Nov. 13, 2007
HEAD COACH Bob Toledo
On the Tulane team responding to his challenge of playing for pride
"Last week I stood up here and a lot of people said we had nothing to play for. I said we were playing for pride and respect, and I think our players proved we have a lot of pride and we have a lot of self-respect. I think there are a lot of people in the country right now that respect what we're trying to get done here. There was no quit and that's something I've tried to encourage our players to do is play hard every game for 60 minutes. I think if you watched them, you know that they played hard and they didn't quit. That was something I was very proud of."
On the difference between the UTEP win and the Tulsa loss
"Unlike a week ago where we were horrible in all three phases of the game -offense, defense and special teams - we played extremely well in all three phases. As of this last week, it's our best game of the year, if you want to call it that. And the thing that I liked is we finished the game finally. We finished and we won the fourth quarter. We played extremely well in the fourth quarter, so I was pleased with that."
On Tulane's offensive performance against the Miners
"Offensively, we had no turnovers and that was huge. You can't turn the ball over. We didn't have any dropped passes. We had a high completion percentage, which was good. We ran the ball extremely well. We were efficient on 23-of-39 plays, and that efficiency thing again is four-plus yards 50 percent of the time. Matt (Forté), he always runs hard. He was really running hard. I mean, he was knocking people over and he was doing a good job running the football. And one of the last things, we made big plays in the passing game. It's something we haven't done. When people pack the paint, so to speak, they want to put eight or nine guys in the box. You have to make them pay and we made them pay Saturday night. They gambled and they lost. Jeremy Williams just came up with a huge game. That's his best game of his career. He made some big, big plays."
On the performance of the Green Wave defense vs. UTEP
"Defensively, for the most part, we eliminated a lot of big plays. They had the one long run and they wouldn't have had it if we had made a tackle at the line of scrimmage. That was probably the biggest disappointment of the game is we were very poor tackling in the secondary, particularly at the corner position. We'll work on that this week. We were much better in the red zone and the thing we did is, on third down, we got off the field. They were 3-of-13 on third-down conversions and you have to win that battle on third down. We had an interception and we had 4 sacks, which really helped us tremendously."
On the play of the special teams last weekend
"Special teams-wise, we had good kickoff returns. Ade Tuyo, right now, I think is second in the conference in kick-off returns. He had one 54-yarder and had another one with a penalty, but he did a great job returning. Our punt returner (Casey) Robottom had a couple nice returns. We beat them in both of those phases. We had good punting. Our kick-offs, what we tried to do is squib kick. We were trying to keep it away from their returner, and we did a good job of that. I thought a big momentum play in the game, a huge difference in the game, was when we stopped them when they attempted the fake field goal. Then we took the ball, we faked the punt and we end up scoring. So a big turn of events right there and I thought that was huge in the game."
On winning the final home game of the 2007 season
"I was really happy for the seniors. They've never given up and it's been hard. They've gone through an awful lot, as I mentioned a week ago, and persevered. I'm proud of them, I'm happy for them, and I ended up starting every one of them that was healthy. (Scott) Holt was the only one that didn't start, although he played the last play of the game where we had a kneel-down, and Fred Smith didn't play because he's out. But even Evan Smith, who's a walk on, we put him at wide receiver and ended up putting (Matt) Forté at quarterback so we could get them all in the game. Maybe I should've run that play more...we made 12 yards. It was fun to get all those kids a chance."
On this weekend's opponent, the Rice Owls
"They're 3-7, they're 3-3 in the league, and they're third in the Western Division. They've got a really good quarterback. He's one of the better ones in the conference, Chase Clement. He's got 22 touchdown passes thrown and he is their leading rusher as well. He's got 705 yards and 8 touchdowns (rushing). So he is the guy that makes them go on offense. They've got a receiver who I think is really explosive. He made all-league and All-American last year, Jarett Dillard. He's got 64 catches, 881 yards and 11 touchdowns. The thing I see there is a guy with great body control and hands. He just does unbelievable things with his body to get in position to make catches and then he makes the catch. And the free safety, Andrew Sendejo, he leads the team in tackles and interceptions with four. If we can go down there and beat them and win the last two games, finish strong, we have a chance to be third in the Western Division. I think that would be a real feat for us considering we're starting to build a program."
Tulane injury report
"Injury-wise, the one guy we're going to lose - and we may lose him for the rest of the season - is Sean Carney with his back. It's kind of a reoccurring thing. He had back surgery in the offseason, he missed last week and it appears he may miss the rest of the season. We've got an awful lot of guys beat up and banged up right now. We haven't lost a lot of players but they're at a point in the season where they are really beat up. That's the thing about playing 10 games in a row. We don't have a bye."
