Weekly Coach Martin Interview :: 09/23/14 A tough loss on Saturday. You were very competitive and it was a much different game than last year. What are your thoughts on the game?
Doug Martin: Yeah, it was a fantastic atmosphere first of all. Our fans and that stadium was just rocking and that’s the way you want to see it and that’s the way it can be around here every Saturday if we continue to make progress and win games. I’m really pleased with that.

I was really pleased with the effort of our players. I thought they battled and they battled for four quarters. We’ve come a long way in a year. We certainly had every chance to win the game. We just didn’t make key plays on both sides of the ball late in the game and that was the difference. In such a close game, as a coaching staff there are probably a lot of things you’re looking back at. If there were one or two things that if you could go back and do differently what would it have been?
DM: The last drive, there was a third and ten, we had them backed up in a third and ten situation which they’re not comfortable with and we knew they were going to throw a screen and they threw a jailbreak screen to a wide receiver and we had a player standing right there unblocked, he could have actually intercepted it, and just didn’t read it very well and then didn’t make the tackle. That was going to be key. That was the very last drive. If they’re in fourth and twelve, that’s a different deal. One other one was the dive that they handed off and scored earlier in the game that went untouched. We actually had a blitz and Jay Eakins our defensive end was supposed to close down on the dive and he was going to hit it for a negative two yard gain and he blew the assignment and came up the field instead of coming down and so that cost us. Then obviously the fake field goal. That’s on us coaching-wise. We didn’t do a good job of being prepared for that. Then offensively, Tyler had a couple of passes where we had people open in the endzone, Bowen was wide open on a flank route once. Then the first drive of the game on the interception, they showed a blitz and then dropped out and Tyler didn’t recognize they’d dropped out and he threw the interception there. There’s always some plays like that but we’ve got to make plays at the end. One of the things you mentioned after the UTEP was that you wanted the team to play better as a team in terms of feeding off each other and helping each other out and I thought the team did that well on Saturday.
DM: Yeah, no question. We did play really well as a team on Saturday and that’s how we have to play. We’re not good enough on either side of the ball right now. We have some more recruiting to do to be where we can dominate one side of the ball. I thought when our defense was having a hard time our offense kept scoring and kept us in the game and defensively we had a turnover that helped our offense and if we can continue to do that and continue to do better we can win some games here. A couple things that looked at little different at least offensively, you were able to get a lot more wide receivers involved in the passing game this week, Josh Bowen had a very good week. And it looked like you were moving Tyler Rogers out of the pocket a little bit more. You mentioned last week that UNM was bringing a lot of pressure on defense which was not something they had done last year. Was that part of the game plan, to move him around to keep him from being a target?
DM: Tyler has a lot of mobility and he throws well on the run and that’s something we can keep going to with him and right now we’re protecting the quarterback really well. We’ve played four games and we haven’t given up a sack yet. A lot of that has to do with Tyler and his mobility and his ability to get rid of the ball and some of that is offensive line play.

As far as the receivers go, Bowen has gotten healthy again and that’s why you saw him back in there. He made a great catch for us. We’ve got some other guys who are stepping up. In terms of the run game Larry Rose ran for 149 yards and as a team you ran for about 200 yards. As an offensive minded coach, what number of yards do want to see and what number do you feel like if you rush for in a game that you’re going to be successful?
DM: In our style of offense, if you can run the ball for any more than 150 yards, anything above that you’re doing really well. We need to hit that 150 mark as a team and we’ve been pretty consistent doing that so far. I think we’re averaging 159 yards per game right now. As you look ahead this week in preparation for the LSU game, you’ve got a lot of young players who weren’t with the team last year when you had a couple of these games against power conference teams. How do you prepare the young guys for an environment where you’re going to have probably over 100,000 people?
DM: That’s the difficulty. We’re going to have the PA system going during practice where they can’t hear and they have to communicate using hand signals and things like that to prepare them for that. Friday when we get there we’ll go down to the stadium and let them walk around a little bit just to get used to it a little bit.

One of the things that doesn’t get a lot of attention that is really hard for us to overcome right now is this APR penalty that we’re having to deal with. The day that we lost, we lost a day of practice, when you look at all the freshmen we have, every Friday we can’t practice. The shame of that is that nobody here now was here when all that stuff happened and we’re having to pay the penalty for it. So that’s really hard when you have this many freshmen playing and then on Friday we can’t meet with them, we can’t practice, we can’t do anything football-wise on Fridays before the game. That’s been the toughest thing for us as a coaching staff and with the players to overcome right now. That’s one of the difficulties of a trip like this because we can’t go down there and practice in the stadium. We can only go down there and walk around and it’s hard to overcome. What have you done as a coaching staff to try to limit the impact of losing a full day of practice a week?
DM: Well, the technology is good with the video systems now and our players can pull up film and watch it on their own in their apartments and things like that. They have access to be able to do that. We meet as much as we can on the other days just to prepare them as well as we can but on those other days we’re not allowed to have contact with them. I think a couple of times our captains have organized meetings by themselves. Ume and Rodney Butler, and they’ve all sat down as an offense and defense and watched film on their one but no coaches can be there. It’s just a tough thing to overcome. Like I said, the shame of it is you’re punishing guys who weren’t even here when all that happened. You talked about the team captains organizing meetings on their own time, how important is it to see that kind of leadership on your team where they understand that they’re under a restriction that they had nothing do with but they’re still willing to put in that extra time on their own?
DM: It’s huge and that’s one of the the great things about coaching this team right now that we’ve got the leadership that does thing like that. Ume, Rodney Butler and Brandon Betancourt are three captains that have done a great job and we have some other guys that are leading really well right now. Tyler [Rogers] is one of those guys that’s starting to become a really good leader here. You have to have those kind of things if you’re going to be successful and particularly when you’re in the situation we’re in. In terms of the game on Saturday? What are you looking to see from your team?
DM: I want to see us get better as a football team and offensively that means we have to play a football game where we don’t turn the ball over. We’re averaging two turnovers a game right now and we have to cut that down if we’re going to be able to win in the Sun Belt. That’s priority number one for us offensively. Defensively it’s continue to get better at stopping the run. We’ve played basically three wishbone teams and so our stats are a little bit misleading when it comes to the run game. We’ve gotten better. We’re a better tackling team, we compete better on defense but we’ve got to continue to make progress there. Then the same in the kicking game. I just want to see us compete and play hard and see if we can continue to improve as a team. In terms of the first four games of the season you’ve played teams that predominantly like to run so what have you seen from your pass defense that has pleased you?
DM: We’ve been pretty good there. We’ve given up a few big plays. Georgia State was a pretty good throwing team and we played very well against them. Most of the pass defense has been pretty good. We haven’t been tested obviously nowhere near the athletes at LSU but even as we keep getting into conference, Lafayette throws the ball really well and Monroe throws the ball really well so we’ll be tested there more later in the season. When you look at playing a team like LSU, they’ve played a Sun Belt team in Monroe and a good FCS team in Sam Houston State, do you look at those games and do your players look at those games and say, this is what those teams did against LSU, our goal is to do better than those teams did?
DM: Yeah, I think that’s certainly a good way of measuring yourself. Monroe is one of the better teams in the Sun Belt and they played LSU really tough for a half. It was 10-0 at halftime, then they got beat 31–0. We certainly don’t want to go get shut out anywhere. We’re a good enough offensive team we should be able to score on just about anybody. Those are nice ways to measure yourself.