Quotes Following Football's 24-10 Win Over Louisiana-Monroe



Sept. 20, 2008

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Tulane 24, Louisiana-Monroe 10
Tulane Game 3
Louisiana Superdome
New Orleans, La.



Opening statement
"First of all, I'm really happy for our football team. They've worked hard and we finally won a game. And you need to win after you work that hard because eventually you wonder why you're working hard. This was something that proved to them that if you continue to do the things that are asked of you, you can win games. I'm really proud of their effort.

On what went right for the Green Wave
"I thought tonight, all 3 phases were good. Our special teams played with a lot of passion and that's one of the things that I asked of them when we went out those doors. Play with passion and play as hard as you can play. I thought our defense did a super job with an exception of that last drive, fourth-down play. And then offensively, we said we were going to pound the rock. We're going to pound on the rock until it cracks. And that's what we did. We practiced very physical and we played physical. At the end, they couldn't stop us. That's one of the things during the fourth quarter. A good running back gets stronger and then your offensive team gets stronger. So I thought from an overall standpoint, all three phases were playing well. I was disappointed that after the turnover we didn't get a touchdown. I was disappointed that when we got down there, we threw an interception. But I think a lot of guys played extremely well and I'm just pleased to win the game."

On having to turn around and play SMU on Thursday
"The tough thing now is we have to turn around and we have a game next Thursday night. We're going from a spread-option offense to a run and shoot offense. And it's considerably different. This one is run first, pass second. The run-and-shoot is pass first and run a little bit. We need to pressure their quarterback and get ready to play against the run-and-shoot."

On the physical state of his football team
"We're nicked up a little bit. We're a little beat up. And we beat them up a little bit in practice this week, knowing that if we could win this game it would pay dividends down the road. So, we have to back off just a little bit this week because we only really have pads on on Monday and Tuesday. We'll actually start practice tomorrow."

On how each phase is playing right now
"I think the defense is playing a little better than the offense is right now, to be perfectly honest with you. I'm pleased with how they're performing. We have to put people away. We can't let them off the hook. But I think we're playing hard, we're playing smart, we're being very aggressive and we're improving on the things we need improvement on. I like the tackling. We had a lot of tackling drills this week and we got better as a tackling team. Offensively, we need to continue to make big plays. We need to make some big plays. We're not doing that right now. We make a few and we had a couple drops tonight that should've been caught that would've helped us. Then, special teams wise, we need to continue to grow there."

On how they were able to "finish" the game
"One of the things is when I talked to the team at halftime, I said we've got to go out and we've got to pound on the rock offensively and defensively. We've got to make them break. And then I said to be smart. I said, `We have one penalty, they have five. Let them make the stupid mistakes.' We had a couple freshmen have some penalties that hurt us. We had some dropped balls that hurt us. But I think, for the most part, we finished the game. Because they scored, we ran the ball back and then we kept it away from them. That's finishing the game - not letting them have the ball back."

On Tulane's ability to stop teams on third down
"First of all, (defensive coordinator) O'Neil Gilbert was moved from defensive line to linebacker coach, and Greg Jackson was moved from safeties to linebackers. I have those two working together. And our underneath coverage is so much better than it was a year ago at this time. We couldn't stop anybody on third down and now we're playing more zonal. We're doing some zone blitzes. We're not playing as much man as we did a year ago. We're playing more zone and trying to keep people in front of us, inside of us, rallying to the ball, and then pressure with the people that are rushing."

On if he felt it was a matter of time before everything fell into place for the Tulane team
"I think because of the way we played those first two games, I did know it was a matter of time. We had to stop beating ourselves. I've always told our guys that you've got to keep from losing before you can win. More games are lost than won. I really believe that in those two games, we had a big deal to do with losing the game. We lost some of those games with the punt return, punt block, field goal block. We were losing. And not that people weren't beating us, but you've got to keep from losing first is all I'm saying. We did that tonight."

On the 37-yard pass to Cody Sparks during the opening drive
"We knew they were a two-deep scheme and we wanted to get three guys going vertical, hold the back with the run fake, then pick off the safety and throw a nice ball down the middle. We threw a nice ball down the middle to Sparks. That set the stage and got in the mode and scored real quick. Then we came back and scored again. I think our players felt good about that and then stopping them like we did we felt like we were in control of the game."

