Interview with Steve Roberts

We are obviously trying to put the disappointment from last week's loss behind us.  We were obviously disappointed in the outcome of that game, but we weren't disappointed with the effort of our coaches and players.  Our players continue to play extremely hard.  I know if we continue to do that we are going to get some breaks and great things are going to happen to our football team.  I'm proud of the way the team has done, even though it hasn't ended the way we would like it to on the scoreboard.  We know that that process will take care of itself.


We are excited about this week's game.  With Florida International it will be a tremendous challenge.  We are looking forward to Saturday night and trying to get us another home win.


Offensively, they put up a lot of points on the scoreboard.  Their quarterback Paul McCall is having a great season.  He is one of the top passers in our league.  He has all the throws and takes care of the football.  I think he has eleven touchdowns with only five interceptions on the season.  He has a lot of weapons to throw the ball to.  Several of their receivers are making plays for them.  They have a very experienced offensive line coming back and they are doing a great job protecting their quarterback.  Trying to slow them down, with what they are doing offensively, will be a tremendous task.  They throw the ball down the field and try to stretch you, but also throw a bunch of screens underneath.  They threw 15 or 16 screens last week.  We've got to be able to recognize those and run to the football and try to find a way to make some stops defensively.  I'm very proud of our defensive unit with the way the have played the last couple of weeks.   Hopefully that will continue this Saturday night.

They are more of a passing team.  They are going to be throwing the ball a lot.  They're going to throw it 40 times a game.  They are going to try to run the football and hopefully we can shut that down and make them a throwing team.  They have been behind a couple of game and that's what has made them throw more than they have wanted to.


Hilton is very involved.  He is their leading receiver.  They do a lot of things to give him the ball.  They do a lot of things in the screen game.  They use him in the speed sweep.  He's very involved in everything they do offensively.  Every time he touches the football, it could go the distance.  He is very, very elusive.


Looking at FIU's defense, they have some tremendous athletes.  They can really, really run at every position.  They've been banged up a little bit defensively.  They haven't played as consistently as they would like to have played.  They do present some problems with their blitz schemes.  We will not be able to do some things that we normally do without making some adjustments.  With the lack of depth in the newcomers in the offensive line, it will be critical for those guys to communicate extremely well.  They have to be on the same page and play very physical for us to be able to move the football.  Everybody on offense is continuing to play very hard.   There is no doubt that they will get rolling with that type of effort.


Special teams are going to present us with a big time challenge.  Their kick and punt return averages are not within the top of our league.  This is because people are sky kicking to them and basically giving the ball to them at midfield.  When you kick it deep you are giving them an opportunity to make you pay.  I'm real confident in our kickoff coverage team.  We're looking forward to that challenge.  We are not going to concede to give them the ball at midfield.  We have done a great job of covering kicks all year and we expect that to continue this week.  Hilton and Frierson can really make things happen in the return game.  They can do a lot of things in their return game.  Their punter is very, very good.  They do a great job at covering all of their kicks.  I think it will be a great challenge and a great match up for us to be successful special teams wise.


It's going to take some consistency up front to establish our running game.  That's something that we have lacked.  I really felt we were on our way to being really good up front with what we saw in fall camp.  Then the losses defiantly hurt us up front.


We have emphasized the discipline we need to be successful.  We have emphasized how important those penalties are and how detrimental they can be.  We came into the game against ULM as one of the top teams in the country with fewest penalty yards.  There was nothing done different prior to the game, in our discipline or our focus.  It just happened.  I can't explain it.  Obviously we have addressed it and hopefully we have corrected it.  That doesn't mean I want our team to play tentative.   I want them to play aggressive.  These things are going to happen.  We just have to get rid of all of the focus penalties and lack of discipline type penalties.


Brandon Thompkins has done some very important things for us this year in special teams and offensively.  He has done a lot of things with the ball in his hands that we have been very proud of.  He is playing extremely well and extremely hard right now.  We are excited about the way he has been playing.  This is his best year yet.