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September 3, 2012

Will Smith

Eric Stevens

Tommy Tuberville

Q.  Will, can you talk about how great it is to get out here with all the hype coming in as a JUCO transfer and making an impact right away?
WILL SMITH:  It felt good to get the first one out of the way, get the first game jitters out of the way.  After that, it's just slowing down and making sure you just take it all in at once and just make the plays.

Q.  Was it what you expected?
WILL SMITH:  It was a little different than I thought.  I thought it was going to be faster, so I was glad about that.  But other than that, everything was pretty much what I thought it was.

Q.  Can you talk about the defense comes out and gets three‑and‑out right away?  Did you want to be on defense first and make an impact like that to get your confidence up?
WILL SMITH:  As a defender, we always want to be the first one out on the field.  But it was a good statement to get three‑and‑out, but every defense wants to be three‑and‑out to get on the sideline so you can rest and go over what you feel you need to correct and get back out there and make another stop.

Q.  Felt like you guys were so dominant all night.  What didn't you do well after looking at tape?
WILL SMITH:  After looking at film today, I feel like we did a pretty good job, but of course there is always room for improvement.  So we've got to look at those little mistakes we made and correct them so we don't make those mistakes.
We had a few small ones that could potentially have made broken plays, but other than that, we did pretty well.

Q.  Coach talked about no touchdowns after momentum changes.  How much pride did you guys take in not giving up touchdowns even though you were given short fields a couple times the other night?
WILL SMITH:  We took big pride in that.  Me and D.J. talked about that every time we came off the field.  We were like, they're not getting in today, that's not happening.  Let's make that an issue.  So it was just making sure the rest of the defense got that and that we executed.

Q.  What have you seen from Texas State?  What kind of a challenge does their offense present?
WILL SMITH:  Challenge wise, you have to do your assignment, play your role this week.

Q.  Playing against a guy like Shaun Rutherford, does that help having defended that going into this week?
WILL SMITH:  It gives you an idea of what you'll face.  But I feel like the quarterback at Texas State is more versatile.  Like I said earlier, just staying disciplined in what you're assigned to do.

Q.  Were there any things in particular the other night that you felt like you needed to do better?
WILL SMITH:  For myself, I always feel like I need to do a lot of things better.  So after looking at the film, a couple of mistakes I made were just slowing down a little bit and just the way to handle blocks better, but that's about it though.

Q.  Was the Houston game against Texas State a wake‑up call for you guys?
WILL SMITH:  You could say that.  You wouldn't think Texas State would come out as strong as they did.  It's a wake‑up call, but no matter who it is, we have to come out ready to play.

Q.  Knowing it's their Super Bowl, how do you guys approach that?
WILL SMITH:  We approach it as every game.  You've got to come out strong, so you take everything that you need to know into the game, and then after that, it's just handling your business on the field.

Q.  What did you think after the game?  Did you soak it up at all?
WILL SMITH:  Yeah, coming out running through the mist was exciting.  That was something I never experienced before, so I really enjoyed that.

Q.  Overall, how has your Division 1 experience been so far?
WILL SMITH:  Yeah, my Division 1 debut, it was pretty fun.  I had a really good time.  You just take it all in at once and understand it's there.  Now it's time to focus up and go through the season.

Q.  There is a good chance of rain on Saturday.  As a defensive player, do you like playing in the rain and things like that?
WILL SMITH:  I don't mind it.  I do kind of like it sometimes because I feel like it's more nastier so there is more aggression out there.  Yeah, I do like it.

Q.  What do you see from your defense that will keep everything consistent?
WILL SMITH:  I saw we were all chasing the ball a lot.  So everybody that gets around the ball, good things are going to happen.

