Oct. 27, 2012
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Tony Levine
"It was a good win, but not pretty throughout. I liked how we came out and started the second half. We talked all week about starting fast and our kids did that. They were ready to play, had great energy and enthusiasm, and executed well early on. We have to get much better at finishing games.
While I would prefer to start fast, if given the choice between the two, we have to play to 60 minutes and put people away when we can. I've said this before; it will never be perfect. There will always be things we need to work on. From week to week, that is something that needs to be addressed, and will it be addressed with the players here on Monday. Going into the month of November, I see the guys getting better individually, collectively, as units and as a team.
We are still making mistakes that we have to clean up, specifically on our punt return game. We will continue to work at that this week. I was extremely disappointed at how we executed punt return this afternoon, and I'm sure everybody else was. It was a good win. It got us to 3-1 in conference and 4-4 overall.
One thing personnel wise that I will address is Dewayne Peace, who has been suspended from games indefinitely. He committed two rule violations within our program, and waswhy you did not see him out there this afternoon.
When talking about winning and losing football games, I have emphasized turnovers. That was the difference in the game tonight. Our defense created six and I believe we have two. When you are plus four in the turnover margin in a game, statistically you have a great chance to win."
On redshirt junior running back Charles Sims not playing in the fourth quarter
"Charles sustained a minor leg injury early in the second half and played through it. Medically, we made the decision that he needed to come out of the game."
On giving up 21 points in the fourth quarter
"It was a combination of a number of things. We came out in the second half and scored 10 points quickly, then Charles Sims came out of them game. Some of our players may have thought I pulled him out of the game because it was out of reach for UTEP, but that was not the case. There were a number of things that happened, a drive down the field with a bad snap and a turnover, a drive down the field and a flagrant personal foul, and an ejection. I'm not adding excuses. When you add all of those things together, instead of winning the game by 40, we win the game by 10."
On the offensive diamond package
"We have three running backs in there at times. Terrell Douglas, who has been a great special teams player for us, was injured a week and a half ago in practice, so he hasn't played in the last two games. Braxton Welford, who is another great special teams player for us, sustained a leg injury on their sideline when he was out of bounds early in the game after UTEP's first touchdown. And then Charles Sims came out. We were down to Kenneth Farrow and Ryan Jackson, so we were limited in our creativity with running back plays. Larry McDuffey was back there in the three-set, which he doesn't usually do."
On the misdirection in the play action game
"That is a way to get our quick players in space and one-on-one against a safety. The second series with Sims' long touchdown run was another misdirection play that our staff put in place this week. We ran it against North Texas, but ran it tonight in a different look and different formation. Misdirection not only helps the run game, but it also helps to get the defense focus on what they shouldn't be focusing on. It freezes the linebackers when you are able to run a successful misdirection play."
On senior defensive back D.J. Hayden
"He is a senior captain, and a young man who's only been in our program going on two years now since he was a junior college transfer. He is getting better every week. He started the season playing very well. He might have had one of his best games in the second game of the season against Louisiana Tech receivers. He is getting better and better, and that means a lot to our defense and our team. At the beginning of practice he brings the team together and gets them broken down before we separate into groups."
On senior line backer Phillip Steward shifting towards the line
"We are trying to get more production from our defensive end position. We put in a new package this week where Phillip played defensive end on third and long situations. He was standing up, so he may have not looked to the naked eye like a defensive end, but we pulled one out and put him in at end. He played that rush off the edge, and we were able to put Adrian McDonald in his position."
On turning UTEP turnovers in points
"It's something we have been talking about. You are as good as your last game. We weren't very good when we woke up this morning. After the game was over Coach [Mike] Price told me at midfield `I feel like you must have felt last Thursday.' That's football. If you turn the ball over more than the other team you are probably not going to win the game. For our defense to step up and take the ball away, and for D.J. Hayden to score in two consecutive games, that was a huge play in the game. We were down in the red-zone and it was third down, Coach [Jamie] Bryant called a cover zero blitz. D.J. stepped in front and took it 97 yards. I'm very proud of them. It's something we always talk about, and it didn't work out the way we wanted to last game, but if we continue to do that we will continue to have success."
