RUSTON, La. (Oct. 3, 2011) - Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes and select players spoke with the media Monday following Tech's loss against Hawaii and in advance of its game at Idaho.
Head Coach Sonny Dykes
"Disappointing game Saturday against Hawaii. I thought Hawaii played good. I think Hawaii has a really good football team. I looked at the tape on Sunday. We thought they were very much improved defensive. They played well and we talked about it last week, they have some really good defensive tackles and two of the better linebackers in the league. They played pretty well in the back end."
"Offensively, their quarterback makes it go. Their offensive line did a pretty good job most of the night protection wise. We pressured some and hit him some. It just didn't rattle him and he made plays. Pollard had a big game. We had guys in coverages were they had opportunity to play the football and he went up and made some big plays on the football. That is what good players do and their quarterback is a good player too."
"That is a good football team and I think they are going to be a contender for the conference championship and they were the preseason pick. You can see why. They did a good job of travel and their players were focused. I really did think that they did have a good plan. They flew into Houston on Wednesday night, spent Thursday practicing in Houston and flew into Monday on Friday. I thought they were well prepared."
"Against a good team like that we have to play better. We have a seven second span in the second half where we threw an interception for a touchdown and then fumbled the kickoff and had it returned for a touchdown. When you do that it is just too much to overcome. We had a touchdown called back on a holding call. Quinton Patton made a nice play on the ball. We didn't end up scoring on that drive. I wasn't pleased with the way we play. I thought it was one of the sloppiest games we had played. I didn't think our players played as disciplined as we had up to that point."
"We had some strange things happened to us in the game. I don't think the players handled them very well. You got to give credit to Hawaii for being a bit more mature in their approach and how they handled it. As a result we got beat. I was disappointed; we had a great crowd and it was a boisterous crowd and loud. I think we wanted to put a better showing than we did. I don't think we played well and disappointing that we didn't. Talking to players and coaches I think the two back-to-back really disappointing losses took a toll on our team emotionally. I sensed on Wednesday that we were a little bit flat. You can't do that and it is our responsibility to do that and perform better. Overall it wasn't our best performance and we lost our composure Sunday and I was really disappointed in that."
On playing out of character:
"That is what happens when you play good football teams like we did. Houston is undefeated and Mississippi State is a really good football team. You play two really good teams and play the way we did and lost our players started to search and felt like we had to do something out of character almost to win the game. We had guys pitching balls around on kickoffs that we have never done. We all of sudden did things that were out of character for us. That is one of the things we have done this year is keeping our cool and staying focused and not worry about things. I thought our players did an exceptional job against Mississippi State in a tough environment and didn't let it bother them, but for some reason Saturday night we were pressing and I think we thought we had to do more than we did. If we had played the two week prior we would have a great chance to win the game. You have to give Hawaii credit because they made a tremendous amount of plays."
On team's play Saturday against Hawaii:
"I think the biggest difference is that we played exceptionally well two weeks in a row. I thought we really played well against Houston, but didn't win the game and the same thing against Mississippi State. I think our players realized that there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel for them. We have talked to them about buying in and being more committed. They have tried to do the little things that we have been harping on them to do. It is tough when you are harping on them to do this, do that and you get so close but there is not reward for you. We have to keep believing and understanding that all we have to do then we can beat anybody that we play. I think we tried to do much on Saturday cost us."
On officiating having impact on the game:
"I can't really say, but probably none. The thing about officiating is I believe they are trying to get it right and sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. Good football teams take it in stride and we didn't do a good job of that. The 22-minute delay is not good for college football. I don't' think that is what it is suppose to be like and it took 22 minutes to decide something that everybody knew is a bit bewildering to me. We didn't handle it well. That is what ultimately more important than sitting around for 22-minutes. It is just how we responded to it and reacted to it wasn't good. It is tough when you have a home crowd and they are worked up a little bit and they are sitting on their hands for 22 minutes. That does kill your momentum a little bit, but we have to handle it better, react better and be a better football team."
On the coin flip:
"I am still trying to get that figured out. There was some miscommunication and I am quite sure whose fault it is and I don't really care. We just have to make sure there isn't any miscommunication in the future."
On getting the call right on the 22-minute review:
"Yeah, they got it right. They were going to give us the ball on Hawaii's end of the field and I tried to tell them that it wasn't the right thing to do. I and Coach McCracken knew what the right thing to do was after 15 seconds so if they asked us we could have saved them 21 minutes and 45 seconds."