Q.  How are the front four helping the linebackers helping you do what you need to do?
WILL SMITH:  They're very important.  They keep the linemen off of us so they can get over the top and keep our leverage and everything like that.
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Good positive week for us.  Exactly what we needed.  We needed to go out and play somebody else, hit somebody else.  I thought our seniors and our team and the coaches prepared well for the game.  Got a lot to learn.  Got a lot of growing up to do.
Defensively, we played like we should have against a team that we should have played that well against.  We didn't do anything spectacular.  We didn't get any turnovers, and we turned it over twice on our side, our offense.
Offensively for us, we had some good things.  It was good to see the running backs and the running game.  We didn't block second level very well.  Seth didn't have one of his best games, but got a lot of players in the game and had some positive things happen.
Special teams looked good overall.  Got a lot of room for improvement.  We spent a lot of time on it, and we'll continue to spend a lot of time.
Players of the game, offensive scout team player of the game who did a great job for us, all two‑a‑days and in our scrimmage was Josh Talbott.  Defensive scout team player of the week, Kindred Evans, and as I told our team two hours ago, that is probably the two most important players of the week awards, because they work hard to make the other groups better.
Offensive player of the week, four catches and two T.D.s, three knock downs, played hard and physical, Marcus Kennard.  Great to see him catch the ball across the middle.  All those other things for me, we've got to catch the ball across the middle.  We didn't do it last year, and it is a good start this week.
Defensively, a guy that probably played the best game, I know he's played the best game since I've been here, Cody Davis, defensive player of the game, eight and a half tackles, one tackle for a loss.  He was all over the field and just a totally different person from the last two years.  He's matured.  He understands how to play.  Understands how to explode on the ball, very good tackler and I'm really proud of him.
Special teams player of the game is the guy we put in on kickoffs.  Kickoffs are coverages, basically, effort and desire and going full speed.
I've inserted a couple of guys as we went through the game and got a lead.  We put Summitt Hogue in the game, and on all three kickoffs he was on, he made all three tackles.  He was a special teams player of the game, and we'll travel this week and be on kickoff coverage just because of that, and that is the type of effort that we're looking for.
It was a good start for the season.  You're only as good as how you practice though.  We've got to practice well this week.  Got a difficult game coming up on the road.  A team that I've never seen a team be that much of an underdog and win by as much as they won by, but we knew that.  Last year they outplayed us for three quarters, and we were fortunate to get a couple of turnovers and get a lead and pull away from it.
But that thing went down and probably should have gone down to the wire, and we knew it.
We didn't know what to expect last year offensively.  It was the coaching staff's first game and surprised us some.  Won't be as many surprises this year other than the fact that they got almost everybody back and we're going to have to play much better because that's where the downslide started because we couldn't stop the run last year, so we've got to do much better in that area.

Q.  After watching film, your thoughts on offensive line?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  The last game, offensive line?  They did pretty well.  We're not as physical as we need to be.  Our running game was there at times.  We've got to get to the second level and block our two guards.  On pass protection, we did good at times and at times they were inconsistent, but they'll have to continue to get better.
Our two tackles were good, not great, lot of room for improvement.  Our center, Gallington, his snaps were good.  He's really improved in that area.  Going right and left, a little bit of a problem.  He's bruised his shoulder early in the game, but continued to play and he'll be fine this week.  But it was good to see him play through that.
And Jace Amaro, we consider him an offensive line at times, his blocking has really improved.  So I'd say on a 1 to 10 scale, offensive line, 6.5, maybe 7.  We've got to get better in protection.  We've got to get better running game.  We've got to get better blocking second level.

Q.  You talked about Jace and how much of a player he could be for this offense?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  He was good, took a couple of pretty good looks there in the first quarter.  We saw enough of him.  He could have caught many more balls, but his presence out there and the people they have to cover him with the pass he caught down the goal line where he went up and took the ball.  You know, the ball was thrown into the crowd, and that's his physical presence in catching the ball.  His blocking is good.  He loves football.  That is the kind of guy you like.  He loves contact.  He's an aggressive guy, and he's got a lot of room for improvement.  But his work ethic is going to make him a much better player as the year goes on.

Q.  To follow up on that, how have you seen him grow through the adversity he's gone through as a person and a player?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  He's really grown up.  Obviously made a mistake.  When you go through something like that, you can go several directions, he and Kenny both.  So I'm proud of both of them how they've handled it and gone out and worked and apologized to the team for bringing on the adversity to the team that the team had nothing to do with.  But we are a team and everybody goes through it, but both have really grown up.

Q.  Is that the balance offensively you've envisioned all along here?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  We need to make more big plays, and we didn't do a lot on the offense this game.  We were a little bit more conservative.  We had two offensive perspective starters out in Javon Bell and Darrin Moore who will be back this week and add a little fire power to what we can do, a little speed.
But we went into that game trying to be fundamentally right and technically right, doing the right things.  Not putting our two guard into a situation where they didn't know what was going on.  They're much farther along.  We just did that in precaution.
We could have played another team that's better, and I think they would have done just as well.  But you just go in and try to create an atmosphere of being positive and something positive happened.  We had 500 yards.  Most teams would have loved that, but I think we could have done much better.  It's just the way the first game went, and now we'll get the jitters behind us.

Q.  Can you give us an update on Terrance Bullitt?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  The same shoulder that was operated on and he reached out, felt it give a little bit.  Went to the ground got a little bit sore.  He'll be fine.  He'll practice this week.  No structural damage at all, so glad to see that.  He wants to play.
Somebody asked me how is he compared to now in this game as he was this time last year?  Last year his shoulder was gone, and he chose to play because we had nobody.  But his shoulder is still stable.  It's not loose, and it's scary.  It scared him more than anything.  But he's been in the training room and he'll practice today, so that's good news.

