Todd Monken Press Conference Transcript, August 26

Head Coach Todd Monken

Head Coach Todd Monken

Aug 26, 2013

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - For the first time, Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken addressed the media as game week preparations begin for the Golden Eagles' season opening game vs. Texas State on Saturday.

Opening Statement...
"As I said last week, we are ready to play somebody. We've gone now three weeks, three-plus weeks going against each other. Now it's time to find out where we're at. We're getting to play what I see as a very good Texas State team. I know last year, record-wise, probably isn't indicative of the type of team they had. They lost a lot of close games. Probably have 12 or 13 senior starters and a coaching staff that's been there now for three seasons. It's going to be a heck of a challenge for us Saturday night."

On quarterbacks' chemistry with the receivers...
"Some days it's real good. Some days I don't think it's worth a darn. But, we're getting there. The biggest thing is we've got so many young guys at receiver now that it's hard to build that chemistry. They're struggling to be efficient with every type of route and combination and then looks you get from the defense. As they get better, our quarterbacks will get better and that rapport with get better."

On receiving corps progression...
"I think we have some guys who can be go-to guys... There have been a lot of guys, a lot of young guys who have shown flashes. Really what we are looking for is consistency, as much consistency as we can get, what we can count on. Usually with young players, especially receivers, they are better with the ball in their hands than they are at route running, what comes natural to certain guys. That's not true with everyone, but with some of our guys that's the way it is. So, until we get them up to speed route running wise... they're better if you can get the ball into their hands quickly."

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On running game being the key to the offense...
"They are the guys who have played the most. They've been banged up a little bit so we're hopeful we will be at full strength come Saturday night. But, we've got some talented guys, some that are really good in space, some that are downhill runners, so we'll have to do a good job of getting the right guys on the field at the right time."

On selecting a starting quarterback...
"Oh I'm comfortable with one guy, I'm just not going to announce it. We're at that point. It does us no good to announce it. I don't even know if it does us good to announce it. I can't tell you if it's good or bad, I'm just not going to do it. I don't think (Texas State is) going to change what they do against us. I wouldn't think so. But there's no sense in divulging who that is or what their skill set may be."

On Texas State...
"I've known a number of their coaches for some time. I think they are going to do what they do best. That's how you become a good coach. You believe in something and that's, whether it's offensively or defensively, that's what you hang your hat on. So I don't anticipate something that we won't see. Sure there are things you gather from the offseason or opponent film but the reality is they `ve got to do what they do best, we have to do what we do best then we see where we stand. I think they've got really good coaches. I think they've got really good players that believe in their system. They've recruited to it for the last three years. That's really going to be the challenge more than anything is that - experience in the same system and guys that play hard and are excited about their team moving forward, which they are."

Rotation at receiver...
"You have to have enough guys to sub in and out and when you're going with tempo everybody's got to have a backup and they've got to play one position. You can't switch them, you'll get caught with 10 guys on the field. So, you better be eight deep and you better have eight guys you like go into the game. Are we at eight yet? I don't know, but there will be eight that will have to be ready to play."

On mindset heading into first-game as a college head coach...
"Really to be honest, there's only been a few times where that's come up, where I think about what I am going to say to the team beforehand. It came up the other night, a TV show, and I saw, 'oh yeah, the head coach said something to the team beforehand. That's got to be me coming up.' So I really haven't given it much thought. Sure it's exciting. Of course it is, to take the field for the first time. Is there anxiety? Of course there is. Have I called an offense before? Yes. Have I made every decision in a game? No. So of course there's going to be situations that come up for the first time where you're going to have to make decisions, whether it's going for it on fourth down or anything that you do... when you take a timeout, how aggressive you are in a two-minute situation. All those situations will come up. Now I decide that. It'll be interesting."

On quarterback Cole Weeks being awarded a scholarship at the start of camp...
"Well he'd earned it. He put himself in position to be our starter. So when you put yourself in position to be a starter and you led all the summer workouts and you have one available, then that's when you decide to put him on scholarship."

On relationship/history with Texas State coach Dennis Franchione...
"I don't have a history with him but he was at (Texas) A&M, took over the A&M job when I was at Oklahoma State and when you're in the coaching profession, from afar you watch... The reality is that guy's been in a lot of jobs and won a lot of games. He's a really good football coach. His son is part of his staff and did a great job at Blinn (Junior College). I come from a coaching family so I understand that. But he's done a great job. I think Texas State ought to be thrilled to death to have him as their football coach because he is a tremendous football coach and a great ambassador to this sport. I'm not just saying that. He doesn't need to hear that from me but I really believe that."

On sophomore defensive end Michael Smith earning a starting job...
"He's a good player and a great kid. We expect really good things from him. He just compliments our two interior guys that are really good."

On whether or not the team will have pregame jitter heading into the season opener...
"God I hope so. I have pregame jitters. I hope our players have pregame jitters. I hope they're excited. A little nervous, a little excited. That all comes with it but that's the fun of competition. Some of it's good. Too much of it from a worry end, then it's not... Just a little nervous, that's normal. It has been for me."

On state of the team at present...
"I think it's all coming together at a pretty good time. Offensively, we've gotten better as the o-line has gotten better and as the quarterback play has gotten better and as the receiver play has gotten better because you are talking about a lot of guys who hadn't played a lot. Hard to say with the running backs because we've been in and out of practice, but that's been probably pretty steady. But we've gotten better as we've been able to obviously control the guys up front. I'm not saying we're there yet. Every day we're going to improve. Because you're talking about a lot of guys on our side, particularly, and then some guys on defense that are just starting to play. So every practice they are going to get better, every day they are going to get better."

On how defense matches up with Texas State...
"I think they match up fine. They'll match up against anybody we play fine because we are good up front. When you're good up front, you can match up against people... I think we've got guys up front that can play. We've got to find more guys to rotate. As teams are running no-huddle, you can't have just the same guys play every snap but I think that gives you a chance when you've got experience and you're good up front."

On most surprising aspect of freshman Tyre'oune Holmes developing as a wide receiver...
"Probably how he caught on. He did a great job of studying and working through the summer... You can just feel him being attentive. It's one thing, when you recruit somebody, to recruit them and say, `You have a chance to play as a freshman,' and then have someone come in and make a decision that's really what they want. He's done that. Everybody says that but are they really willing to commit to what it takes - to work, to study, to focus, to do it - because it's more than just running around and being a good athlete. That alone just gets you beat. He's done a great job of those things and that's a testament to him.

On Holmes' transition from high school quarterback to wide receiver...
"There are certain things that you are surprised by. Certain parts of the athleticism, no, because you can see that on film. Certain parts of body control, awareness and route running, yes. In terms of his ability to dedicate himself to not making as many mistakes as a freshman would that kills you, yes."

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