Sept. 24, 2013
Coach Levine Press Conference
"Starting in the past, I'll mention our players of the game in the win against Rice. Offensively, a young man who has been very productive for us in terms of statistics and had his best games since he's been here when he hasn't gotten the football. Deontay Greenberry had a number of catches and a big touchdown, but he played his best game in terms of doing things when his teammates had the football. When you look back on the Temple game, he was not the Houston player of the week but he was the conference player of the week. He played 90 snaps in that game but this was by far his best game in terms of blocking and producing when he was not having the football thrown his way. I'm very proud of him and his continued hard work and effort.
"Defensively we had co-players of the game. Adrian McDonald, our sophomore safety, played 82 snaps on defensive and another 21 snaps on special teams. He had 12 tackles, a pass break up, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, an outstanding game. The other defensive player of the game is freshman defensive end Tyus Bowser. He had five tackles, a tackle for a loss, a number of quarterback hits. He was in the backfield all afternoon. He also had two sacks and the big interception as Rice was driving down the field.
"Special teams player of the game was a guy who's done a great job stepping into his role this season. He was redshirted as a freshman a couple of years ago, was a backup last year and that is our long snapper. By team policy, we don't ever give the name of our long-snapper publicly so you can look that up.
"Scout team players of the week: our offensive lineman Mac Long did a great job; defensively defensive end William Moore. Our special teams scout player of the week was freshman Davonte Thomas.
"I'm proud of our effort. We had a number of young men play well. It was not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination but still a big win for our program. I look back at last week at all the excitement and energy there within the city of Houston because of this rivalry. It was a fun week and certainly a great afternoon, a terrific college football game, one that I personally hope continues. It was a big win for us and a great team win.
"When you look at our defense, we gave up 20 points to a team who I believe is going to win a bunch of football games and is a very talented team in all phases but particularly offensively, and they're a veteran team. Again I want to make clear that our defense gave up 20. A field goal that was blocked allowed them to get to 26. They had come key stops.
"We won the turnover battle in the three games we've played. We've created nine turnovers and really eight on defense, one on special teams, and we've only turned the ball over on offense three times. We're plus six in the turnover margin. When you look at third-downs and fourth-downs against Rice, they had 16 opportunities and they were 5-of-16. They were successful five of the 16 times and we were successful 11, and that's outstanding work by our defensive young men. Again, a great win for our program and now we're turning our focus and have turned our focus to the next game.
"This is going to be a big challenge for us for a number of reasons. I'm not sure how familiar anyone outside of our football program is with UTSA's football program. They've got a great, great coaching staff. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Coker and not just what he's done there but the things he's done over his coaching career. I'm very familiar with a number of their coaches and with their personnel. We recruited a lot of young men from there, obviously Coach Bush came from UTSA and recruited a number of these young men as well and coached them.
"If you're not familiar with this program you probably have not seen them play or studied them certainly like we have over the past few months. This is an excellent football team. When you look at their depth chart, and if you haven't I encourage you to, when they started this program a couple of years ago they were able to redshirt everybody in the first year because they didn't play any games. These young men now when you look at their depth chart, it's junior, junior, junior all the way down and a couple of seniors and sophomores. They've been in the same system offensively, defensively and on special teams for three and four teams and it is a veteran group. Offensively it starts with their quarterback. Eric Soza is a 6 foot kid, he's a coach's son and he distributes the ball, makes plays and understands exactly what they want to do offensively. Kevin Brown is their offensive coordinator. I remember when I was at Texas State in the late 90s and we were recruiting him and he ended up going to another program. He does a fantastic job with formations, shifts, movement and getting matchups. I can't say enough about the skill guys they've got offensively as well. It'll be a tremendous challenge for our defense.
"Defensively they fly around, they're aggressive, they're excellent tacklers and very physical. We have to continue to take care of the football on offense and try to move the chains and get first downs. They've got a kicker who's outstanding as well and their crowd is another thing that stands out to me. When you watch them on video, the Alamo Dome is packed. They're expecting somewhere around 40,000 or 45,000 for this game on Saturday.
"We've got to put anything that we've done at this point completely behind us. That falls on a number of people; it falls on us, the coaches. We'll continue to get down that today. Our players were off yesterday and we saw them on Sunday afternoon for video and a short practice. Our focus will be on nothing so far and nothing beyond Saturday. Our focus will be completely on UTSA in this game coming up."
