Oct. 2, 2007
HEAD COACH Bob Toledo
On last week's hard-fought game vs. LSU
"First of all, let me say that LSU is an outstanding football team. I've been picking them number one all yea and they finally got to be number one, so, they're a heck of a team. I'll tell you what, I'm extremely proud of the effort that we gave last Saturday. I think we gained a lot of respect not only around New Orleans and Louisiana, but across the country. I've been getting a lot of e-mails and calls from friends and they were really excited about the effort we gave. But as I told our players Monday, I'm excited about the effort and pleased with the emotion and intensity we played with but I'm still disappointed it was a loss. I don't want them to ever think that a loss is good and I don't believe in moral victories. You either win games or you lose games - period. There are no moral victories. There's no question we played hard. We played with great intensity and we played with a lot of emotion."
On the atmosphere Saturday in the Superdome
"Our student body was going crazy and that helped give us energy. It was a fantastic atmosphere for our football team. I think we gave the crowd energy and the crowd gave us energy. I haven't been involved in one of those games in a long, long time and it was kind of fun. That's one of the reasons I'm back in it. I love that kind of an atmosphere."
On his team's play against the newly-appointed No. 1 team in the nation
"It was the best offensive and defensive line performance that we have had since I've been here. On both sides of the ball, they did a fantastic job. Defensively, obviously, we had six sacks. Offensively, I think we gave up two sacks, but we haven't given up many and we were able to run the ball. We were able to do some things too and we kind of had to get out of our game plan. So from both standpoints, being over-maxed, so to speak, I thought we really handled our own and did as well as we possibly could have. Our punter did a great job. We pinned them four times inside the 10, so they had to 90-plus yards to go on four occasions and it's hard to drive that length of the field and score many points."
On the play up front by Tulane's offensive and defensive lines
"When I talked about sacks, right now we lead Conference USA in sacks and have the least amount of sacks allowed by our offense. So in both categories, we're doing a very good job. I'm pleased with that.
On his goals going into last Saturday's game vs. LSU
"One of the things we wanted to do (was) we wanted to get in the fourth quarter and have it be a close game. That was kind of my talk Friday night to the team - let's get it into the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, we came out for the third quarter, they scored and then we fumbled on the 50. They scored, and then we come back to the 25 where we probably could have gotten some points and then we throw an interception and they score again. Then, it's basically over. They take the wind out of our sails and then we're out of our game plan. But, you take away those two turnovers and it's a really interesting football game at the end. And I'm not saying we would have won but I'm saying it would have been a really competitive football game at the end."
On using so many trick plays during the first four games of the season
"A lot of people have asked about the trick plays. Some of you guys (the media) were talking about it. When you go into a game like this and you're `overmatched,' you've got to try and make some plays. You've got to try and make something happen and that's what we did. On that opening kickoff, we had the lateral back, and I'll tell you what, if we get the ball off and he catches it, there's nobody on this side of the hashmark. So we're going to make a big, big play. That's what we needed to do. We needed to make some big plays. The trick plays, we've been practicing those for a couple of weeks and we didn't pull them all off, but it made them (LSU) a little concerned. It made them be a little more cautious, and it made them think. And you want defenses to think. You don't want them to read and react and play fast. We wanted to make them think and slow down, and that's what we did. And I really believe that helped us to open up some other things. We were able to run the ball against them like nobody else has run it on them because they were kind of thinking a little bit. So we took away some of their aggressiveness and I'm always going to have a trick play or two in the game. I told you that when I first took the job. I've always been that way because of the reasons I just stated. It gives you a chance to make a big play. It gives you momentum. Now people have to practice (against) it, and now people are practicing these plays and when they're practicing these particular plays, they're not spending time trying to stop the things that you really do. So it takes away from their practice time."
On this weekend's opponent, Army
"This week against Army, they're 2-3. They beat Temple last week. We haven't won a road game since Mississippi State last year, so that's one of the things I'm talking about. If you want to win and be a champion, you've got to win on the road. We have got to learn how to win on the road and it starts this week. It's our first road game since the national TV game, 7:00. And our big thing is, we need to continue to improve. I don't want to see us take a step backwards this week. I want to see us progress, continue to improve and get better. It's our last non-league game before we get into league next week, so we need to take that next step. I want to build on that first-half effort (vs. LSU). I thought it was a great effort and I want to build on that."
