Tulane looking to get back in the win column - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Tulane looking to get back in the win column

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New Orleans, La. - The Tulane Green Wave reached bowl eligibility with six wins in eight games but have stalled since, falling to 6-4.

Curtis Johnson's team hosts UTEP in their final home game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this Saturday and the following are coach's comments to the media, as transcribed by Tulane Sports Information:

"Thanks to all of you for coming out. Last time we played (against UTSA), it was the first time this year I felt the mistakes we had offensively and defensively (kept us from winning). We had 16 mental errors on offense, 10 on defense, 11 penalties for over 100 yards. It was just totally unacceptable and uncharacteristic of our team. We should have played a lot better. My hat goes off to (UTSA) coach (Larry) Coker and his group. He did a wonderful job of getting those guys together."

"This past week, we had a great week of practice. We went a couple of days last week. We had a couple of injuries (against UTSA), but most of the guys are back. I know they will all be back in practice tomorrow. We have gone back to basics in practice."

On Lorenzo Doss' elbow…

"He is good. He will be fine. He didn't practice today, but that was more precautionary than anything."

On Nick Montana's health…

"Today was the first day I felt like he was throwing the ball back to where he was when we started the year. His resting really helped him. He threw it well today for the first time in a while."

On the plan for the quarterback position during the game against UTEP…

"The first week he came back, we gave a series to (Devin) Powell. But it's Nick's show. Nick will play, probably, three-quarters of the game. The thing is, we are still a little bit cautious, but he has shown a lot of improvement."

On cornerback Taurean Nixon…

"He was the one kid today in practice that I would say is the furthest away (from playing). (Chris) Davenport walked around a bit, and I saw him run the other day. All of our other guys (who have been injured) ran the other day. We'll have most of our guys back."

On his team responding to the loss…

"I felt that we reverted after the FAU game. I thought our defense didn't play overly bad, but we turned the ball over four times in a row. This past game, I thought we played poorly. We had a bunch of undisciplined penalties and a bunch of stuff we hadn't done all year. We wanted to address that and our team did in practice this week."

On fixing the penalties…

"We watched a lot of tape on the mistakes, but then we let it go. (In practice) we aren't allowing anything. If you flinch, it's an offsides. We have begun to correct those things. I thought we had a good practice today."

On playing a game in November that means something…

"A year ago, we were just trying to get guys on the field. We were just trying to get 11 guys to play. I think we took a couple of janitors with us to fill up the seats on the plane. But this year, I think our kids are eager. I told them the other day that they were just bowl-eligible. That doesn't mean that you are in a bowl game. That doesn't mean one thing, being bowl-eligible. It doesn't mean anything to me. So what we have to do is look at it as a one-game season this week. Next week, we have another one-game season. Whatever happens, we'll go from there. These games are meaningful. We are practicing like it's meaningful. I think we are going to play like it's meaningful."

On encouraging his guys during a slump…

"You always worry. I don't sleep very much, which is I guess part of this profession. I'm a part of the 3a.m. club, where all coaches wake up at 3a.m. in the morning. I think the one thing I like to do with our staff and our guys is that I am brutally honest with them. If our defense is playing good , I'll tell them. If they are playing bad, I'll tell them. I'll call kids out. If I think for a minute that I'm doing something wrong, they'll call me out. I just blame everything on my wife (laughing). Otherwise, we run a ship that is pretty honest, and I think that is the best policy. They know our concerns. They know what we need to do. They know what is going on in our program."

On the wide receivers…

"Here was the disappointing thing (about the receivers). We had 12 big-play opportunities out of the receivers, and we came up 0-for-12. I felt like if we would have had one big play in that game (against UTSA), we would have won that game. We were 0-for-12 and that is totally unacceptable."

On the seniors playing their last game at home…

"Being in the Superdome is outstanding. I don't think there are many college programs that play in a venue that is that well-known and prestigious. I love playing there. It's one of the classiest places you can play. These seniors, I think it's very important that they go out feeling good about themselves, feeling good about this program and feeling good about where they played. They played all of their home games there, except for maybe one. In 10 or twenty years from now, they will remember the Superdome as their home venue. I think it is very important that these guys feel that this is the end of this era, and I think they want to go out with a bang."

On this senior class making a different mark than previous senior classes…

"I haven't preached that message (being different from previous senior classes), per say. I have preached this week that even though we have a good group of seniors, we still have a lot of young players on this team. Our single-minded focus has to be this game. I don't want to hear about Rice. I don't want to hear about a bowl game. I don't want to hear about this one or that one."

On closing out the Superdome era and starting the Yulman Stadium era…

"You want to think about your last memories (as much as possible). I have nightmares about my last memory with the Saints. It was the (2011 NFC Divisional round playoff loss) San Francisco (49ers) game. The last memories you want to feel in that building, even the freshmen, sophomores and juniors, we want to walk out of that place with a win. We will walk around the field and the band will play. That is what our goal is. In terms of opening a new chapter, here is what I believe. I believe college football should be played on campus. You want to see the students come down. You want to see the frat houses, the professors, the alumni on campus at your own site. I'm really happy about having football on campus."

On the status of LB/ST coach Barry Lamb…

"I think he is doing better. I don't know when he is coming back. He is progressing. The thing we want him to do is to continue to get healthy. We are praying for him, we love him and we miss him. We want him back, for the comedy if not for anything else. He is progressing, but he is still getting healthy right now."

On Doug Lichtenberger's role…

"You love your coaching staff in place, no matter what. This is what we have to do. This is the smartest thing we can do now, so we'll have to do it."

On any position battles having opened after the UTSA loss…

"There aren't any. We just have to play better. We can't make mistakes. If we were Alabama or LSU or another SEC program, I think you can make some mistakes (and still win). We just have to play mistake-free football. We can't shoot ourselves in the foot."

On OTs Todd Jacquet and Sean Donnelly…

"They have been rotating all year. Chris Taylor, I would say, beat out Rio (Mares) several weeks ago. He's been starting. All three of those guys have been playing a lot."

On CB Richard Allen…

"He's been practicing a lot. He's been playing well. If this was last year, Richard Allen may have been a starter. We are so good at cornerback though, right now. That is one of the strengths of this team. I put a lot of responsibility on those guys."

On the team possibly peeking early…

"I'm not concerned about peeking early. I'm concerned about the youth of our team. We have to step up and not make mistakes. I don't think we are playing terribly lethargic or tired or anything. I just think we aren't playing well. We had a poor game with mistakes (against UTSA). My concern is that we have to clean up the mental mistakes, we have to clean up the penalties and I think we will be fine."

On UTEP…

"Offensively, they are going to run the ball. Their coach was with the (Pittsburgh) Steelers. They are a power-running team. They are going to run a pro-football style of offense. I think their running back is outstanding. They play two quarterbacks. One of them, number 10, is lightning. He can run. We have to control the quarterback running the ball. That's what we didn't do well a couple of weeks ago (FAU). We just have to control the line of scrimmage. We have to stay on top of their fast receivers. Defensively, they are going to come after us. They are going to blitz us, because that is what they do. We have to make them pay when the blitz. If we do that, and if we run the ball well, I think we will have success."

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