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'04 Rice- San Jose State week

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Owls' Chad Price (L) had interception return for TD against San Jose State

San Jose State 70, Rice 63
Meltdown
Defense collapses
in record fashion
Spartns get well
at Owls' expense

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Oct. 3) -- In the highest- scoring regulation game in Division I-A history, Brian Nunez returned an interception 28 yards with 2:18 left for the last of 19 touchdowns in San Jose State's 70-63 victory over Rice on Saturday night.

The Spartans (2-2, 1-1 Western Athletic) got 28 points and two key interceptions in the fourth quarter of an astonishing exhibition of big-play offense -- and a whole lot of horrendous defense and special-teams play.

"This is one of the wildest things I've seen," San Jose State coach Fitz Hill said. "The conventional rules of football did not apply. You had to score to win."

Rice and San Jose State combined for 1,089 yards of total offense, with the Owls (2-2, 1-1) running a school-record 100 plays for 634 yards -- including 570 on 85 rushing plays while setting the NCAA record for most points in a loss.

And to top every incredible development, the Spartans won it on a big defensive play: Nunez's untouched return of Greg Henderson's pass.

The 133 points surpassed the total from Middle Tennessee State's 70-58 victory over Idaho on Oct. 6, 2001, and was just one short of the Division I-A mark for any game set in Arkansas' 71-63, seven-overtime victory over Kentucky on Nov 1, 2003.

The teams also fell just shy of the NCAA regulation record for all divisions, set in Division III North Park's 104-32 victory over North Central, Illinois, on Oct. 12, 1968.

The 19 touchdowns also broke the Division I-A record of 18 that had been accomplished twice, most recently by Middle Tennessee and Idaho in their 2001 game.

"It was just a great game back and forth for the fans to see," Rice coach Ken Hatfield said. "It's what the WAC is all about, a lot of explosiveness."

The Spartans did it all with just 49 plays, controlling the ball for less than 18 minutes and making the most of 211 yards on kickoff returns, repeatedly setting up scoring drives.

"If anything, I was most disappointed with the big plays they made in the kicking game -- those field position plays, those momentum-changers," Hatfield said.

Dale Rogers, playing with a hyperextended left knee and a big cut on his chin, passed for 359 yards and five touchdowns -- on just 10 completions -- after entering the game as the Spartans' third quarterback.

Hill hoped to keep Rogers out because of his injuries, but Adam Tafralis and Beau Pierce were ineffective early on.

"They came to me, and I said, 'If you want me to play, I'll go in there and play," Rogers said.

Rogers eventually rallied the Spartans from an early 27-point deficit and a 14-point hole with eight minutes to play.

Rice used two quarterbacks in its option offense, with Henderson and Joel Armstrong combining for 276 yards rushing and four scores. Marcus Rucker added 201 yards rushing and two more scores.

Rice took a 63-49 lead on Armstrong's 44-yard scoring run with 8:38 left, but Rufus Skillern caught his second TD pass from Rogers just 87 seconds later, scoring from 44 yards out.

With 3:22 left, Eric Wilson recovered Armstrong's fumble at the Rice 18, and Rogers scored on a one-yard plunge moments later. San Jose State committed a personal foul after the play, but Jeff Carr still drilled the extra point from 35 yards out to tie it at 63-63.

Nunez then intercepted a terrible pass down the right sideline, scoring untouched to give San Jose State its first lead of the night.

"I was in the right place at the right time," Nunez said. "The quarterback rolled out and took me right where he was throwing it."

Rice then drove to the San Jose State 28, but Bobby Godinez intercepted Armstrong's pass with 31 seconds left to preserve the win. The Spartans, whose program is thought to be in danger of discontinuation thanks to budget problems and low attendance, celebrated wildly with the students and band.

Just 4,093 fans attended the game.

Trestin George scored on a 77-yard reverse punt return for the Spartans, and Brian Watje made the first of his two TD receptions on a pass from running back Lamar Ferguson.

Rice scored on its first five possessions, taking a 34-7 lead with 299 total yards before the second quarter was five minutes old. Henderson rushed for three scores, including a 39-yard scramble and an 11-yard run after Tyson Thompson's fumble.

But San Jose State rallied with 141 yards and two scores on its next two plays from scrimmage. Thompson ran for a 74-yard score, and after Henderson threw an interception, Rogers hit John Broussard all alone down the sideline for a 67-yard TD catch.

Broussard made a 64-yard reception shortly before halftime, setting up Watje's 13-yard TD catch on a pass from Ferguson.