Q.  Were you frustrated after that injury,  because you took your head phones off?  Were you more frustrated because you know how much he's been through?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah.  Any time you go through an injury like that and work to get back, here this kid has played.  We held him out in spring practice, but he did everything.  He's ran extra.  Done everything to make himself strong.  He's out there for two and a half quarters.
But he'll tell you he got himself in the wrong position reaching instead of moving his feet.  So he gets another chance.  So now he's got to become more under control, but it's frustrating when I felt like we just couldn't get a break.  But looks like we got one or Terrance got one.

Q.  Is it nice as a coach motivationwise when you see maybe what some players would consider an inferior opponent beat a team like Houston over the weekend?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, any of us in here, we saw them play last year.  They were up‑and‑down the field on us.  We were fortunate to get bad plays and get the ball back and get our offense going.  But I think most people see the fact that Houston lost most of their starters, a new coaching staff.  You knew they were going to have some kind of problems.
But they were on the road.  I tell you what, when you can go on the road and do that, they handled that ballgame in the first half, made big plays which you have to do when you go on the road.  They're well coached.  Everybody asked me about them.  I noticed a lot of teams over the year wanting to go from a 1AA status to a 1 status.  They want to do it, but they don't put the effort into it.
Texas State has done it right.  They put money into it.  They've hired a coaching staff, and they've hired a coach that's been there done that.  They're not a wannabe.  They're putting their money where their mouth is, and we're walking into a tough situation.  We'll have several of those this year, and we have to learn how to do it.  It will be a good experience for us.

Q.  You mentioned not causing any turnovers defensively.  Are you more concerned with forcing more turnovers or letting the defense stop the ball carrier at the point of attack and not getting extra yards?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Forcing more turnovers.  We weren't out there but 50 plays, so there weren't a lot of opportunities.  The ball wasn't thrown that much in the game.  They were basically going to run the ball.  We did miss a few‑‑ I think we had one or two missed tackles.
It's a game that we pretty much controlled on defense.  Plus we played a lot of players.  We look at some guys and going we're hoping to get them 30, 40 plays where they're only out there 15 plays, because we weren't out there that much.
It was one of those games where we would probably have liked to have gotten a little more playing time, but it is also good to go out and prove a point that we've gotten a little bit better.
A lot of people are thinking we've got a great defense.  We don't have a great defense.  We've got a chance to be very good on defense.  We've got some depth, and we've got some guys that need to get better and will get better, but we didn't chase the ball good at times.
We didn't get enough people around the ball to cause turnovers.  There were times when we didn't play the right technique.  I thought in our secondary at times we looked good in terms of technique, but at times we looked bad.
So technique is what's going to make us a good defensive football team to a great one.  So we've got to really concentrate on our technique all year long, especially with the older guys and younger guys.  We can't take anything for granted.
So a good positive deal.  We held somebody under a hundred yards, which is hard to do.  I don't care who you're playing.  But we know that we've got a lot of room for improvement.

Q.  At the same time, as a coach and a defensive minded coach, was it good to at least watch good defense that's been a while?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Oh, yeah.  It was good to see our punt return team go out on the field.  We didn't have to practice it last year.  We made everybody punt.  So we've had to put extra time in our practice to work on that.  It was good.  It was good to see our guys enjoy themselves.
We played with enthusiasm.  Our guys are Patting each other on the back.  It was a fun day.  It was a fun day to kind of overshadow everything that's happened.
But as we talked in there today, as we watched the film together, they understand where they're at and what they're getting ready to get into for the next 11 weeks and how much better we can be, but it's not just going to happen.  We have got to practice hard and it's got to become important to everybody on the offense, defense, and special teams.

Q.  Do you ever marvel at how many people it takes to put together a road game and a road trip, and what all goes into that?  Getting all the equipment and stuff?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  It takes a year of organization to it.  We have three or four guys that that's all they do.  We have frontal teams, teams that go down.
The fortunate thing for us is most schools don't have, is we have an airport here where you can fly in and out of.  I've been to some schools where most schools I've been, you have to get on the bus, drive an hour, hour and a half just to get on a charter plane to fly somewhere, and then you have to fly back in that night and get on the bus.
Here it's a lot different where we can just five minutes to the airport.  The jump on Southwest Airlines, charter a plane and we go.  The big thing is travel in terms of buses and how much you carry with you and how many people you take with you, and hotels and meals, and time.
It's good.  It's good to get in a non‑conference.  Last two years we played at NewMexico.  This year we're playing in San Marcos before we go to our first road game, so that is another reason we played this game on the road because we knew we needed one before we hit the nine‑game stretch.

