LA Tech learning to finish strong

November 1, 2017

Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz spoke with the media Tuesday in advance of the team’s Conference USA home game against North Texas on Saturday, Nov. 4 at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston.

Head Coach Skip Holtz

Opening comments:

“It is nice to stand up here after a month and finally talk about a win. I was really proud that this team was able to go on the road this week and get a win. We had the opportunity to finish a game, which is something that in the last two games we have not been able to do. I thought they played hard, but most importantly, I thought we played smart. We finished plus-4 in the turnover battle. There were very few penalties in the game. We didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot. We went out and competed in what was a hard-fought football game. I was really proud of this team and that they were able to find a way to win.”

“There were a lot of positive things to build off of in the final 3-4 minutes in that football game, not just with the way we played, but the way we finished as well. We were 5-of-5 in the red zone with five touchdowns, which was huge. Getting into the red zone and kicking field goals is kind of like driving a par-5 on the golf course and then 6-putting it, but to see the offense come out and go 5-of-5 with five touchdowns was huge. Jarred Craft and Boston Scott – they have almost become one. Those two guys have been dependable, stable, reliable and have done a great job. Instead of giving one player 30 carries, they have taken that burden off each other. We look at it like we have two starting tailbacks right now and those guys have been carrying the bulk of the load. J’Mar Smith came back after one of his less-productive games, but I thought he stepped in there Saturday and played an excellent football game. It was great to see him step in there and play as well as he did. He and Teddy Veal are really starting to establish a pretty special relationship.”

On injuries:

“I have not talked a lot about particulars with injuries, but when I pulled out the injury report from 2016 going into the North Texas game and we had two players on the injury report. I pull out this year’s injury report and there are 18 players that are either limited or out right now. It just kind of shows some of the things this team has overcome. Injuries are part of this game, but it seems like this year has been particularly hard where we have had to move a lot of guys around. That is one of the reasons I am so proud of this team. They have not listened to a lot of the negativity of not being able to win a close football game and finding a way to go on the road and win and overcoming some of the obstacles they have had to overcome.”

“This week, it looks like both [Gewhite] Stallworth and George Scott are going to be back. We should get [Joshua] Outlaw back. Adrian Hardy should be back. We are starting to get some of these guys back and hopefully we have been able to create a little bit of depth over the last couple weeks of playing without them.”

On North Texas:

“It is nice to win, but the joy and jubilation is over on Sunday night and you are on to North Texas. What a great opportunity we have this week to play North Texas. They are 4-1 in the division and first place in the West. To have the opportunity to play them at home right now for us is exciting, especially when we have been as close as we have been and now to have the No. 1 team coming in at home. I know the players are excited about this opportunity. I made the comment a year ago that I thought Seth Littrell had done an unbelievable job and they were one of the most improved football teams in our conference. He came in and took them to bowl eligibility in their first year, and I really thought he did a great job with his team last year. Right now, they have gone from a 5-win bowl team to being in first place in the division. He has really done a great job. He has three of the better players in the league on offense.”

“They are the No. 1 offense in our league right now. They are doing a lot of positive things. It all starts with Mason Fine, their quarterback, who is playing really well as just a sophomore. He kind of took his knocks last year as a freshman and learned his lessons, and they are really benefitting from his growth and development. I have really been impressed with what he has done. They have a big offensive line, explosive wide receivers and an explosive tailback. They are scoring a lot of points. I think they are playing with a lot of confidence right now, especially as an offensive football team.”

“Defensively when you look at them, I think they are athletic, very active, fast and pressure-based with what they do. I think they are top three in our league in loss yardage plays and sacks. They are a very physical bunch. They will load the box to stop the run in a hurry. They do a really nice job of stopping the run and making you a little more one-dimensional. They play a lot of man coverage and have very athletic corners and a secondary that runs around very well. They are going to create some problems for us as an offense.”

“We know we are going to have a great challenge this week. It is going to have all the makings to be a great matchup and great football game. We are just excited to have the opportunity to play them here at home. I would encourage everybody to come out and support this football team this Saturday at 2:30 as we have a chance to play the No. 1 team in the division here at home.”