Dec. 16, 2013
Holliday Press Conference
Doc Holiday Press Conference
Our captains were voted on by the team prior to the banquet last night. Offensive captains will be tight end Gator Hoskins, quarterback Rakeem Cato and center Chris Jasperse. On defense, the captains will be defensive lineman James Rouse and corner Monterius Lovett. Three of the captains are underclassman which is great. It is great because we get all of them back next year. Those five will represent us in the Military Bowl against Maryland. It's a great honor to those guys to be voted captains by your teammates. I'm proud of those guys. They are five really good players along with the other 14 captains that did a tremendous job this year. James Rouse has decided that he will return to play his sixth year here at Marshall, which is huge. He's not only a great leader, but has been a great player. He was voted MVP and captain by his teammates. He, of course, was also all conference. I can't think of a guy that deserves it more than he does because the adversity he's been through and how he fought through it. Our football team is excited and proud to be in the Military Bowl against a great opponent. It's a great venue. The Naval Academy stadium is a special place. I've had the opportunity to play there a couple of times and it's an outstanding venue. It's something you never forget. I remember sitting there as a coach and they have the jets fly over the stadium and you're almost in awe of what's happening. You think what in the world am I doing here. They've remodeled it since I was there. I was up there again last week. It's a beautiful place, a beautiful setting and we're proud to represent Marshall against a great ACC opponent in that game. We'll practice every day this week. We'll give them Saturday off. We'll come back and Sunday will be a Tuesday practice for us. We'll practice Monday morning which will be a Wednesday practice. Then we'll load up and head towards Washington, D.C. We'll have two Thursday practices back-to-back. Then have our Friday practice of a Thursday and get ready to play on Saturday. Bowl games are a reward for a great season and all the hard work put into it, but the bowls that I really enjoyed are the ones that you win. It's important that we go up there with the mindset of finding a way to win this football game. Our kids are excited about it and they're doing a great job at preparing.
On this being a start to 2014 season with all the returning players:
After the C-USA championship game, my one message to the players was that a bowl game is a reward for your season, but the bottom line is two things are most important. Those are that we send the seniors out, which have been a great group. They have played their best football. Essray Taliaferro, Alex Bazzie, Alex Schooler and Garrett Scott all played at their very best. All the seniors did that. It was neat to watch the team grow and watch the seniors prepared and played. The second important thing is to set the tone for next year with this bowl game. We're also working with the young kids. We'll have a regular practice today, but we'll keep the young offensive and defensive lineman out there to work with them individually. We're going to take advantage of every minute we have to try to make this team better.
On the extra time before bowl game being a gift:
If you count the week we had for the C-USA championship game and then about eleven or twelve practices before the bowl game, that's just as many practices as you get for spring ball. We have about 16-to-17 practices before that bowl game which is huge. Especially for the young offensive and defensive linemen because those are the ones you can really develop the most.
On the planning of practices leading up to the bowl game:
We'll have a normal Tuesday preparation with the older guys. Our inside drill, for example today, we'll go 12 plays with the ones and twos. Then we'll have a six-play stretch just with the developmental guys. It will be the same thing with seven-on-seven and same thing with our team periods.
On Maryland being similar to any team Marshall has faced so far:
They're an ACC team like Virginia Tech was and they're a good football team. They've won seven games in that league. They beat Virginia Tech up there and when you look at their quarterback, C.J. Brown, he can beat you with not only his arm, but with his feet. He runs the ball extremely well. They have a lot of designed quarterback runs for him where he's keeping the ball on the perimeter. We have to do a tremendous job at making sure we contain him, but Maryland has athletes all over the place. Now we are just focusing on us getting better as a team. We have been focusing on the areas that we need to improve in fundamentally and technique-wise. The first couple of practices will be focused a little on Maryland, but also on us getting better. The last couple of practices will be only for focusing on Maryland. They're a good football team. Anytime you get into the postseason, in a bowl situation, you're going to play a good football team. Maryland is just that.
On the mobile quarterback in college football:
It seems like we get to play a running quarterback every week. Regardless of who we play, they always seem to have one of those guys. I think a lot of people are going to the mobile quarterback because of the spread offenses that we are seeing now. Even when you're playing a power offense you tend to run into a mobile quarterback. That's the trend at this point and we're seeing an awful lot of it. You have to recruit speed and athleticism in the space areas. That's in the linebacker, safeties and corners area.
On the importance of this game for recruiting in the Washington, D.C. area:
Anytime you can get on national television, it's going to help you regardless of where you are. I think the exposure you get from a television standpoint and just being in a bowl game is outstanding. It's great to be able to call kids and say, "I can't get down there to see you this week because we are preparing for the championship game or a bowl game". To be that does more for recruiting than if you're out there getting your tail kicked and are sitting at home for Christmas. It's going to help us in more ways than just being on national television, but just being in that area. Playing for the championship and in the bowl game will help us as far as recruiting goes.
