Second-year head coach Curtis Johnson reviewed last week's game at Syracuse and looked ahead to Saturday's ballgame at ULM during his weekly press conference.
Sept. 24, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Following a morning practice at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Tulane University head football coach Curtis Johnson addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon as part of his weekly press conference in the James W. Wilson, Jr., Center.
Johnson reviewed the team's loss last weekend at Syracuse, and addressed the upcoming game at ULM - a Warhawks team that defeated the Green Wave 63-10 in New Orleans a year ago. While Johnson expects his team to play better this time around, he was quick to say the Tulane club needs to improve and come out ready from the opening kickoff. A complete transcript of Tuesday's presser is below.
Kickoff for the Tulane/ULM contest is slated for Saturday, Sept. 28, at 6 p.m. (CDT) at Malone Stadium in Monroe, La. In addition to the game being broadcast on the flagship radio station for Green Wave football - WMTI 106.1 FM "The Ticket" - the contest will also be broadcast live on ESPN3.
The game at ULM is the last of three straight road games for the Green Wave, who will play host to North Texas for Homecoming 2013 on Oct. 5 in the Superdome. Kickoff for that ballgame is slated for 2:30 p.m.
For tickets to the Tulane/North Texas game, as well as future Green Wave events, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the Wilson Center on Ben Weiner Drive, and tickets can be purchased in person weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.
TULANE HEAD COACH Curtis Johnson
"It's always tough when you're in a situation where you expect to be better and move your program up to a different level, and you didn't perform well at all. We know we didn't perform. We know we have to get better. Our quarterback got hit too much. We had some mental breakdowns on defense throughout the whole contest. The personal foul penalties at the end of the game were just inexcusable. They got frustrated and so all of a sudden they're going to take it out on the sidelines. I wish they would have that energy when playing within the lines because we would have played a lot better. I'm not sure we would have beat Syracuse anyway because they're good, they were big, then were physical and all the things we talked about all week long. We had to play a lot better and we didn't play well at all."
On the special teams breakdowns on Saturday
"Here's the biggest, glaring issue. The other things happened last year, but our operation was so good with Billy Johnson and Cairo being so quick. All of that was so quick and so fast, they couldn't block it. Now, we've got some other guys in there where snapping isn't as quick, they aren't as perfect, we've got some young kids in playing some positions they haven't played before and they've given up some plays that older kids shouldn't give up. We've done stuff that was correctable and fixable. We can practice that. We'll get better on special teams."
On how much of the special teams' issues can be attributed to deep snapping
"The issue this week was the snapper. The snapper this week, we switched to Marfisi. He hadn't done it in a long time, probably since high school. We put him in last week and he had to get us out of that game a week ago. He played pretty decent. This time, it was a little different looks, some little different things happened that he hasn't seen, so it was a little bit slower. That wasn't the only breakdown. A couple of guys didn't block the proper guys. Before, the operation was so quick and Cairo was so great at getting it off so he would get it off. This week, he couldn't do it."
On the injury to Sam Scofield
"I'm praying for a miracle because Sam has been tremendous. When you go back to last year, he was one play, hurt, one play, hurt, one play, hurt. This year, he's physical. He's hitting, picking balls off. He's leading the team in tackles. He's been magnificent. He went off early in the game. It was probably friend fire. One of the times we did run to the ball, he was tackling a guy and one of our guys hit him. He was out with a concussion. Yesterday, he didn't do anything. Today, he didn't do anything. I don't foresee him right now playing, but he's playing at a tremendously high level. We have to rev up LeBeau. We have to rev up Leonard Davis and some other guys. We'll just have to play with those guys."
On if he ever saw that many special teams issues in one game and if it gave Syracuse a tremendous advantage
"I have seen it happen one other time. It was when my son was playing Pop Warner. Being a positive person, I'd like to look at it like this: everything that could happen happened. Murphy's law happened to us on that day with our special teams. As you know, today we spent a lot more time with special teams. We had a longer period. We had a long walk through with special teams. Hopefully, some of those things will get going. The Kedrick Banks decision was a bad decision. You just have to make better decisions and get away from the ball. He's a freshman and thinks it's high school. It's not high school. Those guys out there, they're on scholarship too and they know what to do. The things we did are definitely correctable. One, you just move away from the ball. The next one, Peter just needs to get it off. It's stuff that we'll get better at. It won't be perfect but we'll get better."
On last year's ULM game and getting a second chance at them this year
"If we would have won this game and been 4-0, I'd say, `Yes, I'm concentrating on ULM.' I am, but my concern is more about this football team. It's more about the protection of Montana. Montana took a beating. My two daughters, one is 31 and the other is 28, they called me Sunday morning. They just got out of church and they were like, `Coach' - they call me Coach sometimes - `is Montana alright?' I was like, `Yes I think he's alright.' And they said, `No, you need to check because he was on his back a lot.' Both of them, they see it. I'm sure ULM sees it. We have to do some things to protect him a lot better. That's my concern. My concern is about the special teams. My concern is how we are going to get the receivers - who are playing well - the ball more. My concern is Orleans Darkwa is playing very well, and so is Rob Kelley, but we're so far down that we can't give them the ball to control the clock and control the game. Those are some of my concerns. ULM has a tremendous team. That quarterback is something else. He can run. He can throw. He can do all of it. He runs the show for them. He is a big concern, but we have to worry about us. This week, hopefully we can get some stuff fixed."
