bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the Ohio game?
DeWayne Walker: I thought we looked like a pretty good team for a half and even some of that third quarter. We were in striking distance but you just can't make mistakes down the stretch with six minutes left to go in the third quarter against a good Ohio team. We're just still trying to find ourselves to a certain degree. I still feel good about being 1-1 but we've still got a ways to go to accomplish our goals this year.
bc.net: The first the team looked good, the offense had a good balance to it and the defense was playing well. What were some things you saw in the first half that pleased you?
DW: We played as a team. I've been saying this ever since I got the job here. When we start playing consistently as a team we're going to have a good football team at some point. I thought it had a chance to show everybody a glimpse of what that looks like. We've just gotta figure out a way to do that for four quarters.
bc.net: Tiger Powell had a good first half. He was a player we didn't hear a whole lot about in the preseason but he's really making an impact early the season.
DW: Well he's a power back. We haven't had a 220 pound back since we've been here and he's a guy that can get downhill and he can find seams and creases to fall forward. He's a good guy to have in our rotation.
bc.net: Special teams wise this year you've blocked an extra point and you've blocked a field goal. What are some adjustments you've made to the special teams that have paid off for you?
DW: We're using more starters than we've used since I've been here. I think we've done a good job recruiting and we like our punter even though he didn't have a real consistent night punting but we think we have a good player there. I just think we have better athletes. The punt return hurt us in the second half, that kind of contributed to their run but all-in-all after two games I think we've definitely made some progress.
bc.net: When you take a look at the second half of the game what are some things you would have liked to have seen the team do a little bit differently?
DW: Just come out and perform in the second half or even just midway through that first quarter. When you look at the game the defense for them to get off the field against a team like that and force field goals you're doing a good job even if they are moving the ball. Offensively we got a field goal and then we punted and so we're still in the game at that standpoint but I think the deep ball that we missed with [Kemonte] Bateman which would have been a touchdown and then they had a big punt return and the pass interference on Jeremy Harris which I thought was questionable and then we threw the pick six. We're still down by three touchdowns and we get the on the plus 47 and then we don't get anything out of that particular drive and that's when the wheels came off. Against good football teams you're not going to be able to stay in games if you don't take advantage of possessions and get those consistent stops that you need.
bc.net: We've talked a lot about this being a young team with a lot of players that are getting their first starting experiences. One of the things that gets overlooked is that even though Andrew Manley has been around a while, this was only his fifth or sixth start in his career. What is some of the growth that you've seen from him and that you'd like to continue to see from him?
DW: He can make plays but at the same time you need him to be a little more consistent. You hate to put everything on a young guy like him but at the same time we need him to play at a high level. I think again, he's only started five or six games in his career and he's still a young guy too. We don't want to put unnecessary pressure on him and I'm sure he's going to continue to improve week in and week out.
bc.net: When you take a look at the game against UTEP even though they're 0-2 they've gotten off to a pretty decent start. What have you seen from the Miners so far?
DW: They've got a good football team. I wouldn't let their record confuse anybody about the type of football team that they have. We're going to have our hands full again. We're going to have to play four quarters to have a chance to be in the game because I think this is one of his [Mike Price] better teams. I think their defense is strong and they've got some playmakers on offense. I know they're worried about their point production but that's something that at some point is going to take care of itself, hopefully not against us. I think they've got a good football team.
bc.net: When you take a look at their offensive output the first two games, the first game they had trouble passing but were great on the ground then the second game they struggled to run the ball but had a good passing game. What do you take away from that?
DW: They're playing against two BCS teams that aren't bad football teams. I think they're still trying to gel a little bit. They have some new receivers that they're breaking in, a new running back that they're breaking in so they're breaking in some new players as well. I'm sure they anticipate getting their offense going this week and something they can build on as the season progresses but they definitely have tools on offense to be a pretty productive offense.
bc.net: What have you seen from your defense through the first two games that you've been happy with?
DW: I think we're just playing in spurts. We show signs of being pretty solid and then we show signs of having lapses. Too many big plays. I'm not real happy with the yards we've given up the last two games even though it's not the end of the world if you're playing solid. I just think we have a lot of room for improvement and I think we're capable of it. Again, you're talking about a young defense in a lot of ways. A brand new secondary, B.J. Adolpho in his first year playing 'mike' linebacker. Trashaun Nixon is a new 'will' linebacker, you have two new tackles. Savage, even though he's played he didn't play last year. [Kalvin] Cruz is a junior college transfer. So you're playing with a bunch of new guys. We've shown spurts of being a good defense, we're just not consistent right now and we're going to have to continue to develop and clean some things up and give us a chance to be a good defense.
bc.net: Does that consistency come from practice reps or from game reps?
DW: I think it's both to be honest with you. Practice is really an extension of how you're going to play. I just think coaching-wise we've got to put them in positions to be successful and try to help them as much as we can and the other piece of it is just trying to create some continuity and getting these guys to play together and improve. Hopefully this is a week we can really start improving our defense because if we can do that if our offense improves I think we have a chance to be a solid team.
bc.net: Specifically for your team what are you working on this week?
DW: We've got some different ideas of how to fix this third quarter. We're going to have to really emphasize what the issue is there. Against a good Ohio team the third quarter killed us. If we could have played a better third quarter we could have taken it to the fourth quarter and fought our tails off and try to shock college football but it's been two weeks in a row that the third quarter has kind of been our nemesis so we've got to try to fix it.
bc.net: This will be your second trip down to the Sun Bowl, what is your impression of that environment?
DW: Well, it wasn't very nice on the first trip. From a UTEP standpoint it's a great venue, great support from the fans. Obviously it's a rivalry game. They're 0-2 and I'm sure they're going to be fired up and ready to get on track against the Aggies.