Postgame Quotes - Army vs. Tulane (Oct. 1, 2011)

Oct. 1, 2011

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Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: opening statement)
“Obviously, I’m thrilled with the outcome. It was hard-fought. I think there was some growth that took place. You saw the turnover battle start to work in our favor.  One, we got some, and offensively we took advantage of those turnovers. Conversely, defensively, when our offense turned it over, uncharacteristically, our defense stepped in and answered it. Our defense really struggled a week ago, and some of that was my fault because I don’t think we had come to grips with the personnel set we’d been presented. So, we challenged ourselves this week. We changed some things to leverage the quality guys that we have, and not pretend we have some guys that graduated last year or some guys who got hurt earlier in the season. We put a lot of pressure on that young defense to go out there and master some things that we hadn’t necessarily done a lot of. That really worked in our favor. They settled down, they played well, they battled, and that bodes well for us. Now, we have to prove that we can handle that; that we can handle success and do something we haven’t done: go on the road and play well, go on the road and play well when we have a tough academic week coming up. Those young guys got caught a little flat-footed, I think, earlier in the season with some of those responsibilities, and now they have to prove they can handle it. The situation is set up perfectly. We know what the challenge is. We’ve had a chance to experience it and get our nose bloodied and now providence has given us another opportunity to go out and prove we can handle some things that are tough here at West Point. The guys are excited for the chance.”

(Ref.: the improved play of the Army defense after Tulane’s opening drive)
“That wasn’t a drive. That was two plays. But, that obviously got some guys nervous because we were doing some things a little bit differently. There are some things we have out there going for us, personnel-wise, that we had to leverage differently than we had been. Enough things had changed that a lesser group might have started to doubt themselves. But, those guys just settled down and kept playing and it wasn’t a crisis of somebody being right. It was some guys trying too hard, going beyond their responsibilities to try to make a play and created an opportunity for our opponent. But the guys settled in and kept fighting and good things happened. I’m not surprised that we gave up some plays, but I’m proud of the guys for not freaking out and trying to overcorrect or starting to doubt what we were doing.”

(Ref.: the play of Army sophomore RB Raymond Maples)
“We’re not surprised that he’s a good running back. Obviously, we thought we saw this when we started recruiting him. He’s been able to get some things started in the past. He has tremendous ball skills. What you’re seeing now is how he finishes runs. He’s enjoying the physical part of the running game where he finishes runs and he’s running through people. He’s more than willing without the ball. He’s a really accomplished guy blocking the perimeter for his teammates. The thing that hasn’t shown up recently is his ball-catching ability. He’s a threat down the field.”

(Ref.: the improved play of the Army defense after Tulane’s opening drive)
“We articulated the challenge. We’re growing up fast. It doesn’t take a lot of reflection to look at how things went just a week ago. What a difference a week makes. Holy cow. I think what we have to do as coaches is recognize the reality of what this week’s going to be like for some of these guys. If we as coaches just pretend that this week is just like any other week, when they’ve got six or seven graded events, it won’t work. We’re going to have to come up with an idea, come up with a plan, to facilitate their success in the classroom and their ability to get their work done and get some rest. We’ll have to give some time back to them and cut some things out of our preparation that maybe we’d ideally like to do. We’ll take them out this week because we’re going to make sure that we’re fresh, focused, excited to play outfit because they’ve experienced that. They tried hard last week, they really did. The effort was not the issue. But we were so, so imprecise. Our timing was off. The emotion wasn’t there. All those things tied to fatigue and some of the things that go along with youth. Now, coming out of this week. Okay, now let’s handle success. Let’s see how mature we can become as competitors going into this next opportunity. Make no mistake, (Miami) is a good football team. You look at their scores, you look at their opponents, they’re a good football team. We’re in the Midwest, we’re on the road, into all of the things we’ve struggled with again. So, great opportunity for us. ”

(Ref.: the improvement of the Army passing game)
“Obviously, that was really efficient. One called pass turned into a quarterback draw. We protected a little better, which gave us a chance to throw and deliver. We had some guys open. Trent was able to deliver the ball. We, frankly, protected better. We called some things at opportune times. We didn’t force things. We were trying to attack run support. The good stuff that will happen for us in the passing game will happen when we’re attacking run support. We got them leaning, got the right play called, got it protected, and they’re more than adequate throwing and catching, they really are. But, that’s our purpose. I’m not throwing for the heck of it. We’re throwing it with an idea that we’re setting up our option game.”

(Ref.: whether he was nervous after Tulane scored on its first drive)
“I wasn’t nervous with what we were doing. I was nervous about how our guys would handle that. I wanted to see how they would fight through that moment. They were upset, they were disappointed, they were determined.
Everybody was a little steely-eyed down there. They didn’t like it because this is a proud outfit and they don’t expect the ball to move. They expect to make plays, they expect to get turnovers and they expect to stop their opponent. When it doesn’t happen, they have to handle it one of two ways. You start to doubt yourself, you start to doubt what you’re doing. None of that.”

