RUSTON, La. – Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz spoke with the media Tuesday in advance of this week's road game at Florida Atlantic at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 26 at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida.
Head Coach Skip Holtz
"We say it every week. It is hard to win. It is nice to win. I am really proud of this team and what they were able to do in the execution down the stretch to be able to win the football game. There were some unbelievable individual performances. On a day that the offense was kind of hit or miss, we definitely had some bright spots and some positives, but it was not as consistent as we need to be and the standard that we have for how we want to play offensively. I thought the defense stepped up and did some really positive things and some guys played great."
On Jaylon Ferguson's performance:
"I don't know that I have seen anybody dominate a game as I have seen Jaylon Ferguson from the defensive end position. He has Just been really impressive. I know he wasn't the Defensive Player of the Week. I guess four sack performances are commonplace in this conference. But what that young man did and the timing of when he did it and how he did it was just really, really impressive. I had a hard time not watching Jaylon Ferguson. I made the comment it was homecoming. I wish there would have been more people here. I understand the weather kind of drives some people out, but it turned out to be a beautiful day. But if you would have come and just watch 45 play the defensive position, if you're a football fan at all, it is hard not to walk away with an incredible amount of respect for the way that he is playing right now, the energy that he is playing with, the effort that he is playing with, the leadership that he is providing this football team, the mindset that he has; it is just really fun to watch. It is really fun to watch and he is just a great young man for the goodwill stories or all the things that you look at with the reasons that he came back from being the first one in his family to get a degree. He is taking his last class for graduation this quarter. What he turned down to come back because he loves the school, loves the university, loves his teammates, wanted to play another year with these guys, and to see him have the success that he is having, I couldn't cheer harder for an individual than I am for Jaylon Ferguson. I am just really proud of what he is doing. He is fun to watch and it was a great individual performance by him."
On the performance of the defense against UTEP:
"I thought our defensive line played really well with Immanuel Turner, Keonatye Garner, Jordan Bradford and some of those guys up front are really playing well. Matthew Ydarraga is really playing well for us. Willie Baker got into the action. Willie is coming along as a young defensive end. The problem is Willie Baker plays behind number 45 and it is kind of hard to take 45 out of a football game when you watch the way that he is playing. Every time you take him out, he stands on the sideline about one play and then he looks around and then just runs back in. It is like this is this is why I came back. I want to play. But I think Willie Baker is doing some really good things."
"Collin Scott continues to show up each and every week. That is just another great story of a young man that came in here, redshirted, didn't play a lot in his first two years and now he is getting the opportunity as a junior and just really stepping forward and really playing solid football for us. Dae'Von Washington is the other senior linebacker playing really well for us. I think Amik Robertson had an excellent game in the secondary. I think James Jackson continues to play really well."
"When you look at it, we gave up about seven big plays in that game. And really when you look at it, you have 10 guys doing just what they are supposed to do where they are supposed to be. And one guy puts his nose where it doesn't belong and then there goes the ball out around the corner. And as soon as that happens you see the air go out of their balloon on the field. It is like the whole 'my bad' situation. We just have to stay focused on what we have to do and doing our job, but I thought defensively we played a really solid football game."
On UTEP's performance last week:
"I think with UTEP, I said it before that people want to talk about how they are 0-6. I heard somebody yelling at me from the stands about 'Come on, Skip. They are 0-6.' It is like they expected us to win 52-0. That is a really good football team. They are playing really hard. I said last week in this press conference that they are a team playing with a lot of confidence, which is an oxymoron for an 0-6 team that is playing with a lot of confidence. Their wins will come with that football team. I think Dana is doing a great job with them. They are playing hard. They are physical. They are competing. We feel fortunate to get out with a win."
On LA Tech's offense in last week's game:
"Offensively, again, it was probably one of our better games up front in that we had four guys really step up. In grading the victor's club, Kody Russey, Ethan Reed, Shane Carpenter, who has gotten more action with some of the injuries up front, and then Michael Rodriguez. We have some guys that played pretty well up front. We just have to get more consistent with what we are doing up front. We ended up playing five offensive tackles in that football game, which is unheard of, but O'Shea (Dugas) came out with an ankle and then Rodriguez came out, then (Hanner) Shipley came out. I mean at the end we had De'Vante Lovett, who is our tight end, changing numbers to go back out as a tackle at the end of the game just with some of the injuries that we had in the course of the game. Hopefully, looking at this week, I think they all have a great shot of being back with the rehab and the job the Gerald (Jordan) is doing with them, but it was just it was hard during the course of the game."
