Sept. 14, 2015
"First off, I want to give condolences to the Burkhalter family. Billy Burkhalter passed away this weekend. He was a Rice legend. He was a Bob Quin award winner. He was an All-Southwest Conference performer. His last season was 1951. He will be missed as we lost another Rice legend.
"The next news to report is that our starting defensive end, Graysen Schantz, last Thursday in practice had a knee injury. We didn't get the MRI results back until Friday night. His season is lost. He'll have to have ACL surgery in the next week or two. It's not good news but Derek Brown stepped up Saturday and played well as he got his first start.
"As far as the game; it was really a strange game. It was one that we dominated at the line of scrimmage. We had 462 total yards and the University of Texas had 277. We snapped the ball 96 times offensively; they snapped it 38. Our defense really performed well. They held Johnathan Gray to 1.9 yards per carry. Their biggest offensive play rushing was a quarterback scramble. I was really pleased defensively. The defensive line did an amazing job; Ross Winship, Stu Mouchantaf, Derek Brown and Brian Womac. Brian Womac just had an amazing game. Offensively, we held the ball 44 minutes to their 16 minutes and our offensive line really had a dominating performance where they couldn't stop our running game. Sam Stewart was absolutely incredible. He had 25 carries for 130 yards. He had a 46-yard kickoff return. He had two receptions for 17 yards. He had 193 total yards. That's a redshirt freshman that's performing that way. I'm just so pleased with Sam. It was good to get Dennis Parks back who had eight receptions for us after missing the first game.
"We turned the ball over offensively, though, five times. You can't do that anywhere. You can't do it at home. You can't do it on the road. It doesn't matter who your opponent is. One of our fumbles led to immediate points that the Longhorns took back for a touchdown. But to have three interceptions and two fumbles, that's way too many. The good news is all that is coachable moments. We can get all of that fixed this week in practice.
"The punt returns. We gave up three large punt returns. One for a touchdown, one we gave the ball to them on the six yard line and one on the 26-yard line. We can't do that. It was one of those games where we dominated everywhere but on the scoreboard and it was one where Rice mistakes beat Rice. We can't have that. That's not what championship teams do. It's not how they perform. We expect more. The team expects more. We look forward to getting them over here today and going to work on getting these mistakes corrected. We need to get more hang time on our punts. We have to get better lane distribution on our kickoff coverage and on our punts and we will go to work today on getting those things fixed.
"I'm very pleased with the character of this football team though. We were down 21-0 on the road. We fought back to get it to 21-14 with an opportunity to tie it up right before halftime. I like the grit that this football team showed. Also, at no point did we fall apart. We have great seniors on the sideline that kept rallying the troops. We were convinced that we were going there to win. We're going to keep dreaming big. We're going to win our share. But, in a loss, I am very, very pleased in how we continued to compete as a football team throughout the whole game.
"We start Conference USA play this week against North Texas. They did lose to SMU. Dan McCarney is one of the finest coaches in the country. His team will be fundamentally sound in all three phases. The last time we visited there, it was our only conference loss back in 2013 when we won the conference. Every week, one of our goals is to just keep improving. We're going to do that the entire season and we have to go to North Texas with the same demeanor and the same effort that we just played with. But, we have to eliminate those mistakes in order for us to win on the road. But, God was I proud of the grit that these young men showed."
On the culture of never being out of a game:
"It was one of those things that we talked about after the game. There have been times when teams would have shut it down when you're down 21 (points) in the fourth quarter. Instead, it strengthened our resolve. You're on our sideline and you just continue to hear about how we're going to win this one. Just keep fighting away, one play at a time. At no point did we not believe that we weren't going to win that game. That's a tribute to our senior class."
On Driphus Jackson's performance:
"Driphus is a great player. He's our leader. I think that he wanted to win that football game so bad that he pressed a little bit. He can't do that. Driphus just needs to be Driphus and I think he'll have a great senior year. But, for us to have those turnovers; that's not him. He's made great decisions with the ball. He came by Sunday and we talked about it. He's a great quarterback, he's a great leader and, like I said all along, we're going to go as he goes. He knows we're counting on him."
On not allowing the loss to have a hangover effect:
"That's where you count on your senior class. Even in the loss, we're going to learn a lot of lessons and we're going to improve this football team. But, we also learned how determined you have to be on the road. I really don't think we'll have a hangover effect from this game. I think it will strengthen our resolve. With these young men, that's what you do. You get better every week."
On Brian Womac and Derek Brown:
"Brian Womac's amazing. You see plays, like on a long scramble when he's been knocked down at the line of scrimmage, where he gets up and he's chasing that ball. He had two and a half tackles for loss. He creates a lot of chaos when he's in the game. He loves the sport. He's passionately chasing the football. He's a young player. But he's been very productive for us. But, he's going to continue to get better. If you watch the video, you see the effort that he plays with and the effort that Derek Brown plays with. They're going to make a lot of plays, especially as they continue to learn their technique. Derek's really young at the position and I'm really pleased in how he stepped up and in his performance. They're both physical. You can just tell in the effort that they play with that they love it. That's how you build good football teams."
On Samuel Stewart:
"He had a lot of natural ability. But, he's also an extremely hard worker. He's dedicated, a lot of times, on the field and in the football classroom part of it, to be an every down back. We knew when we signed him how talented he was. He had a lot of options, a lot of scholarship offers and he chose Rice. He's doing everything that we thought he could do. He just didn't have the time clock that we had for him. We're certainly thrilled that he's a Rice Owl and we expect bigger and better things out of him. The best is yet to come. But, we're excited for him. You start with just how calm he is and how poised he is. On the first kickoff return, Luke Turner throws it across the football field to him. If you study that video close, you'll see him lying in his white uniform right down on that white letter where he's trying to blend (in). For him to get up and take that ball 46 yards, and then you watch his leaping ability where he launches from about the four-yard line. He's just a tough, gutsy runner. He's got great speed, good vision, but is an extremely hard worker. He's a great fit at this University. He's only played two games here but he's going to have a fantastic career."
On Trey Martin's performance at center:
"Trey Martin was amazing. He actually will be Lineman of the Game this week for how well he performed at center. I thought it was a great battle between him and the nose guard and I thought Trey came out on top a whole lot. I'm very pleased with how the offensive line performed. You have those two starters and Trey. We're a young offensive line. But, we're as athletic in all five of them as we've ever been."
On Stewart's diving touchdown:
"Fortunately, he hasn't done that in practice. He's just one of those guys that are determined to win. He's a winner. Like I said, he doesn't just work hard on the field; he works hard in the classroom. He's a very mature young man."