(Ref.: forcing four turnovers today)
“I think there are some things that correlate with that. I think we were much more pressure-oriented. We had guys playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage and that helps.”

(Ref.: the performance of Army’s defense versus Tulane)
“I think they took some adjustments. We’re still running our system, but we presented a four-shell look. We gave them four across on the back row with the ability to push some help out on our corners. We matched up with some personnel. We put JJ on their go-to guy and made them hold up in some situations, a little bit on an island. We had to take that extra linebacker out of the secondary, or pushing out to help the corners. We put a little more pressure on those guys up front, but we got off the nose. We don’t play nose tackle very well, so we quit trying to pretend we do and did a little more zipping and zapping. I think when you play well on the back end, you’ll always see some good things happening pressure-wise. We got some hits on the quarterback. We had him uncomfortable. I don’t think he was comfortable with what he was looking at.”

(Ref.: the play of the Army offensive line)
“Frankly, we were a little frustrated. We didn’t think we were doing a great job early in the game. We kept hammering away at it, but we felt like there was more there. Obviously, losing Joe last week hurts us as a football team, but it creates an opportunity for some other guys. Ryan Powis was one of those guys who stepped in last week. He’s someone who we had high expectations for coming in this year. Being a freshman and playing in the offensive line as a freshman is hard anywhere. So, maybe we didn’t pull the trigger as early in the season as we could have with him, but he had that opportunity last week and he convinced us that he was good for it. He’s a special talent.”

(Ref.: Alex Carlton making a field goal)
“That doesn’t surprise me. He was striking the ball well, he really was. He’s practiced well. Alex is way too smart to be a kicker. Kickers, golfers and actors, you don’t want to be too smart. He’s brilliant and he was thinking so hard about what was happening and this angle and that angle. You just have to out there and swing the club and he does it especially well. But it’s not his personality. His personality is to be very analytical. He’s obviously been very hard on himself, but he’s fought through all of that. He really has been striking the ball well here for a couple weeks, so I’m not surprised that he’s doing that.”

Junior QB Trent Steelman
(Ref: touchdown pass to Davyd Brooks)
“When you run the ball as much as we do and you average as many yards as we do per carry, the play action is going to be open. We finally found the scheme up front that fits our play action protection well. The offense did a great job giving me time to locate wide receiver Davyd Brooks. When you can hit a big play like that, it brings so much more intensity and enthusiasm to the offense. It brings your offense up an entire level. It showed today.”

(Ref.: thinking ahead to the rest of the season and playing the majority of it on the road)
“It’s easy to get motivated when you’re coming off a loss like that (at Ball State). Our job and our goal as a team is to find a way to play like we did after a big win like this. That’s what we have to do in order to be successful. We can sit back and critique ourselves as much as possible from Ball State, but deep down, that burn is still going to be there and itch at you to go out and play the best you possibly can against Tulane. Coming off a great win, we have to find that fire again coming up next week against Miami (Ohio).”

(Ref.: answering Tulane’s opening-drive score with an immediate touchdown)
“It was very important. Our main goal as an offense this game was to put four quarters together – have a complete game. We did that today for the first time in a while. It was huge, but we can only control what’s in our huddle. The outside voices, what the defense does, we have no control over that. The only thing we can control is the offense.”

(Ref.: feeling a sense of urgency early in the game)
“When the other team scores, you always want to respond with a touchdown. Our offensive line and entire offense did an awesome job of matching that intensity, being tuned in and keying on their assignments. When we do that, it shows we’re a hard offense to stop.”

(Ref.: utilizing multiple ball carriers and not relying as much on himself)
“I feel great right now and am very blessed to feel the way I do right now. It just goes back to others taking it upon themselves to do big things. Raymond Maples continues to improve on a week to week basis and he is one heck of a runner and athlete. The biggest thing about Raymond is when he doesn’t have the ball, the production he has is the exact same as when the ball is in his hands. He has to keep doing what he does and he is going to be one of those game-changers we have on offense.”

(Ref.: mindset of controlling a game and holding a lead rather than playing from behind)
“It’s kind of like what I was mentioning before, playing with a fire after a loss. You have to come out and find that fire no matter what. That was easy for our guys today. The thing is, our mindset when we have a lead like that is we want to put them (the opponent) to rest. We want to quiet anything, any type of motivation they have on their sideline. That’s what we did today. It showed on their sidelines and our sidelines as well.

“When you’re out there and you’re running on all cylinders, you feel like you can do anything and run any play and it’s going to work. It’s a great feeling when that happens because you control the ball, the clock, the yardage, anything you want.”

Junior DB Josh Jackson
(Ref: how it felt to get his first interception of the season)
“I was thinking touchdown, but I know I’m pretty slow so it didn’t actually happen. It felt great getting that first one out of the way. I was talking to my little brother back at home and he got his in his last game. I’ve been itching to get one and finally got it. I give all the credit to the D-line and the rest of the defense. Without that D-line giving pressure, Tulane’s quarterback wouldn’t have made that bad throw. I give it all back to the D. You don’t do anything by yourself.”

