bleedCrimson.net: You knew going into the game against Lafayette that it was going to be a tough game. They’re the best team in the league from a physical and talent standpoint and that showed itself in the game on Saturday.
Doug Martin: Yeah, with the exception of LSU they’re the most talented team we’ve played. It’s very obvious that it’s going to take us one more recruiting class to catch up to them. Our freshmen class is a talented one but we need at least one more before we’re going to be at the level of Lafayette.
bc.net: You mentioned that the game was going to be a measuring stick. Were there any areas where you felt like you were close in talent?
DM: Yeah, I think defensively we got better again. Our defense did better again, we’re just not giving them any help. We’re not scoring points and we’re not just helping them get off the field. We played the run better, probably one of the better games we’ve played defensively. Then when you look at our wide receiver corps, Teldrick Morgan and those guys, Greg Hogan, we’ve got guys that can compete out there in the perimeter. About the only thing we’re lacking offensively is consistent quarterback play. Tyler makes a lot of plays but he kills you with the turnovers. Unless we get consistent quarterback play, we’re not going to win and right now we don’t have a quarterback that’s doing that.
bc.net: There were a couple of plays from the game, a great catch by Teldrick in the first quarter and a good throw from Tyler staying in the knowing he was going to take a shot and then the touchdown catch and run by Teldrick in the third quarter.
DM: When you look at Teldrick, the reason he’s such a great player is the way he practices. Practice is like a game to Teldrick and the losses really hurt Teldrick. It means something when you lose a game. It burns him. We don’t have enough guys like that right now. We have some but we don’t have enough.
Tyler, you’re right. He can make plays, he stood in there on that pass and got hit right in the face but he’s got the courage to stand in there. The disappointing thing with Tyler is he has not improved as the season has gone along with taking care of the football and until he can learn to do that he’s not going to be a winning quarterback. He’s going to be a 2-10 quarterback until he takes care of the football better.
bc.net: Jason Groves wrote an article late last week and talked to a couple of your freshmen guys, Larry Rose and one of the others and in it he noted that those guys came from high school programs that in their careers they’ve only taken a handful of losses. Obviously you never want them to be okay with losing, you don’t want it to be acceptable. With the young players that are coming in, how do you help them handle the adversity of losing?
DM: A lot of those guys were recruited specifically because they did come from winning high school football programs and we needed to inject players here that now how to win. The big thing with them is once a week I separate them from everybody else and I talk to those guys, “You guys were brought here to change the mentality, not to buy into it.” That’s the issue with them. It’s a daily confrontation by me to keep them from buying in to the old New Mexico State ways, “We lost but that’s okay.” It should hurt you if you lose. Like I said, with the majority of this football team it doesn’t hurt them very badly when they lose. We’ve got to recruit that out of here and we’ve got to keep the freshmen on that same plane of when they were in high school. It’s guarding them and it’s recruiting another class and eventually we’ll be able to recruit that mentality out of here.
bc.net: Larry Rose got injured in the first quarter of the game. It really seemed to change the complexion of the offensive play. Is it fair to say that the offense is a much different offense when Larry Rose is healthy?
DM: No question. He makes us better because of his speed and his running style, makes people miss. He makes us a better football team. Xavier Hall’s had a really good year and Xavier is a great role player and so is [Brandon] Betancourt but there’s a drop off from Larry to those guys.
bc.net: In terms of recruiting, you mentioned that this week would be more of a recruiting bye week for you. As you look at the talent that you’ve brought in from the recruiting class last year what are some key areas that you’ve identified that you really want to hit hard with this second recruiting class?
DM: On the offensive side it’s wide receiver and tight end. We’re really limited at the tight end position right now. We really don’t have the talent that we need so we’ll sign at least three if we can find them. Probably four wide receivers. We need guys like Teldrick Morgan. That’s the model we’re looking for. We’ll sign at least two more running backs and a couple of offensive linemen.
Defensively, it’s always going to be defensive linemen. We’re never going to turn down defensive linemen if we can find quality guys. But we have a great need in the secondary now, corners especially. We’ll probably sign one safety but two or three corners.
The other one is the kicker. The field position game hurts us at times because we don’t kick off efficiently enough. Hopefully we’ll get a stronger leg for PATs and field goals so place kicker will be important.
bc.net: Speaking of field goals, Max Johnson has struggled the past couple of weeks. Last season I believe he only missed one field goal from 45 yards and in and he’s missed a couple field goals this year. What’s been his biggest struggle this year?
DM: Well, I wish I knew what that was. He’s missed all three from the left hash in these last two games so we’ll try to keep him off of that hash through the rest of these last two games. Max had been very consistent in the past. He just needs to finish strong.
bc.net: Special teams, you had a big play, you blocked a punt. For a group that has struggled at times this year it must feel pretty good to get one of those in your favor.
DM: Yeah, Coach Vance did a nice job of scheming those up. We’ve had two special teams mistakes all year. We gave up a kickoff return at Troy and we got a punt blocked against Texas State. Those are the only special teams blunders we’ve had all year so it was nice to see us get the blocked punt. Teldrick had a great punt return as well at the end of the game that was a great effort by him.
bc.net: What’s the game plan for your team this week. Will it differ much from your bye week a couple weeks ago?
DM: Yeah because the entire staff is out recruiting. We’ve got to build for next year’s team, that’s the most important thing for us right now. We’re going to be doing some film work with the team today. The coordinators are here so they’ll do film with each side but we’re not going to practice. Tomorrow we’ll go out and practice, Thursday we’ll practice and then we’ll give them Friday and Saturday off and Sunday we’ll start back our regular week.
bc.net: In terms of injuries and things like that. Do you expect to have Larry Rose back for the game against Monroe?
DM: Yeah, Larry is actually supposed to be able to practice tomorrow. He was diagnosed with a concussion and then later it turned out not to be as bad as they thought. I think he’s going to be no contact for Wednesday and Thursday and then Sunday he’ll be back to full speed.
bc.net: Last week you mentioned JB Copeland was out for the game against Lafayette. Will he back available?
DM: He had an MCL strain. He’ll be questionable for the Monroe game. We might get him back for the Arkansas State game. Betancourt has the same injury. We’re hoping to get him back at least for the last game with him being a senior so he can finish up playing but he’ll questionable also.
bc.net: Last year you brought in a new strength and conditioning coach and changed up the nutrition program. Obviously with a bunch of young players players coming from high school they’ve never been exposed to that level of conditioning and nutrition training. How do you feel like you team has adapted to that?
DM: You can just look at the injuries and just see the difference in past years. We’ve had so many fewer players injured this year, particularly guys we’ve lost for the season. It’s been just a handful. We haven’t gone through any of those massive injuries that have happened before. I attribute that all to the nutrition and Coach Decker and strength program. That’s going to pay dividends for us even more as we go along. To ask this many freshmen to play and to keep them healthy, that was quite a job by our strength staff. I really think they’ve done a great job.