Ruffin McNeill Press Conference: Tulane

GREEENVILLE, N.C. — Ruffin McNeill met with reporters for his weekly press conference Monday to talk about the Tulane Green Wave.

Here is the complete transcription from head coach Ruffin McNeill’s press conference Monday.

Opening Statement:

“I knew we were going up to play against a tough team in Cincinnati. We knew it was going to be a game of big plays. We had opportunities last week. I thought we made adjustments, stayed in the game, fought back and made some plays to give us a chance and an opportunity to win. On all three sides of the ball, we missed some chances, so it was very disappointing because of the effort the kids put in. One of the things after a loss like that, to be down at halftime, give up a touchdown right after the half, but fight back to take the lead, is really exhausting. This team has invested a lot, but it was a shootout and we knew it had a chance to be because of the weapons they have and the weapons we have.

“We divide our seasons into quarters and we are in our fourth quarter. It’s almost like a boxing match to us right now. We have three rounds left in this boxing match and that fourth quarter. The first punch will be Tulane this week. Having that time off after Thursday’s disappointing loss, it was good to get away for the coaches and players as well. Last night, it was absolutely one of the best times to be around our kids. All of us were ready to get on the field and get back at it. We’re all looking forward and not looking back. When you look back, that’s the direction you’ll be going, so our eyes are forward and will stay there.

“I thought we improved in a lot of areas when you look at the film. I know the final score was there, but within the game, a lot of things happened. We emphasized penalties last week and that was corrected. We emphasized turnovers defensively and that happened with four. Offensively with ball security – on the last one we were just trying to make a play. Before that last play, I thought our coverage teams did what we asked them to do. We were penalty-free on special teams. Those were the things we talked about.

“The ability to fight back and be resilient with this team has been here for the last three or four years. They’ll bounce back and they bounced back last night, so now it’s time to get dialed in for this week, and they did last night getting ready for Tuesday’s practice. This is the last normal week we will have. We’re looking forward to being home. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in Dowdy-Ficklen (Stadium) and in front of our family, friends and the Pirate Nation. I have no doubt our team will be ready to play. None. No doubt.

“Regarding Tulane, C.J. (Curtis Johnson) has done a good job building his team and I think what you will see is C.J. taking over New Orleans a little bit more. C.J. was a great recruiter at Miami and was there for a long time with the Hurricanes. When they won a national championship, he left to go to The League (NFL) and won a Super Bowl with the Saints there. The thing I like about this league is the competition. Coach (Jeff) Compher sent me an e-mail from Commissioner Aresco and I responded back to him and thanked him. The e-mail was about how this league and the competitiveness between the teams is a challenge. I love that part of it. Every game is a challenge and I like it.

“Defensively, just like last year. Nico Marley is a really good football player. He’ll be at linebacker, really active. For Tulane, Tanzel Smart, up front, we saw him do some things last year. He is a guy who has great foot quickness. Lorenzo Doss – it feels like he’s been there forever on the back end. At quarterback position, Tanner Lee is a redshirt freshman. He has a really strong arm. C.J. is going with him and getting him valuable reps. They have a two-back rotation at running back with Sherman Badie and Lazedrick Thompson. Lazedrick is a pounder and a powerful guy, and Sherman is a really quick redshirt freshman. The receivers are talented. Justyn Shackleford and a true freshman, Teddy Veal, are very good athletes. On special teams, they’re very athletic. We’re looking forward to our preparation.”

On The Message To The Team After Its First Back-to-Back Losses Since 2011:

“Both losses were different in my mind. The Temple loss was turnovers and we didn’t operate well. This game was a game of opportunities and we no doubt had opportunities that we missed. The first thing I told them was to get their heads up. There is a lot of season left and a lot to accomplish. What happens is you may get stuck on one goal and think that’s it, but that’s not how we do it. That’s not a proper way to do it. I think the proper way, for us, is to have a number of goals. We still have a number of goals that we are shooting for. Getting ready for Tulane is one of them. This mission of the team and staying focused is always at the forefront. It’s tough when you look at guys like Shane (Carden) who took it tough, but the season is not over yet. We have three games left and a bowl game. That’s four games, so let’s go fight. Let’s play.”

