Monday's football press conference quotesNovember 8, 2004 · MT Media Relations
Opening comments: This past week was a tough trip on us. Right now, looking at our team, we look like a tired, beat up football team. We didn't execute very well and New Mexico State played well, like they always do at home. We have to get some guys healthy this week. We are excited to be back home.
A few positives in the game, I thought Colby Smith punted very well. You go back and watch the film; it wasn't a matter of our kids not playing hard because they did. We had some young players probably hit the wall a little bit. We had some opportunities early to make it a game but it didn't work out.
We will regroup and try to get some guys well. We have to get ready for a much-improved UL-Monroe team coming in here.
How do all the injuries hurt you as far as substitutions and groupings? It's tough. Every time we looked around we were mixing and matching, but we had some guys who did play hurt that I am proud of. DL Jeff Littlejohn is playing hurt. Roy Polite and Damon Nickson, two freshmen corners, were playing hurt. LB Dennis Burke played the whole game hurt. We had to move some guys around since we lost Darren Mustin. We lost RB Eugene Gross during the game and that was a blow. We lost DL Jerry Vanderpool during the game. It just goes on and on. We are a banged up football team and when you go through straight through like we have, it just looked like we hit a wall. They tried to fight through it and they gave effort. We had seven or eight dropped passes, which is more than we have had all season, combined, so it was a combination of a lot of things. We will get it patched up and get ready for this week.
What is the status of center Marcus Gates and can you talk about his replacement, Kyle Ringley? We will find out more about Marcus today and throughout the week. We have confidence in Kyle, but Kyle hasn't played in many college games. He snapped one too early and the quarterback wasn't ready for it, but that's a young mistake by a guy who hasn't played in many games. Kyle will have a good week and we will try to rehab Marcus. To lose your center halfway through the game is tough, especially as well as Marcus has been playing, but Kyle will have to get ready and we will rally with him.
How do you deal with all the injuries? There are things you would like to improve on but you can't get out there and beat on them. We really don't have enough bodies right now. Hopefully we will get some of these guys back but a lot of it becomes mental this time of the year anyway when you have gone through the whole year without an off week, just due to circumstances. We have to focus on assignments and fundamentals this week.
Is it your team and whether they play well or not that dictates the outcome of the game more than the opponent? Going into the New Mexico State game, a lot of teams have a tough time at New Mexico State and at Idaho because of the long trips and the tough trip. Plus, they play well there. We have to continue playing well at home against a good UL-Monroe team that has some quality wins and 20-plus seniors. We woke up today and the sun came up. We have to put the last one behind us, get healthy and get ready for the next one. Anytime you lose a game people say the kids weren't ready. Well, that's easy to say. Our kids were ready to play and they wanted to play well. We just didn't execute very well and gave up a few trick plays. We hung in there early but we couldn't do anything offensively and the defense was on the field too much and then we just didn't make plays as it went.
How much improved is UL-Monroe? I think they are greatly improved because they have an older football team. They have some guys who have played in a lot of football games. I think about their safety Chris Harris. I think he's one of the better players in the league and have always thought that. I thought he was one of the better players in the league as a freshman. QB Steven Jyles has played in a lot of games so they are an older football team with experienced guys playing. They have a big receiver in Drouzon Quillen who makes plays, their running backs run well. Jyles is a threat running or throwing and they have always been good on defense.
Harris is always among the leaders in the Sun Belt in interceptions or fumble recoveries. What is it about him that allows him to get his hands on the ball and make so many plays? He's a great player. Great players make big plays. He's been put in position to make big plays and he makes them. He's been doing it for four years. He's a player I respect a lot in this league. He will play more (at the next level) after this season is over.
UL-Monroe has allowed just five sacks all season. Is there offensive line that good or do they move Jyles around a lot? They do a lot of things offensively. They get the ball out quick. Jyles is a threat to run the ball at all times. I think when you have a quarterback with the ability Jyles has, he can make a pass rusher miss and pick up positive yards. They do a lot of cutting up front. Their guys up front do a good job in their scheme.
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