Oct. 20, 2009
Tulane Football Press Luncheon
October 20, 2009
Tulane Head Coach Bob Toledo:
Before we get started, first of all I want to clarify some of the comments I made Saturday after the game against Houston. I was asked a question by the media and it was a good question about home field advantage. Believe me, I in no way meant to offend the loyal Tulane fans or our football program. As a matter of fact, last Wednesday night at my radio show at Bruno's, I purposely went out of my way to praise them for their support. We didn't play well in the game, it wasn't their fault. It was my fault. It was our fault. So I purposely went out of my way to praise them. I regret the answer that I gave Saturday night to the media. I sincerely appreciate the support of the fans and I really am sincere about apologizing to any of those who I offended. So, I'm sorry about the comments I made and it will never happen again.
As far as recapping the Houston game...first of all, let me say that they are an outstanding football team. We knew that going in. They're one of the leading offensive teams in the country. They have the best quarterback statistically in the country. We knew they were explosive and we felt very good for the first half. We played them extremely hard; we felt we were in the football game and I think a lot of people felt the same way. Unfortunately, we came out the second half and our kicking game, once again, hurt us. We had bad field position, our kickoff return wasn't as good as it needed to be, our kickoff coverage wasn't as good as it needed to be, we had a punt blocked that resulted in a touchdown...so once again, we have to continue to go back to work and try to improve on our kicking game.
It's 9-6 at half. We kickoff to them and they run the ball back to the 40 and eight plays later they score a touchdown. They hold us, we go to punt, they get a block...2 plays later they get a touchdown. We punt again, 9 plays later - touchdown. We score a field goal. 11 plays later they go for a touchdown. Then we score a touchdown and they come right back and in 11 plays score a touchdown. So they score 5 touchdowns in the second half.
Defensively, we didn't stop them in the second half. We did a great job on first and second down, but on third down they had their way with us. They converted and scored touchdowns. So, it was a difficult loss. It was a very frustrating loss - knowing that we were close enough to be competitive, yet we couldn't hang with them.
This week we play Southern Miss - they're 4-3. Statistically, they are one of the best teams in the conference. If you look at their offense and if you look at their defense, they're #2 in total offense and total defense. They rank very high in all statistical categories. They're physical, they're athletic, they play extremely hard and they do a great job. If you look at last year, they were 1 of 4 teams to be four games under .500. In other words, they were 2-6. They won their last 4 games and they played in the bowl game, the New Orleans Bowl, which they won. So, I try to use that as an example to our football team - there is still hope. We still have an opportunity. We have to start taking care of business.
One of the questions that was asked is about the quarterback position. We are making a change at the quarterback position. Ryan Griffin will be the starting quarterback this week. We are giving him a chance to see what he can do. He has been very productive in the little bit of time that he has had. He has moved the team down the field. He has gotten us some points. We have had a hard time scoring. We have thrown more interceptions than touchdown passes. We've missed a lot of open receivers. We've had way too many sacks. We had 15 sacks already this year. Last year, we had 21 for the whole season. Basically, we've lacked production. We can't blame one person. There are a lot of people to blame, including myself. So, we've all got to improve and get better.
So, we've got a depth problem at linebacker and at safety. And again, that's one of the reasons we're not probably performing as well on special teams as well, because those are the guys that need to help you on special teams and we don't have a lot of those guys at our disposal right now. We're not pleased with where we're at, but we know that there's a lot of football left and hopefully, we'll continue to get better and hopefully we'll win some games down the stretch.
On Alex Wacha's injury:
He's got an arm problem, elbow problem. He's going to be okay I think to play. He won't to be 100 percent. He'll be wearing a brace.
On Ryan Griffin replacing Joe Kemp:
I just think it's one of those things - you're bringing in a young guy to replace a young guy. And unfortunately, young guys make mistakes. I look at the comment I made last week about how we're playing 18 true freshman and we're taking a beating. Well, my good friend Mike Sherman at Texas A&M is second on that list, playing 16 true freshman and you saw what happened to him against Kansas State. So, we're going from a sophomore to a freshman. An inexperienced guy to another inexperienced guy. All you can hope for is that Ryan (Griffin) will give us a spark. For the little bit he's been in there, he's done a nice job of moving us down the field; we have scored some points with him. Hopefully he'll perform well for us. He's going to be given an opportunity to see what he can do. Yea, he can't be on a short leash. We went with Joe (Kemp) for six games and the time came that we needed to look at someone else and so, Ryan Griffin happens to be next on the list.
On only scoring 26 points in the last two home games:
It's very frustrating as you can tell by my comments after the game. I'm very frustrated and again, I've got no one to blame but myself. I'll take the blame. It's my football program. I was hoping that we'd be on track to maybe win more...maybe we're on the track that everyone expected us to be on. But, I'm very frustrated and I let my emotions get to me in the press conference because I started lashing out to people that aren't responsible.
