Transcript From The Oct. 10 Football Press Conference



Oct. 10, 2006

On the 38-24 win over Rice
"I thought we played well in all three phases. Obviously there is room for a lot of improvement across the board, but I thought going into the game that this was two evenly matched football teams. The one that executed the best, had the least amount of mistakes and made some plays when they had the chance would win the game. Coming out of it, we made a couple of more plays then then did. I was really pleased with our defense rising up right there after the turnover. That was a huge, huge part of the game. You go back to the third play of the game, I thought that was a huge play, too. Matt Forté just willed his way to the first down there. I thought that gave us a big opportunity to go down there and score and kind of set the tempo. Izzy Route's pass break up in the endzone was a big play. So we made a few more plays then they did and won the football game. "

On this weekend's opponent, the UTEP Miners
"This week against UTEP, we're going into an environment that our kids should be used to by now. Obviously it's the first time for us to ever go out there, but we've played in hostile environments before. The bottom line for us is we have to improve from last week to this week. We're playing a team that was picked by some to win the league. They've been scoring a lot of points. We have to worry about us this week, to get better every day in practice and focus on what we have to do while going through midterms this week and next. It has to be a good balance of preparation for UTEP and preparation for midterms"

On if it is harder on the team during mid-term exams
"Normally it is. It's very tough on our players. We have to be careful as coaches on what we're asking them to do and we do put a lot of emphasis on midterms."

On if the elevation in El Paso will be a factor
"It does but it doesn't. We're below sea level here and we've had some bad days below see level. I don't know. I hope it doesn't. The only time I've ever done it was in 2001 out in Utah (a 70-35 loss to BYU in Provo) and I hope we have a better performance then that. I've talked to a lot of coaches who have been out there and we've got a guy on our staff who coached at there (defensive line coach Lorenzo "Zo" Costantini). It's something that we can't let us affect us mentally and we have to watch it as coaches physically during the course of the game.

On if he planned on substituting more due to the elevation
"We have to be smart on our substitution packages week in and week out, but obviously we have to be careful and listen to our players more this week then normal. If they tap out this week, then we have to get someone else in there."

On if he thinks the elevation has played a part in UTEP's success
"We've discussed that, but they've had a lot of success because of their quarterback and their receivers and their defense. They've been putting up a lot of points. They're second in the league in rush defense. They're a good football team. A lot of people picked them to win it (the C-USA title)."

On if UTEP is the most important game on the schedule so far
"I don't know about more. Week to week, you get into it, but at the end of the day, the league games are the ones that are the most important in the standings. In our league, the team that stays healthy, makes the fewest mistakes and eliminates turnovers is going to have the best chance. I think that's held pretty true throughout the league."

On how much film he has on the UTEP team
"I look at every play we run that we have on tape every week. If we have five on UTEP, we're going to look at every play. The big thing is you look at the game against New Mexico and Texas Tech - those are the ones they lost, but they were both of them were very close games. They've also won some close games. But the thing you notice is that they have a tendency to jump out in front. Last week, they were up 17-0 on SMU. They want to get a fast start, and we have to be conscious of that going in."

On the performance of the running game Saturday vs. Rice
"The biggest thing was up front. We got most of our yards in the spread set and had some natural seems there for Matt. On the back end, I think he made a few more people miss. Then he put his head down and ran over a few people. Two or three yards here or there make a difference. Our offensive line has to give him a chance. The other thing there too, is the yards are skewed because they include sacks."

On the cold conditions in the Superdome last weekend
"I found it chilly in there. I wonder if (Louisiana Superdome PR director) Bill Curl and them are wanting to get us ready to go up to Huntington, W. Va., but it was cold. It was definitely cold in there on Saturday. If it was raining outside and we were playing, there wasn't anything we could do about it."

