Quotables: Skip Holtz

East Carolina head coach Skip Holtz addressed members of the media prior to this week's game against NC State.

On The Tulane Game:
"I am really excited about having the opportunity to get out of there with a victory. It's a great win for us. It gives us a 1-0 start in the conference, which is exciting and was one of our goals that we talked about in the off season. I'm really excited for our players to have the opportunity to come out of there with a win.

"Tulane is a very talented team. I was very impressed with them on film and watching some of the things they had been doing, and I think I was even more impressed after playing them in person. Bob Toledo has done a great job there. He's got a great product on the field and I think they will continue to get better, as long as they can stay healthy."

On The Offense Against Tulane:
"When you look at our game and our team, it was kind of like a tale of two cities. I don't think we played very well on offense or had very good execution. We turned the ball over with our three fumbles. I believe we had four fumbles the entire season last year and we had three in this game alone with Brandon Simmons, Jonathan Williams and Patrick Pinkney. We also threw an interception counting for all four turnovers.

"The worst part about it was that we had four turnovers in our end of the field as Tulane started five times inside of our 40-yard-line. When you look at the roughing the punter mistake and the four turnovers, we put our defense with a short field with their backs against the wall almost all day. It was really unfair to them.

"The one thing I was really proud of offensively was when it was time to play, and they were really challenged and had to make a play, they really stood up. I thought they did a great job in a couple of crucial situations. The first was at the end of the first half; to get down the field, get into field goal range and have the opportunity to score was great. The other was in the third quarter, to get out and score as fast as we did. We scored 21 points in the third quarter. Finally, coming back in the fourth quarter when we had to go 80 yard with 5:59 left, they took the ball, went all the way down and put the ball in the end zone.

"Some guys really stepped up. I thought Jamar Bryant and Dwayne Harris played extremely well all day. Patrick Pinkney did not have one of his better days. I can tell you how spoiled we're getting with him, though. When you look at it and you're standing on the sidelines, you're thinking `Patrick is not playing well and he's not doing the things he has been doing.' But when the day is over, he completed 70 percent of his passes, which is probably higher than anybody else we've had here. So I think we're getting spoiled a little bit with Patrick's play, but he really played well down the stretch. I thought, offensively, as a whole, they really competed and did some good things down the stretch. But like I said, I do not think we executed very well at all."

On The Defense Against Tulane:
"It was probably one of our better performances that we've had here, outside of three big pass plays that we gave up. If you take those three away, I think our defense played probably one of their best games. We have to get some things straight in the secondary as we were tested a little more last week than we were in the first two weeks. We have to get some of those things corrected, but I think our front seven played outstanding."

On The Kicking Game Against Tulane:
"I was really pleased with the way we covered. We took a lot of starters off our kicking game because we're trying to get Van Eskridge, Pierre Bell, Jeremy Chambliss and Davon Drew off the special teams because they're playing so much on offense and defense for us. We're trying to give young players like Cliff Perryman, Steve Spence and Chris Mattocks the opportunity to really step up on special teams. After the first two weeks, as physical as they were, we tried to work in these younger guys and I really think they did a nice job covering the field on punts and kickoffs. We had a pretty good day on special teams outside of the one mistake that we made."

On Injuries:
"We've had three very physical games, and unfortunately, with very physical games come injuries. We did sustain two major blows to what we're doing right now on the offensive side of the ball.

"Stanley Bryant, who was our starting left tackle and arguably one of our best offensive players, is out with a knee injury. He has been such a staple for us and a solid foundation on the left side over the past 12-13 games that he has played. It has really hurt a little bit to take him out. I thought Terence Campbell and D.J. Scott did a great job. We moved Terence over during the game and I thought, for not practicing there at all, Terrance did a pretty good job at the left tackle.

"The other injury is Quentin Cotton, also with a knee. It looks like he will be done for the season, which is really unfortunate because he probably played the best half of football any player has played since I have been here. We keep a `bonus point' statistic for our players and to have a great game is to have 20 bonus points and Quentin Cotton had 38 in the first half. It's just unfortunate that he got his knee in an awkward position and it bent in a way it's not supposed to bend. I feel terrible for Quentin, as a senior and as a leader. He will be missed much more than just as a football player on this team. He was the one that called the team meeting right before the game Saturday and started telling everybody how important this game was, the focus required and really got everybody going. It's just a shame. It's one of the things that really breaks your heart in sports, when you see somebody who has come as far as Quentin Cotton has, and to see all the positive things he has done on and off the field, and to see this taken away from him. He's having a hard time with it right now.

"Another injury is T.J. Lee with a foot injury, we're getting some x-rays taken but we do not know the extent at this point. Khalif Mitchell has a turf toe. Neither of those players practiced last night and we'll just have to see how they come along throughout the week. At this point, they'd probably be questionable.

"Pierre Bell has a back injury, Jeremy Chambliss has a knee injury and Leon Best has an ankle injury. They also did not practice last night and will probably be limited throughout the week. I would expect them to be good to go for Saturday."

On N.C. State:
"This is a rival game. This is a game that we're excited to have the opportunity to play, especially since it's the closest game on our schedule, only being an hour away. We have the opportunity to bump heads with N.C. State from a recruiting standpoint as well.

"We played them the last couple of years and we're extremely excited to play them again. I don't care what the records are. People talk about them being 1-2, but they came in here at 1-5 last year and beat us 34-20. The records are absolutely irrelevant.

"This is a very talented football team. Over the past couple of years, we have tried to recruit most of the players currently on their roster. When I turn and look at their talent and the game film from last year, I know that we've got one heck of a challenge. We certainly have to play better than we did last week. I think it's going to take more of an effort like we put together for West Virginia if we want to have a chance to go over there and have a chance to be successful."

