Oct. 5, 2010
NEW ORLEANS -
On Last Weekend's Win At Rutgers
"That was a great win for our program. We all know that and we are very excited about what happened last week. The thing that our team is starting to realize is they've learned how to play hard all the time. They've overcome adversity. The one thing everybody talks about is how our kids play hard until the end, never give up and never quit. It would have been very easy after the second play of the game to belly up, and we didn't. The point I'm trying to make is we're learning to overcome adversity. We are realizing that it's a 60 minute game. We realize that bad things happen during the course of a game and you just have to keep playing. You've got to focus on the next play and you've got to put the last play behind them. They're doing a great job."
On The Keys To The Win Over The Scarlett Knights
"In my opinion, there are a lot of reasons why we won the football game. One of the big reasons, No. 1 is we didn't turn the ball over and they threw an interception at the end on the last play. Alex Wacha made a nice interception. No. 2, we didn't get sacked. We had zero sacks and we had 11 prior to the game. We also got four sacks. Our defense is doing a great job of pressuring, of having tackles for loss, sacking the quarterback and keeping him from throwing on a rhythm. They're doing a great job. Another thing is we only had three penalties. We had two offensive penalties and one defensive penalty - a pass interference. They had nine penalties. And I think we won the kicking-game battle. The kick just before half was phenomenal by our freshman, Jonathan Ginsburgh. Again, maybe the ducks are lining up in order for us too because the ball bounced off his hand. It was a bad snap, hit the ground and bounced back right to him. He was able to take a couple of steps to his right and kick it before he got hit. Sometimes you need a little luck too.
On This Weekend's Opponent, Army
"If you look at Army, they're 3-2. They're a much-improved football team over a year ago. Rich Ellerson took over last year and they struggled at times putting in their system, but they've really come on. The difficult thing about playing Army is that they're a different football team. Offensively, they run the wishbone basically. They run a double-eagle flex defense that he installed when he was at Arizona. They called it the `Desert Swarm' at that time. I've coached against Rich numerous times, and I'll tell you what, it's the single most difficult defense we faced. It's hard to do much against it. He's doing a great job. The problem is you don't have a lot of time to prepare for it. A year ago, we had a bye week. We spent a little time on it. This year, we have a little experience with it because we've faced it in the past. But you have to teach your scout players how to run that offense and how to run that defense. That's what makes it difficult. The other thing is they keep the ball away from you. They give you about 10 possessions a game. Normally, we're used to about 13 possessions a game. They keep the ball for 35 minutes and you get it for 25 minutes, so they get it for 10 more minutes than you do. It's frustrating. I remember sitting on the sideline and watching it. When I was playing against Air Force, you're on the sideline and you're waiting for the offense to get back in, and it's just `When are we going to get back in?' When you get back in, you've got to make something happen. It put some pressure on you. They run about 70 plays to the opponents' 55 plays. So you've got to make hay when you've got it offensively."
On Army's Standout Players
"The quarterback, Trent Steelman, was a freshman last year. He's put on about 20 pounds and is much improved. He's a very good runner. He's their leading rusher and has really improved throwing the football. He is now creating some problems as a passer where a year ago he didn't do that. And of course, their middle linebacker, Stephen Anderson, is their leading tackler. He played against us last year and made a lot of plays. The defensive end, Josh McNary, played against us last year and he gave us fits. He leads their team in sacks. On special teams, they're just a consistent team and we need to be consistent."
On Being 2-2 And Facing Army For The Second Time In Three Seasons
"We've been here before. Two years ago, we were 2-2 and we played (Army) in Homecoming at that stadium down the road and we were embarrassed. I tell you what, we're hopefully not going to be embarrassed again."
On Tulane's Game Captain For The Army Game
"We've elected Cody Sparks as our captain for the game, along with our three season captains."
On Tulane's Conference USA Players of the Week
"You saw that the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week was Dezman Moses. You have his stats. And the Special Teams Player of the Week for Conference USA was Jonathan Ginsburgh."
