Postgame Quotes - Army vs. Duke


Head Coach Rich Ellerson

"It was a hard-fought game. It was well-contested until the wheels came off at the end and we tried to do some things that were, frankly, a bit outside of our personality.

"As I told the guys, I think we did enough things well in that contest to win every game we will ever play in. Obviously, we did enough of the other things to lose every week. So we have to make a choice. We have to decide if we can be consistent and precise enough that we can continue to grow and do those things right and do those things better and be that precise, dominant football team, as opposed to the team that sometimes on and sometime off. It is a fragile thing. We are going to be playing against gifted people that can hurt you if you aren't exactly right all the time and we were not exactly right when we needed to be.

"I was proud of how our defense played, but they are killing themselves because there were a couple of plays where, we had them if, just one more guy does one more thing right, or one more thing precisely.

"Offensively, if we can't find the big plays that can change field position, whether we find it in the kicking game or with takeaways, we are going to have to become one of those teams that can consistently get four or six yards, but we will have to do that 12 times in a row. We can't do that right now. The field is too long. We'll do it for a little while, and then we start going the other way, we are missing a block, we are stumbling. If we don't find that explosiveness and we can't find those big chunks of yardage, we are going to have to be that much more precise and that much more detailed. Being that we are at West Point, that is realistic. We can expect that. The answers are right there in front of us. We just have to grab them and be determined to take it to the next level."

(Ref.: Did the game turn when Duke made a defensive adjustment or when Duke switched QBs)
"I'm not exactly sure what their thinking was with those moves, but certainly they settled down and made a couple plays. They ran a screen-and-go and we had everybody covering the screen and nobody covering the go. They were challenging our eyes and challenging our discipline on the boot leg after the turnover. We nailed the call, but things are fragile. Everybody has got to be exactly right. That is just the way a contest goes. Every play is dangerous when your opponent is executing. I think, like most football games, when the game turned, and we obviously don't throw out what happened at the end because we are going to find ourselves in situations where the game is on the line and we need to be able to go down the field, but going into a hotly contested situation and it turns like all football games on turnovers and the kicking game, we had plenty of chances. It isn't far from being very different."

(Ref.: Thoughts of bringing in Carson Williams in any sooner)
"That is the kind of situation he comes in for. That is how we practice. When we are in that phase of the game when everybody knows we need to sling it, he is the guy to sling it. Obviously, you can see why we don't do that a lot. We aren't especially good at it, but you can do that to an opponent at times when, all week long, they have been preparing for all the other stuff that we do, sometimes you can catch them a little bit rusty and a little bit off balance with that part of your offense. Clearly, we don't quite have that personality."

(Ref.: The play of freshman QB Trent Steelman)
"While I'll still need to watch the film, I want to say he was guilty of one mis-read, but frankly that is all he was guilty of. There are a couple situation where I thought he missed a check or two, but I think for the most part he was trying to get us into plays that gave us a chance. We weren't always good enough to be able to take advantage of them, but I thought he made most of his reads. There will certainly be a lot of things that we'll see when we slow things down that we aren't going to like, but in terms of getting us into the right stuff given what we were getting, with a couple of exceptions, I've got no beef. You can imagine being a freshman quarterback starting in a new offense with a bunch of guys around you essentially playing in their first games in a new offense."

(Ref.: How the team played overall)
"We want to grow fast. We aren't going to accept or make excuses about how young we are or how inexperience we are. We expect to be right, we expect to be full speed, we expect to be as precise as we need to be in a game like that. That is what it called for. It called for a game where it was going to be hard to rip off a 20- or 30-yard gains. We just don't run well enough. But we have some guys doing things well enough that if we are exactly right, we'll be just fine. The number of times we went three-and-out, the field just got too long. Those three-and-outs where we couldn't put three plays together, we didn't need to put nine plays together. We just needed to put three together. We were able to do that some. It was there, but it was hotly contested. We had to block guys. We gave them the angles and the numbers, but you still need to be able to block and read guys and run with it a little bit. The guys competed well. We are really close. The difference between us being in the locker room right now singing, and the feeling the way we do right now is a couple inches here and a couple inches there. It really is that close. The scoreboard there and the end looks bizarre because of the situation we found ourselves in where we started to press the envelope a little bit. We are doing enough things well to win every game we will ever play in if we just knock off the other stuff with consistency and precision."

