“I want start by thanking Conference USA for the Conference USA Cares website for our players. We’re still asking for donations. It’s the only legal website where we can help these guys out who have lost everything in the flood. I want Judy (MacLeod) to know how much we appreciate you for setting that fund up for us.
“We took a trip to UTEP. The plane flight was only an hour and a half. It seemed like just a drive across town after our last trip of over 26,000 miles round trip. This one was a lot quicker. We played extremely well. We were a very physical football team on both sides. I thought the offensive line and defensive line were absolutely dominant. We tackled well. Defensively, to hold (UTEP) to only 26 yards rushing and 1.1 yards per carry, that was great performance. I thought (defensive coordinator) Brian Stewart had an exceptional game plan and really had the guys motivated. Blain Padgett had his best day as an Owl. He had seven tackles, two and half of them were for losses and a sack. Brian Womac played outstanding and solid again. Emmanuel Ellerbee, the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, had nine tackles and led us in numbers defensively. I’m really, really thrilled with how the defense played.
“Same thing offensively. We were very solid. Our offensive line was very dominant. Calvin Anderson had his best game as a Rice Owl with his pancake blocks and the physicalness that he brought to the game. I thought Sam Glaesmann, getting his second start, really managed the game well. He got the football where we needed it to go. He’ll continue to improve every day with every rep. We had the one turnover where we ran a quarterback sneak on the four-yard line. Sam lost the ball there but Coach (Wesley) Beschorner will work hard with him this week on ball security and hopefully we’ll get that corrected and not have any more turnovers. Nahshon Ellerbe, one of our tailback got his first extensive play and averaged 5.7 yard per carry. I really thought Nahshon played well. Sam Stewart had over 100 total yards again. Sam is just an every down back. He’s got great hands coming out of the backfield. He blocks well in pass protection. Sam was outstanding. Aaron Cephus, the freshman wide receiver and one of the young men who lost everything, actually had a long pass for a touchdown. I’m really proud of Aaron. Will Harrison, our freshman field goal kicker, kicked a 36-yarder and Jack Fox was solid. I really thought offense, defense and special teams really played solid.
“We had talked to the young men all week on what we were going through and how as you grow as men, they have to compartmentalize and learn how to play and come over here. You can’t worry about what has happened. It’s a hard lesson in life that they are learning but it is a life lesson. There are still responsibilities that they had and I thought they responded very well to what is going on around them.
“We’ve got our hands full this week. The Bayou Bucket is back. I’m thrilled that the game is back. I think it’s great for both universities. I think it’s great for the City of Houston. I still think it should be the first game of every year. I wish our universities would go ahead and do that. Coach (Tony) Levine and I were not happy when we found out we weren’t playing it.
“You play well against UTEP, you get back and grade your film and you put on the Cougars against Arizona and you hear about Ed Oliver all the time, but I’ve really never seen him. You put the film on and you see a nose guard literally take over a football game with 11 tackles. Even when he’s not making the tackle, he’s disruptive in the backfield. He’s disruptive every play. He is a great player. The entire defense is very aggressive. They’re very solid over there. I thought they tackled extremely well. You don’t see anything where you can say ‘This is their week link defensively.’ The same offensively. You have a transfer from (Texas) A&M at quarterback. You have a transfer from Texas at tailback. A huge offensive line and the big receivers that UH seems to get every year that can catch everything in their area. They were solid. That’s why they won. It’s a game where we’re going to have to really be aggressive in our play calling. We’re going to need to create turnovers defensively and not make any critical errors or make any stupid penalties for us to win because they are a good team. They’re solid.”
On watching Ed Oliver:
“I can tell you exactly what I did. I said ‘Hey guys, come in here and take a look at this.’ You’re not going to believe this guy. He truly is the most disruptive defensive lineman I’ve seen in college football. He dominates football games. And if he’s not making the play, he’s disrupted the play somehow. And he doesn’t take plays off. A lot of great players, when they get tired, take plays off. He doesn’t take plays off. He plays hard every single snap.”
On what a victory would mean:
“It would be great to get the trophy, the Bayou Bucket, back in the locker room. We’ve had it in there a couple of times since I’ve been here and it’s a game that you take great pride in when you do win them. It’s a game where we’re going to have to execute in all phases and not make any critical errors because they are a great football team.”
On if he tells the team about the series history:
“Absolutely. Also, the game is enhanced just because of the relationships. A lot of the players went to high school together. Every game is important. But it’s one where because of the relationships and the distance in the city, it just enhances the importance of it also. It’s bragging rights in the city.”
On the offense against Houston:
“I’m not concerned, but it will be difficult. But, we’re going to have to have that same type of performance to stay in this one and win it.”
On how important the UTEP game was in showing the team how to win:
“That was the difference between Stanford and UTEP. It was almost an identical game plan. In one game, you execute. We were the hammer and not the nail. It makes all the difference in the world. It makes all the difference when they go to class. It elevates your play when you know what the expectations are and you know how you have to play and perform now when you get that.”
On Houston only having played one game:
“We’ve watch all of last year’s video. You watch everything that you can get your hands on. What we thought they would probably do defensively, they weren’t, based on the first game. That’s part of it. You’d like to have more games on them for tendencies but you don’t. So, you just try to get all of the information that you can and make a game plan with one game.”