"With J'Mar (Smith), I think having his headiness and his experience has been a really positive addition for us offensively. He is not playing perfect. He missed some of last week's practice because of his own injury. It showed in the way that he played. He missed a couple open receivers and missed a couple deep balls that could have resulted in points that could have maybe taken the game out of reach a little bit earlier. But the decision he made on fourth down the confidence that he had to see what the defense was doing and how they were overplaying an unbalanced formation to make that decision on his own to pull the ball on fourth down. It was just a heady, heads up, confident, mature play. That comes from experience. It is nice to have him out there making some of those decisions."
"Jaqwis Dancy continues to run really hard. Kam McKnight is running for some tough yards especially down in the red zone for us. Adrian Hardy keeps picking it up. Adrian is playing well."
You talk about Teddy Veal and Jaylon Ferguson, those are two captains, two guys playing extremely well for us right now. Teddy stepped up with 11 catches in that game. We had some injuries to some other wide receivers and I thought he really stepped up and carried the load. He is just a really mature, physical football player. He is mentally tough, physically tough. I cannot say enough positive things about what he is doing for us offensively."
On the improvement on special teams:
"With special teams, I think for a couple weeks in a row that they keep getting better. We are not putting the ball as well as we need to, but our cover teams, our kickoff cover team, our punt cover team are doing a much better job, and we are going to need to because we are going to be challenged this week with FAU."
On looking ahead to Friday's game at Florida Atlantic:
"Overall, it is nice to win. It is a conference win. Getting a conference win is always exciting. We enjoyed it for 24 hours and then Sunday night we were right back to FAU. This week, we have a great challenge. Again, you can you take these records and throw them out the window. Everyone says they are a 3-4 football team, but playing Oklahoma on the road, playing UCF on the road, losing a heartbreaker on a two-point play right at the end against Middle Tennessee. They go to play Marshall this week and turn the ball over five times. There were some freak turnovers with balls tipped at the line, floats in the air and a nose guard intercepts it. It was things like that and some breaks that went Marshall's way."
"FAU is a football team that is 3-0 at home. They have won 10 in a row at home going back a couple years. They have a confidence and an air about them at home that has been completely different than what we have seen on the road. We know we are going to face a talented team playing with a lot of confidence, going to their place on a Friday night and a short week. We kind of lose another day with travel on Thursday. But this is one of the more talented teams in our league. They have more all conference players and preseason picks than any other team in our league. They won the conference last year and ran away with the conference last year. They are playing with tailback that could play anywhere in the country. He is going to play on Sundays. He is a very talented player who runs hard and can make something out of nothing. They have an awful lot of experience on their offensive line. They have a quarterback who even though he is a redshirt freshman he was the No. 4 dropback quarterback in the country out of Texas. He was one of the top 100 players in the country coming out a year ago who signed at Oklahoma and transferred to FAU, sat out and now is playing this year. He can make every throw, can run and is a very, very talented player. They have speed at wide receiver. When you look at their athleticism, there is a lot of big play potential there. They are leading our conference in total offense. They are really top three in our conference in about every offensive category; scoring, rushing, passing, third down, first downs. They are a very talented team offensively."
"When you look at them defensively, I know they had a blow when they lost one of their players of the year last year, their linebacker. But they have another linebacker who is leading them in tackles. Again. they are very athletic. We have had trouble with linebackers here the last couple weeks and every one we've played has been in double digit tackles and it's no different for this week. He is averaging double digit tackles, so he has a great nose for the ball and runs all over the field and a really good pass rush. Their defensive front is very athletic and their secondary can run and they return about everybody in the back end."
"They are dangerous on special teams. They have taken a couple to the house with punt returns and kick returns. They are an explosive football team. There is a reason they won it all."
"This is going to be a great challenge for us and one that I know our football team is really excited about especially with the beat down that we took from them here a year ago. It was 48-23 right here in our own backyard and they went up and down the field. Their quarterback was 14-of-17 for 250 yards. The tailback rushed for over 100. They pretty much did what they wanted to against us a year ago and they put up a lot of points. It will be a challenge for us, but like I said, one that I think our team is really excited about."