Army-Navy Press Conference Quotes

Trent Steelman addressed the gathering at Tuesday's luncheon.

Trent Steelman addressed the gathering at Tuesday's luncheon.

Nov. 28, 2012

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The following quotes were excerpted from the Army-Navy press conference held on Nov. 28, 2012 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa.

Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: having the Commander In Chief’s Trophy at stake)
“Obviously, that brings something to it. We didn’t win much, but we won just enough to bring a little extra drama to this game. From the moment these guys got to West Point, every building and everybody’s front door says, ‘Beat Navy’ and ‘Beat Air Force.’ There is so much on the table for them.”

(Ref.: what makes the Army-Navy game special)
“The college football world pauses for a moment and reflect on these institutions, and the young men and women who attend them and what those young men and women are dedicating their lives to. All those values, all that competitive spirit and all that excellence manifests itself in a college football game between institutions that share a similar mission, but are fierce rivals.”

(Ref.: if this is the year Army breaks through versus Navy)
“Yes. We expect to win. We know it’s hard. We know how hard it is to win a football game, period, much less one against a team that is accomplished as Navy and as used to winning as they are, but we expect to be successful.”

(Ref.: the meaning of the game to the Army players knowing what their futures may bring)
“This is an Army at war. We have 60,000-plus soldiers deployed in harm’s way. That’s a part of their reality, especially these seniors. When they made that decision to take this challenge on, that was absolutely the situation the nation was looking at. They raised their hand and said, ‘I’m in.’ I think we can all feel good about that.”

(Ref.: playing the game back in Philadelphia)
“We love Philadelphia. This is the traditional home of this game, and the game and the city are synonymous when you think about the game.”

(Ref.: what the game means to the seniors)
“This is the first class that I’ve been with for four years so I’ve been with these guys on every Saturday from the beginning. It’s hard to believe that we only get to do this one more time, but we can’t wait. We’re looking forward to it. It’s bittersweet, but we’re as excited to play as we’ve ever been.”

(Ref.: the importance of the game to the program)
“It’s really important for us to see how we match up with these guys because these are our contemporaries. When we’re playing Air Force, and we’re playing Navy, we all have some things that our uniquely challenging about our institutions, but there is nobody else that’s similar. In that regard, we can gauge how we’re doing.”

(Ref.: the influence of Trent Steelman)
“At any institution, but especially at an Academy, having a significant junior and senior presence on the field is important. We don’t have that necessarily, but we have it in key places. A four-year starter in an offense, much less this offense, is a tremendous advantage. Besides that, he’s obviously a tremendously accomplished player and there is not a more fierce competitor or physically tough guy in the room, I promise.”

(Ref.: the team captains)
“They’re not a big class, and there aren’t a bunch of senior starters, but we have some tremendous senior leaders. The guys we have here (Jarrett Mackey, Nate Combs and Trent Steelman) are not only some of our more dynamic players, but they’re also force multipliers. Not only are they good players in their own right, but the guys around them feed off them and are more confident. The younger teammates really lean on these guys who have been there, done that. The relative youth of our team is going to require these guys to be that much more of a presence not just as dynamic players, but has dynamic leaders.”

(Ref.: the losing streak to Navy)
“It’s a constant irritant to all of us. Having said that, you use some of that where you can, but then it starts to get in the way. You put it on the shelf and focus on trying to win a football game. What happened 20 years ago or 10 years ago or last year doesn’t follow you into the stadium. We can leverage some of that history in our preparation, both emotionally and physically, but once you get to the game, you better play the game.”

