“Obviously, we lost in a very hard-fought ballgame. I’m really proud of how hard our football team played. I thought the improvement that we made defensively was really good. Week-to-week, I think we’re getting better. We were very efficient on third downs. We limited (UTSA) to four explosive (plays), so we really cut down UTSA’s big plays. The fourth down stop in the fourth quarter to give us a chance to win it at the end was an incredible effort, not just on fourth down but also on third down when (the ball) is sitting on the two-yard line. Tabari McGaskey played his best game as a Rice Owl at safety. He had 10 tackles and a forced fumble where he just took the ball from the running back. Emmanuel Ellerbee continues to play well. With Alex Lyons, I think we have the two best linebackers in the conference.
Where I was really pleased was in the defensive line. We had a lot of young guys step up and making plays. All of them, (from) Blain Padgett, Carl Thompson, Preston Gordon, Roe Wilkins, Graysen Schantz and Brian Womac. I thought they had an outstanding game. They had the ability to get four-man pressure. They had a lot of tackles. They had a lot of production up front. They were very disruptive.
Offensively, we’re just inconsistent. One drive, it may be the quarterback. The next drive, it may be the offensive line. The next drive, it may be the receivers. We’ve got to get some consistency over there. We opened the game with a drive for points. We opened the third quarter with a drive for points. Then we go on an 11-play drive with no points and a 10-play drive with no points. You’ve got to get points at the end of the game. One thing we’ve got to continue to work on is to get some consistency. When we play consistently, we’re a very efficient offense. We can’t have 11-play drives and come away with no points.
On special teams this week, obviously Jack Fox is an amazing punter. He put four (punts) inside the 20 (yard line) this week. Haden Tobola had been very consistent. He had those misses this week. It’s a tough day for him. He had been perfect on the season on his PAT’s and field goals. Once again, we have to have consistency there. We’ll open it up for competition between him and Jack Fox this week to see who the field goal kicker is.
It’s a game that we had an opportunity to win and just didn’t close the deal. We’ve been beat in double overtime. We’ve been beat by one (point). We’re not a bad football team and it’s my job to get them in a position where we find that point or we win in overtime. This is my team, my responsibility. We’ve got to find that win.
We play Prairie View A&M this week at homecoming. They’re playing good football. They’re 4-2. They’ve been beat by Texas A&M and Grambling State, but they’re solid. They’ve been explosive offensively. They coach every blitz in the book defensively. Coach (Wayne) Simmons has done a really nice job there bringing stability to the program. Their kids play really hard.
We’ve got to come back this week with a great attitude. We’ve got six games left. I’m counting on these seniors to come back and get us to roll again. Once again, it’s not effort, which is good news. We’ve just got to get in the win column.”
On the difference offensively between practice and the game:
“In practice all week, you start with receivers catch the ball at the high points. Then we get into the game and we may make a circus catch but dropping the one that we get two hands on. We’ve got to somehow continue in practice to create the kind of focus that we need so it moves to the game. Even the offensive line. It’s the same thing. It’s everywhere. Every drive it’s a different position. You can’t say that we’ve just got to fix this. We have to fix the consistency on that side of the football.”
On the kicking game:
“We’ve just got to get some competition. Competition brings out the best in everybody. We’ve got to make sure that when Haden runs in there that he makes them next time. But I want to make this point too. It was not just Haden’s missed field goals for why we lost that game. You can talk to the team and they’ll tell you we all did something. We had an opportunity for an interception. We’re flying around, trying, so it didn’t come down to just Haden. It came down to there’s a lot of plays in the game that we had an opportunity to make and we didn’t make them.”
On the play of the defensive:
“I thought we played well. We got them down to four explosive (plays). I thought we tackled well. (UTSA) put a lot of points on Southern Miss and we held them to 14. We have to get, though, where we’re playing offense, defensive and special teams consistently. It can’t be one week the offense plays well and the defense doesn’t. The team needs to be more consistent from week-to-week.”
On the last drive:
“There were 20 seconds left on the clock. Those routes are all timed. The first route is a seven second route. The second was going to be a five second (route) that was incomplete. The third one was going to be a five second route. We thought we were going to have three seconds on the clock. We had gathered the field goal team but they weren’t sent out. We then thought we could review and get time on the clock, but that didn’t happen and the game expired.
“We rep that every week in practice. We do a two-minute scenario at the end of every practice. Even with your field goal unit, you hold them there and we have what we call ‘Toro Field Goal’ where we can get them out there and try to get a field goal. Usually it takes us about seven seconds. Had there been the time that we thought would be there, we could have clocked (the ball) and then try to make a decision whether we would kick a field goal or throw it into the end zone.”
On if the team was deflated after the game:
“They’re hurt. When you invest what these young men invest from week to week. They’re investment started last December. You’ve got to count on (the seniors) to pick them up and keep them going. It’s what they’ve done for the six games and I would expect them to continue to be great leaders.
On Prairie View A&M:
“They brought in a young quarterback. We’re expecting to see both quarterbacks. They’re a solid football team. They’ve got nice skill players. They run extremely well defensively. They led FCS last year averaging 44 points per game. So they’ve been a very explosive offense. Coach Simmons has done a nice job there recruiting and getting the best out of his young men.”
On what motivates the team:
“We’ve got six games left. We’ve got to get a win. I know this; we’re hungry for a win. Nobody around here is moping. Everybody around here is ready to get that. Everybody is willing to do whatever it takes to get that. There’s no mope here. If you watch them play, they’re playing with unbelievable effort. We’ve just got to learn to close out the deal. This is hard on all of us. But, there’s no mope in this bunch. There’s nothing but fight in this bunch.”