Florida Atlantic quotes
Nov. 20, 2010
It was a team win. We blocked two kicks. In fact, the longest punt of the night was blocked which has been about our luck for the year. A field goal was blocked that did matter. We missed another blocked punt, but we were close. We're putting pressure on their punter. I thought that Garrett [Gilbert] played near perfect other than the two fumbles - one that we lost and the other we got back. I thought he played as well as he's played. The receivers caught balls better than they have throughout the year. We were as balanced as we wanted to be. Very few times around here have we rushed for 200 yards and lost the game. I thought Cody [Johnson] did a good job. DJ [Monroe] did a good job on his six [carries]. I thought the game was kind of epitomized by the defense stopping the Florida Atlantic team before the half and the effort that Malcolm Williams had on the last play of the half to jump up on the "Hail Mary" [pass] and catch it. There were plays like that tonight that helped us dominate the game.
Unlike most of the year, we answered better tonight on both sides of the ball. I was happy that the defense stopped Florida Atlantic right before the half. Will [Muschamp] and I were disappointed we came out and they scored in two minutes and five plays. We were supposed to start the second half dominating. The first five minutes of the second half is key. The offense drove down and had a chance to score a touchdown and kicked a field goal. We were kind of in that old rut. I thought things picked up and both sides of the ball got better and dominated the latter part of the second half.
We forced three turnovers [and lost] one. I don't think the explosive plays were close. I was pleased with the balance on offense. The kicking game was really good. This should give us some confidence and momentum going into Thursday's game with [Texas] A&M. We asked the guys to leave here and go with their family and friends to a TV and get them a pencil and paper and watch the Nebraska-A&M game - because it is such a short week - and write down what they're going to do to help us win the game on Thursday night. They're headed there as we speak.
Fozzy [Whittaker], we were told right before the game that he couldn't play. We thought he was going to play. The trainer told us as we were walking out that he would not play. He didn't even dress. Then Kyle Hix tweaked his knee in pregame. He only played the first series or two and his knee was sore, so he came out. Paden Kelley played the rest of the game. We were really down to two tailbacks. Ryan Roberson did a good job of learning what to do during the week. We thought that Fozzy would be in on passing situations. If he did come out, we'd at least have somebody who knew what to do to go in. That's not DJ [Monroe]'s deal - blocking on drop back pass. We were able to stay balanced tonight. I was glad Ryan Roberson got some work, so if Fozzy is not able to play on Thursday night he can help us at tailback.
On his decision to go for it on 4th-and-inches: That's called desperation. We felt like we needed to send a message to our team and everybody in the stands that we're not going to stay where we are. If we can't make six inches or two inches or four inches - whatever it was - on two downs after being stopped on the goal line, then we shouldn't win the game. First we thought fake punt. Then we said the heck with it you have to snap it to somebody deep. We'll go quarterback sneak and get it. I was proud they got it without question.
On RB Cody Johnson's amount of carries: I thought it would give him great confidence going into Thursday. We've needed a back around here to carry the load. Cody did that tonight. He had 89 yards, I think, at the end of the first half. He had a great first half. Then he came back with about nine minutes left and dominated a couple of series and put the game out of reach there. I'm really proud of Cody.
On the amount of "Hail Mary" passes he has seen work: I saw one against us with NC State and one for us tonight. I think that's it. There's a reason they call it "Hail Mary." I think that's the first one we've ever hit. I saw the Texans on [Sunday] and we came back and showed that to our players and said, "He did everything perfect." If he would have caught the ball the game is over. He did everything we teach him to do. That turned against him. Sometimes what we teach them doesn't turn out to be right. I thought that on [Florida Atlantic's] 4th-and-28 tonight - if they were going to throw it deep. We were in a prevent defense. I thought maybe you do catch it, but you obviously bat it down in that situation because you want it back at the line of scrimmage.
On if they practice the "Hail Mary": We finish practice every Thursday with it both ways. It [works] in practice because the offense has priority when the offense is throwing it, and the defense has priority when the defense is throwing it.
