Houston at Tulane: Press Conference

Nov. 13, 2017

Yulman Stadium • New Orleans, La. • Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017


HEAD COACH Major Applewhite

On the health of the team
“The guys who have been out for the season continue to stay out: Alex Montana, Kameron Eloph, Dillon Birden, Marquez Stevenson, and Collin Wilder. Everybody else is back to some degree. Terrell Williams is still nursing a sprained ankle, but he should be able to get back possibly this week or next week.”

On if this off week has prepared the team for the next game
“It came at a good time for health, getting everybody back, getting the guys that were injured legs underneath them, getting the guys that were knocked up back to speed, and getting the guys that are injured closer to playing. The second part is defensively. You have two teams that present different issues; they aren’t “NCAA offenses”, they’re teams that have a triple option element in what they do offensively. They have great players and coaches. To steal a couple of days from each opponent during the off week to get ahead, get them out of the spread offensive world, get them more dialed in to a dive pitch quarterback and get them into those rules and responsibilities of what they have to do was helpful.”



On if he can simulate in practice what scout teams run during offensive drills
“I think we can simulate some of the speed with Banks, but his physicality and size makes it difficult. Not only is he fast and elusive, but he’s a difficult guy to bring down. It’s very difficult to replicate what Hilliards has done and run over 1000 yards. He is a great back, has ball security, good vision, and breaks tackles. We’ve had some guys that have tried to emulate that in the last week.”

On D’Juan Hine’s progress from last year
“From what I understand, he thought he was going to play quarterback. I don’t know how long he was in that room, but he was in the quarterback room for a few minutes and went over to wide receiver, safety and then continued to get bigger and stronger and moved to linebacker and has done a great job for us this year. I’m proud of the way he’s responded to his role as a senior and he has played some really good football.”

On how important it is to recruit players that may not have an automatic role in the team
“I think that’s part of being an athlete: being patient, and understanding that it’s not on our time or opportunities. I’m sure when D’Juan came in, he thought he could play quarterback, wideout, safety and then ended up at linebacker. As a program, we will always recruit guys to come in and play right off the bat. If you’re behind All-Conference guys like Steven Taylor and if you’re behind a Super Bowl starter or draft pick for the New England Patriots Elandon Roberts, then life gets difficult. You keep working hard and paying attention to the details from off season, to blitz and coverage, then you get the opportunity and you’re ready and prepared for it. That’s where D’Juan has done a great job, because there’s been some great players ahead of him. He’s done a great job of understanding the defense and learning it. He has had these opportunities and has made good use of them.”

On if the bowl game opponent matters
“I think it’s about continuing to expose guys to offense, defense, and special teams. Getting them more reps, more competitive reps, more pressure, and more detail. Being in that environment as opposed to taking a month off. It helps our football team, especially with some of the youth we have, because we’ve been senior, junior, senior, junior, true freshman backup. So, it allows you to get some more reps and get those guys prepared. Wherever we go and whoever we play, we’re going to be grateful as a program to be there. I haven’t been to a bad bowl yet, they’re all good. We’re going to have a great time wherever we go and we’re going to get better.”

On moving forward in the running back room
“It has to play out how the games going. Obviously the first two have gotten a tremendous amount of game reps, so those two guys are going to play as much as humanly possible. You don’t need to enter a third back into the mix, unless he’s proven himself worthy or you get to an injury situation where it’s necessary. Both Car and Catalon have given us quality snaps and done well with those snaps, so we’re going to let those guys carry the load for the rest of the season. As long as they stay healthy.

Biggest takeaway from first full year of being a head coach
“Honestly, I haven’t gotten very introspective on that. There has been things along the way that you pick up week in and week out, game in and game out. Here’s where I can be better, here’s where I wasn’t as prepared as I needed to be, here’s where I was over prepared. There’s a lot of different things that go into the first year, everything from game time decisions, to how you want to work your official visit weekends and how you want run offseason. There’s all kind of things and those things get evaluated after those events. It’s hard for me to say there’s one or two things, but I’m sure after the bowl game I’ll be able to sit down look at it critically to see where I screwed up and where I can do better.”

On Ed Oliver getting his brace off
“He told me they took the leash off and I didn’t know what he was talking about at first. I saw he didn’t have his knee brace on, so he feels great about it. All those things are for safety precautions, as long as he feels healthy and ready to go I’m feeling healthy and ready to go.”

On the linebacker position
“When you play Godfrey, Anenih and Egbule there’s obviously bigger bodies on the field. Some of that is based on scheme, some of that’s been on our injury system with Khalil out. It makes you a little more vulnerable playing man, because you can’t put those guys out over a slot receiver. It makes you thicker, in terms of perimeter play and in terms of bodies. Wide outs are having a more difficult time blocking guys outside, so I think it’s a good job by Coach D’Onofrio and Coach Carrel and our staff. When you’re starting to miss all these bodies, you’ve got to find some way to line up 11 and find a way adjusting. Hopefully this week some of those guys will come back and we can get into some of our normal calls and personnel.

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