Transcript from Tulane Head Coach Bob Toledo's Weekly Press Luncheon; TU head coach reviews Tulsa game; previews Memphis
Nov. 25, 2008
First of all, let me say that I'm really happy for Liz [Kritza]. Not only is she an outstanding coach, but she's a great person; she and I get along extremely well and I couldn't be more pleased for her, she's done a job. I only hope that football-wise, we can do what she's done in volleyball. She's built this thing from the ground floor up and that's what we're trying to do right now, that's what we're in the process of trying to do. But as we look at it, you know, we look at last week's game against Tulsa, I mean, it's obvious--we got mauled. They were bigger, stronger, faster football team than us and we just got mauled. And that's the only way I can put it. There's no question, it's very disappointing, it's very humiliating but it is what it is. And right now, we look at it and it gets back to man power. We just don't have the man power to do what we need to do and at the same point being as limited as we are, that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to build the program, like Liz did in volleyball.
On the Tulsa game:
We need to keep it in perspective. Nobody enjoys what's happened. I am as disappointed and humiliated and embarrassed as anybody around. But like I said, it is what it is. We are in a rebuilding process. I think, like she mentioned, it doesn't happen overnight, it takes time; especially in football. You're playing with a bunch of young guys and there aren't as strong as the people we're going against. We're going against some guys that are men--older, stronger men. And it's taken its toll on us. Until we get to the point where we're as strong as some people and as athletic and fast as some people, it's going to be a building process.
On playing Memphis:
This week we play Memphis, they are 5-6, obviously they are trying to get bowl eligible, they've got seniors, we've got seniors, last football game, possibly, for all of them...it's their last home game. Last year, I look at the game and it was a heck of a football game. I like [Memphis head coach] Tommy West I think he does a great job and we're very good friends. We had a heck of a battle and lost by one point last year. But hey, we're going to round `em up, head to Memphis and we're going to go try and win a football game and that's basically all I can say.
From an injury report, I showed you the injury report. We've added a couple of guys to it. Brooks Cunningham, he's been out for a couple weeks, we weren't sure what was going on, we gave him a lots of tests, we finally found out he has mononucleosis so he's out. Casey Blum, who we were in the process of redshirting anyway, was playing basketball at the Riley Center Sunday night and this is our luck, he got elbowed in the eye. He's got stitches all over his eye. He's got blood in the back of his eye. He can't even put on a football helmet right now. As far as the questionable guys, Kasey Stelly, we're going to try and practice him a little bit and see if he can push off on that ankle and help us this week. It hurt us not having him at fullback last week, hopefully he'll be able to play. And Dominique Dade pinched a nerve in his neck last week trying to make a tackle at the safety position. A guy ran over him and pinched his nerve so he's very questionable. And then the last thing is that Greg Jackson, our defensive back coach, his dad passed away the night before last, so he's going to go and be at the funeral come Saturday so Greg will miss our football game and he'll be sorely missed.
Anyway, that's where we're at. Any questions?
On the injury to redshirt freshmen Casey Blum:
It's one of those things. Now I've got to go in there and say `hey, no more basketball during football season, don't ride motorcycles...you've got to tell them everything. Yea, it's typical. That's the way our season has gone. And he's a going to be a good football player for us. He's very athletic and he's getting bigger and stronger but he's a young freshman. We took him on most of our trips but we didn't take him last week. Maybe I should have taken him and maybe he would have been tired and wouldn't have played basketball on Sunday.
You've almost got to laugh. It's at a point where you can't brow-beat them and do all those things anymore. The poor kids, they are trying, they're trying, we just don't have enough firepower at this point.
On the weight of the Army game:
Well I tell you, that helped to derail it and I'll tell you why. Jeremy Williams went out in that game--broke his hand and blew out his knee, basically. And that was our biggest play maker. Then a couple weeks later, Andre Anderson blows out his shoulder. He's fourth in the nation, nominated for the Doak Walker Award and he's out for the season. You lose two key players like that and that's a lot of your offense. And we've struggled ever since. That game obviously took something out of us. We got beat in that game and they [Army] were just starting to come on, they should have beat Texas A&M the week before as I mentioned. They fumbled the ball and Texas A&M ran it for a touchdown to beat them and since that point they have gotten considerably better running the wishbone. That game definitely set us back.
You don't know about the mental part of your players in that sense. We went in that game being 2-2 and everybody was telling us how well we were playing and everything. Then all of a sudden we lose that football game and it does make you lose a little confidence.
On the challenge of building the football program:
Well, I knew it was going to be tough, let's put it that way. I knew it was going to be a challenge. I did it knowing that I would have to rebuild it. Again, I'm not a big junior college recruiting-type coach. I think you build it with freshmen, for the most part. And when you do that, it just takes time. We are that first-class, as you mentioned, because we only had two weeks to go and I'm not even sure right now how many of those guys in that class are contributing. But I know the class that we brought in this last year as I mentioned; ten or 12 of them are playing and doing pretty good. And again, we've got a senior class so I think that there's a good handful of players there that are really playing well for us. But in between there, there's a little bit of a drop off probably. And then right now, we're in the process of trying to have a good recruiting year again but we're going to be playing with some young guys but I think we'll be a more experienced team next year; hopefully a stronger football team next year with another offseason program and I believe that we could be the best team that we've had since we've been here because of the experience and the maturity and those types of things.
