Oct. 9, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. - The following quotes have been excerpted from Army head football coach Rich Ellerson's press conference, held Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, in the Randall Hall auditorium.
Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: opening statement)
"Life doesn't get any easier. Kent State is coming in on a roll. They're a good football team. We'll see some of the same young players we did there two years ago on defense. They are a very active and athletic outfit on defense. Offensively, they do some of those things that we hate to see. (Travion) Durham is a big, 250-pound tailback who does some of the things that have been tough on us. They have a big, physical offensive line. Dri Archer is an `oh, my goodness' return specialist, and then he'll show up at tailback and receiver. He can change the game in the blink of an eye. They have capable players at quarterback who do a great job with the play action, whose legs stay involved in the offense. It's going to be a real challenge for us. They do exciting things in every phase of the game."
(Ref.: is the team feeling good coming off Saturday's win over Boston College)
"The team is excited to play, as it was last week. We are really working hard to make it ancient history - win, lose or draw. Obviously, it's a little easier to go to work feeling a little better about themselves. That was a great weekend, but we have turned that page and are looking forward."
(Ref.: defense making strides every week)
"I thought we did two weeks ago as well. We are getting better and seeing the game a little bit better. We have a lot of young guys out there and we'll continue to do so. We're going to get some guys back this week. Tragically, we lost Hayden (Pierce) for the season, but we should have Josh Jackson and Holt Zalneraitis back. We're getting a little bit healthier. Week-in and week-out, we're playing quality people who are doing hard things. Our guys are seeing it better, competing better and making more plays."
(Ref.: making adjustments to combat Kent State's speed)
"Obviously, we adjust somewhat week-to-week and have an emphasis that moves sometimes. The thing we have to do is double-down on the things we've done well. If you try and change too much from week-to-week, you can undo some of the progress we've made."
(Ref.: building off the win over Boston College)
"You look at that tape, and just like any tape, there are some things you can feel good about and some things you can do better. We're still giving up some big plays in the run game - we gave up another long run for a touchdown and a reverse for a touchdown. Those things have got to be resolved. To the degree that we eliminate those big plays, we have a better chance to be successful on the defensive side of the ball. Conversely, on offense, we have to keep the ball off the ground and convert inside the 10-yard line. We got turned away twice in there with no points. That's arguably as painful as a turnover. Certainly, it's something for your opponent to celebrate. We are making steady progress, but we have all kinds of things to work on. It's probably easier to be critical of one another and of ourselves because we won last week. The sense of urgency is still there. That feeling we had after the game is now ancient history. We are focused on the next opportunity."
(Ref.: can this team make a mid-season run)
"We're trying to make a run and be 1-0 this week. Last week, we were somehow, some way. This week, we're trying to be somehow, some way. We have a plan and are going to get it rehearsed, installed and refined. We're going to let the guys come out of their shoes again."
(Ref.: senior quarterback Trent Steelman)
"He has the ball in his hands and is at the center of the storm. I think he's an awfully good player, a good operator. He's a tough, resilient leader for that outfit. He's universally respected by his peers in that regard."
(Ref.: difference between having the first practice of the week after a win as opposed to a loss)
"We try to make it exactly the same. It's easier on some level, but sometimes it's a little more challenging. You have to put that behind you. The danger is you'll take some of those `atta boys' into the next week. You have to leave it all behind, believe what the tape tells us and improve on those things. We have to look forward to the next opportunity. The payoff is game day; it's not the stuff after the game and it's not the week leading up to it. It's the game itself. Our focus and our preparation is all focused on this next opportunity."
(Ref.: mindset of the team as it prepares for Kent State)
"Both last week and this week, we've changed some things we're doing on Tuesday mornings. Last week, we went out and did our shells practice, which we would normally do on a Wednesday. We like it so much that we changed that routine. Again, the morning's practice felt really right. The guys are very focused, interested and curious. They're trying hard to get right and oriented to the next opponent. I see a very professional, workman-like approach, much like we saw last week."
(Ref.: maturation of freshmen starting on defense)
"We have four freshmen who are playing a significant role on the defensive side of the ball. They will improve by leaps and bounds as the game slows down for them. They're going to be a little behind the curve and are just a shadow of what they'll be physically as time goes on. The game itself is slowing down for them. They're getting used to being out there and seeing the ups and downs, the swings and speed that take place in a college football game. All of those things are becoming routine for them. They're now better able to focus on what really is challenging about this next opponent and what they do."
(Ref.: scouting Kent State)
"They do something in every phase of the game that keeps you awake at night. They are very active, athletic defense. In the special teams, Dri Archer has had three kicks for touchdowns and a couple other long returns besides. Offensively, they'll pound you. They aggressively play action the opponent. They do some things with that run game that have been a little bit of a challenge for us. We have a full plate this week."
(Ref.: is Kent State an improved team than the one Army saw two years ago)
"They are better. There's something to be said for being 4-1. They are used to being successful. They've played some good football teams and come away with a win. I think their best win is against Ball State in a real cliff-hanger a couple weeks ago. They are used to winning and have weapons in every phase of the game. They were a really good defensive football team two years ago but are even more complete now. Under different direction, they'll be different schematically. But some of the guys who were a nightmare two years ago are a couple years older and still there. Offensively, they play within themselves. They run the ball and control the clock. Their defense gives their offence a lot of kicks at the can. They've got that big-play potential, both in the kicking game and on offense, where you think you're doing just fine and all of the sudden they are in the end zone."
(Ref.: contributions of the offensive line)
"That whole outfit, the running backs and the offensive line, are all integral in that success. Trent (Steelman) has responsibilities to manage, read and get the ball in the right hands. Our offensive line blocks differently than most offensive lines. They are relatively smaller than most of our opponents, but are more athletic. Their ability to stay on-point and adjust together has kept our offense on the field. We still have room to grow there and need to."
(Ref.: team playing so well in the final moments of last Saturday's game)
"It's something we talk about all the time. This is a resilient outfit that knows how to stay in the moment and stay focused on the next opportunity. They hold on to our belief and check the scoreboard when it's over and see how we did. It's about emotional resilience and the ability to take some hits, which we did, and play through. There were so many twists and turns in that contest. It was about resilience and mental and physical toughness. We shouldn't be surprised by that with an Army football team."
(Ref.: senior kicker Eric Osteen)
"He's really doing a nice job with his kickoffs and did so last year. That's going to be key this week. He can't just kick it into the end zone, he has to kick it out the back of the end zone with Dri Archer back there. He's done a wonderful job of keeping our opponents on a long field. Our coverage team has done a nice job too."
(Ref.: this year's permanent team captains)
"We just elected our captains last week. To join Jarrett Mackey, Trent Steelman and Nate Combs were selected. Those are great captains. Nate and Trent are right at the heart of the action both on defense and offense. They are seniors who have been together since the (USMA) prep school. They are fierce competitors and could not be more dead serious about Army football. They've been successful at West Point in every phase. They are easy to rally to because of their toughness and resiliency, both mental and physical, has been well-documented. That's what this season and this week is going to demand. As coach (Jim) Young would say, it's about the power of the focused mind. Those guys have powerful, focused minds."