Cajuns Head Football Coach Rickey Bustle and Quarterbacks Coach Jorge Muñoz spoke to the Quarterback Club about the game at Nebraska, and the upcoming Sun Belt opener against North Texas.

Rickey Bustle

It was a tough four weeks. We didn't have our heads in the game at NU.  It was tough, we had 14 guys who weren't playing because of injuries.

Personnel, Richie Falgout will be back this week, Chris Fisher, Chris Masson are fine, Matt Desormeaux probably not, Jonathon Decoster don't know.   Marlin Miller separated his shoulder at NU, he's a maybe, Colin Windsor, probably not.

Maurice Rolle, Gerren Blount, Chris Richard, Lance Kelly, Antwyne Zander, Devon Louis-Buchanon look good, Kyron Benoit probably not.

We're able to get some of those guys back into playing.  We've practiced hard the last three days. They practiced well.

We went back like we always do, back to fundamentals. It helps during the season, you're putting in so much offense or defense, and you can miss the fundamentals.

It's where we are.  If someone had said before the season that we'd be 2-2 right now, I'd have taken it and not gotten any of my guys hurt. I told the team, "That's behind us. We're starting conference play, we only have eight opportunities, we can only take one at a time." They know what we did the first four games, they knew what they have to do to improve.

North Texas will come in fired up, they will move the ball, their defense is better. We can't put it on the ground any more. It's hard to evaluate where we are after playing KSU, LSU & NU.  You can't hit the panic button. We took time off, and I told them not to think about football. I hope we'll have a good crowd out the game

The time of possession at Nebraska was about equal.  Was there anything to that?

Sometimes those are out of whack. I'm not sure Southern didn't have more time than we did.

The big stats are turnovers and penalties. We're leading the league in fewest penalties. I'm proud of our kids for playing with discipline.

What do you think of the strength of UNT? What are you expecting of special teams?

The offense, they spread you out. Their quarterback, Riley Dodge missed a couple of games with a separation.  They spray it around. They're running it more. Their defense is better.

On special teams, we need to do a better job of coverage. Of the 14 guys who weren't playing at Nebraska, 11 were on special teams. Normally those teams are solid.

Did you talk to the special teams coach and demand two blocks this week?

Well, that's me.  We've changed our kickoff, we didn't get to kickoff but once at Nebraska.  I'm really pleased with Brett.  We moved him to the other hash mark, and he's kicking well.

Are we making changes in the depth charts?

We're always moving the second offensive line around.  The receivers are OK, the tight ends are always looking good. Defense is OK.

In Crowley, they think I'm a UL coach and they ask me why I'm not recruiting Notre Dame.

We're all over there. We're looking at their kids.

What should fans be looking at from UNT?

Again, they're going to spread us out, they'll throw it, they're running it well. Defensively they're better, but nothing new there.

Jorge Munoz, Quarterbacks Coach, Passing Game Coach, Ragin' Cajuns Football, University of LouisanaQuarterbacks & Passing Game Coach Jorge Muñoz

Thank you. We have first year starters at quarterback, our running back is really on his first year, our wideouts are mostly first year, the tight ends don't have a lot of experience. We're going through growing pains.

We're excited. Going into that 3 game stretch, we said you can't judge us off that, particularly when you can't play your best players.

I just talked to the defensive staff about UNT's offense, because obviously I focus on their defense.  The quarterback Dodge is very active with the football.  They have two really good running backs, Cam Montgomery is more of a power type guy, and they have a speed guy, Lance Dunbar, they have a two-back rotation. Their receivers are good, not fantastic but they run good routes, they have good hands.

Coach Bustle mentioned that they spray the ball around, Coach Fouquier is looking at that.

Defensively they're better.  They're a 4-3 mainly.  They've been consistent in their defensive scheme over the last 4 games, so we have a good plan of attack. We have two weeks to prepare, but so do they. We have a good chance to get the tight ends the ball. Our receivers have to step up, too.

Going into the last two games, we weren't sure about the matchups, whether we felt good leaving the wideouts on islands-- one on one-- so we used cross routes, pick routes. We've been challenging them, asking them to step up.  We think we have better matchups this week. We have to step up the running game, too.

Nebraska was giving us 'give' reads, so we had to hand off the ball the whole time.  They were also overloading the box, daring you to throw the ball. We threw more than we usually do.

What about the receivers dropping passes?

Lot of drops. When it happens at LSU, I'm livid, trying to find out why. The guys making the drops have never been in that situation before. They made plays in practice, in games against SU & KSU, and now they don't. They've caught balls like that a million times. I believe it has to be inexperience in that environment. At the same time, it was great for them to get that experience, to play in that environment.

At Nebraska we didn't do anything different, but some guys didn't have those drops, they seem to have grown up some.

Will Falgout be getting any reps?

We absolutely miss Richie.  Miss him a lot. He can't run, he's not big, but he makes plays. He's not going to take it 90 yards, but he's going to make the plays.

Our pass/run play calling ratio has been about half & half. For UNT, will it be 50/50, or 70/30?

50/50 for this game. They've had 2 weeks to prepare for us.  They keep two safeties high on you, letting you run inside. Depending on what happens, you change. They don't blitz a lot, maybe because of their front four, they were getting through on Alabama, no problem.  Either that, or they don't have faith in their secondary.  We're going to take some shots on those guys. I think we can establish the run.  If we can't, we'll have to be chucking and ducking.

