2016 HOUSTON FOOTBALL PRESS CONFERENCE BEFORE THE TEXAS STATE GAME Carl Lewis Auditorium Houston, Texas Monday, Sept. 19, 2016

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1 2016 HOUSTON FOOTBALL PRESS CONFERENCE BEFORE THE TEXAS STATE GAME Carl Lewis Auditorium Houston, Texas Monday, Sept. 19, 2016 HEAD COACH TOM HERMAN Opening Statement Proud of our team on a short week to go into probably the most hostile environment in our conference on a Thursday night. Cincinnati is a really good football team that is 7-1 in their last eight Thursday night games, which includes some big wins against some Power 5 opponents. To be able to not play our best but still find the resiliency and the fortitude to have a really good fourth quarter when it mattered and come out with a win. Again, a much needed couple days off on Friday and Saturday, and then we got back to work yesterday. On young players and their performance in hostile environments You take a look at the true freshman playing on our team, and they re from Manvel High School, Katy High School, and Westfield High School, so these guys are used to the bright lights. When we played at NRG against Oklahoma that was Colin Wilder s 15 th time playing a football game at NRG stadium. These guys are very well prepared to play as true freshman. On moving forward with Greg Ward Jr., regarding his shoulder It s going to be a day-by-day feel thing for him. He said he felt great Sunday, so we let him have the whole practice, and we had a two minute drill yesterday with 7-on-7, and he threw the ball a bunch and threw it well. I haven t talked to him today, but I know he was in this morning for treatment. I ll get a report this afternoon, and tomorrow we ll evaluate where he s at after treatment in the morning, and then we ll decide. It s a volume thing, not what kind of throws. Obviously we don t hit our quarterback in practice. On monitoring his reps, I really meant monitoring how he feels, and if he feels like it s too much then we ll slow it down and if he feels like he can handle it we ll throw everything we can at him. On quarterback Greg Ward Jr. s tenacity He s one of the best competitors I ve ever been around, and he s taken a lot of big hits in his day. Once he got hit in the shoulder, yeah it hurt, but did his arm fall off? No. Was he able to throw another pass? Yes. That kind of gave him some confidence, like hey what these doctors and coaches have been telling me is true. It s just a matter of pain tolerance, and if that s all it is, then he s got about as high of a pain threshold as anybody I ve been around. I m proud of him for the way he responded, and we re going to need him in big games like that against equally talented teams. He knows he s going to get hit, and he knows that that s part of the deal, and he does a great job of accepting that role. On any similarities in the game plan for Texas State and Lamar

2 No, this is a really good football team that went on the road their first game and won a triple overtime game at a MAC opponent s place that has traditionally been one of the top teams in the MAC conference. Much different animal. On what influenced him to hire defensive coordinator Todd Orlando I knew what kinds of defenses kept me up at night as an offensive coordinator, so I knew I wanted to run that kind of defense, so that limited the pool. Then I asked around for some of the guys running a 3-man front but being a little exotic with it and being able to put pressure on the quarterback, pressure on run downs and keep guys behind the chains. His name kept coming up. I have a really strong relationship with Dave Oranda who was the defensive coordinator at Utah State. When Dave went to Wisconsin, Matt Wells had hired Todd Orlando to replace him, so when his name kept coming up I reached out to Dave, and he kept in touch with the guys from Utah State, and the rest is history. He got a glowing recommendation from Dave, so I called him up, started a dialogue and now were here. On any evolution from the defense last year to this year We re moving our front and base defense a little bit more which is good. Not to be just wooden Indians, playing two gap when you re playing base and not blitzing. We play head up with the center and head up with the inside tackles, and sometimes those guys can get swallowed up. He s done a nice job of moving that around. He s done a nice job of protecting our young secondary when need be. We don t have William Jackson, so we can t say go cover that guy and I ll see you at the end of the game with a pizza box and an Atta boy. He realizes that and realizes there is a time and a place to protect your secondary a little bit. On impressed he is with the defensive front A lot. This is just something I ve never been around. We had 30 yards total rushing, 12 yards the week before, and Oklahoma was 60 or 70. This is unbelievable, if you can stop the run. As good as a passer as the kid from Cincinnati was, and as talented as they were on the perimeter, if you can stop the run you re going to have a chance to win a lot of football games. We ve done a pretty good job. This is a three week sample size, but all signs point to us being pretty good at that. On Ed Oliver s sack and plays like it This is some of the same things that happened last year, why aren t people showing up in the stat sheet? It s the nature of the defense. If someone s taking up two blocks then somebody is free. Ed Oliver understands that, and he commands that kind of attention. It s really hard to block Ed Oliver one on one, over and over again, so that s kind of the way our defense is patterned. On if Ed Oliver has met or exceeded expectations I knew he was going to be a force to reckon with after training camp. Even before that, he comes from an unbelievable program at Westfield High School, so you know he s going to be coachable. Their defensive line coaches are as good as it gets at any level for teaching defensive line, so I had a pretty good idea Ed Oliver was going to be as good as he is. On Steven Taylor and his growth and how much of it is attributed to what the defensive line is doing I think a lot of it is the defensive line. Steve gets to reap the benefits of the dirty work that those guys do, not that that s Steve. Quite literally bloodied his own lip with one of his hits and was pretty proud of it. I like that. But he s probably a step quicker right now; he s gained some weight. All these guys think if I gain weight I m going to slow down, but no not with Yancy McKnight weight. Yancy McKnight weight is strength, its muscle, its explosion, its power, and Steve bought into that and gained weight and gained