On building freshmen talent:
That's the opportunity that those guys get by Anderson being hurt. They now have an opportunity to prove to us what they can do in a game situation. I think they've done a good job, they both need some work. They don't do everything right right now. They miss blocks, they miss protections. Our quarterback gets splattered because we blocked the wrong guy. But they learn from that. To have them back, they give us more quality depth next year. It gives us a chance to build like we want. We're still in the process of trying to recruit more running backs. We need to bring in two and right now we've got two verbal commitments and hopefully they will help contribute. That's one of the things we tell the freshmen: `hey, if you come to Tulane, you've got a chance to play as a freshmen. I'm not afraid to play you because we're here to build this thing back up and that's one of the things you do. You play those freshmen. Some of them have to play out of necessity. Like Harris Howard right now is playing left guard and he's played since the LSU game. Every week he's gotten considerably better as a true freshmen playing guard. Kasey Stelly was doing a heck of a job at fullback. He was knocking guys out. You know, it's a process. That's what we have to keep in mind.
On having two returning running backs:
I think everybody lends something to the program. I like to play one back most of the time and let them get into a routine. You've got to feel holes and see defenses and I believe a running back, unless he's in there and doing it, doesn't get a feel for that. So I try and get the running back, to have one be the guy and then we'll insert another guy or two to maybe give the first guy a breather, or to take advantage of what they do.
On running the offense:
I have a philosophy is a pro-style offense. We do want to try and run the ball and play action and I think that when we had Jeremy in there, it opened on play actions. So if you can run the ball, it opens up some opportunities for single coverage and you can't ask for anything better than that if you can protect, throw and catch. But on the other hand, what we tried to do, we tried to help our defense as well. If you look at time of possession, you know, we're one of the leading teams in the conference in time of possession; we kick the ball away from the opponent. And the more you can keep it away from the opponent, the more rested your defense should be. So that was one of the reasons I did that too. But as I reevaluate this conference, people are spreading you out and we're not seeing it as much in practice, like they don't see our offense in practice and therefore when we do see it, it's difficult for us to defend it as well. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think there is some opportunity to do some of those things with our offense and in turn, we've got to do a better job of trying to stop those particular offenses in our conference. If you look at Alabama, you look at East Carolina, you look at LSU, we played those guys pretty tough. But as soon as people start spreading out, and using athleticism, that's what has been our nemesis. And that's one of the things we're trying to do. We're trying to recruit more speed. We need more speed. More speed at wide receiver, running back, defensive back, linebacker...and obviously we've got to get bigger and stronger in the trenches. You know, I think you need to adjust a little bit to the conference. That's why I hate playing an Army or a Nicholls State. Because they run that option. We don't play that option in our conference. I want to play against people, hopefully nonconference-wise, that do the things that we do. Now I love playing army because it's New York and it's Army and we got alums and it's a great atmosphere, I think that's a great game for us. But the point is, I wish they weren't running the wishbone, you know?
But now, it's one of those things that I'd like to reevaluate this thing when it's over, sit down with my coaches, talk to them: what things do we have to do? Let's look back over the season, let's look back over the last couple years. What do we have to do to take the next step? And I think some of the things I mentioned are some of the things we need to do.
We do some of that anyway, but I think we need to do more of it, to be perfectly honest. The reason being is that we're not scoring a lot of points right now but we'd like to say we can score 28 or 30 points if we're really doing things right. That's not enough in this conference. So we need to do more things to try to score and yet we're probably going to be off the field more offensively; we won't have the time of possession so our defense is going to have to play more but on the other hand our defense has got to play against those spreads better.
It's a tweaking philosophy. We've got a system and we already do some of those things. We do some three-four-five wide receivers and no back offense. We do some of that. I guess what I'm saying is, we've got to get to the point where we do a little bit more of that. For us to be a little more explosive and for our defense to be able to defend it better. I'm not talking about going crazy now, I'm talking about tweaking it.
On younger players gaining experience versus seniority:
This already happened several weeks ago and what I've told our seniors and what I've basically told the media, as long as the senior is playing and contributing and giving us a chance to win, I'm going to play him. He deserves that opportunity. He's been through a lot and if he's the best player, I'm going to play the best player because I want to win. But if it's equal or that senior is not producing, I feel like it's my job to now insert a younger guy and get him some experience. For me to take out Mike Parenton and Troy Kropog, would be a sin right now. Or the [Josh] Lumars, they are the best players we have right now. They're going to be gone and we're going to miss them but they give us the best opportunity to win.