Oct. 30, 2007
HEAD COACH Bob Toledo
On last week's 28-27 loss vs. Memphis
"It was another heart-breaking loss. I don't know what to say. I feel like it's a broken record. It's really difficult to get up here every week and say the same thing. Let me start by trying to be politically correct. The officials didn't lose the game for us, but I really believe they kept us from having a chance to win it at the end. I really believe that. I looked at the fumble and we've got different angles on the fumble and, in my opinion, either the ball crossed the goal line and it's a touchdown or when his elbow hits and he fumbles it should have been blown dead right there because the ground can't cause a fumble. I think there's enough pictures.
"Now, I called timeout because I was waiting for the official supervisor to buzz down. They were all telling me don't call timeout until the last second because the official who is the supervisor will buzz down and replay it. Well, obviously from what we heard there was only one camera that saw it out of the six that are in the Dome and I believe we use the same people in the dome that the Saints use. So there are six cameras available and one camera saw it. It was inconclusive or whatever. I was talking to Dan Dodd and he saw it on the screen and it was too hard to tell. So when I called timeout, the official came over and he said if you want to challenge it that's it, you don't have any more challenges, which I obviously knew already. I didn't want to use a challenge at that time in the game. I felt that we could stop them and do something. I knew we could throw the ball on them and hopefully score some points. I didn't use the challenge on them because it wouldn't have been any good anyway because there was only one camera that didn't show anything. Anyway, that happened.
On the situation at the end of the game
"After they had scored, I got the offensive team and I said, `Hey, we have 36 seconds after the kickoff, we have one timeout, I don't want to use the timeout unless I call it or unless something crazy happens.' I said I want to save it for hopefully a game-winning field goal. I said, if we make a first down I want you to go up and clock it; we say `clock, clock,' which means we just clock the ball and kill it. So, we were going to clock the ball if we made a first down. Obviously, if the ball goes out of bounds we huddle and we told them that. We covered all of the scenarios prior to taking the field. So, 36, we throw the ball to Matt (Forté) and he goes out of bounds. The official stops the clock. We huddle up. We call another play. We throw the ball to Gabe Ratcliff. We see it very clearly on our video that he catches the ball going out of bounds. He lands clearly out of bounds. As a matter of fact, their head coach, Tommy West, is about four feet out of bounds and picks him up. And everything is kind of casual and everything is slow.
"The referee was looking at Anthony (Scelfo). He didn't see that part because he's trying to protect the quarterback, which he should. So, you see him looking at Anthony the whole time when the ball was thrown. The ball is now out of bounds. The official is signaling (to stop the clock). The referee then turns and goes over and says wind it. Now, I'm looking from across the field. I see our tight end go out of bounds. I see the official do this (waves arms to demonstrate stop the clock signal). Now, everywhere I've been, the officials going to keep the clock going if they do this (waves arms to single run the clock) and then they'll do this (signals to keep stop the clock) to let you know the clock is going to be running. We had no knowledge. Earlier in the game, the official on our sideline did the same thing. He wound it and he stopped it. So, I'm looking across the field and I'm talking to Dan. I said, `Dan is he out of bounds' and he said yes. So I'm calling the signal again. Anthony thinks (Ratcliff is) out of bounds. He huddles the team up. We're going through our signals to get the next play called with 17 seconds to go. They wind the clock. At that time, Dan is on the phone saying the clock is going. Anthony is looking at the clock, and I'm looking at the 25-second clock and I said Dan don't worry, we'll get the ball off, we're fine. And he says, `no, no, the game clock.' So I look at the game clock and it's down to seven. So I go to grab the official and tell him the game clock is going. I said, he was out of bounds. And he says, `That's it. The game is over.'
