Go Eagles!
 
Days
 
Hours
 
Mins
 
Secs
 
Todd Monken Weekly Press Conference

Head Coach Todd Monken

Head Coach Todd Monken

Oct. 21, 2013

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

Opening Statement...
"We've moved on from last week's game against East Carolina and our focus is now on a really good North Texas team. It's Homecoming this week, which will be exciting for our players and alumni. Dan McCarney has done an outstanding job, as he did at Iowa State. His team reflects his personality. They're a tough, physical defense that plays hard, that chases the ball. Their offense is physical. It's going to be a real challenge. You can see what they've been building towards as a program. They've got kids, it appears, that like to play with each other and with energy and enthusiasm. You can see it and you can feel it. That's a sign of a well-coached team. We're excited to get a chance to come home. We've had only two games here and both times we've had an opportunity to win the game. So we're looking forward to getting back here."

On what true freshman Nick Mullens, who will start vs. North Texas at quarterback in place of redshirt senior Allan Bridgford, has shown in practice and game situations...
"What Nick showed us Saturday was his ability to create when things break down. Whether or not Allan had that ability and then over time got beat up and is not able to do that now, the bottom line is we need a spark. Is it hard to compare? Of course it is. You're talking apples and oranges. What you call, who you are playing and opportunities that each quarterback has been given are different. In this moment, we've got to see what Nick can do. We're obviously struggling offensively. That's part of it. We did assess it a week ago. We looked at every throw of Allan's. We looked at offense in general. We looked at Nick. We had planned on playing him this past week and we did. Like any position, we're constantly trying to assess who gives us the best chance to win."

Mullens additional challenges playing behind an inexperienced offensive line...
"That's part of it. We think Nick's going to be a good football player and you don't want a young man to get thrown in there with other young players and lose his confidence, to where he becomes timid. He showed that that wasn't the case. We've also got to remember that he's 18 years old and he just showed up during the summer and during two-a-days. With both of our quarterbacks, the sample size was pretty small. It wasn't like you had a huge sample size to go on. In this moment, we've decided this is the course we're going to take for this week. It's a week-to-week thing and this week we're going to give Nick an opportunity to move our offense forward."

Timing of the decision to start Mullens...
"It wasn't on the plane ride back. I think you have to look at the film. There are a few things on the film besides statistics. Statistics can be deceiving. There were certain opportunities that Allan had that were mistakes and there were certain situations where we didn't have guys open or there wasn't protection. The same might be true with Nick. There were probably three or four things that came through on the film - the way he handled himself and the way he carried himself, probably more than anything, and then some of the plays he made with his escapability - that you can't see in practice. And yet our sample size is still small. I think Nick will play well. I always think Allan will play well."

Asked if he'd delivered the news of the change in starters to the quarterbacks...
"I wouldn't announce it today if they didn't know."

Asked how Mullens and Bridgford responded to the news of the change in starters...
"They didn't talk much so I don't know how they took it. We talked to both of them and that's the way we are going. They have today off and we'll get together tomorrow. They've been great. We have a great group of kids and the quarterbacks are no different. If you ask Nick, there would be excitement; and if you ask Allan, I'm sure there's disappointment. Allan didn't come half way across the country (from California) to not play and be a starter. Nick came here to play. That's part of what we deal with and that's the hard part of it. After assessing it over time, we've made this decision. You have to understand also that we've played some pretty good teams on the road that Allan had to go against. He played pretty well at home. Could we make that decision earlier? I don't think so. Did you really want to start Nick Mullens on the road against a really good team? No. So the timing is right. The situation has come up. His performance has warranted us doing this."

On increased use of freshman on offense...
"We have a chance to start six true freshmen on offense and you're going to struggle. They're going to only get better. I see that on a daily basis in practice. The more reps they get, the more comfortable they get, the more confident they get."

