Postgame Quotes - Army vs. Northern Illinois (Sept. 15, 2012)

Sept. 15, 2012

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Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: his emotions after the game)
"What a difference a week makes just in terms of our competitiveness. We were competing. We knew we had a tough row to hoe. We didn't anticipate getting into the hole we did defensively, but to their credit they found a way to get a couple of stops and got some takeaways. We played them off their feet. Offensively, that's what it looks like when we're operating and feeling good about what we're doing. The defense scrambled, but they found a way to get a couple of stops. I'm pleased we competed, but we have a long way to go. The good news is that if we wondered at all if we could play at a high level and compete with good football teams, now we know that. It's not the same as winning, but it means you have a chance if you continue to grow in the things that do win."

(Ref.: chasing points after the missed PAT)
"Everybody wants to find the one thing, and that's one of 10,000 things. That happened early enough that you're on that two-point chart early on. It gets masked in there. We didn't go a good enough job on our two-point plays. We have 15 things out there that will get us 12 yards, and we were struggling to get three yards. That was disappointing."

(Ref. if he thought the last team with the ball would win)
"We were thinking, if they go down and score or kick a field goal, that was the idea. We were one first down away from taking a swing at it. If there was a dead wind, I might have taken a swing at it anyway. We're not known for being short. We have some big legs out there, but we needed one more first down."

(Ref.: the secondary play)
"It depends on what you're defending. On some of those plays there was a safety, but we didn't quite get that done. On some of those balls, there is not going to be (safety help). As dominant as the quarterbacks legs are, you're going to pick your poison. That was what was frustrating about that. If they would have come out and beat us throwing fades, I would have said, "Okay, that's on me.' To some degree they did, but the reverse and the long quarterback run, when that's exactly what we're defending was disappointing. When you start to defend the quarterbacks legs, which you have to when you defend that style of play, you start to run out of guys. We hadn't seen them throw a lot of fades, and we wanted to see if he was any good at it. He is."

(Ref.: correcting the pass defense)
"That's a style of play. On some of those calls, the coaches nailed it. They knew exactly what was coming, and they put help in the secondary. It just doesn't manifest itself. We're just not fluid enough or good enough. There are a couple of big plays out there that we nailed if we would have played with the proper leverage and get the proper depth. It's all there. There are times when you're playing a quarterback who has those kind of legs that it's going to be skinny out there. We have to find some guys out there who will hold up."

(Ref.: if NIU's offense surprised him)
"No, that's the frustrating thing. In the first half, we were struggling with a couple of things formation wise and execution wise, and we were getting exactly what we anticipated in terms of shifting and motion. Give the guys credit. They captured themselves. They battled back and got some stops."

Senior LB Nate Combs
(Ref.: whether NIU’s big plays were a credit to NIU’s offense or Army’s lack of execution on defense)

“It was a lack of execution, honestly. All of those plays we saw today, we saw them all week on film. Northern Illinois is going to pound you and then go play-action. Today, they were throwing the deep ball on us. We didn’t go over that reverse in practice, but that’s basic football 101. The defensive end skates and stays for the reverse. Big plays killed us. The quarterback running 88 yards is unacceptable. We said we were going to stop the quarterback power, and then he runs 88 yards. It was like that across the board; just mental errors in that first half and second half.”

(Ref.: what happened defensively on Jordan Lynch’s 88-yard touchdown run)
“I would say angles. I haven’t really seen it yet. I was in the backfield on the left side with everyone else. That’s details. It came up last week and here it is again. We’re allowing way too many points.”

(Ref.: what the defense has to improve heading into the Wake Forest game next week)
“This is two weeks in a row that we have not come out of the gate. Last year, it was the second half that killed us, and right now it looks like the first half is killing us on the defensive side of the ball. I think we can grow on the turnovers. Defensively, we were turning the ball over a lot more, and that’s something we’ll continue to work on for this third game.”

Sophomore FB Larry Dixon
(Ref.: comparing last week’s loss to San Diego State to today’s setback to Northern Illinois)

“It’s a little bit tougher than last week. No one likes to lose, but we showed that we can play with the best when we play real hard. To come that close and to be that close only to see it slip away from us never feels good.”

Junior RB Raymond Maples
(Ref.: assessing his ability to run the football today versus Northern Illinois)

“I felt real good today. The line opened up some big holes, which gave me the opportunity to gain a couple yards. It felt good today.”

Senior QB Trent Steelman
(Ref.: the play of the Army offense)

“I thought we were pretty consistent throughout the game. Towards the end, they kind of shifted their defense a little bit, but we have to be able to finish. We based our season on finsihing the game and finishing the fourth quarter, and we failed to to do that today.”

(Ref.: comparing last week’s game versus San Diego State to today’s game versus Northern Illinois)
“There’s no comparison, but at the same time we win as a team and we lose as a team and we lost as a team today. I feel the same as I did last week. A loss is a loss.”

(Ref.: whether Army being stopped on its final drive was its offense of NIU’s defense)
“I’d say it was a little bit of both, but at the same time our offense is built for those moments. Our team is built for those moments. We have to be able to finish, and those are the types of moments you live for as a football player. To be able to be able to close a game out, finish the fourth quarter, finish the final drive and win the game.”

(Ref.: if he could feel Army generating momentum during the third quarter)
“Definitely. You could see it in their eyes and their body language that we were definitely wearing them down. We tried to attack that. Anytime you see that you want to keep attacking, and that’s the basis of our offense. We wear people down. We’re better conditioned and we’re better mentally-focused than any team we will face. We just have to keep growing. From here, we go back to work. We actually left points out there on the field, and we could have capitalized even more. It goes both ways; we win as a team and we lose as a team.”

(Ref.: whether or not this is a turning point for the program)
“The good thing is that we’ve been in this position before, so we know where we need to go and we know what we need to work on. At the same time, there’s not a team on our schedule we can’t compete with or beat when we go out and play like we did today. You never feel good losing a game, but the improvements we made this week show the mental strength of this team and how we can react to a loss like (San Diego State).”

Northern Illinois Head Coach Dave Doeren
“Obviously my hat goes off to Army. I thought they had a great game plan, I thought their kids played really hard. It was a heck of a football game. Our guys overcame a lot in that game to win. We turned it over three times and had a lot of tough flags go against us that a lot of people could argue, I guess. We found a way to win.

“The bottom line, we talk all the time and I said it to these guys in the fourth quarter, defensively it doesn’t matter how many yards we gave up in the first three, there’s 13 minutes left and if we play great no one will remember it. And they found a way to get it done. Offensively, they responded. Jordan (Lynch) and Martel (Moore) got in the groove today. Martel made some great catches, Jordan gave him a chance.

“I’d just like to see us get rid of the turnovers. It’s something I can’t tell you I’ve ever preached it more in my life than I did this week and it didn’t come through. That’s something we have to get better at. Excited to be able to run and pass the ball. Offensively the balance we had, and I thought our defensive coaches, although statistically doesn’t show it, made a lot of adjustments throughout the game and the kids did a good job understanding them, they finally came up with the right answer there at the end. It was big.”

(Ref.: changes to the triple option this season)
“They started running a double-team scheme where they were loading two backs outside of the quarterback, kind of a student-body option you could say. We went into the game thinking we could take the quarterback away with a certain call, and they eliminated it with the blocking scheme, so we had to adjust throughout the game.

“We started out with our edge players playing cornerback and as the game went on we widened them and started filling our safeties inside of our edge players and I think that was a great correction. It just took us too long, probably, to get to it.

“I thought the first half we did some really good things, except for the final drive. If we don’t give them a score there, we’re playing pretty good defense. We come out offensively and let them stop us in three plays and then they go down and score. I was hoping we’d get a touchdown in that first series and get things going, but it just didn’t go that way.

“Like I said, I think the mental toughness, the resiliency, the fourth-quarter mind football team that we have, the fact that nobody flinched, they stuck together.  Tyrone (Clark) and Sean (Progar), both times I went over and asked them to get the defense going, they had a great look in their eyes, and that’s what it’s going to take to win big-time games.

“This stadium is a place not many people come in and win. I told Coach Ellerson it’s a shame you don’t get to play all of your home games at home. He has to go play at Yankee Stadium and all these other venues so that he doesn’t get Michie Stadium to be his all the time; this is a great place to play a game.”

(Ref.: the final statistics)
“I looked up in the third quarter and saw how many rushing yards they had on their jumbo-tron and went to the defense and said ‘Don’t look at the scoreboard, no one is going to remember what it says if we win so just play.’ I really could care less about it right now, all I care is that we got a ‘W’ and we have to go home and start playing normal football again. Army is a very unique team and they’re a much better team than they showed in week one. I told our team that. They were a young team last year; they returned almost all of their guys, a four-year starter at quarterback. They’re going to have a good season.”

Sr. DE Sean Progar
(Ref.: solving the triple option)

“As coach said, first off give them credit because they did a great job. It was pretty much what we thought it was going to be. They had some different blocking schemes for us that we weren’t ready for, but as coach said, we adjusted well eventually. We missed a few tackles that we should have made. I think that was the biggest thing. But we rallied at the end and that’s all that matters.”

Junior QB Jordan Lynch
(Ref.: whether he thought it was going to be a shootout-style game)

“Just like Coach Doeren stressed the turnovers all week; if we turn the ball over more than once it’s going to be a tough battle and we knew that coming into this game. All the credit goes to Army, they played hard. We just need to limit the turnovers.”

Senior LB Tyrone Clark
(Ref.: how Army was as blockers)

“First, like everyone else said, credit goes to Army. It was a battle, it was a fight, we didn’t expect it to come easy, but it’s a game of swings and we had to stick it out.”


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