3 strength, explosion, and power, and he s a step quicker. Again just his second year in the defense is helping him see things happen before they happen. On if he crossed paths with Texas State Head Coach Everett Withers at Ohio State Yea for two years and way back when I was a graduate assistant at Texas he was a DB coach there. I consider him a close friend. My wife and his wife are really close friends. They got to know each other quite a bit in Columbus and continue to talk to this day. We were excited when Everett got the opportunity to move back to the great state of Texas and excited to see him off to a good start. Obviously, the Arkansas game did not turn out the way he wanted. To go on the road against an early opponent like Ohio University and come out with a win shows that his players are already believing in him and buying into his way of doing things. We are good friends and our wives are even better friends. On comparing Houston and Texas State Similar. Again I do not know the day to day, but I see his players play really hard and physical. Even though they are a spread offense much like us they are going to run the football first and pressure in the backfield on defense. The film is the only parameter I have to go off of, and I know they play really hard and really physical. On if former recruiting coordinator Adrian Mayes knows any secrets now that he is an assistant at Texas State Absolutely. That will be a big challenge for us. We are having to change every signal, call and check. It s a booger, because we are trying to get ready to win a game, and yet we are having to spend this amount of time to mask what we are doing. Adrian wouldn t be a good coach if he didn t know what was going on. It s not a matter of only changing the plays. It s a matter of what we are calling our plays, how we are communicating and signaling them. On specific strengths and key players for Texas State It starts with the quarterback. He s a senior, and he s playing pretty good. Similar offenses in terms of they are going to be spread, no huddle, and up tempo. They are going to try to run the football to set up the play action pass. On defense they are similar to Oklahoma in terms of they are going to be a 3-man front. Their linebacker or whatever you want to call him, he is very involved in the run game. They really have seven guys around the line of scrimmage or at least around the football most of the time. On decision to put D Eriq King back to return punts, if it is continuing, and if he s going to become more involved Yes on all of the above. Steven Dunbar is playing like 90 reps a game. This is a product of lack of depth in the wide receiver room. Other than Isaiah [Johnson], Chance [Allen] and Steven [Dunbar], an outside receiver is really non-existent. I m trying to limit Steve s reps as much as possible. D Eriq is an explosive guy. We have to do a better job up front in terms of blocking for him. He s one of the most dynamic, explosive guys with the ball in his hands. He s very reliable. If we are going to play him, we are going to use him as much as we can. On if he watched the Louisville game I actually didn t. My son had a flag football game at 11, and then my wife dragged me car shopping all day Saturday. I didn t get to see much college football. I kind of felt like a normal guy for once. On watching Texas High School football on Friday nights Any opportunity I get I am going to take it. With a Saturday game I m not going to go out on a Friday night. We have meetings in the hotel. With these Thursday night games you re going to see me out on Friday night as much as possible. That is the life-blood of our program. I tell our coaches all the time that I