On The Team’s First Seven Day Break Before A Home Game In Nearly One Month:

“At practice, the excitement automatically picked up. We realized it is going to be a game and we are home. We don’t have to travel. The excitement was definitely there, especially among the old guys. Reps become finite for the old guys. They have two games left in Dowdy-Ficklen, ever. There are 70 plays, on average, per game. So that’s 140 plays. That’s how you think having gone through it. I can remember counting my reps. A freshman may think his reps are infinite, (but) those old guys know. They cherish coming home to playing in front of our family. I expect them to show up these next two games and show the country what we talk about.”

On Reflecting Back Or Thinking About Payback For Last Year’s Loss In The Superdome:

“No, I don’t do it that way. I look at Tulane as a chance to get back on the field and get a win. It’s about being ready to get that taste (winning) back in our mouths. These guys are used to winning and they have a chance to accomplish some things as a group of seniors that may have never been done before. The preparation that gives us a chance to be successful on Saturday is what I’ll focus on, but I won’t bring up anything that happened last year.”

On Tulane’s 70 Tackles-For-Loss And How To Stay Ahead Of The Chains On Saturday:

“It’s going to be very important. We felt that last week. They attacked a lot last year, so it’s going to be very important when we talk about getting first downs. We have a session in fall camp where we practice first down and second down. Rick (Smith) will speak with the entire team about the importance of having a successful second down, and Lincoln (Riley) will talk to the team about having a great first down, which determines your second down calls. It’s going to be very vital that we have great first down production.”

On If It Helps Being Familiar With The Next Two Opponents As Opposed To The First Five Conference Games:

“Yeah, a little bit. Just knowing the players and coaches, and having coached against them, we know how competitive they are. We still have to watch the film because both Bill (Blankenship) and C.J. have made some adjustments offensively and defensively, schematically.”

--------- Injury Report ---------

OUT –DE Demage Bailey (right knee), WR Trevon Brown (left knee)

LONG-TERM: WR DaQuan Barnes (back), ILB Desi Brown (left lower leg), OLB Kirk Donaldson (right knee), TE Darren Dowdell (left leg), OL Christian Matau (left knee), ILB Devaris Brunson (right knee)

---------- Depth Chart --------------

OFFENSE:

Outside Wide Reciever (X): Cam Worthy (Reserves: Terrell Green)

Inside Wide Receiver (H): Isaiah Jones (Reserves: Cedric Thompson, Quay Johnson)

Left Tackle: Ike Harris (Reserves: Stewart Hinson)

Left Guard: Quincy McKinney (Reserves: Will Foxx)

Center: Taylor Hudson (Reserves: C.J. Struyk)

Right Guard: J.T Boyd (Reserves: Tre Robertson)

Right Tackle: Dontae Levingston (Reserves: Brandon Smith)

Quarterback: Shane Carden (Reserves: Kurt Benkert)

Running Back: Breon Allen OR Chris Hairston OR Marquez Grayson

Inside Wide Receiver: Justin Hardy (Reserves: Bryce Williams)

Outside Wide Receiver: Davon Grayson (Reserves: Jimmy Williams OR Brandon Bishop)

DEFENSE:

Defensive End: Johnathan White (Reserves: K’Hadree Hooker)

Nose Tackle: Terry Williams (Reserves: Demetri McGill OR K’Hadree Hooker)

Defensive End: Chrishon Rose (Reserves: Fred Presley OR K’Hadree Hooker)

Outside (SAM) Linebacker: Montese Overton (Reserves: Dayon Pratt)

Inside (MIKE) Linebacker: Zeek Bigger (Reserves: Cameron White OR Joe Carter)

Inside (BUCK) Linebacker: Brandon Williams (Reserves: Ray Tillman)

Outside (WILL) Linebacker: Maurice Falls (Reserves: Joe Allely, Jake Geary)

Field Cornerback: Josh Hawkins (Reserves: DaShaun Amos, Rocco Scarfone)

Strong Safety: Lamar Ivey (Reserves: Terrell Richardson)

Free Safety: Domonique Lennon (Reserves: Travon Simmons)

Boundary Cornerback: Detric Allen (Reserves: Dashawn Benton)

SPECIALISTS:

Placekicker: Warren Harvey (Reserves: Davis Plowman)

Holder: Worth Gregory (Reserves: Isaiah Jones)

Punter: Worth Gregory (Reserves: Davis Plowman)

Snapper: Charlie Coggins (Reserves: Colton Oliver)

Punt returner: Justin Hardy (Reserves: Trevon Brown)

Kickoff returner: Trevon Brown (Reserves: Breon Allen OR Quay Johnson)


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