Oct. 22, 2011
Memphis 33, Tulane 17
Tulane Game 8
New Orleans, La.
INTERIM HEAD COACH Mark Hutson
"It was a tough game - not the results that we wanted, not the results the young men and the coaching staff, putting their heads on their pillows last night had expected. I think when you look at it overall 14-10 at halftime, the defense had given up some big passing plays, on the screen and another wheel route, that the defense had played well, they had held them to under 10 yards rushing, and slowed their passing game. Offensively we weren't running the ball effectively. Memphis give them credit, they have a big defensive front up there, and some of the interior tackle to tackle runs we weren't having a lot of success with."
On QB Ryan Griffin's injury and the effect it had on game plan
"With regard to Griffin not being 100 percent but being back cleared to play, we didn't want to get into a lot of the deeper routes, so we started out with the intermediate and the short passing game. As the first half went on, Memphis caught on to some of that, and started to creep on the routes. So in the second half we would have to open it up, we would have to throw the ball deeper, we would have to do some more timing routes, double move routes, those type of routes where Ryan would have to hold the ball longer. As a result, I think we gave up two sacks, not because of those routes, but again Memphis' front is a good front. And with that, overall I thought protection with the running backs, with the tight end, was good for the most part. It did break down at times. Ryan did have to scramble some. Some of those scrambles weren't a result of protection. They were a result of coverage. And instead of throwing the ball away, he did run. We wish he wouldn't have."
On the punt block and turnovers of the third quarter
"On the kicking game, we thought we had solved the problem of the blocked kick. Again the shield, or the three men back there. They were able to split us. We'll have to look at the film in talking to John (Hendrick). I haven't had a chance to talk with him after the game. I don't know if it came from the front, if we turned a guy loose, or we had a problem with the three back in the shield. Obviously it was a big play in the game. I think when you look at it they scored 12 points without a first down. Again, the defense stayed on the field a lot in the second half, but they still kept competing."
On being down in the fourth quarter
"I think coming out of this game a lot of people will say that it's the same team. They came out gave the same effort and came out with the same result, and that's fine. It will be said, but when I look in the young men's eyes and talking to them in the locker room after that, I think there was a change in their attitude. I think there was a change in their effort. They did come out with enthusiasm, they did come out playing hard, and they never gave up at the end of the game. And that's been the case in previous games. The sideline was into it. We were two scores down, we had to convert two 2-point conversions, and still we kept driving. We kept working there. Go back to the six minute mark, or somewhere around there, we went for it on fourth down and 10; the defense could have come out and said the offense had been inept for the most part in the game and laid down. Instead, they went three-and-out. The punt-block team, they wanted to come out and try and block the kick, and they gave great pressure and great effort in working with that."
On the week's events
"Overall, I'm proud of the coaches, proud of the young men - our student athletes - in the way they responded this week in an adverse situation. It could have had, obviously, different results during the week, but Tuesday they sorted things out, Wednesday they came out and had a very spirited practice, along with Thursday, and with Friday. Our Friday-night meetings were good, they were positive, they were upbeat. In meeting with the players back there went over there's been enough change. There's been enough change this week; there's been enough change with the practice schedules. We'll go back to the normal routine. We'll practice Sunday, Monday will be off, Tuesday we have full-pad practice, Wednesday will be a shells practice, Thursday will be a shorts and helmet and cleats, and then on Friday will be our normal walkthrough with helmets and cleats."
On the effect of not having Griffin in the practice plans early this week
"I'm not sure it was so much of his injury in that, he took the reps Wednesday, he took the reps Thursday, and he took the reps Friday when they cleared him to play. Looking at the game plan, there were a couple of different ideas. Certainly with Sunday and Monday, and the start of Tuesday morning, we had gone over a number of personnel groups. We have what are called first and second downs, which are our normal groups. I had incorporated that into it, and a couple of our other series - our third down, our red zone, and that part. We did that with Ryan, we didn't know if he'd be in there. We had D.J. Ponder and a game plan for Joe Kemp. With all the events that happened Tuesday, we were putting together a game plan for the rest of the field zones: the goal line, the short yardage, and third downs again with that. The screen, I asked him when he came off, he said he didn't see the defender. He lofted the ball up, and he was looking to see if it was the safety, if it was the linebacker. He didn't see the defender. He was trying to make a play in that area. We were both watching the replay together trying to see where it came from. Ryan was competing. He was playing hard. Was it his `A' game? Was it the best game he ever played at Tulane? No, I wouldn't say that it was. He was playing through an injury. He was playing through missing reps on Monday and Tuesday of practice, and still trying to come out there and not let his teammates down, to do well."
On the shift in the third quarter
"We were able to make some second-half adjustments in the running game also. We were able to make some perimeter runs, and it loosened some things up inside. Orleans was able to run draw play and those, and we pushed the ball down field. We still have to work with the passing game, consistent protection, with our throws, with our routes. Until we do that, we will continue to get people crowding us down, and crowding us down like Memphis when they added extra defenders in the box."
