Tulane head coach Bob Toledo
Nov. 10, 2009
Tulane Football Weekly Press Luncheon
Head Coach Bob Toledo
Last week I talked about how the regular season was over and we're into the playoff season - well, we won our first playoff game. So we're still heading in the right direction. And the thing I always talk about to our players is never give up, never quit...you know, it's the old Winston Churchill deal. Never, never, never give up. And I preach that constantly. Because if you don't give up, you always have a chance. Whatever it is - whether it's your sick or anything in life - your business, or whatever - once you give up, it's over. So I really try to preach hard about never giving up and never quitting and always giving it your best effort all the time and I tell you what, there is no question and I mentioned it last week...that some people have given up on us and that's their prerogative...but the main thing is that we haven't given up on ourselves and that to me was the most important thing and it showed this last Saturday.
It's not easy building a program. I think we are all seeing that. It's hard. We're going through a lot of growing pains and trying to build a foundation and so on and so forth. All I keep saying is it's not a sprint, it's a marathon and for those of you who are interested in our program and love our program be patient. And for those that are patient I think eventually we'll prove that we're doing it the right way.
The people that were at the dome the other night obviously witnessed a special game in my opinion. I've been involved in a lot of football in 40 years and been in some great football games, but it was an unbelievable experience...not only for me, but also for our seniors. It's something that they will never forget. Most of the time as a senior you never forget your last home game and because of the way this game turned out they will certainly never forget it. Getting behind us - as far as the fans go in overtime was awesome. I guess they said there was 16,000 people at the game. The nice thing about not having a packed stadium is that all 16,000 came down to that end zone. So, all 16,000 were in that end zone yelling and screaming for us. And I talked to Mike Price again last night and he said, man, that place was loud. So that was kind of exciting and kind of neat. It was an advantage for us. Anyway, it was an exciting football game.
Offensively, we made a lot of big plays and I was really pleased. With a minute and 13 to go and no timeouts and we overcame a penalty...we went 86 yards and threw a touchdown and still had one second on the board. It proved to our team that we can come back. It proved to our team that with a little over a minute to go - that's a lot of time in football...even without the timeouts if you do it correctly. They did a great job of doing that. And then of course we got the touchdown in overtime as well.
Defensively, we struggled at times. We did a poor job at angles and tackling and that type of thing, but we came up big when we needed to, particularly that last drive. We had two timeouts left - I called two timeouts after two plays and then we stopped them and made them punt and if we didn't make them punt, the game was over. So, we made them punt and like I said, we go 86-yards after that.
The other thing we did, was in overtime we made some big plays. And there was none bigger than Alex Wacha's sack on 4th down. We dialed up an all-out blitz and Steve Stanard called that play and it was a well-executed play and we had a little mismatch and we did a good job of covering...so the quarterback couldn't throw the ball real quick and of course, Alex did a good job of tackling the guy.
Special Teams-wise...I think we showed improvement. I think we improved over the course of the last couple weeks. Obviously, Caddy, as we call him (Jeremy Williams) returned that kickoff for a touchdown - that was huge. That sort of jump-started us when he did that. But, he also had a couple other nice returns. We did some other good things in the kicking game. The one bad thing we did was we got fooled on a 4th and 10 on our 30. One of our freshmen came under the shield and they ran right around him and he didn't see the ball. Anyway, he learned a great experience there.
As far as Rice, we're in the second round of the playoffs now. And unfortunately or fortunately, these games are all on the road. We play all of our last games on the road. If you look at Rice -they're struggling a little bit. They went from a team that won 10 games or whatever last year and now they're 0-9. They're struggling. They have a young football team and they have some good football players and by no means are we in any position to overlook anybody at this point. It's another homecoming game - we're everybody's homecoming opponent it looks like. So, we're going to go to Rice and play against homecoming. There's no question Rice is going to show up - they'll play hard. I know David Bailiff will get them going. I think it's going to be a hard-fought football game. We need to show up and match their intensity throughout the course of the game and not beat ourselves. If we do that we have a chance to be successful.
We're looking forward to going to Rice and playing another football game and taking it one at a time as they say.