On if they thought ULM was going to open the game with that coverage
"Yes, we felt like that was the coverage we were going to get. In their first three games, they opened the game with that front end coverage. We were hoping that they would do the same thing so we called a play that would beat that front coverage and we executed it well. Plays aren't worth a darn if you don't execute them. Kevin did a great job of executing it. The line blocked. We run faked, held the linebacker and, of course, Sparks made a nice play."

On some of the trick plays Tulane ran
"We did some things to keep them off balance. That's one of the things I do, too. As I've said in the past, with those fakes, people don't practice that stuff now. They can't just rush the field goal. They've got to be prepared for a fake. They've got to practice some of the trick plays. Little things that we do - there are reasons why we do them."

On if he felt Tulane was playing not to lose last week and playing to win this week
"I think we play to win all the time. I don't play not to lose. I play according to what our game plan is and what we think we can do against the opponent. I don't play to lose. I do play to win."

On Dominique Dade's punt return for 18 yards
"One of the things we saw, because of their punt formation and their punter, we felt we could return. We did a great job of holding up and then Dominique's got the ability to make a play and that was a big return for us."

On if he asked for the refs to review the ULM interception, which was eventually overturned
"I was going to ask for it, but I let (Dan Dodd) do it. In other words Dan Dodd said, `He fumbled that football, he didn't have possession.' So I grabbed the official and we were waiting because we don't want to use a timeout. They will buzz down before I call a timeout. But if it started to get to the next play, I would've called a timeout because Dan Dodd did tell me that he didn't have the ball."


On how he feels after the win
"I'm definitely beat up, but it feels better going home knowing you have a win under your belt and you don't have to worry about too much for a while or until next week. So it feels good."

On his first-quarter touchdown
"It was a game plan play. It was one of the regular plays but we tweaked it a bit. I just lined up offset, Kevin (Moore) gave me a good handoff, Andrew (Neirman) made a great block on the linebacker and we just spread them out and run through the middle. That's what I did and got in the end zone."

On if he was getting tired on the last drive where he kept getting the ball
" No, I definitely wanted to be in. It reminded me of high school when I'm grinding the clock out. I told the guys, `Let's not let their offense back on the field. We have five minutes to grind the clock out. Let's run the ball and keep getting first downs,' and that's what we did. They made some great blocks for me. I saw the holes, I was hitting them as hard as I could and was just trying to drive my feet and keep the game going, keep the clock moving so we could win the game."

On his average yards per carry
"We tried to get at least four yards per carry every play, you know, running efficiency. Two point five isn't where we need to be. So we definitely wanted to come out and make a statement with the ball, run the ball and make explosive plays with the running game. We did that today. We had a lot of long runs. I had some good runs up the middle. We went to work on our blocking, just made sure we executed everything well and just pounded it in there. We just kept `pounding the rock.'"

On "Pounding the Rock"
"We've been talking about it all week - just pound the rock, pound the rock. I told the guys, `Just keep fighting, keep blocking hard and eventually we're going to make a big play here and there.' That's what happened today. We had good runs all over the field. We just kept pounding the rock and kept going at it. We wore them down, kept churning our legs and just kept driving. That's what we wanted to do today."

On if he felt a sense of urgency about this game
"We felt a sense of urgency the last two weeks, but it just didn't come out for us. We knew this was one of the games we were picked to win and they had us on upset alert this week so we kind of took that to heart. We wanted to make sure we went out and show that we deserve to be on the field and be victorious, protect the home field and just make a statement. We wanted to show everybody that Tulane is for real. Those two games weren't just emotional highs because we played two big teams. We wanted to just come out here and just play physical and play hard. We played a good team. We just came out on top."

On where Tulane goes from here
"We just keep going back to work. We go back to work tomorrow when we have practice. We've got to get ready for SMU. They're a good team and a conference team, so that's important for us for winning the conference and trying to get to where our goal is - a bowl game and conference champs. We just have to go back to work, keep practicing hard, keep doing what we're doing and try to use this momentum to get us on a roll."