On if Griffin's first interception shifted the game's momentum
"I wouldn't say it shifted on that play. When we blocked the PAT it was 20-17 and we had just had the blocked punt and the interception return. So no, but it was a momentum swing. Big momentum swing, but I called the team up and said after an interception and after a block punt...I asked them, `Do you believe?' And they said, `yes.' Do you believe? And I feel like they did. We went into a two-minute and didn't score, we moved thought there, were able to move the ball, and again we need some practice time with working with that."
On being the interim head coach
"There is certainly more emotion when I drove up to the stadium. I received a text after everything that happened that said you are one of 120. Go get them and have fun. The dream of being the head coach, this situation isn't ideal, but someone had to take over, and the emotion started in the front seat of riding in the bus. The view is good in the front seat."
Sophomore wide receiver Wilson Van Hooser
Overall thoughts on the game
"We just stopped executing and it was little things. I mean obviously offensively if one position is not working, the entire offence isn't working. There were a couple of plays here and there. Sometimes it was me. Sometimes it was others, where one of us would mess up and you could see the turnover or the stop in the drive. We're not far off at all. We clearly stopped ourselves. I give credit to Memphis and their defense, but I believe we stopped ourselves."
On his 100-yard game
"Anybody could've caught those balls. Griff was putting them on point, He was looking off the defense. He made some great throws. There was nothing that I really did. It was purely by the grace of God that he let me have this game. There are verses in the Bible that talks about when a man works hard, he will prosper. I've been working hard but so has our team so we're just waiting for the time where we're going to prosper."
Junior linebacker Trent Mackey
Overall thoughts on the game
"Football is a game of momentum like you said with the blocked punt, then the interception for the touchdown. That was pretty good. But defensively, we fought to the end. I think we played really good. We made some strides from last week and we came into the half like minus-9 rushing, 14 points. With the blocked kick and interception for the touchdown, it added up the points. I think overall, we did well. We're just going to keep improving."
On his individual performance
"Those things are going to come. It's my teammates playing around me, trusting me and just playing a lot of assignments. And with them running the ball, those things are going to happen. It's a team effort. It's like they're doing the dirty work and I'm getting the glory. They know I've got their back and if they were in the same position that I am, in the middle linebackers spot, they'd do the same."
Sophomore running back Orleans Darkwa
On how the game went
"It was a momentum game. We had the momentum in the second half when we were driving but it was a buzz kill basically. We can't have turnovers. It was upsetting us from day one. We can't have turnovers and expect to win the game. That interception was costly and some other turnovers as well. So we've got to go back at it and work even harder. I keep saying this, but we know we're better than what we played so we've just got to keep going out there and working hard."
On his individual performance
"Coach gave me the opportunities to do something with the ball. When it was thrown to me, I caught the ball and was able to make something happen. It was great blocking by the offensive line, so it was great. But at the same time, it doesn't mean anything when you don't win the game."
Head Coach Larry Porter
"First and foremost I want to compliment Tulane. I know they're fighting some adversity and some other circumstances that were out of their control, but I thought the team came out and played hard and really fought through the course of this game. I would also like to complement our team for coming out and staying focused and being able to sustain sixty minutes of football that gave us an opportunity to win. I truly think the difference in this game, as supposed to some others we've had opportunities to win in the second half, is that we were able to counterpunch and fight off some negative momentum, which gave this team some energy and some real passion and fight through it for sixty minutes."
On defense in second half
"As opposed to them getting the turnover and giving us the ball, they scored a touchdown. I want to say it was a great play by the young freshman, Bobby McCain: read it exactly right and baited the quarterback and stepped right in front of him. And then for Ricky Holloway to go in and block that punt. Again, all those things in my opinion made a huge difference in being able to overcome negative momentum in the second half, and that's what I attribute to. Of course, as a coach I want to enjoy this victory, but my mind is on the mistakes that we made and trying to fix them so we can continue to improve and play a better brand of football."
On the fourth quarter
"We got the ball with about six minutes left and went three and out, which I wish we could have done more there, but we didn't. The defense stepped back on the field and played a marvelous series in terms of being able to get the ball for us and put us in position to run the clock out."
On improvements and getting over the hurdle
"It's huge in terms of mental psychic and confidence and really validating our process and the way we go about doing things; but the thing that I want to compliment, that I think is the biggest difference, is that they stuck together through the season, and they've continued to fight. We've been going and running into that wall each week, and it's been cracking, but it hadn't been crumbled. This week it finally crumbled for us, and we just got to contain a bit of off this victory and experience today."
