Countdown to Kickoff
Coach Mike Shula's USM Game Week Press Conference Transcript


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Coach Mike Shula
Mike Shula

“(We’re) getting ready for week two. (We) start practice today with a lot on our minds with the preparation it’s going to take to play a well-prepared Southern Miss football team, a team that always, traditionally is very, very good, not only throughout the season but especially early in the year. They know a lot about us. We know a lot about them. They’ve had a little more time to prepare, unfortunately for them though, they’ve had to move and get up and have had some adverse circumstances with their football team (due to Hurricane Katrina).

But this to me is going to be a game where we are going to have to be at our best because Southern Miss is very well-coached. They’ve got talent in all areas of the game defensively. The corner (John) Eubanks is a guy that is one of the best cover corners around. He’s one of the fastest guys. (Trevis) Coley their safety makes a lot of plays, especially in the passing game. He’s actually been in and out playing the linebacker position with his brother Kevis Coley at the linebacker position.

Special teams-wise they’re talking about having their best kicker-punter-returner combination ever, and a lot of people are talking about that combination being maybe as good as there is in the country.

Offensively, this will be the first time we play them with Dustin Almond as the quarterback, and we all know what he can do. He’s been very productive in his career. Also their receiver (Antwon) Courington, number 80, has been very, very productive, too.

We’ve got a shorter time than what we had to prepare for Middle Tennessee. We’ve got to realize that. We’ve got to have three good days of practice and really focus in on Southern Miss because they give you a lot of looks.

Injury wise, Freddie Roach will be questionable for the game. Mark Sanders will be questionable for the game right now. Terrence Jones is another one. They’re all three questionable.”

Just a follow-up on Freddie,  you’d said Saturday night you didn’t think it would require surgery?
“Right. He won’t have surgery, correct.”

“He’s going to have some pain this week, but, hopefully as the week goes on it will be better. Questionable means we think he’s going to play, we hope he’s going to play but we’re not quite sure.”

For a team with two new coordinators, how do you prepare for them, especially on the defensive side where it’s a guy who’s been in the system in the past but is now coming back in?
“It’s tough. It’s tough to prepare. You have to look at a little bit of his background, where he’s been. Of course he’s been here at Southern Miss and then left to go to Ole Miss and now came back, the defensive coordinator. And last week was a good example. The coordinator last week had been on the staff. He had been the coordinator but came out with a lot of different looks. Obviously they had worked on a lot of things over the course of the summer that were different from what we saw on tape. So we’ve got to be ready for what we saw on tape last year, but we’ve also got to be ready to make some changes if they show us some things differently. Southern Miss has been a very good opportunistic defense traditionally. They’re real good blitzers, and we’ve got to make sure we’re prepared. We got blitzed a little bit last week. But we’ve got to make sure we’re well-prepared for the blitz this week.”

Kyle Tatum was named the offensive player of the week for you guys. Can you talk a little bit about how he graded and what went into that selection?
“We were happy to see Kyle win that award. He definitely deserved it. He played as well as he’s played since he’s been here. Think about where he’s come from as a defensive tackle two years ago to last year being a first-time starter. Last week he came out and played real well in the running game, played with real good pad level, protected better. You can just kind of see his comfort level increasing. So we’re going to need that this week and each and every week after that. He’s become more mature and he’s also become more of a leader now. All of a sudden he’s one of our more experienced older guys after being brand new at the position last year. He and JB (Closner) have been very helpful for guys like Marlon Davis who came in and played a lot of snaps for us last week.”

Would you talk about Southern Miss’s front seven and if you think this is going to be a tougher test for the offensive line this week?
“They’ve got experience at the linebacker position. At the defensive line position, they’re not quite as experienced. They’ve lost some guys in the past. But, again, traditionally, they’ve always had real good defensive linemen who have a good combination of size and quickness. You tie that in with their personnel in with their scheme, what they like to do with their blitzes and they become very effective football players. Offensively we’re not quite as experienced on the offensive line as we have been in years past, but, the good news for us is we’ve got one game under our belt so guys, hopefully, like Chris Capps and Marlon Davis are going to be better this week than they were the first week now that they’ve played some.”

Coach, with the way that you substituted in the game on Saturday you obviously had a lot of new players. How much of that was by design, and how much is by how the game went on how many guys got in and so forth?
“If you think back to the game, probably the first three quarters and five minutes were pretty much by design, what we were looking into. And then some of those younger guys, especially in the offense, we got some of those younger guys in I think with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, the John Parker Wilson’s, the offensive line, some of those younger guys there that hadn’t played that much or hadn’t played at all. I think we played nine true freshmen. We had the guys on Sunday stand up, any guy that played for the first time, whether or not as a true freshman or redshirt freshman or hadn’t played before, and I think there were 18 or 19 guys who stood up who played for the first time Saturday.”