“I thought we played a lot better offensively in this game. We still have to find a way to get off to a faster start. We had one three-and-out in that game and that was the first drive. The second drive was six plays and (we) had an explosive (play). The next five drives we scored touchdowns on. We had a drives of 73 yards, 75, 75, 75 (and) 91. We need to convert earlier. We need to convert earlier in the game. Those were all touchdown drives. Which is good.
“The offensive line performed exceptionally well. We rushed for 254 yards. Miklo (Smalls) continues to improve every game. One of the sacks was actually no him where he drifted to the left. He needs to be where he can step up in the pocket in between the tackles. He’ll get that. We need to continue to work with him on two minute (drives). But, he gets better every time he takes the field.
“Nahshon Ellerbe; what an incredible performance. He had 153 yards and four touchdowns. So many of those runs were yards after contact. He’s really playing big right now. He’s playing well. We put the ball on the ground, but we didn’t have any turnovers. That’s what kept us in it; was not having turnovers.
“Our freshman are really stepping up and playing well. Aaron Cephus didn’t have the monster game like he did before, but he had four receptions for 63 yards. But, he also drew three pass interference (penalties). So, he’s learning how to run routes correctly and how to draw penalties during those routes. He is 18 yards away from breaking James Casey’s freshman record and one touchdown reception from breaking Jarett Dillard’s freshman record. So Cephus has really played well.
“Austin Trammell is doing some nice things for us offensively, also on the fly sweeps. Will Phillips, the tight end is really improving. Cam Montgomery is getting more and more involved in the offense each week. I’ll tell you who is really performing well for us is Austin Walter. (He’s) playing two roles. He’s catching the ball on some critical third downs. He had a big time touchdown run. I’m really pleased with how Austin is playing.
“Defensively, we have to get people in third-and-long and get some stops. We didn’t have any sacks. We’ve been in a turnover drought. We have got to start creating turnovers to help the offense out. J.T. Ibe tried to play (but) couldn’t go. Houston Robert came in for him. (It was his) first college start. (He) had 15 tackles. He really played fast and played well. I’m really proud of how he played. Emmanuel Ellerbe has just been absolutely incredible. (He) had 17 tackles on the day.
“We’ve got to where in late in games, we’re getting tired. I’ve had to play some guys too many plays. We can’t get the stops when we need them late in games. Hopefully we’ll get some guys back defensively that will help us out. Special teams, Jack Fox had a monster day punting the ball. Even the bad one got a really nice roll. When we onside kicked, we had an opportunity to get it. The ball laid on the ground with a chance to steal a possession. We could have got the ball to the offense with some field position, but came up a little short.
“ODU is getting some guys back. They have a running back, (Ray) Lawry that is eighth in Conference USA in rushing. He’s had four 200-yard games in his career. They have a nice offensive line. They’re a lot like us earlier in the year, trying different quarterbacks. They settled in with a freshman, (Steven) Williams who is really a big lefty. He has a lot of velocity on the ball (and) can make plays with his feet. He seems to be really moving their offense better.
“Defensively, it will be the first time that we’ll see four-down in a while. They are big up front and have a great defensive end, Oshane Ximines. He’s a fabulous player. And their corner, Brandon Addison is a great player also. They lead Conference USA with 27 sacks. They are very aggressive defensively. They have solid special teams. The job Bobby Wilder has done, taking the ODU program and moving them from FCS to FBS, has really been amazing. They’re doing a good job there.
“We’re looking forward to getting on the plane and going to Norfolk and hopefully playing our best football game.”
On what he sees in Ray Lawry and Old Dominion’s ground game:
“When you watch the film, you think that they just throw the ball all over the yard. But, then you look at the stats and you see what Lawry does for them when he gets in there. He missed four weeks early with a hamstring injury. He is big and makes people miss. He looks like he’s going to be tackled, but the side cut that he does makes a lot of people miss. People bounce off him. He’s a quality, quality back.”
How much of the defensive performance against Southern Miss can be attributed to fundamentals:
“We had a lot of missed tackles in that game. A lot of it was that we had four or five starters in the secondary missing. So, we had a lot of young guys playing that didn’t have a lot of experience. But also, that’s what (Southern Miss) does. They spread you out. They have some great wide receivers. They spread you out and force you into some one-on-ones. We didn’t make those tackles. We’ve actually tackled pretty well in space. But, Saturday, we had nine missed tackles which is more than we’ve had in a long time.”
On Nahshon Ellerbe:
“Nahshon has been amazing. Right now, where we are, you’ll see a lot of Nahshon. And he deserves it too the way he played.”
On what attributes to his performance:
“You’ve got to start with your offensive line. They are getting to where they are really playing well. Joseph Dill, he’s played a lot of football now. Earlier in the year, we were struggling with Joe. Trey (Martin) trusts him now. The tackles trust him and I think they are staying on track and opening some holes. But, I also think that Nahshon is as muscular as a kid can be. He is hard to bring down. He’s fast and has an incredible center of gravity. He’s got great vision. He can catch the ball too. It’s the combination of our o-line performing and a running back who is coming into his own. Nahshon gets better each week.”
On if you can give Miklo Smalls more chances to prove himself:
“It doesn’t matter how much we know. It matters how much he knows. We continue to try to improve him and give him more. It all depends on how he plays. I think Coach (Billy) Lynch is calling a lot deep shots, especially to Aaron (Cephus). I also think Miklo makes plays off-schedule when we have a pass. He has the ability with his feet to go get the first down. But, he’s a young quarterback. You don’t want to throw the whole playbook at him. You want him performing with confidence. Every week he performs more, he’s going to get better. We’re all a work in progress. Late in the game, he has to learn to get rid of the football. That’s where you can’t take a sack. Every mistake he makes, he also improves his game. He’s going to be great. He’s just a young quarterback starting in Division I.”