Todd Monken Weekly Press Conference

Head Coach Todd Monken

Oct. 14, 2013

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

Opening Statement as Golden Eagles prepare to face East Carolina...
"We get a heck of a challenge playing an outstanding East Carolina football team. (Head Coach) Ruffin McNeill's done a great job. I think this is his fourth year there. What they do offensively and defensively and the personnel that they've accumulated, it's a really good football team, a really well-coached team. I'm sure they're kicking themselves a little bit. They had a tough one at Tulane where I'm sure they felt like it slipped away from them. They made some mistakes and didn't give themselves a chance to win the game. But a really good football team which is indicative of their record and the way they play. It appears they have fun playing together, for each other, with energy and enthusiasm like we're trying to get done here. It'll take a tremendous effort from our team and our coaching staff to go down there and figure out a way to get a win."

On open competition at select positions on the team...
"I think every week you're assessing your personnel. It's a little easier in the bye week because you're working more on yourself. It's hard to rotate guys in a game week. Do I think that you'll see some other guys playing this week? Yes. Do I think that we owe that to our football team? Yes, to try and figure out how we can do it better. We obviously don't have the market cornered on doing things well right now. We're working towards that. I think that you'll see some guys rotating in that we're trying to give opportunities to and have earned it. But we only have so many players. Otherwise, they would have already been playing. If it was that simple, they would have already been playing."

Asked if he expected Allan Bridgford to be the starting quarterback...

On the attitude of the locker room following an 0-5 start...
"Our guys' energy level and last week's practices were good. Is it frustrating? Of course it is. Is it frustrating for our staff? You bet it is. But the energy level and the attitude and the body language have been fine. We've just got to figure out a way to do it better, starting with myself and our coaching staff. That's what we're paid to do and that's what we aim to do starting this week and moving forward. "

Asked if any shake in confidence is visible among his players...
"I think it starts individually. I think individually if you have players that have played a lot of football and have had success, they naturally exude confidence. They anticipate that they are going to make a play that has a chance to win the game. And the more players you have with experience and with a talent level to change the game, you're going to have that. The fewer players you have that have been in that moment, their individual confidence level decreases. Do I think that on both ends of the spectrum there's a point to that, that when you're winning and things are falling into place and you're on a roll in anything in life you anticipate that it's just going to work out and you're going to find a way? Of course. That's in anything you're doing, boy. You get on a little bit of a roll and you just feel like no one can stop you. And the other is true sometimes. Negative thinking sets in. Do I think that's our issue? No, I think we've got issues other than that which we need to take care of. Do I think our guys think we have a chance to be a good football team and we haven't played our best football? Yes."

Asked whether he'll speak to his players about not watching the scoreboard...
"I don't how you avoid looking at the scoreboard. I know everybody talks about it and says don't look at the scoreboard but there's a lot of things you do in football where you want to know what the score is, where you're at in the game and the decisions you should make. When you're not winning and having the success that you'd hoped for, there are a lot of reasons. Whether we're looking at the scoreboard or not, that to me is one of the lowest reasons of why we're not having success. Do you tell guys, 'Hey, don't worry what the score is, it's how we play and how we coach?' Sure, but there's a certain point to where we just need to continue to play, piece good plays together and give yourself a chance by doing that. I can't get into the minds of every one of our players. Do I think our players understand why we haven't had success and can point to different times of why? Yes. Those are the things. OK, can we point to why we're not having the success we'd like? OK, how do we get those corrected? That's the first thing. How do you figure out the puzzle to get the right guys on the field, stop turning it over and give us a chance to have success and ultimately win?"

On confidence level in three freshman wide receivers (Tyre'oune Holmes, Marquise Ricard and James Cox) who are being utilized frequently...
"We're going to play the talented guys. Have they improved? Yes. Are they where they need to be? No, of course not. But I do believe that their best football is ahead of them. We're going to continue to play those guys and continue to coach them and continue to build on that. We have to look to see what they do well ... that gives us a chance to have success. That's not always easy because our sample size of what we expect them to do come game day is (small). There are things every week that come up that are a little bit different. But I think they've done great. I think they're going to continue to grow and we're going to continue to throw them out there. There's going to come a point with a number of guys that we're playing that people are going to say, 'Boy, it feels like those guys have been around forever.' And it will be true because they will have played for a long, long time. And when they're playing good football, which I hope is this weekend, people are going to say, 'Wow, I see what you saw then.' It's just hard to speed up experience, which a lot of teams go through when you're playing young players. That's no excuse. We have to figure out a way to do it better, coach them better, and really focus on the things they do well."

