“It was a tough loss for us on the road in El Paso. We’re playing inconsistent football right now. When a team is being inconsistent and underachieving you look right at the head coach. I’ve got to do a better job coming up with ways in practice where we can work on the inconsistencies of the drops; we can start working on tackling drills more; where we can keep working on open field tackling. We’re going to get the offensive line back on the sleds and get them coming off the football. Defensively, there were times where we really played well but we couldn’t get off the field at the end of the second quarter where we gave up the touchdown and the end of the fourth where we gave up the field goal that got us beat.
“We had some opportunities to make some plays there and (we) just didn’t make them. We have to keep working. Working hard works. We just have to continue to keep working hard with these young men, be enthusiastic, be good teachers and get them to that level where we can make those plays.
“Offensively, we’re inconsistent. We have third down drops that keep drives going. We didn’t have any turnovers which is wonderful. But we only had six explosives (plays). We are going to have to get those young men in the right places, manufacture more shots down the field; manufacture some space and get them the ball where they can create some space. There were times where UTEP was stacked in the box with eight and we have to beat them throwing. We didn’t get it done. The bright spot was James Farrimond’s punting. He averaged over 51 yards a punt. He continues to improve.
“We’ve got a lot of good talent on this team. We have to keep working with them. We’ve set a standard here where when we go to these games, we expect to win. We expect to be the smartest team out there; not having these penalties that keep drives alive or penalties that stall our drives. We have to keep working on the little things everywhere on the field to win. That’s where we are right now. We can’t make mistakes that lose football games. We have to be aggressive. We have to play hard. But, we can’t have drops. We can’t have foolish penalties. Like I said last week, the accumulation of the little things will give us the big things. We have to keep working on accumulating those things.
“Southern Miss; Todd Monken has done an incredible job. They’re 6-3. They have a loss to Nebraska. They have a loss to Marshall in conference where they turned the ball over a lot and a loss to Mississippi State. They’re playing very solid football right now. They’re making a lot of plays offensively. They spread it out. Defensively, they’re very athletic. They’re in four-down most of the time. But they run exceptionally well. They’re doing a good job of getting that program to where it was prior to his arrival. We have our work cut out for us. It’s homecoming. We’ve played very well in our homecoming games and we need to play well to win this one. The guys that show up here this afternoon; one thing I know about them is that they are going to come over here, they are going to work hard and they are going to do everything we ask them to do. We need to get back to our winning ways.”
On the turnover forced:
“Zach Abercrumbia caused that turnover which led to some points. It was an outstanding play by Zach. Also, on those punts that (UTEP) dropped, we had a head-number count where we had an opportunity to get two more. That’s where we have to make those kinds of plays. Those are game-changing. We had a superior head count on the ball with guys who gave great effort. We just didn’t come up with the football.”
On talking to the guys about the game:
“It’s the inconsistency. We had two drops on third downs. Everyone is going to drop one in a game. That happens in the NFL. But we have to eliminate those plays. Those were the third down drops. We had some second down drops. We’ve got to make those plays when they’re there. We’ll continue to work on that. When they put eight in the box, we have to make the plays with receiver. With seven in the box, we have to get it all the way to the unblocked accounted hat. We have to make somebody miss. Everything we’re getting right now we have to earn it. We have to, as coaches, create bigger plays; bigger chunks of yardage by getting the ball to some of our skill players. We’ve almost gotten to where we have to be flawless to get a first down. Anytime we get off track or we get off schedule we get in trouble.”
On the blocked field goal:
“It was a low kick. They did puncture us in between the tight end and wing. But the trajectory was low.”
On going back to the basics:
“It’s what we have to do. We have a very young football team right now. We have to keep working on the fundamentals of football. I’ll tell you, one thing we have to do, though, is we have to go out there and be enthusiastic and we have to go out there and have some fun. It’s hard on these guys right now. They’re used to winning football games. We need them coming out here thinking how we’re going to win this one and how we’re going to win the next one. We have three more left and we have to get them out here and make sure we capture their attention. Not only are we working, but you have to have fun through some hard times too.”
On Zach Wright:
“Zach’s just getting better every week. That’s where we need to get the ball (to him). He had six receptions on the game. But he’s blocking extremely well on the perimeter too. Zach’s doing everything that we’ve asked him to do. We need to continue to get Dennis Parks the football. He had a couple big plays for us. He’s got to get back in game shape to where he has the stamina to stay out there. But, he’s healthy and we need to get the ball to Dennis.”
On Luke Turner:
“Luke had two touchdowns. That’s just what Luke does. If you look, Luke’s on the field a lot as our deep snapper, as a receiver. That’s what he’s done since he’s been here. I’m really proud of Luke and we’re counting on Luke to be a great leader and make sure we’re still coming here with that attitude where we expect to win these games. Like I said, that was tough for us.”
On Garrett Fuhrman:
“Where it’s really good is not only Garrett, but Zach Espinosa. Zach, in that game, played strong safety for us; played free safety for us. J.T. Ibe left early in that game with an injury and guys have to step up. That’s where it’s been really impressive for Garrett. Cole Thomas was actually the second team guy. Garrett played an exceptional role for us Saturday. That’s a guy who’s been staying into it in practice trying to get better and when his number was called, he performed for us. I appreciate Garrett and Zach for their role. Like I said, Zach played strong safety and free safety for us.”
On Samuel Stewart:
“First, we’ll see if he’ll play this week. He’ll get an MRI today. But, Sam and Darik (Dillard) are getting to where they are every down running backs. We’re trying to get (Austin) Walter more in the slot to get more of our speed out on the field at the same time with Dennis (Parks) and Zach (Wright). Sam’s just a big play guy. He’s one we thought that we needed to get the ball to more. But, he got hurt in the second quarter.”
On the shoving after plays:
“There will be a team session this afternoon for the foolish penalties on our sideline that kept a drive alive. It was one of the things we talked about with the seniors. If we have foolish penalties we’re going to run as a team because it affects the team. So we’re going to run this afternoon.”