Houston vs. Memphis Postgame Quotes

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    Oct. 12, 2013

    Recap |  Final Stats |  Notes |  USATSI 

    HOUSTON HEAD COACH Tony Levine
    Opening Statement
    “Certainly excited to be sitting here before you with a win today. Our goal each and every week is focusing on being 1-0 at the end of the week. We got that accomplished; it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t perfect, it may never be perfect. I’m really proud of our defense this afternoon creating those four turnovers. Offensively we need to turn those turnovers into points and we weren’t able to do that consistently at all this afternoon. I credit Memphis’ defense. We talked about that a lot for the last week and a half or so about how talented they were on defense. Coach Odom, their defensive coordinator, does a great job. I look at the penalties we had offensively, we had a touchdown called back, a holding call in the first half and I felt like, while I give them credit, our execution was not where it needed to be on the offensive side of the ball either. 

    A good team win. For our defense to hold them out of the endzone and five field goals, very proud of them. They were on the field for 36 minutes in a hot, humid and beautiful stadium today. Another great team win today. Richie Leone, our punter, field goal kicker and kickoff specialist, did a nice job changing the field as well.”

    On getting the win
    “I’m proud of our team, we played five games, the big picture, we’re five and zero. We could not have a better record, obviously, but at this point could we have played better? Absolutely. I heard a wise coach once say more games are lost than won. I am a believer in that. We try not to lose games, but it doesn’t mean we’re going to play conservative. We’re trying to go down and score. We’re trying to do the things we have to do to win football games, creating four turnovers and turning it over unfortunately one time, I’d like to not turn the ball over at all, but being plus three in the turnover margin is something we’ve talked about as a team since we reported and that’s the difference in the game today.”

    On whether Memphis’ defense had an effect on the offensive play calling
    “Yes, they did a great job against the run. I’ll look at the film and have a better feel for, if there was execution mistakes, but we never got into a rhythm. That’s the feeling I had on the sideline. We couldn’t sustain, we’d get something going and a penalty would back us up or a tackle for a loss. We’d get in long yardage situations, which are certainly tough to call as a coordinator. We’ll look at the film, and I mentioned this in the offseason that joining the American Athletic Conference, I think our fans are wondering at times what the other team is doing with the ball and a whole bunch of guys are in a circle talking, and that’s a huddle. The other team is huddling on offense, they’re keeping the ball, their time of possession is certainly longer than ours. We’re getting it back but not getting in a rhythm offensively, we went four and out and didn’t take much time off the clock and put our defense back on the field.”

    On a defensive mentality for creating turnovers
    “I’ve said this before that the first day we reported, I did a study in the offseason to show our young men, here is what we have to do to get better. Here’s what we have to do to win football games. When they reported the first couple days of August, the first day they reported I showed them a powerpoint and I gave them a handout, and number one is turnovers. I’m going to talk about our defense here in a second that relates to that, but it works together. When offensive has the ball they have to take care of it, guys that are kickoff retuners or punt returners, when they have the ball they have to take care of it, quarterback has to take care of it, and defensively we have to take it away. It’s become a sense of pride for everyone on the team and certainly defensively. When we’re out at practice and I’m standing there and Trevon Stewart is wrapping up one of the ball carriers and the play is extended and he hasn’t gone to the ground yet and I see Trevon with his arm and getting in position, which I see him do 20 times a day to our scout team running backs and receivers, and just as he’s going down, ball comes out. I have walked out to practice with Trevon Stewart and Adrian McDonald as those two are saying ‘I’m going to get more fumbles today; I’m going to get more interceptions than you today.’ It’s become a competition and certainly a sense of pride that the kids are taking.”

    On O’Korn’s development
    “He did (make some mistakes), and again, he’s a young man that every week he’s getting better. There’s times on the sideline that you’re yelling ‘no, no, no,’ like on the two point conversion, and then as he’s getting sacked he flips it up to Kenneth Farrow and he runs it in the end zone. He’s talented, certainly, he’s got great poise. He’s getting better. He’ll continue to make mistakes. I did the math and I think he’s got somewhere around 50 more games in his career. He improves everyday and learns from the mistakes, which I absolutely think is important for coaches and student-athletes. The more he plays the better he is going to perform.” 

    On the defense’s ability to step up under pressure
    “We have great communication between our coaches on the headset during the first half. At halftime, immediately in the locker room I always address the team for about two or three minutes. Our offensive staff as soon as we get in is together, our defensive staff as soon as we get in is together and they’re making adjustments. Zac Spavital is up in the press box defensively and I don’t if anyone notices this but he’s the only full-time staff we have up in the press box. We felt like that was best for where we’re at in terms of our program right now to have someone so if we have adversity during the game on either side of the ball, to have the players come off and our full-time coaches to be right there and address them. Our defensive staff has done a great job. It’s all about halftime adjustments, and being able to say here’s what they’re doing, here’s what we’re doing. What comes to mind without having seen the film, they hit us with a couple of big plays up the middle in the first half, we saw what they were doing. They game planned all week for us like we did for them, came up with a couple of wrinkles and we made the adjustments at halftime and I felt like we shut that series of plays down in the second half. More than anything that’s what I attribute the second half success to.”