On not having a mid-season bye week
"We had a bye the first week of the season. That doesn't help you. And somehow, hopefully, we can work this out in the future because it's been 3 years in a row now where we haven't had a bye. It would've been great to have a bye a week ago or even this week. East Carolina has a bye this week and then they play us next week. I don't know how many teams have a bye in the conference, but I know we haven't and it's starting to show up. We've cut practice a little bit. We're taking the pads off a little bit more. Today will be our only real physical day, but we've cut it back 15 minutes. So we're going to try to teach them what to do, save them up physically for the game."
On Tulane's Players of the Week
"We had Jeremy Williams on offense. You know the stats. Defensively, it was Antonio Harris. He's started 44 straight games since he's been here and that's a phenomenal record. Ade Tuyo earned the honor on special teams. He's done a nice job on returning kicks.
On Tulane's game captains
"For the captains, I'm going to give it to Ade Tuyo and Avery Williams. We've got a bunch of guys from Houston but we wanted to reward those two guys for their performance a week ago."
On if he will look back on the 2007 season as one of overachieving or what may have been
"I think it's a combination of both. As I told the team after the game, this is a season where it's `what we could have done.' The whole thing was we had a chance to possibly win six games already and it would be sad if we could win a seventh and/or eighth and not go to a bowl because we'll only have won five. So I think it's one of those - it's a year of what we could have done. Yet, as you mentioned, we've done more than a lot of people expected us to do. And the thing that we've done is not just win a few games, but we've been very competitive in almost every game. I think that's the thing that I'm most pleased with. I think we've changed that mentality a little bit. We had to change habits and attitudes, and I think we've done that with our football team."
On Tulane football's outlook for the future
"We're going to lose a great football player (in Matt Forté). But I really believe we'll be a better football team next year. I think we've grown and we've matured - the off season program, lifting weights and getting stronger, playing some guys that are redshirting this year. The guys that are playing are getting a lot of experience. I think for the most part we have a chance to improve next year."
On getting Matt Forté 2,000 rushing yards
"It's important to me, as it is to him and everyone else. I think it's a special feat that not many people in the history of this game have done that. I'm going to give him the opportunity, let's put it that way, to get 2000 yards. He will get enough touches in the next two games to do that. It's up to him and it's up to his teammates to make sure that he gets it done."
On how not having a bye has affected the team
"I think it showed up particularly a week ago. Last week we took some pads off, we took some time off, and we rested up a little bit more. But two weeks ago, I thought it really showed up against Tulsa. We were physically beat down a little bit. They're still a good football team, but I felt we could've played maybe a little bit better if we had a little more rest."
On how he can avoid having a bye the first week in the future
"I've got to find out more information on it and having gone through it a year now. I need to bring up some things in the off season to not only our athletic director, but the conference as well. I think what happens is we get our four non-league games and we put them where they're supposed to be and then the conference kind of does the rest of the league schedule around your non-league games. I believe that's how it works. So, hopefully, they will give us an opportunity to get a bye next year."
On if other conferences make their schedules the same way C-USA does
"No, in the Pac-10 for example, we didn't play three teams, but we played three other (non-conference) teams. Now they're playing everybody in that conference. It's a little different because there are 12 games, but I think every league is probably a little bit different, but every league tries to give you an opportunity to have byes during the course of the year. A bye the first game doesn't help you much."
On the quarterback rotation of Anthony Scelfo and Kevin Moore
"Well, what we wanted to do is we wanted to find out if Kevin Moore could play. We've seen him in practice and he really hadn't had an opportunity and we felt that the SMU game, we were going to force the issue. We were going to give him an opportunity to see if he could fish or cut bait, and I think he's done a nice job. He's coming back off a shoulder injury a week ago. Most people wouldn't have played last week and I would have liked to see him play last week against Tulsa, but he got that shoulder separation and wasn't able to play. It's a matter of us trying to find out for the future who is capable of playing and what we have to do with recruiting and that type of thing. That's why we did what we did."
On why he is giving Kevin Moore a chance
"It's because of his play. If he didn't perform we wouldn't have been doing it. But I still want to see how he responds in games and how he does. We have two more games and we'll continue to rotate like we have been, unless one just really plays poorly and the other one is hot."
On how he thinks the two quarterback rotation is sitting with starter Anthony Scelfo
"Well, I don't think any quarterback likes it. They want to be the guy. They want to play every play, but it's like every other position. Why can't you rotate quarterbacks? I know a lot of people get heat for it and I've done it in the past. I don't like it, but I think it's something we have to do this year because I have to find out. I have to find out going into spring what we're all about."
On the differences between Kevin Moore and Anthony Scelfo
"Well, they're two different people. One can beat you with his legs a little bit more than the other, Anthony. But Kevin gives us size; Anthony gets the balls batted down at the line of scrimmage because of his size. He (Kevin) gives us a big arm, a strong arm. He doesn't have the experience or the mobility that Anthony has and that's why we're trying to do what we're doing...we're trying to prepare for the future as well."