(Ref.: the development of junior running back Raymond Maples)
“Ray is a wonderful guy. He’s one of the first guys that we actually recruited when we got there. There is only a handful of those guys in that class because we got in at the 11th hour, and he was one of the guys that we added to it. We were recruiting to West Point, but our message wasn’t as refined so Ray had to kind of decide once he got there. He had to buy into what he was experiencing. He thought he was going to play college football to some degree. He obviously knew there was more to it than that and it was bigger than that, but I think you see a much different young man this year. He had an epiphany this summer. He was one of the squad leaders at Camp Buckner, and when that happened, he wasn’t sure if he could do that. He really had some self doubts about how well prepared he was to take on a leadership role with young cadets. It was like a fish in water. Not only did he find out he could do it, but he found out he was really good at it. I believe that if I’m going to get to keep coming down here to talk to you guys, we’ve got to leverage those extraordinary experiences and the self-awareness they come away with on Saturday.”

Senior LB Nate Combs
(Ref.: reflecting on team’s 2-9 record and trying to rebound versus Navy)
“We have played some great teams this season, so that’s part of it. We have some young guys on defense, but we felt like we have been every game. We’re just a couple plays away here and there. Obviously, the Army team really didn’t show up against Temple. These three weeks off will hopefully give us the chance to clear that last game and help us get prepared for Navy.”

(Ref.: putting a complete game together against Navy)
“It would be awesome to come in here and actually play like we know how we can play. I think we’re a great team. Navy’s a great team, so it will be a fun game.”

(Ref.: whether beating Navy would salvage the season)
“I don’t know if that’s totally true. I know that’s been said here over the years, but I am a competitor and I want to try to win every game. This being my last game ever to put the pads on, makes it that much more special.”

(Ref.: the progression of Trent Steelman as a quarterback)
“He had a great receiving corps in high school. He is a much different quarterback now. He burns you with his legs and his toughness now. Back then, he was a scrawny kid of maybe 180 pounds. He’s built up with some muscle, and he does whatever he can to win the game, whether it’s on his legs or his arm. It used to be just on his arm.”

(Ref.: what it would mean to win the Commander in Chief’s Trophy)
“It would mean the world, honestly. There would not be a better feeling. People have been asking me that a lot. I think it would be indescribable because it’s hard to put into words. People asked what it meant to me after we beat Air Force, and it was hard to put into words. I can’t wait. I’m ready to play.”

(Ref.: thoughts on having three weeks off before the Navy game)
“I’m totally ready. I hate this whole three weeks off thing. The coaches, I think, like it a lot more than the players do because they can prepare. As players, we’re ready to play. You could give us five days off and we’d be ready to play Navy. Healing up is great, especially because it’s been a rough season, but I’m ready to play.”

(Ref.: keys to slowing down Navy’s offense)
“They always have a great rushing attack and now they have a good freshman quarterback running the scheme. The big things against them are the details and trying to get the ball out. With an option offense, you don’t know what is going to show up. It’s a lot like our offense. That’s one big thing we’re going to try to do early is try to get that ball out, and get our offense back on the field.”

(Ref.: his ability to make big plays defensively)
“Last year I had a couple of sacks against Navy, and I am hoping to repeat that; that would be awesome. Honestly, I just try to do whatever it takes to get the win. If that means me getting into the backfield 10 times or zero, it doesn’t matter as long as we win the game. I would love to get a couple of fumbles or interceptions, though.”

(Ref.: Navy freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds)
“He is efficient at what he does. He’s pretty fast and he reads the defense pretty well. I’ve watched a couple of games that he’s played and he looks pretty good to me. I still have to watch a lot more games of him, but they are going to be a great team and they’re going to come out with extra energy when we play them.”

Senior DE Jarrett Mackey
(Ref.: what it would mean to win the Commander in Chief’s Trophy)
“It would put an exclamation point on what we wanted to do. I came into the prep school with Trent and we beat Navy there, and said that we’re going to go up to West Point and do it there too. Now that it’s our senior year, it’s our last chance to do it. We are trying to keep our goals. We said we wanted to bring the CIC back, we wanted to beat Navy and we wanted to go to a bowl game. We got a bowl game our sophomore year, and now it’s time to get our next two checklists for our senior class and the team and for our graduates and the Academy. It just means so much more to us. I bet you’ll see everybody start to tear up, because it’s been so long. It’s too emotional. It’s just one of those things in life that you just check off the box. It would be a great feeling.”

