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November 1, 2014

Skip Holtz

THE MODERATOR:  Coach will start with an opening statement, then we'll take questions.
COACH HOLTZ:  Really proud of this football team just with the focus that they had coming into this football game.  It's a football team that we've given an awful lot of challenges this year and they just seem to answer every one of them that we've given them.  They've done a great job of really being dialed in and focused.
We talked about this football game and the challenges we had on defense, that this was an offense that was averaging 550 yards a game, 410 yards a game passing, scoring 40 some points, 53%, third down.  The numbers are video game type numbers.  We threw them out in front of our team and said, This is the challenge we have, but they still have to play us.  They put up these numbers against everybody else, but we just have to go out there and play our game.
I thought our defense was physical.  I thought Coach Diaz, Coach Giles, Coach Baker, Coach Bradford put together an unbelievable game plan.
Coach Diaz told me he felt like they had some flaws in their protection that he felt we could exploit.¬† Was able to do so tonight.¬† And I think it made a huge difference when they couldn't go to their drop‑back game and take advantage of it.
But I thought our defense played really well.¬† It was a game that we challenged our offense.¬† We challenged our offense and told them we were going to have to score a lot of points.¬† We were going into this game offensively that if we had to win 48‑45, then we were prepared to do it.¬† We challenged them, the way we were going to have to play, the things we were going to have to do.
To be able to put up 59 points...  But again, I think a big part of that was the offense had some success, but the defense did such a great job, the offense kept getting the ball back with phenomenal field position.
But offensively, I mean, I guess in a 59‑10 win, if you still want to find something to moan and groan about, we did have three turnovers.¬† We had a couple turnovers not being able to make a fourth down.¬† Some of those things in close football games we're going to have to clean up.¬† We'll worry about it tomorrow.
I think Western Kentucky has a really good football team.  They have earned the numbers.  What they've done to this point when you look at them on film, a very talented team, especially on the offensive side of the ball.  I think our team answered a challenge tonight.  Probably played about as well as we can play on defense.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions.

Q.  It's a good story when you think about what Diaz went through last year.  He comes out with his defense today, with a number five ranked offense, just shuts them down.  What does it feel like coaching alongside him, watching that story unfold?
COACH HOLTZ:  And Coach Diaz and I talked a lot about this in the hiring process.  Manny Diaz is a great football coach.  Manny Diaz was a great football coach a year ago.  Manny Diaz was a great football coach three years ago.  He's got a great mind.  I've said this before.  He's got a great mind.  I think he's a rockstar.  I think he sees the big picture.  He gets it.  He understands offense and defense.
A lot of people go into this game and go, Okay, well, we got to slow our offense down to make sure we keep their offense off the field.¬† But when Coach Diaz and I talked about it, it was like, Our best approach is to say offensively let's go fast and see how many we can score.¬† Let's not make it a low‑scoring game.¬† Let's try and make it a high‑scoring game on offense.
I just think that he has done a great job with this team.  I think he's come in, he's gotten these guys to really buy in.  Because anytime you come in as a new coach, the first thing you got to do is sell yourself to your players.  Your players got to buy in.  With all these great schemes, your players not being able to relate to you or buy in...
Then I think he makes it simple enough that guys can understand.  I am proud for him.  I am happy for him.  He deserves it.  He has earned it.  He deserves all the recognition and what he's done with this defensive football team.
Right now they are playing with some teeth.¬† I mean, they're playing with a stinger.¬† They're playing with some teeth.¬† I just am really proud and I'm really happy for him because he deserves this with some of the public humiliation that he went through in the past where he was the fall‑guy.
There's a lot of times in this game that things happen that you have no control over.  I think he was the one that everybody kind of pointed a finger to.  But I think he's an excellent football coach and I'm certainly glad he's a Bulldog and part of this staff here at Louisiana Tech.