On if this game felt different than the others
"Only because this was the first game we won this year. Being the starter now, everyone is looking at me to make the big play and make the runs we need to in the fourth quarter. It felt good to be the guy that everybody looked at and everybody counted on. They knew I was getting the ball and I just wanted to make sure I did what I did. I feel good that I did my part today to help the team win. The defense played great and the offensive line played well. Kevin Moore threw the ball real well and our receivers made plays. We had a great full team effort. I think it was a very, very good team effort. It wasn't really a one-man show. Everybody was just doing their part in getting us this win."

On how his legs feel after carrying the ball 38 times
"My legs are fine. They are just a little bruised here and there. I was cramping up a little bit, but I'm good to go. I'm sore, but having 38 carries I would expect it. They were hitting hard and its college football. I'll be ready for next week."

On the amount of carries he has every game increasing week to week
"If I keep going every week, next thing you know I might get 40 or 45 carries. Hopefully I'll make enough big plays so it won't be that many carries. But I do what coach asks of me. If it takes 20 to win, I'll do 20. If it takes 35, 39, 40? Matt (Forté) did it last year and I've got my body ready to do it this year. That's what I'm trying to do."

On if he can sense during the game he's going to have a big day
"Definitely. After the first touchdown, I knew it was going to be a good day. We had great blocking and we set it up real well. I scored early and I usually say if I start off running well then it's going to be a long day. So that's what we did and I just knew if we kept pounding it we would have a good day. They came out and played hard, but we hit them right back in the mouth and kept pounding it. We had a great game plan and I was just looking to break on every play."


On if ULM's bad snaps were due to them anticipating Tulane was coming after them
"I think it definitely played a part in it because, in a lot of protections, they dropped their center to pick up outside blockers. We have a lot of speed on the edge so we had to get back there pretty fast. I'm sure it had something to do with it."

On if he surprised at the success Tulane's defense is having
"I don't think it surprises us. Coach Gilbert has told us all along that we're good. We just have to work hard and execute the scheme. I think it took some people a few games to kind of trust what he was saying and believe that we were going to be good. But I think everyone pretty much now has confidence in this defense and we have a swagger about us going into games knowing that we want to go in and dominate."

On why their defense is so difficult to read
"There's at least one blitz for everyone on the team. There are blitzes for the free safety, the corners, everyone is coming. That, and I think the times that the coaches call them and the way we go in with our game plan - what blitzes we put in their for their protection schemes and recognizing those protection schemes."


On how the win feels
"It feels awesome, especially the way we finished. I told the offensive line at the break-through moment, I think there was four or five minutes left on the clock and they had the full allotment of their timeouts. We went out there and we ended the game with the ball. We picked up a big third down, Brian (King) made a great catch on the left side and then, other than that, we were pounding them on that last possession. It was so great to win like that."

On the defense playing "at a higher level" than the offense
"The defense has been absolutely spectacular the whole season. They've created turnovers. I think they're leading the country in sacks. Coach Gilbert does a great job with them and they play incredibly hard. Offensively, sometimes you feel like you have to equal them almost at some point. You just have to go out there and execute and do what you do and things will work out. Coach Toledo has a great game plan for us every week. Having a defense like that and with how well they've played has been absolutely fantastic. The first couple weeks, they've kept us in games. Offensively, if we cashed in on a few of the opportunities they gave us, there'd be different outcomes. We scored more points than the other team today and we have some stuff that we need to correct. I threw a bad interception and almost had another one picked off. But I felt like we battled well."

On what it's like to be a quarterback during the last drive
"When its working like that, it's awesome. It's kind of an easy job. I felt like we picked up a big third down...Brian (King) made a great catch out there. Brian ran a great route and picked up a first down and from there it was just determination. We wanted it. It was right there and that's what we've been talking about for two weeks - finishing and just taking that last step. Tonight, I felt like we did a good job of that."


On how it feels to get the first win of the season
"It feels great. We practiced hard, and we did everything we were coached to do. I mean, Coach was on it from the last game that we let go. Our motto was `finish' and we finally got a finish. It feels great."