Asked if the players respond better to Mullens than Bridgford and if plays on which wide receivers blocked down field for Mullens was evidence of this...
"I think that's a little unfair to say they are responding to him and they weren't responding to Allan. That's not true. Some of the plays they were blocking downfield were a result of Nick scrambling. When that happened and he got out there, that created that opportunity for them. Allan hasn't done that, wasn't doing it. Is that part of his nature? Is that part of the beat down he's taken at times? Possibly, but at the end of the day, do I think they will like playing with Nick? Yes. Do I think they liked playing with Allan? Yes."

Asked if it's exciting to see so many freshmen playing on offense given the potential for future success...
"I hope the excitement comes sooner than later. That hasn't happened where we're at now but I'm not deterred. I'm just telling you this is a great job and we've got good players and we've got to coach them better and we've got to play better. I'm not wavering on what I believe in and how we're going to do it and how we're going to recruit. I've been around some good coaches. I've seen it (work). We are going to continue to move forward and we are going to continue to play guys that have talent who give us a chance to win now and down the road. Those are the guys that have earned it. So it is exciting to see them improve (but) we're in this business to win games. It's not that exciting."

On the challenge presented by North Texas defense...
"They're really good. I'm telling you, we've played some really good teams and they're as good as any of them; not in any one particular thing other than their effort. What they do, they do well. They don't do a lot until you get to third down and then they'll get after you a little bit. Other than that, they're a four-down team that wants to play simple coverages. They fit things right and they feed off of each other and they play for each other. That's a sign of a really good football team, something we're trying to build here."

On the Southern Miss defense's struggle to hold teams on third downs...
"It's hard to pinpoint. We've played some pretty good teams. It's hard to compare statistics when you've played four really good teams on the road. You've played some teams that are going to expose you in a number of ways. When you have some guys banged up you are going to get even more exposed. I think as of Saturday in the second half, we were up to six initial starters on defense who aren't playing anymore and a lot of them on the perimeter. We've got to do a better job. I know (defensive coordinator David Duggan) wants to do a better job. There are a number of things we can improve on. Getting a better pass rush, coverage, forcing longer yardage situations will all lend themselves to that. From our end of it, moving the football on offense will help. That forces the other team to execute. Right now, when we're behind a bunch, there's no pressure put on their quarterback to make a play. There's no pressure put on their coordinator to make the right call. Right now it's just pick one out because it doesn't matter at times. That's part of what a good team does is put pressure on them to make the right calls."

On overall inexperience of the team...
"I don't want to make excuses. It is our job to figure out what our players can do and what we can do to find a way to win games. I understand that. With that being said, at one point a week or two ago we had eight or nine guys playing in the game who weren't with us in the spring. When you talk about inconsistency that's where you're going to get it from - three different systems in three years and inexperience. But we've got to do it better. I'm not exonerating myself. That's where it starts, with me as head coach and then our assistant coaches. That's why I said we're not going to waiver. We're going to continue to coach our guys. We're going to continue to be positive. Like I said the other day, I love being the coach at Southern Miss. I'm not going to let anything deter me from what my goal is, which is to put the best product on the field. That's what we're going to continue to do. Is it hard at times? You bet it is. That's just part of it. No one cares. North Texas doesn't care and our fans don't care. Our coaches, we can't care. We can never use inexperience and youth as an excuse for why we can't play good football. Plain and simple, we've had two games at home where we've turned the ball over 10 times. Some of that had to do with youth. Some of that had to do with coaching. Whatever it is, you're not going to give yourself a chance to win."

Asked to assess the confidence of place kicker Corey Acosta, who has struggled of late...
"It's hard to know whether it's been the misses or the blocks that have been a part of it. We did take punting off his plate this week, which may have added to (the struggles). He was kicking off and he was place kicker and punting, which was a lot to ask a young man. We've got to get to a point where he gets the ball up. We were kicking the ball low. That's why we got a couple of them blocked. We've got to do a better job with our protection. Corey's confidence, that's something he has to deal with. I can't go out there and kick it for him. I can't create that confidence. We can create it in practice to where he feels good about it. What we see in practice I assume we are going to see in the game. He's been kicking fine in practice."