Q.  Just talk about the difference in where you are this year compared to this time last year, the ups and downs you've had, how good it feels to be sitting where you are right now.
COACH HOLTZ:  We've come a long way in a year's time.  We've come a long way.  We've talked about there's a lot of ways to improve a football team, three ways.  We've utilized all three.
I think one is through addition.  There's a lot of new faces out there that weren't on this football team last year, when you look at Paul Turner, Carlos, Cody Sokol.  Probably more so on offense with Brunson and Kirby Wixson.  Just a lot of new faces on the offensive side of the ball.  That's one way that we've improved this team.
We've improved this team through development.  When you look at Tony Johnson was here last year, Pinson, Villemez, Vernon Butler, Dora, all those guys in the secondary.  Le'Vander Liggins, Adairius Barnes, Kentrell Brice, Xavier Woods.
But what they've done is they've gotten better.  We have got leadership on this team that a lot of those guys that are experienced, that are coming back, have done a good job of leading.
And then through deletion a little bit.  I mean, where some guys, graduation, it's opened up some holes for some other guys to step into.  And I think this football team has improved tremendously from where we were a year ago.  I think it's a real tribute to these players for the way that they've bought in.  They didn't like what we went through last year, and they decided, What do we got to do to get better and improve?
They have worked their tails off.  This staff, the time, energy and effort that they've put in, they're good football coaches.
I think it's great to see so many of these guys that have invested so much see the fruits of their labor out there on the field.

Q.  Talk about Trent a little bit.  Talk about his contribution today.
COACH HOLTZ:  Trent is a great football player.  We talk about a lot of freshmen that come in.  It's like, Well, when he gets some reps, you know, then he'll get it.
Trent was one of those guys that got here as a true freshman and he already had it.  I mean, he got it.  He came in.  His competitive nature, his balance, his hands, his ability to change direction, run routes.  He's smart.  He's intelligent.  He sets routes up.  I mean, he's a student of the game.  I mean, he has done a great job.
Him and Cody have developed really a pretty special bond for two guys that start throwing and catching to each other in the summer.  In July is when they first started throwing to each other.
So for those guys to be doing what they're doing right now I think is really special and it's a real tribute to Trent with what he's come in and the way that he's worked.
Another guy that stepped up tonight was Paul Turner.  Paul Turner is a guy that came in here, he had a hip.  Played very sparingly early in the season.  Then he had a groin.  Played very sparingly the last couple weeks.  This is really his first game back where he's been 100% healthy.
It was great to see the contribution that both those guys made.  But I think we've got a couple pretty special players that are doing some great things out there on the field.  But they continue to get better and better.  That's what's making them have the success that they're having right now.

Q.  Doughty threw four interceptions up until today.
COACH HOLTZ:  24 picks, four interceptions, somewhere around there is what it was coming into today.

Q.  Did y'all see something on tape?  Was it the pressure you were able to bring?
COACH HOLTZ:  I think the pressure and I think some defensive backs made some plays today.  What did we end up with, three?  How many did we end up with, interceptions?

Q.  Four.
COACH HOLTZ:  We had four interceptions.  I mean, you look at it.  There was one he threw it early.  He was about to get hit.  He just laid it up.  There were a couple of those that I thought we had chances at a few more.
But I think it was the pressure.¬† I think it was the disguise of what we were doing defensively that gave some guys an opportunity to make some plays.¬† I think it was some guys flat‑out made some plays.¬† Le'Vander Liggins' interception, he flat made a play.¬† That wasn't scheme, design, anything else.¬† He just made a great play.
I think it was a combination of all of the above.

Q.  You mentioned all those stats you just read off about Western Kentucky's offense and everything.  You were leading Conference USA with 16 interceptions coming into this.  Do the guys come out with a chip on their shoulder to prove they can play some ball defensively?
COACH HOLTZ:  We didn't go into this game with fear.  I'll put it that way.  We didn't go into this game with fear.  We knew they were good.  We knew it was going to be a challenge.  I say that with total respect to our opponent tonight in Western Kentucky, the job that they've done.
But our football team didn't come in here with fear, afraid, or intimidated by the big numbers they put up.  It was more of a mindset of, You know what, it's going to be a great challenge.  We'll just see how good they are.  We're going to see how good they are because, what was our battle cry all week, They still got to play the Bulldogs.  You know what, they put up all these numbers, but they still got to play the Bulldogs, and we're going to find out how good they are.

