Quotes Following Football's 37-13 Conference USA Loss To Tulsa



Sept. 4, 2009

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Head Coach Bob Toledo

Opening Remarks
"That was tough. I said earlier in the week I had thought we improved and gotten better. I didn't know how much better and I wouldn't know until we've played the game. I believe we've gotten better. I think we did some really good things tonight. Unfortunately, we did some things poorly and there are things that we have to improve on."

On the missed opportunities by the offense
"We started the game and got in bad field position partly due to the fact that we didn't have good returns. We were right at the 20 yard line and then we couldn't convert. So they were playing on half the field for almost the full first half. And that hurt us tremendously. And we had opportunities to score and we didn't score. So we got in the red zone, we got by the goal line and we didn't get points. Missed a field goal because it was a bad snap. And missed a touchdown; we had a touchdown that got called back because of holding. Just missed opportunities for a young football team."

On the play of Joe Kemp
"I think Joe (Kemp), offensively, learned an awful lot today. He had to call a couple timeouts early, he wasn't aware of the clock as much as he needed to be, he needs to pick up the tempo of the offense and make them move faster. We got sacked way too many times. Part of it is the people up front and part of it is the quarterback. He's got to get rid of the football - you can't get sacked."

On the lead-up to Tulsa's punt return for a touchdown
"Towards the end of the game...it was a short 3rd down play...and we have the delay of game and then we get sacked and then we punt the football and they run it back for a touchdown. That was a huge turn of events."

On the play of the Tulane defense
"Defensively, I thought we played hard. We made some opportunistic plays. Unfortunately, I thought we tackled poorly. And we had the quarterback sack at times but we lost contain...he either ran or he ended up throwing the ball running out of the pocket - making big plays on us. That and then the kicking game - we faltered and again, they got a great return."

On his team's progress so far
"We just have to continue to get better. We are better than we were a year ago. Now are we there yet? No. We are a work in progress. But the season is not over. We've learned a lot from this game. Our players will improve. Their attitude is good and we will continue to grow and get better as the season goes along."

On Joe Kemp making his first collegiate start under center
I thought early in the game he was nervous. Let's face it - he's a young, inexperienced player; he hasn't played very much. And it showed early - calling the timeouts and not seeing the clock and he was a little rattled early. But he made some big plays tonight. He made some big plays tonight. Unfortunately, we didn't make big plays when we needed to make big plays. But, he settled down and did some nice things."

On the defense not being able to sack Tulsa's quarterback
"That was very frustrating because I thought defensively we played pretty well. If we could just tackle it might be a different ballgame. But, we just gave them too many opportunities because of the missed tackles. The quarterback made big plays because of it."

On how disheartening it was to go down by 17 points in the beginning of the game
"It was a little disheartening, but on the other hand it could've been good too. You know...you get behind and then you could come back and win and that's real good for our program. We need to learn how to win. We're working on that as well."

On trusting Joe Kemp:
"We trusted him the whole game. We tried to take a little bit off of him in the second quarter. We tried to run the ball a little bit more so the pressure wasn't on him. Because our feeling going into the game is we felt we had to throw it 40 times to beat these people...they were vulnerable to the passing game - they play an 8 man front. It's hard to run against them. We had to pick and choose our runs. And we almost threw the ball 40 times. Look at the statistics - and again, statistics don't mean much, but they showed some things I think. We did throw the ball pretty well. We made some big plays. We didn't run the ball very well. Part of the rushing yardage is because of the sacks."

On third down sequence when Andre Anderson tried to run the football into the endzone
"We just felt that we could run the football in on the goal line. We felt that we wanted to go down the left side. It didn't work. We tried an option. It didn't work. We needed a touchdown. These guys score a lot of points and we needed touchdowns. So, that's why I said hey, let's go for it. And unfortunately we didn't play very well down there."

On Casey Robottom and Jeremy Williams
"Casey (Robottom) caught six balls for 82 yards and Jeremy (Williams) caught five for 168. I think that might be the longest pass play in years around here to be honest with you. I thought they caught the ball very well. Unfortunately, protection broke down and we didn't get rid of the football."

