FROM LAS VEGAS -- Here's a sampling of coach Mike Leach's comments following his team's 35-27 win over UNLV here tonight. Read on.
"We did some good things and had contributions from offense, defense and special teams. We were explosive, we still gave up some explosives. We need to get better on third down, both sides of the ball, and I think one of the biggest things is we need to rise together. One side gets them against the ropes, the other side needs to respond and we need to be a little better when the meat’s on the table."
(When did Connor know he'd start?) "He had a pretty good idea in the middle of the week."
"I thought he played good. For a guy that hadn’t played football for a long time, thought he played good. Obviously, two balls he’d like to have back, one he threw behind a guy, the other one he just threw it off his back foot. I thought really calm for a guy that hadn't played a game. I think his demeanor was really good."
(On the personnel in the defensive backfield) "I don’t know. We need to rethink some of that. I don’t know for sure. They were throwing some balls. We’ve just got to go out and play better in the secondary. Some of that stuff was just wasy too easy. We’ve got to be tougher. Some of those kids in the secondary talk about being tough. They need to start proving it. So we just need to coach 'em up. Me as head coach and everybvody else ... we need to get more out of 'em."
(On the penalties down the stretch) "I’ll have to look at some of those, but the thing is we need to be tougher in the fourth quarter. It’s about as simple as that. I thought we played hard and did some good things and then our technique breaks down. We need to quit entertaining fatigue. I think we tell ourselves we’re fatigued long before we’re ever even actually fatigued. Part of being fatigued is a decision and everyboy goes out here and everybody’s tired. Big deal. Like the other guys on the other side aren’t tired? We’re jumping on the fatigue bandwagon way too quick. We need to be tougher."
(On third downs) "I think that’s the thing, both sides of the ball we’ve got to get better on third down. If you judge our performance on defense by first and second down, it’s really, really good, especially for a team where we’re at right now, but if you judge it on third downs it’s astronomically bad and we’ve got to get better at it."
(Did you have chances to put them away?) "Like about probably eight different times in the course of the game, no question."
(On play-calling late in the game) "Later in the game what I should have done, the important thing is get first downs. I ran it too much. I should have got first downs, line up and get first downs. Run if it’s appropriate, but get first downs. We’ve got to be tough enough to not hold at key times late in the game. At key times latae in the game, we’re holding way too much and it’s a major toughness issue. It’s not anything but one thing, toughness. And right now we’re not tough enough to not hold late in the game."
(On Bucannon's late hit) "I didn’t get a good look at it. I didn’t think it was late."
(Who's your quarterback now?) "As always, suspense, why do people watch games, because of suspense, because they want to know what’s going to happen. I’m not a guy that tells people the ending to a movie if they haven’t seen it and I’m certainly not going to share that with you. If you want to know how it turns out, you’ve got to come see the movie."
(Did Connor make a case for himself?) "Connor played really well today. I thought he did a good job."
(Why didn't Dan Spitz make the trip?) "Personal issues. I expect he will be (at practice), yeah."
(On Taylor Taliulu not playing much) "Not sure how much he played. (I) like Taylor a lot, think he’s going to be a great player. Looking forward to what’s in store for Taylor’s future."
(Is Dan Spitz's absence class-related, as Clay McGuire said?) "If they were personal problems, by definition they’re personal which means that I’m specifically not going to share them with anybody other than those involved with it being personal. Dan Spitz is doing just fine as far as you’re concerned and anything else beyond that is personal."