On his opinion of the Black Knights' team
"The thing about Army is I've got nothing but the utmost respect for that program. My son-in-law went to the Air Force Academy. I know what those guys go through. I'll tell you what, it's hard enough being just a football player, but to go to an academy and do what they do...I appreciate what they do and I've got nothing but the utmost respect for them. Their offensive coordinator is Tim Walsh. Tim and his brother Jim played for me when I was the head coach at UC Riverside. Tim grew up being the little guy around our football program all of the time. He went to Serra High School, those places being in the San Francisco area, but I know him well. He was at Portland State a year ago. He's a good football coach. It'll be fun to see him. They've got some outstanding players and you know about them as well as I do. They've got a great DB, an outstanding receiver/kick returner, so they've got some good football players."
On the injury report
"We didn't have any injuries that were serious which was a big concern of mine coming out of the game. We've got some nicks and bumps and sprains but nothing serious that's going to keep anybody out of the game or that requires surgery or any of those kinds of things. So I'm pleased with that."
On Tulane's Players of the Week
"Our offensive player of the game was Michael Parenton. He did a fantastic job. I've said I didn't think he could do what he did, and he far exceeded my expectations. He did a great job. (LSU defensive tackle Glenn) Dorsey, to me, is a Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft. He's an Outland guy. He's a Lombardi guy. He's a great football player and Michael handled him pretty well. He had three tackles that were assisted, that's it, so (Parenton) did a good job against him. Antonio Harris was our Defensive Player of the Week. He's been our most consistent guy defensively. He's our captain. He had three tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss, and a pass breakup, so again, he's really playing well. I mean, he's an all-league caliber football player right now. And then our Special Teams Player of the Game is Craig Gelhardt. Craig made 3 tackles on punts, he downed that little pooch kick out of a field goal formation down on the three (yard line) which really helped us as well."
On Tulane's captains for the Army game
"The two captains that will be with Matt Forté and Antonio Harris this week will be David Skehan. He leads the league in interceptions with three, he's made a lot of big plays for us and he's going home. So, he's going to be the captain this week along with Michael Parenton. Like I said, he had his best game (against LSU), did an outstanding job, and will be the fourth captain."
On being able to play with emotion every week
"What we're doing is we're teaching them all the time. The sideline...I took the sideline from the Southeastern (Louisiana) game and I showed them on the video our sideline mannerisms. Forté fell on the ground and five or six guys just walked away. Nobody picked him up. Nobody got excited. We are constantly teaching our guys how to perform, how to play in the game, and how to be a part of the game. So to answer your question, I told them, that's the way you've got to perform to have a chance to be successful. You need to play with emotion. You need to play with intensity. You've got to get excited and part of that is my job and I think we're all working on it. We were coming down that tunnel and I'll tell you what, there were a bunch of fired up football players. And I think yes, I told them, if you want to win, you've got to continue to play like that. We all know it's hard to be `up' for every game, but for us, if we're going to be able to compete, we've got to be up and ready to go. And I told them, there are no excuses. There is no such thing as `well, I wasn't ready to play' or `I wasn't up for the game.' You only get so many chances. You've got be fired up and ready to play for every game. So, again, we're teaching them every week. Some things happen and we're trying to teach them how to be a winning football program."
On looking for positives week to week
"Against Houston, obviously I was looking for (positive) things, because everybody said `oh, you got beat bad' and `you look bad,' and `blah, blah, blah...made mistakes.' So you try and look for positive things to keep them involved, keep them going and keep them believing. After this week I think there's a trust that's been built. The players said `Coach, now we know what you're talking about. Now we realize why you have to practice so hard.' You know, you have to focus and prepare yourself and go watch film on your own and do some of those things. So, I think there's a trust being built here where the players realize that if they do what we tell them to do, then we've got a chance to be successful and they're buying into the program."
