RUSTON, La. (Nov. 7, 2011) - Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes, along with select players, spoke to the media Monday following Tech's 41-21 win over Fresno State and in advance of the team's game at Ole Miss.
Head Coach Sonny Dykes
"I knew it would be a tough game. It is a hard place to play and they are a good football team. When you turn on the tape of Fresno State you see that they have speed on both sides of the ball. Kind of scary fast. They are always going to play a physical brand of football. It was important for us to get off to a good start and try to put some pressure on them and throw the football."
"I think they went in thinking they would do what they did to us last year and pound the ball in the second half. We felt like it was important to get off to a good start and make them one dimensional as best as we possibly could. We really did a good job of that by playing good defense earlier on and hit them with some big plays offensively."
"We made some contested catches which was probably as critical as anything else in the game was having guys going up and catching the ball in traffic and making some contested plays. That hasn't been a strength of ours this year but that was big and they are a very aggressive defense. Their linebackers are downhill run support guys and their safeties help out in the run support game. We felt like we could play-action and get the ball down the field. Colby [Cameron] made some good throws and our receivers made some good catches and protected well."
"The play of our defense really stood out. They are a good offensive team. Rouse is a good running back. Carr is a good quarterback and they are big up-front. We did a good job up front. Once we got the big lead, I think we were up 41-7; we gave up some long drives but didn't allow it to be easy. They had to nickel and dime us. We gave up a 99-yard scoring drive but it took up nearly seven minutes. We were playing pretty soft and they threw a bunch of screen. We rallied and tackled well."
"There are a lot of ways we can get better. I think me missed some open throws offensively. We were fortunate to not have any turnovers but we put the ball on the ground three times and were lucky enough to recover all of them. We have to a better job of taking care of the football. Defensively we missed some tackles and I think we can do that better. That is a credit to Fresno's players. Rouse is a good player and they have a couple of fast guys, but I think we need to tackle better and we will be challenged this week as we play against a very skilled and fast Ole Miss football team."
"That is the thing about those guys; they are having tremendous skills and have big play potential. Their quarterback can throw the ball well and make plays on his feet. They have a lot of great skill plays. They have an offensive line that is very big. So we are going to have to do a better job tackling and offensively we have to take advantage of our opportunities than we did last week. Overall I thought it was a good week for us."
On coaching against a team in limbo:
"I have never have coached against one or been in that situation before. You hate it when someone loses their job and that is the bad part of the business. He [Houston Nutt] has obvious been a very successful head coach and has won at a lot of different places through his career. You hate to see it happen during the season."
"People will speculate about what kind of impact that it will have. I don't know. Every team that faces the situation acts differently. You know all we can control is what happens to us. We don't care about their situation and we just have to take care of business on our end and get our guys ready to play. This game is going to excite our players because anytime you go on the road to face an SEC team it is exciting. We want to see how we stack up against a Southeastern Conference team and our guys will be ready to play."
On Lennon Creer's 53-yard touchdown run:
"Tony Franklin has done a really good job on our play action stuff. Sometimes our receivers run routes when we are going to hand the ball off and that is what happened. The safety on the side that Lennon scored on was basically covering a pass pattern. We were running a smash combination to that side and the safety covered the pass and the safety on the other side came down to fill the wrong gap and no one was there. The guys on the backend were playing pass and that is something new that we have started doing. I think that it is kind of unique. It is funny that when we run the ball they will run routes and sometimes when we throw the ball we act like we are blocking and have some pass routes open."
"There wasn't anyone there and we were giving Lennon a hard time because going into the game his longest run of the year was 23-yards. I told him he was basically a glorified fullback and he didn't want to hear that [laughter]."
On Myles White stepping up:
"We had been waiting for that. He has been banged up and it hurt us not having him. He can run and with the number of skill position players that went down during the year it is really important for him to play and play at a high level. He has been able to practice the last couple of weeks and we moved him to the inside from the outside receiver position. It is a new position for him and I think he has finally gotten used to it and some convincing."
"When you are an outside receiver you are going against cornerbacks that are 170 pounds all the time but as an inside receiver you go up against linebackers a couple of time. I don't' think he was that jacked going up against Adrian Cole in practice. We had to convince him about avoiding the guy and then you are running routes against safeties. With his speed that is a match-up problem against some safeties and linebackers. It was good to see him make some plays and in two consecutive games he has made some big contested plays through the middle of the field. I think that is some of the reason we have been successful recently."
On review of White's catch:
"It took a while but the funny thing about reviews is that, in general, it is supposed to be indisputable evidence and I see stuff as a fan that is overruled all the time and it doesn't look like indisputable evidence to me. Again I am not talking about that play I am just talking about it in general."
