“We won. You’ve have to be happy about a win. There’s no question there were a lot of great things that transpired and took place throughout the course of the game and you have to be excited when you have an offense that puts up over 600 yards and sets a Homecoming record. You have a quarterback (Tyler Stehling) that’s involved in six touchdowns and he actually caught one of them. It’s really exciting to see Tyler throw for over 400 yards. He presented the ball to 10 different receivers so he spread it out across the field. The running backs did a great job. Sam Stewart (ran for) 116 yards and had a 10.1 yard average. He had two touchdowns, one receiving (and) one running. He was all over the place getting positive yards. There was a lot of energy going on around him. Then you have Austin Walter who steps in and catches two balls and scores also. It was an exciting time to watch the offense work.
Defensively, the first half was a lot of fun. It was fun until we found that we had two soft tissue issues with our corners. So we had to make some adjustments that were a bittersweet type ending because of the injuries that we had. The second half really didn’t roll as well as you would have liked but we were able to keep the ball in front of us for the majority of the half and we got through it. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. That’s what kind of transpired in the second half with the defense.
It was also great to see (Haden) Tobola make a comeback. He came back out and kicked a 44 (yard field goal). He did a great job of anything we asked of him. He had another field goal attempt (and) made that. (Prairie View A&M) jumped offside and gave us an opportunity offensively. You can still see that we’re making strides and we’re moving forward. That’s the thing that you really want to see; is a lot of progress. That’s the progress that we’ve made.
Getting ready for the next game, there’s no question (Louisiana Tech) is a great team. (They’re the) No. 1 offense in the conference. Coach (Skip) Holtz does a fantastic job calling plays. They only run the ball when they need to. But they are capable of doing it at any time. The quarterback has a lot of athleticism. He’s a great scrambler. He can extend plays. The running back, when he touches the ball, he’s very explosive.”
On the team being sick:
“It’s just something viral. It’s been about 24 hours, some 48. Several staff members have it. As you see, I’m here, so Coach (David) Bailiff has it. But, I believe that everybody will be fine. We have some guys coming back also. Darrion Pollard should be back. Zach Wright and Trey Martin, who’s doing a lot of things on the offensive line. We’re picking up a few so we should be all right.”
On what a win does confidence-wise for the team going into this week:
“It was exciting because a lot of great things happened. I think it really doesn’t make a difference who the opponent is, what the opponent does or where they’re from. This was a great offense. Last year, they set a record for total offense. So we weren’t playing slouches. We were playing a good football team.”
On Temi Alaka:
“Every athlete is different. They mature in different ways and Temi is coming to the point now where he’s starting to play with confidence. He’s starting to realize he has good speed (and) great ball skills. He does something that a lot of players don’t do. He’ll jump for that ball. He fights for it. He’ll fight you for the ball. That was really great to see. Probably the last (receiver) that really fought for the ball like that was Jarrett (Dillard). Jarrett was great at going up and getting the ball; high-pointing it and going over people and things of that nature. It’s fantastic to see that type of response from him. Everything is about confidence and feeling comfortable; not just as an athlete but all of us in any profession that we do. He’s just finally getting to the point now where he’s comfortable at what he does. He had some bumps (and) some bruises. But, once you get a little older and you have a bump or a bruise, you start realizing that it is a contact sport and you have to play with that. There’s a difference between an injury and being hurt.”
On having guys that start of dealing with injuries:
“It’s everywhere. We’re not the only team that’s hurt. If you just look around at schools of our academic standing. Notre Dame has injuries. Stanford has injuries. Northwestern is having injuries. Duke is having injuries. You’re seeing injuries everywhere. You’re going to have injuries. You’re going to have to play through them and you have to count on young men to step up and always be positive with them. (You have to) work them through the situation. Injuries, they’re going to happen. We’ve had a few over the last two years that has changed who we are at the moment. We went from being a more seasoned to a bunch of young men. That’s just the situation. You bring those young ones along and you expose them and at some point in time they’re going to be fifth-year seniors. Then they have fun. We don’t have junior college opportunities to bring in mature guys. We don’t restock. You have to be a Rice qualifier coming out of high school, even if you go to junior college, to even be considered. We have to grow them up. We have to nurse them through the injuries. We’ve got to mature them and they’re being challenged on two sides. One across the street and one over here. Our conference is not a walk in the park. Nor is our schedule.”
