Sept. 23, 2008
New Orleans - Tulane head coach Bob Toledo met with the local media this morning during his weekly press luncheon and reviewed the Green Wave's first win of the season last week vs. ULM and previewed this week's Conference USA game on national television against SMU on Thursday.
Tulane Director of Athletics Rick Dickson:
I just wanted to take a minute and talk about the opportunity we have Thursday night. It's a great opportunity for us to showcase the schools of New Orleans. We have a promotion that's called `Bring your A game,' which consists of all students being able to bring any assignment on which they received an `A' to the game for admissions. Also, the recovering school district that we've partnered with in this will be showcased both pre-game and at halftime. Several recovering school district bands will be at the game and playing. A lot of it goes back to the NFL Impact program that we did this past summer; it's a group that's going to be showcased and they'll receive a numerous set of activities that they will participate in; this is actually something that Coach Toledo was instrumental in when he came...it's called Wave Days, which is a program centered around `how to go to college' and something we started last year and will continue for this academic year. They'll receive free t-shirts, concessions during the game, but really, it's a chance, because of this national stage and spotlight, for us to show, on the education side, the resurgence and rebuilding of what's going on in New Orleans. So, we're looking forward to that.
Bob Toledo Opening Remarks:
Well first of all let me say that we're excited with the win last week. It's nice to get a win. We felt that we played well in all three phases; offense, defense and special teams. Defensively, we played extremely hard and I felt that we tackled a lot better than we did the week before. We pressured the quarterback really well; we had four sacks and an interception. And we actually missed four sacks. So we're actually putting a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks. On third down they were one for 10. And they had 46 plays, 182 total yards. And what I constantly tell our defense is to get off the field. And the way you get off the field is you stop them on third down. So we're getting off the field and that's the important thing. It's the third game that we held our opponent to under 100 yards in the first half. And a couple of our opponents were very good, as you all know. Offensively, I felt we played very physical, particularly the last 5 minutes and 27 seconds. We ran the clock down. They couldn't get it back. We had a 50% run reliability, which is the best we've had all year. That means four yards or more half the time you run; run reliability. We had nine explosives...that's passing the ball for 16 yards or running for over 12 yards. We had the ball for 36 minutes, 454 yards. It's kind of a keep-away offense. The best you can do for your defense is keep them on the sideline and that's what we were trying to do. We were 11 of 18 with third downs - so we're staying on the field. So, the big thing is defense get off the field; offense stay on the field.
On special teams:
Special teams wise, I thought we did a really good job. We kicked the ball extremely well. We had much better coverage and I thought we had some good returns in this last game.
Now, the one thing I think is kind of funny is that people are saying that we're conservative. How could you be conservative when you're throwing 40 passes a game? That's not being conservative. Now what I'm doing is I'm doing what I know. You look at June Jones, he's doing what he did as a player; he's doing what he's been doing as a coach all these years. We're not trendy. We're not going to go along with the trends that are going on right now. I'm going to still wear the big bell-bottom pants and the stripes and all that stuff. So these people want to go to the spread option offense and all this stuff and spread them out...I tell you what, people are getting soft. I've talked to every coach after the games and I am convinced that what we're doing is right. Each one of them said they couldn't believe how physical we were. And that's coming from a Tulane football team that people never thought we were physical. And believe me its not just helping our offense. It's helping our defense and I've said that a thousand times. By keeping the ball and keeping your defense on the sideline and keeping them fresh. So I'm not about to go and do all those things, although we do get in the shotgun. We do roll with three or four receivers sometimes, but we're not going to do it as a steady diet...like a lot of people do. We're going to hit people in the mouth and try to wear them down.
On the upcoming game against SMU:
This week against SMU, you know they're 1-3; we've had a very short week, it's been very difficult...I'm sure its difficult for SMU as well. But when you have a TV game on Thursday night there's not a lot of time to prepare, and particularly when you're going against a run-and-shoot offense that you really haven't faced. We've faced some spreads, but this is a different deal. The spread-option offense wants to run the ball and have the quarterback run the ball. The run-and-shoot wants to throw the ball. They average 12 runs a game. That's three a quarter. The point is they want to throw the football and they're going to throw the football. And we've got to be prepared with substitutes because they wear you out; they get you tired. But we've got to get the ball away and not let them score.
On SMU Key Players:
They've got a wide receiver, Emmanuel Sanders, who is the third leading receiver in the league. He's the second leading receiver in yards per game. He's very explosive. He is a heck of a wide receiver. And he can run after the catch, so we've got to stop him before he gets going.
They've got kick-returner Jessie Henderson, who's outstanding. A couple years ago, as you remember, Tulane went ahead late in the game, they kicked off and he returned it for a touchdown. So he's really good. We've got to try and keep the ball out of his hands.
And they've got a punter who's leading the league with 45.6 yards, Thomas Morstead.
So, they've got weapons. They make it difficult for you. We've got to transition from one offense to another this week and try to stop them.