On East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden...
"He's a great player. Their coaches have done a tremendous job with him. I would consider our systems very similar, although they're doing it a heck of a lot better than we are at this moment. But they're fun to watch. They're a confident group that's been together for a while. He's played for a while. He's athletic. He can throw it. He's accurate. He looks like he leads. So it'll be a heck of a challenge for us because they do a great job of being balanced for the most part ... It's a heck of a challenge when you've got a quarterback playing as well as he is. "

On the East Carolina defense...
"They've got a number of guys back that have played in that system. They'll bounce in and out of three and four down like a lot teams are doing now versus spread teams. They're not very complicated; they just do it very well. They play hard and they chase the ball and they're athletic. You don't see a lot of balls being thrown over their heads, so they keep the ball in front of them and then they rally and tackle. For us, that's a challenge because of us trying to play better football and move the ball down the field and score. That's been a challenge since I've gotten here, the ability to drive the football as opposed to waiting on an explosive play. I think they do a great job."

On the play of the offensive line...
"Collectively, whether it's the offensive line, our offensives skill guys or quarterback, we haven't played well enough at any one position or coached it well enough to where we're consistent. Some of that has to with youth. Some of it has to do with a new system. But there are a number of reasons why. We're not lacking in a number of areas in terms of talent. But it's in terms of communication up front and technique. I don't think effort has been an issue but our technique and our understanding of what we are trying to do and what they are doing and how that affects us (has been an issue). Right now we haven't been consistent enough with that. Then there are times that we are getting beat physically. That's going to happen. That's part of the problem. I can handle, at times, at any position where you're getting beat physically. But when we're not on the same page, not blocking the right people, then we have an issue. That's something we have to get corrected ... That's a sign of a team that isn't there yet. We're working towards that. That's what you do in the bye week. Again, we're not complicated on offense. East Carolina is not complicated on offense. You try to keep it simple so you can do it better than they do it. Right now, we're not doing that. Forget from just a talent standpoint. We're not doing it better than our opponent does it because we're not on the same page."

On positives that came of the bye week...
"The positive part was I thought our guys responded well to the bye week in terms of how they practiced. I thought their attitude, their attention to detail and their body language was outstanding. We got a chance, like any bye week, to assess what we're doing, assess personnel and how we can do it better. That's what we're paid to do, to try to figure that out. I think that's the one positive."

Asked if Southern Miss turnover issue is attributable to bad luck...
"I'd hate to put it to bad luck. I think that's a cop out. There are reasons for everything and its borderline between are there reasons or are you just making excuses? Ultimately, no matter what, we have to stop turning it over. There's no other way to say it. Last week, you get a ball that's tipped that falls in the hands of a guy being blocked. Another one is a punt that kicks off a true freshman's heel. The ball that was tipped was off a true freshman and our right tackle was a true freshman who gets beat and we get hit. Then we're trying to throw a comeback to the field and it's not a very good route ... You can come up with all the reasons you want but ultimately we've got to do it better. Everybody's had a hand in it. We've had a couple of tipped balls. We've had a ball stripped. We've had instances up front. Early in the season it was running backs. We corrected that. I don't know what we can do to change. We can't change who we are. We don't have tight ends. We have fullbacks that we play but we can't go into a shell. We're not going to be able to run power and iso. We're building a program so we are going to continue with what we do, we've just got to do it better. Are there certain situations where you can change what you're doing to try and help yourself? Yes, but ultimately we've got to continue with what we do but do it better. There's no question (with turnovers) you're not going to win games. We've played two home games and had 10 turnovers. That's a recipe to not win in two games that we thought we should have won but didn't. But we earned that."

On development of rivalry with East Carolina...
"I've sensed it from other people bringing it up. I think any rivalry starts with two very good programs that over time have put themselves in position to play for the championship. That's where a rivalry is built unless it is a geographical issue, which this is not. Really what it says is that East Carolina has had a really good program over the years and so has Southern Miss. That develops a rivalry. And you're in a situation where maybe it's a little smaller market with a great fan base that's supported the program and two teams that a lot of teams around the country don't want to play. You better strap it up when you play these two teams. At this moment it doesn't feel that way from my end of it because we're just trying to figure out a way to play better football and give ourselves a chance to win each week. That's what we need to worry about controlling, whether it's East Carolina or any other opponent that's coming in the future. I can promise you it's been a great rivalry between two terrific programs that have had a chance, in any given year, to win a championship. "

Asked to comment on changing landscape of Conference USA as it pertains to status of the conference in the larger NCAA picture...
"Your league and your coaches and your players will determine where you're at. Who we recruit, our coaches, who we play out of conference, our competitive schedule, that'll determine that. To me, the impression of some of the teams coming in, I haven't seen enough of them. We haven't had a chance to play many of them. Ultimately, it's how do we do it. I can't control who is in our league and who is not. Right now, we're not doing as good of a job as we need to do in controlling us. When we were at the conference meetings and the coaches were there it was a little difficult for some of the coaches that were leaving and some that were coming in but that's just the way it is. That's the nature of what we do. It's out of our hands."

Head Coach Monken

Coach Arroyo

Coach Duggan

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