On when he talks to the team this week how much will he focus on the last two minutes of the UTEP game and how everything he has been preaching all year came together at that time:
We talked about it an awful lot at our meeting. That's something you can build on. That's kind of like the Army game. You win something like that and then you build on this one too. It's something we can talk about for years to come actually, you know, hey, remember when...and some of these guys will still be here and tell some of the freshmen and so on and so forth. Those are the types of things you need to get to the next level...that's winning football games and to believe. We talked about it so much here. We don't know how to win - we've got to believe that we can win. And I think that doing that it really helped us to believe. And with a minute and thirteen seconds and we did with a freshman quarterback. And then for our defense to step up like they did at that time. And it gets back to my thing of never quit. If you keep preaching that and then all of a sudden it happens, then they buy into it...and I think our players have bought into our system, our program and what they're doing. I've talked to you for several weeks now and our players have not quit. Our practices are really good. We practice hard. We practice with a purpose. We try to get better every week. And hopefully it's starting to pay off...but that will take us a long way I'm sure.
On Tulane believing in themselves:
Once you've accomplished something and realize you can do it...it's easier the next time. And it gets back to believing. If the defense doesn't believe that the offense can do it, it's hard. If the offense doesn't believe the defense can stop the guys, it's hard. But I think we have great team chemistry right now where our guys are believing in each other. We have a great attitude. And I believe once you do those things...it's a lot easier to do the next time.
On playing Rice:
They know they have to show up, because Rice has some good players. They have a good running attack. They're a young football team like we are, particularly in the front. We need to go compete. That's all I can say. We haven't done anything yet, so to speak. And our players have to realize, hey, this is another tough football game. We have to show up and we have to play well.
On how injuries have hurt Tulane's defense:
The linebackers. We've been hurting at linebacker. And of course, we don't have a lot of depth at the defensive line right now because of injuries, but we're still okay. We're still so much farther ahead of where we were last year - it's not even close. I can't even compare this year to last year. We're fine. We have enough players to be competitive still.
On the players talking about winning the last four and being Bowl eligible:
I've embraced it and told them we have a four game schedule, but we have to take one game at a time...because if you lose one game, you're out of the Superbowl, right? They realize that and I think their approach is good. We talked yesterday, hey, I hope you had a good time...I hope you enjoyed your time Saturday and your time off Sunday, enjoy that victory...but lets put it away and focus on Rice, because if we don't beat Rice then that other goal is gone. So, we have to take one game at a time and we have to win this football game. And if we win this football game, we'll worry about the other ones later.
On it being late in the season and having a potential Bowl game to use as motivation to win the last 3 games:
It is. It's a carrot out there. It's a carrot out in front of these guys. And they've seen it for several weeks, that's the thing. Even while playing LSU - we knew that if we could get by that game and stay healthy and keep playing and getting better...that we'd have a chance to compete in the last four games. That's kind of been our goal all along. As I mentioned before, a lot of people said it's a toss-up whether we'd win one game or not. Well, we won three now and we have a chance to win more. I think it's a matter of some personal pride. We have to get after it and get better and I told them yesterday...you have to get better until the last play of the last game. And then you don't have to worry about it until next year and for you seniors, you're done, but, keep getting better - until the last play of the last game.
On how the Rice game went last year:
We were so beat up by then and we had lost Andre (Anderson) in that first quarter, they were a different football team and we're a different football team. These are two different football teams this year. And we're going on right here and now - and not as much as last year. I mean you can keep talking about how we went there two years ago and beat them too...but I don't look into that stuff. I look into here and now.
On if he feels that Jeremy Williams is a pick first day pick in the NFL Draft:
In my opinion, yes. He's a big-play guy. He's got good size. He's got speed. He's got quickness. He's got excellent hands and great leaping ability. And now he's added to that by being a return specialist. And he could return punts too, if he had to. He can catch punts and go, but there's only so much you can do. But, I think he's proven to people that he's a playmaker...and people are always looking for guys to make plays. He will play in the NFL...I believe he will be a first day draft pick.
On Ryan Griffin:
I was pleasantly surprised. I knew he had the ability to do it. But like anything else, the proof in the pudding is do you do it when it counts. And he did it. He's California cool. He really is. He's a cool customer. He knows what's going on...we bring him off the field, I ask him what's going on and he knows what's going on. He doesn't panic. He has a lot of poise. He's very bright. He knows what's happening - he knows our system. Very pleased with his progress.
On if he feels Rice's football team is similar to Tulane's:
We're very similar. And you know, very similar with their schedule too. They've played some tough competition - if you look at who they played...they've played against some good people. So there's a reason why the stats are the way they are. And that's why I'm not a big guy on stats, but because they are a little misleading sometimes, but they played some good people. They're having some problems like we had a year ago - they have a bunch of injuries too and they're young and inexperienced as well. So, they're going through some going pains as we are.