Todd Monken Weekly Press Conference

Head Coach Todd Monken

Sept. 30, 2013

Head Coach Monken All-Access | Coach Arroyo All-Access | Coach Duggan All-Access

Opening Statement...
"We've gotten Boise out of our system. Our guys have the day off and our focus is now turned to FIU, a team that parallels us in a lot of ways; new staff, putting in new systems, trying to piece together what their players do well and how they can maximize their players' measurable skill sets. It's a well-coached team. Ron Turner took over like I did early last year. We're both in a situation where we anticipate our teams playing well and I think we'll play well this weekend. Our guys are excited about coming home. We've had three-straight road games out of the last four weeks. We're excited about the challenge of coming here this weekend and playing an opponent that you can see on tape is getting better. It's hard to see that because of some of the opponents they've played but they play hard. They look like they play for each other. It's just been hard at times with the caliber of opponent they've played."

On returning home for Conference USA opener against FIU...
"It's tough to win on the road no matter who you're playing. You look at some of the games and some of the teams, even in the Top 25, that had to go on the road and how they struggled or lost. It's difficult. That doesn't mean it's insurmountable, you've got to be able to play good football. We're excited about coming home. I think for a young team like we've got in certain areas they'll play better here. They will play better at home with crowd behind them and the excitement of being here on campus. I anticipate we'll play well. And I've seen improvement in our team with our young guys. As we've gotten beat up, some of the young guys have gotten a chance to play. "

On what Southern Miss got out of games at Nebraska, Arkansas and Boise State...
"We've played four good opponents. Then you play those last three on the road. I don't know what you get out of it. Obviously we didn't get a win, that I know we didn't get, but I do think you get a chance to challenge yourself. You get a chance to find out the guys who continue to battle. As we all say adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it. It reveals what you're about. It reveals your ability and your staying power to continue to fight. And that's hard when you're not having success. So that's what you find out when you're watching the tape and as you move forward. Who's willing to fight? Who's willing to continue to work?"

On opening Conference USA play versus FIU...
"I think we've got a good football team. I know we haven't shown it. I think we have good coaches. It's hard to assess where we're at. I think we're going to have a better idea in the next seven or eight weeks where we're at as a football team because we'll get a chance to play four of the next eight at home. We'll get a chance to play teams that are more in the footprint of where we're at and where we've got to be. Every time you get a chance to go play it tells you where you're at as a program. This weekend will tell us that. This weekend will tell us another step of where we're at. Are we ready to be at the top of the hill? Of course not. That's been proven. But are we ready to take steps and continue to build? I think so."

On chance to be 1-0 in Conference USA play...
"Ultimately, you're No. 1 goal is to try and win your conference ... But we're just looking to win a game, I don't care who it's against. It really doesn't matter. We're just trying to look to see our standard, how we play. There were things we did Saturday night, irrespective of Boise State, that we need to correct as a staff and as players that had nothing to do with them. When we get that corrected, we get a chance for our guys to play better and we give ourselves a chance to win just by playing good football. It would be nice to be 1-0 in the league but really, at this point, it's about us and how we play against FIU and trying to get a win."

On the mentality of both Southern Miss and FIU as each enters the game 0-4...
"I don't even know if we have a backs-against-the-wall mentality. I don't see it that way. There's so many times in any season, good, bad or indifferent, that you can say your back is against the wall. We're just trying to get a win. We're trying to play good football and find a way to win. I'm sure it's the same way with them. When we were 0-1, our backs were against the wall. If we win this one, our backs are still against the wall. It's a matter of playing good football and doing the things that give you a chance to win. I'm sure they feel the same way, too. I'm sure they look at their games and say, `Boy, if we could have done these things. We can do this better.' We're in the same boat."

On amount of attention he will have the players give to the loss to Boise State...
"You can't totally forget it. You have film you have to go through of things you need to correct. So there are corrections that have to be made but after yesterday, starting today, we've moved on. What does FIU present offensively, defensively and special teams that we have to be ready for from a skill set, from a talent and also from a schematic standpoint? You go from there. Every team's a little bit different matchup. Then, how do we do it better? How do our guys continue to improve, continue to come to work every day with a positive attitude? That's the hardest thing you do. Not many people get to do what we do and that is, as coaches and players, every week get a chance to go out there and see where you're at. A lot of people talk about it, not everybody gets to do it and then have to get back up the next week and do it again, win or lose. It's harder when you don't have success back up all the work you put in. That's where we're at, as they are. Ultimately, you do this game to sing the fight song in the locker room. That's what it's all about, getting the wins and being in there. So when you don't get the rewards, it becomes harder. The bottom line is we've moved on to FIU and we're looking to get our first win of the season."

On development of redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Jordan Greene...
"He had a concussion in the Spring so he missed a couple of weeks (then). Coming into the summer it was between him and Garrett Clark as to who would be the starting center. He did a great job in fall camp then Garrett got hurt. So there's been a back-and-forth and now he's done a good job and he's getting better. He hasn't played a lot of football here. He's really only in his fourth game. We've got a number of guys in that regard, whether it's Rashod Hill, himself, Fredrick Moore and now Cameron Tom who is now starting at right tackle. Jordan's done a great job and he's continuing to get better."

