Oct. 20, 2008
HOUSTON - Members of the Houston media met with Rice football head coach David Bailiff, quarterback Chase Clement, wide receiver Toren Dixon, defensive end Scott Solomon and defensive back Travis Bradshaw Monday afternoon to recap the Owls 45-40 victory over Southern Miss and preview the Tulane game at 2pm Saturday in New Orleans.
Below are quotes from Bailiff.
Head Coach David Bailiff
"I appreciate y'all coming, it's exciting right now. It [Southern Miss] was a great win for this program. To be 3-1 in conference is just right where we need to be. We need to just keep building momentum and keep getting better each week. I think we'll do that. Defensively [during] the first half we played one of our finer halves of defense. The second half [was] really more technique and alignment mistakes, that I think our players will learn from, and continue to improve [on] there. Against the rush, we did hold them 3-point-4 yards a rush so that's an improvement. Offensively, each week it amazes me. Chase [Clement] had six touchdown passes, and completed 70% of his passes. [He threw for] 444 yards and three receivers [recorded] over 100 yards in receptions. Toren Dixon keeps getting better each week. Not only is he catching the ball well, he's blocking down field well. A lot of that is what led to C.J. [Ugokwe] having 90 yards rushing. Leaning heavily on offense, that's Conference USA. We expect this defense to grow up and get better. Our special teams and kickoff teams are getting better. Our punts, other than our first one, are getting better. We just have to continue to get better in all places of special teams. But it was a big win for this football program and they [Southern Miss] are a good football team."
On the Upcoming Tulane Game
"Tulane is another big challenge. They are 2-4 [and] they've been in every football game. They held Alabama to 172 total yards of offense. They laid only 57 plays on the day. That's one of the things that they do [is control] time of possession. They're averaging 35 minutes a game, and the other teams are not getting a lot of offensive plays. We're going to have to tackle well, they have a great running back. We're going to have to tackle well defensively. And when we have opportunities on offense, take advantage of them."
On How to Get Better at Tackling
"To get better at tackling you have to do it at full speed. At this point in the season, at some point that really concerns you because you can't lose, I mean we're down five defensive starters right now. We just have to continue to work [on] the techniques of tackling as fast as we can. At the same time, we'll keep the players safe. There were plays in that football game [against Southern Miss] where we had four or five missed tackles on one play. We have got to become a great tackling football team. We dropped three interceptions on the day too, and those change the game. We have plays that we have to be able to make defensively. But tackling has been an issue and it's something we're just going to have to work through. It's one of those things that when you're struggling, you reach out to people in the business to try to improve what you're doing. You know they are still doing the same tackling circuit that we are doing, and we have to continue to improve. I think when guys miss tackles, your hope is that [the] next time they are in the same situation that they remember the angle or speed of to come more under control, and just to continue to improve."
On Tulane's Tackling
"I tell you what, Tulane, they are big time tacklers. They don't miss tackles. They have one of the better defensive fronts in the conference. So they really do constrict gaps on you when you try to spread them out. But they don't miss tackles. If you look at Jarett Dillard's 51 yard touchdown [reception], that was a result of a missed tackle. And that is what college football, defensively, is turning into. If you miss a tackle, it [most likely will result] in a big play. We have to continue to work on them and just stress the techniques. You see some of our guys at times trying to run in there just with a shoulder and cut somebody. They are not running their feet and wrapping up. We've got to do a better job in practice just emphasizing that."
On What Causes Missed Tackles
"A lot of it was technique. The great thing, a year ago, there were people running free. We're at least there this year [to attempt to make a play]. [An example is when] a post route where the corner isn't using great technique to get the space out of the route. That's the good news. We've just got to keep working and playing hard. We're playing with great effort, and we're playing with passion. We just a have to technically continue to improve this football team. We're in coverage at one time the other night and the player was supposed to be at 12 yards and he's standing at 10. That's a young player, we hope he learned his lesson. We have you at 12 yards for a reason. That's where you have to be. You can't be at 10. There is a lot of youth out there, and we have to continue to get the youth turned into veterans."
On Preventing Big Plays on Defense
"That's what the fast tempo offense does, and a lot of that too is a result of us not getting ourselves off the field when we had missed tackles and when we had missed opportunities to intercept the football. If we take care of our business they don't have the big plays."
On Brian Raines' Injury
" It's one where the lessons of football that his parents taught him, that's what he's going to have to rely on right now, to get back off the mat. It's a devastating loss for this football team, not only as a player because he is such a leader and an inspiration to the entire football team. What that young man went through just to get back to this game, to have it end on the third offensive snap is just devastating to him. It's something where we'll have to rally around him and help him because he loves this game and it's hard on these guys. The game of football a lot of time decides when it's over. You don't get to decide and in particular the game decided that it was over for Brian. The one thing to know about Brian though, is as hard as it is on him right now, he is such a winner. For the rest of his life he has greatness written all over him. Something great is going to happen to that young man in the future."