Oct. 5, 2015
"First off, I want to congratulate the Houston Astros for making the playoffs. That's fantastic for this city and good luck in New York. As far as Rice goes, we didn't play very well Saturday. It starts with me. I have to do a better job having this football team ready. I have to make sure our talent is in the right places. I have to get the pieces in the right area. I have to get the ball, offensively, to the guys that can make plays. Defensively, I have to get the guys to where they are tackling in space. We had five turnovers again. You know, one of the hallmarks of this team a year ago was that we only had 12 turnovers all year. We're already at 15, offensively, and we have to improve. That is up to me to get this team where it needs to be. Last year at this time, we were 2-3. This year we're 2-3. We've been here before. I think you'll see what this team is made of and you'll see us pull together and try to get it on a roll here.
"Individually, we had some great performances. Connor Cella had a fantastic game at tight end. He continued to get better each week. Defensively, Preston Gordon played a lot of defensive tackle; one of our redshirt freshmen. His game is getting to where he is really active up front and he's very disruptive. James Farrimond, in our kicking game, it was probably his best day punting the football with accuracy and net punting.
"But we have a lot of work to do. It starts with taking care of the football. The hopes and dreams every Saturday are in that ball, and we have to take care of when we have it offensively and defensively, we have to start getting some takeaways to help our offense out. I'm disappointed, but I think you'll see a resolve. We're going to tighten our chinstraps and go back to work and get this thing going the right way. We have to go play a very talented FAU team on the road who's starting quarterback (Jacquez Johnson) came back against Charlotte. That's one thing; we're going to get everybody's ‘A' game. We've been the most consistent winning program in Conference USA and people get ready to play Rice now. We have to play better. What we're challenging the team to do is just win this play. We'll take it one play at a time and fight our way back in it."
One whether they are going to simplify things:
"We are. We're going to take away a lot of our menus that we've been using offensively and defensively. One of the things is that you can only play fast when you're confident and if you're thinking you're not going to play fast. I think we have too many people thinking about this game instead of reacting. We have a talented football team and I have to do it. I have to simplify; I have to make it where we play fast and we'll get our confidence back."
On what he's telling the team after starting 2-3 for a second straight season:
"I've already had most of the seniors in through my office today about how we're going to approach it from here on out. We've talked about how we need to win this play. We had a lot of, last Saturday, communication errors offensively. We have to do the little things a lot better. I mean a lot better. All of us and then we'll get the big things that we're after. It starts with having accurate communication up front. Then the snap has to be accurate where Driphus (Jackson) doesn't have to leave the area to go get the ball. Then your timing on an option play is off and you no longer have a good path between the running back and Driphus because he's a step behind. So it's the little things that we have to do better and that we have to focus on. You talk to them, too, that you don't need to look at the scoreboard; you just need to play this play. A year ago, we asked them to grade themselves after every play from a communication and effort standpoint. We're going to go back to what got us here."
On positioning Ross Winship and Preston Gordon:
"Ross has been hampered with some leg injuries. He's not running very well but he's still the best we have. Preston is very athletic. He's been very disruptive. We have some areas where we're banged up and we're just trying to move people around to get everybody in the right area to make plays. I was very proud of the way Ross played, as taped up as he was. He had some good production for us."
On talking to Driphus Jackson about the struggles:
"I talked to Driphus on Sunday and had him back in my office today. One of the things that he and we have to do is that he doesn't need to put so much pressure on himself to play. A year ago, Driphus managed the football game by taking care of the ball and making sure the ball got to where it needed to go. He made great decisions with the football. If it was a bad option play, he may just fall on it and take a two-yard loss instead of trying to pitch. We're just talking to him about being Driphus and doing what got us here. He doesn't need to do any more. We need him to be a great leader, to inspire through his efforts. He doesn't have to make every play. I think Driphus had already come to those conclusions before we ever met. Driphus is our starting quarterback and we're going to win a lot of games with him."
On what he thinks caused the change in Driphus Jackson:
"I think he's been putting too much pressure on himself to try to make sure everything is perfect. It can't be. You win football games by working hard and having fun. Driphus has been working hard but he hasn't had a lot of fun. He's been putting a lot of pressure on himself. I talked to him today about when he was a kid in his backyard dreaming of being great. He has to go back to getting that swagger back and having fun and relying on the people around him."
On having to take unnecessary timeouts on special teams:
"We changed our groupings (on a punt). That's also where I'm talking about communication. We obviously have to work on that. Do we have somebody assigned to get that young man who happens to be on offense on the field? It didn't happen. That means I didn't work on it enough. The other one was on a field goal where we were in one of our packages and we have to go back to base. Once again, I have to do more substitution where that's a natural foe."
On what he's expecting from Florida Atlantic:
"You watch the video. FAU got to an overtime game with Tulsa. Then their starting quarterback got hurt against Miami. He came back last week against Charlotte. So, he's a fifth-year senior who's played pretty well for them. We're going to see a different football team, really. You watch the Tulsa game and it's a difference quarterback. He's good. This is a good, talented football team. They are playing a lot of young guys right now. They're like us. They're playing some young guys who have to grow up fast. But, they're very talented. Charlie (Partridge) has done a nice job there."
On the difference in playing a fifth or sixth-year quarterback:
"Usually, those fifth and sixth-year quarterbacks, they just have calmness in the pocket where they've seen it all before; where you don't ever see them flustered. We couldn't get Brandon (Doughty) flustered last week. We blitzed him and he found the open receivers that he needed. We thought we could get him running out of the pocket where he's not as accurate. But, we really couldn't get that much. We hit him a couple times, but we couldn't get there in time. It used to be that you would tell a defense they had four seconds to get to a quarterback. Then it was three seconds. Then it was two seconds. Now, you're looking at an average of about 1.8 seconds that you have to get a defense there, be it a linebacker or a D-Lineman if you are blitzing. Or you have to make the quarterback beat coverage and kind of pump the ball to buy you some time. We've got to get some straight line blitzes going. We've got to get the quarterback where if we can't get there in 1.8 (seconds), he's confused about coverage. Sixth-year guys, you don't confuse them. He's a very talented young man. You'll see him drafted pretty early."
On whether seeing the deficiencies in the team is a blessing:
"It's never a blessing, not in conference. That's one of the things where, once again, I've got to do a better job of getting the right people out of the field at the right time. Some of these deficiencies that are showing; we didn't see them earlier. They're showing up now. First and foremost, to win, you have to make sure you trust each other. The players have to trust us and we have to trust them and we're all doing our jobs effectively. We have a team meeting today and I'm really looking forward to it. I want them to know exactly what I'm thinking and I want to hear what they're thinking. I know we'll see a team that doesn't like losing. Losing isn't going to settle well around here. That's not going to happen with prideful young men. Like I said earlier, I think you'll see coaches and players more determined than ever to get this thing going back in the right direction. We've lost two in a row and we don't like losing. I think you'll see that everybody will have the attitude of whatever it takes, from possibly some position changes to some movement in the lineup. We've got to get the right people out there."
If it's hard to control the players and not let them do more than they can do:
"That's part of our problem right now, and we have to find a solution. Everybody just needs to do their job. If everybody just does their job and not try to do other people's job; on defense, everybody has 1/11th. If they do their 1/11th, then we'll be in great shape. When you have a responsibility to be a D gap player and all of a sudden you're pulling yourself to the C gap and running over to the B gap and the ball is bouncing out to the D gap. It's a trust issue where we have to get back to where we all trust each other, both offensively and defensively, to do your job, settle in and trust and play with confidence."