- Staff Reporter
RUSTON, La. (Oct. 8, 2019) – Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz spoke with the media Tuesday in advance of Tech’s home matchup with the UMass Minutemen set for Saturday at 6 p.m. from Joe Aillet Stadium.
Head Coach Skip Holtz
On coming off a bye week:
“It’s good to get back into a routine this week. As we have gone through this open date, it’s been a very beneficial week for us as a program. From a team standpoint, there were really two main things we wanted to get done as a team – one was rest and recovery. We had some guys that have been playing 60-70 plays per game through the first five weeks so there’s a lot of wear and tear that we wanted to get healed up. The second thing we felt we needed to do was develop depth. It was something we spent a lot of time on last week. A lot of team work against each other, especially with our twos and threes. We wanted to get our ones enough work to keep them fresh but sharp at the same time. I look at the defensive line and guys like Murph (Kevin Murphy) and getting him some work so he’s ready to play a major role. Also, LaDante Davenport, who had missed an extended period of time to get him ramped up. Also a lot of these freshmen who many still have four games that they can play – to get them some work in our huddle, to hear the play call and react to those game-type situations. I thought it was a very beneficial week for us as a football team for the things we were trying to get done on the field.”
“As a staff, I thought it was productive as well. We took Sunday to do a deep dive into ourselves – looking at red zone, third down, big plays, missed assignments, kicking game, etc. Areas where we need to get better and improve through our first five games. We took Monday to deep dive into us as well. Tuesday we stole a day for UMass, Wednesday we stole a day for Southern Miss and Thursday we stole a day for UTEP. We have broken the season down into three pieces, being very originally named the beginning, middle and end. We essentially have a five game season then an open date. A three-week season then an open date, and then a four game season. A far cry from two and 10 where we played 10 straight weeks a season ago. I thought it was very beneficial for us as a staff to steal a day on each one of our upcoming opponents. On Friday we hit the recruiting trail and had an opportunity to spread our staff all over Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi to watch a number of games as a staff. It was a very productive week for us, but as much as anything, it’s nice to get back into a routine. It’s exciting to step into this upcoming three-game stretch we’re heading into.”
On having an off day:
“I got back late Friday night after attending a high school game and slept in a little bit on Saturday morning until about 7 a.m. I got up, went to the grocery store, came home, put it on the grill and watched some college football. It was something we don’t get an opportunity to do much during the course of the season. For me it was nice to get away and enjoy watching some college football. I had the opportunity to watch my son at Ohio State and watch his game. It seems like every time we play, they play at the same time, so it was nice to be able to watch them. People think as college football coaches, you watch a lot of college football, but really you don’t have the opportunity to watch any. Saturday is our busy day from meetings, walk-throughs, travel, etc, you have a very small window to watch any college football. We do have the opportunity to watch game film of our opponents and the people they’ve played, but its enjoyable to watch the TV version. I enjoyed my day, but I was excited to get back in here on Sunday and get back to work.”
On picking up his 50th win at LA Tech against Rice:
“It was pretty special. I wasn’t even aware of it until somebody sent me the tweet afterwards. It’s a milestone and a landmark to be just one of three coaches in Louisiana Tech history to reach that milestone. It’s pretty awesome. When I came here, I didn’t set out and say I’m going to be here X number of years and this is my plan. I didn’t come in here to get to 50. I came in here to build a program and roll up our sleeves and compete our tails off. When I first came here, everyone told me that Ruston is the type of town that will wrap its arms around you. I can now say that seven years ago, I came here and since that time, this community has wrapped its arms around me and my family, and it’s been a phenomenal experience for me. I’ve loved having the opportunity to deal with the young men we’ve had in here and to have the opportunity to continue to build the culture and tradition at this proud institution.”
On what he’s learned about his team through the first five games:
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that when we execute, we have a chance to be a pretty good football team. From a negative standpoint – we haven’t executed with the consistency that we need to be at. You could pull out probably 15-20 plays from every game and put them on a highlight tape and say ‘wow, you played really well that game.’ Also, you could take 15-20 plays of lowlights . We need to eliminate the loss-yardage plays on offense. We’ve had a rare number of drops the last couple weeks – we’ve got to do a better job of catching the ball. We’ve got to do a better job of protecting the quarterback in the passing game and running the ball well on a consistent basis. I would rather have 4.5 yards every carry than I would have the 10 yard run and the no gain run. That’s where we’ve got to develop the consistency and the execution. We have to do a better job of coaches at teaching and coaching fundamentals and showing these players where they can benefit from doing the little things well. I think we have talent. I told the team before the season that if we didn’t have success this year, it wouldn’t be due to a lack of talent. Our success is going to be determined on how hard we play. The challenge we put on ourselves every week is to get better and improve.”
“I like the mindset of this football team every week with a 1-0 mentality. I like their drive, grit, determination and togetherness. We’ve done what we’ve had to do to win some close football games. We haven’t always executed at a high level all the time, but we’ve done what’s needed to pull out those games. Against FIU, we needed 40 points to win, and the offense obliged. We had to get some key stops in the second half, and we did that as well. Same thing against Rice. We had to hold them to 17 points in regulation in order to put it into overtime. I thought our defense did a great job after the first two series of buckling down and getting it done. It takes a team effort to do that. I think there’s a lot of great lessons in these games – lessons that we’re going to need to help build confidence along the way.”
On keeping focus on UMass and not looking ahead to Southern Miss:
“In our two games we were highly favored against Grambling and Rice, those were probably two of our most poorly played games. We found a way to win, but those were arguably two of our worst games. They’re great lessons to learn. I don’t mind going through hard times to learn lessons. I’m just glad we were able to preserve victories while learning those lessons. Those are things that are going to help us down the road. Regardless of what the odds makers, fan bases, internet, chat rooms – regardless of what everybody’s saying, you still have to go out and win the football game. You’ve got to earn it. You need to be sound in your scheme and play with energy and an attitude each and every week. You can’t go through the motions and expect to win football games. Our job as coaches is to motivate and challenge our players to get them excited about the opportunity to play. I think we’ve got great leadership on this team when you start talking about the large number of seniors that play a large roll for us. That senior leadership is truly important. I don’t think this team will look past UMass. I think we’ve learned that anybody can beat anybody on any given week. We’ve got to show up each and every week if we want to win.”
Article sourced from provided press release.