Coach Holliday Prepares for Southern Mississippi

Special to HNN Provided by Marshall University
Coach Holliday Prepares for Southern Mississippi

Opening Statement:

The West Virginia game was a bizarre situation. I’ve never been faced with a situation like that. We lost the game and that’s unacceptable. There are some positives that came out of it. At this point we need to move on to Southern Miss who is an excellent football team. They are probably as athletic as any team that will be coming to play at Joan C. Edwards. They have eight starters back on offense and seven on defense. Their quarterback Austin Davis is as good as anybody in the country. It’s going to be a great challenge for us. The thing we have to do as a football team is move forward to Southern Miss. It’s a conference game and we have to make sure we’re prepared on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

On not allowing loss to WVU to affect performance versus Southern Miss:

There’s no way we can have a hangover and expect to compete against Sothern Miss. That can’t happen. Our players and coaches understand that. Number one they are coming in to our stadium so we have to be prepared and play well. It has to happen. We have no choice. Southern Miss is picked by a lot of people to win this conference. Offensively and defensively they are in the top three in all stats a year ago. They went in at Central Florida and beat Central Florida. They were the only team in the conference to beat the conference champs. We know our work is cut out for us. We made sure this morning the players understood that. We will have a great week of preparation.

On the team’s play following the game on Sunday:

It’s hard to tell. When you sit in a locker room for 11 hours it’s not going to do much for you. It didn’t do a heck of a lot for me. I know that. We’re back and we can’t worry about anything else other than getting ready to play Southern Miss. That’s the important thing now.

On playing against the 4-2-5 defense front:

Well they’re top three in the conference in total defense and they change their defense. They have all those guys back. They were an excellent defense a year ago, but they have them lined up a bit different. They’re playing more of an over and under front with a stand up end there, but they have the same kind of athletes that are lined up and playing. To me, I look at that as much as their fronts and schemes of what they’re doing. They have good players at all positions. It’s a little similar to what we’ve seen, yet it’s not totally different than what we do too defensively.

On Southern Miss defensive end Cordarro Law:

We did play against probably the two best in the Big East conference. They were excellent. I’m proud of our offensive line. I thought they held up well, they blocked the defenders very well and I think as the season goes along you’re going to see those guys get better and better. I feel that those guys held their own really well against a good defensive front.

On the hostility and weather conditions of freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato’s first game:

That will most likely be the most hostile environment we will face all year. I thought the kid went in and handled himself well. He didn’t turn the ball over, completed over 70 percent of his passes and he threw 21 times. I think if we would have been able to play longer we would have opened up a bit more. He handled what we gave him and we plan to give him a bit more this week. He will continue to grow. He’s going to get better and better as he plays. What I like about him is how he doesn’t get rattled. He goes into the arenas and just enjoys it. That’s what good players do.

On WVU players complimenting Cato’s speed:

It’s nice to have a quarterback that can beat you with his feet. Only thing we didn’t do defensively is stop them on third down. If we could have gotten off the field on third down, then we played really well. We have to fix that. Part of that was that we played one of the top quarterbacks in America. I mean that kid is special, he really is. Hopefully (Rakeem) Cato brings that dimension to us. Geno Smith isn’t tremendously fast. You think you have him sacked then he steps up and makes a play.  We would like to see Cato develop into that. I think he has the ability to do that.

On the TE play:

All three of those guys are what we want for our offense. We don’t have a tight end per say. We’re more of a half back type guy that’s more of a fullback. We use them for protection. At times we had two of them in there. What we call 12 personnel set. We move them around, we get them in space, we can flex them and we get them in the backfield. Those are the kind of tight ends we want in this offense. I think all three of them played pretty well. I would have liked to have seen us get the ball to (Eric) Frohnapfel in the flat and see what he could do with it. Some of our young kids went in and played really well.

On the play of special teams:

You watch that tape and see our kickoff return was really good. We put hits on the right people. Last year we didn’t block them one time on kickoff returns. There were a couple creases and if (Andre) Booker didn’t fall down a couple times he could gone for some big gains. I was pleased. The kickoff we have to get corrected. The kicker put the ball exactly where we wanted it, but coverage wise we have to do a better job. Tavon Austin and Geno Smith beat us. Unfortunately we couldn’t get Austin on the ground and couldn’t stop Geno on third downs. I liked how our special teams were very physical. You go back and watch the tape, there were some collisions. We can only get better in that area and we have to.

On the differences that Jeremiah Taylor can make:

He can make a heck of a difference. He’s one of our starters, leaders and he’ll make a big difference. He is going to give us a lot more depth in that area. Trevor Black and Ra’shawde Myers both went in there and played well. We held a top 25 team to 1.6 yards per rush. When you can do that then you have a chance to win every game you’re in.

On the play of young players:

Those guys are good players. With the exception of not getting Geno off the field on third down we did pretty well. We put them in some tough situations. We tried the onside kick to start off the second half. I felt like we needed some momentum. It was a good try, but we couldn’t get it. The defense forced a three and out following the onside kick. They kind of bailed me out there.  I was proud of how we played. They had zero runs for over 15 yards. They had 2 passes for over 25 yards the entire game and we produced a fourth down stop. We fix that third down issue and we’re fine.

On playing six true freshmen:

Cortez Carter is going to be a really good player. He showed up on special teams. (Jermaine)Holmes did a heck of a job on the kickoff returns. You’re going to continue to see a lot of young guys in and out of there.

On the performance of tackles:

I thought Delvin Johnson played his best football. I’ve been saying that all through camp. He played well. All those guys defensively played really well. Anytime you can hold a team to 1.6 yards per rush, you know your guys up front are doing something right. We pressured the quarterback we just couldn’t get him on the ground. That’s credit to West Virginia. They did a really nice job protecting and we just couldn’t get him down.

On WVU’s containment of Vinny Curry:

I thought they did a good job of knowing where he was. He was double or triple-teamed at times. When that happens we have to get somebody else freed up. Getting Jeremiah Taylor back and some others will really help us there.

On Marshall’s performance in CUSA:

It’s important that we go play well. It’s a good measuring stick for us to see where we are. We are better personnel wise than we were last year. How do we match up against the best teams in the league? Well we’ll find out Saturday. I’m anxious to see us come out and play. We didn’t play well against them a year ago. They are one of the teams that we have to compete against and beat to reach our goal of winning the conference championship.

On D.J. Hunter’s status:

I’m not too sure. I know he’s getting closer. As coaches we have to be smart. His trainers and doctors don’t want to rush that. He had surgery where that was fixed and we got to make sure we don’t set him back. We don’t want him to re-injure it. It’s not worth it for that kid. I’d love to have him out there. We could use him, but I’m not going to do anything to jeopardize hurting him again. If he’s ready then we’ll play him.