On explanations you got about the review:
"Several, it is like anything else and they tried to get it right. Like I said, they did surgery with a chainsaw in trying to get the call right."
On getting team ready to play Idaho:
"We are sitting right there with them because we haven't proven anything this year. We have proven we can play with the best of them, but we haven't closed the games out. Anybody that looks at Idaho's record at home sees that they play extremely well at home and we have proven anything. Surely our players have recognized that and if they haven't we will point it out to them."
On not trying to do too much Saturday:
"I think it is just a belief that you have to have in yourself as a player. I think losing two games the way we did it shakes your confidence some. As I said there has to be some light at the end of the tunnel and we preach to the players consistently about doing the little things right and for the most part they do. We aren't batting a thousand, but they are buying into more than they have been and they are more mature than they have been. A lot of that went out the window on Saturday. We had a personal foul penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the bench and stuff that good football teams don't do. That is one of the things we take pride in is running a discipline football team. That was one of the things I was disappointed a little bit because I don't think we played discipline football and we have to learn from that."
On being number three in the country in penalties:
"That is a surprise. We were one of the least penalized teams in the country last year. When you play as many plays as we do you get more penalties. Teams that play up tempo get more plays and so it is kind of like that in total defense. Yardage per game is deceiving statistic because some schools play more plays. That is like that in penalties. If they broke it down to penalties per amount of plays played we would fall somewhere into the middle and that is not where we want to be. WE have had some unique things happen to us this year in a penalty stand point. It has just been a weird year. That is something we need to address and we will get that fixed."
On what he knows about Idaho:
"I have watched all the film on their defense and special teams and am just starting to watch film on their offense. To me Idaho is an improved team and they played well against Virginia. They have done well on their special teams. They blocked a punt against Virginia and returned it for a touchdown and have blocked some field goals. To me they are really playing aggressively in their special teams and it is really paying off for them. I know their return units are good and coverage units are good. They are going to be a challenge for us in a special teams stand point."
"We have played well the last two weeks on special teams, giving up a punt for a touchdown against Mississippi State and fumbling a kickoff return Saturday. So we have given up two touchdowns in two weeks and we take a tremendous amount of pride in our special teams. So it will be a challenge for us from a special teams stand point. Defensively they are playing hard and have good size up front. Both of their offensive and defensive lines are big up front and that allows them to play the physical type of football that they want to play. It will be a challenge for us."
On Idaho's quarterback:
"He played against us last year and is a good player. He throws the ball well. He is a good football player, has good size and a nice strong arm. They do a good job and have good coaches over there that know what they are doing offensively and manipulating you and creating extra lanes in the run game. Then throw a play action against you. They hurt us last year with their vertical passing game in the middle of the field and that is something we are going to defend against this year."
On playing in the Kibbie Dome before:
"No, it is my first time. I have seen it before because when I was at Arizona we played Washington State and have been in the area before. I drove by it but have not had a chance to go inside it. Looking forward to it though. I am kind of interested in checking it out and am glad we are going out of town this week. For our players, it is good to get everybody together and get out of town and I am looking forward to it."
On travel plans to Idaho:
"We will leave Friday, not sure of the time. When we get there we will have a lot of meeting in the hotel Friday night and then a typical Saturday. I am looking forward to playing the game a little bit earlier. It makes for a long Saturday playing the night games and I like the earlier games. We will have some walk-throughs Friday night at the hotel."
On when you knew you had something special in Quinton Patton:
"Hawaii tried to press him some more to take away the easy throws to him. That is what a lot of teams will do to him know. We moved him around inside and outside to get him some good matchups which is what we have to do to get him the football more and make some plays. Lyle Fitte played well running and catching the ball and just had his one mistake in the return game. He played well at the running back position and will have an expanded role back there. I was disappointed in Lennon [Creer} in that he didn't have his best game, but he was banged up some. He just didn't give us what he normally gave us."
"Quinton is a good player and has room for a lot of improvement. He is our go-to-guy and has played consistently. He needs to do a better job of making catches in traffic. He had some opportunities against Hawaii and had an opportunity to seal the game for us against Houston. He made a good catch to put us up, but he has got to a better job of catching the ball in traffic. He is a really good catch and run guy and that is what he does well. He creates something after catching the ball. We thought he was going to be a good player and we like his toughness, which we thought we needed in this program. We saw him on film at Coffeyville and he played safety and was physical. He was a punter and liked his versatility and he also caught the ball. We thought he was slower coming into the program which is unusual because usually they are slower. He has been a good player for us and has a lot of room for improvement. He has to player better without the ball and just has to be more consistent."