Q.  Do you think y'all sent a message to Conference USA today that y'all are here and made a statement?
COACH HOLTZ:¬† I don't know.¬† We got three more games to make our statement.¬† We got three more games to make a statement with a 1‑0 mentality.¬† This is a great win, but it's one win.¬† It's a great win, it's a nice win.¬† But the one thing, the leadership of the guys in this football team, the upperclassmen, the guys I just mentioned, Le'Vander Liggins, Dora, Houston Bates, Tony Johnson, all those guys I just mentioned, their leadership is a big part of why we're here.¬† Their leadership and their ability to stay focused in the moment, what we got to do this week.
We have not talked about one thing.  We have a big picture meeting on Sunday night.  Outside of that it's all about our opponent.  They're coming in.  They're watching film.  They're studying it.  They are really doing a great job.
I don't know so much that it was a big‑time statement.¬† It was a great win.¬† It was a great win for our offense and defense.¬† But, you know what, UAB is going to watch this film and they're going to say, You know what, we think we found a kink in their armor here, here and here.
That's college football.  That's why you have to sharpen yourself every week.  As soon as you start feeling like we've arrived and we're pretty good, that's when you get beat.
So if anybody would have had the opportunity to learn that lesson, it would have been us about the fourth game of the season.

Q.¬† Becoming bowl‑eligible, how does it feel?¬† Got to be exciting for some of these kids who missed out.
COACH HOLTZ:  It is.  Knowing that since we went Division I, I believe we've played in six bowl games.  To know that you have a chance to be one of those teams to go to a bowl game, Louisiana Tech, I think is big for these players.
As much as anything, I think the bowl games, they're a great reward to a group of guys, to the hard work, the effort, what they put into it.  These guys are in the training room.  They're getting treatment all week.  They can't practice till Thursday.  They come out here.  It's like, Coach, Mitch Villemez is like, I'm playing.  These guys, what they're going through...
I think it will be a great reward for them at the end.  But same thing, we still got three more games to go, and we'll let the bowls take care of themselves as we stay focused on what we got to do.
But it is a nice deal to be bowl‑eligible at this point.

Q.  A lot of this season has been about a slow offensive start, having to make adjustments at halftime.  What was the talk at halftime knowing how prolific their offense can be?
COACH HOLTZ:  The game's not over.  They scored 66 points last week.  Let's not jump up and down just yet.  They scored 66 last week.  We're going to get the opening kickoff.  We got to go win the third quarter.  We got to go win the third quarter.  We win the third quarter, we'll win the football game with where we were at halftime.  That was the mindset coming out.
Then in the fourth quarter, we pretty much wanted to make sure that everybody had an opportunity to play in this game.  We kind of emptied the benches a little bit, kind of sputtered a little bit on offense.  Had to punt a couple times.
But I thought the third quarter was the key to the game because it wasn't just that we had the lead, because I think they had 227 yards at halftime, we had about 250 at halftime.  That means our defense held them to 40 yards in the second half pretty much, 50 yards, 60 yards, something like that in the second half.
They went out and they won the third quarter.  They did a great job.  These players deserve the credit.
We talked about, We got to start fast.  That's been the battle cry all week.  This team has been up.  Western Kentucky has been up on everybody they've played at halftime by 10 points.  Every game that they've lost, they have been up by 10 points at halftime.
We said it was going to be important that we started fast as an offense and we were able to put some points up on the board.

Q.  Third quarter has kind of been y'all's quarter throughout the season.  What do you attribute that to?
COACH HOLTZ:  I attribute it to the coaching staff and the adjustments that they're able to make, the communication, everybody on offense being together for another year, defensively the way those guys have gelled.  I attribute it to the seniors and the leadership of this team that they come in here at halftime and get this team focused and don't let us get distracted.
Our whole battle cry is 60 minutes.  That's how long a football game goes.  We're going to play it 60 minutes.  If we don't need it all, great.  But we're going into every game with the preparation of 60 minutes until somebody waves a white flag and says it's over.
So I give the coaching staff and the seniors on this football team all the credit for the way that they've been able to make adjustments and stay focused and dialed in and playing the third quarter with great passion and great intensity and great effort.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.
COACH HOLTZ:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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