On how the low expectations of Tulane affected the team's performance
"That's part of the motivation. Publicly, obviously, I was singing the blues and rightfully so. They (LSU) are a good football team and I was being very honest with the public. But to our team, I was telling them `Hey guys, we've got to change this. If you do this and this and this and you practice hard and prepare, we've got a chance. That's why you play the game.' And I gave them examples of games that took place over the years and that people won that had no right to win. I think they went in with a little chip on their shoulder and I think that was good. You find out a lot about a person or a team when their back is against the wall. Their backs were against the wall, they came out fighting and I'm proud of them."
On if he was trying to sandbag the media as well
"Well, not really, because you guys told me how great they were, too. They're a great football team. I mean, you look at Virginia Tech. They didn't make a first down in the first half. You look at South Carolina. What'd they have? Seventeen yards rushing? I wasn't fooling anybody. I was being honest. But again, to my team, you can't be honest to the team. You've got to tell them a little bit about what can really happen, so, that's what I was doing."
On if he felt calling trick plays stalled any of the team's drives vs. LSU
"No, I didn't. No, because that was our plan going into the game. We were going to try and make big plays. We were going to try and keep them off balance and make them think. I talked to Les (Miles) and I know a couple of their coaches, I talked to them after the game. It kept them off balance, it really did, and that was my objective was - to make them have to think and not react real fast."
On if he ran trick plays just to run them
"I don't believe in that. I believe those plays are not just trick plays that you draw up in the dirt. They're calculated risks, but they're plays that I believe that can work and I'll tell you what, they have worked. I have them on video that I've used in the past and I showed the plays. The players saw those plays on video from previous games that I've had work. So I don't draw them up not to work. In other words, I draw them up to make a big play and it creates momentum. If you score on one of those plays, all of a sudden, you create a lot of momentum and you're not just going to wind up running it down their throat. You've got to create and that's what I tried to do. I tried to make some big plays. I don't look back at those things. That's the plan we had going in."
On Tulane's defensive strategy implemented last Saturday
"Well first of all, I thought we had a good game plan. I make suggestions (on defense), I don't make a lot of decisions on that side of the ball. But I talked with (defensive coordinator) Thom Kaumeyer, and I give my suggestions and then he goes about with his job and those guys did a great job with preparing their guys to play. But the big thing was we had to stop the run. We had to make them throw the football. That was our feeling. We had to line up and take the run away from them as best we could. We were very aggressive, and we moved the line. They were bigger, so we didn't want to line up head up. We moved the line and slanted them and flipped and did a couple things they hadn't seen - just mainly tried to disrupt their timing and to make them have to throw the football. They made a couple of big plays in the passing game, which hurt us, but for the most part we stopped the run pretty good, particularly, in the first half."
On the difference between Tulane's defensive performance against Houston and LSU
"Well, I think one of the things is a different kind of offense. They (Houston) spread you all over the field. They utilize their athletes and space and it was what, our second game? We're learning about ourselves more every game and every week. Sometimes our kids think they were practicing hard and they really weren't practicing hard enough...things like that. The tempo in practice wasn't fast enough for them and that's maybe our fault and we need to get that tempo faster. It's been faster in the last couple weeks so I think it's a growing pain, you know what I mean."
On junior free safety David Skehan
"He's got three interceptions, which leads Conference USA, and he's got a fumble recovery. He's a very smart football player. He's not the most talented guy in the world, but he's very smart and sometimes he's too smart. He sometimes takes too many chances, but on the other hand, he makes a lot of plays because of it. He's got a slight separation of his shoulder, we're going to take him off of some special teams and we're not hitting him this week, but it's just more of a sprain than anything else. He's one of the guys that I've mentioned that's nicked up, but he's going to play."
On what Toledo has learned about the team after the first four games
"Well, one of the things that I've learned is they respond to what we tell them. When we tell them something, they respond to it, and that's important. As a coach when you tell them, `You need to do this, you need to do that, you've got to do this,' and then they do it, it makes you feel like you're coaching them. When they don't do it, you feel like they're not even paying attention. So they're responding to coaching right now. I think they're working extremely hard every day. Every week, it gets better. This Monday, yesterday, was the best Monday we've had since we've been here. Last week, the last Thursday, was the best Thursday. So, all of a sudden, they're learning how to practice. They're learning what we expect of them. They're doing what we expect of them. And I think that's important. We're building a program. Like I said, they didn't know how to act on the sideline. They didn't know how to act before the game. The first game, I talked to a little to fire them up and I turn around and they're like, `Okay, here we go,' and so they get fired up. I'm hitting them on the helmet, I'm swinging at them, I`m doing anything to get them emotional. Now, they've figured it out. They're like `Hey, this is what we've got to do.' We're constantly teaching them this is what it takes to be a winning football team."