(Ref.: keys to stopping the Navy offense)
“We’ve been going through practice, and the key is to stop their running game. They drive a different variety of the triple option than we do, but we go against our offense all day, and they’re the number one rushing team in the nation, so we get a good look in practice. We just have to contain the quarterback and the fullback. They rely on their fullback a lot. Stopping their running game, or at least slowing it down and getting a couple of three and outs will be key.”

(Ref.: whether they can take anything from the Air Force game and apply it to Navy)
“We can take some stuff from the Air Force game, but we’ll add a little bit of variety to the defense. We’ve added a couple more blitzes and some other changeups. But, it’s basically the same; tackle the dude with the ball. You need to beat the cut blocks, you’ve got to stay alive, tackle and wrap up. We just have to play with more heart than we’ve ever played with before.”

(Ref.: the three-week break before playing Navy)
“It helps the guys recover because it’s been a long season. We played 11 games in a row, so we go out now and practice and everyone is just starting to recover and energy is getting high. I think it helps because it gives the coaches time to install everything, and we can break everything that Navy does piece by piece.”

(Ref.: the excitement level surrounding the team in preparation for the Navy game)
“It’s definitely building up, and next week’s practices will probably be insane. We’re just itching to get out there on Saturday. It’s just one of those games that you look forward to every year, no matter how the season has gone and no matter what’s going on in your life or with school. Everybody is looking forward to it this year because of the implications with the CIC on the line.”

Senior QB Trent Steelman
(Ref.: significance of this year’s Army-Navy game)
“It’s a game with a lot riding on, and even more this year with the CIC Trophy. It’s going to be a challenge to balance those emotions, and I think the team that does that better will be better off.”

(Ref.: reflecting on the USMAPS win over USNAPS in 2008)
“I remember we beat them pretty handily at the prep school. That was my first experience with the whole Army-Navy game, and it was a lot of fun.”

(Ref.: bringing success versus Navy at the prep school to Army)
“We had an excellent class at the prep school, and we thought we’d had success against Navy throughout career up at West Point. Now, it’s winding down to one more chance.”

(Ref.: whether or not he has had time to reflect upon his career yet)
“I’m waiting to reflect on my career. There’s no time for reflecting right now. We still have one more game to handle.”

(Ref.: closing the gap versus Navy over his four seasons at West Point)
“We have definitely made a lot of progress over the years, in terms of closing the talent gap. I think that was the biggest thing that we faced from my freshman year up until now. I believe they have always been a little bit more talented and skilled than we have, but I don’t think there is a difference now. I think it’s going to come down to who wants it more this year, and who goes out and executes the offense and defense better.”

(Ref.: whether a victory over Navy would salvage Army’s season)
“Unfortunately, it is true. We don’t think about that as a team, and that’s not what we ever strive for, but it is. They say that if you go 2-9 and win the CIC Trophy that you’ve had a good season. We have wanted a lot of things to go differently this season, and they haven’t for one reason or another. So, we have this opportunity in front of us, and it’s there for the taking.”

(Ref.: thoughts on playing in a game with such national significance)
“Going out and being able to play in a game of this magnitude is an opportunity that only a few are able to experience. The others will be sitting in the stands or watching on television. It’s our job as a team and as individuals to go out there and take it all in and play to the best of our ability.”

(Ref.: keys to victory against Navy)
“You just have to do what you do well. It’s going to come down to which team can execute better and hold onto the ball and control their emotions. I don’t think wrinkles are ever going to win a game like this. It’s going to come down to determination and hard work.”

(Ref.: whether or not he puts more importance on the Navy game)
“We treat is like just another game. That’s how you have to look at it, because if you don’t you’ll get caught up with everything that surrounds it. If that happens, it’ll get the best of you, and I believe whoever can control their emotions best in this game will be the winner.”

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