On if he is implementing more spread offense and if that exposes his quarterbacks to more hits
"We changed the protection several times in that game and he just kept going down, down, down. What happens with the spread principles is you have two short corners. Whenever you have two short corners, they can get to the quarterback very quickly. If you bring everybody in and you do that, you have to rely on your receivers to make tremendous plays all the time. I don't know if we are quite that good yet. What we need to do is, and we've been doing it, we need to mix it in and play a close game where we can mix the run, mix the pass and do our different protections to protect him a little better. But as soon as you get behind 14 or 21 points, you become one dimensional and then it's throw, throw, throw with the two short edges and we know the end of that story already. That doesn't bode well for us."
On both Tulane and ULM coming off lopsided losses
"It reminds me of Louisiana Tech. In that game, we had a short week, we adjusted pretty well, we played well and we won the game. Who does the adjusting, makes the proper adjustments and transfers that over to the game, that'll be the team that I think will win this game."
On Tulane's two losses coming after falling behind significantly early and how can the team overcome that
"That was the one thing that we did talk about a lot. We talked about getting it in practice. We switched some of our practice periods where we getting them more hitting and movement early on. We're trying to wake these guys up and getting them playing. But you're right, when you look at every first drive that we've been on - even Louisiana Tech and against Jackson State - it's move the ball, move the ball, move the ball. Then finally we decided, `Okay, we're awake.' We've got to wake up. Part of it is just having a mature attitude that when you got out there, you've got to be ready to play. This week, the first play of the game was a blitz and they got us on that one. We wanted to change the tempo. We did, but they got us. We just have to come out a lot faster, come out like gang busters and play the type of game we can play."
On playing three straight road games and if that has an effect on the players
"Yes, I think somewhat. But here's the bottom line: you've got to play the schedule how it's laid. However it's laid out, you're dealt the hand you've got to play. We kind of embrace that. We played well the first time on the road. We didn't this last time. Hopefully, this time we'll play great on the road and come back with a victory. I kind of like playing on the road. I really do. I'm not worried about kids. I'm not worried about parent coming up too much. It's all us against the world."
On ULM's quarterback throwing six interceptions to date and what has forced the turnovers
"I don't know if we have the advantage, but when (opponents) put pressure on him he's thrown it to the other team. That was one of the things I felt we needed to do to the quarterback last week. We need to get some four-man pressure or five-man pressure and they had it. I've got a little thing going with Monroe. I told him I don't think he can intercept the ball. I think he can only pick up fumbles. I said that because he's (sitting) back there."
On overcoming turnovers against Louisiana Tech and not at Syracuse
"When you say quick change, you want to lean on the older players. When you have a quick change, you want to give it to Darkwa again. He was out. You'd like to give it to Kelley again, and he was out. We've got guys coming in and out. You're turning and you're trying to give it and trying to throw it with a young quarterback. Each experience is a learning experience. When it does happen, you hope that the best player, the older player, the mature player is there to make the next plays for you. That's what helps you out a lot."
On Rob Kelley getting more carries recently
"Both of them (Kelley and Orleans Darkwa) have shoulder injuries. If you asked me today, I would say Kelley would be in and Orleans may be out this week. That's just today. It's early. We have a lot of time. When you play a physical opponent, that is what happens. You get shoulders, stingers and concussions. We've got to match physicality with teams like that. Hopefully in the future we will. I think we will. These young kids will get better and bigger, stronger and faster."
On who is the better deep snapper, Matt Marfisi or Julius Warmsley
"I think both of those guys are doing an adequate job of snapping. Again, it goes back to that they haven't done it enough or they haven't done it very long. I have confidence in both of them. Hopefully, we can get just a little better accuracy, get it back there a little bit quicker and we'll figure it out. Come game time, we'll see who plays."
On if Tulane is better matched talent wise with ULM
"ULM is a good team. We probably thought we were a better match last year with them but they put 60 points on us. It goes back to one thing - it goes back to us making our corrections. We've got to go out, play better and do the best that we can, and hopefully we can come out with a victory."
On if being 2-2 is a good thing for the program or if he wishes the record was better
"The best part about being 2-2 is that last year at this time I was 0-4. It's 2-2. We know we can win some game. We won games before. We won on the road. Some of these barriers that we had before are being broken down. Now, we what we have to do is collectively come together, play this game like gang busters and play all out this week. Hopefully we can come out of that place with another victory. If we play well, we'll be in the game. If we don't, it'll be just like last week."
On if ULM is a much more winnable game than last week's opponent in Syracuse
"Our players thought going into the Syracuse game that we had a good chance of winning. We knew we couldn't make those mistakes, but we thought we could matchup with those guys. ULM gives us a different deal. This quarterback is something else. You like him. I think they were capable a year ago of putting a lot of points on us, which they did when they played at our place. It'll be a tough game for us. We like playing against whoever we play against, but this quarterback does pose a difficult, difficult problem (to solve). They're good on defense, not great, but they're good. They're a lot like Syracuse. I don't know about levels or whatever. When you watch the film, you say `What stands out?' What stands out is their quarterback."
On Tulane's team being older and better than it was a year ago
"Yes, absolutely. What I would say about our team is we have to play older and we have to play better. I thought we played like freshmen this past week. A week ago, our defense played like All-Americans and All-Pro players. We just have to come in and play better."