Nov. 19, 2013
Press Conference Audio
Our captains on defense this week will be defensive linemen Ra'Shawde Myers and Alex Bazzie. On offense, we have three this week. They are tight end Gator Hoskins, wide receiver Tommy Shuler and quarterback Rakeem Cato. The message to the football team this week is, every Sunday you pick up the paper and see a team that got beat, but shouldn't have. If you don't do a great job of preparation, if you don't go down prepared to play regardless of who you play, you're going to get beat. We're going to do a great job at getting ready to go play this football team (Florida International University). I know we have a lot of kids that are excited to go home, get a chance to see their families and play, but they better eliminate the noise. We have to make sure we are going down there for one reason and that's to get prepared to play FIU. They have a bunch of athletes given their location in Miami. There are a lot of players around that campus. We played them in 2011 in the Beef `O' Brady's Bowl and if you turn their film on now you'll see they still have some players that can play. We have to do a great job this week with our preparation and get ready to go."
On the plan for players to visit families:
I can't take these kids home to where they grew up and not let their families see them. We'll do the same thing that we did on our FAU trip. They'll have a two-hour block from 7-9 p.m. on Friday once we get to the hotel. We'll have a room where they can visit with their families. Then they have to focus to get ready to go play.
On the players knowing this is a business trip:
It's going to help us. I don't think that was an issue at FAU. We needed to play better there, but they are a pretty good football team. At the end of the day, they'll probably be bowl eligible. They have a quarterback that is creating a lot of problems for a lot of people and they have some good athletes. I don't think allowing the families to visit for a couple hours affected how we played in that game. We'll do the same thing this time and focus on getting ready to go play. I think it's good they get a chance to see their families.
On Gator Hoskins's performance and being named a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award:
He's become a great leader for us, from his play to the things he says in the locker room. He's helped fellow tight end Devin Johnson prepare. He's a good player. You talk all the time about how Shuler has that "it" factor and finds ways to make plays. Gator is the same way. He's a good football player and has a great feel for the game. When he gets the opportunity to make a play he usually does.
On 30-35 percent of Gator's catches coming in the end zone:
When you get down there in the red zone, normally that slot receiver, which happens to be Gator, is matched up with a linebacker or strong safety and becomes a little bit of a mismatch. He's an athletic guy for a big-body guy. He can body up against people and go up and make plays. He's good in the red zone area because of what he brings to the table with his athleticism. He can create some matchup problems with linebackers and safeties in those situations.
On the improvements of Gator's blocking and becoming a pure tight end:
He has. Tight ends coach Todd Hartley has done a great job with him. He's become a more physical player, which he had to do. He's done just that. He's a good player. From the day I took this job I've always said it's a personnel-driven game. When you have pretty good players then you have a chance to score points and stop the defense. Those guys have a chance to go get some of the Chad Pennington's, Byron Leftwich' and Randy Moss's. There's been a lot of those guys come through here. Hopefully, we are getting to the point where we can have a few more guys who are in that category. I'm not saying Gator is Randy, Chad or Byron. We're getting better players coming through here that get an opportunity to, not only play at the collegiate level, but possibly the professional level.
On Gator not originally coming to Marshall as tight end:
He was a quarterback that we thought was going to be a safety. That's kind've how he was recruited. He was a really athletic guy. He was around 190-pounds and extremely athletic. Now he's about 240-to-245-pounds.
On Gator scoring touchdowns in seven of the ten games this season:
When he gets in that red zone area he creates match up issues. Cato and he have a certain comfort area. Cato and Gator are kind of like Cato and Shuler. They have a feel for each other. Gator and Cato have been playing together for three years. Cato is a pretty smart guy and he's going to throw it to the guys who are going to go make the plays. Gator seems to do that.
On having Gator and Tommy Shuler lining up on same side of the field and the matchup problems it creates:
No matter where I've been, if you take your two corners and put them on the outside guys, there aren't very many people in our league or any league that have four or five different corners that can go in and play. Once you get into your second and third receivers or what you call your third or fourth skill which ends up being your slot guys, a lot of times those match ups, whether they be linebackers or safety-type bodies, don't have the skill set. You remember Purdue a year ago when we played them. They ended up putting their starting corner on Shuler inside. Those inside slot receivers are easier to get matched up for a little bit of a mismatch as far as personnel is concerned. It creates some problems for people.
On Gator's biggest jump into learning the tight end position when it was completely new to him:
Gator has a really great football IQ. He's a guy that loves the game. He'll sit in the special teams meeting and know what everybody does. It's amazing. I told him he needs to become a coach someday because he has a great understanding of the game. He loves football. Being a former quarterback he has a good understanding of different positions. He's an extremely smart kid in the classroom, but also has great football sense. It wasn't an issue for him picking up the tight end role.
On putting together a complete road game:
It's very important. It's important for every game. On the road it's critical. The leadership on this team is tremendous and it has to continue. We have to go out and start fast, play hard. We have to take care of the football. If we'd taken care of the football there wouldn't have been an issue last week at all.
On the focus for Saturday:
If this team worries about anything other than FIU on Saturday, then we are going to have problems. We have to eliminate the noise. There's talk about bowls and this and that. If we are concerned about anything other than going and playing FIU at this point then our focus isn't where it needs to be. We have to take care of business on Saturday and then we'll worry about all the other noise. At this point our football team can't worry about anything other than getting prepared to go play FIU.
On the team's ability to overcome adversity:
I'm not sure another team has handled what this team has. I've never had a team that had the leadership on it that when things start going like it did at Tulsa, hung together like it did and came back and found a way to win that football game. I think you can say the same thing about the FAU game. They were hit in the face with adversity, but they found a way to win the football game which is the only thing that matters. Cato is a completely different guy than two years ago. A few years back, when things started to go bad, he didn't handle them the way he does now. Right now we're finding ways to win games instead of finding ways to lose them. That's a culture in our program. When you go eight or nine years finding ways to lose game, it takes a while to get out of that culture. That culture is starting to change. Marshall University had never beaten Tulsa. You have to find a way to go win that game and that's the important thing. Instead of finding a way to lose, we found a way to win it. Now you're sitting there feeling good because you still have all your goals and dreams out there because you found a way to win those two football games. I see the culture starting to change and that's a good thing. I know when Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich were here and won all those championships it's because they found ways to go win games. I'm sure they weren't all pretty, but they were wins. At the end of the day that's all that matters.