Chad Price extended Rice's lead to 49-35 late in the third with a 15-yard interception return for a score.

--Rice Sports Information


Owls don't want Spartans
to get well at their expense

04sjscartoon.jpg (49243 bytes)HOUSTON (Oct. 1) – The one thing the Rice Owls don’t want to be this weekend is an antidote.

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Owlook

The Owls invade the Bay Area Saturday to take on the San Jose State Spartans, a team which lost last week in Dallas to SMU, 36-13, allowing the Mustangs to break their 15-game losing streak.

That was a poison pill for San Jose State fans, who are beating the drums in anticipation of a lynching party for Spartan head coach Fitz Hill.  Coach Hill, well-liked by his colleagues in the coaching profession, hasn’t exactly been a resounding success in Silicon Valley, going 13-26 thus far as he enters his fifth year as head coach at SJSU. This year, he’s 1-3, with the only win being a 47-28 triumph over 1-AA Morgan State.

Alumni huddled earlier this week for what turned out to be basically a gripe session with Coach Hill, and words, apparently, were not minced.

"There are a lot of Spartan fans disappointed with what has happened in the last five years," said former SJSU quarterback David Ellis. "Something is wrong when you get beat by 23 points by the worst team in Division (1-A) football."

Other voices were somewhat more encouraging, however. "Look, we're here to support the student athletes and coaches involved with San Jose State football," said former Quarterback Club president Andy Ghiggeri. . "When a program is down, it doesn't matter if it is here or at Stanford, or at USC, people are going to start asking questions. We want everyone to know we continue to stand behind the team. The evaluation of the coaching staff is for the administration."

The Spartans certainly haven’t been all that impressive thus far this year. But the Owls, on the other, don’t exactly have a history of coming into the Bay Area and leaving a winner. In fact, the Rice Owls haven’t won a football game in the state of  California since 1958, the record book says.

Rice is 0-2 against the Spartans out there. "We have not played our best out in San Jose," Rice head coach Ken Hatfield said. "It's been a difficult place to play."

In 1998, Coach Hatfield took what by most measures was the superior team into Spartan Stadium but lost momentum early in the game and came out on the losing end, 20-17.

Two years later, after winning 49-7 in Rice Stadium in ‘99, Rice met a fairly evenly-matched Spartan squad in San Jose, only to fall again, 29-16.

Can Owls stay focused against Spartans?  Coach thinks so

Nope, the Owls certainly have not played their best ball at San Jose State. But Coach Hatfield says he thinks the temperament of this year’s Owl team is such that it will keep its eye on the ball.

"I think we’ll take care of business," Coach said, referring both to San Jose State and the Owls’ WAC schedule generally.  Playing Texas before a large, hostile crowd on the road helped in that regard, he added. "They enjoyed the opportunity to play Texas in that environment. They fought hard. They did not like losing."

"They know the importance of this game. We have Navy in the middle of all this, but pretty much the rest of the way are all WAC games. They all count. They know the importance of it."

"We're right where we want to be right now.  We're 1-0 in the conference and going to play a key conference game on the road. To win a championship, you have to win some key conference games on the road. That's always a factor. We have not played good out in San Jose but I think we're going to. We're going to practice good and I look for a good game."

Coach Hill said third-down conversion percentage is a stat that just sticks out like a sore thumb in regard to the Spartans' Misery Index this fall. "Our third down conversion is what is killing us," Hill said. "I mean, we're awful in that category."

"If we can increase our third down conversion, that will cure a lot of our ills because number one, we'll move the ball longer. Second, we will be moving down to the red zone area where we are 100 percent," Hill said. "But we haven't done that in the plus side of the field."

As one might expect, Coach Hill attributes his team’s lack of success primary to its inexperience.

"Offensively, when you have seven or eight new starters, you have a tendency to start slow," Hill said. "About game four, game five, it ought to be coming together, and that's what I'm expecting this week."

The SMU game marked the second starting assignment for Spartan quarterback Dale Rogers, who led SJSU rushers with 87 yards on 14 carries. Rogers, a 240-pounder, is said to be a much better scrambler than his record-setting predecessor, Scott Rislov. Coach Hill told press that Rogers was held out of practice a couple of days this week because of the bumps and bruises he received against SMU. But he’s expected to be back at full speed for the Owls.

