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October 1, 2016

Xavier Woods

Ruston, Louisiana

UTEP - 7, Lousiana Tech - 28

Q. The defense hasn't played well the last two week; how do you think the defense played tonight?
XAVIER WOODS: We haven't played well, as you said, the past two weeks. Today, we played all right. We just didn't play to the best of our ability. But we got turnovers, and the end the day, it's about us having more points than they did, and they only got seven.

And we still have to -- I would say, we've got a lot of long third downs and long first down drives. I mean, on third down and fourth downs, we're making three (ph) but other than that, I mean, we still improving, still got a long way to go but today was a good day and took a step in the right direction.

Q. What was the message to the defensive unit going into the game?
XAVIER WOODS: We had a long talk Sunday after Middle Tennessee and just went back to day one. We just had to tackle -- last week we didn't tackle at all. Today we tackled well. It's about tackling well and everybody running to the ball, all 11 guys and we really did that today. And it's about getting off the field in third down, and we didn't on our drives, but we did on some and we held them to seven points.

Q. UTEP came in last in the league -- what specifically do you think they were doing that had success for the passing game?
XAVIER WOODS: A lot of them came in in third down I guess or just escaping, maybe something happening, a couple deep balls. But we have to be better at the end of the day. I mean, we still -- our standard is way better than that. We want to be the top passing, top running defense, top total defense in the country and just got to be better, especially next week.

Q. This is I think the third straight game a team has finished above 50 percent on third downs. Do you see any consistent themes there?
XAVIER WOODS: Man, I would like to see -- inaudible -- just because I had my back turned. But some of them were just calls -- inaudible -- quarterbacks may have throws. Every defense has a weak spot, and some of the throws were to our weak spots on defense. I know a couple of them were caught up running the ball and our eyes just wasn't on the quarterback because we were on a man or something. Just us tackling and us being in the right call and everybody run to the ball.

Q. Your interception -- in all fairness, seemed like forever, did it feel like that?
XAVIER WOODS: Yes, it did, but it was a point we had to make some day. I mean, we got to create turnovers. We didn't create a turnover in forever. So we worked on that all this week and it showed today.

Q. On that third down run, the UTEP quarterback looked like he was going to get to the first down -- and Coop just comes up and lays the guy out. Is that just a play he made or were you concerned he was going to get to the first down --
XAVIER WOODS: We had a breakdown. Had a breakdown up front. But I mean, you see what Cooper ran to the ball and stopping before he got there, and the hit that he put on, I see that from Coop, that's normal stuff. That's nothing big. Coop is a hitter. But we had a breakdown -- flying to the ball, defensively, if one guy -- if one guy breaks down defense, then it can be a big play. But if 11 guys all run to the ball, then we can stop it and that's what happened.

Q. Where would you say the defense is coming at -- inaudible -- after tonight's game?
XAVIER WOODS: I haven't watched it, but going to pass the ball and try to run it a little bit. But I mean, just from last year, we have to tackle but still end of the day, it's about us, it's about us playing our style of defense, being physical, tackling the ball, and then we just got to be better on third downs.

Q. As a unit, this game tonight, give you a lot of confidence with the way you've played the last two weeks?
XAVIER WOODS: I think our confidence has never let. We just didn't play up to our standard. Then we can play anybody. Starting tomorrow, just get ready for those guys. It's going to be a heck of a battle. Just going to practice hard, have a great week of practice, short week and then see how things go.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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