On Tulane's Injury Situation
"Kevin Burris injured his knee a week ago in practice. He didn't make the trip (to Rutgers) and it appears as if he's going to be out for a long time. Kevin Moore has a finger. It's hasn't healed yet. He'll be out this week as well. Orleans Darkwa, we're getting him checked this week. He hasn't practiced yet. He's sick right now with 102 degree temperature. If we can get him going later on in the week, there is a possibility he'll play but I'm not thinking about him playing at this point. We've got a lot of other guys who are nicked, bumped and beat up a little bit. Ankles and things like that, but they'll be able to play."
On Army's Ability To Play Keep-Away
"I think that's important to do because you get frustrated and you think `Well I have to do something because I'm not going to get many opportunities.' The key thing is to take advantage of every opportunity that you have and don't try to force the issue. Just take what they give you and hopefully things will work out."
On Payten Jason Moving Atop The Depth Chart At Running Back
"He's a talented young man. He had the knee surgery last year and when we started camp he had a groin pull. He's kind of behind but he's steadily come on. Unfortunately, he got a little bit of a concussion. He didn't practice yesterday and won't practice today. Hopefully, he'll be ready to go by tomorrow. It's a mild concussion. I used to have headaches like that, but now they're concussions. Hopefully he'll be ready to go by tomorrow. He's a physical runner. He's got pretty good vision. He attacks the guys pretty good. He's a good player."
On What It Will Take For Tulane To Come Away From The Army Game 3-2
"I think it's maturity. Something that I've talked to my team about is that we now have to be mature enough to take the next step. We've got to learn to forget about the last play, whether it was good or bad, and you've got to focus on the next one. We've got to do the same thing with the game. We've got to forget about what we did - win or lose - the past game and we've got to focus on the next one. This is a difficult one. We've got to show maturity. A lot of people are all patting us on the back this week, telling us how great we are and what a great win it was - and it was. But that doesn't do us any good at this point. We've got to move forward."
On If He Can Look Back To A Time Where His Team Was 2-2 And Needed To Respond Positively
"Yes, about two years ago. The last two years, we've been 2-2. Then we get to this point and they're so excited about winning two games that they forget that there is a lot of season - a lot of football to be played. We have to be mature enough, again, to put it behind us and move forward."
On The Army Game Two Years Ago That Lead To A 2-10 Season
"We've talked about that, too. Jeremy (Williams) got hurt, and (André) Anderson got hurt, too. And actually, Kevin Moore hurt his thumb the week before. We came down the field, get to the five yard line, he goes back to pass, it falls out of his hand and a guy picks it up and goes 95 yards for a touchdown. We had a punt blocked and we had some problems in that game. It was an embarrassing thing, not only did we lose but it was the way we lost the game. It was homecoming. We were honoring the 1998 team, they're all back and the alums are there and you don't want to smell up the place like that when you have a homecoming game."
On The Problems Army Creates With Its Defense
"I feel the big thing you have to understand is they are always going to out-number you by one person in the box. If you have five blockers, they've got six guys. If you've got six, they've got seven. If you've got seven, they've got eight. It's a double-eagle defense. It's like the old Buddy Ryan defense. They cover your center and they cover both guards, but they do it differently. It's unique that they have what they call a flex player. He's kind of off the ball but he's covering a guy. He reads the guard, he runs over the top and he's hard to get to. Then they put that middle linebacker right in the middle. When he was at Arizona, we had a hard time blocking that guy. We had a hard time blocking him last year. It's still hard because he's their leading tackler. It's what they do, it's unique and it's something you don't see every week. They cover every guy. It's like Gilligan from Gilligan's Island. We call it Gilligan-Gilligan because each guy is covered whereas some defenses either the center of the guard - somebody - is uncovered and can help out a little bit. In this instance, they cover every guy. It's mano y mano, big man on big man, and a case of whose going to win."
