“It was an exciting Saturday afternoon for us. We scheduled Wagner, from New York. Those are the games that you schedule and a team that you’re better than. But that doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to win that football game. We had an hour rain delay. The fact that we were able to handle two different times going back into the locker room. For us to start the way we did was a sign of a pretty mature football team. Driphus (Jackson) led us down on the first time we touched the ball all season and we scored on our first two drives. It was a great way to start the season.
“Defensively, we held them to three-and-out on their first series. We turned around in the second quarter and actually had a 16-play drive that went for 93 yards and a touchdown. That’s big time for us. It’s a great way to start the season. Offensively, we were 9-of-9 on third down in the first half. I thought Driphus really handled the offense. He led us really well in the football game. I was pleased with how physical our tight ends blocked. I was pleased with how physical our running backs carried the football. We had great ball security. I thought Zach Wright really excelled on the perimeter. He had two big catches for us. But, more importantly, he was physical with his blocking. That was great to see to get him back before the game. “We had one turnover offensively with Driphus, but that’s us. We have to get the protection around Driphus all on the same page. But, that was more coaching than it was Driphus. We also had four offensive linemen with their first college starts. Even though you know they’re talented, it was nice to see the way they competed. It was really big by Coach (Ronnie) Vinklarek. He did a good job there.
“Defensively, we held them under 100 yards rushing; 2.3 yards per rush. That’s good to see. Brian Womac, in his first start, really played an excellent game, as did Graysen Schantz. The guys in the middle were good. Alex Lyons, our linebacker, was our leading tackler. He was all over the field. I thought the young secondary covered. Most importantly, number one, we (were able) to play a lot of people. So it gives you more guys with game experience as we head into our next opponent. I was really pleased with our freshmen. Jack Fox, the way he kicked the ball, and Hayden Tobola.
“Overall it was a big win for us. Heading into Texas this week, it’s always a challenge. I think President (John) Kennedy summed it up when he asked ‘Why does Rice play Texas?’ Because it’s hard. It is hard to go in to that environment. They are great players. They struggled at Notre Dame but I don’t think they’ll struggle. Charlie (Strong) does a great job, obviously, with what he did at Louisville. He’s a great coach. They’ll find their identity. You know they’re searching hard this week. Like I said, it is Texas. We don’t have to worry so much about them. We have to worry about us, play our game and try to be the best team that we can be this week.
“We are going to wear white helmets this week with the blue ‘R,’ which will be the first time for us. More importantly, on the back, you’ll see that they say Froggy. That’s in honor of Froggy Williams, who was an iconic figure here at Rice and who passed away. He kicked the field goal in 1949 as time expired against the University of Texas. He went into the College Football Hall of Fame in ’65. He was really the unofficial historian of not only Rice Football, but Rice Athletics, and he will be missed. He meant a whole lot to this entire university, so in his honor we will wear his name on the back of our helmets this week.
“We look forward to getting it going. The guys will come over here today and have team meetings. We’ll get on the field and do some light stretching on the field and really hit it hard as we prepare for the University of Texas the rest of the week.”
On what you take away from seeing Texas struggle:
“That’s the attitude that you have to have every week (that you can win). You also know that when a team struggles like that, they are more determined the next week. What would have been best for us was for them to beat Notre Dame. But, like I said, you know those are proud young men. You know it’s a proud program and I really feel like we’re going to see a different University of Texas team.”
On Driphus (Jackson) running the ball:
“I tell him to get down or pitch the ball. He just chooses not to listen, but we’re working on his listening skills. Even after the game, he said that it was a Game One thing. He felt fresh but he knew that he should have pitched the ball on some of them. He’s a great player and that’s what great players do sometimes. All great players at times defy coaching. That’s why they’re great. You don’t want a kid to listens to every word you say and you don’t want one that doesn’t listen to anything you say. Driphus is a team leader and every time he came to the sideline we would talk to him about, if you can pitch it, pitch it. Go down; don’t take additional hits. But, what a game he played. Those runs were absolutely dazzling. There was one where he should have pitched it and he didn’t. That’s one where you’re booing him, and at the end of it, you’re yaying him. So that’s one of those boo-yay’s that those great players pull off and he had a couple of them in the game.”
