Oct. 3, 2011
Rice Head Coach David Bailiff
"It was a tough loss (48-24 last week at Southern Miss), a loss I take full responsibility for. I didn't have them ready to play. Offensively, we were not in rhythm from start to finish. I thought defensively the first half we played very average. Defense gave up a couple big plays and then the third quarter the wheels came off. They had a 10-play drive where (Scott) Solomon caused a fumble, Xavier scooped it and scored. They came back with a six-play drive where Bryce (Callahan) intercepted it then we turn it right back over the next play. Southern Miss had 36 plays in that third quarter and we had eight.
"We have to be able to sustain drives and keep the defense off the field. The defense has to be able to get ourselves off the field. It was a tough game. We are still sitting here at 1-3 and we are a pretty good football team. There is a lot of football left in this season and I think we are going to be just fine. I think when our players come over today, we have some great senior leadership, we will see them respond. I know yesterday they were hurt. I expect them to come over here today ready to go.
"It was nice to see Bryce Callahan play the way he played with his two interceptions. I thought Mario Hull filled in really nice for Randy Kitchens and showed what he is capable of doing. Kyle Martens and Chris Boswell had really nice games.
"I have to get us going better in practice. I have to put them in more stressful situations in practice so we can handle the games better."
Are you surprised after the upbeat preseason?
"I thought we would play a lot better than we did. I thought even in pregame warm up we had a lot of personality and a lot of spirit. Once it started we just didn't play very well. We watched all the video yesterday. You analyze and dissect everything you do and you try to come up with answers and that's what we are meeting on and will continue to meet on. I expect us to play a lot better than we just played."
What jumps out at you after playing well earlier in the year?
"We have had some alignment issues we didn't have in the past two weeks. We have played two teams who are up-tempo where we have to get our alignment. We have to create more of that tempo in practice so we can get our alignments right. When you are misaligned and you have a couple missed assignments, a couple missed tackles and you don't have your field distribution correct, it is hard to play defense that way."
Is it surprising you have alignment issues with the number of seniors you have on defense?
"That's me. That is where I have to make sure we are practicing at a tempo where they are ready to go."
Any conclusions on what to do with the offensive line?
"A lot of it with the offensive line ... Jake (Hicks) is playing pretty good. And Jake is playing hurt. Davon (Allen) attempted to play hurt this week. I don't know if I didn't do a disservice to the offensive line by letting him tough it out and go. I think we need to get Keshawn (Carrington) back involved. That is something with the seniors of there, we have to get them going. It is our job to get these young men where we can get them into situations where they can be successful."
Is it just about injuries at this stage or there other things that need to be rectified?
"I really think with Jake's leg and Davon's ankles ... Davon was playing really well then he hurt his left ankle then he hurt his right ankle. If we can't be hard-headed enough where we don't get some people in there if that is what we need to do. I think if we are struggling we need to structurally to do some things to help them out."
Is that something at this stage - structurally - that you can change right now?
"Yes, I'm talking about angle work, techniques. We have never overpowered people but we have been able to create seams for the running backs. When you allow penetration, you're running backs have a lot of problems."
About the usage of the wildcat?
"When you can't protect the middle as well as you would like, those are some hard things to get in and do. When we started using that formation last year at ECU, they didn't realize it was coming so they hadn't prepared for it. UAB prepared for it and it was still successful. People get to realizing you can't throw out of it then you start getting a box count where your numbers don't work for you."
At this phase is that something you think about scrapping?
"No, that is something you still have to work on but you have to be able to protect that from the inside out. We are having a hard time protecting - if you saw where the blitzes are coming from and where the penetration is coming from."
With Turner (Petersen) being limited and Charles (Ross) coming off his last week and Jeremy (Eddington) working his way back in, Sam (McGuffie) is one of your biggest options. Do you see him playing more of an impact?
"We have to get Sam involved more in the game that we have. We know we have some great backs. We have to get our play makers on the field and the ball in their hands. There are times where we would like to get Sam out in the slot and get two of the backs in the game in 20 personnel. We have got to continue to put the guys in the right place. I don't know if we have done that yet."
Why the hesitancy?
"This week, going into the game, we weren't going to be by committee. We were going to let Sam (McGuffie) do some things he does really well. We were going to feature Charles Ross then he got the hamstring hurt. Turner Petersen was very sore (knee). There are a lot of things that go into deciding who plays and what there role is. A lot of those things are determined by health."
About Bryce Callahan ...
"It was fun to watch him play. He made two very athletic interceptions."
You pointed out some couple of missed opportunities last year, is he a guy that can generate some of those important defensive plays?
