Transcript: Fuente Press Conference

Oct. 14, 2013

Opening Statement
"I would just like to throw my two cents in for the two young men that are here today. Martin (Ifedi) and Anthony (Brown) have really done a great job for us this year. They have really good work ethics; really good kids and great examples of what we're trying to do here. Obviously, this week we've got to get ready for SMU. We've got a bunch of challenges in front of us. We play another early football game. I thought last week the kids handled playing early very well. I anticipate that we'll handle it well again this week. We're going to go play a team that throws it all over the yard. Coach (June) Jones is well documented as a proponent of the forward pass. He brought in Hal Mumme who knows a thing or two about throwing it around as well. Great challenge for us defensively. They are very solid on special teams. I felt like last year as a whole they might have been the best special teams unit we played. They've got two weeks to prepare for us. We'll have to adapt to that. Defensively, they've lost a few guys off the front from last year but a very good linebacking core and much of the secondary is still intact. An opportunity is right there in front of us. Our kids have done a great job of battling away and we've got to find a way to get over the hump."



On SMU's schedule
"They've played some good squads - (Texas) A&M and (Texas) Tech. Montana State was a really close game and the Rutgers game for them was obviously in overtime. They've played some different style teams. Rutgers on offense is a lot different than A&M and Texas Tech on offense. They've done a good job of adapting to the different styles they've played against. In my opinion, I feel like there's a whole bunch of teams that are right in there about the same. Whether you're 1-4 or 4-1 in this league, there appears to me that there's a bunch of other teams that are in it every week."

On if he thought the team would have pulled out a win in some of their close games
"I didn't know what we're going to do. You're playing so many young guys, it's hard to sit down and plot out what's going to happen. We've outgained four of the last five opponents. The bottom line is you've got to get the job done, and we will. We'll absolutely get it done. We just have to continue to head in the right direction. Your margin of error is very small. I anticipate we'll continue to keep improving, keep getting better and keep playing hard."

On SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert
"He just seems to have a pretty good grasp of what they're doing. He's a much better athlete I think than anybody else ever really talks about. I know he's thrown for a bunch of yards and I don't know what his actual rushing numbers are with a few sacks thrown in there. When he does run the ball, he's a good athlete. He's a big, strong kid that moves around pretty well. He seems to have found a really good home there at SMU."

On the play of the defense to keep the team in games
"It's huge. That's part of the challenge that we've given the defense since we've started. We knew that we had an opportunity to be pretty solid defensively before the season started. We've got a bunch of juniors and seniors that have been playing pretty well. That's kind of the burden we've put on them from the beginning. They've done a good job of answering the bell. The neat thing about this is you face all these different styles that produce different matchups and different problems for you - how can you adjust your personal and style to match those. We certainly have a different challenge this week but it's been really good for us that the defense has played as good as they have."

On the red zone offense
"The biggest thing about the game last week was we didn't score touchdowns in the red zone. We dropped the ball in the end zone. We didn't execute the way we should have. They played well in addition to that but we had some opportunities to score touchdowns and didn't get it done. Obviously, we turned the football over and there were about three or four things that we did defensively that hurt us. We've gone back and looked at everything we've done in the red zone and how people are playing. It comes back to some pretty fundamental things - execution and ability to run the ball in the right gap when that opportunity presents itself. There's no doubt you have to get the ball in the end zone. I'm awfully happy that Jake's (Elliott) is knocking them through but I would prefer that he kick PATs."

On the defense going from 117th to 11th in the country under Justin Fuente
"Well I think it's a culmination of several things. I think there are a bunch of people that deserve credit for it. Our defensive staff has come in and done a great job and understanding the scheme and teaching the scheme. Our kids have done a great job understanding what we're trying to accomplish. I think the way we're structured lends itself to playing very good defense. Some of the way the offseason is structured and the way our practice schedule is structured is all taken from TCU, which in itself played pretty good defense in the past 15 years. If you look at our roster on defense, we've got a bunch of juniors and seniors playing; not a lot of really young guys over there. With all that being said, you've got to take your hat off to the way the kids have played."

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