Weekly Coach Martin Interview :: 09/16/14 A tough loss down at UTEP on Saturday night. The game felt a lot like the game last year where you were in it late but UTEP ground the game out with their run game.
Doug Martin: Yeah, it was just disappointing that we didn’t finish the game. We had chances on both sides of the ball and we just did not make plays at critical times. To start the second half our defense got a turnover and we could have made it a 21-17 game and our offense does nothing with the ball. Then the fourth quarter our offense scores two touchdowns and our defense gives up three. We’ve just got to play better as a team for 60 minutes. There were a lot of other similarities between the game this year and last year, even in getting the turnover coming out of halftime and then had the turnover in the endzone in last year’s game where you weren’t able to turn it into points.
DM: Yeah. I’m just really disappointed that we’re not making progress as a whole team right now. We need to be improving a lot more than what I’m seeing so far and a lot of that goes back to the way our guys practice. I didn’t like the way we practiced last week. I didn’t think it was intense enough. I didn’t think our players were buying into how important practice was and it showed up in the game. That’s the challenge or our guys this week is to mature, grow up, learn from it and go out and practice as well as we can this week. What changes will you make as a coaching staff to generate that sense of urgency in practice this week?
DM: We’ve confronted the team already about those issues and trying to make them understand that what happens in practice is going to happen in the game. Teldrick Morgan is a great example of that. He’s the greatest practice player I’ve ever been around. He just goes a million miles an hour in practice and guess what happens? He’s the best player in the game. There’s a reason why that happens and vice versa. The bad things that you see in practice are going to show up in games. We showed them all the examples of that and today is going to be a very, very, very physical practice and we’re going to find the guys that are tough enough to win. What were some things from the game on Saturday that you identified that the team did well that you’d like to see the team continue to do?
DM: I think we’re doing a lot of things well sporadically. Our defense in the third quarter shut UTEP out, they got zero, nothing. But then the fourth quarter we give up three touchdowns. That makes no sense at all. We’ve got to finish better than that. Then the same thing offensively. In the third quarter we do absolutely nothing and then in the fourth quarter we score two touchdowns. That’s more the consistency than any area. I’m seeing us do a lot of good things here and there but not a consistent enough process. How much did Larry Rose’s unavailability contribute to the offense’s lack of scoring?
DM: Obviously he’s a good player but we’ve got other good running backs and that’s really no excuse for our offense. You’re going to have times where you’ve got to overcome not having a player. Larry certainly does make a difference but the real problem with our offense was dropped passes. We dropped five passes and those were huge passes that we dropped too. How much of the lack of execution on offense is due to the youth of the team and is that something you expect to see them grow out of as the season progresses?
DM: Again, at times we executed fantastic. Finishing the fourth quarter with 14 points. I don’t want to put that on youth because we’ve got a very experienced offensive line, we’ve got very experienced wide receivers. I just think it’s us practicing better. I really do. I think that’s the issue with us. When we practice well offensively we’re going to play well. You were able to get that late touchdown, how much will that help in carrying some momentum into the game on Saturday as opposed to if you hadn’t scored the touchdown?
DM: I think it at least shows our players will continue to fight. They fought for the whole game, it’s not an effort issue. If you have an effort issue you’ve really got problems. We don’t have that, there’s no effort issues. I couldn’t be happier with our team’s effort. It’s just the mentality. Playing with passion and playing with intensity for four quarters. This game against UNM, playing against another running team. Your focus for the defense has been to stop the run and again it’ll be no different for this game.
DM: Yeah, it’s really the same game as last week as far as that’s concerned. UTEP was a really good running football team averaging 300 yards per game and UNM is the exact same deal. They just do it a different way. It’s still the same issues. Our defense has got to find a way to get stops and get off the field and offensively we’ve got to take our opportunities and score. These teams that don’t throw the ball well but really run it well, if you can get a substantial lead on them, a two score lead, then they become their own worst enemy and they eat the clock up. That’s what we have to understand. We have to play better off each other than we did last week. What did your team learn from the Cal Poly game in terms of facing an option offense that will help them in this game against UNM who is also an option offense?
DM: Scheme-wise that’s going to help because the blocking schemes are very similar. The difference is that UNM operates solely out of the shotgun and they have a much more diverse formation package, motion packages. They really disguise what they’re doing a lot better than Cal Poly. It’s harder to recognize what particular option is coming at you. Is there anything that they’ve changed from when you faced them last year or is it largely the same?
DM: They’re really the same offensively, defensively they’re pressuring a lot more, bringing blitzes a lot more but offensively it’s the same. What are three things that you want to see your team do this week that they didn’t do on Saturday?
DM: Turnover margin is number one. We lost the turnover margin for the first time this year and it cost us the game. Third down conversions is the other one. We’d won that the first two games and we didn’t last week and it cost us the game. Then the last thing is just playing off of each other better. When our defense makes something happen our offense has to take advantage of it. When our offense is struggling our defense has to make some plays and help them out. We didn’t play well as a team together last week.