Weekly Coach Martin Interview :: 10/22/13 Weekly Coach Martin Interview :: 10/22/13 A tough week for the team against Rice on Saturday. Your thoughts on the game?
Doug Martin: Well I think the same Achilles Heel, not able to stop the run on defense. Until we can either get our scheme fixed or get players good enough or whatever it is to stop the run we’re going to struggle defensively. That was certainly the case again Saturday, although we did have some players who stepped up and played very well on Saturday. Moving Tra Nixon to inside linebacker was a positive move. Moving George Callendar up from safety to outside linebacker was a positive move. We did have some guys that stepped up but as a defense, we’re not there, we’re just not able to stop the run.

Offensively, I thought that King really played well the times that he was in there, he got hurt in the third quarter. But he ran very well, he threw the ball pretty well, made some big plays. I like some of the things he did. The thing that worries me about him is, is he durable enough to be a 1-A (FBS) quarterback. Part of it is you’ve got to be able to stay in the game and this is twice already that he hasn’t been able to do that. We’re still searching for a way to score points offensively without consistent quarterback play and that’s really tough. With the type of offense that you and Coach Brandon want to run, how much of a concern is it with not so much just King but with the quarterback position in general, especially with quarterbacks in today’s college game being more mobile, taking more hits when they’re out there running?
DM: The quarterback position here is a definite concern. Obviously we haven’t recruited here yet and these are the guys that we had to work with but we certainly have got to go out and recruit quarterbacks that A) can make plays and be a guy and B) that are durable. We’re already on the way to getting that done, we’ve got two committed and we think we have two more getting ready to commit. We’ll get that fixed in recruiting but right now I haven’t seen us play at that position to the level that we can win football games. Ideally how many quarterbacks would you like to have on your roster at any given time?
DM: I think any healthy team you need four scholarship quarterbacks which really right now we have two and like I said, neither one of them have proven that they’re going to be a Division I-A quarterback. We will probably at least sign four quarterbacks in this class. During the game Rice jumped out to the early lead and then you made some adjustments defensively and started stopping the run got the game down to a nine point game at 21-12 and the muffed punt really swung the momentum of the game.
DM: I think there were two things, the muffed punt and then another time when our defense was going to be off the field on third down and we got the personal foul penalty where Jay Fisher James hit the quarterback out of bounds. Both of those were critical errors and both of those were self-imposed errors. Again, that’s either our guys not able to make a play at a critical time, whatever that is, but that’s what losing teams do. Winning teams don’t make those errors, winning players don’t make those errors. Austin Franklin had the 85-yard touchdown catch on a really nice throw from King Davis. How happy have you been with his re-entry into the game plan?
DM: Austin is certainly a guy that can make plays. He’s what you’re looking for in a wide receiver. The problem is a wide receiver is only as good as the quarterback that’s getting him the ball and right now we’re not getting him the ball enough. There are a lot of other times where he’s open and our guys just aren’t getting it to him. Agaiin, everything emanates with the struggles at the quarterback position. One of the bright spots from the game was place kicker Maxwell Johnson. He kicked a 49-yard field goal. How nice is it to know that you’ve got that in your back pocket, maybe not even for this year but for next year?
DM: You’re exactly right. That’s a comfort to when you’ve got a good field goal kicker that you can get points. We feel pretty good about Max. It’s a shame, another critical error, we muffed the hold on an extra point. A perfect snap and our holder just drops it but Max has been a bright spot. You talked about Rice and the rushing attack and they came into the game with a very balanced offense. With you being a former offensive coordinator, how tough is it to just stick with one thing when you know you’re good at both things?
DM: Offensively what you’re doing is you’re always searching for what’s working and once you find something you just keep hammering it until the defense takes it away. They did a great job of that. Obviously everybody understands we’re not playing against the run very well defensively and so everybody is going to test us in that vain and as long as they’re having success they’re going to keep doing it. Rice was very patient. The thing that I thought Rice does a really good job of is they don’t beat themselves. They had one turnover which they very rarely turn the football over. They play very disciplined they don’t have a lot of penalties. They do things the right way. Now they’ve had years to build that program and put it together like that but they’re a good model for us to look at. Another player I thought played well in the game was Brandon Betancourt and he’s been another nice revelation for the football team.