On feeling good about this win: Coaches, players, everybody - they've been so beaten down. If you're at a school that doesn't expect to win, losing is probably easy. It's expected. They just live with it. Here, everything becomes negative in their life, when it becomes talk about football when they lose. Students are negative. The media is negative. Fans are negative. Everybody is negative. They don't have any positives in their life. At some point, they have to step up and say, "I don't care what anybody says or anybody does. We're going to win a game." I asked Coach Royal one time, "When do streaks change?" He said, "When you're sick and tired of having one and you're good enough to change it." Tonight they could have been flat. It scared me to death all week. The profile of this team throughout the year is to be flat on this game. This game was moved. It's not a game that anybody cared about outside of these kids. It's not a game that anybody cared about nationally. If I read anything that you all wrote you wouldn't have written nice things about them. I was really proud of the kids that they came out and played hard tonight. They knew the importance of this game. It still gives them a chance to have a bowl game and still gives them a chance to have a winning season and does give them a tremendous amount of confidence going into A&M.
On if the team got some things fixed tonight: I think we've done some good things over the last three or four weeks. We just haven't done them as a team and consistently well enough to win. That's why it's fun tonight. Everybody got to play, and everybody had a piece of the win. The offense by far was the best they've played all year. I don't even think it's close. At Nebraska, they ran it for 200-something yards, but tonight they were balanced and had over 500 yards. The defense, when things were still in the balance there, Emmanuel [Acho] intercepts the ball for a touchdown and gets a fumble after that. They walk out of here tonight feeling really good about their teammates in all three phases.
On winning outside of the Big 12: We've been beaten by out-of-conference teams, too.
On S Adrian Phillips returning punts: We were so into him fair catching it when he started because we didn't know if he could catch them or not. We didn't want him to have to think about too much. Tonight he made a great decision. He nearly bit on the one at the 10 [-yard line], but it went over his head and he let it go. We were all over him to make sure he understood that's what we wanted. I was proud to see him catch one. He should have returned the one before. He had about an eight-yard cushion. Right now he's a freshman just learning how to do this. He's going to be more cautious than normal. Duane [Akina] is trying to get him to do that. We were going to let Curtis [Brown] try it again tonight. Curtis hurt his shoulder again. I'm not sure he played hardly any in the second half.
On the quick turnaround before Thursday's game: We talked to a lot of pro people last year. We played good on offense last year. We didn't play well on defense. We had some reasons we thought after the game. We've addressed those. Will [Muschamp], I, and Greg [Davis] have talked a lot about this week's practice. We will actually come back tomorrow and meet at three. We'll have trainers check at three. We'll meet at four. We'll put this [game] away really quickly. We've already broken down all of the A&M stuff. We've done that for three days this week, which last year we weren't as far along, especially since they've changed defenses [and] defensive coordinators. We've already got all of our kicking game addressed. We'll work for at least an hour tomorrow at practice. We'll watch the highlights of this game and show them why they won. Show them the sequences of the game that we felt like are the reasons that they won, and we'll move straight into the A&M film. We'll get on the field by 5:15[p.m.]. Practice from 5:30 to 6:30. Then we'll come back. We've got a lot of labs on Monday, but we've figured it out. We'll meet on Monday morning at six with the players. They'll get their meeting out of the way. I think we can get most of them around 4:45 [p.m.]. We'll go back and practice a good strong practice on Monday. Then we'll lighten back up on Tuesday. We may even work a little bit on Wednesday which we've never done before a ballgame. Because it's such a short week, most of them will be in shorts. We will not be in full pads. Some will be in shells. We feel like we've got a better feel to handle that short week than last year.
On his message to the team after this game: The message was this is why you play so hard to win and you feel so bad when you lose. Everybody needs to figure out what they did to help us win and do it on Thursday.
On DE Sam Acho: Sam is a great leader. He's a tremendous young person. We know what he stands for academically. We know about his character. We know about his work ethic. He's played really well. He's played really hard every game. What he did this week, I thought, was he took over the team in leadership. He again stepped up in that locker room and said, "We're down to the end. We can talk about it all we want. We've got six days left. If we don't to win this game then we're in trouble. We lose the winning season, possibility we lose the bowl game. Keep your mouths shut. We're down to the nub. You've got to get it done tonight." He's done it all week. I always walk in and talk to them briefly before I walk out. He was giving them a sermon when I walked in. I didn't have to say much.
On if it seems like a long time since this team has won at home: It seems like a long time since we've won period. Kansas State wasn't at home, best I remember.