I was wrong. I'll admit that I was wrong. The people in the stands had nothing to do with us losing the football game. And I didn't mean it that way. I was talking about atmosphere and I was wrong. Hopefully, I've clarified that and I apologize to those people.
On getting the ball to Andre Anderson and Jeremy Williams:
Well, we have tried to get the ball to Andre (Anderson) and Jeremy (Williams) quite a bit and they have made plays, but sometimes we're not getting them the ball enough. Maybe they are open and we're not getting them the ball too. We're trying and maybe the quarterback change will help - we don't know, we'll have to wait and see.
On USM's Defense and the challenges Tulane will have to face:
Well, first of all, they are really good. Their front people are outstanding. Their linebackers are very active. Their safeties are good. They're not real complex. They will play us a little bit differently than they play other people because of what we do, but we've seen how they played those other people so we're expecting them to do certain things, but also we feel like we have a plan and hopefully we can exploit it and move the football. But, they are good and I don't think they're going to change just because of their quarterback, he's been playing. It's not like it's his first snap - he's been playing, so I don't expect them to change their defensive philosophy - they're very good at what they do. They aren't going to change much for us. They'll be maybe some subtle changes, but they won't change much. They're good enough. They don't need to change.
On Ryan Griffin:
Well, I think Ryan (Griffin) has more knowledge than people are lead to believe...he's been here for two years. And he's a very bright guy. Like Joe, he studies the game very hard. He comes in on his own and watches film - even knowing he wasn't going to play much. Joe has great work ethic; I believe Ryan has the same kind of work ethic. And he's a bright young man - he's very poised. He's very mature for his age. I don't think you can rattle him. I think he'll be fine.
On if Ryan Griffin knows all of the plays like Joe Kemp Does:
Yes he does. He knew he was going to have the opportunity to play at times, so he had to learn it. The last couple weeks, we've actually sent Kevin Moore down to run the scout team and we've left Ryan there to split time with Joe offensively, so, I believe that he knows enough to take advantage of an offense.
On Ryan Griffin's style of play:
He's very poised. He gives you a calming effect. He's not going to beat you with his legs - although he made a nice run. He's going to stay in the pocket and he's going to throw the ball and hit the guys that need to be hit. I'm anxious to find out how he does in the game. He's very accurate. And sometimes what happens is when you throw the ball really hard it has to be perfect, but when you don't throw it as hard, it gives the receivers time to adjust to an easier pass as well - so sometimes it's easier to catch. But when you have to drill it in the hole, like one of those NFL guys, when the hole is this big and you have to drill it - he doesn't have that kind of arm yet - but he is very accurate throwing the football.
On comparing Ryan Griffin to someone he's coached before:
Probably Bill Musgrave that I had at Oregon. Bill went on to break all the records at Oregon, and he couldn't break a pane of glass, but he got a pro tryout and he's now coaching pro football. So, probably like Bill Musgrave that I had at Oregon, but Ryan has a stronger arm than Bill.
On if he thinks Joe Kemp stepping back and watching from the sidelines will be beneficial to him:
Well, I'm hoping and that's what I told him...I said Joe, take advantage. You're going to get an opportunity to see it from a different perspective again...analyze what's going on and try to improve on the things that you're doing poorly. And what gets him in trouble, because he has athleticism, is he doesn't plant his feet...and you throw with your feet. And his feet are all over the place right now. He has to learn to settle his feet and step into throws. He has protection and he runs out of protection and gets in trouble - that's why he's getting sacks. He's got protection. People are blaming the linemen and all, and like I said before, it's not always the linemen...sometimes it's the receivers running the wrong route, sometimes it's the back not blocking the correct guy, sometimes it's the quarterback not staying in the pocket and throwing the football.
On Tulane's O-line playing well against Houston:
They did a really good job. They probably did as well as they have all year. I mean we moved the football...we moved the football. We were up and down the field, but we did throw an interception and sudden change, our defense went in and stopped them - they did a great job, but the problem is - when we got close, we couldn't get it in the end zone. We had to settle for field goals. We didn't score. And part of that was the penalties and some other problems that we had.
On practice time:
There are only so many hours you have in a week and then last Tuesday we only had an hour practice -so we missed a bunch of practice because of the rain and the lightning and I hate to use excuses. Unfortunately, I try to give you guys explanations sometimes and it sounds like an excuse because I'm just so darn honest. And it comes back to get me. But, we need to continue to practice more.
On how important it is to get a win this weekend against Southern Miss:
It would help tremendously, let's put it that way. And it's going to be difficult. There's not an easy game on our schedule for us. Again, I hate to keep sounding like a broken record, but we're a young football team that's trying to gain experience and get better and any win would be great for us at this point.