Q.  How much nicer is it to get your kids game experience last night rather than scramble because you have to?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  It's huge.  I would have to go back to count how many players played on special teams, offense, defense.  The one area that we needed to, we all know this, the quarterback has to get some experience.  He'll be our guy next year and Mike looked like he just we plugged him in, and he didn't look different than anybody we've had.  He played well and made good decisions.  He was a little more nervous than what he looked, but he made mental mistakes early and started taking advantage of it.
Other players, the junior college guys, SaDale Foster, Will Smith, invaluable experience.  It's good you played the first one at home where they can be around a normal environment and people on their side.  But they'll get a different environment this week.

Q.  (No microphone) the Big 12 conference total scored 437, what's that say about the conference?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  That's a lot of points.  Yeah, it's probably the same way last year.  But if you look across the country‑‑ I got home in time to watch some of Oregon play.  And 50 points is nothing anymore.  Used to be mid 20s was a lot of points.  Now 50 points is pretty much the norm on a lot of teams, especially in our conference.  So not surprised.
Our league is going to be strong this year.  Everybody has good skills.  It's the teams that have defense that have a chance to win the conference.  So you're not going to go out and win it throwing the ball around and thinking our going to go out and score everybody.  Sooner or later your offense will have a bad day.  Your defense has to show up.  That's the reason we're pushing awfully hard with recruiting and working on the little things to try to get that edge each week.

Q.  With a chance of rain on Saturday, do you do anything throughout the week or play a little differently with a chance of rain?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  No, nothing different.  Probably every practice we snap wet balls.  Our running backs handle wet balls, we throw wet balls.  But you don't want to throw too many of them because the wet ball is heavier and makes your quarterback's arm sore, but it doesn't make us any different.
So the kind of offense we run with the emergence of a better running game, we're going to beat people this year.  I think we're going to win a couple games with our running game.  So, again, that is the reason we're working awfully hard on that.

Q.  Do you have a target number of touches for Kenny, SaDale, and Eric in the game?  They had about 12 to 20.
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, it is whoever has the hot hand.  Kenny got the start.  Eric will probably come in in a good situation for him.  SaDale, we've got some special things that we're going to run with him.
So, yeah, I think probably each week it will change who we're playing, who is doing well.  But all three of them are good at blocking.  All three are good at running the ball inside and outside, and all three are good at catching the ball.  So I talked to Chad Scott last week, and he said coach each week we're looking at practice, and whoever practices the best, we'll start them, but all three will play.
It's interesting Saturday to walk down the sideline and you've got DeAndre Washington who started five or six games for us standing on the sideline who we're trying to red shirt.  It's a good situation, but it just goes to show you how much progress that we've made in that area in one year.

Q.  Can you talk about the first time we've seen the diamond formation and the advent to that?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, we ran a little bit of it last year.  When the running backs started going down, we didn't have enough guys to run and dot an I, much less run the diamond.  So it's good.  It gives the defense problems in terms of misdirection, play action.  Gives you a lead blocker on both sides.
We've got a lot of things out of it that we practiced but we haven't run.  We'll look at this week and look at the defense we're playing and decide tonight going into tomorrow's practice how much we want to do of it and the changes that we want to make.
It's good to have some kind of power running.  When you've got a guy like Kenny, and you have (Indiscernible) who really didn't play that well for us.  He's a guy that's got to improve for us.  That's two good lead guys that you can put in the game and one of the smaller guys in the back.  But you can still give the ball to any of the three and then throw it to them.  There's a lot of options for us.  I think it's going to be a good formation for us.

Q.  The defensive line Saturday night, is that kind of what you're looking for going back to that old Miami front four?
COACH TUBERVILLE:  Yeah, you can't play good defense unless it starts with your front four.  We have so much better technique.  We played with our hands better, played a little high sometimes.  It will be different this week playing against a team that's in a three‑point stance every down.  We don't see that much, but we'll see it a lot in the conference.  So it's good we'll get to practice this week on it and play in the game.
But you have to play well on the defensive front.  You have to be able to take up double teams, be able to get penetration.  Several times they had the screen pass pretty much executed.  Got our hand up and knocked the ball down.
We've got some height.  You look at a lot of teams.  They're playing with 6'1", maybe a little taller than our defensive linemen.  Our guys aren't 6'1".  We're pretty big for a defensive line.
The downturn of that is you have to play low.  You can't play high.  Some of these teams will knock us back in the secondary as they did last year.
So that's one thing we're working on is playing with good leverage and our hands and not get real high in our technique.

