Oct. 31, 2012
The following quotes have been excerpted from Army head football coach Rich Ellerson's press conference, held Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2012, in the Randall Hall auditorium.
Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: opening statement)
"It's the most important game of the year because it's the one we have this week. It's also the Air Force Academy, who we have great respect for and love to compete with. Of course, it's also part of the Commander In Chief's Trophy run, so we can't wait to go."
(Ref.: how much Army and Air Force mirror each other)
"They are an older version of us. Offensively, obviously we're both running the football. They're running triple option with (quarterback Connor) Dietz, who has a great background running the option. When he played over the last few years as a back-up, they became a bit more of an option outfit. You'd see more midline, triple and double option. They are really leveraging that part of their offense. He's grown as a passer as well. They do a few more things on offense and don't invest quite as much time as we do into the true triple stuff. Defensively, we're quite a bit different in terms of our orientations, but we're playing with similar looking guys. I'd like to think that the biggest difference is they have a bunch of juniors and seniors and we're a little bit younger than that. Air Force is a healthy program, and one that's been running that defense and offense for a generation. That continuity in their coaching and systems, and who and how they recruit, has really benefited them."
(Ref.: Commander In Chief's Trophy game on the line)
"When we get to the game, we have to play the game. It's remarkable to me, as tough a time as we've had these last few weeks, how well we've practiced. With the weather and some of the other distractions that have been going on, they could not have been more focused and excited to get practicing. They're curious as to what we're up to and what our opponent is up to. It's been a great practice environment this week. That speaks to the relationship between the two institutions. We know these guys; we respect these guys and love to compete with them. There's a little bit extra on the table. That's all to the good because it's helped our preparation. When we actually get to the game, you have to relax, zero in, put all that stuff on the sideline and play the game."
(Ref.: what beating Air Force and being in line for the CIC Trophy would mean)
"We're trying to be 1-0 this week. If we can somehow, some way be 1-0 this week, then we can talk about some of those things. Obviously, these games are going quickly. Every time we turn around, we're playing another game - nine in a row now. They're on us quick. The beautiful thing is every week is a new adventure for the guys and they're hearing that message. They're picking themselves up, dusting themselves off and finding ways to get better."
(Ref.: different running backs stepping up each week)
"Based on how people play us, there will be opportunities for different people to step up. The good news is, guys have. With Larry (Dixon) being banged up, that's given Hayden (Tippett) an opportunity. We've know Hayden could be a productive, tough football player. He's gotten an opportunity and made the most of it. Obviously, we'd like to make a little bit more of it and have a few more guys on both sides of the ball stepping up just like that. That's still the quarterback operating and getting into the right play, making sure the ball is in the right hands."
(Ref.: Raymond Maples' production)
"Ray (Maples) has been beat up pretty good. We've been playing some pretty sporty guys on defense. The thing you don't see is what Ray does without the ball. It's his burden that not only is he arguably as good or better than anyone else we have with the ball, he is without a doubt the best guy without the ball. You want Ray blocking for you."
(Ref.: recruiting against Air Force and the other academies)
"We don't spend a lot of time talking about the other service academies or civilian institutions. We spend our time in recruiting talking about West Point and articulating what's unique about this institution and this path that a young man is considering. The contrast takes care of itself. If we do a good job of explaining and presenting West Point, it doesn't matter who else is talking to you, you'll know if it fits or not."
(Ref.: progress of sophomore running back Trenton Turrentine)
"Every week he gets a little bit better. Remember, he's a sophomore and we got a flash of him as a freshman. He got hurt last season and missed the spring. He came raring to go during training camp and on the first day in pads, he broke his thumb. He missed the next six weeks. There's nobody who has worked harder or prepared better than he has, but he hasn't had a lot of turns playing the game for the last couple of years. As long as we can keep him out there and healthy, you can expect to see him grow by leaps and bounds. He's a capable guy both with and without the ball. At times, he's been a devastating blocker. I won't say that he's been devastating on a consistent basis this year, but he has that potential."
(Ref.: defensive personnel heading into the Air Force game)
"Geoffery (Bacon) has to be a superb tackler and see the alley. He's had a lot of opportunities to make tackles and his percentage is not where it needs to be. But it's growing. What you see from Zach (Watts) and Jarrett (Mackey), you want those guys to be weapons on the edge, to make plays and control the space that Geoff has to tackle. They all work in concert that way. We also get Nate (Combs) back this week, so you'll have him join that trio, which will thicken us up a bit. Nate has been the most dynamic player on defense this year in terms of making plays and creating opportunities."
(Ref.: Army's effort against Air Force last year without starting quarterback Trent Steelman)
"We always expect to win. We always expect it to be hard. We have great respect for Air Force, but we always visualize ourselves being successful. Obviously, you have a more practiced quarterback in Trent (Steelman). He has all those starts and all that experience, so we feel stronger about more of our offense with Trent under the center."
(Ref.: meaning of the CIC Trophy to the country at-large)
"That's hard for me to know. I suspect when people think about it or talk about it, they certainly respect it. They recognize there's something different going on at the service academies. These guys have more on their plate than their American contemporaries across the country. I feel strongly that it's universally respected - as it should be."
(Ref.: how Ball State's defense played Army last week helps this week)
"It's similar to Air Force, but it's different. We can watch Air Force over the years play us or Navy. They are going to see us a little bit differently from year-to-year. Some of that is personnel. Some of that is system. We are going to stay current on that front. Navy and Air Force play that front. For a lot of teams, when they play us and don't know what else to do, they'll jump into it. We're going to be practiced against that week-in and week-out. We never know what we're going to get. Air Force does it a little differently as they mix things up front. They're very well-practiced and understand what we're trying to do and know how to counter it."
(Ref.: how much senior quarterback Trent Steelman is looking forward to Saturday after missing the Air Force game last season)
"He looks forward to playing every week. I think what he's experiencing is what a lot of guys on the team are experiencing. They can't wait to play and love to compete with another academy. They want to see where the standard is."