On use of true freshman running back George Payne and his use in the East Carolina game...
"What he did in the game was a lot like what he does in practice. He plays hard, doesn't say a word and enjoys playing football. He's a physical guy and is only going to get better. That's why we decided to play him. It's obvious every day that this guy loves to play, runs hard, finishes 30 yards down the field, comes back and takes the next play. He doesn't pull himself out. He's that kind of kid. He's what you want to build your program around. When you get enough guys like that - and we've got other guys, he's not the only one - now you're cooking. That's why we decided to play him. Let's not wait. Let's get him out there. The guy has a smile on his face and likes to play football. He's physical and he moves piles."

Asked what sized program Payne played for in high school...
"I don't even know. It could have been seven-man football. I just know he was pretty good. When I watched him, he had good feet and was athletic. The only question was his long-distance speed. And yet bigger guys like that can carry their pads and will play fast with their pads on. Some smaller guys don't play as fast with their pads on."

Asked if quarterback Nick Mullen's having played in a similar offense in high school has benefitted him in his transition to college...
"That's enabled him to be further ahead than maybe (fellow freshman Parker Adamson) is at this moment. Chip Lindsey, his coach over at Spain Park (Hoover, Ala.), did a great job and is now at Auburn. It was a lot easier for Nick to come in and grasp the offense. That's given him an opportunity to have success. Nick is a naturally-confident guy. He has a way about him. He does have a factor of getting the guys going - the `it' factor I guess is what everyone calls it. We do think he has that. We're hopeful that will be the spark we need offensively because we need something, that is for sure."

Asked why top receiver Tyre'oune Holmes received no targets versus East Carolina...
"We thought, potentially, that we were putting too much on (Holmes); that we were putting too much on a young guy to do a lot of things that he's not yet ready to do. We wanted to take some of that off his hands. Some of it was because of George (Payne). We were, for the first time, putting him in our 20 personnel and letting him run downhill. That takes (Holmes) out of the game. We're going to expand that as George gets more comfortable and as (Holmes) gets more comfortable. We had to figure out who we could put on the field that gives us the best chance to win. Part of it is we are trying to make a conscientious decision not to turn it over. That's running the football. That's play action. (Holmes) has been part of the turnovers we've had due to his youth, strength and those things. When we put him in, we want to give him a chance to have success and not hurt our offense. He's going to be a really good football player but, when we are trying to mix and match and get guys comfortable, it's always hard."

On increased use of freshman wide receiver Marquise Ricard...
"Is he farther along than he probably should be? Yes. Is he where I want him to be? No. We don't have many people that are where we want them to be right now, but he is improved. Marquise Ricard has no idea how good he can be. You're talking about athleticism, body control, ball skills and length. He's going to be a really good football player. We've got a number of those players."

Asked if team is excited about this week being Homecoming at Southern Miss...
"I have no idea whether or not Homecoming gets them fired up. It ought to just from a standpoint of the potential for former players to come in that have been a part of this program, that have made it what it is today in terms of history and success and the foundation that's been built here. That part I am excited about; meeting guys that come back who were part of the past that I don't know yet, that I haven't had a chance to meet. I will relay that to our players. I think the excitement comes from having another opportunity to get a win in front of a Homecoming crowd that we hope is excited to come back and giving ourselves a chance to take a step forward in our improvement as a team."

Head Coach Monken

Coach Arroyo

Coach Duggan

Follow SouthernMissFootball:    

8/1/2014 - Football

Football Opens Fall Camp

7/30/2014 - Football

McRath Set for Facebook Chat

07/22/2014 - Football

Nunez-Roches Set for Facebook Chat

07/21/2014 - Football

C-USA Football Media Day Coverage

FACEBOOK FANCRED INSTAGRAM PINTEREST TWITTER YOU TUBE