On how Tulane's football team is feeling:
We're a little tired; we're a little beat up just like everyone else. Today I'm going to take the full pads off; we're just going to go with shells and I'm going to shorten the periods. We're going to go four minute periods instead of five. So that should cut about a half hour off of practice. I'm trying to get them back so that they're not sore and beat up, but so that they're legs come back.
Players of the Game:
Our offense player of the game was Andre Anderson. He's doing a great job. Had a career best against ULM.
Logan Kelley, who is just all over the place; gets the most out of his physical ability more than anybody I know.
Troy Wilson was our special teams player; he did a great job.
On Tulane Injuries:
Injury wise; as you know Travis Olexa is out for the season. Alex Lauricella has a bad knee and is still out. I don't know when he's going to be back. Justin Kessler had a neck problem and did not play last week. Just prior to the game we were informed he couldn't play and so he's practiced a little bit this week; he's questionable. If I had to bet I'd say he'd probably play, but not that much. Tyler Rice, again, he's just coming back. He's not in very good physical shape. He's still questionable at best. And Chris Dunn, who missed the game last week for a pinched nerve in his shoulder; he's very questionable. Outside of that we're relatively healthy. We don't have a lot of major injuries. And we're just banged up and beat up a little bit just like everybody else is.
On if the way Tulane has been playing is helping with the recruitment process:
Well, I tell you what, we already have two commitments from tailbacks. We've got quarterbacks who are very interested.. We've got some wide receivers that are very excited about what we're doing. Defensively, they see that we're trying to play with some speed so we've got some interest there. And I would say that the state of Louisiana and the coaches; many are calling to come to the game Thursday night. They're excited about what we're doing. Our coaches went on the road this week for the first time recruiting. And we've been received very well. What we're doing is not hurting us. It's helping us.
On if he has a personal relationship with June Jones:
Yeah, I've never played against June. I've known June forever. I remember in 1976 watching him play a game when he was at Portland State. He's a good friend of mine. I can't play him in golf; he's too good. He's a heck of a golfer. But he's a good friend and he's a good coach and he's a good guy.
On how different their coaching philosophies are:
Well, it's different ends of the spectrum. He'd rather throw it every down. I'd rather throw it half the time. Again, different philosophy. He believes in putting the ball in the air kind of like the guy at Texas Tech, you know, throw first, throw second and run it once in a while. And there's nothing wrong with that.
On if Tulane's Coaching Staff has been in contact with Georgia's coaching staff (June Jones coached Hawaii last year and played against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl):
Well, in the off-season we talked to Georgia. Because our guys hadn't faced a run-and-shoot so we talked to Georgia; we talked to Mark Richt and talked to their defensive coordinator, got some ideas. But, you know, you still have to go out and play. Georgia has some pretty good players
On if Coach Toledo can relate to June Jones trying to instill a new system of play in his first-year as Head Coach at a new school:
The thing about it is he did have some people playing in those types of positions. They played in the spread-option. Now they added a quarterback, (Justin) Willis, who is a runner and then threw the balls s well. So he's going to motor a passing quarterback. But yea, anytime you have transition anytime you bring in a new program, it takes time for you to recruit your type of players and to install your system. And not only do you have to coach the players, but also you have to coach the coaches. When I came here, Dan Dodd was the only one that knew exactly what we were doing on offense because he was with me at New Mexico. But it's hard because you have to get the coaches working as one and you have get the players playing in your system. And sometimes you don't have all t he parts to do your system, but I think it's important that you stick with your system sop that you can recruit towards your system later.
On if the Tulane players have a better understanding of the system this year:
It's like night and day. We've light-years ahead of last year and the big thing is the players understand. When we say something they know what we're talking about. And what's happened is the young guys have learned from the old guys, whereas a year ago, nobody knew anything. They all had to learn. But now the younger guys are learning from the older guys and I think what really helped us tremendously was having those freshman here this summer. Not only could they lift weights and run with those guys, but also they went on the field and they ran plays, they had 7 on 7, they threw routes, they ran defenses. So they got to learn from the older guys. That's how you develop a program over years. You also do it by going to a bowl game. When you go to a bowl game you get more practices and then some of the younger guys get better too. So, all those things add up.
On how important it would be for the Tulane Football program to go on a winning streak:
I think it would do a lot for our team because it would continue to give us confidence in what we're doing. And it would give us a chance to see the light through the tunnel. Our goal is to win a conference championship and go to a bowl game. Those are our goals and you can't attain those goals unless you win games. So if we could get on a roll, as you say, it would be nice. But we're going to take one game at a time. Try to win one at a time and move on from there.
