Transcript: Rice Football Press Conference
Oct. 24, 2011
Rice Head Coach David Bailiff
Recapping the Tulsa Game
"It was a tough loss. When you start a game with three turnovers on your first three possessions and you start in a 17-0 hole, it is hard to get out of it. But you watch the video and you see the defense played really well, holding Tulsa to 3.7 a carry. That's pretty good. I thought the defense kept us in it. I thought our special teams with Kyle's (Martens) punting and Chris' (Boswell) field goals I thought we were playing well enough on special teams and defense. We need to starting winning some of these.
"Offensively, we have got to quick making the mistakes and having the turnovers that are getting us out of them. We just have to keep working hard with Taylor (McHargue) on his ball security and eliminating some of those mistakes and keep getting this ball team better. It is a process where we are not where we want to be but we are getting better each week. We have to keep positive with these guys and keep working them hard, rallying the troops and keep them up beat. Ever since I have got here they have done everything we have asked. Yesterday they came over here with a great attitude. We watched very little Tulsa video and went to work on Houston.
"Houston is an incredible football team. Offensively, everyone knows what (Case) Keenum can do and Bryce Bell. I can promise you when they played tag when they played `tag, you're it,' they were never `it.' The is probably not a lot of people that can touch them. Their progress is they are playing really solid defensive football, one of the tops in the country in tackles for losses. It will be a tough game having to go to UH over there to play but we will have these kids ready to roll."
How do you slow Houston down?
"You have to be the best team. With the speed they have and the way they create space, if you look at everybody they have played, there are some games in which they have over 700 yards of offense. I think UCLA held them to their least total which I think was 439. Those are pretty prolific offensive numbers. We've got to be physical. You can't make errors with Case. When you are blitzing him, he knows right where that blitz is coming from and where to go with the football. You can tell he is a veteran. You have to have great field distribution. You've got to be able to tackle in space. And offensively, you have got to somehow keep the ball out of their hands. It's one of those games where time of possession could be important."
About playing a rivalry game ...
"When you win that bucket, you see how important it is to these players. As coaches, we came over here early Sunday. The kids come back Sunday because you are losing 48 hours. They are over here with great attitudes ready to go to work to try to beat Houston. We know they are a ranked team and there is a lot of excitement over here this week."
What does the Bayou Bucket mean?
"It's incredible when you do win it. Normally, I'm the last one to leave here on Saturdays except when you win the bucket. They are in there taking pictures with it. Taking individual pictures with it, group pictures; acting like they are drinking from it. It's one in which they celebrate it by taking it around on campus. It is important. It's a great traveling trophy. It is a great tradition."
About the conversation had with Taylor McHargue Sunday in an effort to keep his confidence up ... Why do you think he has problems progressing at this point in the season?"
"He had a great week of practice. It was incredible. The way he attacked the week studying video. The way he attacked it at practice. I was really anticipating him having an absolute breakout game. Then on the first play he throws the pick on the boot where he didn't see the guy; the second one, he was trying to make a play that was tipped up. It's hard to put that one on him. The third one, he has to get down on the football. I think that shakes your confidence.
"You look at the turnovers we had, we have to eliminate those. And we have to work on when you are having a bad play, you can't make it worse. Earlier in this season he was doing that. We are going to keep working with him on his technique and fundamentals. I think through preparing him we can get his confidence back. It is a challenge when you are making mistakes but we have to get Taylor McHargue where he has his swagger, and walks on the field knowing we can win because of him. We don't want to put everything on him, we just need him to take care of the football and help us move them chains. We have to get that thought process back with him."
Is it a chicken and the egg situation because he felt so good about himself after the last two games of the season last year? It seems he is almost questioning himself.
"I think he is. I think a lot of it is he puts too much pressure on himself possibly to perform. He has to go back to having fun like he did a year ago. A year ago it was like he was playing in the backyard and he thought he was the best. This year he is trying to make too many plays and bad things are happening for us. We have to get him through it. Even with him, you have to stay positive and up beat and talk to him about how good he is. At some points when you are not doing good instead of not listening to yourself, he has to talk to himself and remind himself how good he is. We all get those self doubts and you can't listen to yourself. You have to stand over there and remind yourself, `I'm the best there is.' We have to get his confidence restored. You do that through praise and encouragement, and show him what he is really doing well and working with him on eliminating the mistakes that he is making.
Is he still your starter or is it Nick Fanuzzi?
"We don't know yet. We'll see how practice goes."
What is the criteria of who you start?
"We'll see how they practice. We have a lot invested in Taylor and Nick. A year ago what led to this was Nick was turning the football over. That's the most important position there is on the field of football and we have to get somebody who is going to take care of the ball. Taylor is athletic enough. We just have to get his swagger back and get his confidence back."
Talking about Nick coming into some games this season ...
"Nick's done well. Nick took care of the football the other night. That's the first thing they have to do at that position, take care of the ball."
Talking about the time of possession discrepancy of Houston against Marshall ...