On if a win like this gives the coaching staff confidence: Everything is better. Winning makes everything better. We can talk about whether they were good or not. None of this has to do with who we were playing. We've played some poor teams this year and lost. This was about us. It wasn't about anybody else. "Us" did good. I'm proud of "Us." "Us" is going to be happy tonight. "Us" is going to start watching the A&M game here in a minute, watching A&M film and video. Tomorrow "Us" is going to get ready to get after A&M. This gives us some hope. We've had no hope for a while. I watched Oklahoma State not try today against Kansas and still beat them 48-14. I think they're pretty good. They stood around for the first half. When you can do that you're a pretty good football team.
On scoring 51 points: I'll take 51 and be happy. It's like the old days, like last year.
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis
On the “Hail Mary” pass for a touchdown to end the first half: You know, in 38 years, it is the first time I have ever completed one. It does not happen very often. Garrett threw a good ball up in the air where we had time, and Malcolm just went up and took it over top of everybody.
On RB Cody Johnson: We felt like going in that there were some things outside the tight end that we could hopefully take advantage of, so we ran a play that we have not featured much this year, and Cody did a great job. I thought the receivers did a great job of blocking, also, on the perimeter. Obviously with Fozzy [Whittaker] out, Cody got a bunch of carries, got heated up, and did a great job.
On RB D.J. Monroe: Again, we felt like there were some things on the perimeter. We thought that they were really stout inside and really packed everything in, so we went into the game with the idea that we wanted to challenge the perimeter and throw play-action off of those. That fits D.J. well, so we were able to get him involved a little bit more.
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp
On DE Sam Acho: He’s a guy that’s going to play hard, play well. It’s important to him. He’s going to bring his A-game all the time. The biggest thing about Sam, is it’s important for him to succeed and play well. He’s a pleaser. That’s what you want in a player. He wants to play well for Texas.
On Sam Acho’s performance: Honestly, if my brother had not blocked for me on the interception, I wouldn’t have reached the end zone. We had great communication out there. The touchdown was as much his as mine.
On the short week and the Texas A&M matchup: It is a short week, but we have our heads right. We have to get focused. This is going to be the biggest game of the season, but if we take what we did tonight and improve on it, we are going to do very well.
DE Sam Acho
On the back-to-back turnovers by him and his brother, LB Emmanuel Acho: All season, we have been struggling to get turnovers. Emmanuel made a huge play. He jumped the route on, I guess it was a comeback, and ran it back about 60 yards, which was an unbelievable play. Then the next play, I think that Kennan [Robinson] or someone forced the fumble. I just happened to be right around the area and fell on it. Those were two plays that helped out the team. That is what we are all about.
On Florida Atlantic: You can never relax against a team like Florida Atlantic. They are always going to come to play until the fourth quarter, until the game is over. You can never relax. The whole defense and offense were out there just trying to keep the pressure on and just trying to play hard.
On the Texas A&M game: A game like this is definitely what you need going into the game coming up on Thursday. Like we have been saying really all season, we have been working hard. We came together as team. We have been a team. We have not pointed fingers. We have not started blaming each other, and that is what has kept this team together, and that is what will continue to keep this team together moving forward.
WR John Chiles
On getting to a bowl: I’m really excited to play this game and try to get us to bowl-eligibility. Tonight was a great win, but we have to get back and get focused and get ready for A&M. And that will be a great way to end my senior day. To win and come through.
LB Dustin Earnest
On leading the defense in tackles: I felt like we practiced really well this week and came together. Everybody was fitting right and that helps. If the D-lineman do their job it makes my job easier. Everybody did their job right, and I just happened to make the tackles.
On playing Texas A&M this Thursday: I think we’re definitely going to carry this momentum forward, especially since it’s a short turnaround. We can stay on this high right now and turn that into turning this season around.
On the offense: I was very proud of them. They’ve been working hard at it in practice. To see them getting after people is a great thing from the defensive side because you know how much effort it takes to run the ball because we have to stop it.
On LB Emmanuel Acho’s interception for a touchdown: We’re roommates, and he’s been talking about that for a while. We’ll wake up and say, “I had a dream that I had a pick-six. I had a dream I forced a fumble and picked it up.” So his dream came true today - so that’s good.