On if he likes playing Thursday games or Friday games instead of Saturday afternoons:
You know, the last time I really did it was when I was at Texas A&M. we used to play some ESPN games on Thursday night, but I hate breaking up routines. I'm a creature of habit. And I hate surprises, I don't like to b e surprised. I like to know what's going on. I just think it's difficult. And it's really hard on the players. Coaches, we're old guys and it's tiring but at least we're not beat up. Those players, we came back Sunday and started practicing and they're beat up from the night before; it's hard. And then we're going to play Thursday and then Friday we're going to come back. We're going to have weightlifting in the morning, because I'm trying to keep the young guys going for the future, and then we're going to have practice in the afternoon. And then I'm going to give them Saturday and Sunday off. It's a drag on. And they're not just football players, they're student-athletes. They have to go to class. Some of the guys I'm not even taking to the hotel because they have projects and things...so I'm going to leave them here to go to class and when they're done they can show up at the hotel. They'll miss some meetings and things but I think it's important that they attend classes too.
On if the players are attending class on Thursday:
Some of them are, yes. Some of them are. Very few. But most of them will be at the hotel. I think you can take 70 to the hotel for a league game; I'm taking 56, I think.
On if he thinks the tradeoff for playing on a nationally televised TV game is worth it:
Is it worth it? I don't know how much money our program gets. Let's put it that way. I question how much we get financially, because I think the league antes it up a little bit and splits it up. But I think what it does is it gives us recognition throughout the country. And if we can play well and hopefully win then it helps us form a fan-base and it helps us with recruiting and those types of things.
On if he made any changes to the defensive scheme or philosophy when he switched up the defensive coaching staff:
We tweaked a few little things. We changed the names of a few things. But basically we're doing what we did a year ago. I came in and I wanted a base out of a 4-3, but I wanted to run a 3-5 package also with some nickel. We did it last year. When we did it against LSU it created a lot of confusion...we had 6 sacks. So, for the most part we're doing the same things. And I'm sure the defensive coaches would like to say they tweaked some things and that's good too. My big thing is I didn't want as much man. I wanted to play more zones and I wanted to work hard on underneath coverage. We did not deflect a pass from a linebacker; we did not intercept a pass last year from a linebacker. We're getting closer to the football and that's what I wanted to do. We gave up way too many big plays. We weren't even in the top 100 for pass-defense last year. And yea, we were better in run defense, we lead the league in rush defense but we could not stop the passing game and that was one of my big goals this year; which was to create an atmosphere where we could do that. So we did it not mainly by scheme, but by personnel. We've got more speed on the field. We've got strong safety's playing some linebacker positions. We're playing more nickel-package.
On if it is going to be more of a challenge for Tulane's defense to get to SMU's quarterback:
Yea it is. It really is. They're in the shotgun and they throw the ball all the time and I think it's very difficult to get to him. Again, if you try to pressure them they'll beat you with some crossing routes and run for a touchdown. So we're going to try and keep everything in front of us. And not try to give them a big play. And try to get a 4-man rushing and change It up a little bit, but we have to be careful how we approach that. We don't want to give up a big play.
On if he believes it is tough for SMU to win on this level while starting a true freshman at quarterback:
I think it's very difficult. When you start a true freshman they make a lot of mistakes. And he's made some mistakes. But giving credit to June, he's trying to build a program for the future. And so he's playing young guys and getting their feet wet and eventually it will pay dividends for him.
On if the reason they took more chances throwing deep is because of their growing confidence in quarterback Kevin Moore:
Yea, we took a few more shots. But part of it was because of personnel too. We felt we could run deep on those guys. East Carolina and Alabama were really good back there and it's hard to run past them. We took a couple shots and we're always going to take some because you've got to stretch the field vertically otherwise they're going to squash you and compress everything; so you've got to take some shots. But for the most part, yea, we've gained some confidence in Kevin's ability to throw the ball. And yet, we're throwing it more than we're running it, but we're still running the football.
On Kevin Moore growing into a leader on the field:
I think he's growing each week; he's gotten a little bit better each week. He's got a great understanding of what we're trying to do, number one. He's really getting to understand defenses and that's the thing we try and do with our quarterbacks. Wherever I've been, they've got to understand what defenses are doing and where they're doing. Because we do a lot of what's called `check with me' plays. I call sometimes 3 plays and they've got to get us into the right play. I talk constantly about how I don't want to be running uphill. I want to be running downhill. So get us out of the bad play; get us into the better play. And he's got a great understanding of that. And he's throwing the ball well. Last year we had some guys open and we didn't find them, we couldn't hit them. And when you're a run team and you have play-action pass you've got to come up with big plays. And that's what we're doing this year. We're play-action pass and we're making them pay a little bit.
On what he would say to those who haven't seen the Tulane Football team play:
I would say that if they came out and watched us play they would be very excited about the intensity of our football team. How they play from start to finish. And how they don't get their heads down when bad things happen. I constantly remind them bad things happen in games. You've got to put it behind you. You have to have a short-term memory. The next play is the most important play of the game. You've go t to focus on that. So, we've been behind in two of the first 3 games and we've come back. W e fought back. I think we played hard from start to finish and I think people see that. And I think we'll always have ea couple trick plays and try to create some excitement too.