bleedCrimson.net: How was the bye week for the team?
Doug Martin: It was good. We got kids healthy first of all. All those freshmen playing on defense, their bodies aren’t ready to play a whole season of college football so this break came at a good time for them to get them healthy and revived. We spent a lot of time working with the quarterbacks so hopefully we’ll see a lot of progress there.
bc.net: How was the bye week for the coaching staff? We talked last week about how when you’re coaching a young team there’s a lot more coaching that’s involved than with a veteran team.
DM: It was good for our coaches to get a break too. We practiced Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and we gave players Friday and Saturday off and the coaches took Saturday off ourselves. It helped us catch up on some recruiting things and get away a bit and refresh ourselves too. You need that during this time. College football is a grind, especially when things aren’t going the way you want them to.
bc.net: How were practices last week in terms of how you wanted to see them go?
DM: They were really productive. I really liked the way our players came out. There were focused. They weren’t just trying to get through it. They were trying to get better. That’s what I like about this team. There’s no lack of heart or passion for these guys. We came back Sunday and had a really good practice in pads. We took yesterday off and we’ll get back at it today.
bc.net: You talked about the quarterbacks and that you were going to put them through a lot of ones vs. ones last week. How did that go?
DM: It was good. I thought Tyler especially responded to that really well. We put them in a lot of as close to game situations as we possibly could to make them have to make game like decisions and take care of the football and just try to get better. I thought Tyler really took some strides last week. I think Andrew continues to learn and get better and will be a really good quarterback. Right now I think Tyler gives us the best chance to win games?
bc.net: How much prep work and film study were you able to get done with Tyler and Andrew and how much stuff are they seeing that’s new each week that defense are throwing at them?
DM: Well at this point they’re not seeing a whole lot that’s new. About halfway through the season everything is new for them so the maturity process is taking place. I think now they’re starting to get comfortable. The thing you don’t see when you’re a high school quarterback or even a junior college quarterback like Tyler is, defenses disguise so much better at our level. People jump up there and show you a blitz and then bail out and that’s caused two interceptions for Tyler this year. Sometimes they look like they’re not coming and they do and that’s the biggest thing is for those guys to be able to recognize those things on the run so we were able to get a lot of that type of work done this week.
bc.net: When you look ahead here to Texas State. They’re coming off a good win on the road against a good Monroe team. What have you seen from them on film?
DM: They’re a very physical football team. I think they’ve done a good job of recruiting and building a program. I’ve told several people, they really are kind of a model for what we’re trying to do here. Coach Franchione builds his programs through high school recruiting, toughness, get strong, get bigger, build it and that’s what we’re trying to do. I think they’re solid on both sides of the ball. They’re really well coached. I think they’ve got some talented kids that run really well. All of these four we have left, these are the best four teams in the Sun Belt. These are the four teams we’re chasing, especially in the recruiting part of things.
bc.net: Offensively they run the ball really well. You’ve moved some guys around to get yourselves some more size up the middle. What are some other adjustments that you are trying to make to stop the run?
DM: It was more just trying to work on our techniques and tackling and our skills up front. If we just stay in the right gaps and don’t get pushed out of there we’re pretty good on defense. We’ve made strides on defense really all year long. The Idaho game, to hold them to only one touchdown in the second half and that was from the 15 yard line after a turnover and to get a goal line stand. We have four guys on our team who are in the top ten or eleven in the conference in tackling and two of them are freshmen and two of them are sophomores. We’re doing some really good things defensively it’s just going to take us some time for those bodies to mature. This time next year all those guys that are playing right now that are freshmen are going to be dangerous.
bc.net: Their defense looks to be pretty aggressive, they’ve got 24 sacks on the season so just a bit under four sacks per game. You’ve had a little bit of protection issues against Troy and Idaho at times. What adjustments do you want to see from the offense to try to protect Tyler?
DM: Hopefully we’ll be a little more multiple in the way we’re throwing the ball. It’s been a lot of drop back pass and our three step game trying to get the ball out quick here lately. We need to incorporate some things, play action pass to help the offensive line a little bit and move the pocket to help the offensive line and the quarterback. So hopefully we can incorporate a few more of those things.
bc.net: We talked about it two or three weeks ago about the team leading the country in fewest penalties per game and you’ve had a couple over the past couple games that have been big. How many of those do you think are just from the mental fatigue of playing that many straight games especially with freshmen?
DM: The penalties we had last week that were a problem last Saturday were in the dome against Idaho, we had some illegal procedure penalties with the offensive line and we had to change up and go to a non-verbal snap count but other than that I don’t think that’s been a problem for us at all. I think we’ve been disciplined in our penalties. I would tell you this though. If you look at the teams with the last amount of penalties, none of them have winning records. Maybe we need to get more penalties.
bc.net: These last four games are building blocks toward next season. What do you want to see from your team as you had down this final stretch?
DM: These are going to be four really tough games because these are the top four teams in the Sun Belt. I want to see us get better as a football team. I’ve seen us get better defensively, I see us making strides there. Offensively, I really haven’t seen us improve since early in the season. Primarily that’s because of the turnovers but we’re not scoring the points like we should be able to. I just want to see us play more efficient on offense, take care of the ball and get the ball in the endzone. Just keep competing. I think our kids have competed really hard with the exception of the Troy game, I wasn’t happy with how we competed in that one but otherwise I think we’ve played about as hard as we can play.