Sept. 27, 2011
Watch Press Conference Highlights
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
The following quotes have been excerpted from Army head football coach Rich Ellerson's press conference, held Tuesday, September 27, 2011, in the Randall Hall auditorium.
Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: opening statement)
"Tulane's a familiar opponent; someone we've seen every year since I've been here. Our veteran players are familiar with their veteran players. Certainly, Coach (Bob) Toledo and I go back for years before West Point and Tulane. They are folks we have great respect for. They have had some great days this year. They've had some tough days like we have this year. We expect them to be resourceful. We expect them to bounce back. We expect it to require our best effort to have a chance."
(Ref.: advantages of playing at home)
"Obviously, it's a constant challenge to get our legs underneath us and get ourselves fresh and recovered and manage the rigors of West Point so that on Saturday we're putting our best foot forward. We are not good enough, we are not athletic enough, and we are not physically mature enough to spot our opponent any of those advantages. We have to find ourselves to the edge. We have to prepare ourselves during the week. That's easier to do here at home than it is on the road. Frankly, I don't know that that is the difference. The difference is the choices we make individually and collectively through the week while dealing with the rigors of West Point so that we have a chance to be competitive. If we care enough about winning we'll do that, and if we do we'll have a chance. If we continue to struggle in that regard, if we go out there as we have a couple times this year and be less than as fresh and athletic as we're capable of, we'll struggle."
(Ref.: success of the Army rushing offense)
"We're getting some yards, but when are we getting them? We have to play consistently. We're going to have to be consistently productive. We're going to have to manage that. We can't take plays or quarters off. Certainly, we're doing some things really well. There are some things we can do as well as we've done. We have some challenges and some of those are physical challenges. We have to manage the experience better. We have to coach better. We have to give our guys exactly what they need, and not more than what they need, to be successful on Saturday from a systems standpoint. They need to prepare themselves in the days and weeks leading up to these contests so that they can be as competitive athletically as they need to be on these extraordinarily fast and demanding fields of friendly strife."
(Ref.: whether Army needs to show the pass more)
"We're showing the pass. What we need to do is complete some to our guys. We're attempting to throw the ball. We tried seven passes the other night and we completed one to them. Do you want to throw another one? We've got to be better at it, there's no doubt, and we can be better at it. We are better at it, but we can't prove it yet."
(Ref.: how the team's youth has affected the team's uneven play)
"It's the relative youth of the team and managing the rigors of West Point, to an extent. Obviously, it's not happening in a vacuum. We were playing a gifted opponent last week with a quarterback that had a hot hand. We had some unfortunate things happen to us early on, some self-inflicted, some inflicted on us. But, we can't be that fragile. We've got to be more resilient. We've got to be able to fight through some of those things, and we have. We've proved we can do that. There's no lack of effort. When I say `fragile' please understand I am not suggesting that our guys are emotionally fragile. This is a tough-minded football team. They're trying hard; they really are. But, we have to be resourceful enough and resilient enough that we can survive some bad things happening, because bad things happen in this game. You get bad calls, your opponent makes a big play, sometimes you slip and sometimes you go the wrong way. The going the wrong ways and the self-inflicted wounds are things we need to absolutely not minimize, but extinguish if we're going to be successful going forward. The other things we need to be able to absorb and come back from."
(Ref.: what he can do to help with the passing game)
"We can throw and catch. What do I do? Keep practicing the things we do and do well. We can protect better so that the quarterback's not always scrambling. Still, somebody's going to have to go up and catch a ball. Somebody's going to have to throw it in a place where it can be caught, and somebody's going to have to protect. It's not rocket science. There's nothing wrong with what we're trying to do in the throw game, but we have to protect it, we have to see it and we have to execute it. It's not more stuff. It's arguably less stuff done better. Much of what we're trying to do in the throw game is to try to manage and control run support; slow down run support out of the secondary. Frankly, I would argue last week that they weren't leaning too heavily out of the secondary. They were okay back there. We were having a hard time blocking them in the secondary, but it wasn't because they were too aggressive in their run support. We've got to be careful about counterpunching when someone's not leaning very heavily. That can put you in a bad place. But, it's just throwing and catching and it's not hard."