On the defense dominating in games
"Well, that's our motto. That's what is broken down to us every day. We go out on that field, even in practice, to dominate. We want to dominate every opponent, everybody we play."

On his improvement with tackling from last week to this week
"Last week, I had a bad game tackling. Coach Toledo got on me. He told me to correct the mistakes. I went out this week, practiced hard with tackling, being tackled - just a lot of tackling drills. That's what I wanted to accomplish today: good tackling."



Opening Statement
"It felt like we came out in the first half offensively sleep-walking. I'm not sure if we executed anything in the first half offensively. I thought our defense played pretty well in that first half, they did some good things. I think they gave up one big play there in the first half. Tulane's got a good football team. We knew that coming in, that they were going to be a physical football team and we were going to have to play well to have a chance to win the football game. We just didn't play, I believe, like we were capable of playing. I thought Tulane was very hungry for a win, and they went out and took the game. We didn't play well enough to win, so we basically gave them the opportunity to win that football game."

On the offense's strategy in the first half
"I think we got a little one dimensional in that first half. We weren't running the ball a whole lot and got to throwing the ball a lot. When you do that, they can tee off on you when it gets to be third and long. You have to be able to get yourself in a third and short and I think we had maybe one third and short in the first half. They did a good job up front. They have a physical team, we knew that coming in."

On Tulane making a couple of big plays in the first half
"They did. I was real proud of our field goal block team for stopping the fake field goal. I thought we did a great job there. That (interception) in the end zone was a catch. I don't think the ground can cause a fumble, but they say he was bobbling it on the replay. I thought there were several opportunities there in that first half were for us to get closer in the ball game. It was a 17-point game at half-time. We knew we would have to come out in the second half and play well to win the game. But we ended up not playing like we're capable."

On what ULM takes from this ballgame
"Well, I think there is a bunch we can take from this game. I think we've got to come up and be a physical football team. We have to be able to run the football, offensively. And I think defensively, we've got to be able to get off the field, not let them drive the ball and sustain drives. I thought we did a fairly good job all night on special teams. I think we had a 47 or 48 yard field goal there with Radi Jabour. It was a great hold by Chance (Payne), a little high on the snap. Great protection, great kick. I think Scott Love punted the ball there pretty well, except for maybe one punt all night. I thought we covered well on kickoffs except for maybe the first one of the night. I thought we played pretty good on special teams this week. I think we can continue to improve in all areas. If we want to be a championship football team, which this team tells me that's what they want to do, we are going to have to continue to improve.

On being 1-Of-10 on third downs
"That's pretty bad. That's pretty bad."


On the difference between the first and second half
"We pretty much changed the offense coming out in the second half. They had great, a little success in the beginning of the game and it came along. We just sort of went with what we knew."

On the slow start in the first half
"Tulane has a very great team. Pretty much they just beat us in all phases of the game. We just came out trying to find a way out of the hole."


On the interception that was overruled on replay
"It was a catch. I know it was a catch. I know I caught the ball. If I would have felt like I didn't catch it, I wouldn't have got up, throw the ball off, and walked off the field like I did. We are in the Superdome, their home. Things aren't to go our way; we just have to run with it."

On getting his first interception of the year
"It feels good. It hurts too though, knowing that I could have had two. They messed that one up, but I got that one, though. It feels good to know that I am back on the field."

On Tulane scoring two touchdowns in the first half
"We were ready to come out and play. We had a couple of missed assignments. Basically, all the touchdowns they scored were off missed assignments. It wasn't because of us not being ready. It was just missed assignments and missed calls. Some guys weren't on the same page, and that's what happens."

On moving to corner after playing safety most of his college career
"I was kind of a little rusty. I haven't been practicing there very much. I just found out I was moving back to corner this week and had to be ready in three or four days. It's kind of hard. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be."

On looking ahead to the Sun Belt portion of the schedule
"Non-conference games are games that get us ready for our conference. We had a good non-conference. We played hard, we played hard against Arkansas, Alabama A&M, and played a pretty good game tonight. We got an off week, all we can do is get ready, take advantage of the off week and get ready for ULL."