On continuation of Southern Miss turnover problem...
"It's frustrating. The one thing we have corrected is the fumbling issue. Other than the quarterback getting hit, for the most part we haven't fumbled ... The tough part is that turnovers are caused for a number of reasons. The quarterback is part of it. Protection is part of it. Receivers running a correct route is a part of it. Everybody has had a hand in that. When we get better collectively at what we do - route running, protection, seeing what they're doing defensively - that will get corrected. Again, the turnovers that have occurred, you're not going to win if you continue to turn it over. They've been fewer and fewer but, ultimately, we can't put ourselves in that position. We've got to do everything to correct it but we're not going to go into a shell and not try to score. Otherwise, we'll be taking a knee and punting." On addressing blocked field goals suffered versus Boise State

"Everybody's doing that now. They're putting two or three people over your guard or tackle and just blowing them up. That's a thankless spot. That's a car wreck for whoever's playing those spots. We do it. They did it. It's hard to want to work it live and have your guards and tackles get beat up but that's the nature of what we're doing now. Those guys are getting after you're o-line and we've got to a better job. We've got to go live to get that work and we've got to get the ball up. The second one was a low kick. Did they get penetration? Yes. Does (place kicker Corey Acosta) have to get it up? Yes. It's a combination. We're going to have to be a lot firmer, look at who the personnel are and how we're coaching it, but it's got to get corrected. It stopped us from getting points on the first one and the second one directly led to a touchdown. That was at a critical point in the game when it was still in the balance. We were still playing well enough to give ourselves a chance to win. No one would have said - at that point in the game we're driving down 17-7 and had already gotten a field goal blocked - that the game's going to be 60-7. That's what it is. We earned that. At that moment you have to take advantage of that opportunity and not let the crowd get back into it."

On any positives derived from the Boise State game...
"Our job is to critique and give feedback to our players so they can get better. Part of that is finding positives with things we do moving forward. There's always something to build on. It's hard to say that to the fan. How do build on 60-7? The bottom line is this - over the last two games in the first halves, against Arkansas and Boise, we've looked like we have some idea of what we're doing offensively. We can build on that. There are plays there to be made. We are getting better. Our O-line is getting better. We are being more aggressive. Our guys are playing harder. Our receivers are getting better, not to be confused with there yet. There are things to build on. Defensively, as guys have gotten hurt, we've continued to play relatively well. Boise's going to score points. They've scored points going back Dirk Cutter and Dan Hawkins. They scored 40 (this year) against Fresno. We just didn't want to add to that with the mistakes we made. At the end, the game wasn't in the balance. At the end of the third quarter we had our 2's in. Defensively, we were pulling guys. The last two drives of the game we had o-linemen playing defensive line because we didn't want to get guys hurt. Ultimately, whether we lost by 80 or 100, it didn't matter. The game wasn't in doubt anymore. I'm going to continue to do that. Could we have still played our 1's and maybe made the game 40-20 and just kept playing as they put their backups in? Sure, but then people would wonder why you had a guy in there and he gets hurt. So there's a lot to build on. We've got a lot of young guys playing and we're going to continue to get better."

On feelings of seniors with a chance to end losing streak at home...
"I'm not referring back to last year because those seniors also went through a 12-win season. To talk about (0-16) would be to say they didn't have a hand in the 12-win season. You play this game to feel that (winning) feeling in the locker room ... I don't care what you do in life, if you're in sales or if you're asking a girl out. If they turn you down a bunch or you don't have a sale, it's hard to get up the next day. It's hard to ask again. It's hard to ask your guys to keep putting in the work and you don't get the reward. I understand that. That's our job as coaches, to find a way to do it better, get them excited about going back out and playing and the challenge each week. We only get so many opportunities. In their whole college career, they'll play as many games as baseball plays in one year. That's it. Why would you waste it? I don't care what you're record is, why would you waste that opportunity to have that feeling in the locker room."

On progression of young players on offense...
"I think we're asking a lot of our young players to right out of the gate play and then go on the road three in the row. I think you're asking a lot. I think the break was good for them. We had the bye week (between games three and four). I think (freshman wide receiver Tyre'oune Holmes') progression has been good. He's coming around and not just as a guy that can catch the ball. His route running has become a little bit better. All of our guys are going to continue to improve. It's never at the pace we want them to. It's just not going to happen. They're going to look back at their film when they were freshmen and say, `Wow, I wasn't very good.' I was in the NFL and guys did that. They'd look back three years to when they were rookies in the NFL and say, `Boy, I wasn't very good.' It takes time and we're not in a business to take time. I get that. No one's happy being 0-4. I get that. We've got to find a way for them to keep improving, find out what they can do, keep harping on it and don't waiver. We're not going to waiver. What we do offensively, what we do defensively, what we do on special teams, we're going to continue to do. That's the only way those guys will get better. We start changing what we do, what we believe in, and we're in trouble."

On taking part in his impression after taking his first "Eagle Walk" before home opener vs. Texas State...
"It was unbelievable. That's why I wanted the job here. The support is tremendous. There's a history of winning, a fan base that expects to win. I understand that. I understand where we're at and what that expectation is, how hard (0-4) is on our fan base. I get it. It's hard on us. It's hard on our fan base. But it was tremendous for our players to see that support. The crowd was unbelievable. I hope we have the same come this Saturday. That's something that we can control as a program, as a group. We can control our fans that come out and support our team and support our players and university. It's still about the event. It's still about coming out and tailgating. It's about Southern Miss football and being a part of hopefully our first win."

Head Coach Monken

Coach Arroyo

Coach Duggan

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