Nov. 20, 2007
HEAD COACH Bob Toledo
On the Tulane's 45-31 win over Rice
"We felt that the Rice game was a nice win for us. It gave us two wins in a row and that hasn't happened since 2005. We've now won three league games, we're in third place in the Western Division and we've got a good chance to stay there. I really believe, and I've told you this all year, that we've been very competitive and that we've improved every and every week. I honestly believe that. We've gotten better. That's a good sign for a program and it makes a coach feel good about that. That's what you want to do each week - you want to continue to get better."
On Tulane's defensive performance against Rice
"Defensively, we did a heck of a job stopping the run. They only had 23 yards rushing, so our defensive front really did a super job. We worked hard on coming off of blocks and we worked on tackling better and I think it showed up during the course of the game. We held them to 376 yards of total offense, and that's a pretty good feat - particularly in this conference."
On the Green Wave's offensive production against the Owls
"Offensively, we ran the ball extremely well again. Matt Forté just wears people down. When you look at our run efficiency - and again run efficiency means four or more yards (per carry) and we want to do that half the time to be efficient. In the first half, we were 7-of-18 in run efficiency. In the second half, we were 22-of-31, so you can see that we did start to wear them down in the second half. I was pleased to see that we didn't have any offensive penalties. The thing I wasn't pleased about was we missed some open receivers again. We had guys open and didn't get the ball to them. We had an interception and we had a couple of drops, but all in all, we scored 45 points. The name of the game is to outscore your opponent and we did that and we're pleased about that."
On Tulane's special teams play on Saturday
"We did some good things on special teams. We probably made more plays than we did. They lost some things in the kicking game and it cost them on a couple of different kicks as you know."
On this weekend's opponent, the East Carolina Pirates
"They're 6-5. They're 5-2 and they're second in that Eastern Division. They still have an outside chance to win the conference championship if they beat us and some other things happen. In looking at them, they're the best looking football team on the hoof that we've played since we played LSU. They're big, they're physical and they're athletic. They are really a good-looking football team. When you look at their schedule, they've played probably the toughest schedule in the conference. They played Virginia Tech and lost, but played them really well. They played North Carolina and beat them. They played West Virginia, which is a Top 5 team, and lost that one. And they lost one to North Carolina State. I look at their schedule and I say `Wow.' That's a pretty impressive non-conference schedule. Their tailback, Chris Johnson, is a real good football team. He's rushed for over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns, and he's an outstanding kickoff returner. The only thing is, I'm not going to kick it to him. He's averaging 29.6 a return."
More on Saturday's game in Greenville, N.C.
"It's their last home game, and like our game a couple of weekend's ago, when you play your last home game everyone gets excited about it. Your seniors get very excited. It's an opportunity for them to show one last time to their fans, friends and family what they're all about. So from an emotional standpoint, they'll have a little edge I'm sure. They've also had a bye and I think that helps them. That helps them recover from some nicks and bumps and bruises, and that's something we haven't had the luxury to have and it's starting to show up."
On Tulane's injury status
"We've got a lot of guys nicked up. Some shoulders and ankles and knees and hands and so forth. It's affected us a little bit. For this game Sean Carney is out still. He's not going to be able to play this game with a bad back. We'll find out more about him in the future if he'll be able to play or not in the future. Andrew Nierman sprained his ankle in the game. He didn't practice yesterday. He's very questionable for this week's game. Adam Kwentua, our sophomore defensive end, is questionable. He had a heck of a game, but he broke his hand. He didn't do much yesterday, but we might just have to cast him up and see if he can play. A lot of other guys are nicked and bumped and bruised, as I've mentioned, but those are the guys who are out or questionable."
On Tulane's Players of the Week
"Matt Forté was our Offensive Player of the Week. We've had an opportunity here at Tulane to see one of the great performances in the history of college football. Here is a guy who is only one of 11 people to ever rush for over 2,000 yards and he has one game left. For the people who didn't see him, they really missed out in my opinion. He did a great job. Defensively, Joe Goosby had his best game. He was all over the field and you can read about the tackles and all of that. He did a great job not only on defense, but he was also our special teams player. He was a man possessed going back home to Houston, and he played like it. He had an unbelievable football game for us. He caught the on-side kick as well."
On Tulane's game captains
"Our captains this week along with Forté and Harris - Aryan Barto will be playing his last game for the Wave. And Reggie Scott will be the other captain. He's from the Carolinas so I thought I'd give him an opportunity. He's done a great job and this will give him a chance to go home and brag a little bit."
On the seniors' mindset in helping lay a solid foundation for Tulane football teams of the future
"I think the last two games have really helped towards that. I think our players, the seniors in particular, have done a good job of laying the foundation for the future. They feel this program is headed in the right direction and we're doing the right things. And we're so close. This season is going to be titled `What Could Have' or `What Should Have' maybe because we very easily could have won seven games already, and that's not bad for a team who was picked to win many football games. We've shown vast improvement is what I'm saying. I think the seniors feel good about what they've already done because they have never quit. A lot of people throughout the course of the year asked `When are they going to quit' and `When are they going to give in,' and they never did. They hung in there and they battled and they fought for everything they got. That's been impressive."
On what it would mean to win the season finale at East Carolina
"The nice thing about winning that last game is it gives you that good taste in your mouth. It's like `wow, we won the last game.' It's like the last two games. The kids really felt good in the locker room. It would be nice to win this football game. It's going to be a difficult game to win because I think East Carolina is really good. We have to play well to have the opportunity to win. If we win it, I think it'll give everyone a really good taste in their mouth. The seniors can say `Hey, we ended it on a good not.' And the underclassmen can say, `hey, now we've got a little momentum going into the offseason.' It gives you a little more energy to lift weights and to work out and get ready for spring practice, then the summer and get ready for the fall. I think it's important to finish up strong, and we've already started in that direction."