On If Quarterback Ryan Griffin Has Improved On His Holding The Ball Too Long
"One of the things we did last week because Rutgers was such a good defense was we game-planned such that we were not going to take a long drop, hold the ball and throw maneuvering routes. We were going to throw the ball quickly, and if it didn't work we were going to punt the football because we thought our defense matched up good against them. There is going to be a lot of pressure on our defense this week because they have to be very disciplined. It's kind of a wishbone attack in a sense. It's what Navy is running, it's what Air Force is running and it's what Georgia Tech is running. First of all, you have to stop the fullback. Two years ago, he hit his head on the goalpost numerous times because he ran right through us. So we've got to stop the fullback No. 1, then we have to stop the quarterback because he's their leading rusher. Then of course, you have to stop the pitch and you have to be disciplined enough - and they've had some big plays in the passing game because they're not disciplined enough to stay back and cover the pass. You've got four things you've got to stop. If you're not disciplined, that one phase will hurt you."
On The Importance Of Getting An Early Lead Against Army
"If you can get the lead, it's to your advantage. They want to shrink the game down, run the ball, keep it close and win it at the end. If you can get up on them, you force them to kind of get out of their game plan a little bit and have to throw the ball maybe a little more than they'd like. Then they're kind of playing to you as opposed to you playing to them. It's important if you can do it. It's hard to do it and not many people have."
On The Health Of Quarterback Ryan Griffin
"First of all, he didn't practice yesterday. We let him rest up. We did the same thing last week. We didn't practice him until Wednesday. We're going to let him take a few snaps today, but he's feeling a lot better this Tuesday than he was last Tuesday. He's still a little sore obviously, but he's making a lot of progress. He's better. We have a contingency plan in case something happens to him. I think yesterday, D.J. Ponder probably had the best day he's ever had since he's been here in practice. He knows our offense. He completed some passes and that's where he's struggled - with his accuracy. He did a nice job, and we still have Joe Kemp who can go in there and play some quarterback as well. You may see D.J. Banks in there and I'm auditioning for a couple of more guys for this week. We've got some guys who can fill in and hopefully play. If Ryan is healthy, he'll play more than he played last week."
On If He Feels The Defensive Line Is The Most Improved Facet Of The Tulane Team
"I would say that the defensive line is the biggest improvement. The big improvement is that Steve Stanard has gone over and coached the defensive line. He's the defensive coordinator and he didn't like what he's been seeing. He wanted to coach them himself and he has. I give him credit because he's done a great job. If you talk to the defensive linemen, they feel like they're really getting coached, they've very excited about it right now and it's been a big difference on our football team. We didn't blitz very much last week. We tried to time our blitzes but the front four is really doing a great job."
On The Performance Of Defensive Tackle Justin Adams
"Justin Adams, in the past, has had a tendency to freelance, do his own thing and would never listen. Steve won't tolerate it. He's got to take the correct step. He's got to do the right thing. If he doesn't, he's not going to play. That's Steve. Steve has done a great job of coordinating the defense and coaching the defensive line. They are responding to him. They like him. He's tough. He's tough on them in practice. He's tough on me. But them love him because they can see they're getting better."
On The Performance Of Punter Jonathan Ginsburgh
"The good thing about it is his getting it out quickly - 1.8, 1.9. Last year at times, we were getting it out of there at 2.2 and 2.3. He gets rid of it quickly. In turn, it hurts him kicking spirals some times because he kicks it like a soccer ball. But he has been efficient. Even when he kicks it bad, he kicks it a long way. He's got a strong leg. In the (Rutgers) game, when he hit it and he spirals it, he kicks it 70 yards. Rick Dickson, our AD, was out there watching practice yesterday and we're laughing at him. All of the sudden he hits a couple of spirals. He kicks it 60-70 yards when he hits a spiral."
On If Gisnburgh Came In Kicking It That Fast
"No, we improved him. He was a three-step guy for the most part. We got him down to a two-step, and that's Greg Davis. He's coached him to do that. It's just something we've emphasized. We told him, `If you can't two-step and get it out of there, you're not going to be a punter for us.' He worked on it and he's doing it. He's got a lot of room to grow, so to speak, but he's got potential to be really good."
