Dec. 3, 2013
Holliday Press Conference video
"Captains this week on defense will be cornerback Monterius Lovett and defensive tackle James Rouse. On offense, the captains will be quarterback Rakeem Cato and tight end Gator Hoskins. Those guys did a tremendous job last week and I'm sure they'll do the same this week. Rice is a football team that we have great respect for. They've won 15 of their last 18 games and they haven't lost a home game since Marshall beat them in Houston last year. They are leading Conference USA in rushing and are third in total offense. Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue is a tremendous player that can beat you with his feet as well as throwing the ball. They have a great running back in Charles Ross that has rushed for over 1000 yards. They are an extremely physical football team and are very well-coached. Head coach David Bailiff has done an outstanding job with them. I have a great respect for him. Defensively, their corner Phillip Gaines is as good as there is in America. They play extremely hard. They are coached well and tackle well defensively. This game will be a great challenge for us and we have to make sure we play extremely well too."
On Rice's secondary:
"There's no question that they (Rice) are really good. They have two corners that could play for anybody in the country and the safeties are good players. Again, they are extremely well-coached. They get lined up and they don't make mistakes. If you look at them statistically, they are in the top three or four in the league in just about everything. The reason for that are their good players."
On using last year's game against Rice to prepare for the C-USA Championship game:
"If you go back to last year, their quarterback (McHargue) ran through us and around us. Of course, we are a different defense than we were a year ago. We couldn't stop anybody a year ago. We have great respect for him because he is a very talented individual. When you talk about Rice's offense it starts with McHargue. He makes them go and does a great job at doing it."
On the progression of Marshall's offensive line since last year:
"There's no doubt that we are so much better than we were a year ago. Of course offensive line coach Alex Mirabal and the kids deserve a lot of credit. Clint Van Horn has made improvements, Chris Jasperse is playing well, Sebastian Johansson (Swede) this time last year we didn't think he could play, Garrett Scott is playing well and Alex Schooler is another guy that is playing really well. We have to give those five guys credit. Michael Selby pops in there at times as well. A lot of that credit does go to coach Mirabal because he has done a tremendous job with those guys. There's a reason we have been able to rush the football the way we've been able to and that's because of those guys up front."
On the success of rushing the ball last year against Rice and making that a main emphasis on this Marshall team:
"Since I took this job we've wanted to become a balanced offense. We've been able to do that this year. We're a much better offense than we were a year ago because we've been more balanced and been able to run the ball as much as we throw it. Hopefully we can get that done again on Saturday because whenever we've been able to run the football, there's no doubt that we are a better football team overall."
On the comfort level of the Herd knowing that they have won at Rice before:
"This is a different football team this year, but we were able to go on the road and beat them there a year ago. They're an excellent football team. We've gone on the road and won three this year too. We've played well at other places as well. This is down to one game now. It's a one game deal and I know our guys are excited. We have to have a great week of preparation and I expect our guys to go and play extremely well. I believe they will."
On the importance of two C-USA teams that are staying in C-USA being in the championship game:
"To be honest with you, I think it's great. It's nice that whoever that defending champion will be, will be back next year. It's a good thing and both teams will be back. Rice has a lot of young guys on their roster and we have a lot of young players on our roster too. Hopefully we'll both have a great shot as being really good next year too. David (Bailiff) does such a tremendous job at representing our conference. He's a great coach and one that I have great respect for. He's done a tremendous job at Rice. He took them to a bowl game a year ago. I think they've won more games in the last two years than they had in the last forty at Rice for a two-year span. He deserves a lot of credit and has done a tremendous job."
On the players' attitudes of looking forward to playing at Rice for the C-USA title:
"I wouldn't expect anything else. Their goal is to go play for a championship. I would have loved to have had the game here for our fans, but it's not. We're going to Rice to play and we have to go there and play extremely well. That doesn't surprise me the way the kids reacted. They are a more matured bunch that has handled themselves all year with their preparation. I'm sure they'll do the same thing this week."
On the players' attitudes of never getting down and playing every play:
"In years past, I think any adversity that hit them affected them in a different way. Right now adversity doesn't affect this team a whole lot. They're used to adversity and can handle it. Regardless of what it is they don't run and hide from it. They look it straight in the eye and go attack it. That's the way it needs to be and, for the most part, have done a great job at getting that done. That's part of the culture change that is going on around here that they're able to handle adversity and move forward."
