I do want to get on record that I want to thank the fans that came to see us on Saturday. I appreciate them being there. Last comments about the Marshall game...really comes down to there is some good to take from it. We have reduced the penalties. We have eliminated the turnovers with the exception of pass when we went for it on fourth and 12. I talked about that after the game. We too individually, all of us, executed at a higher percentage to beat a team like Marshall, a team that has established themselves as a power in the conference. When we get to that point, then we are going to be a really good football team. You can see improvement. I have referred to some of it.
Some of the three and outs that our defense got. The way our offense was able to move the ball. We know we have to get touchdowns not field goals which is something we are fighting to do so, we will keep working when we are down in the red zone, especially against a team like Marshall, you have to fight for touchdowns. We have to be better there, players and coaches alike. I like the way we are moving the ball from the 20 to the 20, at times. I like some of the three and out stops that we are getting at times. Azeez (Al-Shaair) continues to get better and better so again the growth of the freshmen. Just about any time you hit pause at the end of the play on defense you count up a lot of freshmen around the ball and they are continuing to get better. Their execution is improving from week to week.
UTEP in general, they are a physical team that plays hard. They believe in their staff. You can see that evidence. They have had some tough losses from an injury. They lost their all-conference running back, Aaron Jones, who's really good. I know that hurt them. They have had the same starting five "O" linemen the whole time. It is a hard fundamental group. Obviously, if you know about their "O" line coach (Spencer Leftwich). He was with the (Pittsburgh) Steelers when I was at Pitt. I knew him a little bit when I was at Wisconsin. I worked to recruit his son who played for North Hill. So, I respect their head coach and they take on his personality.
Their offense, like I talked about, they lost Aaron Jones. Their tight ends are a consistent group. They have caught a lot of passes. At times, they have three or four on the field. Looks like their quarterback (Mark) Leftwich is going to be back versus us. They will still use (Kavika) Johnson as a wildcat quarterback. So, we have some things to plan for there. Their defense (Alvin) Jones, outside linebacker, I believe he is a redshirt sophomore, is fun to watch. He is active. He has a number of sacks. He is active just playing linebacker. Roy Robertson-Harris, D end, has a ton of ability. He is 6-7 and 250. He can get a pressure on the quarterback and they have good size in the secondary. So that is our challenges from them.
On the FAU quarterback situation
On our quarterback, it is day-to-day decision. (Jaquez) Quez (Johnson), (Jason) Driskel and (Daniel) Parr will all get reps in practice. It will be day-to-day and Quez's health will play into it.
When you look at the red zone, especially inside the 10, there always seemed to be a play that Jaquez Johnson would run it. Even when he is on the field this year you haven't had that because of his injury. How much is that effecting your performance down there?
I think it is legit. Having threat where not only do they have to account for him but they really have to account for him. By that I mean when you have a quarterback who will run it versus a quarterback who is as much of a threat as a running back, you have to account for it differently. Without getting too technical you have to have a guy (defensively) who is half on a guy and who can get out and get the quarterback if (he is the ball carrier). You can't do that with (Jaquez) Quez. So there is no doubt that it allows them to play defense differently, without that threat that Quez is with the ball in his hands. So it is a challenge.
On the success of the no-huddle, fast tempo offense
We knew it was something that we had success with against them, last year and in the course of the game this last Saturday and the year before I got here. That tempo was a challenge for those guys. Again, it proved to be the case. Credit our guys. They executed the tempo stuff really well. Our guys enjoy the tempo stuff. Even with the Oregon's and teams that do it all the time there is a couple of things that stop your tempo from continuing, an incomplete pass down the field because you are exchanging some body or you have to get a guy back from 20 or 30 yards or a penalty. Those are the two things that can stop your tempo from being effective. It is something that we use probably 20% of games and we used it a little more this past week because we thought we could have success.
I think it depends on the opponent. It depends on what personnel we have available to us. Again, if Quez is available and healthy, there will be a couple of different tempo plays. One thing about tempo too is that when you are running tempo you don't have your whole playbook in there. You don't necessarily have your drop back pass combination. It is a scaled down version because one signal tells them everything. We do have a big percentage of our offense in that we can run at our fastest speed but, not everything. But, how much we do depends on who is back at quarterback.
On Jaquez Johnson's timetable for Saturday
During the course of the week, you would like to know that he is close at full strength by Wednesday or Thursday. That is ideally, so that he can get the timing of all the run plays that he has been doing. ‘You say coach he has been doing it for years. It is like riding a bike.' It is really not. The best of the best, the NFL guys, they need reps to keep their timing and their execution at a high level. So, that is where you hope by Wednesday or Thursday if we are going to start and play Quez fulltime...that we see him at close to full speed so that we have that whole arsenal of plays in our call sheet.
On FAU's offensive line
There was some things they did well. There were times when Jason Driskel had a great pocket to step up into. There is times when you saw movement. I would like to see more consistently us get movement on our runs. That is the biggest thing I'm looking for this week is getting more resetting the line of scrimmage. That is what I would like to see those guys improve upon from this week to next.