Q&A with Sonny Cumbie prior to Week Zero

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Cumbie met with local media members Tuesday during his regularly scheduled presser to talk about this weekend’s season opener against FIU.

On the matchup with FIU…
“I know are football team and staff are excited for Saturday’s game against FIU at 8 p.m. inside Joe Aillet stadium in the home opener. We look to have a great crowd. It has been a long time since we last played. Our football team is much improved. Our guys have put a lot of work in throughout the course of the summer. A lot of transfers have done a good job of coming in and integrating themselves into what we have already established from last year and the foundation that we have built since they arrived in January. A lot of guys have stayed the course that stayed with us through January, February and last season are really going to be the rocks to help move us forward in addition to the guys that we have here. It is an exciting time of the year. I know everyone is looking forward to the first game. I am excited for our football team to get out in front of a great crowd on Saturday night and compete in a great conference opener with a lot on the line against FIU who is a good team that beat us last year at their place. I know coach (Mike) MacIntyre and his staff have done a great job with those guys as well. We are looking forward to getting this 2023 season going.”

On the FIU Quarterbacks…
“Grayson James has played a lot of football. He had a great game against us last year and I know they are excited about (Keyone) Jenkins the freshman. We anticipate him playing as well based on all the reports that we have seen and getting a series. How much that is, I do not know but you have to prepare for both defensively as they can give you problems. Coach (Scott) Power and his staff have done a very good job. You have to be able to feel your way through the first quarter then adjust on defense and offense for maybe some new wrinkles or personnel that did not show up on the depth chart.”

On unknowns in week zero…
“For us defensively, with the defensive line and being able to create as pass rush and our linebackers because we have a lot of new players in addition to Hugh Davis. I am very excited about watching those guys compete. I am excited about Myles Heard in our secondary, Cecil Singleton Jr. has improved and Demarcus Griffin-Taylor is a guy that has turned heads since he has been here. Those are some things that you look forward to. On the offensive line we have Abraham Delfin coming back from injuring and getting back to playing shape. It has been awhile since he has played. I am excited to see Hank lead our offense and guys like Smoke Harris and Cyrus Allen making plays. Our tight ends I am excited about. Running back we have a question mark right now in terms of our depth with the injuries that we have. Coach (Teddy) Veal has done a good job of preparing all of those guys to be able to step in and play well. We talk about it all the time, everybody can play but we want our guys to play and play well. It is our job to prepare them and it is their jobs to take the coaching and teaching and do that.”

On relationship with Quarterback Hank Bachmeier
“You have to have a very open and honest communication especially at this time of the week with the game plan with things that you like or don’t like when you are talking about a specific play or concept. It is important to ask him what he likes because ultimately the players are the ones that are out there and they have to be comfortable playing. Hank has been in our system long enough that he is comfortable and has enough volumes of reps and concepts that we used that he has some comfort levels with certain things. Being able to put those guys in positions to be successful is important. He has played lots of football which is exciting. It is important to remember that he has not played since October. There is a lot of new faces but also a lot of players that have a lot of career snaps. That is what we are excited about and Hank is one of those guys that is also.”

On game week…
“You definitely can sense the excitement and emotion that our players are getting excited that the game is here and they want to play. We have to continue to hone in on terms of our execution in practice and ultimately making it our game day reality. We have to really hone it in and keeping guys on a routine is a little different because we had two weeks to prepare for this first game, almost like a bye week. They are excited and ready to play but we have to execute better in practice and get them on a routine. With our first game there is a checklist that you have to make sure from a staff and player standpoint ad not take anything for granted from going over pregame warmups to what it is like at the team hotel on Friday and Saturday. Being able to make the most of our time there.”

On Champions Plaza…
“It will also be exciting to have the Champions Plaza unveiling going on. I am really excited what that brings to our community and highlighting six individuals who have made such an impact at Louisiana Tech and far beyond Louisiana Tech in the world of athletics. To have them honored on Friday night with the unveiling of their statues is going to be incredible and it gives us momentum for this home opener also.”

On freshman defensive back Michael Richard
“He has done a great job since he got here in the spring. That is why you want to get high school kids that graduate early and can get into your program. At the end of the spring he was not on the two-deep depth chart. That is why you come early because in fall camp you can make those strides. He has done that and he has picked up the game. He has played multiple positions for us in the secondary and has been very involved there. He is a mature kid. I am excited to see him play. On special teams he is really going to impact us. He has a bright future and coach (Nate) Johnson and Power have done a really good job of teaching him as he has played different spots in the secondary.”