On Tyler Stehling’s performance:
“I think that gives a quarterback an unbelievable amount of confidence. To be able to stand in the pocket, step up, throw the ball and put some air on it in some of the locations where he threw the ball. It was just incredible. Some of the ball placement. You’re always looking for those things. Is the quarterback able to throw away from the defender and make it catchable where the receiver can get it. One of the biggest things that you saw in this game is that we got yardage after the catch. The receivers weren’t down on the ground. They’re catching the ball and getting positive yards. That part of it is probably one of the biggest things that you’ll notice this past week.”
On Haden Tobola’s last two weeks:
“He responded. Haden didn’t have a good week the week before. He just didn’t have a good week and it carried over onto the field. We chart everything, every day. The time, the placement of the snap, the height of the kick and all the different things. We work pretty much around the 40-42 yard line. He’s 90% from there and that dealing with major wind gusts. We always kick into the wind. I don’t let them kick with the wind. If you kick with the wind, you’ll get confidence but it’s not reality. The coin flips. So we kick into the wind most of the time. Those kicks that we have charted are reasonable things to make him have some confidence. But, for some reason or another, he was just out of sync on everything. So this past week when we opened it up with Jack (Fox) and made it competitive, he responded. He responded with no question. He stepped up. Even during the game, I’m standing right by Coach (Bailiff). We’re right on the cusp of making the kick or put Jack in to kill the punt which he’s done great in all year with only two touchbacks. But, Haden walks up and says ‘Coach, I’ve got this.’ He just looked us dead in the eye and said ‘I’ve got this.’ So we sent him out there and he got. So, when you comeback with that type of confidence, and he has an unbelievable work ethic, but you have to watch him (because he’ll) over-kick. When you over-kick, you take a lot out of your leg. It’s like kickoffs. You take a lot out of your leg when you’re trying to kick a greater distance. Also, if you don’t slow down on the rotation of your hip, you have a tendency to pull the ball because you’re trying to really throw everything into it. There’s a little bit more technique in it that people would think. But, he responded well. I was very proud of him. Haden had a comeback.”
On the team doing what need to be done to get the win:
“The amazing thing about this whole process; the amazing thing about these young men and this group (is that) they see themselves improving. They see situations occurring that they don’t have control of. They stayed focused. They have been focused and have stayed a close-knit group. They haven’t flaked off. There hasn’t been anybody fall off by the wayside. They’re behind one another 100%. It has been unbelievable to watch them work and watch them execute.
For instance, the reverse pass that they threw to Tyler; they’ve been working on it. They were all excited that he was going to get a chance get a touchdown his senior year. If you watch the execution, it’s immaculate. So, they’re just pushing and pulling and helping and doing things now at this stage of the season. Yes, the season has not been a whole lot of fun. But, they are still in it. They still want to be successful. There is no quit. There is no I can’t. There are no excuses. They get together and watch film. They get together and study. They get together and go to dinner. There’s no dissention. It’s a great group and they’re very supportive (of each other).”
On playing another high-scoring offense:
“It’s all about offense these days. It really is. Everybody is putting all of their best athletes they can (on offense). They’re recruiting across the country. They’re finding what they can and they’re scoring high points. The game has moved that way. There are no games off. The NFL, I’m a CFL’er. We didn’t have games off. We played against good talent all of the time. That’s what’s happening here. The offenses have gotten better. You’ll see the point structure throughout the country has gone up tremendously. You’ll see also that the turnover margins have gone down because (offenses) are really controlling the ball. You’re trying to throw routes that are allowing success. High percentage routes. You’re seeing a lot of bubble screens. You’re seeing the backs come out. Anytime you can throw the ball between the hashes your percentages go up. You’re seeing these offenses structured to do that. We’re trying to defend the middle. You want them to throw from the inside out because those are the hardest throws. But, the kids are also being trained better (and) earlier. They are making those big throws. They’re expected to make those throws. They practice it. They’re coached that way and it’s not going to change. So every week we have to get ready for that.”