On what Tulane has done in the meantime to not have this happen again
"I've talked to some white hats the past couple of days - referees that I know - and I'm not going to give you their names, but they said in that situation with 17 seconds they know with us having one timeout we're not going to try and run the clock. So what they said is they would normally give some kind of a signal to tell us that the clock is going to be running. The one guy told me, he actually goes to the quarterback and tells him, `Son, the clock is going to run.' He tells him the clock is going to run. Those are good mechanics. Those are good things that you should do as an official. But we weren't told anything, the referee runs over to the head linesman and he tells him, `wind the clock' after the guy had stopped the clock. The line judge runs up and says, `he was out of bounds, he was out of bounds.' Our guys heard that. The ref says `nope, wind the clock.' So, again, I took the blame. I probably should have called timeout, but it all happened so fast and we were unaware of it. I didn't know what to do at that point, obviously the game was over and everything else is water under the bridge.
"We've sent video in that shows everything. Now it's up to the commissioner to get back to us and our supervisor of officials. Our supervisor of officials was over in Europe refereeing a game, so he wasn't available to talk to the other day. Anyway, that's what happened. I'm not blaming officials. I'm just saying I wish we would have had a chance to see what we could have done. The kid (Ross Thevenot) just kicked a personal record-breaking field goal earlier in the game."
On where Tulane goes from here
"The magazines earlier in the year said we wouldn't win a football game, we'd be lucky to win a football game, that we wouldn't win a league game. We're 2-6 and we very easily could have been 5-3. We lost three games by six points, three points and one point - so a total of 10 points. We have improved. Like I said before, it's hard to realize you're getting better when you're losing football games, but I've seen it from spring practice to now. We have improved. We've gotten better. Unfortunately, we haven't proven it in the win-loss record, but we have gotten better. We've been close in every game.
"Even in the two Southeastern Conference games, the first half we played well enough to hang in there with those people. So, I'm proud of the effort of our football team. We've worked extremely hard. Kids have not quit and they won't quit, I don't believe. I believe they're going to give us a great effort until the end. They're practicing hard and doing a good job."
On what Tulane needs to do to stop coming up just short on Saturdays
"We need to improve in some areas obviously. We've got to get better at throwing the football. We are not efficient throwing the football. We don't find guys open. Our average per attempt is not good. We're lacking efficiency in average attempt. We're not even getting seven yards an attempt and our goal is to be 7.5 or better. So, we're not efficient. We're not doing a good job. We've got to eliminate turnovers. We have a couple turnovers every game. We fumble on the one and don't get any points out of it. We throw an interception just before half and they score a touchdown. So, we've got to cut that out. Our kicking game, we've had bad coverage. Our kickoff coverage is last in the conference. Our punt coverage is 10th in the conference. We have not done a good job of covering kicks and it's not that we haven't worked on it. We work on it a ton in practice. So, that's another story. Our punt returning, we're last in the conference. And again, to me, punt returns is who's returning the ball. We've got a guy who is really good at catching the football. He doesn't fumble and that's what we want right now. But we need to get better at that. We're ninth in kickoff return. I think Ade Tuyo has had some nice returns the last couple of weeks. He's helped us to get a little better in that area and we're doing a better job. We've got to stop giving up big plays, particularly in the passing game. We've given up 281 yards a game, 8.0 per pass attempt, so that is way too much. And again, we're playing against people that throw the ball all over the place.
"We're doing a great job of stopping the run, like we're doing a great job of running the football, which is cliché. If you run the ball and stop the run you can win games. Well, I don't know if that's all true anymore. But anyway, we're doing a good job at that. Defensively, we've got to get off blocks and we've got to tackle them. We are not. We're being too passive. We're not aggressive enough. We've worked on the drills in practice and we'll continue today and tomorrow with heavy work we do in our drills to try to get better at getting off blocks and tackling people. We're giving up too much ground."
On Saturday's opponent, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane
"As far as the upcoming game against Tulsa, they're 5-3, 3-2 in the conference. They're the No. 1 pass offensive team with 367 yards per game. They're the No. 1 total offense with 532 yards per game. We are going to face the best quarterback we have faced all year and probably will face all year, Paul Smith. He is a great player in our conference. I look at him as a winner. And I had an opportunity to work with him in the clinic that we had when we had Conference USA meetings and the kids came out and worked with those kids and he was fantastic with those kids. He stayed until the end, coaching them and coaching them. He's a great kid. He's the No. 1 passer in the conference with 358 yards a game. He's the No. 1 total offensive leader with 366 a game. He's thrown 24 touchdown passes. So I'm sure he's looking at our video right now licking his chops and we've got to do something about him. Tulsa also has the No. 2 receiver in Conference USA, Trey Johnson. He's a true freshman, 43 catches, 687 yards, 6 touchdowns.