On the challenges of keeping the players focused on this game and not the conference game ahead
"That's our responsibility and it's something we've talked about for months in terms of taking one game at a time. I agree with you, now we're sitting here and our kids were really looking forward to this last weekend's game because of the rivalry and circumstances. With human nature sometimes there's a tendency to relax when you play an opponent like that and we've also talked to our kids about what they were going to hear starting yesterday, going to class and seeing their friends. That falls on us as coaches that they need to be focused and there is no let-down. We need to be extremely excited to play this game Saturday and our guys will be."
On depth chart moves with the offensive line and Rowdy Harper's status
"We got very good news on Rowdy this morning. He does have a leg injury but it's not as severe as we thought it might be. We will know more on his status for Saturday's game tomorrow, but it sounds like he won't be out very long if at all. Eric Eiland is making tremendous progress. We'll see where he's at in the next day or two. There is a chance Eric could play this weekend. Kenneth Farrow I would say is still doubtful for this weekend's game. Hopefully we'll get him back for the Memphis game. Eric Braswell suffered an arm injury on the second defensive play and we got good news on his as well today there's a chance he could play this weekend also."
On the Cougars being mentally prepared to play a veteran program in UTSA
"It's very similar in my mind to the opponent we just played in that respect. Rice is a very veteran program right now with their student-athletes and UTSA in that respect is very similar. I agree with you. I look at some of our players against Rice and they were true freshmen and true sophomores a lot of them. It's a young group, we've got some young captains but they'll be ready to play. That's on us as coaches and staff to make sure they're focused and ready to go."
On the Cougars being mentally prepared take on UTSA's veteran program
"It's very similar in my mind to the opponent we just played in that respect. Rice is a very, very veteran program right now with their student athletes. They have a lot of seniors, some juniors. UTSA in that respect is very similar. I agree with you. I look at, for instance, our players of the game against Rice; true freshman, true sophomore, true sophomore, redshirt sophomore. It's a young group. We've got some young captains. Again, they'll be ready to play. It's on us as coaches and staff to make sure they're focused and ready to go."
On trouble converting in red zone offense
"It's a combination of a number of things. There are many, many, many strengths to this offensive style of play. You talk about stretching the field and going four wide receivers, stretch them to the sideline stretch them vertically, and then you get down to the three yard line and everything is compacted. You can't stretch the field as much. Now that's not an excuse, but when I look back at the Temple game we lost our power runner, (RB) Kenneth Farrow, in the second quarter and that changed some things for us. You put the video on and we had some opportunities against Rice and we ended up settling for a field goal the second time we were down at the goal line. It's a combination of some things. It's something that we certainly have to get corrected because seven points is so much more important than three and at some point, that's going to cost us. 'We have to get it corrected before it does. It's a combination of a number of things."
On freshmen DE Tyus Bowser and QB Greg Ward's impact vs. Rice
"Having those two from the same high school, they're great friends, they're roommates. It's unique that it's so hard to play significantly as a true freshman. There were a lot of sparks in the game, if you will, and those two gave us a spark. Tyus, very productive, we talked about him before the Southern game saying the more he plays, the better he's going to be. What some people may not know or may have forgotten about Tyus, a year ago in high school, he was playing quarterback, running back, tight end, receiver; and defensively, outside linebacker, defensive end. He never came off the field, he played so many different positions. Now we have him focused on what we're calling the rush end with Trevor Harris and certainly Eric Eiland. The more he plays, the better he gets. He's very instinctive, he's very fast. Again, he did a great job. Greg Ward came in and rushed for, I believe, 80 yards. He threw three passes, completed all three for 48 yards. He threw the one up to (WR) Markeith Ambles and again gave us a great spark. He played 20 or 25 snaps as well and he did an outstanding job for his first college play. The poise he showed is similar to the poise I've been talking about with (QB) John O'Korn. He came out there; he's a competitor. He was very relaxed, very calm, great demeanor. Those will continue to help us and get better throughout the course of the season."
On Greg Ward getting more play time throughout the season
"You're exactly right. We've talked about it. There's a term that you use in a specific type of offense called `wildcat,' and we would say Rice ran some wildcat plays, where you put a true running back at quarterback, and for the most part you're going to snap it to him and he's either going to hand it off or he himself is going to run it. We don't consider Greg Ward a `wildcat' quarterback. He can throw the football. He can run our offense. He brings different dimensions. There are certain things he can do better probably than the other quarterbacks in our program, but again he's, if you will, dual-threat, in terms in that he can throw the ball as good as anybody. He's very, very accurate. You're right, I mentioned last spring that he's a guy who was going to compete to play and certainly he has."