(Ref.: The turnover margin)
"Just like every football game you are going to be in, the turnover battle is going to be huge. It was working for us early and we did some good things and gave ourselves a chance. We got ourselves a little bit of a lead, and the game turned. Just because we turn the ball over, doesn't mean all-heck has to break loose. You can survive that stuff and we expect to and prepare to, but if you leave a good, talented opponent enough on a short field enough, eventually they are going to make a play, somebody is going to look the wrong way or someone is going to slip and there they go. Some of that is what we do. Again, I have to take what happened at the end a little out of my thinking, but it is what we do. This is our precision, our ability to execute that part of our offense is flawless. Obviously, it is not, but it needs to be and that is where we are headed."

(Ref.: The team's execution of his new plays)
"I think we are playing fast, I think we are playing aggressively. As I said going into this contest, we were playing a team in Duke that sees this stuff routinely. They play Georgia Tech, they play Navy. They have a plan for this and are very sophisticated on the defensive side of the ball. They stay within their system to defend it and they have some good guys on the defensive front. Nobody is going to push them around. We were in a situation there where we had some plays and we were doing some things well enough where they were daring us to go. We just have to be able to do it enough times in a row without a misstep. And that is the challenge. Without the 20-yard gashes, without the big plays, it is a long field for this offense right now. So we have to grow quickly. It will be a mixed bag. Everybody plays this a little differently. I give Duke credit because they play their defense and don't try to reinvent the wheel, and they have got some good players doing it.

"We were trying to do the right thing, but it is the difference between trying to block the right guy and blocking the right guy. From a standpoint, were we getting to the numbers, yes. Were we making most of the right reads, yes. In that mix, you have to be able to create some space and cancel out a few guys. What they try to do is put you on the relatively short side of the field. Part of our thinking process was to somehow get the ball of the hash so we could get our numbers back the other way with a little more room to work with. But that speaks to their skill level. They were able to take a lot of the space away. We would fight to create it and they would take it away without us being able to get that big chunk. The difference between three and four yards and 30 and 40 yards can be about a foot. We have got to find that foot somewhere. It is there. It goes back to targeting."

Junior LB Stephen Anderson
(Ref.: the lesson the team can take away from this game)
"We just have to keep going back to work and trusting what we're being coached up on. We'll be fine. This team is not going to break down. We're just going to go back to work and get better for Ball State."

(Ref.: competing in a tight game)
"A game of inches, that's what football is all about. You take away those two interceptions, it's 21-19 and we're going for two to tie the game. It's a game of inches, and we fell a little short. We know what it feels like to be on the other side, but that's not going to keep us from fighting back."

(Ref.: what they need to do to get ready for Ball State)
"Tomorrow, we'll come in and watch film. We'll pick it apart and be as critical as we can. Like we said, it's a game of inches. We'll go back to work on Tuesday. We can do it. We've proven we can win. We just have to keep going back to work and making big things happen."

Junior SB Patrick Mealy
(Ref.: Duke's defense following his 55-yard run in the first quarter)
"They started playing very fast and very intense. We couldn't capitalize when we needed to. I can't say they did anything different."

(Ref.: adjusting to the new offense)
"It's a new offense, but we believe in the system. We believe in our coaching staff. We're going to come back next week and get back to the grind."

Sophomore LB Andrew Rodriguez
(Ref.: when he thought the game changed)
"I felt like the game didn't turn until right up at the end. For a long time there in the second half, it was going back-and-forth, back-and-forth. Those interceptions kind of changed it, but it didn't change anything for us. We were still going to come out and fight. I think the offense did a good job there at the end, driving down the field. Momentum is part of the game, but we don't really feel it on the field. I think it's more of a crowd issue. We're just focusing on fighting and winning the next play."

