“Diving right into the Army game, when you turn the ball over six times, you’re not going to win any football games. Six turnovers led to 208 yards and 35 points. Defensively, we were on the field too long. We started Miklo Smalls at quarterback. He’s an exciting, energetic, explosive player. You just can’t turn the football over. You’re going to see more of Miklo this year. He’s going to be a fantastic quarterback at Rice. We were moving the ball offensively. We’d have two explosive plays in a row and the third play we’d turn it over. You can’t have those turnovers and put the defense in that kind of bind. Cole Thomas starts that game with an interception defensively. Then we have a (three) and out. But then (the defense) is called back on the field, back on the field and you can’t do that. That’s one of the things this week that we continue to work on; the fundamentals, technique and execution. That’s how you win football games.
“We had a great week of practice last week. There was a lot of energy. You see seniors stepping up and coaching the guys around them. You see everybody working together and holding each other accountable. We’re exciting to get to the six games that we have left. We have six guaranteed opportunities and we have to make the most out of them.
“UTSA has lost two heartbreakers the last two weeks. They lost to North Texas last week in the final seconds of the game (and) lost to Southern Miss by two at home. They are a solid football team. Frank Wilson does a great job. It’s a pro-style offense. They have a senior quarterback, Dalton Sturm that absolutely makes their offense work. He makes plays with his arm and his feet. (He’s) a very headsy player (and) fierce competitor. They have solid running backs. Defensively, they base out a four-down solid. They are very solid and don’t make mistakes. They make you earn every yard that you get. Their linebacker, Josiah Tauaefa, is a remarkable sideline-to-sideline football player. They play extremely hard.
“We’re excited to get it going again. We look forward to going to UTSA. It’s their homecoming. Being a football team that’s flying around and making plays; that’s what we’re working to be. There’s no quit in this football team. If you come out and watch us practice, you’d be amazed at how hard these guys are all working to get in the win column.”
On if the bye week gave the guys a refresh to the season:
“Absolutely. We hit the refresh button. We’ve got six (games) left. We’re starting over. We’re 1-1 in conference and had an opportunity to be 2-0 in conference. There’s a lot of parity in the conference. If we play some good football here at the end and good things can work out for us. That’s the goal. That’s the plan. These seniors have done a great job of holding it together in the locker room and keeping this football team moving forward. But, I do applaud this senior class. They’ve been remarkable.”
On defensive coordinator Brian Stewart:
“I think Brian is one of the best in the business from an organizational standpoint and from how he works with people, through how his mind works during a football game. I’ve really enjoyed him. I think he’s got a skill set and he’s going to go really far in the game of football. He’s amazing.”
On quarterback Miklo Smalls:
“He’s still going to be packaged some. You don’t want to pull a young man’s redshirt when we did. Usually on Tuesday and Wednesday, what you see in practice is what you are going to see on Saturday. He had flawless execution on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. But he got in his first college game (and) it started to move fast for him. But, he truly is a playmaker.”
“Miklo is a smooth team guy. He’s a great operator. This football team really respects everything that he’s done and his work ethic since he’s been here. We’re really glad he’s a Rice Owl. He had a rough start but he has a really bright future. He’s still very confident in his abilities. It just moved fast for him last Saturday.”
On going back to San Antonio:
“You know what, it’s just like any other football game. You see the hotel and the stadium. You don’t have time to go see your friends and you really don’t want them to come see you. It’s a time that you’re busy around the hotel when you’re not at the game.”
On playing in-state schools:
“I think it’s great. So many of the guys on the teams were teammates. It always enhances the games when your teams know each other. I think it’s good for San Antonio. I think it’s good for Houston. When we play them, there’s always great crowds. Geographically, I think it’s really a good matchup.”
On the defense:
“The thing that we have to do better is we’ve got to start creating some takeaways. But, you don’t see blown assignments. We’ve got to finish plays. That’s what (Brian Stewart) is working on the most right now, which is the finish. Those 50-50 balls, they haven’t gone our way. But, we have a body on a body. We’ve just got to make those plays. Yesterday, that was all he was working on.”
On Jordan Myers at running back:
“He did (play well). That was out of a little necessity with (Samuel Stewart) gone. He’ll still play running back, he’ll still play the slot and he’ll still play tight end. He’s one of those guys that can do it all.”