Dec. 4, 2012
The following quotes have been excerpted from Army head football coach Rich Ellerson's press conference, held Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, in the Randall Hall auditorium.
Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: managing emotions heading into the rivalry)
"First and foremost, it's a football game. Dialogs get in the way, but we need to leave it on the sideline, step out there and play football. What you don't want to do is be distracted and lose the opportunity. This is a great game, a great venue, but at the end of the day, it's still a football game. The outcome will be determined by the same things that determine every football game."
(Ref.: similarities and differences between the academies)
"Up and down the line, there are things about the academies that are similar. Institutionally, we share a similar mission, but own different parts of that mission. If you look at our football teams, you can say the same thing. There are some great similarities amongst us and they're the teams we most resemble, but there are still significant differences in our defenses and cultures. We're similar, but not the same. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and it makes for a fair fight."
(Ref.: having two weeks to prepare for Army-Navy)
"It's a little bit of a bowl game schedule. It's an opportunity for us to get healthy and a chance for us to practice some young guys fundamentally. Obviously, we're investing an awful lot of time into defending this offense and attacking that style of defense. Is there a price to be paid? Probably, but I think the benefits of the down time far out-weigh the negatives."
(Ref.: is this bigger than any bowl game the team could play in)
"I would argue yes. From the Army football community, it is for a thousand different reasons. That helps us in the lead-up and preparation. If it helps you in your preparation, it helps you on Saturday. It helps with how well you practice and how focused you are - all is for the good. All those other agendas still need to stay on the sideline."
(Ref.: how this stacks up to the bigger games he's coached in)
"I would argue there are a lot of things on the table, but we have to make sure they stay on the table and not let them slip out between the white lines. For both coaches and players, it's important that we leave that stuff on the sideline. At the end of the day, we're going to play a football game on Saturday. There are a lot of stories and things to talk about, but we have to go have fun and play football."
(Ref.: scouting Navy)
"Like any good option offense, they have a number of guys who can touch the ball and break your heart. They throw the ball reasonably well also. As I look at them offensively, they've really improved throughout the season. They found themselves a really good quarterback in Keenan Reynolds midway through the season. He's really comfortable in that role and distributes the ball well. When they've struggled a bit offensively, they've managed to manufacture a throwing game. He's made some tremendous throws and plays with a competence and presence beyond his years."
(Ref.: senior QB Trent Steelman's impact on the program)
"As a plebe, he had the style of play we were trying to install. He was the most competent guy and had grown up in a similar offense. He was more physically prepared. He's always been fiercely competitive and incredibly tough. Being a four-year starter at quarterback in any offense at any institution is significant and impressive. He has a presence about him, especially amongst his peers. We're better at left guard when he is playing quarterback."
(Ref.: what kind of a beating a quarterback takes in an option style)
"The ball is always going through his hands. Trent (Steelman) has had way more than his share of carries. He's a big, strong guy, but we're playing a lot of strong, violent folks. You can't overstate the number of shots he's taken - sometimes without the ball as well."
(Ref.: comparing the Army-Navy rivalry to being involved in the Arizona-Arizona State rivalry)
"It's very different. They are both fiercely competitive games. The two communities get into it at a level that, frankly, is in stark contrast to one another. In terms of Arizona-Arizona State, you'd hear some dialog surrounding that game that wasn't all that healthy. You didn't want to take your 12-year-old girl to that tailgate party. You see that in some of the fierce rivalries around the country. You hear the phrase `hate these guys.' That has no place in a real rivalry. The reason this rivalry is on a pedestal in my mind is because of the relationship between the two institutions and the ultimate relationship between the teams. They share a mission and are similar to one another. It's a rivalry that's founded on mutual respect. That gives it a chance to elevate the contest and be an example of how rivalries should be done."