Freshman QB Trent Steelman
(Ref.: his comfort level after two games)
"As an offense, I feel that we're at where we need to be, but there is room for a lot of improvement. A couple of big plays here and there and we have that game won. Right now, things are going smoothly for us. Our offensive line is out there working hard and creating things. One of  the keys to victory is the turnover battle, and we didn't take care of the ball like we should have."

(Ref.: making the proper read on the option)
"Today, the reads were pretty distinctive. There was one here, one there. I think I blew a couple out there, but for the most part the offensive line was opening up holes to where it was easy for us to read. I was getting the balls to our backs, and they were making plays for us."

(Ref.: competing until the end of the game)
"As an offense, we never counted ourselves out. We never do. We look to each other for that confidence over on the sideline. One big drive and we're right back in the game. That's what we do as a team. We work together. That's what we're going to do next week. We're going to get back to it, work hard and just prepare for the game coming up on Saturday."

(Ref.: Duke's defensive adjustments)
"They gave us the same defense they gave us from snap one. Duke is a quick, athletic team. We have to be able to adjust to that as an offense. I felt like we handled them pretty well. One play here, one play there, and we have this game one. We'll move on."

Senior DT Victor Ugenyi
(Ref.: playing against the Duke backup quarterback)
"I think it was more than just an adjustment with the quarterback. They started sliding a little bit more and inserting the back a little bit more to try and knock off whoever was blitzing to give the quarterback more time. I thought he (Thaddeus Lewis) went out earlier because he was getting hit so much. I really didn't think they were trying to switch the game plan on us. We just stayed with what we were doing. They changed a couple blocks on the inside for the 'power o' they were running, but I thought we adjusted it to it pretty well."


Duke head coach David Cutcliffe
"I always like coming from behind at halftime and winning a game, I don't care what the circumstance is. I told our team at halftime time, 'This is why we play two halves, there is an opportunity ahead of you.' We didn't quickly take advantage of the opportunity, except for the kicking game and defensively, we got a really fast start. We just couldn't cash it in offensively.  We cam e up with enough plays to win, but the reason we won was pretty consistent defense, winning kicking game, and timely play by our offense."

 (Ref.: Duke QB Sean Renfree)
"I was pleased with (his performance). It's basically a statement of confidence in your back up. I had intended to play him last week and I didn't. I made my mind up we would play him (this week) regardless of circumstance.  It's not any kind of statement in anything other than confidence in Sean.  At that point in time, when you all of sudden get a little hot, I had no problem putting Thad (Lewis) back in the game, but I just don't think you  do that when you've gotten a little hot hand. We win and lose as a team, and we'll move forward as a team."

 (Ref.: who will play quarterback)"
(Duke) is not that kind of team (to have a quarterback controversy), we just have so much improving to do, and so much to look at: what we're doing; what's not quite right. This is very different game for our defense, and they handled it well. We work year-round preparing for that style of offense, and it showed up, and (the defense) was really good.

"Let's give Army some credit - they have a nasty scheme defensively ... it's not an accident, Army is pretty darn good on defense. We just have some little things that we have to address and look at. The most important thing we have to take from this game is getting better as a team. We've got issues we have to solve."

 (Ref.: Army's triple-option)
"What that offense does - (Army) has to be patient and we have to be patient. They keep cracking at you until you make mistakes, we just didn't make a lot of mistakes. We made some early - but we work year-round against that - we have periods in spring practice in preparation for it, so I think that's paid off for us, and I think our defensive staff does a great job. We have a team in our league running (the triple-option) in Georgia Tech, and our defensive staff has spent a lot of time studying it."

 (Ref.: the play of Duke CB Leon Wright)
"I said to Leon, 'Did you really want to be the ACC Player of the Week that badly?' It couldn't happen to a finer young man, and he's a good football player. Ive said it all along. He's such a fine cover-corner. He's a guy that can make plays, and plays, and plays -he does it every day in practice. We have a hard time shaking Leon. Army is not set up to be that kind of team. That's what you hope you can do, is to get a lead and play ahead. They are well-coached and a really, really good team. Obviously at the end they pose a lot of problems when they can throw it up to a guy who is 6-10 (Army WR Alejandro Villanueva), and is a good athlete. That may be the most unbelievable transition in all of college football."