On how defense played in the second half
"It was again a combination of things. I give them some credit as well. They had a couple of trick plays that they executed extremely well. That's no excuse. I want to say at halftime, even though we had 35 points, we only had possession for seven minutes, which means our defense was on the field for 22 or 23 minutes. They certainly weren't tired because they were flying around and making plays, but I think it was a combination of a number of things. I felt a little bit of satisfaction and complacency from our sideline maybe when it was 45-7. That's my responsibility to make sure that doesn't happen and it will be addressed on Monday."
On correcting mistakes on punt return
"It's embarrassing as a coach when you coach things during the week in practice and then it doesn't show up in games. We are not getting that in the punt return game right now. We are going to have to do a better job at that this week. The first punt was very short, similar to the one against SMU, and our returner was yelling `peter, peter, peter' and getting away, and then he runs over and picks up the ball which is not something we want him to do. On the second one he misjudged it a little bit. Those are situations in the punt return game that we will work on and correct this week."
Senior Defensive Back D.J. Hayden
On his 97-yard touchdown interception return
"I picked on their receiver's signals. I knew he was running the slant, so I kind of took advantage of that and I jumped around. I caught the ball and went to the house. That was the longest interception return in my life"
On improving game-by-game
"Numbers wise, I feel like I am getting better. I've been taking time to do a lot of mental thinking on my own before the game. I just mentally prepare myself. I have different techniques and stuff. I think that's really what's been helping me."
On how the final month of play sets up
"We just have to finish off strong. We have to come everyday to practice, come to work, come to get better, and learn from this game so we won't do this again. We have to prepare. I believe if we prepare well, nobody can stop us."
Redshirt Sophomore Quarterback David Piland
On his rhythm today
"I think I could've done a better job of it. I was a little shaky at the beginning with a couple things. It wasn't necessarily just myself, but I just put it on myself. There were certain things I could've made sure were understood before we went into the game. We're going to do a better job of that this week. It was a different type of week, but it's going to be nice to get back into a regular week and start rolling again.
On the diamond package
"It's a lot of fun, really versatile. There's a lot of stuff. Having Larry (McDuffey) back there, it's a lot of fun and you can do a lot of things with it. We're just kind of getting the beginning parts of what we can do with it."
On building a lead
"It can be a lot of fun, but at the same time we found out how stressful it could be. We need to finish games, but having the cushions it turns into a lot of fun. You have a little breathing room and I guess we needed to take a better advantage of that and kill the will for them to win there in the third quarter. We're definitely going to have a lot of talks about it, I'm sure. Definitely have to look into it and focus on that as an offense on finishing drives. That will definitely be a focal point for this week."
On how the final month of play sets up
"It's how we prepare. We need to take these game experiences and put them into an understanding that we can't make the same mistakes that we have in the past to win the games we want to win. Taking care of the ball is huge. We need to do a lot better job of that. No turnovers. That will be a big asset to the whole team."
On how it would feel to play against our defense
"The defense does a great job, they disguise a lot of things. In practice, they're the hardest guys you're going to go against. They might know a signal; they might know coverage. You've got to be sound with what you're doing and not force anything. It really makes you come off covered guys and really see the next progression. They do a great job in helping us get better."
Junior Running Back Charles Sims
On having over 100 yards in first half
"I feel the o-line did a great job blocking the opening holes for me to be able to make plays. It made it pretty easy."
On the play that took him out of the game
"I felt pretty good. I was just sore a little bit."
On being in the back field with Kenneth Farrow
"He does his job. He can always account for himself. He's a good guy."
UTEP HEAD COACH MIKE PRICE
"I'm sick that our team didn't win this game, but I'm proud of our players. It was a great comeback, but when you have six turnovers it is hard to beat any team. Our guys are not quitters, and I'm really proud of them. In my heart they are winners."
On the performance of freshman quarterback Blaire Sullivan
"He played great. He threw the ball well, and our receivers made great catches. He was able to run and change the game. Blaire had tremendous command out on the field."
On the slow start to the game
"We were trying too hard. All we had to do was run the plays that were called. We lacked the discipline to run the plays exactly the way they were called. It's hard to call plays when they aren't run the way they are designed. They did that because they were trying to play hero. We talked about it last night, and nobody needs to be a hero. If we do our jobs everything will work."
On the offense late in the game
"We gave them a wrinkle that they didn't prepare for. It was a great idea and it worked. We did what we had planned; we changed the game tempo. The problem was we had a lot of freak turnovers. We controlled the ball in the first half the way we wanted to and our defense played well. We just turned the ball over, which put our defense in a bad spot. Whatever could go wrong did go wrong."