4 learned from Urban Meyer there s probably two million guys in the country that can teach corners coverage or inside zone, but you want to make your mark on this staff. Be an elite recruiter and an elite developer of talent. At the end of the day nobody cares if you can coach inside zone or if you can coach flood route or if you can coach mike blitz cover 3. There are two million coaches in America that can do that. Go recruit and bring elite student-athletes to the University of Houston and then develop them once they get here. If I m going to demand that of my assistant coaches, then I m going to do my part as well in that recruiting. On FCS rankings after beating FBS school I know they [North Dakota State] beat the #13 team at their place. I guess the rules say that they can, but can an FBS school be voted into the FCS because they have their own rankings? It goes back to when Steve McNair was playing at Alcorn State and the whole debate on whether he was eligible to win the Heisman because I-AA has their own Walter Payton award. I didn t give it much thought. If it s permissible, yes I do think they should be considered one of the top teams in the country. On Howard Wilson and Jeremy Winchester s performances at Cincinnati I was proud of Jeremy for responding. He played a little tentative at first. He had some balls caught underneath him that he wasn t driving on. He had the big post route caught on him and ran for a touchdown. A lot of corners would have gone into the tank, but he didn t. He stepped up and played really well towards the end of the game. Howard was our co-defensive player of the game along with Steven Taylor. The pick-6 was icing on the cake. The interception a couple of drives prior to that, when we were only up by 3, to give the offensive the ball again to go up by 10 was huge. It was probably the play of the game. We are going to need that. We don t have William Jackson. We need these guys to continue to develop and play to the maximum of their abilities. On team s response to adversity I am not surprised. I am impressed. It is a hard skill for any human being to master let alone an year old. Credit to the coaching staff. Credit to our strength coaches. They are culture coaches. Credit to the leaders on the team. We were down by four points in the fourth quarter, and there wasn t a difference on the sideline as if we were up by 16 on Oklahoma. When you ve got a mature, player-led team that is when a lot of that shows up, and it did on Thursday night. OUTSIDE LINEBACKER STEVEN TAYLOR On the game against Cincinnati My defensive lineman played a phenomenal game. They opened gaps so that I was able to attack the other players. Whether Cincinnati was able to make a turnover or if they had great momentum, our defense was resilient, because we love to play the game. Every time we stepped on the field we were jubilant, smiling and never down, and I love that about our defense. On the first three games The first three games have been a blast. Coach (Yancy) McKnight, our strength and conditioning coach, has the team prepared. This is my fourth year starting and each year I feel like I elevate. I credit our new staff for that. Hopefully we can keep winning and playing good defense. On his pick-6 Matthew Adams was fortunate to get hands on the quarterback. When I caught the ball my instincts took over. I reached the 25-yard line, and I kicked into auto pilot mode, and all I could feel was my legs dragging themselves into the end zone. Once I caught the ball everyone found a player to block. I give

5 credit to my team again, because we show how much we love each other by protecting one another. I feel fortunate to have those players behind me. On what freshman Ed Oliver brings to the table Ed Oliver brings a lot of energy and fight to the team while remaining poised. The moments are never too big for him. Even under extreme pressure he handles it well. He opens a lot of gaps for me, and he is a blessing to the team. On being part of something special Our plan to win is our number one plan. It is a core value to us to play great defense, win the turnover battle and the special teams filled positions. We pride ourselves by playing great defense. That s our priority. Our goal as a defensive team is to stop the run and get turnovers. If we accomplish that, we have a 98% chance of winning the game. Knowing this, we follow our coaches lead. On how not to get complacent Simply by having fun playing the game. To us, it s like a new series every game. We don t think about the past, we just continue to move forward by focusing on the now and enjoying the game. We are trained to overcome adversities, so we are ready for anything. On the game against Louisville later in the season I watched some of the highlights from the Louisville game, but instead of focusing on a game further down the line, we are focused on playing week-by-week. Right now, my main concern is Texas State s quarterback. He is a good player. The further we get down the road, Louisville will be a topic of conversation, but for now it is not a concern for us. SENIOR DEFENSIVE END CAMERON MALVEAUX On practices after playing a Thursday game We try to keep playing hard-nosed football. Just getting a nose inside the gaps. The defensive line is just trying to push people around. We bang every day. After that one Thursday game we had a full pad practice the next day. It s not really that big of a change for us anymore. It kind of just happens. On what it s like to see plays like Steven Taylor s pick-6 That s the best thing. That s what I take pride in. I love seeing people that I work hard with making big time plays. Him (Taylor) and Howard Wilson had a couple of interceptions. That s the best thing about playing. On if it has been harder to tune out the publicity I don t even think it s been harder to tune it out. We have the same exact publicity level as we did after winning the Peach Bowl. We don t really think about it. The polls might have come out but we wouldn t even know it until somebody brought it to our attention. It s not even something that we even strive for. It has nothing to do with winning conference. On what it means to see quarterback Greg Ward Jr., playing through the pain of an injured shoulder That s a great sacrifice. Me, Greg, Brandon (Wilson) and Tyler (McCloskey) all work hard together. Really the whole team puts our bodies on the line even being hurt and not 100 percent. That s just something that we try to do. We try to sacrifice for our team. That means a lot. We play extremely hard to get our offense more opportunities. JUNIOR WIDE REIEVER LINELL BONNER On quieting all students in Cincinnati s stadium

6 It s like a dream come true. You always dream about going in a hostile environment, being the enemy, and seeing them leave. You know you achieved your goal and beat them. On the effect of playing against a dominant defense in practice We go against one of the best defenses in the nation every day. They prepare us for any challenges. As am offense it gets us ready for any other defense in the nation. On seeing Greg Ward grow and mature as a quarterback and leader He s a way better leader now. He s more vocal. He s pushing people on offense. Everybody takes more ownership now. On the sideline catch in the Oklahoma game When I did it, it felt like a normal catch to me. I didn t feel like I did anything. That s why I just got up normal. On reaction on sideline when you see two consecutive picks We always talk about that, me, Steven Taylor and Howard Wilson. Howard always talks about scoring before me, and he did. It was Steve s first pick-6. Seeing him and how happy everyone was on the sideline, it really made me happy. I was about to run on the field. I had to control myself. We re like a brotherhood, so I was really just excited for them.

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