Nov. 21, 2011
In terms of our football program, last week we didn't quite get the results that we wanted. As you watch film, we certainly have to hold ourselves accountable. There were plays as well as calls that could have been made for different outcomes. That's just where we are, but we have to get beyond that going into this week. When you look at Friday when the team reported and we kind of put this game behind us, our spirit and attitude was there. Again, I think we'll be ready to pursue victory this week. We have no choice. We are up against a good Southern Miss team. Last week, they got beat by a UAB team that they probably thought they shouldn't have lost to. I know they will be mad as we head to Hattiesburg. So, we have to be prepared to play an angry team that's looking for redemption. We have a lot of reasons to be upset and ready to play better ourselves.
With that being said, as you break them down, they are a solid football team in all phases. Offensively, they are led by their quarterback, Austin Davis. He has done a tremendous job of leading their offense and putting the ball in the hands of their playmakers in addition to being a playmaker himself. Their running back, Jamal Woodyard, is a young man that has great speed and runs hard. Tracey Lampley plays in the backfield and also plays the wide receiver position. He's small in stature, but they use him in ways that he can be productive. Their receiving core is pretty salty. They've done some good thing and are led by Kelvin Bolden. He's the catalyst for their passing game. I think their defensive front is pretty solid. They get some pretty good play from their linebackers, led by Ronnie Thornton. He's very active and productive. Deron Wilson, their cornerback, has really been the leader of the secondary and has really been solid throughout the year. As you look at their special teams, they make plays and are probably led by their punt return team. They've blocked a few and returned a few for touchdowns. Also, in their punting game, they've had one blocked, but they've been pretty solid. They use a shield protection, which gives them an opportunity to rugby kick and things of that nature. Their special team unit is pretty good based in that they are solid in all areas. So, we have to be prepared to play our best game, and we are looking forward to doing so.
What did UAB do to beat Southern Miss?
They were huge underdogs. To start the game, they were down by 14. They just continued to play and be aggressive and relentless. As I would say, they didn't play watching the scoreboard. They just kept coming and kept coming, and they made some plays, got a little life and some energy and I thought they continued to do that throughout the course of the game. I thought they played with balance in their team, meaning offensively, when they were struggling, the defense would play above and turn it up a notch. When they struggled defensively, they turned it up on offense and made some special teams play. If you watched the game in its entirety, they had good balance. They just kept playing. They did not play watching the scoreboard.
Can you use that as a tool for your players in showing that it can be done?
I think we have a pretty good plan this week to inspire our football team.
What's the official word on Taylor Reed?
He's definitely out for this game. Right now, he's in a boot or a soft cast, and that's where he'll be for a while until he can heal up.
How confident are you in Andy Summerlin this week after he came in and played well?
He played strong. I'd like to just compliment Andy because he's been a resource for Taylor throughout the year. He's been the ultimate teammate in terms of just encouraging guys and trying to be a leader whenever he can. He has prepared every week as if he were the starter. Even when Taylor is out there at practice, he stands behind the offense to try and read and anticipate what he would do if her were out there. So, he's prepared himself all along to play in this game. We look forward to him. He was at the office yesterday, and he'll be there tonight. He'll prepare himself for this opportunity.
Have you ever been involved with a game where you had five takeaways and didn't win?
That's tough. I don't remember being in a game like that. But, that's tough. When you get five takeaways and you don't have any, statistics say you should win. And, you should. But, that didn't quite happen. We have to move on.
What can you say about Frank Trotter and his leadership?
That's something that we've been demanding and needing all year long in terms of his leadership. His play, you know I think he is a very capable young man, whether it's defensive end or defensive tackle. That particular play (the fumble recovery for a TD), it was really a great play by Tommy Walker, but Frank was the beneficiary of it. It's good to be in the right place at the right time.
Talk about the rivalry with Southern Miss. What have you told the players?
Well, I've always seen this as a very physical game. It's always been that way. The good thing about this one is that when it's over with, we have time to heal. That's good because when you come out of this game, there are some aches and pains associated with it. It's really a physical contest. I think both teams understand the nature of this game and the history of this game. It's a true battle. It's one that both fans and alumni embrace because we have so much history together. We have played each other for a while now. I don't think it will be any different. I know Coach Fedora will have his team roaring and ready to play this game.
What's the approach to this game?
I think we have a really good plan to inspire our team. There is a lot going on. You have 16 seniors that are going to play their last game--whether it's away or at home. It's the last time they get to suit up for the Tigers. When you look at it that way, it's more important. The one thing that this team has done all year long is play for each other. This game won't be any different. Our approach will be a little different in terms of my presentation to them. This is an opportunity for us to go out and beat a good football team. More importantly, we can play our best game of the year. Let's save our best for last. I think this team is truly motivated. We hadn't talked much about Southern Miss. We kind of went in Friday and put that game behind us. But, starting today, we'll go over scouting reports and really talk about our plan for this week.