Sept. 19, 2016
RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz spoke with the media Monday in advance of the team's Conference USA opener at Middle Tennessee Saturday, Sept. 24 at Johnny "Red" Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Head Coach Skip Holtz
"Let's talk about Texas Tech. Even in a hard fought loss, I thought there were a lot of positive things to build on in that game. We talked about our non-conference games being a one game season and that they go into the win-loss category, but they are designed to help us play some of the younger guys so that we can learn about our football team, grow and develop as we get ready for conference play. I thought there were some positive things to build on in this game. The entire team competed. I thought they played hard. It was almost a tale of two stories when you look at both sides of the ball. I think offensively, there were a lot of positives to build on. We had 572 yards of offense. We had seven drives of seventy yards or more, that resulted in points. We had zero turnovers. We had 261 yards rushing and average 7.2 yards per carry. We averaged 8.4 yards per play as an offense. There were a lot of positive things to build on. The negative part that you look at, we punted three times. In a game like that, you needed to score every time you got the ball. We were not able to do that. I do think it was a good learning experience in the three series we got stopped. We had a missed block, a dropped pass and we missed an open receiver. These are execution things that we talked about. We were going to have to execute at a really high level and we were not able to do that for sixty minutes."
"Defensively, it looked bad on the field. I was very upset after the game and when you go back and watch it on film, it did not look any prettier. It was unfortunate and has been very uncharacteristic of the way we played defensively. First I feel like we played a very good football team that is top three in total offense. The thing that bothered me the most was not that we missed a tackle or they made a catch over us in man-coverage. The thing that bothered me most was that I did not think we handled adversity very well. We got on our heels. Guys started doing their own things. We started blowing base coverages. These are things we have done since the beginning of camp. We did not execute very well. As a staff, we have to take a big part of the ownership. We have an obligation to put our players in a position to succeed and I do not think, defensively, we put our best foot forward on Saturday. It is unfortunate, because it was a great challenge and test. I felt like we lost our composure. I felt like we lost our discipline. That was the frustrating part. At one point we had Texas Tech contained and our ends did a good job of preventing the quarterback from getting outside. We forced him back inside with Russell Farris spying, Farris took a shot to make the tackle, missed and he ran for 20 yards. Those are physical mistakes and those I can deal with. It is the mental mistakes and execution mistakes that really discouraged me. We met on it. We watched film on it. I think our defense is embarrassed about the way they played. I think everyone is in a mindset to get it right. It is not going to get any easier with the challenge we have this week with Middle Tennessee, but that is a challenge we have getting into Conference USA play this week."
"I thought our special teams were solid. I think our special teams are one of the most improved areas in the 2016 season. I thought Jonathan Barnes kicked off extremely well. He is doing a really nice job. I think we need to get a little most consistent in our punts. One goes 49 yards and one goes 28 yards. We have to get a little more consistent. I think there have been a lot of positives and some guys have really been stepping up, like Russell Farris, DaMarion King, Kam McKnight and others."
"Getting into this weekend, we have Middle Tennessee. Coach [Rick] Stockstill has done a really good job at Middle Tennessee and there is a reason they are picked to win the East. They have an awful lot of explosiveness. I think defensively, they are playing really well now. It is a conference game on the road. Last week we went against a whiteout, this week it's a blackout. It feels like every game we are going to have an opportunity to be someone's specialty game. Again, this is the third out of four games on the road, but it is a conference game and I think our players are really excited to have the opportunity to get into conference play. It is a different mindset. It is a different attitude. There is a different excitement in the team room. When you start talking about conference games, you see the look in their eyes and everyone is sitting on the edge of their seats. I think everyone is excited to get into this conference race."
"As an offensive football team, I think their quarterback is really explosive. I have known Brent [Stockstill] since he was born. Rick Stockstill was one of the first people I met when I was getting into this profession as a graduate assistant. He was at Central Florida when I was at Florida State. I roomed with a GA who was one of his good friends from college. We have had a relationship ever since. We coached together at South Carolina. We coached against each other at Clemson. I think the world of Coach Stockstill. Brent is, I think, the number nine quarterback in the country in passing yards. They are the number ten passing team in the country. Their receiver Richie James is the number four receiver in the country. They are putting up video game numbers. They are putting up 40 points a game. They have a big offensive line. They have a transfer running back that is doing a really good job. They have three returning starters back on their offense. Tony Franklin is their new coordinator who everyone remembers around here for the offense he ran. They are putting those numbers up at Middle Tennessee. I think Brent is doing a great job as a quarterback. It is definitely going to be a challenge as we faced a passing team last week and did not fare very well. Hopefully, we can have a much better showing this week and can learn something from last week's game."
"On the defensive side of the ball is where some of their biggest changes have been. When you look at their defense, they only have four starters back. They are the number four team in the nation in passing yards allowed and pass defense efficiency. In our conference they are first in passing yards allowed, points per game, passing defense efficiency. They are second in yards allowed per game, third down defense, takeaways. They are ranked fourth in sacks and pass completions. They are in the top four in about every defensive category in our league. I think that is probably the biggest difference from last year to this year. Not only are they putting up huge numbers, but defensively, they are really playing well right now. Their defensive line is big powerful and explosive. They have a great combination of size, power and quickness. It is showing up right now on their defensive front. The linebackers are very active. Three of their top four tacklers are linebackers. They have three seniors in the secondary. I think it is a very talented group and it is going to be a challenge."
"Richie James, the number four receiver in the entire country, is their punt returner. [Desmond Anderson] a converted running back to wide receiver is a very explosive player and their kick returner. They are a very explosive football team and this will be a great challenge for us as we get into league play. We said at the beginning that early in the season, we were going to play the best of the best. That was going to be the hard part of our schedule. We were going to play a team from the Southeastern Conference and Big XII and we knew coming out of the gates we were going to play one of the best teams in the league. It is very similar with how we started last year against Western Kentucky in conference play. This one has the makings to be a barnburner if we can get our defense straight. It should be a heck of a football game and one we are looking forward to."