Former TCU signee leads Spartan backfield

Rogers is accompanied in the Spartan backfield by junior running back Tyson Thompson, who leads all rushers with 250 yards total, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. Owl fans may recall that Thompson, out of Irving, Texas, was heavily recruited as a schoolboy and wound up signing a letter with TCU, but had problems with, er, matriculation, so wound up playing junior college ball at Garden City College before enrolling at San Jose State.

On the receiving end, wideout James Jones leads the team with 12 receptions for 196 yards and a touchdown. Of the top-10 pass catchers in the Western Athletic Conference, he has the best yards- per- catch average at 16.3.

Defensively, the Spartans are coached by former Rice assistant and Tulsa head man Keith Burns. On the field, they’re led by Defensive end Tony Ficklin, who has been credited with 8.0 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 4.0 quarterback sacks this season. With that stat to his credit, he shares the WAC top spot with our own John Syptak and Thadis Pegues in the QB sack department.

One stat that has caused concern to Coach Hatfield, going into Saturday’s game, is that matter of quarterback sacks. It seems the Spartans haven’t allowed any – all season.

"They get rid of the ball in a hurry," Coach Hatfield told media at his weekly press luncheon. "That’s one of (Hawaii QB) Timmy Chang's deals: don't ever take a sack. Even if you throw two incomplete passes, all you have to hit is one out of three, as long as you don't get in a second-and-17 situation. Quarterbacks are schooled to do that."

"A lot of time, quarterbacks will hold on to the ball too long, and that's when sacks come. It's an art to teach a quarterback to throw an incompletion. That's what Fitz and his staff are doing: they're trying to make sure they don't end up in a lot of long-yardage situations."

That approach would appear to run counter to the angle Coach Hill announced he planned to take in Saturday’s game, when he told alums he planned to take more chances, offensively, against the Owls. That seems to mean Rice will especially need to take a disciplined defensive approach to the game and mind their assignments.

Coach Hatfield said he has reason to believe the Flock will stay focused. It’s been a focused defensive effort consistently for the Owls the first three games of the season, he noted, despite the negative result against Texas.

"Overall, our defensive staff and our defensive players are really on the same wave length," he said. "They communicate well, and that's a factor of everybody being experienced. They've been around and they know what to expect during a game."

But you can expect the Spartans to feel as if they’ll be picking on someone their own size when they tee it up with the Institute Saturday. SJSU defensive end Kinjii Green told press he and his teammates expect nothing short of a win. "We really believe that we'll come out this week being two and two," Green said

One might expect the Spartans to pull out all the stops against the Owls in an effort to set the season aright and even their conference and season record at .500. "We're not looking at this game in terms of being competitive," Coach Hill told gathered alums. "We're looking at it to win."

--P.T.H.



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'The last time I looked, Vincent Young was in there, at the end of the third quarter'

 

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'They’re bigger and faster than we are. I don’t think it takes a genius to see that.'

 

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'I think that, as far as fight and everything, I wouldn’t take a back seat to anybody, in the way our guys played out there Saturday'

Rice coach says
play of reserves
is encouraging

HOUSTON (Sept. 28) – Doubtless in some quarters, University of Texas head coach Mack Brown is fading some heat in light of his 22-point defeat of the Rice Owls Saturday.  Such is  the way life is in the rarified atmosphere of top-tier BCS football these days, where the pressure to win -- and win big -- is enormous.

It’s little wonder, then, that Coach Brown felt constrained to put a little spin on the 35-13 final score, saying, regarding the second half, "It was actually even only because we took everybody out."

"We played some really, really young guys," he added. "We didn't have a starter in during the fourth quarter except for a couple of secondary guys."

Rice head coach Ken Hatfield couldn’t mask the irritation in his voice when reminded by this reporter of his cohort’s take on the game.

"Well, the last time I looked, Vincent Young was in there, at the end of the third quarter," Coach Hatfield retorted. "I mean, I think he’s the starter, is he not? I think, last time I looked, I don’t think that would sell very well with Chance Mock, either, you know. I don’t think he started the second half."

Mock, in fact, took over for Young with twelve minutes remaining in the game, set up in the shotgun, and threw the ball all over the field. (His stat sheet showed eight passes for minus-eight yards.) And Mock, as Coach Hatfield alluded to, is a former starter

"But no, they had some good players in there," Coach Hatfield protested. "And you look at their defense, I mean, Derrick Johnson was in there a long time."

UT Heisman-candidate runner Cedric Benson also played the entire first three quarters of the game.

