Nov. 21, 2011
Rice Head Coach David Bailiff
"It's exciting to win on Senior Day. I was really thrilled with how our seniors played and our special teams, I thought the seniors continued to come up with plays that we needed to make to win that football game. Special teams, with Kyle Marten averaging 46 yards a punt, and putting two inside the 20 and one inside the five in his last game here was really special. Chris Boswell, thank goodness he is just a sophomore. Those field goals - a 54 and a 51 - and a 38-yard punt that he had right before halftime where we lined up in a field goal formation and he had downed at the one-yard line which led to his 54-yard field goal and us going in at halftime up 10-0.
"Defensively, I thought we played really solid all day. Once again, it was the seniors who did it. Scott Solomon with his seven tackles and two sacks. Xavier Webb with his interception and he had four tackles on the day. I thought he had good coverage and supported the run well. And Justin Allen, nine tackles, two tackles for loss, two PBUs, I thought he really played big. We finished that game punting back to them with six minutes in that game. Defense came up - it was actually the last drive and two tackles by Justin Allen and one by Scott which forced Tulane to punt the ball back to us. The offense put a drive together to score late. We had not done that previously when we had those kinds of opportunities. So it was great to see the offense score with a minute left in the football game. The amazing thing about that drive was it was nine plays and eight of them were to Tyler Smith. He had 55 yards on that drive and scored on a 12-yard run. I was really proud of those seniors and how they played hard throughout that football game. It was a big, big win for us. I am proud of the seniors of how we got out of there. I thought we did some things at halftime offensively to attack them better on the perimeter. I thought the offensive coaches did a nice job making adjustments. It was good to get a win in those seniors last game at home.
"SMU presents some big challenges for us. They are 19th in the country throwing the football. We got to go on the road for Thanksgiving. We've got to play solid in all phases. We have to protect the quarterback better this week than we did last week against Tulane. SMU defensively, their defensive line is a really solid bunch. They are playing really well defensively right now. We look forward to it and need to try and go get our fourth conference win."
Looking ahead at the possible ability to win two straight games and also finish possibly .500 in conference ...
"To finish conference 4-4. To win one on the road. We haven't done that this year. It would be nice to get a road win. It's all the reasons in the world to go get this win. SMU is at six (wins) and bowl eligible. We need to get our fifth."
You mentioned some of the seniors who have contributed - the two attending today's press conference had similar paths coming back from injuries - can you go into detail on what those two have done coming back from adversity?
"You start with Tyler Smith, and I have said it before, his knee injury was catastrophic when he was a freshman. The doctors really believed he wouldn't be able to play this sport again. Just through his hard work and effort, he refused to take their advice and continue to workout. You see how productive he has been the last two years. You look at the production he has had, last Saturday he averaged 5.8 yards per carry. He was our leading receiver. I don't know where we would be without Tyler.
"You look defensively at Scott who last year before the Texas game broke that fifth metatarsal and has come back this year and has 9½ sacks and leads the team with tackles for losses. He has 24 career sacks.
"Their play has been instrumental. Even in the games we have lost, they are the guys who have kept us in them. You really don't like to visualize next year without them because of not only their athletic ability but they are also such great people."
Looking at the SMU/Houston game ...
"That was unusual to watch. Kase (Keenum) was a little off. The receivers dropped a few passes they usually don't. I thought it was a solid, defensive effort. They got that big turnover when SMU was driving and just kept momentum. I thought they kept nice pressure on (J.J.) McDermott and just kept them off balance. They didn't run the ball near as effectively without (Zach) Line. It was just a solid performance by Houston.
Anything you can take from that game?
"We have to do what we do and try to executive our offense and execute our defense better. One of the big keys last Saturday was Tulane had two turnovers and we didn't have any. As long as you take care of the football, you have a chance to be in it. We have to take care of the football this week."
More on SMU's defense ...
"They are solid at every position. They run extremely well. One of the things they haven't got this year that they like to get is more take aways. I think I read they have eight but they are very solid. They run to the football. They don't make a lot of mistakes."
About Rice's offensive line ...
"Last week Davon and Justin missed most of the practice days as we got them healthy to play. Same with Tyler Parish, he was a little injured last week. You start the game and Drew Carroll got beat up a little bit and you get to where you are mixing people up in there. Hopefully this week, the injury report looks a lot better where they will practice a little bit prior to the game. I think that will help us."
Any thought of getting Taylor McHargue back in a game?
"We really had hoped to get Taylor in the game last week. We would like to get him in the game.
Thoughts on Chase Clement working out for the Texans ...
"Right when it happen but I haven't talked to him since. I know he plans to stay in town a couple days. I'm really excited for him.
"I sat at home last night and thought if we could get JD (Jarett Dillard) back here and Chase and James (Casey). I'm really excited for him and glad he is getting the opportunity."