On excitement of QB John O'Korn and other freshmen playing
"Playing freshmen is extremely exciting. I think I said this last year. When I played in college for Coach Wacker he always said the best thing about freshmen is that a year from now they'll be a sophomore. You're seeing that with the Greenberry's, the A-Mac's (Adrian McDonald), guys like that. You'll see what kind of ability these young men have playing as true freshmen. The intangibles, the poise, the leadership. John (O'Korn) took some pretty big hits back there throwing the football. I walked onto the field in the first quarter and he's laying on his back. I had some thoughts and questions in my mind as to what the injury was. I get out there and he's got his helmet to me. He's looking up at me, he's smiling, he's laughing, and he says `What's up, coach?' I said `You tell me.' He says `I just got the wind knocked out of me. I'm fine.' He got back up, jogged off, and couple of plays later he took a shot to the head on a throw he made down the field. The more those guys play, the better they're going to get whether it's John O'Korn, Greg Ward, or Tyus Bowser. All these freshmen that are playing for us, and some redshirt freshmen as well. I look out there and guy like Trevor Harris who has been playing football three years, his first two years at receiver, so he's a junior eligibility wise. He's out there running around and this is all brand new to him as well. I'm proud of these guys. I think it's exciting. Certainly for this season, where we're at, the progress we're making in the long-term is exciting for our program as well."
On Case Keenum's involvement with the program
"Case has done a fantastic job. This summer he came over, a little bit unannounced, one afternoon. He came up to my office and he and I sat there and talked for about an hour and a half. He took two or three weeks and everyday he was coming over here when our student athletes were working out and throwing the football around on their own. He was throwing it with them. He mentioned to me that when he was in our program and guys did that, it impacted him, so it was something he wanted to do this summer as well. I know he stays in touch with a number of our football student-athletes. A couple of days ago I called (QB) David Piland and he was over at Case's house talking to him. He's still vey, very close to our program. I would call him a mentor to a number of plays in our program right now. Whether it's an encouraging text message or talking by phone. That's invaluable to be as celebrated as he was in our program, now to be a quarterback for the Houston Texans, and to come back and to really give back his time and knowledge to our 19, 20, 21-year-olds. He's been in their shoes, so we're fortunate, not only to have him in our program, but that he's still here in the city as well."
On Richie Leone learning to do a soccer kick
"Right now we're just trying to teach him how to kick a football. I talked to Coach Bailiff this morning. That's the best onside kick I've ever seen, that's what I told him. We keep a file of every opponent that we've played, of all their unique special teams plays. I went back and watched seven years of their onside kicks going into that game and it had been the same kick, the same formation for the most part, and that kick he told me they practice everyday and it literally went ten yards and three inches, and their guy jumped on it. I give them credit. I told Chris Boswell before the game, he's one of the best I've ever seen at any level. There's a reason why I said that. It takes a lot of talent to do that certainly."
On the receivers
"I've said this a number of times, with who we have at our skilled positions offensively at running back and receiver, we try to see how the defense is going to play us and we take what they give us. Deontay Greenberry has been very productive over the last couple of games, Daniel Spencer has as well, and Markeith Ambles is working his way into the rotation. Xavier Maxwell, Larry McDuffey, and then we were able to work in Demarcus Ayers. He got some reps. Andrew Rodriguez got a couple of reps. He caught a pass, moved the chains. We're continuing to rotate guys in. Aaron Johnson played 15 snaps with Larry. We played eight receivers. Daniel Spencer played 12 snaps at running back as well. We have a number of weapons, if you will. Again, it's up to our quarterback to understand what the defense is giving us and distribute the ball. I'm excited about, the words you're using, how young they are."
On RB Joseph Glenn or any others coming in for RB Kenneth Farrow
"It's not too late, if you will. We have nine regular season games left, so we're going to bring Joseph Glenn on this trip. He knows our offense, he's been getting reps. Ideally, I would like to red shirt as many freshmen as we can. Hoping that Kenneth Farrow at running back specifically will be back after this game at the Memphis game. Regardless of position I would like to not play those guys if we don't have to."
SENIOR OFFENSIVE LINEMAN Ty Cloud
On how it feels to be back and playing
"I did get to play in the Rice game. It was tough missing some games, but being back feels good. We're looking forward to our next opponent. I've watched a little film on UTSA. Their defense is impressive. They play with a lot of effort. We have our work cut out for us, but I'm excited to get to San Antonio."
On UTSA's experience
"That's a young program. Their first year everybody redshirted, and so now they've got a bunch of third and fourth year guys, redshirt-juniors and redshirt-sophomores. You can tell. They play together, and they rally to the football. They show a lot of effort on defense. They're a good unit. You can see that on film. We'll watch more of it, and we'll get the game-plan going, but at first glance that's what I've noticed."