(Ref.: approaching this week's game differently now that the team is 1-3 coming off a tough loss)
"Every week you're trying to be 1-0. Every week is a new adventure; every week is a new campaign. All we're trying to do is be 1-0 somehow, some way, this week. In that regard, yeah, we're going to treat the week differently than we treated last week because every week's got a different challenge associated with it. Getting our feelings hurt, that's a different critter to deal with I guess than having a great win the week before. We're going to run our offense. We're going to run our defense. In the backdrop of all this is West Point and what we're doing daily here. We don't have a lot of room to flex. We've got to get ourselves fresh. We've got to get ourselves prepared for a different opponent with a different style of play with different personnel. That pretty much sucks up all your time. Beyond that, we've got to make sure we love to play. We understand what correlates with success, and don't waste one of these moments worrying about what happened last week or two weeks ago. We have to deal with what's happening now, and if we'll do that we'll have a chance to go out there and put our best foot forward and if we do that we have a chance to win. Nothing else, frankly, enters into it."
(Ref.: whether or not the team lacks confidence following last week's loss at Ball State)
"No, I don't know that that's the issue. I'll be surprised if confidence and effort and physical toughness and belief in ourselves and what we're doing will be at odds. When you turn on the tape, it's not a mystery. It really isn't. You roll your eyes a little bit and you double down on what you're doing. When I use that word `fragile' I talk about how fragile the game is. In college football sometimes you're running around in a lightning storm. Our goal is to run around in a lightning storm without waving a three iron over our head. We're asking for it a little bit too much out there. We've got to be more right. We've got to be more in the moment. We're trying to be 1-0 this week. Before we step off the practice field, ideally, Wednesday, we step off the practice field knowing exactly how it's supposed to go, exactly how we're going to defend this, exactly how we're going to attack that and we're looking forward to doing it."
(Ref.: guarding against people telling the players that the team has to win this week)
"They better not be thinking about that stuff. They've got their heads down. The only thing we think about is what happens out there between the white lines. The rest of it is just a distraction, and if that stuff follows us out between the white lines we'll be in trouble."
(Ref.: assessing the play of senior LB Steven Erzinger)
"He's playing well. He'll still find plenty of things to be critical about with himself, but he's being very productive. He is making some plays, frankly, that he shouldn't have to make. We need to be a more complete outfit on defense if we're going to have some success here."
(Ref.: the status of senior OG Joe Bailey and how his injury affects the offensive line moving forward)
"He's doing fine, but obviously we won't have him back and that's tragic. That's the worst part of the game. The good news is that it's the kind of injury that he can expect a full and complete recovery from. Matt Villanti jumped in there and played on Saturday. He'll have to compete with some other guys to stay there. Robert Kava has played at guard. He's also been playing well for us at tackle. He can go back in there, and some others as well. That position will remain competitive a little bit. The good news is that we felt like we had three starting guards going into that game. Matt, frankly, needs to play a little bit better, a little bit faster. He's a little bit nicked. It'll stay competitive and I'm looking to Robert Kava to keep that playing time competitive at guard."
(Ref.: assessing the struggles of senior K Alex Carlton)
"That was a snap and a hold issue (against Ball State). He actually struck the ball very well on those extra points and whatnot. I think he'll manage this okay. He's one-third of that equation."
(Ref.: assessing the play of sophomore RB Raymond Maples)
"Raymond's obviously maturing. He's been in the offense now for a year and four games, and he's playing with a lot more confidence. He's learning how to finish runs. We always loved the way he got started, and now I like how he's finishing some of these runs. He's a very physical runner as well as a very gifted one. He has tremendous ball skills. That's one of the bright spots."
(Ref.: preparing for the Tulane offense)
"They'll adjust their package very aggressively to try to adapt to who they're facing. They're multiple. They do a number of things. They throw it deep, they throw it short, they do some fly stuff, some zone cuts, zone reads and they throw the ball to the backs. They do a lot of different stuff. They won't try to do everything in every game, but they have a lot of resources to draw from in terms of system. They've got some veteran players who have done it all before. We try to scratch our head and anticipate what they're going to think is appropriate given the challenge this week. But they'll have veteran players doing veteran things, and guys who have played very, very well at times. They're probably a little frustrated like we are that they haven't played as consistently as they'd like to. Obviously, they've shown themselves to be very dangerous."