On N.C. State's Offense:
"I look at their left tackle, Julian Williams, who I remember recruiting. He's a great young man and a great player. He was one of our No. 1 prospects that we had ear-marked for that year to come in here and help us. He's an anchor for them at left tackle.

"Everybody on their offensive line is a junior or senior, so they're very experienced. They have two upperclassmen, who they moved in the spring from defensive linemen over to be the guard and the center and I think they've done a nice job. It's very similar to what we did in our first year when we moved Chris Sellers and Guy Whimper from the defensive line over to the offensive line.

"I know they're [Coaching Staff] trying to put their thumbs in some holes as they walk into a program. I know they're trying to put their best players on the field and I have been very impressed with some of the moves they have made. I think they've improved their football team.

"I have also been really impressed with Russell Wilson, their quarterback. He's very athletic and has a strong arm. He hasn't played very much after getting injured in the opener and then not playing in their second game. I think he's a very talented player. I don't think you can evaluate him based on just the Clemson game because of some of the things that Clemson defense does and the way it flies around. But I think he's an excellent football player.

"Andre Brown is, again, very talented. He's a hard runner, big, strong, physical and an upperclassman. Their two receivers, Jarvis Williams and Owen Spencer are tall, athletic, fast and talented players. They're going to give us fits. They're 6'3" and 6'4" and when you look at our cornerbacks, there is definitely a size mismatch walking into this game.

On N.C. State's Defense:
"When you look at them, I've been very impressed with Willie Young, the defensive end who gave us fits last year. I believe eight or nine of them are upperclassmen and the sophomores who are playing are some of their better players. They're very big and strong upfront and they move very well.

"Nate Irving, their middle linebacker, has great speed and is a great player. He is one of those younger players who is stepping up and being really productive for them. I have also been extremely impressed by their two corners, who are probably the best defensive backs we faced to this point. The strength of their defense is probably their pass coverage.

"I think they are the best tackling team that we faced all last year. I thought they did a great job of one-on-one tackles last year.

"This year they are leading the nation in interceptions and are very athletic and quick. They came in here last year and held us to two yards per carry, 70 yards rushing and they threw for 335 yards against us. You can go on and on about the statistics and what this team did to us a year ago when we played them. It's definitely not one you look at and say, `well we're 3-0 and they're 1-2.' The schedules and records are absolutely irrelevant and this is a game that we're very excited about stepping in and playing."

On The National Polls:
"I don't think what we've done to this point is relevant. As I continue to say, the polls will take care of themselves. We're not worried about those. I think there's one poll that matters, and that's the one that comes out in December. That's the one we'll talk about and the one that we're striving for. We can't get there today and the only way we can get there is by turning and facing each opponent week by week and that's what we're trying to do."

On The Excitement of This Week:
"I think we've got to have a really good focus this week in order to go 1-0. I think this is a game that our players are really excited about playing. They're revved up for this one. There's a little bit more energy in these rivalry and geographic games. The spirit is a little bit higher in practice, the attitude is a little bit more upbeat and everybody has a little bit more peep in their step and we're excited about having the opportunity to go over to Raleigh and play."

On The Impact Of Cotton's Injury To The Defense:
"I think Pierre Bell has been playing so well at the middle linebacker that we're going to leave him there. Nick Johnson played all three positions Saturday and he'll go to the strong side linebacker now. We lose one great player, arguable one of our best on defense, and I don't want to lose two by moving Pierre and making him less comfortable. Right now Nick Johnson will step up.

"I'm probably more concerned about the depth because we've only been playing four linebackers in our first three games. We started Bell, Chambliss and Cotton and then Johnson has been the swing guy. He has come in and taken about 10 plays from each of those three guys so Johnson has averaged about 30 plays per game. I'm concerned, not only in losing Cotton, but all of a sudden Cliff Perryman, Melvin Patterson and Steve Spence find themselves in a position where they might have to turn and step in the game.

"Young players scare you because they're going to be eager, fired up and enthusiastic and they may go out there and play great. At the same time, you're worried that a mistake they might make could cost you the game. That's what concerns you. We have talked before about the depth at linebacker and the way those young guys have to come along. When you look at the first three games we've had, we haven't had many opportunities to get some reps because of the competitive games that we've been in. It's tough; you almost have to make yourself play them at this point. That's partly why I tried to get them in special teams so we could see how they might react out there on special teams instead of throwing them out there on defense to be in on 20 plays and maybe give up a big play."

On Reasons For Saturday's Turnovers:
"Brandon Simmons has been very good with the football and he had one on the screen pass. Jonathan Williams had one and Patrick Pinkney's was a little bit more due to pressure and he probably just made a poor decision at the time. Everybody was trying to make a play offensively at that point because we just could not get into a rhythm. Patrick was probably pressing and trying to make a play instead of just taking the sack. I don't think it was that we were way too loose with the football and we got exposed. We're going to continue to harp on it. I'm hoping it was just a one-time thing where we had all of our turnovers at once, instead of having one every game. We can have them in one game, come out with a win and be done with them."

On Tulane Being A "Trap" Game:
"A lot of people had mentioned Tulane as being a trap game, but I thought our team was extremely ready to play. I felt like they were focused and into it. I don't think we executed very well on offense, but it certainly wasn't that we were flat, down or just went through the motions out there. I felt, as a football team, we went out there ready to play and we knew it was going to be a heck of a challenge.

"One of the things that I think excited them about that game and brought a little more spark to that game was that it was the first conference game. The first two were huge wins for us, but now we're talking conference. That is something that has eluded us the past couple years and that is something we have really made a point of emphasis and I think that's something that really excited the players to play that game."

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