Weekly Press Luncheon Quotes
Oct. 27, 2008
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina University Head Football Coach Skip Holtz addressed members of the media prior to this week's game against UCF. The following are selected comments:
On The Open Date:
"We just feel that we have a lot of younger players who we really need to develop right now with the injuries. Looking at the depth chart, some of the young guys are really going to have to step up. We're really trying to get an evaluation of where we are right now and where some of these younger players are in terms of how far away they are from being ready to play and contribute. Quite of few of them are going to have to turn and step up, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
"We did a lot of good versus good against each other and rolled in a lot of teamwork, probably about an hour every day trying to put many of these young players in a game-like atmosphere. We wanted them to have to look over at the chains, check the down-and-distance and have to make changes in the defense, from zone to blitz and so on.
"I thought it was a very productive week for us as we get into these final five conference games. Right now we're a little bit of a different team than we were earlier with so many of the changes that have been made. We came into fall camp with one freshman on our two deep on defense. Now, all of a sudden, when you look at where we are after seven games, we have eight of them. A lot of those guys are going to have to step up and play for us."
On The Young Players:
"The names Maurice Mercer, Robert Jones, Antonio Allison, Steve Spence, Cliff Perryman, Emanuel Davis, Julian Carter and Derek Blacknall are not names that a lot of people have heard a lot of through our first seven games, but they're going to have to play a pretty significant role here for us in the second half.
"They've had the opportunity to play some special teams, and that's why this week was so important for us. It was a camp like mentality with where we are.
"It's going to be a challenge as a program. I'm not certainly here complaining about it, moaning and groaning or trying to make an excuse. That's just the challenge of where we are right now and what we're facing as a program as we get ready to get into this five game conference race, and the final five games of the year."
"When you look at them, I kind of look at this game a little bit like I looked at the Virginia game. This is a team whose record might not be impressive, but I think they're a little bit different team at home. They're 2-1 at home and their only loss is to South Florida in an overtime game. They built their new stadium a year ago and I think there's a lot of excitement and support in that program right now. I also think they're playing extremely well at home right now."
On UCF's Defense:
"The second thing that makes this defense so special is the defensive front. I think they have two of the better defensive tackles we may play all year. That's pretty impressive when you talk about the ACC and Big East teams we've had the opportunity to play. I think they're very talented up front. In conference games, they're leading the conference and only giving up 70 yards a game rushing. Their defensive front creates a lot of penetration. They're a big reason the team has as many interceptions as it does. They're putting a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks, making them turn and throw the ball early.
"I think at linebacker they're very solid in the middle, just a little bit young at outside linebacker. But they're very athletic and they can turn and run at the linebacker level. I think defensively, this is a very good football team and it's going to be a heck of a challenge for our offense as we line up and get ready to play this game.
On UCF's Offense:
"They have a young quarterback who had to come in and has played five games for them so far this year. They're going back and forth between the two quarterbacks and they have four freshmen tailbacks. They do not have a receiver who is a junior or senior, they're all sophomores or younger. On the offensive line, they only have one offensive lineman who had started more than six football games up front.
"They don't have a lot of experience as an offensive football team, but they do have some talent. Right now I think they're continuing to work just to find that rhythm, what their identity is, what they're going to be and where they're going to put their saddle as an offensive football team. But they do have some talent there."
On UCF's Special Teams:
"And I think Joe Burnett is a talent. When you look at him and what he's doing, where seven, eight and nine guys are having the opportunity to make a tackle on him. When you get him in open space and let him run, he is running with an attitude. He is their all-purpose yardage leader right now and he doesn't have a carry or catch. That's pretty impressive when you look at what he's doing right now as just as a return man. He is truly a guy who can take over a game and make a difference as a special teams' player."
On The Current State Of East Carolina's Team:
"We look forward to the challenge we have. It's an exciting time right now to get into the conference race. We kind of draw that line and put the non-conference games behind us and we know what we're battling for at this point. The non-conference games are done and we're lining up, in a challenge, in a race for the conference and we're excited about the opportunities that we have."
On Preparing The Younger Players To Play:
On ECU's Quarterback Situation:
"Rob needs to play, but their strengths are different. Right now I don't think there is a lot of difference between the two as far as productivity. I think they're both doing some good things. Until one really emerges as the difference maker, I think both of them have some strengths that we're going to have to utilize, especially against the defense we're playing this week."
On The Importance Of Leadership on Defense:
"I think they're excited about the challenge right now and having the opportunity to play. That's why they came here, to play. You look at it and say it's very difficult to win when you're playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores. When you look at some of the better teams in the country, you look at them and they're playing with an awful lot of experience. That's why we've taken the approach here of redshirting a lot of the freshmen when they come in. We let them mature and develop. That way, when they get on the field, they're not learning their way out there on the game field, but are learning their way on the practice field for a couple of years. But these guys came here because they wanted to opportunity to play and they have it. Now it's just a matter of what they're going to do with the opportunities given to them.
On Playing Sunday: