Postgame Quotes - Dec. 14, 2013 vs. Navy

Dec. 14, 2013

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Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: opening statement)
"That gets away for the reason that any football game gets away - we turned the ball over against a good football team. We gave up big plays on defense, and we took some big hits in the penalty game. Against a good team, don't be surprised the score gets upside down."

(Ref.: starting A.J. Schurr and then putting Angel Santiago into the game)
"We said going in that we expected to see both of them. The conditions had it on the edge. We think that A.J. has some real upside and playmaking ability, but in these conditions, Angel has the big mitts. Four or five times this year we've been out there and the ball hasn't touched the ground. It was that kind of a game. When A.J. was struggling to keep the ball off the ground, we felt like that was our best chance to hold onto the ball, be patient and make some plays along the way. We wanted to see if we could tap into those dynamic plays that A.J. can make, that upside. We changed our mind, if you will, when we saw the conditions and A.J. struggling with it. Angel had the ball on the ground too."

(Ref.: the team's mistakes)
"The first thing you have to do in a game like this is play without errors, delays and turnovers. If you're going to have a chance against a good Navy team like that you have to be on the other side of the ledger when it comes to turnovers. In the first two series, we had the ball on the ground twice."

(Ref.: moving Geoffery Bacon back to mike linebacker and Hayden Pierce starting at free safety)
"If you told me we were going to force that many punts, I would have said we had a great chance in the game. But big plays undid a big body of work. We don't have a lot of depth at the safety position, but with Thomas (Holloway) back and those guys well, we felt we could leverage what Hayden Pierce does really well, which is run the alley. That was the job description for that position. We felt like with as much speed and double option as Navy runs, we had to have a rangier guy playing that mike linebacker position. Geoff had done that and been very successful against both Navy and Air Force a year ago. We thought we could get a little more athleticism on the back row there. They make you run from side to side."

(Ref.: if there is a gap in athleticism between Army and Navy)
"I thought we closed that gap the last two years, but that gap has opened back up. I think the score is as out of whack as it is because those things that will get you in any football game, turnovers and big plays. There is no doubt that this is a better Navy football team than we saw a year ago, and I've said that I think this is the best Navy football team since I've been here. We felt like we closed the gap the past two years, but this year you can't say that."

(Ref.: what he told the players in the locker room after the game)
"From a football perspective, I said that the scoreboard will look like that in any game if you're penalized like that, turn the ball over and give up big plays. Against a good football team, that is going to make it really hard. Before the game I told them they paid this price. They have invested so much in this team. They are committed to one another. They are bonded like you can't believe. When this terrible feeling we in our stomach diminishes, what will be left is these bonds they've forged with one another. I told them how proud I am to have been a part of their journey, be part of what brought them together and be part of what put their feet on the path they've chosen. I couldn't be prouder of who those guys are and what they've taken on."

(Ref.: if the losing streak to Navy affects the players mindset)
"I do think we're vulnerable to try and play out of our shoes and have one of those superhuman efforts because they knew they were playing a good football team. There are so many things about this game and rivalry that can seduce you into something other than just trying to be your best self. Whenever you do that, it gets away from you. I think the guys were reasonably on guard against that. They were competing well and trying to have some fun. We make enough plays defensively along the way to make you think that we can hang in there with these guys, but you have to eliminate those big plays. Offensively, we have to figure out a way to put more plays together without the penalties and turnovers."

(Ref.: his feelings about this year's team)
"I love that football team. That is a great team, and a great senior class. You can't imagine the feeling they have for one another and what they've put into that. I want desperately for them to have a better feeling today. That's what is klling me."

(Ref.: the running game's struggles)
"Navy's defense was a big part of it. We know each other a little bit and they do a good job defending us. That was part of the reason I closed practice this week. We felt like Larry (Dixon) could play in that cast, but we had to be careful about what we asked him to do in terms of the reads and the meshes and whatnot. They could figure that out. They know enough about mesh football that if he has a cast on this hand, they'll be doing certain things one way and not the other."

Senior LB Thomas Holloway
(Ref.: his shoulder injury)

"During the first quarter, I hit the fullback pretty hard with my right shoulder, and I sprained my AC joint. I went in and took some X-rays and they said they could give me some numbing medicine and I could come back. They shot me up, and after halftime, they made a judgment call that I could go in. It hurts really bad, but I never would have given up the chance to play with my brothers one last time."

Senior OT Michael Kime
(Ref.: his emotions after this tough battle)

"I'm just really proud that I got the chance to play with these guys, especially Jarrett (Mackey). To watch Jarrett go through the adversity that he's had has really epitomized what it means to be a captain. I'm really glad I got a chance to play with all of the guys up here and in the locker room."

