Sept. 25, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. - The following quotes have been excerpted from Army head football coach Rich Ellerson's press conference, held Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012, in the Randall Hall auditorium.
Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: opening statement)
"Stony Brook is a real challenge. They have two things going for them. One is when we look at how we match-up with them, in many if not most cases, we'll be looking across the ball at somebody who is as good or better than anyone we've seen this year. The other thing is that they are used to winning. They're a Championship Subdivision team that's a powerhouse playoff team. They're a relatively veteran team that's played a lot of games and won a lot of games. They came within a whisker of upsetting Syracuse a couple weeks ago and are absolutely licking their chops. We are absolutely taking the underdog mentality into this. That's hard for some people to get their arms around, but all you have to do is look at the tape. We have to play better than we've played to have a chance. We've done some good things, but not enough good things. We've got to grow up quickly on defense. If we can keep the same guys out there week-in and week-out, we'll start to see it cleaner and get better. We'll have more guys playing the same defense at the same time, which is something that correlates with success. That will come. We've been kicked in the gut coming out of the gate, and regardless of what has happened the last week or two, we have to put that behind us and get excited to play this week. These opportunities to play the game are precious, and there are a lot of guys on this football team who love to play the game. That's where the focus has to be and where the energy has to come from."
(Ref.: does Army know how to win)
"We know what wins. We know what correlates with success. That's not the same as doing it on Saturday. We prepare diligently for those situations and reinforce those habits. Frankly, we haven't proven it on Saturday."
(Ref.: assessing the relatively inexperienced players on defense)
"Overall, not very well. They have showed they're capable, making some plays here and there. Our challenge is that some of the guys are playing in their third or fourth game. Some guys are playing in their first and second games. As I said, if I can keep them out there, they'll settle in, see the game cleaner and all 11 guys will be on the same page. When that happens, we can start to gain on it. Until we get guys settled down and playing the game, it's going to be a struggle."
(Ref.: senior QB Trent Steelman's injury status)
"It's a wait and see game. He's determined to play. I want to make the call late in the week. If I think he can get through the game, then I absolutely want him out there. If it's one of those deals where he's going to be able to go for a couple of series and then come back out with another setback, I'm not going to let it go. We have a lot of confidence in A.J. (Schurr) and Angel (Santiago). They took all the turns this morning and will do the same tomorrow. We'll make a call on Trent on Thursday."
(Ref.: confidence in freshman QB A.J. Schurr)
"If we choose him, we'll be confident in him. We think there is great upside in both he and Angel (Santiago). It's different out there between the white lines on Saturday afternoon."
(Ref.: assessment of junior DE Jarrett Mackey's return to the field)
"He's part of that starting rotation, but the challenge is I'm not sure what percentage he's operating at. That was his first football in over a year. If he can stay out there week-in and week-out without having any major physical setbacks, there's no doubt there's more there. He has shown that he's a better football player than he was last Saturday. He just has to have some confidence in that leg and continue to get used to playing college football again."
(Ref.: thoughts on sophomore Geoffrey Bacon and senior Nate Combs progressing as anchors of the defense)
"Nate is exactly that. He manages our defensive front with a lot of young guys around him. He's taken on an awful lot on his shoulders. Geoff has to be more consistent there. He has all of the ability in the world in terms of running and tackling. He has to see things a little bit cleaner. He's one of those guys who we give a lot of latitude to, so he has to be able to get his eyes on the quarterback and/or the running back and find his way to the football. Part of the thinking there is he sees the reciprocal vision of the running back and can find the same lane the running back is looking for and fill it. He has been inconsistent getting that done for us. He has some room to grow there. There's some real opportunities in front of him because of his athleticism."
(Ref.: facing a large offensive line like that of Stony Brook)
"They are big, strong guys who know what they're doing. Our challenge is not so much what they do; it's more getting all of our guys on the same page and doing the same thing. We don't have the weapons in the defense that allow us to lineup in a single front or a single coverage. We're going to have to be able to do multiple things on defense and be able to execute them together. We have to take advantage of our quickness. Right now, that's a double-edged sword. When you're doing it right and together, it can really help you. On the other hand, when you have some guys playing one defense and some guys playing a different one, it gets a little bit tough. That's where we've been. We've seen so many big plays in the first few weeks. You can undo so much good work with a single snap. That's the consistency of effort that we're looking for. We're going to have to move. If we just lean on these guys, it'll be hard."
(Ref.: thoughts on sophomore QB Angel Santiago)
"We've seen him the most in the practice environment. We'll find out when he has to go out there and play a significant number or reps on Saturday afternoon. You can see that he has the foot speed and athleticism to do some things. He went into the game (at Wake Forest) at a tough time. He's not the only guy who had just stepped on the field. We had a number of guys out when he was called on to play. He's going to run the offense a little bit differently and has a little different strong suit than Trent (Steelman). That will take some time to evolve."
(Ref.: performance of senior Malcolm Brown at slotback last week)
"He'll stay in that rotation this week. He does some good things with the ball and as a receiver from the slot position. He needs to block better. That's one of the things that's impressive about Ray's (Maples) play right now. He's obviously hugely productive with the football, but you have to watch his game when he doesn't have the football and see how effective he is. That's where Malcolm has been better at the game than he was last Saturday, but he'll get better."
(Ref.: return of sophomore RB Trenton Turrentine at Wake Forest)
"It was good to see Trenton back out there. He's a guy who we really liked coming out of last year. He got hurt last year and didn't have much of a spring. He was starting to have a great training camp and then broke his thumb during our first padded practice. He's battled back out there and is as physical a slot as we've ever had."