"Their defense is something we haven't faced. It's a 3-5-3 or 3-3-5 or whatever you want to call it. It's something Rocky Long ran when I was at New Mexico and he ran it for me when I was at UCLA. It's a very confusing defense. They come at you from all different angles and it's hard to target your people for who you're going to block. It's going to be a tough football game. They confuse you. They've got outstanding linebackers. There are three linebackers and they're all seniors. They've got a first-team all-league senior, a second-team all-league senior and a third-team all-league senior. So they've all made All-Conference USA and they're all really good football players.
On Tulane's injury status
"(Senior right tackle) Scott Holt is out with his knee. (Junior weak-side linebacker) James Dillard is still out with his shoulder. (Senior cornerback) Carlis Jackson is very doubtful still with his hip. He hasn't played in the last few weeks. (Redshirt-freshman) Kevin Moore, our quarterback, separated his shoulder during the game. When he scrambled and ran out of bounds, he landed on his shoulder and had a grade-two separation. We don't know if he's going to be able to play. It's questionable. If he can't throw by tomorrow, he won't play. If he can't protect himself, obviously, he won't play. (Junior defensive tackle) Julian Shives-Sams is questionable. He has a foot injury. We think it's a soft tissue thing. We're going to get it x-rayed, but he's limping around pretty bad. (Freshman) Tyler Helm, our tight end, got hurt opening kickoff. The other guy came down and just blasted him and gave him a concussion and a neck injury. He's very questionable. Hopefully he'll be back for the game. And (sophomore) Jeremy McKinney, our fullback, is questionable with a back injury.
On Tulane's Players of the Week
"Our player of the game is Matt Forte. What can I say about him? Louisiana Southwest Writers Association Player of the Week with all the stats that you know about. We didn't pick a defensive player, and our special teams player was David Skehan."
On Tulane's Wave Days program
"The last thing I want to talk about is something I did when I was at UCLA. I did a thing called `I'm Going To college.' It started out, I had a kid that played for me at UC-Riverside and he became a coach at Crenshaw. He said `Coach, we've got to do something for these kids.' So, what we did is `I'm Going To College.' We got a bunch of kids to bus in for the game. We got about 10,000 kids a game and what we did was we tried to educate them. We had a big tent, we had counselors, we had tutors that told them what it took to get into college - what kind of grades you have to get, what kinds of tests you have to take, SAT and ACT, what kind of classes you have to take. So it was a great thing about counseling kids and giving them a chance to see what it's like to get into college. Plus, we give them a chance to see our football games. A lot of kids in this city wouldn't have the chance to either pay for it or be able to come. So, we're going to provide that for them. We're going to call it `Wave Days' and we're going to do it for the kids in our community. Again, it's a chance for these young kids to come and get a college experience and be educated a little bit about what it takes to get into college and so on and so forth."
On what he can do about the ending of the game
"You can't do anything. It's like wrestling with a hog...you get dirty and the hog walks away. There's nothing you can do, what can you do? You express your feeling and you're disappointed in what happened, but officials are human. Hopefully you have replays that take care of some of that, but the game is over. We can't do anything about it and that's the sad thing."
On why the official who stopped the clock didn't communicate with referee when he wound the clock
"That's a question we have to ask them. From what I heard the people tell me the official tried to tell the referee he was out of bounds. So the line judge comes running back saying he's out of bounds, but the referee was adamant and said wind the clock. But we never got a wind the clock signal. It was out of bounds. So, I wish I could answer your question. You all were there, you saw the same thing I saw. I don't know what recourse we have. I know we lost the football game."