(Ref.: how time of possession affected the Ball State game)
"The defense has to get off the field. If we want to get off all we have to do is stop them. Conversely, we need to hold onto the ball and be productive with the football. That's our formula for success. We have to be able to drive the football. We're capable, but we have to be consistently capable. That's one of the keys if you look at the strategic implications of different things that happened to us in the first half. That combined with some inopportune calls and a turnover that gets you into such a hole that you can't fight your way back out of it."
(Ref.: defending Tulane's explosive offense)
"They are a team that will be resourceful. Coach Toledo, over the years, has been resourceful. They'll have the double reverse, the flea flicker pass and throw back to the quarterback all on the same doggone play. They will push the envelope and they will look for a way to change field position with a single play. Certainly, you build that into every snap of defense. You can do so many things for so long and then have a single ball go over your head and it's all for naught. So, we have to be able to eliminate those plays along the way. If all we do is defend deep balls and trick plays, they won't bother. They'll just keep handing the ball off and throwing the ball in front of you, and they're more than capable and more than willing to do that."
Junior QB Trent Steelman
(Ref.: regrouping and playing back at home)
"The biggest thing for me was getting rid of last week (at Ball State). It was disappointing especially in the sense that we were supposed to win that game. Once again, we go on the road and didn't come out like we should have or play like we should have. There is something there to be worried about, but we're home this week so we have nothing to worry about from that standpoint. We just have to get ourselves ready to play this week and get back on the winning track."
(Ref.: assessment of the running game after four weeks)
"We saw that we were productive in the running game, but none of that means anything unless you put points on the board. That's something we didn't do. We didn't come away with the points we needed to. Although there were a couple penalties here and there that we didn't agree with, that's going to happen in a football game. The more important thing is how we react to that and overcome that adversity and just keep playing."
(Ref.: scouting Tulane's defense)
"Like we face every week, they have a quick, athletic defense. We have established ourselves as an offense that can be potent, but at the same time, we can keep you on the field. That's what we need to do - keep their defense out there and their offense off the field."
Junior LB Nate Combs
(Ref.: importance of returning home to Michie Stadium)
"I think we know how we're capable of playing. We just didn't play like it last week. We need to come out refreshed and do whatever it takes to win this game. Assignments and details, once again we were all over the field last week. We're not there yet, but hopefully we will be there this Saturday."
(Ref.: scouting Tulane's offense)
"They have a good offense. They like to pass the ball and switch-up formations just like any other team. we need to focus on ourselves before we focus on Tulane. We need to get our assignments right and come out ready to play. Saturday's going to be here before we know it, and we're going to be ready."
Senior LB Steven Erzinger
(Ref.: the loss at Ball State)
"The guys played hard, but obviously we weren't always doing the right things. People were flying around and trying to make plays on both sides of the ball, but it's just getting hit in those critical situations. When things like that happen, we need to learn to respond and move forward to the next play."
(Ref.: what the defense has to look for going into the Tulane game)
"They are good for about a trick play a quarter. They have some crafty stuff that they like to throw at you. It's really guys just staying home, doing their assignment and waiting for that reverse or that trick pass."
(Ref.: thoughts on senior season already in week five)
"It feels like it's been a brief stint here. It's a lot of fun, but we need to get this win and focus on this win, especially for the season and the guys' morale. One and four is a lot different than 2-3. It gives us an opportunity to stack a few wins. We need to do that now and make sure that opportunity doesn't pass us by."
Senior SB Malcolm Brown
(Ref.: how he feels after the first four games)
"I feel good, just recovering from being injured a little bit (ankle). I'm feeling a lot better now that the season has gone on and is progressing. We have a good rotation right now, which has benefited my ankle."
(Ref.: what needs to be done Saturday to bounce back from the Ball State loss)
"It starts in practice, but obviously, we just need to execute in the game and have confidence out there. We had a bad game last week, but we need to go out there and keep morale high."