(Ref.: performance of the secondary)
“The secondary probably played the best it has all year. That was shut-down coverage. You go back and watch the film, they (Tulane) didn’t have anything all game. We were using the new defense that we put in. We pretty much had their receivers sandwiched all game. The quarterback thinks they’re open and I’m trailing a receiver, and then you have the safety over the top. It results in picks. Then, we were able to adjust back to our regular defense and lock them down with regular coverage. Being flexible and growing that confidence, the rest of the secondary’s confidence is growing. Our biggest challenge is taking it to the road.”

Junior LB Nate Combs
(Ref: comparing the defense last week to this week)
“Our coaches came out with a good scheme this week. We knew that Tulane was a great offense, especially passing, so we came out and added another secondary guy, got me and A-Rod (Andrew Rodriguez) on the field at the same time, which hasn’t happened this whole year. It really helped us. Tulane couldn’t adjust. They had that first big drive to start, but after that, we were all over them for the rest of the game. Tulane has a great offense, so that was a big morale-booster for the defense.”

Freshman RB Larry Dixon
(Ref: thoughts on getting the ball near the goal line in the first quarter)
“The only thing going through my head was to run hard and do my assignment. Trust your linemen and trust your block. They’ve been dominating all year and you knew they were going to dominate on that play. You just trust your guys and do your job. It worked out the way I wanted it to, so I’m very appreciative.”

Tulane Head Coach Bob Toledo
“It didn’t turn out really well, first of all. Obviously, turnovers and penalties played a big part. We couldn’t keep drives alive because of major penalties. Like I said, the turnovers really hurt us. We didn’t’ have the ball enough to do anything with it. I think we had it less than 50 snaps, and that should be a little over half.

“We just didn’t have the ball, first and foremost, because we didn’t do anything with it offensively. And secondly, we couldn’t stop them offensively to get the ball back. They took it to our defense pretty good particularly inside. They physically ran through us.”

(Ref.: what happened to the offense after the first-quarter touchdown)
 “What happened is you end up turning the ball over, you end up getting penalties. We had penalties that took us out of drives. We were down in the end zone and we couldn’t score because of penalties and turnovers. They played better than we did. That’s all there is to it.”

(Ref.: going back to the drawing board)
“We don’t have to play this kind of defense or offense anymore, that’s first and foremost. It’s just so hard to get ready for in three days. Offensively, our left guard looked like he had food poisoning before the game. He had a hard time, then our right guard got a concussion and he was out. Our linebackers were getting hurt. We had some guys nicked up too. We didn’t protect the quarterback, we couldn’t get open, we didn’t run the ball well the second half. Part of it was they were giving us a lot of pressure and we just weren’t handling it well.”

(Ref.: losing opportunity to go 3-2)
 “That’s discouraging because that’s one of the things we preached all week that this is going to give us a chance to be in the top half of the conference and be over .500 and be 3-2 and go home and feel good about it. To lose the game and lose it the way we did, it puts a lot of pressure on us.”

(Ref.: his message to the team)
 “I told them just what I told you. You can’t turn the ball over, you can’t have penalties, you’ve got to stop people from running, and we have to protect the passer. Then I said this is behind us. Right now there will be a lot of naysayers, same old thing. We’re 2-3 again. We’ve got to let that not affect us. We’ve got to put that behind us, and we’ve got to stick together as a team and a coaching staff and get ready for next week and try to win league games down the stretch.”

Sophomore RB Orleans Darkwa
(Ref.: how he feels)
 “Sick. You can’t turn the ball over and win games, simple as that.”

(Ref.: scoring on the opening drive and Army recovering)
 “We started off good. That was a big focus this week, to start off fast. We were able to, but, like I said, turnovers.”

(Ref.: how you regroup from the loss)
 “Go to practice and work hard. We’ve got to work harder than we did last week. Simple as that.”

(Ref.: why the team can’t get over the .500 hump)
 “I couldn’t tell you. Like I said, this was a statement game for us, and we weren’t able to go out and execute the way we wanted to. We can’t let this be the big point in our season and determine the rest of our season. We’ve got to go back and fight hard and work hard and surprise everyone for Syracuse.”

Freshman LB Matthew Bailey
(Ref.: defending the Army offense)
“It was a lot faster, a lot more physical than practice. I didn’t think they would be cutting as fast as they do, but that’s hard to defend when they’re diving as fast as they do.”

(Ref.: how he feels after the game)
“I feel like we could have won the game. We just beat ourselves and that’s one thing we have to work on. We’ve got to work on keeping the ball in our hands and taking advantage of the turnovers we force. It was a game we could have won.”

(Ref.: how to rebound)
“We’re going to get better. We’re going to go to practice, we’re going to put in more time, put in more work, put in more effort. We’re only going to get better. It takes leadership to pick everyone up, put everyone on the same page so that we can get everyone on a roll and get on a win streak.”

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