On what he told his team after the game
"I told them, basically, we're doing okay. We're giving them opportunities right now. We had opportunities. I told them at halftime don't get discouraged. We just gave them some opportunities because we made some bad plays, but we did some good things. And we played hard. And we played until the end. Basically I told them hey, keep playing hard and don't give up and that's all I could ask for."

Offensive Coordinator Dan Dodd

On if what the offense tried to do tonight is the goal for the season
"Yes. It's going to be. I think what you saw tonight is what we're going to try to do. We wanted to involve D.J. Banks in this first game and certainly we wanted Jeremy Williams to et a lot of touches. I think minus the way we ran the football I think we threw the football fairly well to a varied group of people. So I think the key is just to improve the running game and cut down the sacks."

On if he feels the offense accomplished its goals
"Well I'll have to look at the film to give you a real good assessment, but if I had to say right now you know we knew going in there, an 8-man box, and they're going to get one more defender in there than you can block. And I think a lot of times that one defender is the guy that made plays. We had some counter plays that landed in the first half that we didn't get much production out of in the second half and I think they are a knifing, penetrating defense and we got away from running the counters for that reason."

On running the ball in goal-line situations
"The mantra for this group of kids is `run the football in the red zone.' We wanted to be able to go down there and lean on them. Obviously, in retrospect I wish we had thrown it. But that hindsight is not part of the deal. Had we not lost yardage on the second play we would've felt more comfortable. We felt good about the plan...the plays that we ran...we thought it had a chance. The option play from the sideline looked like it was going to score. From the sideline it looked like we could've outraced the defense to the sideline, but I'm going to have to look at the film to give you a better assessment. But, again, with this group of kids we wanted to establish a personality where we were going to be able to run the football in the red zone. We talked about it ever since last spring. So there was never really a doubt that we were going to do that."

On playing with a quarterback making his first start
"I think from an offensive perspective it was a first time starter at quarterback. A little bit nervous and things were moving pretty fast. I think Joe (Kemp) settled down as the game went on and started to hit his stride. I think that it's a `learn while you're in' job - and when you get into that huddle for the first time and it's your deal, you're not coming off of the bench in a backup role, things do move pretty fast. I'm sure the pace will improve quite a bit as we get ready for next week's game."

Sophomore Quarterback Joe Kemp

On if he was nervous making his first career start
"I'd be lying to you if I told you that first and second series I wasn't a little nervous. But that's just something I have to fix. I came in at halftime and told myself that I have the ability, we've been doing this in practice, that coach Toledo and Coach Dodd had faith in me...it was just a matter of calming down and going out there and executing."

On if he felt pressure from Tulsa's defense throughout the game
"There might have been a little pressure, but I thought our offensive line did a great job with the passing game blocking. It's just something that...maybe I was a little too cautious. Not trying to force the ball and throw an interception; trying not to get a turnover. As time goes on and I get more experience I'm going to need to work on getting the ball out of my hands and moving on to the next play."

On what he takes from this game
"Towards the end of this game I was going down the sideline thinking there were so many positive things we can take from this game. There were 5 or 6 times we were in the red zone. What we kept saying is down 17-0 it really doesn't mean anything - we know that we have the guys on offense. We started showing it a little. Those big chunks of yards - I think Jeremy had a 68 yard catch. It's just something that no matter how much we get down and who we're playing we're going to come back."

On his comfort level as the game progressed
"I knew going in I had four or five receivers to go to...and Cody Sparks, when he gets back is another guy I feel extremely confident in going to. Like I said, those first couple drives I put that on me. Once I started to calm down I know it's a cliché but everything started slowing down and they seemed more over."

Senior Defensive Back Chinonso Echebelem

On what the team does from here
"You have to take it one game at a time. BYU is a good team. We just have to prepare."

Senior Defensive Lineman Adam Kwentua

On the team's performance
"Our coaches have been talking about it since day 1 of fall camp. We came in knowing that to beat a team like Tulsa you have to do the little things right. And tackling is one of those things. When you have a team like that you have to make the tackles every chance you get. There was no excuse for it. We have to get better at it."