"I don't know how long it was but sometimes for those guys it is difficult because if you are going to reverse a call on they have to figure out not just where the ball should be spotted but also down and distance and the clock as well. If it is an incomplete pass the clock obviously stops running. There is a lot of stuff that goes into other than is it a catch or isn't it a catch."
On success on the road this season:
"It kind of goes back to what I said earlier where each team has their own identity and handles things their own way. For our guys it is something we have embraced because we have seven road games and we have to embrace it. Our guys decided early on that it doesn't help sitting around talking about long plane rides and that it just matters to go out and play the game. Our travel is good. We have done a really good job and it has been top notch. It is a first class operation, staying in good hotels, eating good meals and treating the players the right way. It helps with their mentality that we do it that way. I kind of like it and our players do too."
"When you go play in Idaho or California or Utah, I don't know anybody in those places and I can just go out there and coach. I don't have to worry about who is coming in to town. It is the same way with the players. I think they just kind of get away and play the game instead of worrying about who is coming into town and who I have to get tickets for. I do think it has helped our mentality to play on the road."
"I think those guys [California natives] have to deal with the other stuff but the good thing is they can trade their tickets to get a lot of tickets. That is a hard place to go and play. I know they have a good home stadium record and it is a hard place to play. Our guys were energized and had a great pregame. I thought we were incredibly focused and I was worried because it was 9:30 p.m. Central Time. That is what I like about this team. We just do what we do and just go and play. These guys have been on a mission all year long to prove that they are a good football team. I think when you have that mentality you don't let all the ancillary things distract you. That has been why we have been able to play well on the road."
On Colby Cameron's play lately:
"That is college football. We told Colby this that when we made the decision to start Nick [Isham], we are going to need you to win a bunch of games for us. How we got to that point doesn't really matter. That is college football and guys get injured and guys get opportunities and they have to make the best out of them. That is exactly what he has done. He has prepared well like he was the starting quarterback and like anybody else he was ready to take advantage of the opportunities when they presented themselves."
"Nick [Isham] is great. He knows the deal too. The thing about those guys is that they root for each other which is unusual for quarterbacks because they are usually the most diabolical, selfish guys on the face of the Earth. It is kind of the nature of the position. They are generally two good natured guys and want the other to succeed. Which I said is kind of unusual."
"Just confidence, just playing with confidence and getting comfortable. That is the thing about the position every quarterback has ups and downs in their careers. I talked to Terry Bradshaw a couple of weeks ago and Terry told me that the best thing that happened to him was that he got the job and didn't play well and got pulled and watched the game from the sideline. When he got a chance to watch the game from the sideline it made him a better quarterback. He was able to see how the other guy handled things. I think Colby learned from watching Nick and I think Nick is benefitting now from watching Colby. I do think that there is a lot of knowledge and experience that can be gained from sitting back and watching the other guy."
"I might have told Colby about the story but I haven't had the chance to tell Nick yet about it. That is the good thing about having a guy like Terry to talk to about it because he has a great prospective on it. He said to be a lot nicer that Chuck Noll was to him. I think he is still mortality afraid of Chuck Noll."
On team bouncing back from tough start to the season:
"That is the thing that you credit to these guys. There are a few teams that could go through with all the tough losses and with how poorly we played against Hawaii. Then keep working and expect something good to happen. I think we knew that at some point everything would even out and we would just make things happen. Those things just don't happen. You have to play better and faster, work a little harder, take better care of your body and coach better. Everything had to improve and he has to keep doing that. We were fortunate enough to have things work out and get us a couple of wins. These next few games is how this team will be remembered."
On playing another SEC opponent:
"It is big for us because it is another game for us against a good team. We just have to keep improving and like I said I thought we had a pretty good team and we just have to prove that. Playing against an SEC team - it means a bigger crowd and more people are watching. So I think it is an opportunity for our players to build their reputation."
On Ole Miss and Fresno State comparisons:
"There are some similarities between the two teams. On paper they are similar in a lot of ways and when you watch the film they are also very similar. Ole Miss is going to have speed at the skill positions and big and physical upfront. They went up to Fresno and beat a good team. It is going to be a challenge and we don't have a single player on the team that was recruited by Ole Miss. They have different recruits than we do but that doesn't mean a thing to our guys. It is just a chance to go and prove that we belong and do good things."