DM: Yeah he has and he’s one of the guys that’s just what I was talking about we have to have. He’s consistent. Brandon shows up the same way in every game and he shows up the same way in every practice and what you see in practice, he takes to the game field and it happens on Saturdays. The problem we have here right now is we don’t have enough guys that can take what they do in practice and do it in a game. All of the sudden they get in a game and they don’t make those plays they’re making in practice. Brandon is just the opposite, he’s a gamer. He’s one of those guys that you know exactly what you’re going to get. Looking ahead to this week’s game against Abilene Christian how do you go into this week as far as preparation goes because they’re kind of hard team to gauge because they’re making the jump from Division II to FCS. They’ve obviously put up some gaudy numbers but not necessarily against top flight competition.
DM: The thing I told our team is a couple things. Number one, any time you play a team from the state of Texas you better bring your big boy pads because they’ve got players. The state is full of great high school players, that’s where they recruit. There’s guys there that I’d love to have here playing for us. The talent level there isn’t going to be that much difference. The other thing is they’ve scored at least 30 points in six of their eight games and I don’t know if we could do that against air right now. Anybody that’s doing that is playing good football. I don’t care who you’re playing against. You look at the quarterback, he’s thrown 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions. They’re plus-16 in the turnover margin. I think their defense has caused 25 turnovers. That’s good football. Our guys better play their absolute best if we want to be in this game. That was one thing I wanted to bring up, the turnovers. As you alluded to their defense has forced 25 turnovers, 12 interceptions and 13 fumbles. Despite whatever level of competition they’ve played at, that’s a pretty impressive number.
DM: Yeah it really is. What shows on there is the speed that they’re playing with. I’ve mentioned that several times that we don’t run as well as what we need to be able to run athletically. They do. They’ve got great quickness on their defense, they get to the football. They don’t rely on one guy making the tackle, they get six or seven guys to the football because they run really well. That’s how you cause turnovers. Breaking on the ball when the quarterback throws is, tipping balls and those type of things. That’s what their defense does. They’re just very, very active. A few guys got banged up in the Rice game, you mentioned King Davis and Davis Cazares went out, Kevin Loudermill was also out. What’s the health status of the team?
DM: We’re banged up a little bit. Davis Cazares, we got some positive news as his x-rays came back negative but he does have a pretty good bone bruise in his ankle. The good news is that he’s one of the toughest guys on this football team. If anybody can play with that it would be him. I wish we had about 30 of him, we’d win a lot of football games. Loudermill is probably doubtful with a neck injury, his x-rays and MRIs came back negative and everything is okay but he’s got quite a bit of pain. King will be day-to-day and be evaluated. We’ll see if he can practice today. That’s one of those concerns too. Everybody has injuries at this time of year. There’s not a healthy football team in the country right now. The good ones just learn how to play with it. You may have some insight into this but when you have a situation where a quarterback gets a concussion, his first, does that make him more susceptible to concussions in the future or is it something that he may never get another one in his career?
DM: There’s all sorts of studies going on right now on that across the country and from what I’ve seen just because you get one doesn’t mean you’re going to get another one. I’ve been told that it’s more about how quickly do you recover from one than it is how many you’ve had going forward. The bigger issue to me is this: If you’re going to a Division I-A quarterback or football player, you have to be durable and I don’t see us being very durable as a football team right now. A lot of that again is recruiting. We’ve got to go recruit guys that are durable enough to play at the I-A level. It’s a fast, physical, furious game. I understand that, but you’ve got to evaluate and recruit guys that can stay on the football field. What do you want to see from your football team this week in practice leading up to the game on Saturday?
DM: I’ve been pleased with the way we’ve practiced about every week. Our guys have gone out with a lot of emotion and energy in practice. What I don’t see is I don’t see it transitioning to the game. I want to see them go out and play in the game the same way they practice. That’s what I haven’t seen yet. Whatever that is, nerves or whatever, they’ve got to get rid of it and learn how to take practice to the game field.