Head Coach Todd Graham

On the Tulsa performance
"Well, we are 1-0. I mean, we had lots of first game mistakes. We scored extremely fast early, you know. The first 17 points were like `bang, bang, bang'. I am really proud Fitzpatrick. He really answered the calls, you know, from a field goal standpoint. He was 100% tonight. Our defense played a lot of snaps early, in the first half. We just gave up too many big plays on defense. A lot of first game mistakes and things like that. In all, I am really, really impressed...very impressed with how G.J. Kinne managed the game, took care of the football, and ran. We got a quarterback who can run now. I was very impressed with him. I was impressed with Trent Dupy. He got his first start tonight. There was some confusion there, and we had some confusion. We had some first game jitters and first game mistakes and things like that. You go out and win 37-13 on the road, I'll take it. Very, very pleased with our performance."

On the performance of Damaris Johnson
"Damaris is a special guy. And really, we missed him on a couple of other things. We should have gotten the ball to him more. He is a playmaking guy, on kick return, punt return, and not only that, but receiver. We didn't utilize him as much as we need to, tonight. I think we rushed the ball 43 times, and only threw it 20 times. Bottom line is winning. We wanted to establish ourselves as being tough on the road and when we get into games like that, the bottom line is `win'. I don't care if we win 3-0. I am very proud of Damaris and very proud of our football team."

On Kinne's running game
"It is really him improvising. We had some game plan stuff with him. We had some red zone options that he ran the ball and executed. That last touchdown was really special. He really executed really well on that. He is a guy, like I told you, we have not had a quarterback who can run and move like he does. He is very gifted in that regard. We didn't use many things tonight. We had a huge, broad game plan, because we had no idea what they were going to do defensively and they basically came out and played Cover Two. They ran two deep, so we just ran the football and we ran a lot of red-zone option stuff. We ran the football a whole bunch, and that is what you have to do to win."

On the Tulsa defensive performance
"Defense I think played extremely hard. We gave up too many cheap ones in the back end. Double cut there late. What I am trying to do is to manage the game so in Week 9, 10, and 11, we are playing our best football. Our defense played 66 snaps tonight, and that is the goal. I think we ran 73 snaps on offense; we want a few more there. The key is not keeping the defense on the field, and running the football and we were able to do that tonight."

On the importance of a season-opening and conference win
"It was big. That is our number one goal is to be the Conference USA champions. We came on the road and got a win. I will tell you this: Coach Toledo is doing a great job. This team is tremendously improved over last year. They've got a great running back. This quarterback, I am really impressed with. Very impressed with how he moved around, and threw the ball. He took some shots tonight and kept coming. Actually, [Jeremy] Williams is a special wide-out."

Quarterback G.J. Kinne

On taking snaps after a two and a half year hiatus "I was a little nervous, not going to lie. I hit that little roll-out dump pass to AJ. He did a great job getting open. I was just ready to get on from that."

On starting his career with a rushing touchdown
"Yea, it was special. Going into the game, I didn't think it was going to be a rushing touchdown. I just do what is best for the team, and that is just the way it happened."

On his running game and a 45-yard run to open the third quarter
"I am really not sure [of the yardage]. I need to watch it on film. I think it was a pass. I just took it up the middle, and I think they went for a pump fake like 30 yards down the field, I remember that. My O-line did great opening the hole for me."

On any surprised in the contest
"In the beginning of the game, it was pretty fast for me. But I went back to my technique and what Coach Graham had taught me, and it definitely slowed down a lot going into the second quarter and second half."

On the comfort of having a 17-0 lead
"They were a really good football team. Like Coach Graham said, they are a much improved football team. They kept bouncing back, and bouncing back. I think when D took that punt return to the house, that ended it right there."

Punt Returner Damaris Johnson

On returning to New Orleans
"It was definitely a great homecoming. I had a lot of family here and a lot of motivation. The last time I played here I left with good memories so I tried to do the same this time."

On returning the punt for a touchdown
"Tulane has a really good punter, he was keeping it high in the lights and I kind of misjudged it a couple of times but that time I probably did only 10 percent of the work. My guys up front did a really good job and I made two people miss. Other than that, it was all them."

On his quarterback's performance
"I was really proud of seeing G.J. Kinne and how he did. He took a sack early but he didn't get rattled he settled down and controlled the offense and I expect really good things from him. He did really good. We faced a lot of adversity but he calmed us down and said `guys, move on to the next play' and he had 100 yards rushing. He did a really good job."