In fact, when Rice’s redshirt freshman quarterback, Joel Armstrong, embarked on his 44-yard touchdown run with 2:21 left on the scoreboard, Texas had more first-unit men on the field than the Owls did, and Joel was, in further fact, surrounded almost entirely by redshirt freshmen.

Owls' 'winning' last two-thirds of game bodes well for future

That bodes well for the future, Coach Hatfield said. And the fact that Rice played virtually everybody on its 60-man traveling squad and in so doing, actually outscored Texas, 10-7, in last 39:45 of the game – those are the kinds of stats that can put a smiling on a coach’s face, despite such a loss.

"I was pleased that we stayed in the fight," Coach Hatfield said. "Those guys who came in and played for Texas, all of those who dressed out, they all wanted to play in the game, too. They all wanted to play hard, too."

"I think when you’re playing anybody of that caliber who’s playing hard, and you have some success, both offensively and defensively, that’s a positive. Maybe not our first team against their first team. The first team may be a little better than we are. They’re ranked number five in the country for a reason, and they’ve been up there for several years because of their talent. And they’re bigger and faster than we are. I don’t think it takes a genius to see that."

"But I think that, as far as fight and everything, I wouldn’t take a back seat to anybody, in the way our guys played out there Saturday. They played hard, and they continued to fight – they didn’t get down."

The game with Texas Saturday provided the Feathered Flock with more than a little beneficial adversity conditioning which can be put to good use later in the season, the Rice mentor added.

"The biggest thing is what you do when things go bad. Everybody can play well when they’re ahead," he said. "But how you really respond when you’re gettin’ your tail beat – do you still fight back?"

"And I think the thing you saw on our sideline; you saw in the game, that there wasn’t anybody who gave up. There wasn’t anybody on any special team who wasn’t fighting, trying to get to the ball and make something happen."

Texas was trying to work on passing game, but without much success

Coach Hatfield said he realized that the Texas coaching staff was trying to work on the Longhorn passing game, after taking a 28-3 lead midway in the second quarter.

Everyone is aware that Rice was without the services of three of its biggest offensive weapons Saturday, in running backs Thomas Lott and Quinton Smith, and wide receiver Marcus Battle. But perhaps few were aware of Rice’s precarious situation in the defensive secondary, where several ‘walking wounded’ managed to buckle it up and play effectively in the Texas game.

"Last week during practice, one day we had only one cornerback dressed out," Coach noted. "One. The others were hurt or sick. We had to take a backup safety and work him at first-team corner. We weren't sure who would play in the game. That's a credit to the players and coaches, everybody willing to play."

But perhaps Rice’s most impressive effort of the day against UT – if you don’t count the outstanding overall special teams play – was the pass defense displayed by the Owl secondary.

"They did not hit a deep pass," Coach said of UT’s offense. "They hit a couple of short, medium-range passes over the middle; they beat us inside on a couple of plays with their tight end; they hit a crosser. But when they tried to go deep, they didn’t hit any of them."

"They tried to go after Matt Ginn; they tried to go after Lance Byrd. We even picked off one deep in the end zone – they tried a big, tall guy who tried to out-jump us in the end zone; Matt Ginn comes down with it."

"So with the things they were trying to do, I guarantee you, our secondary matched up on the deep passes; they didn’t get that part of their game going. They ran the ball pretty good; and they hit a couple of their tight ends, but they didn’t hit the deep passes."

All in all, it was an extremely physical and talented Longhorn football team the bested the Owls on Saturday, and, given the level of effort the Institute boys showed, the game’s outcome shouldn’t be taken as a negative, Coach Hatfield noted.

"And when you have that the whole game – that’s the thing that concerns me more than anything; that is, looking at the attitude of the team," he said. "Maybe it’s awful easy to give up when you’re down like we were, 28-3 in the second quarter. But we didn’t; we kept fighting back – and I think we learned something from the game, even though we weren’t the better team that day."

--P.T.H.



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"Coming out there, we already knew that we were facing pretty much of a David-and-Goliath situation."

 

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"When I hit him, I was like, ‘this guy, if he isn’t hurt after this, I don’t know what he’s made of.’"

 

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"You could see the blue stripe of Rice fans. That meant a lot to us, and I really want to say that to everybody out there"

 

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"We still need just to play together like we normally do, but we need to take care of the little things"

'This is going to be a long day'
Holley shrugs off UT,
focuses on San Jose

HOUSTON (Sept. 27) – There was a moment on the field, early in Rice’s game with Texas Saturday, when Owl roving linebacker Terry Holley experienced an epiphany that he’d just as soon have done without.