On starting the season against Wagner as opposed to past season-openers:
“We went 100 straight games against FBS opponents. You look at who we opened with; Notre Dame, (Texas) A&M, A&M, UCLA. You learn a lot from beating a team like Wagner. We came out of that game not hurt. We were injury-free and we’ll get some more guys back. We’re able to take this video and see what we need to improve at. We’ve got to improve on our passing game and Driphus can do that. We had some protection breakdowns. We can’t have those. We learned about some of the running backs; who’s the third-and-long (back), who can hold up in pass rushing. We’ll learn the same lessons this week. Like I said, we had 100 straight against FBS (opponents). It was the second longest in the country. But, we’ll learn a lot this week. All these games are is to get ready for Conference USA. Bottom-line, that’s what it’s all about, winning Conference USA. As long as we can take our lessons from Wagner and take our lessons from Texas and you just continue to improve this team. That’s our goal; to be 1-0 each week and to win Conference USA. That’s what it’s all about.”
On three second-half possessions scores that lasted four plays and 29 seconds:
“Coming out of halftime, we wanted to use Driphus for two more series. But, it hit a point where we weren’t very productive on those drives. There were parts of the game that we wanted to work on that we weren’t doing very well. We hadn’t had a game yet but we were thinking about running the ball and getting the clock down. That was something we wanted to do to get better for this week.”
On Luke Turner:
“I’ll tell you what. Luke is the best athlete on this entire football team. When you look at what he did; he scored two touchdowns. He played quarterback for us. He played H-Back. You look out there and he’s playing wide receiver. We play him everywhere. He’s got an incredible mind and instincts for the game. He’s a guy who we trust with the ball in his hands. Anytime we have an onside kick or hands team or someone to make a great decision, Luke’s the guy we want to put in there. He’s just that way with the football He was a high school quarterback. He just very rarely makes a mistake mentally or makes a mistake physically. He’s just a gifted, special player that works really hard at the game.”
On the player’s reaction to playing at Texas:
“Our kids relish those moments of going and playing a Notre Dame of University of Texas. That’s one where you go in dreaming big. We’re dreaming big right now. We’re trying to work hard. We know Texas has great athletes everywhere. They’re big. For us to pull it off, we have to be the best team. We can’t have stupid penalties. We had two crazy penalties on Saturday. You can’t go to Austin and have any of that go against you. We’re dreaming big. Our players are upbeat and we’re excited.”
On being a two-touchdown underdog to Texas:
“First off, I don’t ever know when we’re the favorite and I don’t ever know when we’re the underdog. We just work and every week we try to be 1-0. Like I said earlier, we have to worry about us. We have to take care of the football. We have to tackle well. They are going to create some challenges for us and how are we going to react to them? The one thing about this week of practice is that we’re going to have fun. We’re going to work hard. We’re going to have a good time. We’re going to take care of us. But, like I said, we’re excited about going there.”
On Austin Walters' performance:
“How fun was that? The Walters twins, and tragically right now, one has an injured ankle, they are very similar. For him to have 107 rushing yards and his one run was really dynamic. He’s fun to watch. He’s on kickoff returns. We think he’s going to be great at those as he gains experience. Just the fact that he’s a redshirt freshman, and his first game he runs for over 100 (yards). But you look at his per carry (average), and you look at all of those guys’ per carry. Darik Dillard had a nice per carry average. But, we hope Austin Walters is going to be exciting for four more years.”
On Samuel Stewart’s receiving touchdown:
“What was really funny was when Larry (Edmondson) called the play, that’s one that usually in seven-on-seven; the coaches say why do we think we’re going to do that in a game? But, Sam’s a very dynamic player, too, just like the Walters twins. Between Sam Stewart and the Walters twins, we have some very dynamic people that can make plays with the ball in their hands. Sam can return punts for us. It’s important for us, too. You talk about playing Wagner. We want him to get game experience returning a punt. We’re going to go to Texas this week with him having game experience. That’s great.”
On being able to get guys experience:
“It was critical. If you look at just the offensive line, we (were able) to play Connor Patterson, Sam Pierce and John Poehlmann. Guys that, if you’re playing up, and you’re in those games, you’re not going to be able to substitute unless somebody gets injured. For the development of a football team, that is absolutely critical. Even defensively, we got in two freshmen corners that are going to play this year and we got them game experience. It’s critical that we got them in games and I think they all played really well.”