Larry Porter Press Luncheon - Nov. 14, 2011
Go Tigers! Head coach Larry Porter
Go Tigers!
Head coach Larry Porter
Go Tigers!

Nov. 14, 2011

Opening Statement
Let's start with some good news. We'd like to congratulate Coach Brooks [Monaghan] and the women's soccer team for winning their first round game in the NCAA Tournament. It's always a pleasure to see our student-athletes achieve at a high level, and they've been doing it for quite some time. I try to get our football team to get behind and support all our athletic teams, so I'd just like to publically congratulate them.

In terms of football this past weekend was hard to swallow. It was disappointing and frustrating. When you have somebody on the mat and you're in a position to take them down and you don't and you allow them to fight back, it's hard to swallow. That was this game. I know we're growing and improving, but we've got to learn how to finish games and put people away. That didn't happen this past weekend, and it was frustrating. But we practiced yesterday, and our kids came back with a healthy attitude. We're disappointed, but we cannot allow our frustration and disappointment to carry over into this week unless we use it in a positive way to motivate us.



This week, we have a short turnaround. We're playing a game on Thursday night against a team that's very, very capable in Marshall. If you look at them as a team, they've been consistently getting better, and that shows up on film.

Offensively, their quarterback, No. 1 A.J. Graham, has done a tremendous job in providing leadership, managing their offense and putting them in a position to be productive. It's my understanding, this past weekend, he didn't quite finish the game so they brought in their young freshman, No. 12 Rakeem Cato, who came in and played well. Their tailback, No. 2 Tron Martinez, has done a pretty good job of being productive as a runner for them. He's small in stature, but he plays big. He's strong, he runs with good vision, and he has pretty good speed. They do a pretty good job of using him. Their receiving corps has probably been the strength of what they do, especially No. 3 Aaron Dobson. They like to move him around and put the ball in his hands in a number of ways, and we have to be very conscious of that as we go forward.

Defensively, their defensive front is really good. They're led by an All-American in my opinion, Vinny Curry, who could very easily be the Defensive Player of the Year in this league. He certainly plays that way. If you look at their front across the board, I think all of those guys are talented. They like to bring a lot of pressure. They don't do much, but they're very in sync with what they do in terms of spacing and being in position to make plays. They've got a really good feel for their system, so we have to be conscious of where they are at all times. The linebacking corps is a solid group. Their secondary is athletic. They can make plays and be productive. So as we go forward, we'll definitely try to put ourselves in a position to take advantage of some of the things they give us. Coach Doc Holliday has done a really good job of building that program. I know with the way things turned out last week, they'll come in all charged up and ready to go. We have to be ready to counter that, and I think we will. I liked the attitude of practice yesterday, and I'm looking forward to another good practice today. It speaks to our productivity and us putting ourselves in a position to wrap ourselves around this game plan, especially with it being a short week. We have to have tremendous focus in practice because we have to get it the first time; we don't have an opportunity to have many do-overs when it comes to practice. I think the staff has worked extremely hard in putting together a quality game plan so we're truly looking forward to playing this game.

Is the short week a good thing this time around with what happened last week and not having time to dwell on it?
We'll see. Just the way our players approached practice yesterday with their attitudes and their work ethic I thought was very good. We've got to sustain that throughout today's practice. The short week quickly forces us to turn our attention to Marshall, which is what we've done thus far.

Is what happened last Saturday still just a matter of growing pains?
As I look at it, we have to count on young guys to make plays and win games for us. The last game we won was Tulane, and when you look back at that game, it was a freshman, Bobby McCain, who turned that game for us. If you look back, when we play well, our freshman quarterback plays well. We're asking a lot of young guys to go out and win games for us with a supporting cast helping them to do those things. I do know that these young kids have a lot of fight and resolve in them. They'll continue to grow. We just have to continue pushing forward and fighting.

In the second half against UAB, why not run the ball to take time off the clock?
It got to a point in that game where it wasn't about running the ball, it was about trying to put some points on the board because they were scoring at a rate that was truly concerning at that particular time. When you try to put a situation like that in the hands of young guys, it's tough.

Can you talk specifically about the progress you've seen from the Mississippi State game up to now?
As I look at this team, I think our offensive line is playing better. You can see chemistry and continuity. The good thing too is that they see it; they see themselves getting better. Our young quarterback has been inconsistent throughout the year, but he's starting to play with more confidence. We just need him to be smarter about throwing the ball away. He's taken some hits that he doesn't have to take at times if he'd just throw it away. So we have to continue to work on that. The progress of our young receivers has truly been better. On the defensive side of the ball, our front has been solid, not necessarily great, but solid. Our linebacking corps with Kenyata Johnson and Charles Harris, who are newcomers, is better. They're playing with a lot of confidence right now. Our secondary is also better. I think the team as a whole has gotten better. We've had two meltdowns in the fourth quarter, one against MTSU and another this weekend. As opposed to being 4-6 and fighting for our fifth victory this Thursday, we're 2-8 and we're not happy. But in time those games that are close, we'll be able to win. Our guys will understand how to win them.

What do you tell Taylor as far as throwing the ball away and not taking so many hard hits?
I've told him it's a fine line between toughness and I won't tell you what else I said. He has to be smarter. That's where we're going. We have to drill that home. He's sore on Sundays, but he can eliminate three to five hits just by getting rid of the ball, either throwing to a receiver or throwing it away. There have been times throughout the course of this season where he's tried to take off running and get the edge, but he's getting tackled. So throw it away. He can save a lot of wear and tear on his body, which he needs, especially at this time of year. He's a very competitive young man. He wants to make plays as best he can. So when things break down, that competitive nature just takes over. He's out there to manage our offense and distribute the football. He has to allow the players around him to make plays and understand that he doesn't have to make them all. He needs to manage and distribute the ball. That's just part of youth and him growing. Eventually, that will come to life for him.

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