“First, I want to tell Army we’re standing with them. They lost their cornerback Brandon Jackson. We stood with you after the game (and) we’re standing with you now. Coach (Jeff) Monken, our thoughts and prayers are completely with you and West Point. What a tragedy.
We went and had hard fought football game Saturday. We came up on the short end. I was really pleased, especially with the second half effort, of how we played defensively. We limited Army to 147 yards of total offense (in the second half). They only had one drive for seven points. The field goal was after a blocked punt. But, we have a lot of young men, defensively, stepping up and making plays. Sophomore Carl Thompson had 10 tackles. Blain Padgett and defensive end had nine tackles. Graysen Schantz had seven and three of them were for loss. I think we’re getting better after every snap over there. This week, defensively, Tabari McGaskey and J.T. Blasingame, two seniors who did not play, will return. They had some muscle injuries and were pulled from the lineup right before game time. But, they’ve been cleared to play, which is good news for us.
Offensively, we’re really struggling. I think it’s that we have young men trying so hard that we’re making too many mistakes. We have got to find a way where they get their confidence back, they get their trust back. It’s not effort. But, we have receivers who are running routes that are off their landmarks. We have running backs that are supposed to be out in a route that are staying in to protect. It’s amazing. You have to do your responsibility and then you can go help somebody. But, you can’t go help somebody first. We have to get it back where everybody is doing their 1/11. They are playing extremely hard, but we can’t have those types of (mistakes), where a running back is supposed to release and he stays in to protect and Tyler Stehling expects a safety to drop down to cover the running back and instead the safety is able to back-pedal and get in the throwing lane. We have got to get to where these young men are confident and performing. Every rep, somebody is making a mistake. It may be at running back this play (and) offensive line the next play. Quarterback, receiver. We just have to keep working hard and I think we have the talent to do it. We just have to coach them hard and get them to practice hard. (We have to) get them to be more consistent in what we do at practice. Last Tuesday was very inconsistent. Last Wednesday was great. Thursday was inconsistent. Friday was great. We’ve got to get to where every day we practice out here, it’s great. It just can’t be about effort. It’s got to be about fundamentals, technique, effort and trust. We will rally that back and get it going.
Jack Fox; we had a punt block, our first in eight years. Once again, it’s a matter of trust. A man is responsible for a five, but he scoots out to help the guy who’s responsible for number three because he thought he saw him needing help. So, instead of doing his job, he’s trying to help. We’ve got to do out 1/11 and then we can help. But, you can’t do it early until you do your assignment. Jack Fox had another incredible night punting the football. For a sophomore, he’s really amazing. He may be the best I’ve seen.
Baylor is coming into town. Wow, what a great football team they are. Coach (Jim) Grobe looks like he’s really stabilized them. They have Seth Russell, their quarterback, back who is performing like you’d expect him too. They did graduate a bunch of key offensive lineman, but, who’ve they replaced them with, they look just like they did a year ago. They’re big, they’re physical. Their receivers are extremely fast. They’re running backs are back. They’re performing at a high level offensively and defensively, Phil Bennett’s got them performing well over there too. They have five returning starters but they have a lot of guys that played a lot of reps last year. So, they’re playing well. We’re excited that they’re coming to town. But we just need to worry about us. We have to keep improving Rice every snap we take. Keep these young men believing and we’ll get this thing going the way we need to.”
On the running game:
“We’ve got to get a running game established. At the point of attack, we’re not getting the movement at the offensive line that we need to get. A lot of what you see is really not the running back but the fact that we’re not getting movement on people up front. We’ve got to start getting some seems up there to help them. Even talking about Tyler Stehling; what he sees in practice is what he needs to see on Saturday with people running precise routes where we trust each other. Once we get, we’re going to be fine. We’re going to win our share of football games. We’ve been through hard times here. We know that you just keep working.”
On changing anything schematically against Baylor:
“No. When Coach Bennett wants to blitz he brings the house. It all looks exactly like a year ago with Seth Russell back at quarterback.”
On what you change defensively against Baylor:
“It’s all got to work together. That’s where, defensively, we’ve got to get a pass rush. There’s got to be pressure. If you can’t do it with a four-man (rush) then you have to add a fifth. Then you’ve got to add a sixth. But we’ve got to get constant pressure on the quarterback where they can’t just stand back there and launch a deep ball. They’re going to get stretched. It doesn’t matter if you’re in man or zone. At some point it turns into man coverage. So we’ve got to get some consistent pressure.”
On how big tackling in space will be this week:
“We’ll see. That’s what (Baylor) is the best at. If you look at the splits that their wide receivers take, they’re going to create a lot of space on you. You’ve got to be sure tacklers and they’re going to rally to the football and they’re going to tempo you. They’re good at what they do. They’re good at creating that space, creating big plays and getting chunks of yardage.”
On if there are any additional challenges on a short week:
“We got back on Saturday at 10 o’clock and you’re back in the office. Sunday was Monday and you just stay up here and get it done. Our injury report was pretty good. (We were) pretty healthy after that game so it looks like we were just gaining guys that did not play in that game. We’re not going to lose any.”
On playing on Friday night:
“It is (unusual). This is just me growing up in this state. Friday night should be for high school football. Saturday is college and Sunday and Monday night should be for NFL. The world is now out of whack. We’re playing every night of the week. That’s just not how I was raised. It’s supposed to be all day Sunday and Monday night.”
On playing at home:
“It’s so great to be home. You just look forward to getting in a routine. With Friday night, we’re still not in that routine. We’ve had a Thursday (game); we’ve had a Friday (game). I think now, the rest of the season, we can settle in and get in a routine of how we’re going to practice on Monday and how the weeks are going to unfold for the (players).”
On the excitement of creating a new tradition with the Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center:
“It is (exciting). Our guys are looking forward to playing. That’s the one thing that you know, that you’re going to get your best out of these guys, whether it’s Friday night or Saturday night or Thursday night. We’re going to take the field and we’re going to compete.”
On encouraging signs offensively:
“Some of the plays that if we will do what they’re coached to do that are there for us. There’s been a lot of opportunity. Connor Cella had that big touchdown reception of 64 yards. On that play, everybody was exactly where they were supposed to be by landmark. Then it works. So you see a lot of good signs out there of where we’re going to be able to create a lot of points and a lot of offense. You have to remember too, we’ve changed structurally, offensively, everything we’ve done. So there is a learning curve going on here also.”