Nov. 28, 2011
Turnovers: "Turnovers have been a glaring error of this team. We're 116th in the country out of 120. We've only taking the ball away nine times, we've given it up 22 and the two that we gave away [against San Jose State] led to 14 points, which was a huge difference in the game. We had a few opportunities, one was for a pick-six and we had other pick opportunity. We've been in better position for turnovers in the last few games than we have the whole early part of the season, so even though we're teaching some new things there, it's a work in progress."
On San Diego State: "We've got a great opponent thing week. San Diego State is a great football team. They play a very unique brand of defense. Rocky Long is a good friend and I've known him since almost high school. He's a person I tried to hire here a few years ago when he left New Mexico to be the defensive coordinator. We just couldn't win the war with San Diego State on salary. He's done a good job defensively and everywhere he's been."
SDSU defense: "They play very, very hard on defense and they're tough to get a beat on as far as where they're going to be all the time. It's going to be a great challenge for us in that respect. I see them playing a lot of man-to-man or two deep - Tampa-two as I've been calling it. It's a defense that forces you to run the ball and we have been able to throw against it with some success, but not with the consistency that we would like."
Not making plays:
"We had some big gain opportunities on the third down where we dropped the ball. It comes down to making plays and it has been very frustrating that it's been a pattern of our team this year in situations where we need to make plays, we have not made big plays. However, we've made a lot of plays over the course of the year. For all of the people who like stats this is our biggest passing season since 2004, 275 yards a game, but it's our second to last in points per game at 28.6. It's our worst average per run since 2004, and there is a correlation between being able to run the ball and scoring. This is our worst-ever turnover ratio team, so those are the things we need to correct. As far as turnovers, it's something that early in our career here and on our really good teams we were a really high turnover team. This year that has not been the case. We're throwing the ball for good yards, but when you look at numbers, big yards in the passing game does not always guarantee a lot of points and a lot of wins. I just know that we have to be more balanced in how we do things."
Take away margin: "We've had big plays and we need to continue that, but for us to really improve as a football team we really need to change our giveaway takeaway margin. Every time you get a takeaway on defense that just gives you more time with the ball. We've had nine in 12 games. We haven't to too many extra series this year, which I think really hurts you as far as scoring. Takeaways really put you in better scoring opportunities and giveaways put you in the whole. That's really our biggest problem."
Defensively moving in the right direction: "There are a lot of things we can work on to improve and I think we're headed in the right direction defensively with our eyes and secondary, but Skipper's had six practices and two games. We'll be fine and we'll be tested again this week."
Secondary: "I think Davon Dunn has come along really good now and he's a freshman. L.J. Jones is starting to play better in his position. J.B. Dock got his real first game at safety. J.J. Stallworth was a wide receiver two weeks ago and played safety against San Jose State. We have got a lot of guys jumping in there."
Hard journey: "We're coaching one short right now, but you play with the deck you've been given and you just deal with it. This has been a hard one. This has been a grind. It's been a very difficult journey because we've been so close and yet so far away. I like this group of kids. I really like them, but it's a challenge. It's a challenge daily. This is a young group that still needs a lot of direction and we've never gotten on a roll to get any confidence, so it's been a battle."
Do you know yet if you will hire Tim Skipper as your permanent defensive coordinator? "I haven't made a decision yet, but I'd love to see him as my coordinator. I think he's very capable. I don't think that I could go out and hire a coordinator with what I have to offer that would have more credentials than what he has here. I'm not going to go get a Division I-A defensive coordinator in college football. I could go to I-AA and those kinds of things, but I'm not ready to do that. I think he's really good. I think Skipper is an outstanding coach."
13th game: "The administration scheduled the game against San Diego State and asked me if I minded playing a 13th game. At the time I thought it was a great idea, but this has been a long season. I think it is positive right now that we get another week of practice. If we were playing the New Mexico Bowl, we'd only get two extra practices. This gives us another good week of practice. We haven't pulled off of our practices. We're still in full pads on Tuesday since November. We've gone back to that because we're still trying to get this team fundamentally better. It's nice to get some extra time to work with this football team. It's good. It's going to be a tough game, but it's another game that these kids get to play. There's going to be some young guys that are going to show up in this game that played a whole lot, like Sean Alston will be playing some corner. I'm going to play some younger guys in this football game."
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