DB Blake Gideon
On getting turnovers: We always talked about how once they start coming, they start coming in bunches. It was really the same story last year. Once they started, they started rolling in mass. It was good to flip the field for the offense finally.
On the short week: We are going to enjoy [this win] just for tonight. I think we are actually going to have a short practice tomorrow evening, so it will be a quick turnaround for us and it is going to be a challenge for us. Last year, we were kind of tired for this game because of the short week. It will be a challenge for us to get hyped back up for us, but it shouldn’t be too hard because after all, it is A&M. Eleven games into the season you are sore, so it will be important for all of us to take care of our bodies and get our rest this week.
QB Garrett Gilbert
On his reaction to the completion of his pass before halftime: I honestly couldn’t tell it was Malcolm [Williams] until I saw his half-sleeve. I heard the crowd, so by that time I was pretty excited running down the sideline.
On the 63-yard TD pass to WR James Kirkendoll: It came off of a change-of-possession. John [Chiles] really ran a great route to occupy the strong safety. It looked like at first James wasn’t going to win on his route, and he had great speed. He had gotten on top of the guy and was able to make a good play. Obviously, I had plenty of time back there. The offensive line did a good job. And then for him to go make a play like that and finish it in the end zone - one play, quick score. I think the offensive line may like that best, not having to move it down the field.
On if the team played looser: Starting fast was big for us. With how successful we ran the ball, the offensive line knew going into the game, it was going to be a lot of edge runs. And they were very excited about that and did a good job all night.
RB Cody Johnson
On the turnaround: We just need to enjoy tonight and then put it behind us. We have a big task ahead of us, and we have to get focused for it.
On the game against Texas A&M: This is the biggest game of the season. It’s a rival game, and it is the biggest game in Texas. We will be ready.
WR James Kirkendoll
On making big plays at wide receiver: Any time you catch a big play like that and you help your team and help spark the team and get the offense moving, I mean it feels good.
On playing well versus Florida Atlantic’s pass defense: We watched a lot of film this week. We really broke it down, dissected it and we knew they were going to give us a lot of opportunities in the secondary and Garrett hit the right reads and the receivers made plays.
On the offense finding success: Like I said before in previous weeks, I think different teams cause different game plans. I think some teams naturally are going to give us the run more, some teams are going to give us the pass more. It’s just on us whether we can execute it and make plays.
DB Aaron Williams
On the win: We always say don’t take winning for granted because it’s really hard to win, especially in the Big 12. Our focus was to get this game, get this [win], and then getting ready for A&M and get to a bowl game.
On creating more turnovers: You just have to keep playing. The balls have been on the ground, as you can se,e and we just haven’t completed those turnovers. But tonight was just off the wall with picks and fumble recoveries and stripped balls and everything.
On playing Texas A&M this Thursday: It’s a short week, but we’re going to get ready tomorrow and Thursday’s going to be our Saturday. We’re not going to take it any different. We’re going to go out there and play as hard as we’ve been playing.
WR Malcolm Williams
On if the “Hail Mary” ever works in practice: We go through it in practice, but we never have it as a real play. The defense usually gives us the right-of-way, so we don’t harp on it at practice. It is one of those plays we have in the playbook. We just don’t go over it every single day, but we know we have it if we need it. They asked me to go in there and try to make a play and that is what I did.
On the catch: I didn’t jump at all. I just put my hands up. I’m 6’ 3”, so I didn’t think I needed to jump.
On the locker room after the catch: That was one of the points during the game where everybody felt that this was the point we needed. This is the time we need to go out and have fun, and that is what we did for the rest of the game.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC PLAYERS
LB David Hinds
TE Rob Housler
On his two catches including the long TD: Me and Jeff [Van Camp] were on the same page, and he knew where I was going to be. Sometimes defenses don’t make the right play call or whatever it may have been. I was surprised I was that open and sometimes you just take advantage of the play calling.
LB Michael Lockley
RB Alfred Morris
On the offensive line: They get better each week, and they are young guys and each week they get the chance to learn more. I think they did good against a team like Texas.
QB Jeff Van Camp
On the first half: We had opportunities, and it is not like we couldn’t play with them. And there are three or four plays we wish we could have back. We know we can play with them. We just have to cut out the mistakes. They are a good team, but we let some plays get away from us.