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Southern Miss Head Coach Ellis Johnson Press Conference Transcript

Oct. 1, 2012

Opening Statement:
"The film didn't show anything different (from what we saw on the field Saturday). It was just a very disappointing loss. The players played their hearts out. I thought we got better effort, better confidence and made some plays that we haven't made before even under the conditions. Probably the big story was the playing conditions and, for the most part, both teams handled it pretty well. It did affect ball handling; it did affect play calling; it did affect a lot of things on both sides I'm sure. It's very tough to be (0-4) right now. I'm very pleased that we're seeing a lot of progress in some areas though. Even on the film, although it's very tough to evaluate where we are and improving in certain areas from the standpoint of execution because of the conditions, you can see a lot of individual progress, a lot of guys playing with a little more confidence. The disappointment came up when we had some mishaps in the kicking game, a little bit of difference in the turnover ratio and just an inability to produce anything in the passing game. But, again, I think in this particular game, it's very difficult to evaluate whether we have improved in that area or not because no one could hardly execute that phase. It's a tough loss, but I took a lot better feeling out of this one about our football team than I have some of the previous ones. Of course, we have to look forward to another tough opponent so we don't have time to worry about it. We have to move on to the future and learn the art of forgetting and learn from the mistakes. Let's move forward and get ready for a very tough Boise State coming in here on Saturday."

On Tracy Lampley's amount of touches on Saturday:
"What happened was we got pigeon-holed into a two-back package which was just one small part of our game plan. The weather and the playing surface - you can handle the rain but the playing surface has two-inch puddles and those types things, that's what's soaking the ball. When the throwing game became a minor part, it obviously affected him, a lot of other things too. We had some bigger receivers in there that could block on the perimeter and other things when we went to the two-back set. We tried to get him in there to get the ball in his hands from the running back position and had somebody get through a gap and get a tackle for loss. It just became one of those games where your big backs had to carry it up in. That's really all that happened."

On the quarterback position:
"Right now, it's most likely (that Ricky Lloyd will get there start). A lot of times (injuries) are day-to-day. We don't know right now who's going to be the healthiest and get enough practice reps to know who the starter is. I don't know how you evaluate anyone on that ball game the other night. It was just very restrictive. We haven't made a final determination on that."

On Boise State:
"Offensively, they've been a pro-style offense from an X's and O's standpoint. They look, in a lot of formations, like Louisville. They lost a four-year starting quarterback just like we did so they are probably not as flexible and as versatile and wide open as they were, but they still give you a multitude of formation movement and motions that make it very difficult for a defense to adjust to. They've still got talent. They are very aggressive in their play calling. They have moved the ball extremely well but have stalled out some in the red zone. Their point production, for Boise, they are frustrated. For most people, it's pretty good. Defensively, they are in the top-10 in (multiple national defensive categories). They are in the top-25, I think, in scoring defense and total defense. Their defense is playing really well and has been a pleasant surprise for me. They lost a lot of players on that side. They are aggressive in their defense. They are multiple and bring a lot of pressures and different things. They will be as difficult to handle as anybody we've played. I think they are very underrated. Polls are polls and as you loss early or late, it affects where you are in polls. Don't be fooled. This is a top-20 football team. When you watch them on film, there is some really impressive execution."

On being more physical on defense:
"You can see it. There are times where we have to go back and question our plan and our calls and say, `Hey, could we have done this or could have done that?" But, the bottom line is, when a player's in front of a player with the ball, you've got to make a tackle or make a play on the ball. I'm not defending us or blaming anyone, but you get them in to a position to make a play, they have to make a play. If you aren't getting them into the position to make a play, you have to coach better. And, there's room for improvement in all areas."

On the play of the linebackers against Louisville:
"I thought they played a lot more physical. They are a bunch that has been growing every week, getting better and better. They have really, really worked hard to improve each week, and I thought overall they played very solid."

On the team's emotion and physicality level against Louisville:
"(The reason) was a little bit of (wanting to play with emotion and X's and O's changes). I thought the majority of it was just attitude and confidence and they've grown. We talked about them being young early in the year and handling tough situations and I see it changing. Hopefully it will be a steady progress and we'll keep on changing and not take a step back. There's no question that we were better in that area and it turned into that type of ball game where they got tested over and over and I thought they did step up and play physical."

On the morale of the team following the game:
"I saw a bunch of disappointed young men, just like every loss, but I saw a little bit more of, where they knew we could've - you know, "shoulda, coulda, woulda" - we could have won that ball game with just a few plays here or there. And how close we were to beating a very good football team, I think the confidence will eventually overtake the disappointment. We did not practice yesterday. We normally do but because of the weather we didn't want to waste it so we flipped our Sunday practice to today so I really haven't seen them to get a feel for them this week. They've been good every week, attitudes and coming back to work and I don't expect anything different. (Former Southern Miss defensive great) Adalius Thomas spent some time with them on Friday night, just talked to them about 15 minutes. It wasn't about X's and O's or anything like that. It was just about how to approach football and get out of the ditch about the losses and look forward and keep working hard. I think they got a good message from it. (Offensive coordinator Steve Buckley) coached him when he was here and they have a great relationship and he thought [Thomas] would do a good job. I really appreciated him coming by and spending some time with them."

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