Army Football Media Day Quotes

July 31, 2013

The following quotes have been excerpted from Army Football Media Day, held Wednesday, July 31, in the Randall Hall auditorium.

Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: bonding the team)
“That exercise obviously started in January. We have an extraordinarily tight group of guys that are returning. Now yesterday the team grew by about 30 percent so there’s a task in front of us. We have to bring that new class into the equation. We have such a strong foundation and guys that were on the receiving end of that over the last couple of years. They know how important that is and how good that feels. We’re working hard on that through training camp. That’s one of those areas where we successfully leverage the larger institution. You talk about team building, family and brotherhood, in that regard we leverage the institution just fine.”

(Ref.: whether the team has found a player who is the voice of the team)
“I think they found a group of guys. There is not just one guy, there is a group of guys, both juniors and seniors, that are within their groups and within their classes are influential people. Starting in January, the senior class, and the junior class, decided this was going to be different. We tried to do some things in the spring. If there was something we could do differently, we did it differently. Those guys embraced that. There is clearly a different internal voice and it smacks of determination.”

(Ref.: the team’s summer)
"We’ve had the best summer we’ve had since I’ve been here in terms of doing all the things that are expected of us and all the things our guys want to do and should do. We did it in a way we were able to protect some of that physical profile we worked so hard in achieving during the spring that sometimes becomes vulnerable in the summer. There is still a price to be paid out there, but we’ve managed that better than we ever have. Institutional leadership has been willing to try things and support that purpose. I think everyone is coming away from that thinking mission accomplished. Not only did we protect those gains we made physically in the spring, but we had a great summer that you expect a West Point cadet to have.”

(Ref. the changes made during the spring and offseason)
“There are some things we are doing really well, and we need to continue to do those things well and build on them. There is absolutely opportunity to grow. We talk about those virtues that you think should be on display when you’re around the Army football team. What we don’t like about ourselves is the attentiveness to detail and precision. You would associate those two things with Army football. The closeness of our team, absolutely got it. How hard we play and how physical we are went from good to a little bit scary this spring. Now, if we can close the gap on precision and details, we’ll add the final piece to the puzzle. That can be measured by the ball not touching the ground. We run a style of offense where we’re dealing the football – it doesn’t touch the ground. That’s a by-product of attention to detail, not just on Saturday, but every time we step on the field and touch a football. That paradigm had to move. There is an opportunity there to take a step forward. It’s measured in penalties, especially those that happen the ball is snapped. Finally, there is assignment fidelity, guys trying to do the right thing with their eyes and feet at the snap of the ball. You can measure those things. We’re not bad, but we’re not the best in the country. We’re not what you’d expect from a West Point football team. We’ve done some soul searching there about both our football team’s culture and the larger culture. We’ve tried to find out where we need to look for that standard and that expectation. That’s been a big focus of our offseason and going into training camp.”

(Ref.: the returning experience on the roster)
“Well, just organically there are some good things happening. The center of gravity of the football team on the two-deep will be dominated by juniors and seniors. We’re still going to have some underclassmen, there will be a number of sophomores and a handful of freshmen that get into the mix, it’s just inevitable that they will. We’ll be relatively young, but for the first time in a couple of years, we’ll have more juniors and seniors on the two-deep. That can’t not be a good thing. It’s guys that have been there, guys who have some experience. It’s guys that know how to do West Point. They’ve been here long enough that they know what’s expected of them, and they know how to manage the experience.”

(Ref.: replacing four-year starting QB Trent Steelman)
“Every coach in the country has had to talk about this in the last four years, but I haven’t. We are fortunate that we have two guys in the mix that have played a little bit on Saturday in Angel (Santiago) and A.J. (Schurr). They competed very well during spring. We felt like at the end that A.J. was a little bit ahead, but it’s very competitive. That’s how we’re going into it. I’m not going to dismiss Cody Jackson or Kelvin White either. Kelvin didn’t have a full spring, and he’s got some really compelling abilities that we need to pay attention to. The good news is we have two experienced guys with in the offense who have done some good things on Saturdays and in the spring.”

(Ref.: the returning talent in the backfield)
“You have a bunch of veterans back there. A healthy Terry Baggett is very exciting to us. Of course, there is Ray (Maples ) and Larry (Dixon). There are some gifted guys who have played a lot of football for us. Then you look at those lines and the next guy has played a lot too. We talked about the opportunity for precision in terms of the offense and protecting the ball, and those guys have that opportunity because of their experience. They’ve embraced that, they’ve articulated it to one another, and they’ll take advantage of that.”

