Sept. 18, 2012
HOUSTON - University of Houston football head coach Tony Levine met with the local media on Tuesday to discuss where the team stands heading into its bye week and the upcoming game against cross-town rival Rice.
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Tony Levine
"This week comes at a great time and an appropriate time for a couple of reasons. One, it gives a natural break from our three non-conference games leading into our first conference game a week and a half from now. It is fitting and needed where we are right now.
The second thing is we need a bunch of guys to come back and get healthy. Mike O'Shea, our head athletic trainer, thinks we are going to get most if not all of our guys back who have been banged up.
What we're saying to everybody in the program is that it's really a nine game season now. Our main goal is still out there in front of us, and that is to win the conference championship. We had a great team meeting yesterday and I liked the attitude of everybody that was in here. We're all in this together.
We'll practice again tomorrow afternoon to continue to work on some things that we need to get better at. We need to continue to improve and we'll start with our game plan for Rice tomorrow. Like I told the team yesterday, we need to start playing our best football as a team right now. We need to take what we did offensively against Louisiana Tech and defensively against UCLA and play like that on both sides of the ball on the same night.
I saw a great improvement defensively in tackling. They were one of the top two or three offenses in the nation. What we emphasized last week defensively was tackling. With great tackling will come turnovers and that showed up Saturday night. Also tackling will reduce the third and one and third and two opportunities for the opponent's offense.
We cut the penalty number in half but it was eight and that is still too many. A couple of those were extremely costly the other night. That is still something we're going to continue to stress and we need to reduce those.
Offensively we need to catch the football. You get what you emphasize so that is something that is going to be on the top of the list moving forward. The skill guys that played had better ball security when they carried it."
On the importance of the bye week
"The bye week just falls perfectly, coincidentally. We need to get guys healthy and get our two starting offensive linemen back. We need to get Kevin Forsch, Ralph Oragwu and Charles Sims back. Larry McDuffey is a guy who caught a four-yard pass and took it 60 more for a touchdown on his first college play and you haven't really seen him since because of an injury. It comes at a great time in that respect."
On what the break means for the team
"This is a good break for us psyche-wise. We can say that we now have a nine game schedule. We haven't won a game and we haven't lost a game. That's how we have to look at it and make sure we learn from video and understand what we're capable of doing. We have to do that on a consistent basis nine times in a row starting against Rice."
On why Charles Sims was inactive Saturday
"Charles, on the second offensive play against Louisiana Tech, strained a muscle in his leg and played the entire game. Last week he was going to be out Tuesday and Wednesday, but practice Thursday. Thursday morning he got sick and could not practice. Instead of knowing his physical condition Thursday it was going to have to be a game-time decision. He couldn't run full speed pain free in warm ups so we made the decision he couldn't go."
On the plan for Sims' game status
"We planned against UCLA both to have him and not have him. Then in the first quarter we lose Ryan Jackson to a leg injury. So if you look back at personnel groupings that we had against Louisiana Tech, ten minutes into the UCLA game we're down to one of our top three running backs. There go the two- and three-back sets. We had a plan in case Charles couldn't go but we couldn't get into that plan when we lost Ryan Jackson. Our training staff is confident he will be practicing by Friday at the latest."
On the preparation for the Rice game
"We started preparing for Rice Sunday night. That staff has been there for five or six years now. They always play hard and they're always up to play us. I told our staff the other day while we're going on the road recruiting this week, and it is a bye week, that doesn't mean we're going to be home having dinner every night this week with our families. It is important that we play our best football moving forward starting with the Rice game. We're going to find the happy medium to focus on recruiting but more importantly our upcoming game."