On If The Win At Rutgers Gives His Team Some Validation
"I think it does, and what would really validate it is if we win next week, too. We've got to keep going. We've got to keep getting better. I've said it all along, we're a better football team than we've been in the last four years. We've got better players. We've got more quality depth. We've got a much better attitude. They've bought into the system. They trust the coaches. We're better. That was a big win, it wasa huge win for our program. One of the best wins in the last 10 years people are saying. The key now is to continue to progress, try and get better each win, be in games and win games now."
On Holding Rutgers Scoreless In The Fourth Quarter
"Finishing was important. We had to finish the game. We had to win the football game because it was a 3-point difference. We had to keep them out of field goal range. One of the things the we did offensively was prior to half, we just let the clock run down and go into halftime ahead. At the end of the game, we weren't going to make a bad play. We were going to play to the defense because the defense was playing so well. For them to do what they did at the end gave us a lot of credibility I guess you can say. Again, the trust and the thing about buying into what we're doing, and they realize if they do what we tell them to do we can win."
On The Importance Of Tulane's Depth
"We played a bunch of people. There's no question depth had a big part to do with it. The quarterback only played about half of the time. We had a couple of other guys playing quarterback. We had other guys playing receiver. We did some different things. Jordan Sullen ran a reverse. We're utilizing some people."
On If He Saw Something In Rutgers' Defense To Call The Trick Pass Play
"The biggest thing about them is they play very fast. They go to the football. So we kind of let them take the cheese so to speak. We also ran a little reverse pass and we knew that when we did that, that corner would blitz. We ran the reverse and threw the ball into the flat and gave us a big play to score the other touchdown. It's just the fact that we used their coaching against them. They ran so hard to the ball that we felt that if we could throw the ball out there - and they could all see it get thrown - they would all start flying to ball because they're a really aggressive defense. Then, we had to execute it. Stephen Barnett made a great block on the end, otherwise we might not get the ball off. Then D.J. Banks had a nice throw back and Joe had great athleticism. He just stumbled once and got in the endzone. It was a heck of a play."
On His Penchant For Calling Trick Plays
"I've been running trick plays forever. You don't win with trick plays. You've got to do other things. You don't win with trick plays. But with trick plays - or as we call them `special' plays - it gives you a chance to create some momentum, it gives you a chance to have an explosive play and it possibly gives you a chance to score a touchdown. They don't always work, but I think they have a long-lasting effect on defensive people. I've been talking to guys I've been playing against for years and the one thing they always talk about is No. 1 they have to practice those plays. Rutgers practiced that play. We did it from the other side of the field. We did it a little bit different in that sense, but they practiced it. I think someone has a reel of my trick plays out there somewhere. But the point is, if you do that, they've got to take time to practice it. When they're practicing that, it's taking time away from stopping your regular stuff. I'm going to continue to every week put a play or two in to try to do what I'm talking about and hopefully it'll work."
On The Team's Reaction To The Trick Play
"A lot of coaches were high-fiving me. The kids were slapping me. I only call a couple of plays a game. It worked so I was the hero for that game. But I've been kicked in the butt a few times too over the years. It's fun. It's exciting. A lot of coaches will practice trick plays and never run them in the game. If I practice a trip play, it's going to be run in the game. (The players) know it's coming. They just don't know when I'm going to call it. I don't call many plays, but I do call some of the trick plays."
On The Importance Of Playing Well For Homecoming
"Coming off a big win like this, we've got to win again. Like I said, the embarrassing thing was two years ago to be coming off the big win and lose the game like we did. Then last year, we beat Army over there and we lose to Marshall. A lot of people come to homecoming and they want to see their team. I think it's important to win, and hopefully look good doing it so they can be excited about their alma mater or the team they follow or as students who are excited about their school. Hopefully they will continue to support you."
On How Long The Team `Enjoyed' The Rutgers Win
"We went through it real fast on Monday. I told them it's all part of it. You've got to be mature enough to now put it behind you. I told them, `Your friends, your family, your girlfriends are all going to be patting you on the back and loving you. That's great up until today. Once we walk on that football field, I don't want to hear any more about Rutgers. Put it behind us, let's move on and talk about Army.' From a maturity standpoint, I think they've done that. Now it's important to take the next step."