Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: opening statement)
“The thing that I wanted to say to our seniors and our football team when we got in there (the locker room) was that there is nothing I can do right now to help with this horrible feeling of hurt, but it’s not going to be too long before we can start to reflect on it and start to appreciate this senior class and how far we’ve come. I wanted desperately for them to feel differently tonight. They battled hard as a football team. In the days and weeks to come, I think we’ll be able to look back on what this particular group of seniors has done for Army football, the path that we’re on, the culture that we’ve achieved and the vision that we’ve created for ourselves. All those things are going to carry us to where we want to be. It’s not going to feel like this, but it does right now.”
(Ref.: what next year’s team can take from this game)
“The vast majority of those guys are going to play again for us. We had some young guys get exposed a little bit here and there, but that will come back to them. From a plan standpoint, X’s and O’s and such, that’s going to adjust. That’s not the story. It’s how we got here. We don’t have the happy ending in here. We don’t have the storybook ending that we all wished for and wanted, but we did everything to set it up.”
(Ref.: Trent Steelman’s performance)
“The first thing a quarterback has to be is physically and mentally tough, and certainly Trent is that. He’s a great competitor. He could play better, and he will play better. He keeps fighting back and has that great resilience that a great player needs. He has that and he has the toughness. Experience helps, and he’s gaining that quickly.”
(Ref.: how to make the offense more productive)
“In the course of that game, we did all the things you need to do. What we need to do is be more consistent. Playing against a good defense that understands what they’re looking at, we did enough good things. We did all the things you need to do to have a productive day offensively, but we don’t do it with consistency. We’ve still managed to squander some series and squander some plays that you can’t recover from. What we don’t have, is that big play right now. We can’t shorten the field with a big gash. You’re going to need some of those. When we’ve had a couple of those, we’ve been more productive. That wasn’t the night we had, but that’s what we need. We have to create some field position with a takeaway, which we did, and then we squandered the opportunity. Without that big play, without that big hit, you’re going to have to be remarkably consistent. What we’ve had to learn this year is how to play that way. We’ve had to learn to try to achieve that kind of consistency because that big play just wasn’t there. There is no question that we need to be a little more explosive and hopefully the consistency will come from the number of guys we have back.”
(Ref.: Alejandro Viillanueva’s season at wide receiver)
“His story is remarkable. He didn’t know wide receiver from third base. He’s not just a big receiver. He’s able blocking, he’s catching, He’s running real routes. That’s all in the course in less than a year. That was something we experimented with somewhere in the middle of spring practice. That’s an example of what you can do. He’d come back early, stay late and work with Coach (Andy) Guyader whenever he could. It was really remarkable how far he came as a receiver in the course of that year.”
(Ref.: whether he was surprised the team was leading at halftime)
“We were not surprised we were ahead. We were disappointed we weren’t further ahead. We expected to win. On the goal line at the end, we were looking at the clock trying to decide if it was going to be an onsides kick or we were going to use our timeouts. We expected to win and we’re bitterly disappointed we didn’t.”
(Ref: the defense’s effort)
“It was really a remarkable effort. We were trying to keep the ball out of Ricky’s (Dobbs) hands and make the other guys beat us a little bit. They made some nice adjustments. We weren’t getting gashed, but they were able to be effective. They had those two nice drives to start the second half where they got points, but even then we had our chances there. What it came down to, and give them credit, they had to get a couple of guys blocked in critical situations and they did. They battled and made a couple of critical plays in critical situations. They picked on a freshman and threw it over his head, but give them credit. They were paying attention. We didn’t make it easy for them. They had to earn everything they got. Our defense played well enough to win. If we get that type of defensive performance, most weeks we’re going to be just fine.”
(Ref.; the team’s mindset)
“Clearly we were excited to play. We’re working out there. My job was to make sure that we were prepared emotionally and mentally and that we were on the edge, but not over edge. We wanted to make sure our excitement and passion wasn’t a distraction for us. We kept reminding the guys that, yeah, these are big shoes to walk in on a day like this, but we’ve been in those shoes all year long and they fit just fine. I think we were in a good place. They were in the right place emotionally. They were buoyed by their emotion, but they weren’t hampered by it. They weren’t getting in each other’s way. We weren’t penalized. We weren’t doing stupid things. We were trying to do the right things. We weren’t quite good enough at times to get it done, but we battled hard. We didn’t give up in our belief. We didn’t give up on one another. From that standpoint, I’m proud of my football team. They expected to win, and they’re bitterly disappointed they didn’t.”
(Ref.: his first Army-Navy experience)
“I need some more perspective I guess. I had my head down. I’m trying to win a football game. Where I am right now is I’m just really proud of this senior class. I know that there are some things about where we are as a football team culturally, our vision, the path that we’re on – we’re right smack in the middle of this thing. I’m so proud of what those guys have been able to accomplish. I’m their third head coach. They had to come in here and buy into this. That was a conscious decision on their part. That wasn’t because I did a wonderful job selling them. That was a choice they made. They wanted so desperately for this to occur that they would suspend all their emotions. They would believe what I was selling and expose themselves emotionally to the hurt that frankly we’re experiencing a little bit today. In the days in weeks to come, they’ll have an awful lot to be proud of. That’s what I’m focused on. That’s what going to keep me going. When I do go to sleep, if I go to sleep, that’s what’s going to get me to sleep – what those guys have accomplished and what those guys have left behind.”
(Ref.: Navy’s touchdown pass)
“It was play action. You’re asking guys to be in two places. We were blitzing on one half of the field. Based on the motion, the young guy had to snap his eyes from one side of the field to the other, and they showed us the option and we believed it. They were lying. They tricked us.”