"Time of possession is sometimes way over rated. I get that because of the way the can quick strike. But I don't know who has got into a shootout with them and won either. That's where the more you can keep them off the field, you know, you can't let them score in 47 seconds like they are capable of doing. That's where your field distribution and being sound in space really comes in because you look at some of those big plays in the Marshall game, they get in a one-on-one and they attack the inside shoulder and they are going the distance."
Talk about what your secondary faces this weekend with UH having so many guys they like to rotate in?
"That is where you have to be so good in space because they are so good at running the quick out and turning a four-yard hitch into a 90-yard play. They make you miss that tackle. For us to have a chance, we have to make sure that we have the best tackling game of the year because the way they make people miss at the receiver position, at the running back position. They are just incredibly gifted. And they have an incredibly gifted man at the quarterback who gets the ball where it needs to go."
Anything on film that jumps out at you concerning tackling from the Tulsa game?
"I thought we tackled okay but we should have had, what I think was three sacks on (G.J.) Kinne where we were right there but just missed him."
Are you in favor of non-Saturday games?
"They never asked me to vote but if I got a vote, I like traditional Saturday football, especially when you are here at Rice. We spent today trying to find out who needs to be in class Thursday because that is important."
How do you adjust?
"Some guys on special teams, we are just going to get them to the hotel for pregame and try to keep as many young men in class as we can. If we have anyone struggling in classes, they are going to school."
How do you simulate what they do in two days?
"Where you are conflicted in what you do, today we are probably still a little sore from the game so you really can't prepare. Normally what we try to do when you play the high-tempo offenses is to get our own offense to come at us and run those series of plays. You can't do that on these weeks. We will do the best we can with the scout team and make sure there is not a lot of physical contact going on at practice. They also have to be fresh Thursday with less rest. You can't do the number of reps or sustain the same length of practice that you would."
Rice Senior Defensive Tackle John Gioffre
How big is this game to you guys?
"It's huge. Cross town rivalry, my senior year, it's pretty big for me. I know a lot of people over there. I've got a lot of friends, I know a lot of the team, but then again, when is a game not big? It's another game as well."
They're playing for so much, with an undefeated season. You're season's been kind of up and down. Is this the kind of game that makes your season if you pull out the win?
"You always want to win, but I kind of like to be in those when it comes down to the wire pressure situations. That's when you prove how much heart your team really has. I usually don't run from those types of situations. I like to come meet the challenge."
Coming from the reaction last year, there are games and then there are games, and this one seems to be the latter in terms of what goes into it. Can you just describe what that felt like, when you can knock off a rival whether they're ranked or unranked?
"I see those guys a lot, when we go out. They're right down the street. It gives you Houston bragging rights, that's always cool, but it's more of the feeling, the swagger thing that I always talk about. You get the guys to believe `man, we're a team, lets keep this rolling' and stuff like that, but it's the Bayou Bucket. It's one of the biggest games of the season. But look at our preseason. We play huge teams; we talk about this all the time, its nothing new. It's another game, and you have to prepare the same that you would any other game.
When you hear people talk about what they do offensively, what do you do, as a defense you know that whether it's your assignments or just be all on the same page to be able to slow down an offense like that?
"I'd like to think that we think about that about every team. We don't underestimate any team. But, you look at them on film, they're a force to be reckoned with. They're getting the ball, they're fast, people are making plays, and you see a lot of missed tackles. You see them making plays, but, like I say every week, you gotta stay within the scheme. You gotta do your job. Most people, they try and go and make a play when they're not supposed to, and it's a lot more simple than you would think."
Rice Senior Offensive Lineman Davon Allen
Can you just talk about how this is a rivalry game, and this is a little bit more amplified this year with the ranking?
"Well, Houston is a good team, and I believe Rice is a good team. If we can put everything together, we can get the results that we want. Like John said, I played with some of the guys in high school who play for Houston. I played against those guys, and you get older, you develop your skill sets, but it's still the same people."
What Jumps at you, defensively, those guys are putting up some pretty big numbers, but everything seems to center around their offense. Can you just talk about they've done on defense?
"They can move around on defense. I actually talked to Sammy (Brown) this summer about the game, we both been anticipating it, and it's gonna be a good battle for us."
What's it mean for you guys to have the Bucket right now?
"It's the next game really. I mean of course it's a big game, it's Rice versus Houston. Cross town rivalry, and I know everybody in our locker room and our coaching staff want to keep it where we want it to belong."
What was it like parading it around last year?
"That was fun. that was good times. It's more than just a bucket itself, it's a sense of pride that you get when you win that game. My family watches, my friends' families are watching, it's a big deal in Houston to win that bucket."
I know every school, every student-athlete has their challenges with classes. Coach hit on how this being a Thursday game, how that throws everything in a place where you're losing practice time but also have to rearrange schedules for classes. Can you just talk about what a Thursday game means?
"It's definitely non-traditional, but being a D1 football athlete, we face adversity everyday. I think that's another thing we have to tackle and just look at and be able to keep our priorities in order, and be able to get the best outcome we can. We work with our professors the best we can to get out there and get our school work done and get on the field."