bleedCrimson.net: Obviously not the result you were hoping for against Georgia Southern, you did a lot of good things in the game but the turnovers continue to be an issue for the team.
Doug Martin: Yeah they really do. We won every statistical area in the game. Total yards, third downs, first downs, everything except the turnovers and that’s a shame because right now our defense has more takeaways than any defense in the Sun Belt Conference. We have 13. But we have 16 turnovers. Until our offensive kids buy into taking care of the football, we’re going to struggle.
bc.net: You mentioned winning all of the statistical battles except for the turnovers and obviously the score but your team overall seems to be improving from week to week and at the very least that has to be very encouraging for you.
DM: Well it it and it’s frustrating at the same time. We’re right there on the edge of breaking through and we’ve got to find a way to kick the door in and start winning games because you’re right, we have improved on both sides of the ball. We’re really balanced on offense, we’re running the ball well, we’re throwing it well at times. We just need to break through and get some wins.
bc.net: Two of the statistical categories that you lead the nation in, which I’m sure are really big things for you, number one you’re the only team in the country who hasn’t given up a sack and number two you’re the least penalized team in the country so obviously those are both things that speak well to the discipline that your team plays with.
DM: I think that’s right, particularly the penalties. We’ve been very disciplined about not having personal fouls and all those type of things. The sack thing, I think that’s a complement to our entire offense and our coaches. We’ve done a good job of moving the pocket and making our quarterback a mobile target and offensive line has done well, the running backs are protecting well and Tyler’s done a good job of getting rid of the ball. All he’s got to do is learn when to throw it away and we’ll have the complete package.
bc.net: In terms of the turnovers, in particular the interceptions, when you’re sitting down and watching film with Tyler and as a former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, what are things that you’re seeing that he is not seeing that he should be seeing?
DM: What he doesn’t appreciate is that there are times when the defense has the perfect call and they’ve got everything covered and right now he still wants to force it in there and make a play when what he needs to do is run the ball or throw it away and get us another down. And really a lot of his interceptions have come on first and second down when you don’t need it. It’s never a defeat to punt the ball. Right now he thinks it’s a defeat to punt the ball and we’ve got to get him out of that frame of mind.
bc.net: Defensively the rushing numbers aren’t great but they’re also a bit misleading just based on the fact that you’ve played six games against pretty good rushing teams. This week against Troy you’re going to face a team that averages under 100 yards per game on the ground so maybe a little bit more of a test for your secondary?
DM: Right, it will be because we’re going to play a team that has more balance. They can run it and they can throw it and they’ve got good wide receivers. Their wide receivers do a great job on the deep ball. That’s what concerns me because we haven’t been tested very much deep and those guys go up and take the ball away from people.
bc.net: Overall with the defense, I think they’ve played a lot better than most people expected them to just based on the sheer amount of youth and inexperience you had coming into the year. What have you seen from them that has allowed them to play better than they were expected to?
DM: Most of it is just fundamentals of tackling and running to the ball. We’ve got great effort, we’re getting all eleven people to the football and our tackling has improved. That’s a product of practice and what Coach Coyer demands in practice. They practice tackling relentlessly every day and I think it’s showing. The other thing is the play of our linebackers, inside and outside. Rodney Butler and Derek Ibekwe are playing fantastic inside. But outside, Dalton Herrington, JB Copeland, Jaden Wright and King Davis have made tremendous progress and those are all freshmen and one sophomore. I think our linebacking core as a whole has developed into something really positive.
bc.net: When you look at Troy, they’re winless on the season, they’ve played some good competition and their one bad loss was to Abilene Christian. What do you see from them? They’re obviously a well coached team.
DM: Yeah, talent-wise they’re exactly like us. They’re not much different. They’re playing close games each Saturday and this one will be a close game. We’re going to have to play at our absolute best to go down there and win on the road and certainly we’re going to have to do a better job taking care of the football. They’re a talented team, they’ve just hit some unfortunate things that have cost them games but they’ve been right there in every game.
bc.net: They’re a team that doesn’t turn the ball over very much, they only have four turnovers in their five games. What can you do to force some turnovers against a team that appears to take care of the ball pretty well?
DM: I think one thing is you’ve got to get pressure on the quarterback. You can’t just let him sit back there and have all day to throw. The other thing is we’ve got to make sure we do a good job of disguising our coverages.
bc.net: This Aggie team this year reminds me a lot of the team you were the offensive coordinator of in 2011. A very competitive team, a team that could score with just about anybody they played. How do you feel about that comparison and would you say it’s a fair comparison?
DM: Yeah, I think so offensively. The only thing keeping us from scoring like we want to is the turnovers. If we get that eliminated we could be a 30-point plus per game team offensively. I think we we are different defensively. I think we’re better than what we were back in that time.
bc.net: What do you want to see from your team this week aside from the turnovers. Every week it seems like you’re doing a lot of good things, you’re doing better than you have the week before.
DM: I think defensively we’re going to have to obviously play against a good throwing team. We’re going to see if we can hold up against the pass and not give up the deep ball. That’ll be the emphasis defensively. Offensively I want us to go down there and have really good balance. We need to be able to run the football to take some pressure off of Tyler and at the same time we’ve got make some plays in the passing game.
bc.net: Coach Blakeney announced his retirement on Sunday, he’ll retire at the end of the season. Do you have any previous experience with him either coaching against him or at clinics?
DM: I’ve gotten to know Larry really well at our Sun Belt meetings and I’ve spent a lot of time with him. He’s has already accomplished what we want to do. He really built a football program from nothing. He’s one of those guys, when he speaks, I listen. I’ve gone to him with a lot of questions and he’s been very generous to me and helping me in this process and what he did to be successful. I’ve got all the respect in the world for him and what he’s accomplished and more importantly the type of person he is. He’s one of the good guys of college football.
bc.net: What’s the one thing that you’ve really been able to take away from that he’s shared with you?
DM: Well, I think the biggest thing is that you’ve got to have patience and it’s going to take time and he’s right about that. He did it the right way. He built it through high school recruiting, he didn’t go the junior college route, he didn’t go for transfers, he just built a strong base of recruiting and developed a team. That takes time, it takes patience but if you stick with it you’ve got something that’ll last. And that’s why he’s been there for 25 years. He’s built something that’s lasted.