Army Postgame Quotes (Nov. 6, 2010)

Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson

(Ref.: his thoughts on the game)
"We're hurting a little bit. We didn't do enough well. We didn't coach well enough. We didn't play well enough. It's not a mystery. That had a chance to be a great football game. It wasn't. We didn't coach well enough and we didn't play well enough for it to be a good football game. That's devastating to our guys. There was no lack of effort. There was no lack of caring. There was no lack of investment. We didn't do the things that we have consistently done that have given us a chance in every football game. You can look the guys in the locker room in the eye and say, 'Guys, there's not a game we've won this year that we could win playing that way.' That's the truth of it. We know how to do this. We're better than that. That was going to be a hard game to win. If we go out there and play our best football game, it's going to be a hotly-contested game. That had a chance to be just a great football game, and we didn't put our best foot forward. Frankly, that's a shame. That's on me."

(Ref.: the team's health and if it affected the game)
"The injuries are incidental. We have some guys nicked up. We're fortunate we don't have any serious injuries. All of those guys are going to be available. That's what you have to deal with in this game, especially this time of year."

(Ref.: how the team moves on from its disappointment)
"We're going to somehow, some way be 1-0 next week. That's what we're going to do. We got kicked a little bit, but we'll be okay. This is a resilient team. This is a team that cares about each other. This is a team that loves to play the game. We've got all kinds of stuff to play for. We have to take something off the table (the Commander In Chief's Trophy). We weren't up to it today. We have to deal with it. That's on me. I don't worry about our team being excited to play, excited to prepare or excited about what's next. We're just not going to be very excited for a couple of days. This is tough."

(Ref.: Army's mistakes)
"I don't want to take any credit away from Air Force. As I said, if we're out there playing a good game, this is going to be a hotly-contested outcome. If we play our best, I'm not saying we would have walked away with the thing. I'm saying if we play like we've played, if we play as well as we can play, we've got a great chance. But that's all we have. We'd be out there right now biting our nails. We didn't. We didn't give ourselves those chances. Give them credit. They threw it and caught it. The ball was out and they were on it. They did some smart things that had us on our heels a little bit, and there were some things we  didn't have quite game ready that allowed them some production that they didn't need to have. Largely on offense, we were a little bit of a guessing game. We were getting our share of those. If we're being precise, taking care of the football and not wasting downs, we got a great chance. Our kicker had a career day. Our punter played really well. The guys were care. Effort was not the issue. Investment was not the issue. It was turnovers, penalties and precision. All of those nasty little details."

(Ref.: what specifically he was taking blame for)
"When I say that, I mean that players are a reflection of their coach. Our goal is to have them on the edge, not over the edge. I like where we were, but we have to own some of those miscues. We have to own some of those mistakes. We have to own those turnovers. We have some issues on the perimeter there a couple of times where we're just not right, and we have to own that. By-and-large, the guys adjusted. It was going to be a 15-round, toe-to-toe, here we go if we do those things that we're good at doing."

(Ref.: Army's two turnovers and the two long passing plays)
"You can do so many good things on defense in any game, but if the ball goes over your head on third down every so often, it negates all those other things. We know how much good work a turnover can take away from the offense. You can be driving the ball down the field and doing everything exactly right, and if you turn the ball over it's all for naught. You can be winning the line of scrimmage, pressuring the quarterback on defense, but if the ball goes over your head, it's all for naught. That's the game. That's not news. It is certainly an illustration of how pivotal those things are and why we work so hard. We were on the edge in those passing situations. We're not trying to defend everything on every play against those guys. If you're playing against a good offensive football team, and they are one, and you try to defend everything on every snap, you're not defending anything. Never do we expect the ball to go over our head like that. We had some guys get tied up and fall down. It happens."

(Ref.: comparing Army's program to Air Force)
"I don't know if I can prove it with that particular tape, but we're gaining on it. They've been consistently good and occasionally good for a generation or two, and we're battling back into that realm. We have a lot of football in front of us. When the dust settles this year, we'll say, yeah we belong. That wasn't our best foot forward by any stretch, but we belong. We're gaining on it."

(Ref.: the improvements that need to be made to the program to compete with Air Force)
"Those two football teams, with us doing what we've done so well this year, that comes right down to the end. That's going to be a hard-fought, hard-contested outcome. I'm not saying we walk away with it. Those two teams have a chance to play it right down to the wire. We weren't up to it. We didn't play as well as them. We didn't do the things consistent with winning. If we do those things, we have a great chance now. The challenge isn't recruiting. The challenge is to own this thing, stay together, clear and focus on the next opportunity because we have all kinds of great stuff in front of us."