We're reading the drop-downs, if we're covered deep we can come in close.  But we're dropping those, they're drive killers.

Was Masson throwing too hard? What has been his reaction?

If you go back on him, going into Fall camp, there was a good battle. Early on, Chris was a little more natural, a little easier. Then he had a bad game, and he reacted in negative ways.  Since then we've coached him up, "You can never let your team mates see you hanging your head." I want people to see him frustrated, and then he has to let it go.

He knew what was going on.  I questioned that some of those balls were too hard, he didn't think they were, he says he's throwing like he always does. You have to respect that.

Is the running game designed to hit any particular hole?

Yes. We have inside zone, outside zones, power schemes. If you saw KSU & SU, all of our hits were outside. AT NU, nobody ran outside them all season, including Virginia Tech. So I don't know if we even tried.  At LSU, I think we only ran it outside when the quarterback kept it.

How many of don't understand the zone read?  [About half the audience raised hands.]  OK, say the defensive end is to my right, the running back is supposed to run from my right to the left.  If the end chases him down the line of scrimmage, then I'm keeping it. If he stays, we're handing off, and everyone is accounted for.  Between the center and the guard is 'A' gap, guard and tackle is 'B', and tackles and ends is the 'C' gap. If I keep it, it's an outside C gap.

If the defensive end sits there, we have to run it with the back. We rarely ever call a quarterback run. But Nebraska sat there and watched us.  Now we may bring a guy across from the other side, hit him a couple of times, try to mess with his technique, see what he does.

What's up with the running backs?

Tyrell Fenroy was talented, fast, and had been in the system a long time.  He was a talent, but he was also experienced. Our guys have run enough to be effective, but we haven't given them enough chances the last two weeks.

It ain't the X's & O's, it's the Jimmies & Joes. We're all doing the same stuff, LSU & Nebraska aren't doing anything we aren't. They're just a bit larger & quicker, and at some positions they're executing better.

Yobes Walker stepped up at Nebraska, he's going to get some more looks.  But you're trading Undré Sails for Yobes, they have different abilities.  Yobes makes some mistakes, and his hands aren't there yet.  He hits it hard, but what about protection, is he going to line up on the right side?

What does it mean when the quarterback points at players?

It's a Mike call, he's telling the team who he wants covered. He's making a protection call. The defensive line's waiting for him to make that call, so they adjust, too.

We have three young quarterbacks, are you recruiting any more right now?

I think we offered one, he chose another place. He was the only one we were going to offer, unless he comes available again.  We're stacked with three quality guys, so if you're a recruit you're thinking, 'Do I want to come here?' A competitive guy will say, 'Hey I can play anywhere.'  But realistically they check the roster.

Last year, we had a tremendous amount of leadership. Where are we now?

Last year we had leaders who had to be leaders.  We have some good leadership on defense, particularly Zanders.

On offense, we have Fisher, he's been around, but he's not a rah-rah guy.  We're expecting our quarterbacks to step up.  Last year, Desormeaux didn't want to be vocal, but after Illinois he stepped up.  Chris had a players-only meeting after NU, he addressed the offense.  I don't know everything he talked about, he told me a little, he told them it was time to go. Fisher will say some things. Decoster has no problem stepping up and speaking out.

We have some great kids.  They're so good we almost wish we had some [jerks]. They're so nice, we wish they would get in each others' faces some times.

Anyway, Masson and Fisher are the ones who have stepped up on offense, and Zanders & Phillip Nevels on defense.

Does Masson get to suggest plays?

Without doubt, but you need people you can trust. Against Southern, the play on the goal line where we threw across the field, we had a timeout, and the players wanted that play, 'Mixer'. Usually when they're asking for something, they have a feel for it, and they'll give you more effort for that play. If it doesn't fit, then no, but if they're begging for it we'll usually let 'em have it.

This changing game pace, now more teams are doing it. Did we start that?

I don't know.  I was doing that several years ago at Eastern Illinois.  When they're looking at us, we're trying to make a play to beat the defense, but sometimes we realize we don't have the right play called. Speeding it up, then slowing it down-- 'freeze' we call it. I have a page broken down with all of our major plays.  So does the defensive coordinator, he knows what our percentages are with different setups. He's going to call the best thing he can, based on that sheet. So when we up the tempo, he can't do that, we force him into a 'base defense' call. That actually hurt us at LSU on the goal line.  We had just hit 'em on a big play down to the goal line, we didn't want to slow it down, we wanted to keep the tempo up. But when we ran someone off the field, it gave LSU a chance to change their linemen.

You want to keep moving, for one, the defense is gassed. Second, you don't want them to be able to call anything but a base defense.

The guys always want me to take some long shots, but I tell them, "Get me the first down, then I'll dig into the playbook." You want to keep the defense off the field.

What's the play where we flip it out to the side to a receiver?

That's a bubble screen pass.

I hate that play. [laughter]

Well, you're going to see that a lot this week. If they commit to the run with the outside linebacker, you flip it out where you have leverage. NT is going to come at the runner, so we'll probably be doing that more. They're high percentage completion, and they activate our receivers and get them into the game.