On playing an ACC opponent:
It's important because it's the next game. There's no doubt that our guys are going to play a great opponent in a great conference. I guess we can say we're playing an ACC and a Big Ten team. They're kind of in between. If we can find a way to win that game then I guess we will have beaten an ACC team and a Big Ten team. It's all good.
On this Marshall team reminding Doc of any other team he's been a part of:
I don't know if I've ever been a part of a team that has grown as much as this team has. The improvements that have been made on defense to become the number one most improved scoring defense in the country is special within itself. That got us to where we are. The leadership on this team has grown tremendously. I've been around some good football teams, but I'm not sure I've been around ones that have come so far. We're plus-5 more wins than we had a year ago. We played for the conference and are in an outstanding bowl. We're not near satisfied because our goal was always to win the conference championship and when you don't do that then you're never satisfied. I've never been a part of a team that has grown so much, not only from becoming a better team on both sides of the ball, but also the leadership part of it and how they've grown as a team. They're a fun team to be around. The guys that talked at that banquet last night, the one constant that all the seniors talked about was how much they've all grown as a team and how the culture has changed in the last couple years. It's neat to see a team grow up like that and I'm not sure I've been around on that has grown up as much and changed as much as this team has in one year.
On this team being mostly all brought in by Holiday's staff:
They are basically all our guys. There are only a couple now that were here when I got here. James Rouse is one, Taliaferro was a walk on when I got here and Bazzie was a walk on. Lovett was a scholarship guy. The scholarship guys that are still here are Schooler, Rouse and Lovett. The rest of the guys have been here for three years or less. The players understand what is expected of them and they understand what's important. The thing I love about this team is that football is important to them. Every day they go out there and they get better as a football team. When you do that you have a pretty good shot at winning some games.
On Maryland's defensive schemes:
They're like anyone else in that conference. They're good up front; they're physical, athletic and have a great linebacker core and secondary. I haven't watched too much on them because I've been so focused on us. I know offensive coordinator Bill Legg and those guys have watched a lot more than I have. From the little I've seen they seem to run around really well. They rush the passer with the outside linebacker Marcus Whitfield. He's extremely athletic and comes off the edge to go get. It's going to be a great challenge for us and we have to make sure we do a great job at preparation to get ready for them.
On Jeremiah Taylor returning for the bowl game:
It's great. He's a great kid. Unfortunately, we can't get him back for another year, but we'd like it. It's not going to happen and he's not going to get his sixth year because you have to have two years where he totally missed for medical reasons. He didn't have that. The leadership he'll provide by having him back out there will be huge. We're excited about it.
On Taylor helping the team off the field:
He's been a coach out there at practice for as long as he's been out with injury. He never missed a practice and never missed a meeting. He never missed a trip, hotel or meal. He was out there the entire time. He was signaling our defense into defense. He's just a great kid. Our coaches and players have great respect for him. It's going to be fun to have him back out there. He's a good player.
On Gator Hoskins as a freshman being different than the Hoskins of now:
When he came here as a freshman, I thought he was a strong safety or defensive back. He was a very athletic cornerback and at that time was about 190 pounds. Then he showed up at 220 pounds and just kept getting bigger. He's another guy I wish we could have for another year. Garrett Scott and Gator are two guys that I wish we could have redshirted. At that point I didn't have any players and was trying to find enough guys so that we could get through games and play the best we could. Unfortunately those guys had to play and didn't play nearly enough. We don't get them back for another year, but it was great to watch those two guys grow and mature. Gator will walk out of here with a lot of records and a lot of touchdown catches. He's done some really good things.
On seeing the players fully step into their roles:
There are a lot of things put on stars, like 40 times, vertical jumps and combines. To me the most important thing is finding a football player. You see guys that make plays. You see guys that have that "it" factor. You see guys that have big hearts and love football. When I took the job at University of Florida, I thought I finally had arrived at the so-called the best job in America. I thought that if you walked into those homes with a gator on your chest then you had it made and could recruit the best in America. I thought it was going to be an easy job, but it wasn't. It became a hard job because you could go out and get all these 5-star players, but you had to find out then which of those kids loved football. Was football important to this guy? Was he doing the right things and making good decisions more important than making bad ones? It was easy to go out and find you 20 great players. Finding the right ones where football was important to them, they went to work every day and the team was more important than individual stats is the important thing. I learned a lot recruiting there because there's so much more to it than athletic ability and being able to jump high and run fast. There are a lot of players out there that can't jump real high or run real fast, but are really good football players. That's what I'm trying to get done here is not only get guys that are very athletic, but get guys that love football and that football is very important to them. They have to be tough and care. That is what Tommy Shuler is, Cato is and Gator has become that.
On recruiting talent, not most athletic:
Not one guy makes decisions on kids. We all watch and evaluate them. At the end of the day we are going to sit in a room and we're going to determine who can best help us go win a championship. I have a lot of guys that work extremely hard at it. They're all good coaches, evaluators and recruiters, but as a staff we will make final decisions. We're going to make a mistake every now and then, but we don't make many.