Todd Monken Weekly Press Conference

Oct. 28, 2013

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

Opening statement...
"We've put North Texas to rest and we're moving onto Marshall this week. It's another tough road challenge. (Head coach Doc Holliday) has done a great job in the years he's been there, recruiting really good football players. Their team plays hard. You can see it on both sides of the ball. Really, they're three tough losses away from being 7-0 and being in a conversation as a BCS buster. (They had) a tough one at Virginia Tech (losing 29-21 in three overtimes), obviously last week (in a 51-49 loss to Middle Tennessee) and Ohio U on the road (in a 34-31 loss). We've got a real challenge ahead of us, a really good football team with a really good quarterback and a group of good coaches. It's going to be a real challenge for us. You watch them on film, that's a good football team."

Asked if the mood was in practice was different on Sunday following 55-14 loss to North Texas...
"I don't know if it was different. The day after a game that you lose - Homecoming, we didn't play as well in a number of areas as we had hoped and didn't give ourselves a chance to win - I think there's more disappointment. After we got through the tape, you start to assess where you're at and the things you can change and try to do it better. Last night, practice was fine."

On the challenges Marshall presents on offense and defense...
"Defensively, they're not afraid to challenge you. They're not afraid to play you in man, get up on you, put extra guys in the box and get after you. They're not afraid to challenge you, which poses issues on the perimeter. You're guys have to have a chance to win one-on-one. You've got to take your shots when you can down the field. Offensively, they spread you out and do a great job, as they do on the defensive side. They have a quarterback that can run, but isn't a runner per se. He's a guy that's going to look to throw. He gets outside of the pocket and extends plays. They've got good skill players. They're good up front. What you see on film is a team that plays hard, plays for each other and they've just been a hair away from being right there at 7-0."

Asked what he saw as reason for low rushing numbers versus North Texas...
"Well the first thing was we were behind. That's the No. 1 thing. The issue was we didn't take advantage of the first three or four possessions that we had, then we didn't score and keep the game in balance. That was probably the No. 1 thing. When you add sacks onto that you're going to add to lost yardage. It's a work in progress. We've got to continue to find ways to run the football and be more balanced."

Asked how true freshman quarterback Nick Mullens responded to a loss in his first start...
"Nick's fine. I thought he showed tremendous poise, leadership and toughness. He understood some of the mistakes he made. He's going to make mistakes, all of our players are. We have flaws. But I think, from a week ago to playing in the game, he's only going to be better this week. We're only going to keep developing a rapport with our receivers. Some of the things we did offensively this past week looked like we wanted it to like. You can't always say that as you're building with a young team and a new system. It started to look a little bit like you would want us to look. Obviously, not perfect. We didn't score enough. But I think moving forward we have a lot to build on."

On the mental toughness exhibited by Mullens in postgame press conference...
"I think he's got tremendous mental toughness. He's a smart player. I think he's accurate. I think he's got leadership qualities and I think we've done a good job of just talking about the next play. We're building. You can't do anything about the last play, go to the next play. All these opportunities that you're going to get - practice and reps you're getting during the game, you're only going to build on. I think he gets that. I think at that moment (postgame press conference) he was probably able to collect himself. Would I say that during the game he wasn't frustrated with some of the mistakes because he's a prideful guy? No ... But I think he understands it's a process as we move forward as a team."

Asked if it was accurate to call Mullens an astute player of the game...
"He's not only smart, he's football smart. He gets it. It's like having a coach on the field."

Asked what it will take to capitalize on the turnovers forced by Southern Miss' defense...
"We had a stretch where we had two opportunities in the game to take advantage of the first two turnovers. One was in the first half and we missed a field goal. The other was to start the second half (which ended with a touchdown) and that was good to see. We found a way to continue to turn it over. It's the No. 1 stat of why you win or lose - turnovers. Not turning it over, creating turnovers. We weren't able to take advantage of the other ones in the second half, where I think they came three in a row or three in four series. They gave us an opportunity to kind of get ourselves back in the game. We couldn't piece enough good plays together to get us back in it."

On defense struggling to stop teams on third down...
"When you're struggling, I don't care what side of the ball you're on or special teams, it's more than just one thing. Were we out of position at times? Probably. Were there some mismatches that happened? Yes. Were there calls (Defensive Coordinator David Duggan) would like back? Yes. That's true with either side of the ball and the same in special teams. When you struggle, you're like, `Wow, how can we do it better? How can our players do it better? What can we do to help them do it better?' It's not that simple as to just put your finger on it. All I know is we've got to do it better. We've got to be in better position. We've got to make it harder on our opponent than we have. We've got to get around the quarterback, as we all know, and when we do that we'll get off the field."

Asked if the defense forcing four North Texas turnovers was a sign of development...
"It's not like we don't work on trying to create turnovers. Part of that was they probably got a little sloppy in the second half. Credit to our defense, but they probably got a little sloppy. At the end of the day, we'll create more turnovers when we create a little bit better pass rush and when we score enough to keep the game in the balance, when we're forcing opponents to have to make plays and throw it. That's when you're going to get a bunch of turnovers. A bunch of the turnovers we've had the last few weeks have been because we're throwing it. We haven't really fumbled it that much with our running backs and guys catching it. It's been a matter of the quarterback getting hit and fumbling or us throwing. That's where you are going to create those turnovers. When we do a better job offensively of putting that team on the defensive and we get a better pass rush, you'll create more turnovers."

Asked to comment on continued struggles of place kicker Corey Acosta...
"What are you going to do? You've got to create, which we have in practice, an environment where he has to compete and where we've got to get the ball up. Practice has not been an indicator of what we've gotten in the games. Corey's got to get himself out of this. Some of it has been his fault; some of it has not; at the end of the day, no one cares. We have to figure out a way to do it better and we've got to, when we need a field goal, be able to make it. That's obvious. We've got to protect better. We've got to coach it better. We've got to kick it better."

On the play of sophomore defensive back DeBarriaus Miller...
"He's a developing player, that's the best you can say. He is an active player that still is a first-year starter, and a second-year player, in this program that has come a long way and still has a long way to go in terms of consistently being a great football player. He is athletic. He likes to play. He's fun to be around. He is a guy that is active. He is a guy that likes to come to work every day. But, he is a guy that can continue to get better from his mental approach and eliminate some of the silly mistakes that come from a young player. That's really where we're at, eliminating silly mistakes. Dumb loses more than smart wins. Eliminate those plays, we'll be better."

On play and leadership of senior linebacker Dylan Reda...
"He's been great. He is a guy that wears his emotions on his sleeve. He is a great leader from a standpoint of how hard he works. It's important to him. Some of the guys that are seniors, most of them unless they were junior college guys, have won here. He was a junior college guy last year and has never won a game here. It's frustrating to him. He came here because of the tradition that was built here. I think he's done an unbelievable job of fighting through that, continuing to be upbeat and continuing, in practice, to lead us."

Asked to speak on Reda's straightforward demeanor and first impression of Reda...
"He's that way. He's a straightforward guy, a hard-working guy. He's a fifth-year senior so he's a mature young man in terms of what you see is what you get. I think that's an unbelievable quality to have these days. There is no gray. You know what to expect come game day. As players and coaches we all have flaws but you know that - from an energy standpoint and from leadership and trying to bring guys with him - is what you're going to get. That's what you can count on. That's a strong characteristic to have. That's what I appreciate about Dylan the most."

Head Coach Monken

Coach Arroyo

Coach Duggan

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