On if his belief that he would not get a response about the call has changed at all
"I don't know. I can only hope that it would. I talked to (SMU head coach) Phil Bennett yesterday. Phil was fired and I tried to console him a little bit and I asked him about the officiating. He has done the same thing. He has sent stuff in and has never gotten a response. So there's not very good communication right now is what I'm saying and that's what's disappointing. We need to have a better job of communicating with officials and ourselves. So, there's a supervisor of officials, he's in Europe doing an NFL football game...you know, when the Giants played the Dolphins. You can't get hold of him. And I'm sure I'll get reprimanded now, but anyway..."
On if he has spoken to the supervisor of officials at all this season
"I have a coach, Greg Jackson, who is the liaison between me and the officials. He sets up officials for practice when we practice with officials. Each week he sends in the information on what the play was and that's put on a disk and we send it. We have not gotten any response. When I was in a conference before and we played Army, after the game we got our official's report. It had every official, every penalty, who called it, what it was. We got it right after the game. I have never received anything in this conference. You can't ding an official in this conference. I was at the meetings and I said `Can we ding or blackball an official if he's not doing well?' No. So, we don't get to grade an official. We don't get to ding an official. The supervisor of officials does all that."
On 'X'ing an official crew out
"In the Pac-10, if you ding one official then you lose that crew. You can only ding one. You have one scratch. So if I want to ding that guy, then that whole crew would not work the games anymore. You can't ding a whole bunch of guys because there are only so many crews. But if it was set that you wanted to blackball a guy from your games and you felt that adamant about it, you could blackball a guy and they didn't work your games anymore. But in this conference, the supervisor of officials grades the officials, rates them, says who should work the games, and you have no recourse."
On putting away games
"If we make the field goal, game's over. Now it's first down on the seven. I didn't want to throw it. I didn't want to risk the chance of an interception. I was going to give it to the horse and see if we could score. We didn't score but we had a chip-shot field goal and we missed it. The game is over at that point. We're up by nine. They need two scores to beat you. But we need to close out games, yes."
On if closing out games is an acquired skill or is it coachable
"Well, I thought we did it a week ago when we beat SMU. I thought, `Oh, now we got it.' But obviously we didn't get it. And it's not everyone and that's the problem. It's a team game and it's not like golf where you chili dip a wedge and you don't get it on the green. There's a team and it's one guy in every position that may let you down."
On how big the missed field goal was in Saturday's 28-27 loss to Memphis
"There are a handful of plays that could let you down. It's not just one play. That particular play is magnified because if he makes it, it's over. We practice every day. We start at extra points. We move it left. We move it right. We move it back. We move it all over the field to kick field goals. I said, `Where do you want it?' (Ross Thevenot) said `Put it on the left hash.' We got it on the left hash. He missed it. He's a human being."
On how much the attention towards Matt Forté is being diminished because of the team's record
"I'm sure it hurts. Because again, it's a mid-major conference and we're losing games. I really believe in my heart that it affects you. I've been to other places and I know how other people view it and I know how writers view it. They don't compare us to the Southeastern Conference or to the Pac-10 or what have you. And that's what happens. He's being slighted because of that. He'll show everybody in the long run that he's the best running back in this country. And when he gets into the NFL, he'll prove to everybody that he's a great, great running back just like I've said from the beginning. But I don't think he worries about that. He wants to win. He'd give up a lot of those yards and accolades for winning some football games."
On if he thinks it is more impressive for a player to perform this well on a struggling team than on a successful one
"I'd say so. I think it is, yes. He's doing some things that just don't happen. And if you look at the games earlier in the year, when we had to get out of our game plan as I mentioned, I think he had 73 against LSU. I don't think anybody's rushed for 73 against LSU. I mean, he could have had over 100 in that game. He's a phenomenal athlete. He's got all the numbers. He's got it all."
