Rice Head Coach David Bailiff
“Nobody like to lose in the fashion we just did. We are a University that has very high standards. I have got to do a better job of making this team achieve those standards. We’re going to continue to work hard. The season is not over. We have two games left. We obviously have to player better offensively and defensively.
“I thought the way that game started defensively we played outstanding in the first quarter. When they ran the fake field goal we had numbers, we just did not make a play and at that point we went flat.
“Offensively it’s been a tough year. (Senior QB) Driphus Jackson is a team leader. Driphus has been a really solid player for us over the years. I think we have to get it back to where he’s comfortable running the offense, even with the seventh-different starting lineup for the offensive line. We’ve got to get him where he’ comfortable and confident, and we have to get this entire football team’s confidence back.
“When we played the University of Texas we had a belief that we were going to win that game. Now, when bad things happen to us we have to have that positive belief back. You have to learn to live in the moment. I think the past haunts us. You always have to live in the now. That’s one of the things we really have emphasize in these final two ball games.
“I think our young players continue to get better. I’ll tell you one guy that I’m really excited about defensively is (Jr., DE) Derek Brown. You look at the young man who we didn’t even think would start going in to this season. He’s just playing magnificent football for us. So is (Jr., LB) Alex Lyons and (Jr., LB) Tabari McGaskey. We have to get those young ones playing. It’s up to these older guys and this coaching staff to get those young guys defensively grown-up.
“Same thing offensively. When we’re starting some of those young guys we have to find ways to get the confidence back and get the pieces in place to where we can make plays again. We got (Sr., WR) Dennis Parks back, but he hasn’t practiced a whole lot and missed a lot of games this year. We have to get Dennis back to where he’s in a rhythm. I think he’s going to practice every rep this week, and that’s going to help us a lot.
“I think on special teams (Sr., P) James Farrimond has been outstanding with his punting ability. I’ve been pleased with (Fr., K) Jack Fox on his kickoffs. Our effort on special teams has been outstanding.
“For us to win we just have to get the standards back of playing hard, playing confident and making plays. There’s a lot of times you see us with some missed tackles – where if a guy’s a ‘trigger’ he has to go make that play. We’re not playing with confidence, and that is one of the things we have to restore in them this week. That’s one of the things we’ve been talking about with the seniors and juniors. All we can do is learn from the past, concentrate on going 1-0 each week and trying to win every play against UTSA.
“UTSA has been very competitive in all their ballgames. They had their quarterback injured earlier in the year. They have an absolute fabulous tight end. They play well together defensively. We’re going to have our hands full. Every game we’ve ever played with them has come down to the fourth quarter. This is going to be the same way. The teams know each other. We have a lot of guys from San Antonio that we’re going to be taking back home, and we want to play well. The most important things as we finish this season are to get these guys’ confidence back, be accountable to each other, and put the team first. That’s where we’re going to work the hardest.
“This is the same coaching staff that’s been to three-straight bowl games. They’re good coaches. We’re going to do our part to get this thing going.”
Keys to UTSA game
“I think starting fast would be critical for us. (The saying goes) ‘In football something bad is going to happen,’ so we have to have a very short memory in this sport. When something bad happens, you have to get over it and have the attitude of ‘I want the next ball’ if I am offensive player or, ‘I want the next play coming right at me’ if I’m on defense. In football you can’t live in the past, you have to live in the moment – the now. Not living in the ‘now’ is what has hurt us. We’ve got guys that dwell when they miss a tackle or drop a pass. We have to get the attitude that the main thing is ‘the right now.’ ”
Contrasting the starts in the games vs. Army (Oct. 31) and Southern Miss
“We had a different starting lineup in our offensive line, that was two freshmen, two sophomores and a senior center. We missed (Sr., OL) Caleb Williams. We hope maybe he can return this week. (Fr., OL) Sam Pierce had his first college start. It’s just a matter of continuity. He have to have continuity, get our swagger back and our confidence. We had a lot of confidence going into the Army game. Even late in that game, when things were going bad, there was a belief in the outcome that we were going to win this thing. We have to get a mental toughness about us that we don’t have right now, that we can play well and compete. Some of the guys were expecting to win games for us right now have not even been through an off-season for us, and that’s where we are right now.”
Did the seniors burden themselves with the pressure of being the first Rice class to make four-straight bowl games?
“Well you can’t put pressure on yourself, but what I think is the main thing is that the defensive line we thought would be our starters this season is no longer available – and they won’t be back with two games left. A lot of our secondary guys are not here anymore. We’re playing younger players, and I think some of the older players are now trying to do too much. Everyone has to do their part, and not worry about doing more. What I know is, the way through this is to keep working."