Opening Statement “Good week, one thing about these press conferences is when you have them on a Tuesday once our game is over whether it’s good or bad I move on to the next one. Had a meeting with Coach (Jamie) Bryant this morning about UAB, and I referenced something from the last game. I had to pause because I actually forgot whom we played.
Once the game is over my mind goes on to the next one, and that’s where we’re at as a program. Going back to the North Texas game I was proud of our staff, and our players. I really liked our preparation, and I told our players that they beat North Texas Monday through Friday of last week. The way they prepared, the way they studied it showed in our execution during the game.
Defensively we weren’t perfect, we had 10 missed tackles and five of them came on one play. I think everyone across country saw the one that resulted in a touchdown for North Texas. I liked our effort, and that we created two turnovers and kept them out of the end zone late in the game. Offensively we did what we had to do to win the football game. We took care of the ball not giving up turnovers, and we executed our offense.
On paper we didn’t have a lot of big plays; the way we look at it is that we had 12 explosive plays. We define those as over 12 yards rushing and over 16 yards passing. We were very balanced having over 300 yards rushing and 300 yards passing. I like that we are able to continue to get Charles Sims involved. We had changed things in the run game specifically for North Texas, and on Mondays we show the players on video why they won the game with 18 plays. We had plays designed to give Charles room in space against their safety and with great blocking we were able to execute.
If you look back what we’ve done the past couple of weeks some weeks you have guys like Daniel Spencer, or Larry McDuffey, now we’re getting Deontay Greenberry more involved and Dewayne Peace stepping up as well. Shane Ros came in and was very productive not only on offense but on special teams. He had four catches in limited role and blocked very well on special teams. Marcus Williams comes in for a couple plays for Deontay and makes a big catch on the sidelines and a couple plays later has a great crack block that allowed Kenneth Farrow to break out for a touchdown run. Kenneth Farrow is another guy who is doing a great job with his role not only offensively but in the kicking game as well; he’s on kickoff coverage and kickoff return.
Proud of our special teams, I stood up here last week and talked about my confidence in Matt Hogan. That didn’t change from his performance against Rice to North Texas. You learn something new every day as a coach and Crawford Jones is our starting holder, and our backup quarterback pending on the week with Bram (Kohlhausen). I didn’t think he was getting enough time with Matt so this past week we made sure they spent an extra 30 minutes together practicing and that showed to work very well.
Going into the game we knew we had to play well on both sides of the ball and not turn the ball over, but we also had to stop Brelan Chancellor their great returner. I was very proud that were able to accomplish that and we are looking forward to playing UAB.”
On UAB “Looking at UAB I’ve gotten to know coach (Garrick) McGee very well over the last year. He’s a guy I have a lot of respect for, and I feel like I’ve known him longer because we’ve came from the same coaching tree. We’ve both worked for Bobby Petrino over the years. He’s done a great job; in a short time being there you can see a difference in their play from last season to now.
One thing that stands out more than anything is that they play very hard. They are extremely young which shows how well they’ve done recruiting. They play extremely hard in all phases of the game. I’ve said this before but if you want to get a feel for a team watch their special teams. They’ve blocked three punts already this season.
Offensively they’ve been playing with two quarterbacks and the statistics are deceiving. They’re throwing for 303 yards a game and not running effectively but they’ve had some big negative plays that have hurt their rushing statistics. Young quarterback Austin Brown has done a good job of utilizing his weapons on the outside. It will be a tremendous challenge for our team to get pressure on their offense. Defensively they are very aggressive and they blitz a lot. They are good at moving linebackers and safeties to put them in position to create negative plays for the opponent.
It’ll be a great challenge for our offense this weekend. Special teams they have a great kicker in Ty Long who was a freshman All-American. He was teammates with Richie Leone at Roswell Georgia and he’s a great talent as well. Jeff Brohm, their offensive coordinator and Reggie Johnson their defensive coordinator, I’ve worked with both of them and they are good friends of mine and they’re doing a great job.
Statistically it’s a little scary because we’re scoring 29 a game, and they’re scoring 29 a game, and our defenses are giving up the same amount as well. On paper this is an extremely even game, but we have to focus on what we do.
Something new for our program is the 11:00 a.m. kickoff time. That’s something we’ve emphasized to our team that this weekend we can’t press the snooze button we have to get up and be ready.”
On Xavier Maxwell “It was great to get Xavier back, and we got him back a lot sooner than we had initially thought. He was cleared to play on Tuesday and was able to come practice, watch film and get going again. He was ready both mentally and physically and he’ll be back in the rotation to play even more.”