The play before, with the game scoreless and Texas driving, Terry had nailed Heisman candidate Cedric Benson in the UT backfield for a loss, pinning him to the ground solo and setting up for Texas a third and goal from the Rice nine yard line.

Next play, UT quarterback Vince Young quickly dropped back and threw down the middle to his tight end, Bo Scaife, deep in the end zone. Holley, the standout linebacker from Oklahoma City, was in perfect position to deliver a crushing blow to the receiver, and he put his helmet right on Scaife’s numbers -- an incredible hit. Owl fans thought for sure Scaife would go one way, and his helmet and the ball, the other.

"I was thinking the same thing," Terry told us over lunch Monday. "When I hit him, I was like, ‘this guy, if he isn’t hurt after this, I don’t know what he’s made of.’

"I looked at him – he had the ball in his hands, still – and he just gets up like nothing happened, and I was thinking to myself, ‘This is going to be a  long day -- a  looooong day.’"

"Because I just gave him about all I had – and he just took it in stride."

That one play pretty much epitomized Rice’s entire evening, struggling in vain against a physically more talented Texas team. The speed of the Texas game Saturday was most certainly kicked up a notch more than the first two games of the season. Bam!

"Oh, definitely, definitely," Terry told us. "Those guys were bigger, stronger and faster than both of the teams we’d previously played. So, coming out there, we already knew that we were facing pretty much of a David-and-Goliath situation."

Texas’ size and speed advantage pretty much ran the length and breadth of the Longhorn first unit, Terry said. "I guess you could say across the board, except for their receivers," he added. "The receivers didn’t impress us all that much. But, across the board, they were just bigger, stronger and faster. The tight ends – they were a handful. They really came at us."

Though the hostile crowd, some 83,000 strong, appeared to cause occasional problems with the Owls’ offensive flow, it just made the Rice defense feel more chipper. In fact, the presence of small, but noisy contingent of blue-clad Owl fans, deep in the corner of the Memorial end zone, did more than anything else to bolster the Rice defenders, the senior rover said..

"It pumped us up – especially to see our Rice fans out there," Terry told us. "That was more important to me than anything. You’d be on the field, and you could look over to the corner, and you could see the blue stripe of Rice fans. That meant a lot to us, and I really want to say that to everybody out there – to all the Rice fans who took the trouble to show up at the game."

But the noise level itself, was something that a player could pretty much focus out, he added. "I guess the way the stadium is built, being open at one end, it didn’t present as big a problem as I thought it would," Terry said. "The noise kind of filtered out, and on the field, it was at a level where you really didn’t have to pay attention to it, at all."

On defense, Rice actually did some things against Texas that Arkansas hadn’t done, a couple of weeks before.

"It was definitely all a positive experience," the Owl senior sparkplug said. "We got three turnovers, which nobody previous to that had done. That’s definitely a positive. It just goes to show that we just need to take care of the little things. We still need just to play together like we normally do, but we need to take care of the little things. It just motivates the team more to know that we got plus-three turnovers against the number five team in the nation, so there’s no reason that we shouldn’t be able to get turnovers from here on out."

Perhaps it’s a cliche, but there were some building blocks put together out there on the Memorial Stadium turf Saturday than can add structure to Rice’s efforts in later, more winnable games.

"We picked up some great experience," Terry noted, "playing on the road at the house of the number five team in the nation; the competition and the experience really don’t get much better than that, and it’s definitely going to help us when we go back into conference play."

"We just take them one game at a time; we try to win them all."

This coming Saturday, the Owls must once again hit the road to take on 1-3 San Jose State. The Spartans were upset in Dallas by SMU last week, 36-13, a win that broke the Ponies’ fifteen game losing streak. Rice has never won in San Jose before, Terry was reminded.

"I was actually unaware of that until just now," he responded. "San Jose has been off our schedule for the past few years, prior to last year, and so I really can’t much to say about the rivalry or what we’ve done in the past. All I can say is we’re going to go down there and do our best to change that."

--P.T.H.


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'We started off the game really well, but we just had a big punt returned– that kind of got it started for them'

 

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'They left eight people around the ball to block us. The tight ends were always double-teaming the D-linemen, and that made it pretty tough for us to go our job in getting back there to the quarterback. Like I said, he had all day.'