(Ref.: the team's missed tackles)
"I think there is some of that going on, don't get me wrong. When you look at some of it, it's not just a ball carrier and a tackler. It's a tackler battling a blocker trying to get a guy on the ground. They did a nice job. They run hard. I'm a little disappointed in our ability to get guys down, but we've seen that before. That's a system challenge and something we've managed to deal with with our effort. That was the case today. We gave ourselves chances. If we can eliminate the big play, if we can get ourselves a takeaway, not turn the ball over, we could be having a much different discussion right now."

(Ref.: Josh McNary's injury)
"He nicked himself (hamstring) in practice a little bit this week. He tried to go, thought he could go, but that's a challenge. It's not serious, but it's enough that it could have been serious and he wasn't going to be effective."

(Ref.: Jared Hassin's performance)
"I think he probably feels much like all of us do. There is a consistency issue. Most of the game he is playing well enough to give us a great chance to win that thing, but then we have the ball on the ground. I think we have a couple of guys out there trying to do something a little bit heroic. That's a common trap for guys to fall into. You get into a situation where you're a little bit behind and you go out there and try to make something heroic happen, and you leave the ball on the ground. I'm not saying that's all on Jared. Frankly, I've got both those guys on the sideline after that and they're both looking at me. To this moment, they do not know what happened on that."

(Ref.: Army's pass rush on Air Force's long pass plays)
"I can only speak to one of them. We had a chance if we're executing exactly right, and we're doing what was called for on that second one, that ball doesn't get thrown. We have a guy unblocked that is supposed to be right there and he's not. Again, do things that we do consistently well. When you're playing those guys, they're throwing the ball in instances where you're playing the heck out of the run. One of the things that the option can do to you is keep you at the line of scrimmage. I felt like we had a plan that if we're right on it, we had a chance to help those guys on the back end with pressure because frankly, that's what it was going to have to come down to."

(Ref.: if kicking field goals on the first two drives cost them later)
"If all you do down there is kick field goals, then you're exactly right. You can't every time you get down in there, settle for a field goal and think the scoreboard is going to be right at the end of the day. Having said that, when we took those shots, it was the right thing to do. I was really proud of Alex Carlton. That last one was a pretty big swing for him."

(Ref.: the 4th-and-1 on the first drive)
"We've got that time out and we were having that discussion on the sideline. It was a little bit more than one. We'd been to this movie before and left it down there the other way so we thought at that point with the chance to take the lead, we'd take the lead. In terms of what we would have done if we would have gone back out there and gone for it, I wasn't buying into what we were talking about."

Army senior LB Stephen Anderson

(Ref.: the disappointment of losing to Air Force)
"One of our season goals was to win the Commander in Chief's Trophy, so obviously that's out of the way now. We made four goals for a reason. Three of those four goals are still on the table and we're just going to attack them as we can. It's painful. It's a feeling that's not expected and the feeling of a lost opportunity. We'll bounce back and refocus tomorrow."

(Ref.: if someone had told him before today that Army's defense would allow 42 points to Air Force)
"I would have just brushed it off and ignored you. You get told all week that certain things are going to happen, but the only guys that know what is going to happen are the guys in the locker room and the coaching staff. We thought we had a pretty good grasp on the (Air Force) offense. They hit two big passing plays, but if we knock those balls down it's a totally different game. You lose the turnover battle. We can't get a turnover and they get two. Those are our keys to victory, and that key to victory was huge today.

(Ref.: whether his dropped interception in the first quarter could have changed the game)
"The game can change on any play. That's what coach preaches. That's what we preach. The biggest play of the game is the next play. That's a play I have to make. Donovan (Travis) said he's the center fielder, he should have called me off on it since I was the shortstop, but it was a missed opportunity that we had. It was another lost opportunity and that could have set the pace for the game, just like earlier in the year. An early turnover can set the pace for the game."

(Ref.: making big plays and how they turned the game)
"You cannot make enough plays. We all love making plays. We made a lot of plays early, but so did they. It comes down to those two big plays, those two big passing plays, and the two turnovers. They capitalized on both their turnovers. They got a pick and scored on us. And they returned a fumble 52 yards on us. It comes down to when you have the opportunity you have to shut them down. We could have taken the momentum back. (If) we shut them down after they get that pick, they're the ones saying 'Oh, shoot.' They're going into halftime like, 'Ah, we missed an opportunity.' The game can change on the next play."

(Ref.: losing to Air Force in his final game at Michie Stadium)
"I've never beaten Air Force in four years and that was one of the things that I was most excited about going into this week. It was another opportunity to feel what it feels like to win an academy game. I haven't won an academy game in four years. That brings so much more passion and emotion into the game because it was my last chance this Saturday. A loss is a loss and this one hurts the most because it's the most recent. Knowing that we had a chance to take command of the Commander in Chief's Trophy going into Navy. It was my last game at Michie Stadium. There were lots of emotions today. We just go back to work on Sunday."