(Ref.: on Navy going for two late in the game)
"They wanted to get it to an even score, which makes sense for them because we could have gotten an extra point to win. I could see why the coaches would do that."

Junior LB Geoffrey Bacon
(Ref.: playing for head coach Rich Ellerson)

"Coach E has really made strides to be more of a player's coach and better himself as a coach. A lot of the losses we took this year, including this game, were because of the players. It wasn't because of the coaches. We were prepared for the games and everything was set, but we just didn't execute. By no means do I blame this season on him. I know he's the head coach, so he has to take the blame, but it's not his fault. The coaches aren't perfect, but neither are we."

Senior OLB Jarrett Mackey
(Ref.: difficulty stopping Navy's big plays)

"We're the type of defense that does best against the option, and on some of the plays, we messed up. We just wanted to get back out there and prove ourselves. We have to play better as individuals, as well as a collective defense, and not have those types of errors."

(Ref.: his thoughts after Army scored its touchdown)
"From a defensive standpoint, we were ready to go out there and get the offense the ball again. We wanted to keep that momentum rolling. It didn't happen that way, but after they had scored we knew we could still win. We came into the game imagining, but we needed to make more plays as a unit on offense and defense."

Junior FB Larry Dixon
(Ref.: on what playing in a cast was like)

"The doctors felt confident that with the cast and after a week of practice I would be ready to go. They asked me if I thought I could do it, and I said, `If I can walk, I can play.' This team is special, and I was never going to miss a chance to play. It didn't matter what was wrong with me. I made a couple of crucial mistakes, \but my arm isn't to blame."

Junior QB Angel Santiago
(Ref.: the decision that A.J. Schurr would be the starting quarterback)

"During the bye week, we both practiced with the first team. On Monday,, the coaches made the decision. I just wanted to support him and make sure that I did everything in my power to help him become a better quarterback."

(Ref.: getting his chance to play)
"My main focus was trying to move the offense and put us in the end zone. I wanted to minimize all of the mistakes and try my best to keep the ball off the ground."

Navy Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo

(Ref.: opening statement)
“I’m very happy for our seniors, for all of our players.  To win the biggest game of the year … our guys work so hard all year for that.  In the summer, training, fall ball and spring camp.  To come to the biggest game of the year … the only thing this reminded me of Hawaii was the lei, but I thought our kids played well.  We stayed on focus, stayed outside (at practice) to get used to the elements.  Just very pleased.  Not sure if I can single anyone out.  Obviously Keenan (Reynolds) with the record; he is a major, major part of our team.  Obviously the defense played well in shutting down a very, very good Army offense.   Just happy for our team, happy for our players.”

(Ref.: if Keenan Reynolds deserves to be in New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony)
“I think he does.  He is as good of a quarterback as anyone, I think his stats … not to take anything away from the guys who are there.  They are very deservedly there.  But so is Keenan.”

(Ref.: winning 12 games in a row against Army)
“I’m just proud of our guys.  That’s hard to do against anybody 12 times, but for it to be against your rivals … we just stayed at the task at hand.  It was hard this time with finals.  But we don’t make excuses.  We’re the Naval Academy.  Courses are tough.  They recognized they had to get ready for finals, and came in here … just very proud of them.”

(Ref.: on the elements changing the play calling)
“It changed the way we were thinking.  We wanted to run downhill a little more.  We went into the “I” with this type of weather.  There were a lot of gusts, too.  That’s why we took the wind in the third quarter. Up 17-0, sometimes people take the wind in the fourth quarter.  We’re both teams that grind it out, so we wanted to get ahead and make them throw the ball in the fourth quarter.”

(Ref.: on Keenan scoring the last touchdown of the game - that broke the Navy season scoring record set in 1917)
“There is part of that (taking a knee and not scoring), but I have to think about our team.  I got a kid that has busted his butt this year, he has had a great season, has the opportunity to break the record … that thought did cross my mind, to take a knee … as I said, I have great respect for Coach Ellerson and everybody on that side.  But on my side, I had a kid who has a chance to break a record.”

(Ref.: on the play of the defense)
“Our defense played great. Coach (Buddy) Green and his staff did a great job.  Their offense has moved the ball on everyone they have played this season.  They are very, very good.  I’m just proud of the way we played.  We didn’t give any big plays, made them grind it out.”

