MEET THE PRESS: Fritz Previews Memphis at Weekly News Conference

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NEW ORLEANS – Listed below is the complete transcript from Green Wave head coach Willie Fritz’s weekly press conference leading up to Tulane’s matchup vs. Memphis Saturday.

Opening Statement:
“Excited about the game last week. I thought we played really well. Sometimes you play tough games like that, you are favored and wondering how your guys are going to come out. We prepared well, we prepared all week. We came out on Saturday and executed, I thought we played great on defensive, we held them on 238 yards and probably a large part of that was in the fourth quarter, that they got. Then offensively, it was 630 some odd yards, which is outstanding. It is hard to do that on air because its 630 yards, we executed really well offensively. I thought the kicking game was great. We were able to play 79 guys, which I think is a ton to participate. The guys did what we were hoping they were going to do, which is coming out and dominating our opponent. Then on Monday, we turned the page, watched the video tape and moved on to a great Memphis team. I have a lot of respect for Mike Norvell and what he has done up there in Memphis. They are a very explosive offense, a lot of similarities between what we do. Will Hall was on their staff last season, he has put his own signature on what we are doing, but there are some similarities. They are playing very well on defense this season. They really do a good job taking the ball away. They are one of the top kicking games in the nation, I think they are ranked fourth in the country overall in special teams. It is going to be a big challenge for us on Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. We are looking forward to the challenge.”

On Will Hall working for Memphis…
Yes, he worked last year for Memphis. He knows some, but with their defensive staff, they have a new defensive coordinator. He was not there for spring ball with them. There are also some things they know about what we are doing because he was already doing a lot of those things before he went from Memphis. I am sure he has taken some things too because Mike is a very innovative offensive coordinator. There are some similarities.”

On the win against Memphis last season…
I do not think it really carries over. This is 2019 Memphis. There are a lot of different players that will be playing the game. We are playing at their place instead of the friendly confines. I do not think there is a lot of carry over. Obviously, we are looking at the tape, but really not looking at what they are doing defensively. They have changed quite a bit in that regard. There are some things we are looking at offensively. And they are different in the kicking game, they have a new special teams coordinator.”

On strength of the American Conference this year…
“As I have had said many times before, I think we are a part of the Power-6. I think this is a great conference. I do not know if there is any play between the AAC and the group of five, I know the record was 26-1 going into last weekend. The AAC playing the other members of the so-called group of five dominating those other conferences. I think the only loss was Buffalo beat Temple a few weeks back. Every other game has been a win by the AAC, so I think it is a really, really tough league. It is a hard division that we are in. Everybody is pretty darn good. You better buckle up for every game.”

On being close to Top 25…
“I think our guys know that and it is a step in the right direction for sure. A few years ago, no one would have thought it would occur. We are proud of that. We have a lot of goals we want to accomplish. A big thing for us is, I tell my guys, my number one NFL team is the Saints everybody knows that, but I have a buddy who goes into the Patriots and they have one side of their building that says rule number one is that the team comes first. We talk about that all the time. Rule number two is ignore the noise. I told our guys, we are finally getting a little noise, but ignore it. Sometimes the noise is negative and sometimes it is positive, but just ignore it and get after the task at hand, which is Memphis this week. We will play the very best we can possibly play. That is how I think you have to approach it. I was talking to Andy [Staples] a little while ago and saying that last night I get back home around 8 or 8:30 and I am watching the TV and my wife wanted to watch last week’s game, and I said no we are going to watch Temple versus Memphis. I had that game recorded and I wanted to hear the TV commentary, I have already watched the copy I have here, so you have to lock in if you want to have the chance to beat these really quality football teams.”

On focusing on each game instead of big picture…
“I think it starts with everybody in the program, the coaches, the managers, the trainers, the strength and conditioning staff, the video people. If the players are not buying it, it is not going to happen. Our guys have done a nice job of locking it in and getting focused. I told them at the beginning of last week, we are going to be favored this game by quite a bit, but who cares it does not matter. We are still going to go out get better and prepare to the best of our ability to play our best game. I think we came pretty close to doing that last week. We played well in all three phases. I thought it was one of the more physical games that we played. I thought we were very physical in that ball game, so I am proud of them. Sometimes, people in general might slack off in those situations, our guys did not, they played really hard. That is what you should do, you are only guaranteed twelve opportunities, after the ball game I told them that we are halfway done with those games we are guaranteed to play. These guys work 365 days of the year for these twelve opportunities and they have to put everything into that they can.”

On the importance of this week’s game…
“I want all the games to be big. We want to always get out there. Something I say every Friday night is this is the biggest game in the world because we are playing in it so you guys put everything into you can with preparation and effort when we get out there. They all count as one, last week did not count a half and this week does not count as two, it counts as one. Each one of them counts. You have to put everything into it that you possibly can.”

On growing recognition in New Orleans…
“You know one night I was out on Bourbon Street and…that would have been a story there, but you get a little more. People are excited and that is good, but that is part of ignoring the noise too.”

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