On the fan attendance on Saturday
"I thought the crowd was loud on Saturday, both Saturday's really. I know a lot of people were disappointed after the SMU game. Maybe the 1 p.m. start. I've heard everything. The population is downs. But our kids enjoy playing in the 'Dome and we play pretty well in the 'Dome. We'd like to have 30 minutes back against SMU, but we're an exciting team. The kids have worked hard worked hard in the classroom off the field and on the football field to get ready to go. I think the true Tulane fans see that. I thought they were loud out there on Saturday and hopefully they'll all be out for Homecoming (Oct. 28 vs. Army)."

On UTEP quarterback Jordan Palmer
"He's done it in every type of game they've played. He can make every throw. He really can. He's a guy who's been around for a long time and he has high expectations for himself. They give him a chance to do a lot of things. He's a guy who has been pretty consistent and consistently good. He doesn't have many bad days."

On which position he feels in the most improved area from a year ago
"I want to say our offensive line. I'd just like to see them be a little bit more consistent. We've got four new starters there. Donald Madlock has started several years back, but he sat out a whole year. We've got four new guys there, and I think they're improving week to week. We haven't had the same lineup at linebacker yet, and that's tough for them. They're trying hard, but the continuity there has been very difficult."

On if there is an area on the team that he is not pleased with the overall progress
"I think our most talented and deepest group is our receivers. We've been hit and miss there. We can make some great plays, as we've show. But we have some plays that we should make and we haven't. That's a group right there that I'm expecting more from."

On the job Mike Price has done at UTEP
"If you go back and look at it, they haven't perennially struggled. They won the WAC championship four or five years ago. If you go back and look at their history, they had two or three years where they only won one game, but the history of it has been there. They've had some consistency in their program, and Mike has come in there and done a great job of putting kids in positions (to succeed) and instilled new enthusiasm. He's got a heck of a quarterback and he's got a good receiver. It's the big show in town. You go to UTEP and it's going to be sold out. If you look at the history of them, it's not one that's been down. They had three down years, but the fourth year - and I may be off a year - they won a championship."

On if UTEP is the best team in C-USA
"I have to wait until after the season to answer that, until you match up with people and see. They're one of the better ones. But to say they're the best at this time, I think you have to wait and see it out."

On if he feels the strength of the team is the passing game
"It's hard for us to make a living pounding the football, especially with the way things have gone on here the past year. It helps tremendously. I think our most talented group of guys is outside and to get them the ball is critical for us. But sooner or later, defensively, we've got to make some stops. You can't expect to score every time you touch the ball. The offenses have bad days. Really good football teams are consistently good on defense and that is where we have to get."

On the possible improvement of the defense
"The biggest thing is we have to get some guys back (healthy). We lost a couple of the year in (defensive end) Sean Carney (back) and (cornerback) Matt Harding (shoulder). We haven't played with the same set of linebackers yet. I think our front has played well. They played really well last week, and those guys are showing that they're moving up. They just haven't had a chance to put it all together yet."

On if he feels the defense needs to improve if Tulane is going to contend for a bowl berth
"Somewhere down the line, and I don't think we've been very good when scoring under 25 or 30 points. If we're not having an on-day on offense, we have to (get more stops on defense)."

On the importance of having the players stay healthy and gain experience
"That's the biggest thing. We lost three things off last year's team and two safeties. Our safeties are getting better because they've been out there every week - (David) Skehan and Louis (Thomas) and Carlis (Jackson). At linebacker, we've had to mix and match every week, from Jordan Ellis in week one to Terrence Peterson and Jamie McMurchy. We just haven't had any continuity there."

On the play of junior strong safety David Skehan
"David is going to be in the right place. He's physical. He's limited in some of the things he can do, but he's been very dependable for us. We just have to be careful not to put him in a position where he can't succeed. HE's on three (special teams units) and was our Special Teams Player of the Week two weeks ago. He enjoys being on them and does a good job on them. He walked on here. He's up from New York, showed up one day and said he wanted to play for us. I guess that's just good recruiting."