Head Coach Rich Ellerson Press Conference Quotes

Rich Ellerson and the Black Knights square off with Navy this Saturday

Rich Ellerson and the Black Knights square off with Navy this Saturday

Dec. 9, 2013

The following quotes have been excerpted from Army head football coach Rich Ellerson’s press conference, held Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, in the Randall Hall auditorium.

Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: opening statement)
“As a wise man once said, ‘It’s Army-Navy.’”

(Ref.: not allowing press at practice)
“We’re obviously trying to get the focus of our football team exactly where it should be and limit the distractions. Some of the outside stories and the outside story lines really aren’t going to impact the result of the game, but we are trying to get zeroed in, and we are.”

(Ref.: who the quarterback is going to be on Saturday)
“We are working on that. That is another good reason to close practices because we are working through that. As I said early in the season, we are paying attention as we prepare for this. Expect to see both.”

(Ref.: A.J. Schurr’s second-half versus Hawaii)
“What he did doesn’t necessarily surprise us, and we feel like there is some great upside in A.J. His performance is why we made that call at halftime, and he validated some of those expectations that we had for him coming from last spring.”

(Ref.: this Navy team compared to the past Navy teams)
“As I’ve said, our team and Navy’s team are playing each other for the first time. There are some guys from our team and from their team that were out there last year but this iteration of the 2013 Army-Navy football game is entirely unique and no points carry over. Having said that, I would argue that this is as good as, or better, than any Navy defense we have faced. They are a really solid outfit and they know their business. Offensively, they are a solid football team until you get a throw from Keenan Reynolds and then it becomes scary. That guy is a real different figure.”

(Ref.: on playing defense against Navy in the past)
“It’s not only knowing what you are looking at but being able to practice what you are looking at. Both defenses benefit from the fact that we can simulate this stuff. Typically, the opponent doesn’t have the tools, the understanding or the background to prepare their defense with the speed of the game. Obviously, that is a part of it, but I think there is a real understanding of the game. This is one of those games where we say, ‘We know that they know, that we know what they know,’ and you can screw yourself into the ground pretty tight because we know the coaches and players very well, and they know us.”

(Ref.: Keenan Reynolds practice decoy)
“We changed it up. Tevin Long does a great job with that in terms of allusiveness and getting to the perimeter quickly. He doesn’t throw like Keenan, but he is the same kind of moving target.”

(Ref.: not knowing who the quarterback will be)
“Are you distracted? We’re okay. This is back to the future, and its back to where we were at the beginning of the season. The good news is that our first two quarterbacks are healthy and a lot of weeks during the year we couldn’t say that either of our first two quarterbacks were healthy. We’re paying attention. Angel has done a lot of good things this year and we haven’t forgotten about all of that. What you may consider a distraction is somewhat of a comfort zone for us.”

(Ref.: the Navy offense)
“(We have to) control their quarterback because he can make plays with his legs, he can make plays with his arms and he can make plays with what’s between his ears. He is a very competent, cool and calm operator. He sees the game very well and keeps them out of bad situations. He takes care of the football team very well. He is not out there just making plays, he is running their offense and distributing the ball. Clearly getting him to have a bad game would be a huge thing for us. When you do that you are not just talking about how he throws and how he runs but you are talking about the decisions he makes, which is hard to do because he sees the game very well.”

(Ref.: the availability of Larry Dixon, Raymond Maples and Hayden Tippett)
“Hayden is practicing as of this morning. Larry can do almost everything but he is going to be in a club and I am not sure how available the doctors are going to allow him to be and what he is going to be able to do. Ray is not going to make it back.”

(Ref.: Raymond Maples as a running back)
“Ray was obviously a very experienced guy who has been our go to guy since his freshman year. I’ve said this about a lot of our backs but this is especially true to Ray, he is so good with the ball in his hands, but he is also so good without the ball in his hands. He was a blocker at times and a competent receiver. As I said, he was a product of having played so many games at a high level for so long.”

(Re.: the difficulty of not playing Navy will be for Raymond Maples)
“You’d have to ask Ray, but it’s tough. He was biting at the bit, and we thought for a while that he might have a miraculous turnaround and make it back for Air Force. He tried to make it out that week and had a setback. Now he’s just been stuck a little bit. He can’t get over a hump. He’s obviously very frustrated, but he’s got a future.”

(Re.: how special it would be to have Maples in the backfield with Terry Baggett)
“That was something we were looking forward to, having Ray and Baggett and (Larry) Dixon all back there together. That would have been fun, but that’s the modern game. It’s hard to keep that many good guys out there that long.”

(Re.: how to prepare for the moments that will determine the game)
“We’ve faced this defense over the years. They’ll adjust to the iterations that we come up with. We’re paying attention to the nuances, but they don’t get very far away from their base defense when they play us. That’s very typical of teams that play defense well against our offense. They don’t get too creative in their preparation for the offense. They find the answers within their own systems. Their defense shares the same practice environment with an offense that is fundamentally very similar to ours. They’ll have a well-informed approach. Sometimes folks will look at what we’re doing and it’s just different enough to their background that they’ll assume some things about us that aren’t necessarily accurate. That won’t be true on Saturday.”

(Re.: both teams entering the game with extended periods of time off)
“They’ve had three weeks and we’ve had two weeks, but then we had three weeks before our last game. Neither of us have played a lot of football in the last month and a half. The fact that we’ve had the time off has given guys like Hayden (Tippett), who couldn’t play last week, a chance to play this week. The time off will absolutely work in our favor.”

(Re.: being surprised at how much the team gets up for Army-Navy)
“They say ‘Go Army, Beat Navy’ from day one. When they start thinking about coming here, that’s one of the first things they start to get their head around. As an institution, we look forward to it. This week is easy to coach because I don’t have to go out there with bells and whistles to get guys excited in practice. They’re zeroed in and ready to go.”

(Re.: added pressure from Lt. Gen. Caslen’s preseason speech)
“The pressure is to win a football game. There are so many back stories that surround this game, and some of them are great and deserving, but I’m trying to coach a football game, and I’m going to try to win on Saturday. We’re going to play because this is the last time the team of 2013 gets to play. We’re so committed to one another and have practiced so hard that that’s all we need. That’s what gets our blood boiling. But when you get the media guys aside, they’re not rooting for Navy and they’re not rooting for Army, they’re rooting for the story. They’re rooting for the most compelling story, the story that catches the imagination of the public. Some of those stories are great stories that should be told, but they’re not our story. That’s why we are closing the practice and trying to circle the wagons around why we play and who we are. This is a special moment. We’re going to make sure that we don’t lose that and don’t get distracted from that.”

(Re.: what story you want your team to write)
“I want to win a football game. I know what that feels like. I know how much these guys have put into that outcome. That’s the story we want to write, that we had that moment together that we worked so hard for and sacrificed for.”

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