More on SMU and their defensive success this year ...
"They are an older football team. They run extremely well. (Chris) Banjo, it seems he has been in the league for six years. They are a senior ball club who has stayed together. They are playing extremely well. Their linebackers run well. Their secondary runs well. And that defensive line is big and physical and has got a lot of push on people's offensive line."
Being how SMU has struggled on offense the past month and how you had to grind it out last week, does that bode well for Saturday?
"That's the crazy thing about Conference USA. You look at three weeks ago and we had 677 yards of offense. It's just almost how they unfold. If we need to grind it out, you'd like to think if we had to pound the rock we could. We've tried to throw the ball down the field a couple more times but haven't completed them. We haven't got the kind of plays we have been looking for since the UTEP game. But I think we are working on a good game plan right now but they are probably the most solid defense right now in Conference USA.
"Offensively, their offensive line is as good as you are going to see in Conference USA.
"They have some people hurt. When you start losing some key people ... Zach Line, that was just after the Navy game but that is a big loss for them. He had rushed for 1,200 yards this season. Now they have replaced him with a freshman who is very talented but not what Zach was."
Can the ability to force turnovers become momentum?
"When you see the video, that's really what has happened is the turnovers. You see them where it looks like they are about to score and McDermott has thrown them down in the Red Zone. That was the difference in the Navy game. It is something we hope that we can capitalize on. Anytime you can get a turnover, especially closer to your end zone, that always helps. Thos turnovers are key momentum builders in games. That was so big for us just last week when Tulane fumbled that punt. It just changes the whole attitude."
Rice Senior Running Back Tyler Smith
You talked about, after the game, that kind of magical number for running backs, getting 1000 yards. Coming off of this game you looked at it, and anything's possible. Did you think you would be anywhere near that when you started the year? Was it a goal?
"Most definitely, I didn't think it would be a goal for me to reach. With the amount of running backs we have. We have a lot of depth at the running back position. We had a good rotation among the running backs until injury plagued us, so it didn't cross my mind until the end of the season. That's why I'm approaching with caution. Hopefully I can have a break out game next week and be able to reach that mark."
You overlook the stats, but when you look at them, you're right on the doorstep ...
"Yeah, it's amazing. I really don't get a good look at my stats until somebody tells me, and I didn't realize I had that many yards and it didn't seem like that. Looking back at it, it really hit me that's a good goal to reach, and that can really push me for this next game."
Do you think it helps the running game that it was tough against Tulane early but you guys found a way to grind out some yards in terms of getting ready for another defensive line that may be pretty good?
"Yeah, it was pretty tough in the beginning. We just had to be patients and execute our plays, just winning our one on ones against the D-Linemen and into the line backers, that's what kind of broke out. I kind of had a lull in first half and the third quarter, I believe our emotions got to us, especially being senior day, but that wore off, and that's when we started to play at the end.
You guys have done a much better job running the football in the second half as opposed to the first half, in your mind what going to keep to that?
"Some of the adjustments the coaching staff have made. They see changes in the defense, and being able to execute the plays that we know will get yards based off their coverage of the defense. I'd probably nail it down to the coaching changes."
Take us through where your career is now as opposed to a couple years ago.
"It's been a lot of ups and downs. It tried to stay positive about it. Whenever they called my number I would go out there and do my best and give all my effort, and thank God for all the things he has done for me. But I just go along with all the coaches calls and go out there and do my best."
Rice Senior Defensive End Scott Solomon
Too be at 24 sacks, what does that mean? Has it soaked in?
"Yeah, a little bit. It doesn't really mean a lot to me, and I'm very thankful for it, I feel like I'm very blessed, but I think a lot of it comes from the coach end, the other players, the coverage; it comes from everybody."
You guys played kind of poorly with the emotions of Senior day, it was tough playing against Tulane. What do you have to get to generate something and go on the road and win?
"It's going to be huge. We're going to have to prepare just like we would any other game, and try to be 1-0. I think that's the biggest thing. We can't let the emotions and everything get in the way. We have to go out and do work this week, and really practice well."
Is it tough finding that energy to get you going in the game, when there's technically nothing on the line?
"The reason why we play football is for each other, for the competition, and ultimately to win and to be 1-0 this week. We're not worried about that, we're worried about this week and this game coming up."
Lets get into that after Saturday, you're not only done here but you start looking forward to from more of a team aspect to getting ready for a combine or individual workouts with a team, or the next step in your career.
"Really, we have one more game left, so that's where all of my focus is. I'm totally focused on SMU."
Has that become a rivalry game for this program?
"I feel like it. It feels like one. If you talk to the other guys they'll say this is a big game. It's a game we looked at at the beginning of the season, before the season too. It's a big one."