FootballLA TechLouisiana TechShreveportSkip Holtz

Louisiana Tech Independence Bowl Postgame quotes

HEAD COACH SKIP HOLTZ

Opening Statement:

“Let me start by saying, ‘What a crowd. What an experience.’ To have that many fans here, to run out of the tunnel and see all of that red and blue in the stands was just awesome. I can’t say enough aboutthese players, especially this senior class and what they’ve been able to do while they’ve been here atLouisiana Tech. To be able to have the 10-win season, which is the first time, I believe, since we’ve been(FBS). To put a Power Five win on the resume, a Power Five win in a bowl game. To do what this team has accomplished, to go out, the seniors, to go out tied for first as the winningest class in history sincewe’ve gone Division I. I can’t put into words my feelings and emotions for these players and how proud Iam of what they were able to accomplish. I didn’t make a block or a tackle, score a touchdown or throwa pass. I had a front-row seat to watch a bunch of guys that rolled up their sleeves and competed their tails off this whole week. I challenged the heck out of them in our meeting last night. They certainly responded. They were focused. They had incredible energy throughout the course of this football game. As much as anything, I think their will and determination showed up. I never heard a negative word. Inever heard the defense say, ‘Come on, get something going,’ to the offense. Vice versa, there wasn’t much negative to say about the defense. They didn’t give up a point. I just heard guys supporting each other. Really proud of this football team and what they’ve been able to accomplish. Thank you to (Tech President) Dr. (Les) Guice and (Athletic Directory) Tommy McClelland for giving me the opportunity tobe the head football coach here and a great group of seniors and a great group of guys I’ve been blessedto have the opportunity to be around.”

On Roberson and Henderson:

“I want to say about both of these young men on the stage, when you talk about college football today, you see the transfer portal is loaded with players. I believe there were 2,400 players who got in it last year. So many people are looking for a position. So many people are trying to transfer into a starting role or go to a place where they can go right to the front of the line. Both of these two young men had a decision to make at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. Aaron had his degree in hand, could have transferred and been eligible immediately anywhere. Instead, he chose to come back here with an All-American cornerback in Amik (Robertson) and a senior cornerback in Michael Sam ahead of him. He still chose to come back here and earn his way on the field. He certainly got his opportunity tonight. Very talented player, but a guy you talk about overcoming adversity and perseverance, and aguy who just rolled up his sleeves and went to work. I couldn’t be more proud of him that it was himmaking that finishing interception in his hometown with what he’s done. I couldn’t be more proud ofhim.

“Same thing with Justin. He was third on the depth chart, frustrated and came in to see me a year ago. Ittold him the same thing. You need to be more concerned with being a great player than you do about playing. When you start becoming more concerned about becoming a great player than you do aboutplaying, then you have the talents and the abilities. I didn’t know what he would do with that

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2019 Walk-On’s Independence BowlLouisiana Tech vs. Miami

information when he walked out of my office. I didn’t know if he was going to leave or stay. He cameinto the season, third team on the depth chart. He came in and never said a negative word. He rolled up his sleeves. He worked his tail off. Our starter, Jaqwis Dancy, got injured. Israel Tucker got mono. He became the 13th player in Louisiana Tech history to rush for 1,000 yards. People look at a depth chartand decide, ‘I have to transfer.’ Both of them talked about staying and the brotherhood. They’re both great success stories that a lot of people should look at around the country and emulate what they’ve done with their mindset and attitude. Couldn’t be more proud of them.”

On Roberson finishing his career in his hometown and sealing the game:

“I wanted to say it while he was in the room, because I wanted him to know how proud I am of him and the attitude he’s had. That interception has been made, really, through five years of hard work, and tosee his opportunity to come in a game like this, at home, in Shreveport, where I know his mom had anopportunity to be here … I think I heard her screaming even with my headset on during his interception. I couldn’t be prouder of him. Things happen. Here’s a guy who’s kept battling and battling and battling.He’s a really good football player and has proven it time and time again. He was just in a position where he was in a very loaded position with a lot of upperclassmen and didn’t have the opportunity to play as much as he wanted to, but it’s never been a thing where we thought, ‘Oh, Aaron’s not any good.’ Aaron is a very talented player. He got an opportunity to show it. What a success story. I know he’s not going to want to take that uniform off. He’s a great young man, and more importantly, it’s a great story of perseverance and attitude that’s gotten him to where he is now.”