On if the team has bounced back from the game, especially Anthony Scelfo
"Well, I can't answer for him. His dad's a football coach. He's from a football family and he'll bounce back. He's an athlete. He's been involved with baseball and everything. He'll bounce back. He already has. Our team showed yesterday that they'll bounce back. And we talked to them. We said `Hey, we need to find out what we're all about. Which way are we going to go?' And I think our kids will play hard and give a great effort and bounce back. I don't think there's any quit in them."
On if Scott Elliott will be back in the mix since Kevin Moore is injured
"Well, he'll be No. 2. Anthony (Scelfo) would play the game and if something happened then Elliott would go if Kevin wasn't able to go. We were going to put Kevin back in the game, but he had the separated shoulder and he couldn't go back in the game. I don't know if people realized that he got hurt. He tucked the ball down and ran to the right out of bounds and fell right on the tip of his shoulder."
On the amount of players who suit up for each game
"I'll tell you what, it's been less and less. I've tried to make a statement. We took 52 or 53 to the hotel last week. You can take 70 on league games. Basically we're redshirting some guys and that type of thing and we have some guys injured. But I've tried to tell some guys that are on the scout team, `Hey, if you're not going to perform and you're not going to produce and you're not going to do something on special teams, then I'm not going to take you to the hotel and I'm not going to suit you up for games.' I've tried to send a message and now at this point I told them yesterday, `You guys, I'm going to give you another chance to see what you can do.' We'll probably suit up a few more guys this week and I'm going to give them a chance, particularly on special teams to see if they want to lay it on the line for us. If they do, they'll be back in good graces. I guess you saw that we didn't suit up a lot of guys. I took 55 to SMU. I remember Phil Bennett looking at us and saying `Where's the rest of your guys?' I said, `This is it, man. I only brought 55 with me.' You can suit everyone up at home. What I do is if you're a freshman or the kids that are redshirting or injured, they just wear your jerseys. But the guys that can play, we just suit them all up. And again, I don't have the exact number, but it's close to 70."
On if Tulsa is vulnerable to the running game because of the way they rush the quarterback
"If you can break the line of scrimmage because they are a true eight man front, yes. They're an eight-man front and they play man-to-man at the corners. They've got a free safety, but he'll come up on the tight end and they'll bring eight guys sometimes. But, yes, if you can break the line of scrimmage then the last line of defense is the free safety. So, if you can crack the line you can get to the end zone."
On if he believes he has changed the climate of expectations for Tulane Football
"In talking to a lot of people, I think they're pleased with the effort of our team and actually how well we're doing and how we've improved. I've gotten a lot of e-mails, of course I only look at the good e-mails. My secretary doesn't give me the bad ones, but I've got all the good e-mails and there are some people that are past players that have said, `Hey, we're real excited about what we see out there.' And I don't know what the scores have been in the last year or two, but I think the scores are closer this year. I think we're doing pretty well. I think people see improvement. I told you I was going to run the ball, and play-action pass. I didn't want to do it this much, though. I do like to throw the ball, believe it or not. We started off the season throwing it about 40 times a game and we've narrowed that down because we've found our niche. But I would like to throw the ball better and more than what we're doing.
"I'm trying to win football games right now and the one thing I think it does, I hope it does is help the defense. Again, we're giving up a lot of yards in the passing game, but they're not on the field as much. I talked to our team last week at the hotel. Our offense has had 494 plays and our defense has had 493 plays prior to (Saturday's) game. Normally it's been more. The defense has been on the field a lot more than the offense. Last week, we had 75 snaps to their 65. The one thing I told our team is that if you're playing say, 70 plays per game on an average, the average play lasts six seconds. And if you talk about 6 seconds and 70 plays - not counting any special teams - you're out there about seven minutes a game. So, if you're only going to play seven minutes a game, you ought to really put forth a great effort. Because each play is six seconds and so there's not much time left. There was what, 35 minutes left last week and there are under 30 now."
On if he expects any actions to be taken against the officiating crew from the Memphis game
"I personally don't. I don't know what they do. I mean, they could maybe suspend a guy or slap a guy on the wrist, but I don't think anything is going to happen. They might give us a letter or apology if we're right but I'm not that familiar with this conference and that area right now. I'm just finding out about it too."