bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the Idaho game?
Doug Martin: Defensively we made progress again. We caused two turnovers again so we still continue to do that, we lead the conference in takeaways which is really positive. The two best things I saw about us defensively, we only gave up nine points in the second half and the touchdown we gave up was after a turnover and they got the ball on the 15 yard line. That’s not bad for your defense being in those situations. The other play I thought we grew up a lot on was the drive Idaho had, it was a 16 play drive that went all the way to the one yard line, 4th and 1 and we stopped them. That was a big character check to me. Most defenses would have rolled over and let them score at that point and our kids fought through it and they gave us a chance to win the football.
Offensively it’s still the same problem. We’re running the ball well and Larry Rose looked great but our quarterback position, Andrew had two turnovers and Tyler had two turnovers, that’s really can sum up our whole season to this point. We’ve just got to find a way to get these guys to take care of the ball.
bc.net: The two turnovers that Andrew had, one was an interception and one was a fumble on the sack. As far as the sacks, you’ve only given up five sacks this season but three of the sacks have resulted in fumbles. What do you feel like is the cause of that?
DM: Well that’s a tough situation that the quarterbacks are in. I really wouldn’t those on the quarterbacks as much as the tackles that gave up the sacks because when you get hit like that you don’t see it coming and the ball is going to be on the ground occasionally. Those were just really three bad plays by our tackles.
bc.net: What are some things you’ll be working on with your team during the bye week?
DM: There’s two things. One, we’ve played eight straight games with out a bye and we’re playing so many true freshmen, their bodies are breaking down at this point because they’re physically not ready for this. This is a really good week to get them healthy and rested. Number two is all about the quarterback position. We’re going to do a lot of good on good work. First offense versus first defense and put both quarterbacks in game positions as much as we can and see if we can teach them to play field position and understand that punting is not a defeat and to just take care of the football.
bc.net: You mentioned it a little bit with the freshmen but when you’re playing so many freshmen and playing at this level physically, have you seen in your coaching career that there’s a certain point where freshmen hit a wall both physically and mentally?
DM: Oh yeah, definitely and most of them do. I think our guys have handled it quite well. I think we’re there. If we had to play this week it would be really tough because we are physically spent right now and we’re emotionally spent a little bit also, especially those freshmen. Our byes are at really good places because we have this one then we have two games and then we have another one. So we’ve got a chance to finish the season strong, make progress on both sides of the ball and it’ll help us in recruiting also.
bc.net: When you’re coaching a team where you’re playing so many freshmen and sophomores and you’re trying to get such big improvements out of them from week to week, how much harder is it on the players than if you were coaching a team where you’re just trying to refine things from week to week?
DM: Well there’s a lot more work obviously that goes into it because you’re trying to develop players. There’s a lot more teaching, there’s a lot more work you have to in general. There’s a big difference between that and just throwing a game plan out there and having experienced guys that can understand what you’re talking about. There’s a lot more on these guys and that’s where that loss of one day of practice a week really hurts us. It’s not just the practice but we can’t meet with the players either. When you lose that meeting time and the ability to show them film and sit down and explain things, that’s a whole day and that’s a big blow.
bc.net: When we talked last year at the byes you mentioned that you’d be sending your coaches out to do a lot of recruiting. I would imagine that would be a lot of the same this year?
DM: Not so much this week, we’re working from here we’re not really going on the road much this week but the next bye our entire coaching staff will be on the road.
bc.net: For the coaches, how important is it to have a bye to be able to refine some of teaching and maybe add new things in as well?
DM: It’s helpful because you have two weeks to prepare for the next game so you can prepare some different things or work on some problems and obviously ours is the turnover deal. So that’s a help. Then also the recruiting part of things. It’s really hard to be an assistant coach, especially a coordinator and you’re running one side of the ball or the other and trying to keep up with recruiting so this gives you a chance to catch up on both.
bc.net: How is the health of the team? Ume got banged up in the game and those first couple of plays were an indication of just how important he is to the team.
DM: Yeah he’s valuable and he didn’t play the whole second half. I thought Jamin Smith came in there and did a good job in the second half. We should get all those guys back. Obviously they won’t be doing much this week. Rodney Butler was banged up, Teldrick Morgan was banged up, Andrew Allen got banged up a little bit. This is coming at a good time. We didn’t lose anybody [to injury] for the Texas State game, we’ll have everybody back.
bc.net: What’s the number one thing that you want to see from your team during the bye week, especially for the freshmen with this being maybe the longest stretch during a season in which they aren’t playing football.
DM: I think it’s important for them to understand that it’s not a week off. It’s a week to get better. Obviously we want to physically get better and get healthy but we’ve got to go on the field, our practices are cut down, they’re a little bit shorter, but they’ve got to understand intensity still has to be there and they still have to go out and practice and get ready like they’re going to play a game. Then academically this is a great week for them to make sure they’re doing things right academically and get ahead and make sure we’re doing well in the classroom.
bc.net: The bye week starts a period of a month where you’ll be at home. How important is that to have that nice long stretch where you’ll be home. Not a lot of teams get that stretch this late in the year where they’re just home.
DM: I think that’ll be a big help. Traveling to where we have to travel is difficult. You have to bus down to El Paso and fly out of there and it’s usually a long trip. Then you fly back into El Paso and have an hour bus ride back to here. I think we got back at 1:30 in the morning last week. Those are tough. Being here at home is definitely and advantage and our crowd and the energy that we have for a home game will certainly help us.