On Holley's status for the rest of the season:
"I think Ray will be out of the year. That is a lost for us that is tough. He is such a good player that did a lot of things for us, but it doesn't look like we will have him for the rest of the year. He still has a redshirt so there is possibility for a medical redshirt."
On Holley being the X factor:
"It hurts us and we don't have a lot of depth at the receiver position. We have more than we had, but we are still a couple of guys short. That hurts us because now we have to play Lyle Fitte more at the F position and he has been playing more of an inside receiver position and some running back. So when you lose Ray that can do both for you, you have to give Lyle enough reps at the F so he can do that in the game and that takes away his reps for playing at the inside receiver. It is like a domino effect when a guy goes down because we are one or two guys short, but we are hoping to continue to develop guys and get them ready to play. I think Scott Cathcart is going to play this week and he hasn't played up to this point in the season. He will have to come in and carve a role out for him and we are looking forward to see what he can do."
Freshman Quarterback Nick Isham
On how this loss differs from the others:
"Definitely very frustrating as a team and offense personally and it is disappointing and we expected to play better, but we couldn't bounce back."
On team trying to press:
"Yeah, I think we were trying to press too much to make big plays and make things happen instead of just doing what we do and play our game. We just tried to do too much."
On weird stuff going on this week or trying to bounce back from the two losses in team's performance:
"Probably a combination of both. I feel like from the opening coin toss to the first half time it was all kind of a strange deal out there. We can't let that affect us a players and a team and it did. We just have to put the weeks behind us behind us and play like it is a new week every week."
On being glad you don't have to hear about being a 17-year old quarterback anymore:
"Yeah, four more days and it is behind me. Just wake up and play on Saturday."
On what he wants for a birthday present:
"A win probably. That is all that I can think of."
On what you know about Idaho on defense:
"I know that they have a lot of good athletes, a good coach and good schemes. We just have to go out there and execute our game plan."
On how to balance not pressing yet keeping the tempo of the offense:
"Just execute the game plan. We have big plays and plays that get us what we need. We trust in Coach Franklin's play calls and ideas for what the best thing to do is and feed off of that."
On how not having Holley and Creer not at his best changes the dynamic of the offense:
"Those two guys are great, outstanding running back and luckily we have Lyle Fitte who can come in and do some great things for us. It gives me and the receivers more of an opportunity to go out and make plays. We were able to do that a few times, but others times we weren't. So we just have to put it on our shoulders when that situation occurs."
On ever playing in a dome:
"I haven't so it will be a first time for me. I will not make it any different than any other game. Whether it is outside or inside, in the snow it doesn't really matter. Noise wise depends on the crowd."
Senior Linebacker Adrian Cole
On Idaho's offense:
"I haven't really had time to look into them yet, but I will today and full evaluate them and studying them. I know they have one of the bigger O-lines in the WAC and they have big mobile and agile guys that like to pull and get down hill."
On mind set of the team:
"We will see a bright future at the end of the road even though we have had some dark moments. We are still trying to reach where we want to be at the season by being bowl eligible and hopefully have a shot at the WAC title."
On how crazy it was on the defensive side of the ball Saturday:
"It was alright. There was nothing you could complain about and couldn't put anything on the refs. It was basically Hawaii just coming out there and executing their plan to a T and outperforming us."
On Hawaii's quarterback:
"I guess when Broha had a sack and he just lofted it into the end zone for a touchdown, but that is a lot of credit to the quarterback. He is a good athlete and it showed on the field."
On feeling after the game compared to the close loses:
"No, because we feel like a lost is a lost and it hurts just the same whether it is by one or 100."
On Idaho being in the same mind set:
"They probably are and feel like they had a couple of games that could have swung either way and are probably looking to bounce back against us. So I don't expect anything less than great competition and a good game. I am pretty sure they want it just as much as we do."
On playing in the Kibbie Dome:
"It looks like it is bigger than it actually is. Because it looks like a basketball gym turned into a football stadium and the fans are right there on top of you. It is a real nice environment."
On anything planned for Nick Isham's birthday:
"Hopefully to finally not have to have coaches watch him sign papers. Hopefully we can muster up something and get a win for Nick's birthday, but it will be tough to do out in Idaho and the Kibbie Dome."
On light level in the Kibbie Dome:
"I don't think so. The Kibbie Dome is a good place. I don't think the light being dim in their really affects it. I can see Idaho perfectly clear when I am on the field."