"Before that we had the PBUs and not the interceptions. That was nice to watch Bryce step up and make those plays."
About Memphis ...
"They are 1-4 right now. They have struggled. It is one of the games where we need to keep a great attitude. Our old o-line coach (Blake Miller) is their o-line coach now. He knows a lot about what we do.
"Even in this game, we are a talented bunch but we have to be the best team. They run a lot of motions. They have a young quarterback. They have not done a lot defensively. We just need to eliminate our mistakes. We need to work on being more disciplined and being more accountable. We have to be disciplined in staying in the structure of what we are coached to do.
"They are capable of beating us. We are capable of beating them."
Rice Senior Offensive Lineman Jake Hicks
How tough was it being out there when the offense couldn't get it's running game going at Southern Miss?
"It's frustrating when you have things that have worked in other games and have worked in practice then for some reason get stalled out in a game ... the first couple of series were tough for us then things started picking up in the second quarter. We had some good drives, made some good plays.
"The thing that really hurt more than getting stalled out in those first drives was having those turnovers right after the defense had the takeaway. That is a big part of the o-line, making sure those guys don't get hit in the backfield. That is a lot of what happened. We have to take care of business up front and that didn't happen the way we wanted it to during the game."
Can you identify why you can have one drive where you go right down the field and others where it stops and starts ... four games in, what is jumping out at you?
"I think anytime you have problems with an offense, you have to look at the o-line first. That is where a lot of good things start and that is where a lot of bad things start. When you talk about problems with the offense, it is a deal where we just have to get together as a unit. We have had a couple changes up front but really, this week in practice we just have to take a new attitude and practice at game speed completely. It is one of those deals where it is really tough to see a play that works and it see it kind of sputtered out. It's really tough where you have a drive that goes right down the field and you can really man-handle people then the next drive you have three negative plays. It is inconsistency like that that really hurts you in games."
How much is that a surprise with all the experience that there is up front?
"When you get to watch film, it is things that are correctable. It is not like the ship is sinking and we can't do anything about it. It is stuff we can correct and we have to correct. It is going to get fixed."
Are you seeing from the guys, that as a senior, it bothers them - the locker room atmosphere after a loss?
"No one likes to lose. None of us like to lose. After a loss, it is not like people just going about their business. There is some tears. There are some people who are angry. It is not a good atmosphere to be in. It is just one of those things, no one likes to lose. It is not crippling. It is not like it is something we can not come back from. We have never gone into a game thinking we are going to lose and we will never go into a game thinking we are going to lose, whether it is Texas, whether it is Memphis, whether it is the New England Patriots. We always want to win. That is our number one goal every week."
How does the team get its confidence back?
"I think it starts with learning from the film. It is so frustrating simply because it is things that are simple to fix. To their credit, Southern Miss had a pretty good defensive scheme against us, our o-line and what they did in the interior. We prepared for it, if we played them again this Saturday we probably could score at will. I think it is just simple fixes that will get things done.
Rice Senior Defensive Back Xavier Webb
36 plays in a quarter for any team is a lot. Can you talk about what that does?
"It wears you down. When you are on the field that much, you get tired. When you get tired, you lose focus. A couple times when they scored on us it was a lack of focus. In the third quarter I think being out there so long played a role."
Southern Miss averages over 80 plays & other C-USA teams are putting up those numbers. Is that just a product of these offenses? How do you combat these quick tempo offenses?
"I think it is just a trend. When one offense sees it is working, other offenses copy it. That is just another way to get defenses tired, by using the hurry up offense. I think it is a good plan. I would do it to if I was a coach. One way to combat it is to get as much pressure as you can on the quarterback. A lot of times they are in spread offenses or empty packages and they don't have as much protection. Then they come back and get rid of the ball quickly. You have to get lined up and be ready to play fast. You just have to ready yourself during the week for those kind of offenses. That is the only way you can defend it."
How do you get back to where you were after the Purdue game where you felt pretty good about yourselves defensively?
"I think you just have to continue to work hard. You have to try to learn from your mistakes week after week. You have to find ways to focus better and find ways to get off the field defensively and get points offensively."
Do you think the injuries you suffered during preseason have zapped the depth and lead to the problems when it comes to fatigue and playing long stretches playing during the game?
"I think that when you do lose players it takes away from freshness in being able to rotate a lot. If you have someone giving you a breather every other series, it allows you to catch your breath and focus.
Do you need to develop more depth in practice?
"It's already starting to happen. When Phillip Gaines went out, Denzel (Wells) got a few more snaps at corner. We have to continue to find guys who can step into those roles and help us out defensively."