Aug. 29, 2017
J. Smith Audio
RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz spoke with the media Tuesday in advance of the team's season-opener versus Northwestern State on Saturday, Sept. 2 at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston.
Head Coach Skip Holtz
"Two-thousand seventeen is finally here. We have been waiting for this for a long time, and as I have said a lot here over the last couple months, I love fall camp. It is the opportunity we get to bring our new additions that we talk a lot about on signing day in February, the guys we have been developing along through spring practice and bring it all together to start putting the faces and names together on the football team and the guys who are going to play a major role."
"The thing that makes this 2017 nervous for me as a football coach are the unknowns. Those are the biggest things that make you nervous -- the things you really don't know about. We have six new starters on offense. We have six new starters on defense. Out of our six specialists, we have five of the six that are new. We will have a new holder, a new deep snapper, a new punt returner, a new punter and a new kick returner. The only guy returning from a specialists standpoint is Jonathan Barnes."
"Now it is a pretty good place to start when you talk about the guys we have returning. When you talk about Jonathan Barnes, Jaylon Ferguson, Deldrick Canty, Russell Farris. Offensively, you've got O'Shea Dugas, Joshua Outlaw, Ethan Reed, Jarred Craft, Boston Scott. You've got a pretty good staple of guys that are returning. The guys returning are really solid players for us. The unknowns of everybody else is really concerning when you get ready to get into game-like mode. How is a young man going to respond in game-like situations when the stadium is full, there is crown noise, when the circus is going on around the perimeter? Are we going to be able to remain focused and doing our job? That is the biggest thing we have been working on as a football team for the last four weeks getting into game week -- this week being five."
"I think opening games is a lot about us. It is not about your opponent as much. We have to make sure we cross t's and dot I's and do what we are supposed to do. The other thing that makes this a little bit of an unknown is what we are getting into week one. We know this is a storied rivalry game with Louisiana Tech. We know the tradition involved in it. We have talked with our team about it -- the history, the background, the last time we played. All of that has been discussed, but this is two new football teams. How we are going to respond is going to have everything to do with this year. Three years ago doesn't have anything to do with this game, other than I think it shows Northwestern State has a really good program and anybody can beat anybody on a given day. I don't think you can take anything for granted."
"I sit down and look at the unknowns with Northwestern State and I think Jay Thomas has done a great job there. He has done a great job of building that program. I know they had a down year last year, but he has two new coordinators. He's got eight returning starters on defense. On offense, I think he has six returning starters. They brought in seven junior college players or transfers on defense alone. I think there were three of them on the offensive side of the ball. They are going to have a completely new look. They were a football team that led their league in rushing last year. They are going to an up-tempo, and with two new coordinators, you have no idea what to expect or any film to watch to be able to say this is what we are going to get. I think for a lot of our new players, it is going to be a challenge with what we are walking into, but I think this is a very good football team that we are about to play. I know defensively, they return their top two leading tacklers, their leading sack guy and leader in interceptions. I know offensively, they are going to play a senior quarterback who has a lot of experience underneath his belt. He was able to start the last couple games of the year. They are playing 18 juniors and seniors out of their top 22. They only have four sophomores in their top 22. I'm know they are going to come out here and play hard."
"I think it has all the makings to be a great atmosphere. We are excited to break in the new press box and looking forward to a great matchup and a great opportunity to go out and begin the 2017 season. From a football standpoint, there are a lot of things that are on the table that we have to control for us that I am more concerned about than I am them. We don't control Northwestern State, but we do control our football team and how prepared we are and how we go out and play. That is the biggest thing I have been concerned about."