    On WR Xavier Maxwell’s alertness
    “I’m proud of him and, again, we have to make plays like that. I was certainly glad to see him come and back make that play. He fought and came off the jam in that corner. He made plays today. We’re going to try to see what the defensive plan is and take our shots down the field when we can. That was a huge play in this game for us.”

    On talks about being 5-0 with the team
    “Nothing. Nothing about that. If anybody in our program right now is satisfied winning five games, my question would be we won five games last year, so we don’t talk about the past and, I mean, what we had for what we had for pre-game meal this morning. Some people saw what Adrian McDonald had for pre-game meal. We’re onto the next one. There’s nobody in that locker room, players, coaches, staff, that’s driving home tonight and saying ‘Well, one more and we’re going to a bowl game.’ That is not our focus. Our focus now is on BYU, one game at a time. A week from now, a couple hours later, we want to be one and out. Nothing we’ve done so far matters, we’re onto the next one. After that, we will certainly check our schedule and see who we play and play next.”

    On the progress WR Demarcus Ayers made in the return game
    “Demarcus, he’s doing a great job. Again, when you have a true freshman, you have to evaluate him early in August to see if they can help you. It’s probably the hardest to see if they can be returnable for you. Anybody can come back there and catch a kickoff, but when there’s ten guys flying down the field, full speed, trying to tackle you, do you have that ability like Tyron Carrier certainly did for us. He had full speed, be fearless, make your cuts, set up your blocks, and he certainly demonstrated that to us obviously early. He’s a guy we have a lot of confidence in. The first long one he had, everybody’s excited, and everybody is going crazy, and I’m telling him ‘If you would’ve done the stuff I told you this week, you would’ve scored.’ Then on the next one, which was still a long one but a little bit shorter, he did it and a guy came off a block. It’s two-fold a little bit. Demarcus is doing a fantastic job and he is going to be a great, great kick off returner for us in his career here and certainly an excellent receiver. The ten guys blocking for him are getting better each week as well.”

    On cleaning up on turn overs for next week’s game

    “Again, in Minnesota, a few is three, where I’m from. We did have the ball on the ground in a swing pass. Again, (RB) Ryan Jackson whether he dropped it or it was poorly thrown, was alert enough to jump on it and save the possession. That’s something we emphasize not only going back to the first meeting the players reported, but every day in practice we’re doing a ball security circuit at the end of practice. We talk about it, we talk about it and we talk about it. Again, I mentioned this week I believe you get what you coach and you get what you emphasize. Our guys understand if you want to win a football game, you have to take care of the football. You have to hold onto the football. Beyond that, if you don’t, you’ll be standing over by me. It’s that important to us, it’s that important to them. It’s the reason, among other things, because we’re playing well, we’re flying around, we’re tackling, but it’s the number one reason we’re 5-0 right now.” 

    On what clicked in during the three drives at the end of the second half
    “We made some plays. If somebody said to me ‘Wow, your offense was really clicking after two and half quarters,’ clicking may not be the word I use, but I still don’t feel like we got into rhythm. We got a screen pass to Ryan; we hit Xavier down the sideline. We made some plays, but I still didn’t feel we got into a true rhythm we need to establish. Our tempo was a little bit slow. Standing on the sideline, listening to the plays go in and the execution we had in terms of getting the ball snapped, seeing what Memphis was lined up in defensively. Some of our guys made some plays, which offensively helped us get those points.” 

    On getting what’s different about making plays this year than last year

    “We’re running the ball really well right now. Offensively, you’re not going to look at today’s game and say  ‘Wow, they ran the ball well,’ but in our complete body of work in these first five ball games we had established to run better. We’re just trying to move the chains and get first downs, take our shots. I would treat a little bit more to the success we’ve had running the football. It was good to have (RB) (Kenneth) Farrow back. He’s a big time leader for our program. The guys offensively certainly responded to him as well. We have thunder and lightening, I think someone said earlier, and I don’t know which is which, but him and Ryan Jackson back there, two similar yet different types of running backs back there keeps defenses off balance and keep each other fresh.”

     

     

     

    HOUSTON LINEBACKER Efrem Oliphant

    On Defensive Success
    “With that, I just feel like we play more as a team this year. Everybody’s mentality is just to ‘do your job’. When we get another touchdown, we come back and we’re just more focused on doing our jobs than the next person. All eleven of [us] are flying to the ball this year also, so that’s picking up our game.”