On the impact of winning last week and the national attention of the program:
"I'm just proud that our fan base, community and school are getting back to playing in championships because that is what they deserve. That's what they've been hungry for around here. For the first time in eleven or twelve years, we get to talk about it. You can see the excitement around town and it's getting back to where it needs to be. The town deserves it, the community deserves it and the state deserves it. I'm just happy that they can get that feeling again. Is it huge? Yes. From a national standpoint, people are starting to take notice of what this program is all about again. That hasn't happened for about 12 years. Anytime Marshall University is getting mentioned as a really good football team that makes me feel good and that's the way it should be."
On the trust and advancement of the defensive players:
"I can't say enough about what defensive coordinator Chuck Heater and that staff has done. Our kids have confidence in Chuck. They know that he is going to put them in a position to be successful. He did a great job last week at taking the strengths of East Carolina away. The talented ECU receiver, Justin Hardy, averaged just 8.0 yards per catch. He did a great job at taking away the strengths of that offense with our defense. Our kids understand that Chuck Heater is a tremendous coach. The more the season has progressed Chuck has become more comfortable trusting the defensive guys to handle a little bit more. I think it's a combination of both. The young guys like Cory Tindal and Gary Thompson have given Chuck and the defensive staff the confidence that they can handle more. The trust thing has never been an issue. They know he's great and they're excited about whatever he gives them, knowing he will put them in a place to be successful."
On Rice running back Charles Ross:
"He's a big guy that is extremely physical. If we can't stop the run then we have no chance. It's going to come down to that again. Ross and McHargue both have the ability to run the ball. That's the reason they are leading the conference in rushing is because of the people they have up front and those guys with the ball in their hands are good."
On the excitement of this game and seeing how well Marshall can stop the run and win on the road:
"There's no question it is going to be a great challenge for us. There's no doubt that the strength for Rice is being able to run the ball. McHargue can throw the ball as well. There's a reason that Rice is (9-3, 7-1) and there's a reason that they're in the championship game. They're a good football team. I think we're pretty good too. It will be two good football teams matched up and we'll go see what happens."
On the cornerback play last week against ECU:
"You just can't give enough credit to Monterius Lovett. There were a few plays in that game where he just took the best receiver out of the game. Not only Lovett but, Tindal, Daryl Roberts and all of them did such a tremendous job. Whenever you play a team like ECU, you have to take away the easy access throws. If you give them those throws then you'll have major issues. Our corners, secondary and linebackers have been able to take those away. I think that's the only way you can defend against some of the things that ECU was doing. I thought our guys did a great job at getting that done."
On the offense peaking at the right time:
"Like Chuck on defense, you can't give offensive coordinator Bill Legg enough credit. He's done a tremendous job with Cato and our offense. A year ago we were kind of one-dimensional and throwing the ball all over the place. We've become more balanced. We're a much better offense now than we were a year ago. We're averaging more points per game. If we can continue to run the football like we have it will help us tremendously in the passing game. Being balanced is huge and Bill has done a great job at getting that done."
On the performance of Devon Johnson:
"He's a really good football player. I'm as excited seeing him run down there for kickoffs as I am watching him get the ball handed to him. He's a tremendous player that has a huge future. If I need to get a yard, I like my chances with Devon."
On the absence of ego on this Herd team:
"This football team cares about winning football games. There are three things that are going to keep us from getting where we want to go. Those are accountability, not being selfish and getting complacent. You get better or you get worse. You don't stay the same. The one thing that this football team has done is to get better every week. We played our best game last weekend. We were (5-0) in November. We just took care of business week after week. That has to happen this week too. If we don't go out on that practice field and get better every day then we probably don't have a chance to win that game on Saturday versus Rice. Today will be a critical day of practice and our kids understand that. We have to get better out there today as a team."
On the performance of the kickoff coverage team:
"Our best players are on it. We have Neville Hewitt, a guy that runs down there. We have Deandre Reaves who is also a punt returner that is on the coverage team. We had D.J. Hunter on there this past week. Raheem Waiters is running down, Taj Letman and Cory Tindal as well. We have our best players on that coverage unit. It's the same thing with our punt team. I know we went from last in our conference to first in kickoff coverage. A lot of that had to do with 49-non returnable kicks. Even if the ball is returnable, we're getting four-second hang times and getting the ball to the goal line or one yard deep. That gives your coverage unit time to get down there. It's a combination of good players being on there and good defense being played. Most of the players on defense are on the coverage unit. Our coverage on our punt team is good, and though we've been a bit inconsistent at times with the punter, he was great last Friday. He'll have to be great this Saturday. The coverage has been good and that has to continue."
On Rice kicker Chris Boswell's play:
"He may be the best kicker in the country. He and Cairo Santos at Tulane were the two best kickers in the country last year. He does a great job and has the ability to kick 50-plus yard field goals. He's a weapon and he's also really good at kicking the ball off. Rice has a good football team and has good specialists. They're good on offense and defense. That's why they are where they are."