On this week's game at UNLV: "Obviously, it's a much different week than normal. The tragedy that's happened in Las Vegas has changed the feel of this game. I'm sure there are a lot of things that are going to be different at the game and at game time. I have no idea what's going on in Las Vegas, especially with their football team and what the atmosphere is but obviously it's going to be different than what we normally get ready for. Their football team is a very talented football team that started out slow but is getting better and better as they go. They played well last week and we're tied for first in the Western Division of our conference so the winner of this is one up on the other. So the game is important, but it's not nearly as important as everything else that's going on."
On how to keep the team focused on football: "Well, I think they have to be mature guys that can handle more than just one thing. I'm sure, I haven't heard yet, but I'm sure there's going to be some things done at the game or before the game that we'll be involved with. We'll be standing by watching them memorialize the situation for the folks that died and that sort of thing. I'm sure we'll be part of that so you have to prepare them for what's coming and they got to be responsible enough and mature enough and old enough to realize the importance of the event. But we always try to keep everything routine because if you keep everything routine, usually the results stay the same or you're more consistent on the football field. Obviously, we're not going to change practice or meeting times or how we get ready for the game or anything like that. We're going to get ready exactly the same way we always do."
On being ready for UNLV: "Well, I don't think you look at one game [UNLV's loss to Howard] and say that about anybody. I think they've played several games where they've played really well. Our guys are college football players and we're a college football team and there are upsets every single week. There are people that win games that aren't supposed to and there are people that lose games that aren't supposed to. That's the way of college football so I don't think that's an issue."
On how to address the situation in Las Vegas with the team: "Well, we're going to address it with the team as soon as we know what the plan is at the game. Obviously, all of them know what happened. I'm sure some of them have feelings about it, especially the five kids on our team that are from Las Vegas and I'm sure they feel it deeper than the rest of them do. But we'll address it when we know exactly what's going to happen at the game and what we're required to be a part of."
On if any UNLV coaching staff members have reached out about possibly wanting to be involved with a pregame ceremony: "Our administration is working with their administration on how the game is going to go but we're letting them take the lead. Obviously it's their community, it's their stadium so they're taking the lead on what's going to happen. They'll tell us what it is and we'll fall in line like we should."
On if there was conversation that the game should not be played: "I don't think so. I mean, if there was any conversation about it they didn't ask my opinion or they didn't ask me. So I don't think there was any consideration whatsoever of not having the game or not playing it there."
On how much he has adjusted his coaching style to adjust to the new-age player: "I don't think I have. We play music at practice, that's different than I used to do it. I don't think we coach them any different than we have in the past; We coach them exactly the same. I think you're able to recruit players that fit into your philosophy and the longer you're at a place, the more they fit in because they find out how it is and they don't come here if their philosophy doesn't fit yours. So I don't think we've changed at all how we coach them."
On why the players have been so accepting of his philosophy: "I believe that they came here because of that. I mean, we've been in that philosophy for how long now, nine, 10 years? It seems like a long time. Nine or 10 years it's been the philosophy around here so every kid in our program knows what he's getting in to and he likes that way of playing football and wants to be a part of it."
On new expectations for the program: "Well, I thought going into the season that the expectations were out of sight given how young and immature our football team was. And obviously when you win a few games the expectation level increases because you're only as good as your last game. As many people that want to see you successful, there's just as many and probably a whole lot more that want to see you fall. So any type of negative vibe they can develop, people try to develop negative vibes to hurt your chance of being successful. I think that's the way it is in athletics. I think there's more people that don't want to see you win then there are people that want to see you win."
On how close the team is to being the best it can be: "We're not even close to where I think we can be. We're not playing very well right now. I mean, people may think I'm lying, but I'm not lying. We're not playing very well right now, we're playing just like a young football team plays. We make a lot of mistakes but the players have a great spirit, they play really hard, they think they're going to win and somehow they're finding a way to win. Now, that's a pretty good situation, I think we're going to get better. We obviously got to get better. Injuries are starting to hurt us a little now. It hurt us last week in the offensive line as we got younger instead of older. So if the injury bug doesn't hit us hard, our team will continue to get better. Win or lose, we're going to continue to get better."
On senior wide receiver Mikah Holder's targeting penalty that got him ejected from the win against NIU: "Oh, it was isn't intentional whatsoever. He was making a play. He was blocking for a guy that was carrying the ball. Was it the right call? Probably. In this day and age with the rules the way they are, it was probably the right call. Five or six years ago, everybody would have been celebrating what a great block it was. So obviously you have to play within the rules, but it wasn't intentional whatsoever. In fact, it was very close to being a legal block."
On how to coach the targeting penalty: "They have to learn from experience. I mean, they watch TV, too. They watch a lot of games on TV and they see what's called as targeting and what's not called as targeting. They know the rules and I don't think he intentionally tried to target the guy. In fact, his shoulder hit him in the chest. The initial contact was legal and his helmet happened to bump into the other guy's helmet and all of a sudden, it's targeting and you're out of the game. It's tough to play football the way they're making them play football now, it really is. They're trying to make it touch. Well, guess what? The game is not touch."
On wide receivers having an advantage in the modern rules of football: "Well, I would say it protects us more as receivers but then you have a hit like Mikah's last week, a hit I've seen playing football my whole life and I see why they called it. It was the right call, but that kind of stuff changes the way you approach some things. At the end of the day, there are some things that guys can't not do. They can't control if they're going to hit them in the head in that split second. So it all depends on the tempo of the game and how the referees are calling it."
On getting your mind ready to play football going to UNLV: "First off, it's terrible what happened there and we're sending prayers out to all the families and those that were affected by it. We're going to be happy to do anything we can when we get there. I'm sure they'll do something pregame or postgame just to honor those families and be with them so it's definitely a thought in your mind but we still have to prepare the way we do and go out there and get ready to play football."
On the thought of not playing this game: "This type of stuff is much bigger than football and a lot of things go on like that and the NFL will have a game. I think it kind of brings people together for the most part so I'm always for it. I love playing the game and I think it's a good escape for us to get away from a lot of things. It really does bring us all together."
On wide receivers having an advantage in the modern rules of football: "It definitely puts us in a tough spot being defensive backs and defensive players in general because there are so many times when you've got a guy lined up for a "kill shot" but you've got to take into consideration how you can hit him and how you can't hit him now, so it's definitely different than it used to be."
On if you have to watch what you're doing because of a possible penalty: "I feel like plays like that happen so fast that you don't really have time to take that into consideration because I know when we were in high school, targeting wasn't a thing back then so we were the last generation to play that style and be able to take those hits. But it happens so quickly out there, it's something you work on in practice. Coaches are always telling you to not lead with your head and not lunge for dudes but when you're out there in the game and your emotions are flowing and it's happening so fast, you don't have time to really take into consideration, `oh, I've got to let up right here.' It's definitely hard though. You've seen a couple that are really bad, taking a guy's head off completely but Mikah got a good hit on him. I don't know what else you're really supposed to do right there. Do they want him to set a pick on him? It's hard. Thankfully, we still won the game but losing Mikah definitely hurt."
On getting your mind ready to play football going to UNLV: "Like Quest said, thoughts and prayers to everyone out there. I'm sure Quest knew some people, I knew some people that were at that concert. Tyler Morris had a friend from high school that passed away in the event unfortunately so it's bigger than football at that point. As far as this week, we're still preparing like it's another game on our schedule but I'm assuming when we get out there it will be a different vibe and we'll probably feel it out there. It's been locker room talk the last couple of days but that's obviously something you can't not talk about. Once we're out at practice, though, it's pretty much just football."