“First off, I’d like to congratulate Judy MacLeod, our new Conference USA commissioner. Judy, congratulations. I look forward to working with you and there are great things to come. It’s an exciting time in Conference USA with her being our new commissioner.
“Also, Jeff Monken, the team that he brought here, Army, just what a class, class bunch. It was a hard fought victory for us. We knew those Cadets would fight to the end. That was what we expected. That’s why Penn State (only) beat them by six Wake Forest beat them by three. They are a sound, sound football team that plays hard.
“Defensively, we gave up a lot of rushing yards, which you are going to do against an option team. Some of them were because of missed tackles. But I was as proud of that defense as I have ever been after we turned the ball over on the nine-yard line and we held them to a field goal down there. Alex Lyons was incredible. He was involved in all three of those tackles. He had an incredible football game. But then, for us to drive 75 yards in the rain; Temi Alaka to catch the ball to get us going. Luke Turner converting that big third down. Darik Dillard, once again, with just some incredible runs, and then, as Zach (Wright) called it, it looked like a punt coming to him. But then that almost what you have to do in the rain. Driphus (Jackson) was taking a lot of velocity off the ball so they could try to catch it with their bodies. It was just a fabulous outcome. We were really thrilled with the win and in the fashion that we did it. To have the two scoring drives right at the end of the second quarter, to get the field goal, and then at the end of the game to get the go-ahead touchdown, that’s big for us.
“Offensively, you can tell we’re performing our two-minute offense well. We still have to look at the third quarter. When you look at it, we haven’t performed well in the third quarter. Last week, though, we had a three-and-out, then we had a turnover and then we had two plays and the third quarter was over. When you play those option teams, Army had the ball for almost 12 minutes in the third quarter. When you play an option team, it’s important to sustain drives. We didn’t do it. In the third quarter, we have to come out of the dressing room with more focus and that’s up to me.
“I thought our special teams, James Farrimond had three punts inside the 20 (yard line). I thought he did an incredible job punting the ball. For Hayden Tobola to make his field goal and all his extra points, we needed all of them. I’m pleased with the way we performed. I’m pleased with the win. We have guys who keep stepping up. This week, we will get Dennis Park back and Stuart Mouchantaf will return and that’s good news for us. Cole Thomas has a leg injury. He’s getting an MRI right now. We’ll tell you his status later. We just don’t know what that is yet.
“I’m excited for the Dillard family; the two brothers to tie the Rodgers brothers of Oregon State for the most touchdowns in (NCAA) history. (Darik Dillard) needs another one to surpass them. It was just a wonderful weekend for us. The Hall of Fame, with Holly Wright going in and her son, Zach, scoring the winning touchdown and Jarrett Dillard going into the Hall of Fame and his brother scoring a touchdown. It was a big weekend all the way.
“I thought the fans were incredible. The people we had sit through that monsoon, hurricane weather with the rain, the cold and the wind. I was really pleased with how many Rice and Army fans stayed to watch that game.
“Moving on to (Louisiana) Tech now, I think Skip Holtz has really just done an incredible job at La Tech. They are very sound offensively. (Jeff) Driskel, the quarterback, looks like he’s been there for years the way he’s running that offense. (Kenneth) Dixon, the tailback, is one of the premier backs in the conference. (Trent) Taylor, the receiver, is an all-conference performer, too, with a solid offensive line. Defensively, they’re sound. They’re starting nine seniors over there. They’re playing good football right now. We will have to, somehow, slow down. We’re going to have to tackle like we did in the fourth quarter against Florida Atlantic. We can’t have a lot of missed tackles. They get a lot of yards after first contact at the running back and receiver (positions). Defensively, they’re very athletic. We’re going to have to play our best game all year. The good news is that it’s a short week and it’s at home. So Friday night, 7 o’clock, come out. These young men are working hard, playing good football and need you Rice fans to come out here and support us.”
On facing Jeff Driskel:
“We have to have the ability to try to get some four-man pressure on him. He’s playing very good football right now. We’ve got to play at our best. We can’t have the missed tackles that we’ve had. Even in the Army game. A lot of those yards that they got were after first contact. We have to tackle well in space. We have to execute. We have to get multiple hands on the football. We have to give big game effort. Our distribution, alignment and assignment have to be correct. We have to play a great game. They’re a great offense.”
On whether the secondary has grown over the past few weeks:
“I think we have. There’s been a lot of rotation through there with some different young men that we’ve moved around. I think they’re starting to play better together. But, like I said, we’re going to have to play our best Friday night.”
On whether last year’s loss to Louisiana Tech plays a part this year:
“Well, we’ll certainly remind them, but then you don’t have to bring it up a lot because they know. We went there last year playing a good football game. We only had seven turnovers all year and had five in that game. It’s one where the momentum shifted and we could never get it back. We don’t like getting beat in that fashion. Our players remember what happened there.”
On the impact the Dillard brothers have had at Rice:
“It’s incredible first that Jarrett has 60 touchdowns and then you look at what Darik has done in his time here. I think he’s at 21. Right there, times six, you look at those points, when the Dillard’s are here great things happen at Rice University and not only on the football field. They are both so involved in the Rice community. They are so involved in the Houston community. The entire Dillard family has been great ambassadors for Rice, on and off the field. They are an amazing family. It’s heartwarming, I know for me, when Darik came here because of the experience Jarrett had at Rice University and they’re leaving quite a family legacy here.”
On the play in the third quarter the last two weeks:
“We’re 2-0. You know, the third quarter at FAU was very similar. We had 11 plays for eight yards. In the third quarter, we have to sustain drives. We knew going in to the Army game that they do play keep away. When you have a three-and-out and then you fumble the first time you get the ball back. I think the first time we touched the ball there were eight and a half minutes left in the third quarter. Then we ran two plays and we were in the fourth quarter. We’ve got to come out of the dressing room with more focus. We can’t have, against an Army, a three-and out and then a turnover. That was one, too, which led to us saying the rest of the game Darik Dillard is going to be our running back. For both teams, in that type of rainstorm, to have as few turnovers as we did and to be able to catch the ball; it’s pretty remarkable.”
On Alex Lyons’ play in the fourth quarter:
“He had an incredible football game. It just wasn’t Alex (in the fourth quarter). Alex had 10 tackles on the day and a pass breakup on the sideline. Alex does that every week. We’ve come to expect that from Alex. That’s why he’s a captain of this football team as a junior. He’s a great player. That’s why he’s an all-conference linebacker. That’s why he’ll have a chance to continue on with this game. He’s our best player defensively and we’ve got to have Alex like that because when he plays like that and when he gets excited and his head starts (moving), it’s almost a virus that infuses the rest of the defense with his personality. We rely on Alex for his leadership everywhere.”
On the identity of the football team:
“You know, I think it’s still almost coming together. I think that’s where we are right now, as far as we’ve showed our grit and resolve the last two weeks where we refused to quit playing when it didn’t look good. I think that’s a great personality that we’re forming right now. We talk every week that you have to earn every play. You have to win this play. We talk about being 1-0 and I think it’s coming together at the right time.”
On what the team has to do defensively to slow down Louisiana Tech:
“We have to tackle. When you hit the first man with the football, you have to tackle. If you can’t bring him down, you have to hang on to him until help arrives because when they go to four wideouts with Dixon, they are an explosive football team with the decisions that Driskel is making right now and the way he’s throwing the football.”