(Ref.: on “feeling” for Army)
“No doubt, no doubt (I feel for them).  It is hard, man.  This is a hard deal.  I have a lot of good friends on the Army staff.  I speak about Coach Ellerson; Todd Spencer is one of my best friends in coaching.  He and I coached together for 10 years.  We slept in the same room on road trips for 10 years.  That’s hard, man. This is a tough deal.  Coaching is a bottom line profession.  It’s just hard.  But I do feel for those guys and their players.  They have great kids over there.  They go through what our kids go through.  Ultimately, I have to think about our team.”

Sophomore QB Keenan Reynolds
(Ref.: the importance of today’s game)
“Coach Jackson was telling the offense before the game  that no matter how good or bad your season went before today, this game makes or breaks your season. You could be 11-0, but if you lose you consider it a failure. This is our number one goal every year to beat Army. Right after that it’s to win the Commander-In-Chief’s trophy. Practice gets turned up as soon as it’s time for Army. We call it “Army Camp” amongst the players, it’s three weeks of grinding. We don’t practice indoors and we go at it every day and prepare because we know these guys [Army] are going to play us tough like they do every year. They played us tough today, too.”

(Ref.: carrying the ball six straight times on the fourth quarter drive that put Navy up 28-7)
“Props go to the guys up front [offensive line], they’ve been chugging away all year. A lot of those guys have been banged up and I can’t say enough about how they played and the composure they kept throughout the game. I’m so blessed to have those guys in front of me. I was fortunate enough to have the ball in my hands those six times and make something happen. Army had been doing a good job of keeping me in check.”

(Ref.: setting two records)
“Coming into the game I wasn’t too concerned about the record. If I broke it, I broke it, if not oh well. My main concern was getting the W. If that meant me getting zero touchdowns and everybody else running and having a field day, that’s good with me. I came in with an open mind and not too worried about the record because if you begin to press that’s usually when you make mistakes. So I just let the game come to me.”

(Ref.: playing in the snow)
“It was definitely a unique experience. I’ve never played in the snow before. I’m from the South so we don’t get much snow in the fall. It was fun, kind of a storybook Army-Navy game, cold, snowing, grind it out type of game. Couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

(Ref.: on Army)
“Those guys play hard on every snap until the clock says all zeros. I have tremendous respect for them. Every year when we play them you can throw the records out the window because those guys give us everything they can on every play.”

(Ref.: how to grade season as a whole)
“We accomplished all of our goals so far, beating Army and Air Force, winning the Commander-In-Chief and to making it to a bowl game. The last thing is to win the bowl game. For our seniors to go out like this I don’t think there will be anything sweeter than beating Army. We knew that the only people that could stop us were ourselves with self-inflicted wounds. We try to limit our turnovers and penalties because that what will cause you to lose a game.”

(Ref.: the emotions of today)
“It’s almost surreal to be honest. Our guys played their hearts out. It was a great team win. And to win in this fashion was a great feeling.”

Junior FB Noah Copeland
(Ref.: how early success helped open up the offense)
“For me and Quinton [Singleton] that was a major confidence boost early on. It took more pressure off of Keenan and they had to respect us going forward.”

Junior RG Jake Zuzek
(Ref.: the 12-game winning streak)
“It means a lot to the brotherhood as a whole. Coming into this game we didn’t really talk about it. We wanted to keep that in the past and focus on the game at hand. Being from the area it was pretty sweet and I had a lot of people here to watch me. I think for the brotherhood and the whole school it was important that we kept the streak going.”

(Ref.: blocking for Keenan)
“Its fun because you’ve had quarterbacks like Ricky Dobbs and Roger Staubach play here and I’m sure those offensive linemen will never forget that those are the guys that they blocked for. Blocking for Keenan is something that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”

Senior LB Cody Peterson
(Ref.: beating Army 12-straight times)
“It’s a very special feeling to accomplish what we did. I feel we did our job for Navy football and the culture of defeating Army is now a standard and as seniors as a group, we did our job.”

Freshman CB Brendon Clements
(Ref.: his performance in his first year)
“I think you can say that I set the bar high for myself with the game I had today. I can attribute my performance to my coaches, especially Coach (Buddy) Green for keeping my focus and telling us to do our assignments and we would be successful.”

Freshman CB Brendon Clements
(Ref.: the nervousness heading into the game)
“When I woke up this morning I could tell I was already nervous to play the game. Going to breakfast and before the game, I was nervous and I told some of the other players that I was nervous. It was funny to because I have not been nervous all year and then this feeling came over me and my teammates told me not to be nervous and just have fun out there. The minute I got onto the field the feeling was gone and I was dialed in to play.”

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