nice to get them back healthy too. Right now we're playing very well and we had a great week of practice last week preparing for Memphis and hopefully that will carry over into this week.
On SMU wide receiver Aldrick Robinson: He is explosive when you watch him on tape. It's not just him though; you also have Beasley and Haynes. They have great speed and they have three or four guys that can all stretch the field vertically. You throw that tailback in there and you have guys that can catch and run the football and it creates problems for you.
On SMU's loss to UTEP: UTEP played very well defensively. They held them to 14 points and like I mentioned earlier, they did a nice job at stopping the run and only had one ball thrown over their head in that particular game. SMU takes a lot of shots down the field. They take a lot of vertical throws. It is very similar to what UTEP did coming in here. We have to work extremely hard this week of defending long balls and make sure our safeties and corners have great depth. It's a game we have to stop the run. If we can stop the run like we have the last three weeks, then we have a shot.
On the improvement of the Marshall defense: Number one I think they are all starting to fully understand the scheme more than they were earlier in the season. This allows them to go play fast. You see the Donald Brown's of the world starting to grow up and mature and he is just a sophomore. He is like a veteran out there. It's amazing what one guy can do to your defense as far as the passion and the juice he brings. He has brought that to our defense. Devin Arrington is another guy who is just a sophomore who is starting to play very well. I mentioned that we are playing nine freshmen on defense. Their heads were spinning earlier in the season, but they are starting to lock in now and understand what is going on and play a lot faster.
On the health of some MU skilled position players: We will see this week, I don't know. It is especially touch for those skilled guys with hurt ankles. But it's fun to watch a guy go in there and play well. Fortunately the past couple weeks we've had some people step up when other people were hurt. The young freshman wide out Demetrius Evans made some bonehead plays against Memphis, but he played hard and did some good things. He is going to be a good player. It's fun to watch those freshmen grow up when they get their opportunities and its fun to see them go in and have success.
On Troy Evans: Troy grew up in a tough area. He had some issues growing up with family and that type of thing. But he is a great kid. It's great to watch him mature and grow. He is a dynamic player. We have to do a better job with him on securing the ball. He is a guy that you have to get the ball in his hands because he has an opportunity to make a play for us. He has elevated his play and it started at practice. We talk about competitive excellence prior to practice, during practice and at the end of practice. When you watch those guys do that in practice, they do it in the games too. It's like Donald Brown, if you make that interception in practice you are going to make it in the game too. It's funny because the kids are talking about it now too. They say, `if you go out there and put the ball on the ground in practice, you are going to it in the game too'. It's fun to see those kids start to buy in. They are starting to say the same things I am.
On the players feeding off each other: Anytime that you have success it makes it easier. It's all about passion. I've been preaching that we have been working too hard. We've worked 365 days for 12, hopefully 13 games, and we can't let one go to waste. We have to enjoy it and go play. They are starting to do that and it is fun to watch.
On the play of Martin Ward: Other guys have just played a little better. I'm going to play the guys who play the best in practice. It doesn't matter who they are. If it's Taliaferro, Booker, Martinez, whoever has the best Tuesday and best Wednesday will be the guy who gets the ball on Saturday. If you're playing well on Saturday you're not going to come out. If you're not playing well someone else will go in and play. There's nothing wrong with Martin, just other guys are playing better.
On establishing the run against SMU: They are better defensively then they were a year ago. They've played Texas Tech, TCU, and Navy who can all run the ball very well. With that being said, the offensive coaching staff has done a great job the past three weeks at sticking the run at the opponent and it has helped us. I've preached all season that we can't be one dimensional. When we started running the ball a little better, we were able to throw the ball a little better.
On SMU's ability to block kicks: We have done a nice job with our punt team. You just have to have every guy do their job. We have to go out there and do what we did in practice. If everyone does their job to the best of their ability when their number is called, there won't be any kicks blocked. Our punting has been really good. Two weeks ago we averaged zero return yards. Last week I think they had two total yards. Not only have we done a nice job being able to protect, but we are doing a nice job at covering as well. Our field goal and extra point units have to do a good job and we will be alright.
On Marshall's special teams: We haven't done anything differently. It's no different than anything else with our plan to win. What we are doing on special teams is infallible. We've been involved in it for a number of years. We know what we're doing on kick off return is very good. We just had to execute it better and get the kids to execute the techniques, but what we were doing is fine. It's the same thing on punt return and same thing with all of special teams. We've just gotten better at doing what we set out to do. We're not doing anything different, we are just doing it better.