On who is playing quarterback Saturday at Army
"Well, we're going to go with (Anthony) Scelfo to start with again, and we'd like to get Kevin Moore in the game again. Scott (Elliott) is on the backburner for a little bit and he knows that. We've given him an opportunity and he's ready and willing and all of those things, but we're going to give these other two guys a chance. I'm really disappointed in our passing game right now. I think our passing efficiency is not what I'm used to. We're not throwing the ball well, but we're protecting extremely well. But we're getting balls knocked down, we're throwing balls over guys' heads, we're throwing too many interceptions, we're dropping too many passes. So from a passing efficiency standpoint, I'm really disappointed and - I think I've said this before - when you don't pass effectively or efficiently, all of a sudden you don't maintain possession of the football. You don't make any first downs, and you don't have as much time of possession, which I'm not a big time-of-possession guy, but you don't have the football. And when it's third down, you've got to convert and keep possession of the football. Otherwise, you're not going to score and you're putting your defense on the field too much. Our passing game has been a major disappointment."
On if Tulane's playbook is limited because of the inexperience of Moore and Scelfo
"No, it has nothing to do with it. We're trying to run our offense right now. Again, we tweaked things a little bit for Anthony. We tweaked things a little bit for Kevin. But that's not to say we're not running our offense. No, we're doing what we're doing and we're trying to build for the future on that. We're trying to show people that this is what we're going to do. I came in here saying we were going to run the football and we're running a little play action. Prior to last game, we were throwing 40 passes a game, too. We're going to throw the ball 35-40 times, but we're going to run the football and try to be efficient doing that and play action pass to try and get some big ones."
On if he is hoping the large fan turnout from the LSU game will continue throughout the season
"Well, I am hoping that and I hope we win these next few games too because then that will help to get the fan base. I was talking to Scott Elliott and he said, `Coach, Ive been here for a few years and I've never seen the student body that excited before.' (Michael) Parenton told me, `Coach that place was rocking. It gave us energy.' Scott said, `I talked to some of the student body and thye couldn't believe how exciting it was and they couldn't wait to go to another game.' So, it's the chicken and the egg, right? What comes first? But the student body was awesome. The fans were awesome. They gave our kids a standing ovation at halftime. Our guys were looking around `Are you kidding me?' They didn't know how to react. But it was neat and it fired our guys up."
On the fumble by Matt Forté early in the second half
"I talked to him and I told him right after he fumbled, `Hey, shake that off. You're going to get a lot more chances. Don't worry about it.' I talked to him yesterday; and he's going to get to run the ball this week. You know, he fumbled the ball. What are you going to say? He knew he did something wrong and he didn't like it either. So you don't ravage the guy. You just tell him `Hey, hang onto the football.' That's all you can do."
On if Scott Holt starting at right tackle is due to injuries
"No, that's a performance thing. He's performing better than the other guys."
On what roster changes the team has had to make so far this year
"The biggest thing we had to do was we had to bring André Anderson out of the redshirt year. We were going to redshirt him because we had three seniors, so we were going to try and redshirt him. But he was still going to travel and he was still going to practice and he was still going to be a part of it. We just didn't want to play him. Then Ade (Tuyo) got hurt on the kickoff return so (Matt) Forté was the only guy left so it was either bringing André up or one of the freshmen running backs up, and we decided to bring André in. I was glad he scored (against LSU) because that made him burning his redshirt year worthwhile."
On traveling this weekend
"I've never been on the road with them, and we'll talk to them Thursday. We'll have a meeting with them. We'll talk about Thursday, how you travel, what you do and what my expectations are. It's like a business trip. It's not a pleasure trip. They've got to learn that it's business, so we're going there to work and I'm anxious to see them on the road. I don't know what it's like to play in the daytime. I've had a roof over my head."