(Ref.: improving the passing game)
“Balance might be a reach, but we’re getting things from opponents that force us to be able to take advantage of the run support out of the secondary. We’re doing such a good job of running the football that put folks in a bind and creates opportunities in the passing game. We need to take advantage of those opportunities. Frankly, that’s one of the things we tried to shake up this spring. I feel great about where our quarterbacks are. We have some guys who can deliver the ball, and Trent (Steelman) could deliver the ball. We did not do a good enough job of competing for balls in the air and we didn’t consistently catch the ball. When you don’t throw it very much, and something bad happens, you don’t want to throw it again. I’ve sensed that from myself and from Coach (Ian) Shields. As signal callers you get into that mindset of we have to throw it instead of saying, ‘Oh, boy!’ Both as coaches and players, when we see something like that, our internal voice has to say, ‘Oh, boy! Look out. Here we go.’”

(Ref.: getting the team back to a winning record and bowl game)
“There is something happening internally that bodes well for us. We’re going to be an older football team. We’re not going to just keep doing what we’ve been doing, and sit back and say we’re older therefore we’re better, but that is one of those pre-conditions when you look at someone’s depth chart. You’d like to have a significant number of juniors and seniors. We’ve had two really good senior classes (since 2010), but just a handful of guys played a meaningful role. This year, we’ll have a significant number of juniors and seniors carrying the load for us on Saturdays, and that bodes well for us. That was certainly the case in 2010. This bunch has been together long enough, and everybody has been recruited to do what they’re being asked to do on Saturday. We’re making progress. Now we look at our schedule, and by the middle of October we’re going to know an awful lot about ourselves. We knew the job was dangerous when we took it. We can’t wait. This has the chance to be the best Army football team in a generation. It really does. That means we have a chance to be that team. There is a lot of hard work between where we are now and where we’re going to be on that opening kickoff, but the guys have done the work to date. They’ve done what they had to do in the spring. They did what they had to do in the summer. Now we go through this next evolution of training camp. It’s exciting. There is a lot of work to do, but it’s a real opportunity.”

Junior QB Angel Santiago
(Ref.: the team’s attitude coming into the season)
“Coming off of last season definitely hurt us, but I think after the spring we turned the page offensively and defensively. I truly believe that we come into this training camp ready to go and firing on all cylinders.”

(Ref.: the importance of the quarterback to the team)
“The quarterback needs to bring energy to this offense. This offense is fast. If we bring that positive energy and keep everyone motivated and moving in the right direction, we’re definitely a threat.”

Junior FB Larry Dixon
(Ref.: the offense playing without Trent Steelman)
“We lost a great player in Trent. He’s going to go down in the record books as one of the greats. We’ve taken steps to recover. We might be a little bit different, but we have a lot of good players ready to step up.”

(Ref.: making sure the quarterbacks play within themselves)
“Those guys aren’t Trent Steelman. They weren’t recruited to be Trent Steelman. We want to them to play like they are capable of, that’s the reason they’re here. I think they’re already at the point where they understand they have to be themselves. If they need that extra boost from the rest of us in the backfield, we’ll certainly give it to them.”

Sophomore LB Alex Meier
(Ref.: coming off his knee injury against Navy)
“It feels great. I saw the doctors the other day, and they said I can go full go.”

(Ref.: moving to mike linebacker)
“I’m really excited. The way that position is set up, I’ll be able to use my instincts and play the ball.”

(Ref.: what the defense has to do in order to have a good year)
“We have to be precise and run our assignments correctly. We also need to bring a little more energy to the field too. We’ve been working really hard so we’re excited to get going.”

Junior FS Geoffery Bacon
(Ref.: moving from mike linebacker to free safety)
“When I was at mike, it felt like I could only impact the run. Although, the mike does have the ability to do a lot, I think I can have more of an impact at free safety. I feel like I can compete against anyone, but sometimes I felt like my speed couldn’t overcome the size factor against bigger linemen sometimes. Spring ball went well. I wasn’t starting at the beginning so I had to earn my spot. That was good because it made me pay attention to detail that much more.”

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