On the games that got away
"I liken it to fishing. You get a fish on the line and you're reeling it in. All of the sudden, it spits the hook and it's gone forever. You can never get it back. That fish is gone and you've got to go try and get another fish. That will always stick in my mind and I think it'll stick in the mind of a lot of our players. A play here and a play there, we could have obviously been 7-4 right now."
On the importance of film study over the last few games to figure out who will factor in for future seasons
"Well, I think we've already done that. The only thing we haven't done is with the players who we are redshirting - the young guys. What we've done, is we've had some scrimmages with them only over the last few weeks. We, right now, have a pretty good idea going into the spring on what the make-up of this football team is. There are a few guys who are going to get a chance to compete and see what they can do that are younger guys. But I think we have a pretty good foundation for the future already. We've got a system intact. We've got a coaching staff that's intact. I feel good about the offseason and spring practice."
On if he thinks people realize the job this staff has done with this Tulane team in 2007
"I think so. I just got a call from Vince Gibson, who coached here a long time ago, and he said, `Man, I'm proud of you. You've done things that nobody thought you could do.' He was at a Quarterback Club meeting the other day and J.T. Curtis was there. We were talking with the coaches in the area about how they like what we're doing. We've made an effort to reach out to them. So yes, I like what we're building. I worked hard and we've worked hard to get this going in the right direction. I think the people who know us and have been around us appreciate and respect what we're trying to do. We've got to go out now and recruit hard, get a good class and keep it going."
On what opposing coaches and his friends have to say about Matt Forté
"Every coach that I've talked to afterwards - they see him on film and they see how good he is - and when they see him in person, they realize he's even better. That's what people have said. They realize he's good and they think they can stop him. Then they play him, and he runs for a couple of hundred yards even though they did everything they could to try and stop him. We're seeing some exotic defenses, if you want to call it that, to try and not let him rush for 200 yards. To try and win the football game, they've got to stop him because he's our horse. I think after the game, there's much more of an appreciation for Matt Forté than there is going into the game."
On if Matt Forté is the best football player he's ever coached
"I'll go back to saying I've coached a lot of great of great football players, I've been around a lot of great football players, and I've coached against a lot of great football players. He's one of the best football players I've ever been around, and that's in 40 years of coaching. He's special. I would think within the next day or so, we'll find out about the Senior Bowl. I think he's got a great chance to get into the Senior Bowl, and that's something he wants to do badly."
On if it was an injustice that Matt Forté was not named a finalist for the Doak Walker or Maxwell Awards
"I think so. All you have to do is look at the people ahead of him. They're hurt or they haven't performed like he's performed. Let's talk about performance. What has he done as opposed to the other guys. Of course, they'll have their arguments, too. But in my mind, there's not a better running back in the country. He is the best running back in the country."
On if Matt Forté is disappointed in not making the final listings
"I don't talk to him about that. He's very humble and he's not braggadocios. He's going to let his play talk for itself. He's not going to make any brash statements. I tell you what, you're going to find out. He'll get into the Senior Bowl and he'll play pro football and people will realize. They'll be like, `Wow, where did this Matt Forté come from?' Then they'll realize he was a great football player in college."
On how much a guy like Matt Forté helps in recruiting
"I don't know. We've had guys over the years, but I think you recruit the guys that want to come to Tulane, want to fit into your system and want to be part of an up-and-coming program. I sometimes wonder how much it really helps you. If you're at Quarterback U or Linebacker U or Tailback U, then yes. But I don't know. Obviously the recognition has helped us a little bit, but I really don't know. It's hard to say."
On if recruiting to Tulane is different than anywhere he's been prior to this season
"It's very similar to UCLA because of the academic issue. It's hard to get guys in here academically. Go look at the press guide of the opponent we're going to play this week. Go look at what it says about some of their players. I don't mean to downgrade anybody, but in our conference there's SMU and Rice basically that we compete against that has the same standards. For everyone else, it's not the same. It's an uphill battle in that sense. It's not a level playing field in that sense. But we know the rules going in and I'm willing to abide by the rules."
On what the most difficult task has been as far as exceeding preseason expectations
"That's a really good question. I don't know how to answer that. There have been a lot of roadblocks along the way. Things that are depressing or disappointing is attendance, for example. I'm really disappointed in people not showing up to our football games. They talk about `you have to win' and all that, but I think that's a bunch of baloney myself. The toughest thing is to overcome the past - the attitude of losing - and try and create a winning atmosphere. We haven't won every football game, but the thing that we've done is we've instilled the attitude of `Never give up. Never quit.' In some of the e-mails I'm getting and the letters I'm getting, people are proud of the fact that we've battled every game until the end. We've been very competitive and I don't know if they can say that the last several years. That's been the biggest thing, to try and make these guys believe they can win and make them play hard from start to finish."
On that task not being easy following the first two games
"No, it wasn't. It was something that I had to see. I saw some good things. I saw that we were showing progress, even though it wasn't showing up on the scoreboard. Any time you take over a new program and you've got a new coaching staff, it's hard to start the thing going because we're feeling each other out and the kids are feeling us out. As I mentioned when we started the season, I didn't know how good or how bad of a football team we really were. I didn't know what kind of conference this really was. I have a much better understanding right now of what it's all about. I think having a staff and having continuity and doing what we're going only helps us for the future."