 

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'If you take a look at the film, there were basically eight bad plays. That’s all they had. I mean they beat us deep eight times. Other than that, we shut them down'

 

Interview:   Jeremy Calahan
"All we have to do is just win out"

HOUSTON (Oct. 4) – The normally gregarious Jeremy Calahan was wandering the corridors of the R-Room before Monday’s luncheon, idly regarding the trophies and recorded exploits of those Rice sports heroes of days’ past. Anything, it seemed, was preferable to dwelling on that debacle of a football game the Owls found themselves participating in Saturday. Like other traumatic events, you just don’t want to talk about it, but then again you do. The senior leader and anchor of Rice’s defensive line gritted his teeth and ascended to the podium, when called. His tone of voice belied tremendous disappointment, but one also could sense the determination that welled up in the background. Gotta gut it up and shrug off a game like that....

Q: Tell us about the track meet on Saturday...

We started off the game really well. We started off the game really well, but we just had a big punt returned– that kind of got it started for them. And then things just fell apart. I mean, they started leaving eight people in the box, getting max coverage to protect their quarterback, so we couldn’t get to him. The defensive line had a lot of trouble getting pressure on them, and so they were able to beat us deep. They were able to do that, obviously, one too many times. It was a tough game. It was tough to lose like that because we’d played so well at the beginning of the game, and that shouldn’t have been how the game came out.

Q: At first, San Jose seemed clueless on offense, until their quarterback, Rogers, entered the game the second quarter. Was is simply a matter of giving their quarterback too much time?

They beat us deep. I don’t know what else to say, other than that. And they definitely had more time to throw the ball. At first, they were just leaving just the offensive linemen in to block us, and we were getting pressure, everyone had some sacks, and we were bringing blitzes off the edge – just keeping them moving. Then, they left eight people around the ball to block us. The tight ends were always double-teaming the D-linemen, and that made it pretty tough for us to go our job in getting back there to the quarterback. Like I said, he had all day.

Q: It also seemed that, especially during the second half, they were getting a short field to work with.

They did have a short field at times, but if we’d had stayed on top of them from the get-go, then it shouldn’t have been a factor.

It was definitely disappointing, but we’re just going to have to try to move on and just get ready for SMU.

Q: This was one of four very winnable WAC games that were penciled in as a "W" for you. What does this do to your momentum?

If you take a look at the film, there were basically eight bad plays. That’s all they had. I mean they beat us deep eight times. Other than that, we shut them down; there were some good things that we did on defense. We shut them down several times; they didn’t have any long drives; they just happened to get some great breaks. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about that.

Q: The defense obviously wasn’t where it was the first couple games of the season. How do you get back to that level of confidence and intensity?

We haven’t lost any confidence. Everybody on the defense– we’re all just going to pull together. We’re just going to pull together and practice hard. We’ve been practicing hard every week, regardless what the outcome of any game turns out. We’ll do the same this week, just pull together and try to put something together for SMU.

Q: After this loss, do you and your teammates believe winning a WAC championship is still a possibility?

Definitely, definitely. I mean, all we have to do is just win out. We feel we can win every game. We feel we’ve got a good team; we’ve got a really good team. And I’m pretty confident we can win out. If we’re able to do that, that’s all we can do. If that happens, then whatever happens with the other teams, we can’t control. But we’re confident we can win out our remaining games....

Q: You had some defensive positives in the game, including three interceptions. Can you guys build on that?

Yeah, we had five turnovers in the game, defensively, which is more than we’ve had in a long time. As many as we’ve had in the previous three games combined, actually. So we had opportunities, but whenever they needed a big play – somehow it was able to happen. It was frustrating. But the only thing they were able to do was get a big play. They couldn’t do anything else before that or after that. They had no offensive consistency. But it seemed like every time they went to the big play, it happened for them.

Q: The SMU - Rice series has always been a dogfight, one where you can throw the record book out. It usually seems like the last man standing is the one who wins.

Definitely. SMU’s a good team, despite what people might think. It is always a fight for it, whenever we play them, either there or here. It’s always a tough, emotional game. We’re just going to have to get in a good week of practice, and just be aggressive and rally together. I mean, I think we can do it. We’ve got a lot of character on this team.

Q: SMU is going to be looking at your game film. They’ll see how San Jose had success against you going deep. How do you prevent the same thing from happening when you go out next week?

I think the main thing we need to do is just finish our tasks. We’re obviously able to start them. Now, especially in practice, we’re going to have to focus on finishing. We’ve got to finish what we start. Our offense has played great at times. Our defense has played great at times. We’ve got to put it together. If we both play great, nobody can beat us. 

 

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