Army senior S Donnie Dixon

(Ref.: the emotion of the game)
"There was a lot of emotion to take advantage of out there today. Of course, it's an academy rival and it was the very last time for the firsties to play at Michie Stadium. Two of our four goals were on the table today. That certainly didn't escape us. Defeating Air Force obviously would have put us in good position to go ahead and attain the CIC later on. Of course, the immediate goal that would have been attained was our bowl berth. Unfortunately, that didn't occur today, but we got another game next week and we're going to bounce back and we'll get it done."

Army sophomore FB Jared Hassin

(Ref.: the fumble on the handoff exchange in the fourth quarter)
"Plays like that happen so quickly. You can rehearse a play like that thousands of times in practice and you can never depend on it to go exactly the way you run it in practice. I'm going to say that one was my fault entirely. Trent put the ball out there and it's my responsibility to make sure that I get it secured before that first contact and I didn't do it."

Army sophomore QB Trent Steelman

(Ref.: the fumble on the handoff exchange in the fourth quarter)
"Regardless, that's part of our offense. That's what we do daily. Either way, it just shouldn't happen. I need to be able to give a good clean read and give a good clean handoff. It's a part of our offense and it's what we do, so stuff like that can happen."

(Ref.: settling for field goals in the first quarter)
"Any opportunity, especially in a game like this where emotions run high, you have to take the points any way you can get them. Both of our offenses are so similar in what we do. Each defense sees it in a week-to-week basis in practice so we knew it was going to come down to grinding it out. Their offense is potent, but we have to be able to respond right back and some possessions didn't go our way."

(Ref.: the interception he threw late in the second quarter)
"It was a big part of the game. Unfortunately, the only pick I throw all year comes back to haunt us. It was a two-man route, but the corner got in front of the ball and picked it off. I need to do a better job of seeing him and kind of looking the thing off. You have to be able to forget that type of stuff and move on."

(Ref.: whether or not the Air Force defense surprised him with anything they did)
"No, it was exactly what we expected and what we practiced against all week. We were fully prepared for what they were giving on a play-to-play basis. It just comes down to being able to execute every play and keeping their offense off the field and doing what we do best, which is running the ball. They played well today and they're a good team. We just have to go back to work."

Army sophomore DT A.J. Mackey

(Ref.: on Army head coach Rich Ellerson taking blame for today's outcome)
"It's a team effort. He's going to want to take the responsibility, but it falls on us. I know he gave all he could and coached the game as best as he could and we played hard, but we didn't play as hard as we needed to play. We had the keys to win and the will to win, but we didn't show up on all cylinders today."

(Ref.: what went wrong for the Army defense)
"Some of it was play-calling. They caught us in some slants. Ultimately, it is about responsibilities. That's what it comes down to - everybody doing their job and not trying to cover up for somebody else's job."


Air Force Head Coach Troy Calhoun

(Ref.: opening statement)
"Fine victory. Really, I think both teams on that field are two good football teams. It's good to come up here, especially for our kids, and create a memory. That's what they did through their work, through their dedication for some time. Hopefully what we've done is create something that these guys can carry with them for quite some time."

(Ref.: winnign the Commander In Chief's Trophy)
"For our players, it's neat, really neat. The Air Force Academy, West Point, these places are here for young people to go to school here and ultimately the commitment they've made and their choice is to serve our country. We're part of a team. We're all part of a team. There are a lot of people in there. Their focus, their professionalism, just the whole thing, everyone is involved."

(Ref.: looking forward to the rest of the season)
"Looking at the last 56 days, our best football could be in front of us, and we're going to make that happen. I tell the guys to celebrate the heck out of this accomplishment. It's an eye-opener in terms of possibilities. More importantly it solidifies our approach to work ethic, our hardness, our kind of commitment."

Junior quarterback Tim Jefferson

(Ref.: hit by Army senior Donnie Dixon)
"When he first hit me I was dazed. He hit me and drilled me to the ground, and they teach that, so I don't think it was illegal or anything. It was a nice, hard hit. He got me right up under the chin and I hit my head on the ground was dazed for a little while. I did the safe thing and just sat there until my head got clear and by that time I tried to get up and the trainers were already out there and they held me down, but I was fine after that."

(Ref.: the rest of the season)
"We have a chance to end the season on a really high note. We're going to celebrate this and then when we get home, we're going to get back to work on Monday. San Diego State is a really underrated team, TCU and Utah speak for themselves, top-10 teams, what else can you say about them. It was rough those past three weeks, but we're through that part of the schedule, and we have a chance to play our best football."

(Ref.: two of the three receptions being long passes)
"The first one was kind of just by luck because it was a completely wrong read, we had two receivers in the same area just by luck, but he (Jon Warseka) made the play - one guy made the block and the other guy made the catch, and then the second one, we just executed really well."


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