On which quarterback he prefers with his offensive style
"I'd like to put them both in a pot and stir them up. I like a guy that has a little more size than Anthony. He doesn't have to be 6-4. It's nice. I like a guy that has mobility and Kevin has some mobility. He doesn't have quite the mobility that Anthony has. I don't get enamored by the big arm. Some people are enamored by a guy who can throw the ball through that wall. You know, I've seen guys throw the ball through the wall, but they can't hit a wide receiver that's open. So I'm not enamored by that. I want guys that have a quick arm, that know where to go with the ball and get rid of it and are accurate. That, to me, is so important. I saw guys in the Pac-10, I recruited guys and I turned down that ended up being No. 1 draft choices. I don't want to mention names, but they can throw a ball on their knees through goal posts but they couldn't hit wide open receivers. So I don't get excited about that kind of stuff. Me, being the person I am, is looking for guys that are smart, are mobile and athletic, and have a quick arm and an accurate arm. If we get that total package then we've got a guy who can play in this offense."
On the quarterback situation in the spring
"We have a freshman Joe Kemp. I'm excited about seeing him in spring. He's got a lot going for him. He's 6-4, he's mobile, he's faster than every quarterback we've got out there, he's got a strong arm, and he's got an accurate arm. It's going to be a very interesting spring. And that's one of the reasons we're playing Kevin. I want to see if he could play. And right now he's proving that he's got some ability. So, it will be a competitive spring. Joe Kemp is going to get a chance in the spring."
On how much better he thinks his second recruiting class is
"Well, we're hoping its better because we really didn't have a lot of say in 12 of the guys that we brought in. We honored commitments (from the previous coaching staff). I hate to say that some guys we probably wouldn't go on right now, but that is probably true. There are some guys that we brought in that we wouldn't go on because of the system and what we're trying to do with our players. But we got them and we're going to make the best of what we got. I think we're off to a good recruiting class. We only have 17 scholarships (to give) right now, but I think we have a couple offensive linemen who we feel are pretty good. They have good size and they're good football players. We've got a fullback and a tight end who we think are pretty good. We've got a couple DBs that we're excited about. And we've got one defensive lineman we think is pretty good. So, we're at 11. Probably some guys I didn't mention, but we're on the verge of getting more guys real quick. We're excited about the class."
On how much he thinks the satellite camps helped with recruiting
"Tremendously. We're getting commitments on kids that we coached in those camps. They liked us and of course we liked what we saw and the great thing about those camps is you can weigh them, you can measure them, you can time them and you can coach them. So you get an idea of what it's all about. When you just go and recruit guys somewhere and you don't get to see them they're 6-5, 260. Then you recruit them and they're 6-3, about 220 and you don't know how fast they are. The camps helped tremendously. We're getting a bunch of kids committed that liked what they saw."
On the importance of recruiting local and state players in the future
"If you look at our football team I think only a third of them are from Louisiana. Right now, out of 11 commitments, we've got nine from Louisiana. So, we're making a real effort to recruit the best players that we possibly can in this state. And then of course we're not going to turn down a good football player from out of state."
On sophomore wide receiver Jeremy Williams
"Well, in the spring I had heard so many good things about him when I took the job and in spring. I was a little disappointed but I was giving him the benefit of the doubt. And I told him, `I want to get you the ball; put you in different positions to get you the ball.' But then when I did that, he didn't prove that he didn't prove that I should be giving him the ball because he wasn't executing. I thought last week he did a great job. The thing that's been really good is he has worked extremely hard in practice to get back up there and we're going to start him this week again. He deserves to start again. I'm pleased with how he performed, but he's a guy that you've got to keep your finger on him. You know everybody's got hot buttons. If he's got it easy, he takes it easy. You've got to stay on top of him, but he's got a lot of physical ability no question about it."
On if he was surprised that the local high school coaches were surprised to see him
"Yes, I was a little bit. I had heard so much about how we haven't gone out and hit the state much (in the past). But then to go on campus (at John Curtis Christian School) and J.T. Curtis, which was the first place I went. He kind of opened the door and he looked at me and started giggling and laughing. I said, `What are you laughing about?' And he said, `I haven't seen a (Tulane) coach here in six or seven years.' And that happened at several places. I don't mean to speak down about anybody but it was a fact. If you talk to the high school coaches, they'll tell you. Very few assistants went in. I don't know why. I don't know what the answer is. But we're going in and I'm going in. The week after we're finished playing, we're going to have some team meetings Monday and Tuesday, I'm going back on the road and we're going to hit people in this state. I'm going to go out for several weeks and hit as many schools here as I can."