    On preventing five red zone conversions
    “I guess you could say it’s a different look. Everyone expected them to score, I’m sure. They haven’t really just focused on Houston as being a defensive team, and that should open eyes that we are playing defense here now. We’re not trying to allow any points to help our offense out so that when they have the ball they can score, and we can just get the ball right back to them again.”

     

     

     

    HOUSTON LINEBACKER Derrick Mathews
    On creating turnovers
    “We put an emphasis on that on Tuesdays at practice. We call it ‘Turnover Tuesdays in the Tre’. Tuesday is the day we emphasize turnovers at practice and I think that’s where that comes from.

    On friendly competition among defensive players to create turnovers
    “It’s always a competition in anything, but as far as turnovers, yes, we like to compete to see who gets the most in practice or just period. Competing in practice prepares us for forcing turnovers in the game.” 

    On stopping the draw plays in the second half
    “We came back in the locker room and made a few adjustments and settled down and we came out in the second half and played the defense that we were supposed to play.“

    On preventing opposing teams from scoring back to back
    “Everyone is playing for each other, and it is starting to show.”

     

     

    HOUSTON RUNNING BACK Kenneth Farrow
    On how it felt getting in the end zone
    “It was exciting just to be back out there with all my teammates. It was a little rough for us on the offense, we just grinded it out but it was good to finally get in the end zone and put a touchdown on the board when really we needed it in the game.”

    On how O’Korn got rid of the ball
    “I don’t know. I saw the defensive end coming for him. I just tried to get in his vision and he just tossed it to me. That was a good heads up play by him. It’s like it was all game; finding ways to get it done when we needed it. “

    On mentality when team has off offensive days and good defensive days
    “We were plus 11 going into the game and they got three or four today. It’s exciting and it helps us on days when the offense isn’t clicking like it is supposed to. We know we can rely on them to go out there and get stops when we need it. We need to get our offense together and get better this week and hopefully have a complete game next week where they are getting turnovers and we are putting up a lot of points. That will get everything rolling for us.”

    On not being satisfied being 5-0
    “I think our goals have changed.  We had the same goals last year and it didn’t fall through for us. Look at year, we were 5-7, so the best we can be this year is 5-7. We have to keep pushing and going out there day in and day out working. “

    MEMPHIS HEAD COACH JUSTIN FUENTE
    Opening statement

    “Well first of all credit to Houston they did a good job, the coaching staff got their kids ready to play and coming off a bye week you know they deserved to win the game.”

    On turnovers and mistakes in game
    “Obviously offensively you can’t kick field goals every time you get the ball down there close. You can’t turn the ball over. Defensively we can’t make critical mistakes in the red zone, that pretty much sums it up." 

    On last 4th down try by kicker Jake Elliot
    “We took a shot there with Joe, you know we couldn’t come down with it and then we couldn’t run the ball well enough just to run the ball in the end zone and we kicked a gazillion field goals. I’m proud of our kicker and his ability to just come in there and knock ‘em through. He’s done a good job. Well I mean it’s pretty good, I don’t know what else you want from the guy, he made a couple tackles and kicked the balls through the uprights, I’d say he played pretty well.

    On toughness of the game
    “Well it’s disappointing. You are playing a pretty good offensive team and your fighting and scratching and clawing for every single thing you can get and to hand them with these things is not what you need in order to beat those teams and you know our margin for error is very small and you know if we do things right then we’ll have a chance to win the ball game. And I don’t mean to take away anything from the University of Houston, Tony and his staff did a really good job, his kids played hard and they made enough plays to win the game.”

    On what needs to be improved upon
    “Well it helps if you can run the ball. We had things blocked up a couple of times and we didn’t hit the hole very well we just couldn’t get it in there and you know I mean obviously we will look at everything. We will look at scheme, personnel and all that kind of stuff to try and get the ball in there but I felt we had some good stuff. We went for two yards instead eight or nine.”

    On outcome of the game
    “Well I’m mad for our kids more than anything but the way it goes is that it’s so close, the difference is so razor thin every single week that you know they make a couple plays you don’t make a couple plays and you lose. It’s so tight that you really want to find a way to make those plays.”

    “I haven’t look at the time of possession or all that stuff but I felt like we held the ball, of course we had that one play and fumble, but I felt like we held the ball for quite a bit in the first half. I don’t know the numbers but it was kind of the plan to help the defense was to kind of soak it up a little bit and keep the game close so they’re not out there all the time but still push the ball down the field and try to make plays to win the game. I mean I think our defense played well I’m not saying anybody didn’t play well. I mean at times we played very well offensively and at times we played very well defensively but we just got to be able to finish.”


     

     

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