David Bailiff Press Conference Quotes

Aug. 29, 2016

Opening Statement

“It’s really an exciting time just to have our second press conference in this new facility. The facility is incredible and it has really helped us during camp. Having this building, just from a mental health standpoint, a training standpoint; to be able to come in here and have all this room, it’s incredible. Our camp has gone fantastic. Our preparation for Western Kentucky has been really good. We travel Wednesday. (We) leave here in the morning to travel to Bowling Green. I think Jeff Brohm has done an incredible job of just having the consistency in that program. They’ve got 13 straight conference wins, so it’s remarkable what they have achieved there. We’ve got our hands full. We’ll have to play a fantastic football game. They have five starts back in the offensive line. They’ve got a big tailback. They’ve got two receivers who both had 900 yards (last year) and they’ve named their transfer quarterback, Mike White from South Florida, as their starter, who had 13 starts at South Florida. They were a top-10 offense last year and I think we’re going to have to play extremely well defensively.

I think defense, coming out of camp, we’ve made great strides over there. It’s great to have Graysen Schantz back at defensive end, who we missed all of last season. A lot of those freshmen are now sophomores who are a lot more disruptive and understand the game and the scheme better. I’m really pleased with where we are defensively and I’m really pleased with where we are offensively. All systems are a go. I’ve liked the progress offensively, defensively and on special teams.

Like I said, we’ve had a great camp and we look forward to getting on the airplane and opening up with a conference game. It’s unique, but it’s one where we’ve got to show up. Most times, after the first game, you have a chance to make sure all of your thoughts are correct. Be it from special teams or some of your starters and we’ve tried to make sure that we’re hitting Western Kentucky strong with our special teams, strong with our offense and defense. I think we’ve got a great plan. We look forward to going. I think we’ve had a great camp. We learned a lot of lessons last season and we’re going to try to apply them, get back to our winning ways and get back to a bowl game.”

On the challenges of opening with a conference game:

“Usually, if you play up, you have a chance to find some of your errors, like in your special teams your punt coverage may not be fast enough. You have time to make some adjustments. But when you open with a conference game, a lot of special teams are going to have starters on them. It’s not time where you can try to develop some of these younger players. We’re going to go and try to use our veterans in a lot of areas.”

On senior quarterback Tyler Stehling:

“You’ve watched him really grow. He’s a young man you really grinded it for four years and he never complained. He just showed up and tried to get better. It’s his turn and I think he’s made the best of his opportunity. He’s made great decisions with the football in his hand and that’s what he needs to do. He doesn’t need to be great the first game. He needs to be consistent and get the ball to our playmakers on the edge or in the backfield. If he got pressure, instead of taking a sack, he was good at throwing the ball away to play another down and not try to force the ball in there. I’m really pleased through it all that, even though he’s a new starter, he is a fifth-year player that does have a lot of game experience under his belt.”

On the depth in the backfield:

“We do have the four running backs back, but we’ll also have the ability to play them anywhere we want to play them. Darik Dillard and Jowan (Davis) both have over 1,700 career yards here so they’ve been two consistent backs. They’re both starters. Then you have Sam Stewart and Austin Walters. So we’re pleased with where we are there. They all catch the ball well. They all have a different skill set but you can use all four of them on any down.”

On the receivers:

“It’s the same thing with the receivers. It starts with Zach Wright, our leading receiver last year. He’s been elected team captain this year. But you look at the progress that Lance Wright has made. He missed last season and he’s back. Temi Alaka, James Mayden, Darrion Pollard, who did not play last year. He’s been a very dynamic guy this year in camp that has had a lot of production when he touches the ball. I’m thrilled with the receivers. I’m thrilled with not only the way they are catching the ball but with how hard they work when they don’t have the ball in their hands. Coach (Billy) Lynch has done a great job of turning those guys into total package wide receivers that are willing to block when they don’t have the ball.”

On talking to the team about last year:

“That’s something that we talked about. Obviously, when you go 5-7 and miss a fourth straight bowl, nobody’s happy with that. There’s power in failure. It forces you to narrow your focus. It forces you to analyze everything in the program. Also, our players now have a bigger chip on their shoulder because nobody enjoyed it, from the President of the university to our fans. We’re here to win football games and go to bowl games. That’s what we’re going to do. Just because we didn’t last year (doesn’t mean) we are going to lower our expectations. We’re going to continue to fight and have the grit to get it done.”

On the culture change and expectations of new players:

“Expectations are great. Expectations are what fuel us. We’re recruiting at a level now, too, where we didn’t have 10 guys in the NFL last year by mistake. There are 10 guys that came here and worked extremely hard to get there. We’re on the winningest four years in the history of Rice. That’s because there are a lot of these young men who have come here and are determined and dedicated to get it done and to live the dream of getting a big time education, going to a bowl game and possibly playing in the NFL. That’s the type of student-athlete we’re attracting now. They didn’t come here to go 5-7. They came here to win football games, to graduate and keep the values of this university intact and I think that’s what makes it so special when we do that.”

On how tough it is to prepare for a team like Western Kentucky:

“First off, we have to worry about what we do because we need to play hard. But, I think our defensive coaches have done a fantastic job of exposing all the different gadgets and giving (the team) some coaching points of what to look for. You have to play hard and follow your keys and be fundamentally and technically sound. And play hard. As long as we’re playing hard great things are going to happen.”





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