On defensive ability
"It's something again that we enjoy as a football team, but it starts with getting guys around the football, with getting more hats to the football with more discipline just from an assignment standpoint. It's like anything else, eventually it becomes contagious. And what I like about it is that it's just not a certain guy; it's always somebody different per se that's creating a turnover for us, and that's good. We got to contain and have that, our offense has got to contain to be aggressive and try to convert turnovers into points. I think that allows us to have more balance and to be more aggressive."
On offense setting the tone
"Again, our plan was to come in this game and be aggressive. We were able to do that by going down field early. I see the touchdown we made earlier. I'm still upset by one that we missed. We did what we had to do. They came out early. We knew what was going on here with Tulane, that we had to come out and have an emotional surge of our own to counter theirs. Doing that, we had to be aggressive and creative so we can generate some energy within our own offense as well as our team."
On Taylor Reed's interception
"He shouldn't have thrown it, and he knows I'm upset with him. We'll get beyond it, but we can't do those things. He has to be smarter than that, and I know that he is. We as a football team can't afford to give anybody anything, and we got to contain and create turnovers. He's normally very protective of the football and that's out of character of him to do such a thing, and we'll get it corrected."
On Paulo Henriques's performance
"The missed field goal was a missed field goal. The blocked field goal was not all on him. All in all we have to as a team, when one of our fellow teammates is struggling, we got to encourage him. We can't live in a world of negativity in terms of what we didn't do. And that's what his teammates did for him tonight, they pulled him out of that funk that he was in, and he was able to bounce back and go back out on the field, his head held high and pursue to kicking the next ball."
Linebacker Kenyata Johnson
On winning on the road
"We have been waiting a long time for (a road win) and we fought pretty hard. It feels great. Winning always feels great. There is no feeling in the world like it."
On how the team came together
"We basically just feed off of each other's energy. It's my brother to my left and my brother to my right. We just come together every day and keep a positive attitude and mind set and we just go out and get the job done."
On how the defense played so well in the second half
"Everybody was just swarming to the football and coach has had a big emphasis on that. When the defensive line and the secondary are doing their jobs turnovers are going to happen."
On the momentum that the turnover gave the team
"It gave us a lot of momentum. It boosted the moral of the team and we just started feeding off of each other."
Wide Receiver Tannar Rehrer
On getting a road win
"How about those Memphis Tigers. It was good, we really had a good energy practice all week and it was a great experience to come into the Superdome, where the Saints play, and we just felt the vibes from the very beginning. We really needed a win. The thing about our team this year is we're a family. We play like a family. We eat like a family. We are just always trying to be relentless out there and keep on coming."
On the importance of his touchdown
"(It's important) anytime you can strike on a touchdown and get some momentum going. With Bobby's pick in the second half, that really got something going in the second half. It was the tale of two halves of a big play sparking us."
On getting a touchdown
"I really wanted that (touchdown). Things were a blur and when I spun around I saw the goal line and said `I'm getting me one'."
On what the win means
"(This win) can do tremendous things. I mean, UCF lost to UAB the other day and we have UCF next week. I think we just have to keep enjoying this win next week and get after UCF and know that we can win. We did it tonight and we can do it next week."
Running Back Billy Foster
On getting the road win
"It felt good. It felt great. The atmosphere was great, everyone was loving it. Then to get that win just felt great to be honest with you."
On what their mindset was in the second half
"Believing, just keep believing. Coach said to believe in the yards. If you don't get it this play, just know and keep fighting for the next play. That is where our mentality in the second half. We were going to keep grinding and believing. One yard, two yards, it is going to open up and that's what happened."
On if the defense creating turnovers motivates the offense
"Every time the defense makes a stop we congratulate them and we just go out and try to capitalize on top of them."
Linebacker Terrence Thomas
On getting the win
"It is pretty good since we haven't had a (win) on the road in so long and, to top it off, it is a conference game. This is really big for us, momentum wise we just have to get the team ready for next week. We are just going to come out to practice and it is going to be a little more light and lively."
On if practice will be more fun next week
"Practice will be more fun (next week). The joy will be there and the enthusiasm will be there. Everyone will come out with a will to practice."
On the defensive effort
"We played a good game, but there are still some things we have to make up. There is still work to do, but we still have work to do."
Quarterback Taylor Reed
On getting a road win
"First off it was special environment and we fed off of that. I think all three phases of the game definitely played their heart out. It was great to see our defense come out and have a big play on the interception and that gave us a lot of momentum in the second half. It was a great win the team and the organization."
On what the defense creating turnovers does for the offense
"It definitely lifts the offense up some more. It is just great to see the whole team out there making plays, all three phases, and it gives us energy to keep pushing. It was a great win. And a conference win, as well."
On how tough it has been to focus
"It has been a little tough, but our coaches have really made us focus on the key points and coming in every week and preparing for the game play and executing on Saturday."
On if he is getting more comfortable with the offense
"Yes sir. I think, offensively, just the game plan in general. With the run and pass game and certain reads and getting more time with coach McGiven and coach Porter has helped me, as well."