Florida Atlantic Head Coach Lane Kiffin met with the media on Monday to discuss the Owls' win against Bethune Cookman, player performances, and the upcoming contest against Buffalo
We had a lot of really good things in the game (versus Bethune-Cookman). Obviously, our best game so far. I do think we have improved each week. That will be our goal again this week. I thought the defense really played well in all situations, in all areas, the whole day. Limited explosive plays, tackled well, scored. On offense, I thought we ran the ball really well, obviously a school-record with rushing yards. I donít think that we were really good in the passing game, again back-to-back weeks. Nine completions the week before. If you break down the game, I think 15 of our completions were behind the line of scrimmage. Our vertical pass game needs to improve, which has been an issue all year for us and third downs. Still werenít very good on third downs. Only made four third downs and one of them was a scramble. The last 10 third downs of the game we only made one. There are some areas to improve in there. And on special teams, our guys played really hard and changed the field position a few times.
Excited for a normal week?
I guess, yeah. I guess we havenít had one. We are just back to work and we just have to get better. Our guys practiced really good today, that was good to see. Confidence is important. I think when you win a game like that and play that well, so many areas, especially for kids who havenít won a lot, I think that is important. It helps and I thought it showed out there. The guys had the best Monday we have had.
Is there a residual after the win?
No, not at all. We hit them pretty hard. We have got to improve. Some things that we did in that game are not going to work versus better opponents. We had to make sure that they saw that and not just praise them. That game is over with. We have to go win the next one.
Status of Azeez Al-Shaair
I hope he plays. He was out there today, so I hope he plays.
You were down on the O-line last week. What did you do to get them going?
We just challenged them a lot. Said we would run the ball a lot in this gameÖwe expected them to play better, finish blocks, more physical mentality on what they put on tape and they did some of that.
We saw a lot of Kamrin Solomon. Talk about his play.
I just felt that when we ended the spring he was by far our best receiver, by far, and one of the top couple on offense period. That would have been the plan all along, if he was here, to give him the ball, get him some touches. It is good to have him back. I think he helps that room. He practices really hard and his personality is pretty much alpha. It is good for that room.
On DeAndre McNeal getting more and more involved in the offense
It is kinda like what we talked about with our team. There are so many new guys. Not many mid-year guys. A lot of these guys just got here. He had to finish summer school so he wasnít here at all during the summer. He shows up the first day of camp. We have a number of guys in that situation and when you have that, it is going to take a little timeÖit takes a while. I think that you are seeing that with him because he is playing. He is learning the stuff better and is getting used to things. Things happen in football. I got this look that I havenít gotten before. The longer that you play in a system the better you get, usually. He is kinda like our team.
John Franklin and his versatility?
We gave him a play last week. The whole team just to get some first downs to start series so that we could get going. That had been our issue in our two games. We pulled some different things out to try to get some first downs off the bat, first-first downs especially, each series. We started a series with that and to get one first down. Obviously, that gives defenses a lot of issues because they have to practice for it. But, we donít want to do that very much at all, because if we do that, he is not getting better at receiver and we are trying to have him in our system at receiver.
With Tyrek Tisdale, is he going to be ok to play also, if not will you be able to redshirt him? Does that factor in?
It does not. I think he is a really good player, one of our best players on special teams. Had he not gotten hurt in the game, he would have carried the ball a bunch in the second half. I think, Iím not saying he is better than nine (Gregory Howell, Jr.) and five (Devin Singletary) because obviously they have played a lot more, but if you just look at talent level (and) height/weight speed ratio, he is the best guy in the room. So, hopefully he is going to be a great player here and I anticipate him playing this week.
What are challenges of Buffalo?
I think offensively, their quarterback has really improved. They struggled last year at times. He didnít play the last two games because of injury and they really struggled in those games, but they have gotten a lot better. They had a great game Saturday. Guy had two 300-yard games last year, as a freshman. He is a big guy. I think they have really improved. I think on defense, they have gotten better. They gave Minnesota a lot of problems and Minnesota is pretty good, held them to 17 points. We will have our hands full. We will have to go up there and play very well.
When you Chris Tooley has been giving you guys some good things. Is he giving you guys something to think about and play him more?
We have been trying to. When you play 28 snaps in a game, nobody played a lot in the game. We didnít play that many on defense and we were getting backups in, so that was the plan to rotate him through, all four of those corners. We played some spread, we played some dime even when all four corners were in at the same time. We donít have four on scholarship, but they are really good. He just makes plays, scrimmages, games. The guy makes plays.
What is the difference, aside from winning, between being 2-2 or 1-3 going into conference play? Is there a way to quantify that?
I donít think like that. One is all that matters. We play one game a week and that is the one game that mattersÖwe just need to win this game and (do) whatever it takes to win. Hopefully, we improve and play well. You canít get too high on close wins and too low on close losses because sometimes you can play really well and lose or vice versa. That game we played really well and you can tell by the stats, there wasnít lucky plays. If you go over 600 yards and hold them to whatever it was, 130, that is a lot of people making a lot of plays and playing really well. We had 30 first downs or something like that, first shutout in 10 years. That was the result of a lot of people playing really well, and as a head coach, that is all that you are hoping for.