(Ref.: Navy stopping Trent Steelman)
“They were daring us to run the ball inside a little bit, and we had some success, but not enough. They were going to make it difficult for us to get on the perimeter. There were some called runs for him that maybe we were a little reluctant to use because of his ribs (that he inured today). In the option game, the ball was not going to be in his hands. They were daring us to stay inside. We had some success, but that’s also where we had the huge turnover that changes the texture of the game. You would have to ask them if that was their plan or not, but I feel like they just said, ‘Okay, we’re going to keep the ball inside and you guys are going to have to block some guys and make some hard runs.’ To some degree, we answered the bell, but not to the level we have to.”
Army QB Trent Steelman
(Ref.: playing in his first Army/Navy game)
"I try to put all that stuff behind me. I knew it was going to be a big game and I wanted to get a big win for us. It was just another football game. All we wanted to do was get this win for the seniors. They have taken me in since day one. Without them, I don't think I could have had the success that I did this year. Just being to be able to put myself out there for them every game, it has been a fun trip.
(Ref.: leading seniors as a freshman)
"You just have to be vocal. On the football field, age, rank and all that doesn't matter. You also just have to play your heart out and show that you can play. Going to work with (senior WR Alejandro Villanueva) every day, I have the utmost respect for him and how he made his transition to wide receiver. He has made me a better quarterback."
(Ref.: what it would feel like to beat Navy in the coming years)
"There wouldn't be a greater feeling than to beat Navy, to have a winning season and go to a bowl game. That is what we strive for every year -- getting this thing turned around and bringing back the winning tradition of Army football after so long. And, most of all, sending your seniors off with a win over Navy would be something special to everyone."
(Ref.: what the upperclassmen told him before the game)
"They just told me about the type of emotions that would be running through the locker room, the stadium, the fans and about preparation. I room with (senior QB Carson Williams) and he has been through this and has helped me so much along the way at becoming a better quarterback, seeing defenses and getting me ready for game time. He had a talk with me before the game and told me it was just another football game and to stay focused, play like I had all year. After the first play, emotions kind of settle down. You live to play football and when game time rolls around, everybody is amped up with emotion. After the first play, it is just going out there and trying to execute."
Army NG Mike Gann
(Ref.:The effect the senior class had on this year's team)
'There are a lot of behind-the-scenes things you don't see. The difference this year was it wasn't just one or two guys, or just the ones playing. All these seniors took a big leadership role and it was truly amazing. I've never been on a team that had the type of leadership this team has had. Often, that goes by the wayside because of the win-and-loss record. The Class of 2010 did a tremendous job of being the one that turned things around. We have turned things around and we just need to reflect that in wins and losses."
(Ref.: the play of the defense)
"Anytime the Army defense takes the field, we have a sense of pride. We are never going to lay down for a team. It is never going to be about effort. If we miss anything, it might be a missed assignment. But I can promise you it will not come down to lack of effort on the field. I think that goes back to the senior leadership."
(Ref.: being on the field for most of the third quarter)
"We didn't feel worn down at all. Navy just made plays. It is never going to be easy. You are never going to go out and shutdown the Navy offense whole game and stroll on through. You have to keep fighting. This is the Army/Navy game. We knew from the beginning that it was going to be a fight and we wanted to take that fight to them. They came out on top and that is just the way it ended up."
Senior WR Alejandro Villanueva
(Ref.: his feelings on playing his last game)
"I knew it was coming sooner or later, that it would be time to hang up the cleats and pick up the rucksack. I just hope that Trent (Steelman) and the underclassmen can beat Navy in the future. I hope everyone is happy with my performance this season. When you do everything you can - showing up to practice early every day, watching as much film as you can, and leave your guts on the field - it easy to hang up the cleats and say ‘it's about time to move on to bigger and better things."
(Ref.: lessons learned from Army football)
"As a platoon leader, you will be leading (Non-Commissioned Officers) who have been deployed four or five times with the state of the war right now, and being able to show your guys that you are competent and that you want to work hard is definitely something that Army football has taught me."
(Ref.: his thoughts leaving the field)
"Football has been huge in my life, but it's not just football. After we graduate, we just become service members, and there is not a chance for us to compete again. We might play flag football or something like that, during (Physical Training) time, but this was the last time that I had to compete. I don't know what I'm doing next semester, but the other sports that I've been playing in my life - I don't think I'll go back and swim or play rugby anymore. For me, it was the last time and I was just trying to make it last a long time. Being on the field, or in the swimming pool, or on the court - it's something that's been really special in my life, and I was just trying to gather my thoughts and enjoy it one more time.
"Competition is something that I love and something that's been in my family for a long time. Saying goodbye to all the competitiveness of the sport is something that I'll miss in my life."
(Ref.: leading at halftime)
"In my mind the same thing happened at Air Force. We were still in the game and we were trying to keep from getting complacent in the second half, and prevent players from saying ‘We're going to win the game.' We needed to make sure we went out and played a better second half, and I thought we did. We played with a lot of effort. Football is a crazy game and Navy took the victory today."
(Ref.: Navy's coverage in the secondary)
"They knew the ball was coming either to me or it was going to be a pass (late in the game), so there was a little bit of pressure on me to make my route a little more crisp, or run faster. I'm not one of those guys who will look back 40 years from now and say ‘Wow I should have caught that ball.' I did absolutely everything that I could have done to be the best wide receiver that I could. That was a great ball that Trent (Steelman) threw me (referencing the pass that was intercepted in the end zone in the fourth quarter) - it was one of those plays where we hoped that they bite on the run and we could get one-on-one. It didn't work out, and all I can say is that I wish I caught it, and I wish I could still be in the game, but it was incomplete."