Faltering in a 22-7 defeat at home against East Carolina, the Florida Atlantic football team will stay in Boca Raton as they get ready to host their last game of the season against the nationally-ranked Tulane Green Wave on November 18th.
Head coach Tom Herman (pictured via Bob Markey II) spoke with media on Monday to evaluate the current state of the team and their preparations against the Green Wave.
Below are some of the highlights from the session.
Opening statement on how the team performed against East Carolina
"Not a whole lot of opening remarks other than we're not good enough. We've proven over the last two weeks we're not good enough for one side of the football to carry us against UAB. Obviously the offense was clicking and the defense struggled early, but was really proud of the way that they got off the mat and perform the way that they performed against East Carolina and the offense played one of their worst. This is about myself and our staff uncovering every rock and every nugget of motivation that we have from our past because for whatever reason, and we have some thoughts obviously, it's what's kept us up at night as a staff, we had not come out of the game very strong these last two games and put ourselves in a position that is very difficult to overcome."
"That's probably the biggest thing that that we've got to work on this week is we prepare for one of the gold standards in our conference and a top 25 team with a great coaching staff and great quarterback coming to our house and we've got to find a way to play at our best in all three phases on a much more consistent level, and it starts with me. It starts with our coaches and I think everybody in our program needs to have some accountability when it comes to that."
Herman on deciding to be more hands-on with the offensive play-calling
"No. I've done what I do in all but two years as a head coach. Very involved in the game-planning, very involved in game day adjustments/thoughts. But am I going to sit there and say, "Dallas right on Z fly, 28 Toss, crack naked X reverse?" No. I'm not going to do that. I may say, "hey, Charlie, think about the reverse." But I'm not going to be the every down play-caller ever. I mean, nothing will change in terms of my involvement in the offense."
"And trust me, I can't play and even if I could, FAU wouldn't want me to. For a head coach, game day is a lot of cheerleading and making sure you use your timeouts wisely. That's about it. But Sunday through Friday is really important for me. And I'm involved in all phases of the game."
Describing the nagging pain RB Larry McCammon III has been going through
"I don't know if he's 81.2% or 79.3% of full capacity, but he's definitely not there. He has been really banged up to the point where he almost doesn't practice all week and we kind of duct tape him up, lube him up, oil him up, and get him ready for game day. He's given us everything he's got right now. Unfortunately, it's not a whole lot but he is giving it to us and we appreciate that."
Preparation against Tulane's offense, particularly QB Michael Pratt
"Any position group is gonna be one of the top two or three in our conference and then you put all those together, one of the top one or two teams in our conference. We do have some athleticism on the perimeter offensively and be able to play the game maybe a little bit more out there would be to our benefit. This is an odd front that's going to put a 300-pounder on your head up on your center and two 300-pounders head up on your tackle, making double teams impossible and so obviously a very good run defense and runs inside is even more difficult. So getting the ball on the perimeter."
"Then like any good quarterback, I mean this guy Michael Pratt, I'll never know how he got out of Boca Raton. I wasn't here when he did. I sure wish he was, and that's no knock on all the quarterbacks we have here. But you look at this guy, he's a four-year starter, over 40 games started, 9000 yards in his career, over 80 touchdowns in his career. I mean, this guy is a winner. He's a competitor. He's extremely accurate. So I think for that side of the football like any good quarterback yet have to affect him, you and I'm not talking about sacks. We've had that conversation. You got to move him off his spot. You got to make him uncomfortable. You got to get him out of rhythm. You got to cover his guys. You got to stay on his guys too, but most importantly, you got to make his day really uncomfortable back there."
Stopping the playmakers on Tulane's defense
"One, you got to protect the quarterback and the quarterback's got to get the ball out of his hands. We took five sacks the other night and one of them was on the o-line getting beat. The rest were either on receivers or on the quarterback. And so we got to get the ball out of our hands and incompletions are a lot better than sacks so we got to get the ball out of our hands and exploit some areas on the perimeter. We can't just say, "oh they're the fourth best rushing defense in the country; we haven't run the ball really well here lately, so we're just gonna abandon it." You can't do that, or else you're not playing complimentary football so we got to find new and creative ways to run the football."
"Like I said during postgame, we got to find out what we can do because we've got different players than the teams that we see each and every week that play these defenses and offenses and special teams. And so it's not just what hurts this defense or what hurts this offense; can we do it with the personnel that we have too and does it fit us within our schemes? Or is it going to confuse our guys more than help them? So there's a lot of factors that go into that. But I think the biggest thing for us is we got to protect the quarterback, and he's got to get the ball out of his hands."
Message to FAU fans coming out for the home finale
"It is the same as it has been. Unfortunately, everybody wants a winner. But not a lot of people are willing to do what it takes to be in support of a winner. We need more fans. I'm not going to sugarcoat that either. Certainly we've got to play better and we know that but it helps especially to start strong when you've got a lot of people in the stands and they're cheering for you and you've got a legitimate home-field advantage. Again, thank you to the students for coming out and Kodak Black for having a big part in that."
"But we need more and people want to come see a winner so it's on us too, I get that. But I would argue to everybody, you want to talk about attendance, you want to talk about money. Administrators like to say we'll win and we'll get attendance and we'll get money; it's the opposite and they got it backwards. Winning cost a lot of money, and winning also requires a tremendous amount of support from fans and students. So I would argue the other way around that for us to get where I think we can get in the future, both in the short term and the long term, we're going to need championship support from our fanbase and students as well."
The Owls will be heading to the Schmidt Complex practice field on Tuesday morning to create their plans against the Green Wave.