On Ole Miss QB Randal Mackey:
"He has a good arm and very talented. He can run and make plays with his feet. He can throw the ball better than people give him credit for probably. He is a good deep thrower and throws a very nice deep ball. If you pressure him too much he will start to run around and start creating plays and if you don't pressure him enough he can sit in the pocket and you have to pick your poison with those guys. He is a very good player and their offense has gotten better once he took over."
On Louisiana Tech NT Justin Ellis:
"I think he has grown up and he has realized he has a lot of potential but that doesn't get you any were unless you work. I think he has begun to understand that more than he has in the past. He has lost some weight so he can play more plays and he isn't hurt. Last year he had a foot injury and other issues. He has been solid for us and the whole line has been as well, especially the tackle position. Shakeil Lucas is vastly improved and has given us a lot of snaps and Jon'al White has been a huge addition. Those guys are doing a lot good things inside for us."
On conference alignment:
"I don't' have any control over it. There is so much stuff going on this time of the year that you have to focus on your team and doing what you have to do. I am just worried about having a good practice tonight and get the guys ready to play this weekend."
Wide Receiver David Gru
On relationship with Colby Cameron:
"We started playing football together in seventh grade and have played on the same team ever since. High School, JV, freshman and I guess there has always been that wide receiver to quarterback connection. He got a scholarship and I didn't but it worked out in the end."
On how he ended up at LA Tech:
"I stayed at home training to be a firefighter. I guess in high school I didn't think I could play college football. I realized I needed to get out and Colby was the first guy I called since he is my best friend. He said why don't you come here. It is a great place, people, good school and education. I gave it a shot and I was doing well and got a little bored. So I decided to walk-on and it worked out."
On road mentality:
"I feel like we go into every game mentally prepared and focused. I think that it is a coincidence that we are doing so well on the road. Maybe something contributing to that is that we feel it is us against everybody else. That mindset might help us some."
On building confidence:
"I think every game you play you gain confidence. There is nothing more valuable than experience."
On being close to beating Mississippi State giving extra motivation this weekend:
"We are treating every week differently. We are concentrating on this week and are not thing about the past. We are preparing for this week, not two weeks from now. We are taking one day and one game at the time and sticking with that."
On SEC being a big deal being from California:
"The SEC is a powerhouse but I grew up watching Pac-10 games. I felt like they were the powerhouse but being in the South you learn to respect the SEC and we are very excited to play an SEC team this week."
On the quarterback situation:
"You want to pull for everyone on the team and Nick [Isham] has done a great job playing as a freshman and a young kid. So you stand behind whoever has the job. I am proud of the way Colby [Cameron] handled it and he took it as a life lesson. He took it day-by-day and I think how he handled it improved him as a quarterback and I am proud of the way he handled it."
Linebacker Adrian Cole
On seeing the team play seven road games:
"Yes, we knew that all the games this year would be challenges and we knew we would probably be the underdogs in most of them. So we always made it personal like in practice we pushed ourselves because we knew we would be facing tough environments."
On team's mindset:
"Our philosophy is anywhere, anyplace, anytime. It wouldn't make a difference but going against such great opponents in their home it makes the game a little bit more tougher."
On any confidence gained from first two road losses:
"Not really because we don't accept moral victories. A loss is a loss and that is how we took them."
On the BCS top 25 and seeing Houston and Southern Miss ranked:
"Sort of because at the same time sort of not because in the back of your head you are thinking we let those games slip away to great teams that we should have capitalized and finished the game. They are good teams and were able to pull it out. They are great teams and I hope they continue to have great seasons."
On getting decisive win over rival:
"It feels good to see everything blend together at one point. The offense came out and was superb and the defense came out and put together a couple of three and outs and seeing Ryan Allen have another great special teams day. It was great to see Tech football just exploding at one time. Fresno State is an excellent team and I am just glad to see us go out there against our rivals and have a great game like that."
On controlling Robbie Rouse:
"We had a personal vendetta. Coach Spangler was in our ears saying 200, 200. We just had great looks from out scout team from Blake Martin and them just simulating Robbie Rouse. He is an excellent back and we knew that it would come down to excellent tackling and performance and see the best man win."
On rumor of Jay Dudley moving to wide receiver [joking]:
"You never know the way he has been catching them."
On Ole Miss:
"I see a team that looks to bounce back after the recent release of their head coach. I think the players are going to come hard this week and try to make a statement and that we have Coach Nutt's back even though he won't be here after the season and do what coach Nutt has instilled in us and that we are not this two-and-whatever team. We are actually a good team coming out here preparing and I don't expect anything less than a hard fought battle."
On winning streak:
"We just take it game-by-game. After every win it feels good in the plane or the bus or in the locker room but after that it is done with and are moving on. We are back to 0-0 and preparing for that next team."