On the depth of the offensive line and dealing with injuries
"Thankfully we have depth. Sadly, we lost Ralph (Oragwu) and Rowdy (Harper), but hopefully they'll be back soon. It's good to have it. Obviously it worked out. One season, we didn't have one injury offensive-line wise, so you never know what's going to happen. It's good to have it this year. I'm just happy to be back. It's frustrating getting hurt in camp. It was a journey, but I'm back now and looking forward to getting on the field."
On the play of Mac Long while filling in during his injury
"He's come a long way since he got here. He's gotten a lot bigger weight room wise. It's awesome to see him grow like that. He's getting better every day. I'm a senior so his time is coming. Mac is a good guy, and it's awesome to see him come along like that."
On if he learned anything while watching during his injury
"Being on the sideline with a new coordinator, it was awesome to see the Coogs run the rock. We're averaging a bunch of yards rushing, more than usual. I want to come be a part of that, because the offensive line takes pride in running the ball and getting yards. It makes it easier on the quarterback, especially a freshman quarterback. That's my goal, to come in and not have a drop off in the running game."
On if the team is building confidence after a 3-0 start
"Absolutely. One of the biggest things for a football team is to get a road win. Last year we didn't even have one. That was tough. Second week, we go to Temple, I got to make the trip, but I wasn't able to play, but going to Philly, in that stadium with that atmosphere can be tough. Especially since we have a lot of young guys on this team. To get on the plane and go up there and get the win. It wasn't an easy win. That helps you grow. Then the Battle of the Bucket, crosstown rival. Anything like that when you're able to get a win no matter what the records of the teams that helps you grow big time. We didn't want to lose that bucket. Three games in, 3-0 we haven't really proved anything yet, but it is good to get off to a good start like that and get better each week so by the end of the season we're rolling."
SENIOR DEFENSIVE BACK Thomas Bates
On the play of freshman Tyus Bowser
"Tyus Bowser is going to be something serious when he gets older. He's a great athlete. He's humble. He studies his playbook. I just like seeing him making plays."
On if it's easy to look past UTSA with a conference game coming up
"Not at all. You have to respect every team that you play, because any team can get beat on any given day."
On the defense getting off to a better start this season
"Getting a better start at anything in life is always good. The defense is coming along real well. Coach Gibbs does a great job with switching the coverages up. That way the offensive coordinators can't get a bead on us. It helps us out a lot."
JUNIOR DEFENSIVE END Trevor Harris
On his move from wide receiver to defensive end
"It was a really big transition for me. I actually broke my elbow in training camp in junior college, and I gained a little bit of weight and they said `Let's try him at defensive end.' I was surprisingly good at it. It's been a really big transition going from a speed guy to have to get down and fight off 300 pounders every day. It's working for me though. I can still incorporate my speed and moves and things like that."
On what the motto "Something To Prove" means
"It's basically a statement saying that we may be young and we may be a new and fresh team, considering what we've done in the past, but a lot of people have gotten down on us about not having the best record last year. It speaks for itself. Something to prove. We really want to show everybody what we can do despite being a young team. Despite a brand new start."
On what he sees from Deontay Greenberry
"I hear the defensive backs get frustrated a whole lot. They say he does this, he does that, `I can't get a hold of him, I can't do that'. We try and give him the best look possible because we have some outstanding defensive backs and we have some outstanding receivers so we feed off each other's energy to give us the best look for what we're going to see going forward."
On the start that he has had filling in for Eric Eiland
"It's a fairly new position for me because I hadn't really heard of a rush linebacker or a rush end. It was unfortunate that Eric Eiland went down in the first game, but I had to step in and pick up the slack. I'm looking for him to have a fast recovery because we can't go the whole season with just one or two guys. We need all of our guys, and we're hoping to have them all back going forward. I've always played four man down in a stance coming from junior college. Being able to stand up is a lot more free. You can move around and do a lot more stuff."
On if he likes being able to stand up instead of getting down into a stance
"My helmet goes down and I can't really see so being able to stand up and get a visual of the field and the backfield is really beneficial for the scheme of our defense."
On adjusting from junior college to Division I
"I've gained about 10 more pounds since junior college. Coming in I was really a lightweight. Having a whole lot of downtime after the season ended in junior college, it was really tough to transition in come in and get right back into the weight room. And going right back to the heavy weights and right back to the running and all the explosive techniques. It's worked out pretty well."
On if the extra weight he's gained helps him go against the offensive line
"I'm mostly a speed guy and I'm a speed rusher, but I have to have that base to step up and say hey I may be fast and I may be smaller than you, but I can stop the run too sometimes."