Q.  How was it playing in your first game?
ERIC STEPHENS:  Overall it feels pretty good.

Q.  Particularly to score two touchdowns, that is a feeling every football player gets and you haven't had it for a while.  How did making the scores feel?
ERIC STEPHENS:  It felt great just to be out there making plays again.  It's been a long journey the last couple of months.  I say a couple, but it was a long journey, and it felt good to be out there making plays.

Q.  After the first touchdown run, you were tripped up about the three.  Was there any doubt you were going to leave four and get in there?
ERIC STEPHENS:  Oh, no.  Once I cut back on the guy, if you watch film, he just gave up.  And the guy that was in the end zone, he was too deep in the end zone to stop me.  So once I cut back, I knew it was a touchdown.

Q.  You had several cuts like that.  How reassuring is that?
ERIC STEPHENS:  It feels great just to be able to get out there and not worry about it.  I had a great medical staff, and Tyler Crawford did a great job with the surgery, and did a great job of preparing me as well as Coach Walker.  I'm confident in it, so it felt great.

Q.  Are you going to continue to wear the big brace?  I heard the comment that you might try to shed that thing.
ERIC STEPHENS:  Eventually.  I'm not sure if it's going to be this week or in the future, but I'm going to start practicing a little bit without it.  Just kind of filter my way off of it, I guess.

Q.  Does it hamper you?
ERIC STEPHENS:  The biggest thing with the knee brace is I don't get full flexion, so I can't really run.  I feel like I'm scooting my leg when I run.  I've been running with it for a couple of months, so I got used to do it.  I just want to get off of it, because I'm able to run a little better without it.

Q.  Are there things that would help you not carry as big of a load as you would without those guys?
ERIC STEPHENS:  Yeah, Kenny and SaDale being in there is a big deal.  Kenny's a big guy that can take a load if he needed to.  SaDale is great as well.  They both bring tremendous attributes to the table.  Being able to count on those guys is not only huge for me, but for our team.

Q.  You guys should be getting some play makers back on the wideout spot coming into this game.  But do you still feel the running game will be the big attribute?
ERIC STEPHENS:  Every week is a big game plan.  I think we are going to run the ball a lot more as we did.  We never ran the ball that much since I've been here.  I think it's going to continue.  May not be as much.  I'm sure it won't, but we're definitely going to continue to try to work on the running game.

Q.  Do you think it's because of the back field or because of the options that Coach Brown has?
ERIC STEPHENS:  It's our depth.  We have so much depth at every position.  It's kind of a fight who will get the carries, receivers or running backs.  But having that depth at running back I'm sure makes Coach Brown more comfortable running the ball.

Q.  What was your reaction when you saw Texas State won?
ERIC STEPHENS:  I was kind of shocked.  I found out during the game.  The guys are looking at the scoreboard seeing the scores.  I didn't see it.  But some guys came to me and told me.
I was kind of shocked because Houston is relatively a good team, and Texas State, when we played them last year, they were okay.  They came on strong in the first half, but the second half they shut it down.  When I saw that score, it gave me something to look forward to next week.

Q.  Did the guys like fireworks?
ERIC STEPHENS:  Oh, yeah, we definitely noticed.  It was great to see the fireworks go off, something new.

Q.  How close do you think you are to a hundred percent, kind of a guesstimation?
ERIC STEPHENS:  I think I'm ready to go right now.  The season is here.  The fact that I played Saturday and I came out, I'm going to be a little sore after every game, I think naturally.  But overall, I think I'm good.

Q.  Saturday they expect a pretty good chance of rain.  As a running back, do you like that kind of game where you're grounded on the ground and playing in the rain.  Do you like that kind of stuff?
ERIC STEPHENS:  Definitely.  Any time we can get the ball more, I like it.  When we have rainy games and wet games, we tend to run the ball a little more, so I'm looking forward to it.

Q.  Is that what you were thinking the other night when you found the end zone?  It had to be an incredible feeling.  Anything cross your mind what you've gone through?
ERIC STEPHENS:  When we actually scored initially, I was overwhelmed with excitement to be back out there.  When I got to the sideline, everything went through my head.  The injury, the journey that I had to get back, everything.  It just felt great.

Q.  Running out of the diamond formation a little bit this week.  Is that something you feel works well for you?  Do you like running out of the diamond like that?
ERIC STEPHENS:  I like the formation because it gives the running backs more field.  I know the wide receivers probably don't like it too much.  As a running back, any time we can be on the field whether it be blue which is our two running back formation or that little trade, which is the diamond set, is great for the running backs.

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