Every Monday, UTEP Coach Mike Price holds a press conference and shares his thoughts on the previous week's game and looks ahead to the following Saturday. Following are his remarks from Monday September 17th.
(Opening remarks on Saturday’s 41-28 win over NM State) “We’re extremely proud of the victory. We’re very happy particularly for our seniors who were 4-0 against the Aggies. We’re happy for the town, our city, our community and our football team. We came out ready to play. We were confident and executed well. We don’t like the penalties in the game, they resulted in touchdowns for the Aggies. We’ve got to stop that. We had no penalties in special teams. We had three sacks and hit their quarterback 18 times in the game. He took a real beating. He’s a tough kid, but we got the pass rush to him. We came to play. We were tough, we were aggressive and we were physical. It was a great crowd, noisy and fun. It was a perfect weekend to be a Miner.
“We planned not to use Nathan Jeffery in the game. He came up to me in pregame and [running backs coach] Jeff Banks said he was bouncing off the wall ready to go. Our trainer Dawn Hearn said he could go and she released him [to play]. He really wanted to play bad. We had our first 10 plays scripted without him in the game. LA Dowell, Josh Bell and Autrey Golden practiced all of those plays. So I said let’s get through our script. We got through our script and were about ready to put him in and it was 21-0. So we put him in and then the game was getting out of reach so we said maybe we should keep him out. Bell ran great with two touchdowns. LA Dowell had a 29-yard run on the second play of the game. Golden played tremendous and also showed his speed on kickoff returns. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he’s tough. Those three backs came off the bench and had a great game. Nathan will be practicing all week and I think he will be ready to go for this game.”
(On injury updates)
“I think we may be just fine going into this game. We’ll have Nathan [Jeffery] back, and we won’t have Adrian James. He is the only casualty left from the first game. Hopefully he will be back for East Carolina. We’ll be pretty much full strength for this game.”
(On the benefits of playing Oklahoma and Ole Miss in the first two weeks) “I think it was kind of a confidence builder. When you play those schools, they’re bigger and stronger and faster. You get used to play at that tempo and that speed. The game is faster. You speed up your game and your intensity. It’s great to play schools that are a little bit better than you are. The only problem is injury. We had two guys get hurt in the Oklahoma game. Two starters got hurt, one captain [Adrian James] and our running back [Nathan Jeffery]. That wasn’t good.”
(On the defense allowing big plays)
“I’m not alarmed. I’m concerned. We don’t want to give up long plays. It’s a fine line between giving up long plays and sacking the quarterback. You can’t sit back and not rush the quarterback.”
(On jumping out to a 27-0 lead against NMSU) “I think we had them off balance in the first half. We were in a passing formation but running the football. They weren’t expecting that. And to be honest, it was 27-0, and our players aren’t used to being up 27-0 in a half. So they got a little loose and we corralled them in at halftime. The thing I liked, when they cut it to 27-14 we came right back and matched their score.”
(On the running game flourishing without Nathan Jeffery) “I think the tailbacks that stepped up were Autrey Golden, LA Dowell and Josh Bell. Those guys played tremendous in place of Jeffery. We didn’t have Jeffery at Ole Miss and those guys had to play too. That was a good experience. They matured and got better in just one week. Golden played 22 plays on special teams and was our special teams player of the week. You don’t even notice that. He’s just a freshman and he’s doing a nice job. It looks like he will be our primary kick returner. He hits it full blast. He’s real quick and fast. I’d like him to be our primary kickoff guy so we don’t have to use [Michael] Edwards and Jeffery back there returning kickoffs. It would be nice to have somebody besides those guys.”
(On what he has seen from his team)
“They certainly have provided me with more confidence. What I thought going into this season is the way they are. They’re tough and smart, they’re mature and ready to play each week. For the most part their leadership is outstanding. They kind of fit just about where I thought they’d be fitting. I’m pleased with the progress we’re making. We have a great opportunity this week and then it’s all business with East Carolina.”
“They are a big, massive team outweighing us by 60 pounds. They’re massive and they’re good. Their defense is sound and they have the best returning running back in the country. They’re kind of finding their way offensively. They played a freshman at quarterback last week and I thought he looked good. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started him this week. They’re still a running team, but they’re creative offensively. They do a lot of things, but they still end up going between the tackles and running over you. That’s what they should be doing. Their running back’s longest run is 17 yards. But boy, their defense is good. They tackle well, they’re disciplined and they have gap integrity in their defense. They have huge guys up front at 6’6”, 6’5” and 6’7” in the defensive line. Their defense is fundamentally sound and you’re going to have to block them and knock them down. With their offense, you know where they’re going to run but you have to defeat that blocker who is bigger and stronger than you are and tackle that All-American running back. The kicking game really hurt Utah State in their game. They had a missed field goal, botched a punt and allowed a punt return for a touchdown. They made three major errors in the kicking game, which we don’t want to do.
“This game will be a big challenge for us. We’ve watched all of their tapes from last year. We’ll have to be smart in what we do. We’d like to get our guys 20 pounds heavier and get them to bench press 100 pounds more this week.”