Coach Houston Weekly Press Conference Quotes

GREENVILLE, North Carolina – East Carolina fourth-year football head coach mike houston spoke to members of the media Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s American Athletic Conference contest at Tulane. The following comments are selected:

Opening statement

“Solid weekend in Florida with everything. First of all, what an amazing job by Jake Kirkendall and Ryan McManus on our operations staff to quickly organize a trip to a place we hadn’t planned and be able to coordinate everything and allow things to run smoothly. Allegiant did a great job with our flight and kept everyone safe on what turned out to be a great day for the pirates. It was a great win on the road against a very talented conference opponent and a very explosive first half for our offense. It was great to see it all come together. I am really satisfied with the performance. It’s nice to get that first conference win and that first road win, but not much time to celebrate with what we have coming up Saturday night. You look at the offseason schedules and I knew it was going to be a tough game in New Orleans. I was confident that Coach Fritz would have a pretty good rebound this year and obviously he got off to a really good start. I know he kicks himself because he probably thinks he should be 5-0 and I would probably agree with him. They did some unusual things in the Southern Miss game but a very strong, very solid football team in all three phases. If you need more proof, play without your starting quarterback last Friday night in Houston and knock out the Cougars. It’s an impressive victory and I was very impressed with them. Defensively, I think they’re top 10 in the country in several categories and top five in several. One of the strongest defensive units in the country, possibly one of the best if not the best defensive unit in our conference. We will be challenged Saturday night; we expect Michael (Pratt) to play based on everything we’ve kind of put together, but I was very impressed with the young quarterback last Friday night. I think he handled everything really well and obviously played well in the second half and overtime to get the win. Tough test for us. We have to keep improving and building on our performance from last Saturday and try to set up our best game of the year in New Orleans.”

On by CJ Johnson performance and the team that rallies around him after the loss of his grandmother

“It’s something we’ve been supporting CJ for a few weeks now in anticipation of what might happen. When it happened, we offered all the support he needed. I just think he was also prepared. as possible. It was very emotional for him because she was a big part of his life, but one thing he was very clear with us about was that he wanted to play on Saturday and he wanted to honor her being here. in East Carolina. Even through some of the maturing phases that he went through in his early years, she was a big factor in him and was a great piece of advice to him. I think that was important to him and his family. that he played and what an amazing performance. can’t say enough positive things about it. so happy for him. what a great way to honor someone who played a big part of her life doing this for her on Saturday.”

On a more impressive goal line stands alongside the defense

“Well, I think the game in the first half is 14-0 and South Florida is going the length of the field, and they’ve got it inside the five-yard line. Julius ( Wood) makes a nice strip of Gerry (Bohanon) and Xavier (Smith) gets him in the pile right there. It was a huge turning point in the game as they get ready to shoot to make it 14-7, we get the ball there on the two-yard line and we score three plays later to make it 21-0 Obviously it’s a huge momentum there in the first half and then there in the fourth quarter , that’s as big as it gets with 8:06 to go. Looks like Michel (Dukes) scored to cut it down to 13. They’re looking at it, it’s not quite in, so they’ve got it on the six-inch line and for us to get up and turn them on the downs in combination with the attack’s ability to get off the goal line in that situation? That was the game. I’m going to be hon Head on, I still didn’t feel comfortable with the match being put aside yet. I don’t think anyone did it because we prepared the team with our own hands. They obviously would have kicked into play, or I felt like they would have had eight minutes to go, but to be able to turn it right there and the attack respond with a six-and-a-half-minute drive to not ever returning the ball is awesome too. I think that sequence at the end of the game was the story.”

On Julius Wood forced groping

“It was called pressure. Julius was the edge blitzer at the back and so he leans hard all the way. He’s responsible for trying to chase anything that gets away from him and anything that comes towards him he should blast him I think that’s a good play call and I think it just shows his athletic ability and his tenacity to take him down Not only put him down but we work him a lot and he it takes a lot to run in that frame to hit the ball while he’s doing the tackle.”

On Rahjai Harris’ season-ending injury

“He is obviously very disappointed like us, and my heart sank for him on the pitch on Saturday. Deep down I knew that, but we wanted to get the test results to confirm that. got behind him. I think that’s a good word for it. He and I had a few talks. I talked to his parents. We’re going to support him. He’s such a human person, so I’m probably more worried about him mentally than physically”. He will fully recover. He will wear purple and gold and be a big player for us again, but not tomorrow. My biggest concern right now is making sure we get him back healthy and mentally supporting him through this process. He’s just an amazing young man. There is so much more to him than his game on the pitch. He means a lot to this team and this team means a lot to him, so he will always have a positive impact on our roster throughout the rest of the season. It will be just in different ways.

On the running back room stepping up

“Well, a lot of it is obviously going to fall on Keaton (Mitchell) and rightly so. Just like when they were both healthy. I think in college football you have to play multiple fullbacks. We felt good going into last Saturday’s game with Marlon (Gunn Jr.) He had a great week of practice and I felt very comfortable with him carrying the load he was carrying. very positive. He will have more on his shoulders. (Kamarro) Edmonds has continued to improve throughout the year and he will have weight on his shoulders. I think he is prepared for this and excited for this “You’ll have other guys who will have opportunities. That’s why you build depth. What I tell players all the time is that you never know when you’re going to get your chance. We all remember the day we got our first shot and you just gotta make sure you prepare for that shot. There are going to be guys who are going to have their opportunities here on balance of the season.”

On by Marlon Gunn Jr. pass blocking ability

“I think he did a really good job on Saturday. He was paired up with linebackers a couple of times. He was paired up with a lineman once and showed up and did a great job. He’ll have to keep going. improve that piece. It’s always the piece that young people struggle with a bit, but I think he did a good job on Saturday. I think the only thing with him, obviously, is that he’s got a lot of god given ability and that’s why we signed him but for him to be as prepared as he was at the start of his career i think that’s a testament to his work ethic , his drive and his character. The reason he has improved so much so quickly in the first five weeks of the season is because every day he pushes himself in training. He pushes himself in everything. what he does and that’s really what you want to use to encourage other young players is if you app lick every day and you have that drive and drive, you’ll make great strides early in your career.”

On Tulane’s Defense

“I think Nick (Anderson) and Dorian (Williams) both stand out for me on film. I remember Nick from 2020 and I was like, ‘Wow, he’s a pretty special player.’ I think they’re very solid defensively on all three levels, but I think those two linebackers are probably the heart and soul of this defense Nick obviously had a great game last week They’re both having a great year this year will be part of our challenge on Saturday.”

On by Keaton Mitchell status

“We were optimistic last week that he would be ready to go on Saturday, but we just didn’t feel comfortable after the pre-game warm-ups. Given our confidence in Marlon (Gunn Jr.), we thought it best to go with Rahjai (Harris) and Marlon last week. We fully expect Keaton to be back this week.”

On the status of kicker competition

“Competition is open every week. I mean with all of our players. Some guys are a little more grounded than others but there’s always competition. You look at a lot of factors – the snap, the grip and the kick It’s not always just the kick. So I think there are things we can do better in terms of executing on that extra point that we missed last Saturday. I think Owen ( Daffer) had a very solid week of training last week. I continue to cheer him on and train him as I do for everyone. I am delighted that Carson (Smith) is finally back in good health for that he can start working for the competition again. I think that will help Owen, but there is always competition.

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