pMASON'S GENERAL COMMENTS
"Well, as always, I'll just take a few minutes and give you my thoughts about the previous game. I don't know quite how to say this, but I would best describe our performance against Ohio University as average. Is that good? No. Is that bad? I guess not. But, I just know that where we are in our program and where we're trying to go, we've always have got to be better than average. Maybe some teams can be average and expect to get by, but I don't think we can. I think that from an individual standpoint, we went through the personnel evaluations of our team all the way through when you talk about them as units, offense, defense and kicking, that's the word that came up the most often, was average."
"Some negative things, as I well documented and if you saw the game, we had way too many missed tackles. You can't play, it's impossible to play good defense if you're not tackling well and we did not tackle very well. We had a chance to get out a series early in the game twice on plays that we didn't get out because of a missed tackle that we didn't even come close on. From a positive standpoint, I thought our defense responded well to turnovers. When they were put in a bad situation they responded to it well. Needless to say, we played better in the second half than we did in the first half. I was very pleased that we didn't give up any home runs. The previous week, Ohio University had gone for 68, 71 and 80 yards - home runs against Iowa State."
"I thought that we executed the game plan on offense. We adjusted a little bit and really went into a conservative mode by design. But in doing that we were able to execute it effectively. We eliminated the foolish penalties that had been plaguing us early in games. Our perimeter blocking left a lot to be desired - wide receivers and anybody on the perimeter really."
"Probably most concerning was I thought our intensity level wasn't what it should be. Why? I don't have that answer. I'm not really sure, but I guess I didn't think we were up to our normal level there which we better be."
"This week we play Louisiana-Lafayette. As you know, we played them last year down in Lafayette and came away with a 35-11 victory. They are winless on this year so far, but they have played pretty well. And you can't help but at least be impressed in their performance in the opener against South Carolina in front of 82,000-plus fans."
"So this week, it's kind of a basic approach for us. I'm always one of those guys that when I don't think that things are going as well as I'd like, we go back to basics, regardless of who we are going to play. I know that we have to be more intense as we approach this game. Not more intense in practice. We had a great week of practice. I don't know when we've ever practiced better than we did last week. But I mean the mental approach as we get ready to play the football game on Saturday night, we have to have it in our mind that we have to be more intense as a football team."
"Our basic fundamentals of football have to be better. A big part of that is tackling has to be better. And we need to get some big plays on our offense. We're pretty consistent, but to be a good offensive team you have to be able to blend consistency with big plays, and I don't think we're getting those big plays. We're not hitting any home runs. We're getting some doubles, but we need some homeruns."
Question: What kind of advantage is it to have a player like Thomas Tapeh that can carry the ball but block too?
"It's great. I've been very pleased with Thomas Tapeh as I've been really pleased with all those running backs. If you look at us, you say `oh they don't have any good running backs' because they all have a little over 100 yards or between 100-200 yards a piece. But there's no one sitting there after three games with 300-400 yards. But those guys really typify what we're all about, and it's about team. And they recognize that all those guys are playing. I don't really care who starts because you know they're going to play. I'm not going to play favorites. I love all those guys. I guess the motivation is that if you line up from first and goal from the line and can't get it in, then in comes the next guy.
"But to answer the question more directly, I think Thomas Tapeh is a physical specimen. To be 230-some pounds and bench press what he does and be able to run the ball strong and be able to block, he probably could play defense if we put him over there. I'm not planning on doing that."
Question: The combination of the running backs with the offensive line, does this have to potential to be the bet running game that you've had since you've been here?
"The answer would be yes, because I think our line is that best hat we've had and with the running backs we've got more depth there and probably a higher ability than we've ever had before. But to be able to do that is going to rest back on the execution of the offense. Run and pass. Because if you become one-dimentional, you can't against the folks that we're going to play. It's hard when you're two-dimentional to move the ball against some of the people that we're going to play in this league."
Question: Are there areas with one week to go until Big Ten play starts that you see need to improve in?
"I mentioned a number of those things already. It's an ongoing thing. If all of a sudden, in my estimation as a coach, if you say the non-conference ends this week, next week we get down to business - you're making a big mistake. The old saying of you're either getting better or you're getting worse I think is so true. I always keep going back to the basic fundamentals of football. I can't do anything about their talent, but if I make them fundamentally better and we become a fundamentally better football team, and a lot of things go into that, then we should be better. As good as we can be."
Question: Anybody that's really surprised you?
"I am amazed at the improvement of Benji Kamrath at quarterback. I really wish he had another year. I wish he wasn't a fifth-year guy because we'd like to have him back next year. He's been a pleasant surprise. Not in just these three weeks, but since spring practice and everything. I guess you'd have to say Jared Ellerson has been a surprise because, to be frank with you, I was ready to start this season in a wishbone offense because I didn't think our receivers could be one of the best 11 guys on the field. But they came back and he's one of the guys that's doing pretty well out there."