(Ref.: Preparing for Army)
"We watched every game Cal-Poly played a year ago. I am very aware of member's of (Army coach Rich Ellerson's) staff. They will be a good football team. When they get their system completely installed, I think they do a tremendous job. I think Army football has a lot to look forward to you. In modern history, when they've been best, at least from my memory, is when they've done a great job running the triple-option and playing great defense. I've coached against Army before. I've been on the losing end of a game at Neyland Stadium, which is a pretty good game in Army lore I'm sure. I came into this game with my eyes wide-open; no one was going to sneak up on me. I have great respect for this institution."

(Ref.: going into the game)
"The coaches told me to start getting some snaps, start getting warmed up. Army turned it over, and I didn't get a chance to get any snaps or warm up. They were just like, 'Go, go, go!' I went in there, and Coach made a great call, a great bootleg. It was a lot of fun, but it kind of shocked me. I was nervous but confident. It was huge. It was a must, must, must win _ just like all our games _ but it was a great opportunity for us to go out and show people how we can really play. I think we did that in the second half."

"You'd expect any other quarterback to just kind of hang his head, but Thad (Lewis) was the opposite. He was coming over to me all the time, saying, 'Hey, you're doing great. Keep doing what you're doing. I'm here for you.' He says he's a cheerleader, but he's a leader. He's a leader for this team and to me. I look up to him. When he says something like that, I listen."

(Ref.: more playing time)
"It's one game, and not even a full game. This game is over. You can't really take much away from a quarter-and-a-half. It shocked me when they said, 'You're in there.' I just ran in there and threw that (touchdown). I was the happiest kid ever, running down there and celebrating with my team. It was a great moment."

QB Thaddeus Lewis

(Ref.: getting the first win of the year)
"It's huge coming off a disappointing loss last week to see this team respond. A lot of people probably put us back down in the dumps because we lost that first game. All we have is each other, and we leaned on each other today and came out and got the victory. It makes it an even greater win because we came from behind. It was similar to the situation we had last week, but we didn't fold. We picked each other up, and that's a good sign for your football team."

"It's a team effort. Sean went out there and executed well, and the team executed well. That's what you do as a team; everybody does their part, and everybody brings something different to the table. That's what we did. We needed everybody to win today. I didn't play as well as I wanted to play, but at the same time you've got teammates, and other guys picked up the slack. The guys played real well today."

 "I was definitely excited. I work with Sean (Renfree) every day, and Leon (Wright) is my roommate. I wouldn't want him to get that on me in practice, but for him to get that in a game, that's what you want to see. I'm proud of both of those guys. It was a great team effort."

CB Leon Wright
(Ref.: his interceptions)
"It kind of fell in my lap as I went to break it up. I just tucked it away and did what I can to score. The second one was a little bit easier. The coaches did a great job to call the right play and put the corners in position to sit on the route because we knew what was coming actually. They put me in position to make that play, and I executed from there. You dream about something like that all your life, and when it happens, it's kind of surreal. I thank God and my coaches for preparing me. We fought back, and we just kept pushing ourselves and out-executing them. We did what we could to come out with the victory. It's huge."

LB Vincent Rey
(Ref.: teammate Leon Wright)
"I'm happy for him. He was able to break and make the play. It all started with the defensive line getting pressure and making the quarterback feel uncomfortable. The defensive line sets the tone. This game is the biggest sacrifice game for them because they have to do all the dirty work and keep the guys off the second level so we can make the tackles. And when Army was put in passing situations, they got up the field and were making plays. Those guys are the MVPs in my book."

(Ref.: Army's start to the game)
"They threw a play at us that we had never seen before, and they ended up scoring on that drive. But the main thing for us was to recuperate and understand what they were trying to do to us and make some plays. That's what we did."

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