On Coach Travis Bush “Coach Bush has brought a lot of creativity to our offense. We are able to use a lot of misdirections and be multiple with our formations and things of that nature. It’s a compliment when people say the flow of the play was going left and the ball ends up going right. He is very good at keeping defenses off balanced and being unpredictable. He, as well as our entire offensive staff, have done a great job this season.”
On Charles Sims winning Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week “It’s special for us; the runs he makes are incredible. When we get him in space against a safety we like our chances. We showed highlights of his runs and guys in the room were clapping but Charles was sitting in his chair with a straight face. He expects that out of himself each time he carries the ball. He’s the kind of guy that leads by example on the field and would give up stats for a win that’s just who he is.”
On comfort level with young receivers “Each game we’re getting better, I feel like. Each game we’re getting a lot more comfortable. With me- trusting the o-line, they’re playing so great right now and the young guys are catching balls early. The easy dinks and dunks and then they’ll make the hard catch later on in the game, which is what we’re trying to do. We’ll take a little here and there. You’ll see Deontay as in the first play of the game with a little five yard hitch, takes it for ten, and then from there on he starts playing really well. We need to start getting them in their comfort zone early on and kind of keep rolling from there.”
On Charles Sims being more involved in offensive play “He’s such a huge part of it. He’s such an explosive player. It’s really hard to tackle him. You know, open space. It’s probably one of the hardest in the nation. He just needs to continuously be that part because then they have to realize that even if he doesn’t get the ball, they need to respect the fact that he might. It just opens up so many different things for other wide receivers. It’s just been such a valuable part of out offense.”
On what to expect from UAB “They do a lot on defense, so we have to prepare well for it and expect anything. I know that they have had coaching changes and they’re a great football team. They come out and play really hard and they want to win, as we do. We’re preparing for this game like we would. We need to focus. They’ve hung in there with some good teams. We need to treat them as a great football team and go out there and execute.”
On early morning kickoff for UAB “I’m kind of excited for it. Everyone will be fired up. We’re all up here at 6:30 a.m. every morning anyway. It shouldn’t be much of a change. I really don’t think it will affect us that much at all. The weather has been awesome, so I don’t see much that could really go wrong.”
On the remaining Conference USA games “Each game is just as important as the next. We need to keep focused on the here and now, not look too far forward. It’s all come down to this type deal. We need to focus on winning this game and keep moving forward.”
On it being more important to stop scoring or stop the yards “We try to eliminate the big plays, then you limit the yards or the touchdowns you give up.”
On what challenge UAB will bring “They have a very effective running game. Every week we look to stop the running, so that will be a great goal for us this week."
On going into a string of Conference USA games “This is what we prepare for all summer and all spring. We’re looking forward to getting into a stride in conference.”
On having a chip on their shoulder heading into conference after a rough start “We definitely have a chip on our shoulder and with that chip it helps us play with a little more edge. That brings out the excitement and enthusiasm, and really helps us play to the best of our ability.”
On getting prepared for each game “We’ve been preparing as best as we have all season. We have guys come in at six in the morning watching film and trying to get better. I think our preparation is definitely on point.”
On thoughts about potential threats UAB will hold with a new coach “They are definitely a new, energetic team. They are full of athletes and they look good. We just hope to get a very competitive game out of it.”
On if going above and beyond to prepare pays off “The most important part is building team chemistry. I take a lot of pride in team chemistry because at the end of the day coaches can only do so much. There are 11 guys on the field when it comes down to it. When the game is on the line, if one of my teammates can see a certain formation, or something that we studied in film it can help us win the game. Preparation is key to this game, talent can only get you so far.”
On if going above and beyond to prepare pays off “It gives us an upper hand because it’s more than just me who come in here to prepare extra, it’s all of us. It helps us as a team and it’s been helping us win."
On Defensive Coordinator Jamie Bryant “I love Coach Bryant. He is a straight and narrow guy. He doesn’t really deal with the gray area. He’s going to tell you what it is. He has high expectations for this defense and he expects the players to play hard and physical. He expects us to play assignment football.”
On his production at wide receiver against North Texas “It was nice. I just waited for my opportunity. It’s just like Coach (Tony) Levine was saying earlier; we had a bunch of guys go down so I just stepped in. I’ve been practicing at receiver for the last two years. I just paid attention while all those other guys were going and just waited for my chance to go.”
On making plays at special teams “Coach Levine always put an emphasis on special teams and Coach (Jamie) Christian has really picked up right where he left off. Our whole special team has a different mentality this year. Everybody has the mentality that they are going to make the play. That’s different than what we’ve had in the past. In the past it was one or two guys making most of the plays. Now you watch film and all 11 guys are on the pile.”
On practicing at scout team quarterback “It was fun. I played quarterback in high school so I got to relive the glory days for a little bit. I came here as a safety my freshman year and then moved to receiver. Whatever they need me to do I’m willing to do to help us win.”