MONROE, La. - ULM head football coach Todd Berry, running back Jyruss Edwards and safety Isaiah Newsome met with members of the media Tuesday afternoon in advance of Saturday's road contest at Western Kentucky.
Below are selected quotes from Tuesday's event and the entire press conference can be viewed by clicking the link on the right side of the article.
Head Coach Todd
"I was excited about the win over Florida Atlantic, as were our players. To be 2-0 in the conference right now is wonderful, and to be 1-0 at the end of last week is even more significant. One of the things that was interesting to me was that we didn't play to our standard. Some of that is to Florida Atlantic's credit, and I'd like to give them credit for that. But, I don't think there was huge elation in the locker room afterward, and I think that's a good sign. We all enjoy wins, and I don't want to take that away from our players, but in the same sense, we didn't play to our standard. We didn't play as well as we had in some other games, so consequently, while we were excited to get the win, I think everybody recognizes that we could play better and they weren't happy with that. I think that's a good thing for our program, so I'm excited about that."
On Florida Atlantic...
"I thought jumping to an early lead was significant because one of the things that we wanted to do on defense, as we always do, was to stop the run. Part of stopping the run is to put them in a position where they can't run the ball from a defense perspective, but also the time left in the game and the score of the game kind of makes them one dimensional and it becomes a lot easier to defend. Offensively, we struggled. The struggle emanated from our preparation for a whole different defense. As I mentioned last week, I was concerned in an off week about how a new head coach might change during an open week, and certainly that happened. The good thing about this is that they were somewhat unique going into the game. All of our players now have been exposed to this other style of defense, but they came out in something different. We saw a totally different coverage field than we did on film and so in the game, we had to make a lot of adjustments. I thought our players did a nice job of that. Our players got two game plans last week, essentially: the one that we had prepared for and the one that we had to come up with during the game. That was a good sign for us to change gears in a game like that."
On Western Kentucky...
"Western Kentucky has some very good wins this year. It's a difficult place to play. I think they have a beautiful stadium up there. I'm sure they're going to have a great homecoming crowd. We're excited about playing in another big game. Offensively, they're very unconventional, but if you turned on the TV 20 years ago, this is what you'd see, so it's not something that's new, it's just completely different from what everyone else is doing right now. For us coaches, it's taking us back a little bit, but for our players, it's something unique. They have a very nice running back who can get downhill on you in a hurry. He's surrounded by good skill players around him, especially the tight end. I think he's one of the premier tight ends in the country. He's got great blocking ability and an ability to stretch the field and create match-up problems. Defensively, they're big up front and they're athletic in the back as you might expect a South Florida team to be, and that's where a lot of those guys come from."
On history with
"We've had some very interesting games. Probably some of my most interesting games as a coach were against these guys. Two years ago, we were down by 17 in the fourth quarter and came back to win it. Last year, we were down by 13, tied the game, gave up a special teams hiccup, and tied it again with I think 28 seconds left. Then, obviously, we lost it in overtime. It should be a fun game based on past history."
On special teams...
"Our kicking game last year was horrendous in every aspect the whole game. It didn't make any difference what we did. Obviously, it's an area we need to make some significant strides in. But, I am getting more and more comfortable where I can praise our special teams. I think we're kicking the ball better, we're punting the ball better, and we're covering better. Obviously, we had an impact play against Florida Atlantic where we recovered the fumble in the endzone. That's a critical component in special teams: forcing a turnover then forcing a score. We didn't have many opportunities on the kickoff return, but that's kind of the way that you like it."
On season statistics...
"I think that statistics become more relevant now than what they were early on because everyone plays different people. Now, when you start getting in to conference play to where you have some cross over in terms of teams that you played, certainly the stats become a little more relevant now. You figure out after six or seven ball games about who we are as an offense or a defense."
On quarterback Cody
"There's a difference between the role of a mop up quarterback and the starter, and I can speak to this having played that position. The mop-up quarterback doesn't operate your system; he's just trying to get you out of the game. A lot of times your number two quarterback will get some mop up duty, but it's not real game time. We felt strongly going into the season, and still do feel that Cody is an outstanding quarterback. He works extremely hard and prepares well, so why not go ahead and put him in early so not only does he get to see those critical situations, but team sees him in those situations. Just in case you need him, he's there for you."
Running Back Jyruss
On Centarius Donald's injury...
"We had a very emotional conversation. I've been in that situation before, but not the kind that he's in. I can only imagine what he's feeling. I feel like he's taking it pretty well."
On the ULM run game...
"I have to give credit for (the successful running game against Florida Atlantic) to the offensive line. We (the offense) played horrible as a unit, but the offensive line did a great job for us. I also think the defense bailed us out again. We just have to play better."
Safety Isaiah Newsome
On his role in the secondary...
"We've had some shots taken on us and we just have to keep our heads up. I feel as though I'm the motivator back there. I have to motivate those other guys and step up and make plays. Those big plays are going to happen, but you have to be ready for the next play. You have to have a short term memory."
"We take pride in our rush defense. That's one thing Coach Reffett emphasizes. We want to force them to go to the air. We have to win first downs. When you do that, you put their backs against the wall. You eliminate some of the play calls that their coordinator could make. I feel as if we control the tempo when we control the run."
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