On the impact of April’s tornado and what the win meant to AD Tommy McClelland:

“There are a lot of people affected by that tornado. As much as, more than an individual, there’s peoplewho lost lives in that. We spent three days as a team cutting trees out of neighborhoods, off houses, off cars, opening streets. There were a lot of people affected by that tornado, and you’re starting to see the effects in a positive way with the release of the new buildings and the hard work that’s gone into it. Wekeep hearing that term, Ruston Strong, and I think Ruston is a family community that is a small community, but is a tight-knit community with great people. Adversity does one of two things: Adversity either tears you apart or pulls you closer together. I think this adversity certainly revealed the character, the care and the concern of the people of the community have for each other. Everyone circled thewagon. (University President) Dr. (Les) Guice’s leadership from the university, Mayor (Ronny) Walker from the town, just everybody really locked arms and said, ‘Let’s tackle this thing together.’ It’s been awesome to see.”

On the defensive effort:

“I’ve always said I’m OK winning a football game 2-0, but the offense screwed it up tonight because they scored 14. It was that type of effort. It was an unbelievable performance. I commend (defensive coordinator) Bob Diaco, (assistant coaches Brian) Gamble, (Jeff) Burris, (Dennis) Smith, (Rick) Petri forthe job they’ve done. You watch this defense and the way it’s grown over the season, I told the team, the one thing missing from this senior class’ resume was a Power Five win. Somebody asked me who would closely the Miami Hurricanes on our schedule, and I said Texas, which was a game we got beat 45-14 in the opening game of the season. We still scored 14 points, but the difference tonight was they

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2019 Walk-On’s Independence BowlLouisiana Tech vs. Miami

didn’t score. It goes to show the buy-in by the players and the great job this staff has done staying thecourse. The battle cry has been constant improvement. Just keep getting better. Coach Diaco’sexperience has made a huge difference for a guy who came in here and circled the wagons and done an incredible job coordinating this defense. There are nine seniors on that defense. When you talk about the seniors in the secondary, all three linebackers – Collin Scott, Connor Smith and James Jackson –Courtney Wallace was an absolute beast tonight inside. He was amazing. Ka’Derrion Mason played great. Darryl Lewis, L’Jarius Sneed and Michael Sam, Aaron, so many guys, they really bought in. It was apretty special year. 2019 will be one I remember for a long time, because these guys have left animpact.”

On the result of the game:

“I don’t care if we punt 14 times. I don’t care if we punt once. We just have to find a way to win. That’s the motto we have. We don’t have a team goal of we have to score ‘x’ amount of points. We just have to score one more point than they do. That means if we score three, we have to shut them out. If they score 42, we have to find a way to score 43. The offense has to complement the defense. You call plays accordingly. I told the offense one of the keys was to eliminate the turnovers and not let them pull outthat dad gum chain. Let’s not put our defense in bad field position. The only turnover of the day wasbecause the dumb head coach made a stupid call on the 20-yard line going in. I tried to throw a screen. I should have run the ball, kicked the field goal and gone up two scores. What I was trying to do was throw it behind the line, a high completion percentage. The guy made a great play. The key was puntwas not a bad play. Don’t turn it over. Punt it away. When your defense is playing like that, honestly,don’t do something stupid offensively that would put our defense in bad field position. They were awesome.”

On winning close to home:

“Six in a row. It’s pretty special. When we came here seven years ago, we said we wanted to build aprogram. It wasn’t going to be built on a single season or a single win. We wanted to build somethingyear in and year out, this university, this state, the alumni, the fan base could be proud of. The way we’ve done it academically, the way we’ve done it socially, holding our players accountable to a certain standard and not compromising that standard, the success we’ve had on the field. To win six bowls in arow, to know seven years ago, our bowl record was 2-3-1 all-time and now it’s 8-3-1, is prettyremarkable. The attitude they’ve had, the morale, the togetherness, I couldn’t be more proud of them. I’m fortunate to be along for the ride.”

On the bowl experience as a whole:

“It’s a first-class bowl experience. Chuck and Chuck over at the Hilton did an incredible job. Thehospitality has been off the charts. Incredible. They told me the first night, we don’t have mountains here, we don’t have beaches here so we’re going to kill you with hospitality. They have. This has a been an incredible experience from the ax throwing to Barksdale to Holy Angels to the dinner at Walk-On’s to the hospital visit to the cancer center, what they’ve done. Some of the internal things we’ve done. TheHilton has been awesome with how they’ve handled everything. Art (Carmody), the chairman, has done an incredible job with this bowl game. It’s been a phenomenal experience for our players. I said this at

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2019 Walk-On’s Independence BowlLouisiana Tech vs. Miami

the beginning of the week, when I introduced Hawaii a year ago, the players blew the roof off the building with excitement. As we got closer to going, the realization hit more and more that their friendsand family wouldn’t be able to go and see them play their final football game. This game, an hour down the road, all right, we’re going. The closer the game has come the more and more excited the team hasbecome. There’s two things you want: You want a destination spot and, for our players, that became aplace their family and friends could see them. We did ticket requests for our seniors. A year ago, inHawaii, it was like, ‘Who needs tickets?’ Everybody was good. This year, guys were saying I need 40, Ineed 32, I need eight, I need five. We used every ticket that was allocated to our players. There were some families that still had to buy some. It’s been a great experience for us. The Shreveport-Bossier community has been unbelievable. They have been great hosts for this bowl game. I will tell you that, at the beginning, when they started looking at destination spots, this might have been their least favorite when it was announced. If you go in that locker room and poll every one of them, they will say this is thebest bowl experience they’ve had in the past six years with the fan base, the alumni, the opponent, theatmosphere. I would tell anyone they would be fortunate to come to this bowl game. It’s been a great bowl. I’m glad we had a chance to be a part of it. It’s been an awesome experience to be part of thehistory that is the 11th-longest running bowl game. We’ve talked about how honored we are to be part of such a great bowl and such a great tradition.”

On what he said to Manny Diaz postgame:

“I told him I’m proud of him. I’ll do anything for him. If you need anything, call me. He said you’ve got agood football team and congratulations. I think an awful lot of Manny Diaz. He was here for a year, started this bowl run for us. Five years ago, six years ago, when he was here, did a great job. He said,‘Coach, I feel bad leaving after a year.’ I said if I had to do it again, I would hire you again, knowing you’dbe here a year. He helped build the culture we enjoy now. I think the world of Manny Diaz and the type of coach he is, the type of competitor he is. Blake Baker had us scratching our heads some tonight. We struggled against man coverage. Then they played some zone blitzes. Manny’s a great coach. It’s his first year there. His first year here, we had four wins. He has a culture to build. There’s no doubt he’ll be successful at Miami.”

AARON ROBERSON, SENIOR DEFENSIVE BACK

On his game-sealing INT:

“Hat’s off to the defensive line. They got pressure on the quarterback. From the film, I knew what hewas running. I just made a play on the ball. The defensive line got pressure and got the quarterback out of the pocket. I just had to capitalize and make a play to get the offense back on the field.”

On the emotions of ending his career in his hometown:

“(I am emotional) ending my career in Shreveport as a Louisiana Tech Bulldog for the last time. It was anemotional moment. I tried to leave it on the field, but I had to wipe away a few tears.”

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2019 Walk-On’s Independence BowlLouisiana Tech vs. Miami

On would his high school self have believed the ending of his career:

“I wouldn’t have believed it.”

On the approach at practice:

“Miami’s a great team, hat’s off to those guys. With us missing Amik Robertson, we knew we were without a great player. The next man had to step up. Our secondary, every guy’s a good player andeverybody knows what we had to do stepping in. Everyone had to execute in order to take care ofMiami.”

On staying focused despite a lack of playing time:

“It was my teammates persevering throughout this whole situation. I just kept pushing other guys. It wasn’t about me, it was about the team. That’s why I decided to stay. This team is special. This seniorclass, all of us came in 2015, we wanted to write history, and that’s what we did today against the Miami Hurricanes.”

On the pre-game smack talking:

“I didn’t know anything was being said. I know during pregame, before anyone else got on the field, Iheard they were talking. We had one job to do. Just come out and prove it on the field.”

JUSTIN HENDERSON, JUNIOR RUNNING BACK

On sticking with the run:

“Miami has a great defense. We had to follow the plan and be patient with it.”

On what kept him patient while waiting his turn for playing time:

“God. He’s amazing, man. He’s amazing. That’s all I can say.”

On beating a team from Florida, his home state:

“I’ll say this, I’m undefeated. (Laughter).”

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Joel Rodgers

Joel Rodgers joined RSHV News 1 in January 2018 as a reporter/journalist. Prior to joining our team, Joel spent the previous 5 years as a morning show reporter, entertainment reporter, and sports reporter for a local television station. At 6’5”, he's the tallest reporter in the history of Shreveport, but it’s more than just his height that makes this Shreveport native stand out. His editing skills combined with his love for storytelling makes for a creative and talented addition to the RSHV News 1 team. After attending and graduating from Evangel Christian Academy, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Northwestern State University. Joel is very active in the Shreveport community having won several competitions in recent years. In 2017, he danced his way to victory in the annual Susan G. Komen event, “Dancing for the Cure." He’s also won the “Mudbug Madness” Crawfish eating contest in back-to-back years and was named the top celebrity chef at the “Louisiana Food Prize” cooking competition. If you have a story idea, news tip, or just want to say "hey" - you can do so by emailing Joel Rodgers at jrodgers@realshreveport.com

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