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Louisville-North Carolina Postgame Quotes

 



Sept. 15, 2012

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Louisville Head Coach Charlie Strong

(Opening Statement)
“It was a tale of two halves, where in the first half we were unstoppable on offense, taking the ball every drive and scoring. Defensively we were able to make plays allowing them only one score. The reason we won is because of our fans and the excitement and energy that they brought into the stadium. They made it hard for them (Carolina) to make their checks at the line of scrimmage and we knew coming in that this is a high-tempo offense that wants to make their checks at the line. The noise of our fans is the reason why and at the end of the game when we needed to make a play we made a play. We were able to somehow go out and get a victory. That is what happens in the game of college football when you get a big lead. We are not a mature enough team to go out and play well and I told them at halftime that if we are a mature football team we would not lose our focus. We will go out and finish this game. It is so hard when you big lead and have a young football team the way we do and just did not go out there and finish the game.”

(On what strategy was discussed in the huddle before the last play on defense)
“We called “Thief” coverage which is where the outside receiver, who Andrew Johnson was covering, is singled-up and everyone else was doubled. The key was doubling the tight end (Eric) Ebron because he was catching a lot of balls and a lot of balls in the red zone. We wanted to make sure that he was doubled and we wanted to make sure that the back (tail back) did not leak out of the back so we had a backer (linebacker) on him. They ran a crossing route which we thought they might do and Drew was able to pull it out.”

(On what he was telling his guys in the second half when Carolina outscored them 27-3)
“When you are up that big and allow a team to come back and score that many points you have to somehow defensively get a turnover or a sack. You have to make a play on defense. We did not make a play on defense so their team was able to take advantage of that. In the first half their defense could not stop our offense and in the second half our defense could not stop their offense.”

(On if the defense got tired defending the hurry-up offense) “In the first half we were able to get off the field and we had enough left to go stop them. If you watch the big plays, the wheel route in the first half goes 50 yards and then the last touchdown the guy (Romar Morris) creased us for about 50 yards. Those are chunk yardage plays where you have to go make a play.”

(On if playing similar offense teams in the first two games prepared them to rotate the defensive line) “We were trying to get pressure from somewhere and keep fresh group guys on the field. But, we were still unable to get pressure. We kept rotating the guys to try and find a right mix of guys. One time we had BJ Butler at nose tackle to try and find that mix but we just could not find it. “

(On what he found out about his football team today)
“Well we played very good in the first half, and we won the game. That was a very good Carolina football team. We are still a young football team and we know that we still need to mature. At the end of the day we still won the football game. We have us a good team and we just need to learn how to finish.”

(On what to improve on in the second half)
“We just have to finish. I think offensively we had 100 yards in the second half. During the first half we were able to sustain drives and stay in rhythm, and we couldn’t do that in the second half. When you have a team and when you have the lead, you have to go out and finish the game and continue to go out there and play.”

(On the running game struggling in the second half)
“It was almost like we would miss a block. During the first half we would stay with our blocks, and during the second half we weren’t sustaining them. It wasn’t so much what North Carolina did, it was more dealt with us and there is a lot that needs to be corrected.”

(Will North Carolina’s comeback help the team in the long run)
“It is good, you are able to learn from it, because you had a big lead and you allowed a team to come back with so many points scored, the team is able to learn from this.”

(On the impact of the crowd)
“It was a big game because we made it a big game. I told our seniors that this is what you signed on for when you came here. You want to be in a big time game. This is a big time game and a big time atmosphere for us and our fans are the ones who provided that energy for us. When we walked out there you could feel the energy and excitement.”

(On losing intensity and staying focused)
“It’s not that they lost intensity, it’s all about your focus and going out there and finishing the game. You open up the third quarter and you drive the ball and then get stopped on fourth and one and then North Carolina gets a big play for a big touchdown. It’s all about us maintaining and making sure that we can stay focus with our players. The coaching staff has to keep coaching also.”

(On conservative play calling)
“A lot of times you like to run the ball and keep the clock running, but when you get backed up that’s when you have to go make that throw. They were able to get pressure and get two sacks. We just have to continue with our offense.”

(On Will Stein having the option of calling for the two point conversion)
“A lot of times Stein looks to the sideline and Coach Carter motions the play. When we called it North Carolina wasn’t really lined up. They had one defender over there and we had two blockers. They sent another defender across the field and he was able to run inside-out and Marcus tried to run it to the outside and that’s when he got tackled.”

Teddy Bridgewater, QB
(On how it felt to get a win despite losing the big lead)
“We just have to learn how to finish. We can’t take our foot off the gas. We learn something new every week, and this weekend it was learning how to finish.”

(On what changed in the second half)
“I feel like we lost our tempo. In the first half we were moving and playing with the up tempo. In the second half that tempo wasn’t there.”

(On what went well in the first half)
“The offensive line was winning up front. The running backs were running with their pads low. And the wide receivers were making big plays in the passing game. So, it was all just perfect execution.”

(On coming out flat in the second half)
“Yeah, we came out pretty flat footed. You can’t get complacent just because you have a big lead. You have to learn how to finish and you have to stay hungry.”

(On the last defensive stop)
“We practice for situations like that and it paid off today. We all have faith in the defense and we knew that they would come up with the stop.”

(On what the team learned from today’s game)
“Like I said before, you learn something new every week and last week we learned to come out and put our foot on the gas from the start. This week we learned that we have to finish. We have to finish drives. We have to finish games.”

Andrew Johnson, CB
(On losing the second half lead)
“It was frustrating. We have to execute better. We have to play better defense.”

(On the defense being backed up late in the game)
“I just know we have to go out and play defense like we are capable of playing. We have played great defense every week. We have a great team - great linebackers, great D-line, and great secondary. We just have to play better defense.”

(How the last goal line play developed)
“The beat us earlier on that same play, the same route, and the same receiver. So, I had a feeling they were going to come back to it.”

(On being outscored 27-3 over the final twenty minutes and what the defense was talking about on the sideline)
“We had our heads down because we couldn’t believe that we had given up that big of a lead. Before the series we knew we had to step up. Big time playmakers make big time plays in big time games. I just happened to make a big play.”

(On how he broke up the last pass in the end zone)
“The whole time I had my hand on him. Watching them on film I knew they were great jumpers. They can really jump so I had no chance of jumping with them. I had my hand in there the whole time and when he came down and I felt the ball, I used all of my might to try and strip the ball. I ripped down at the ball to knock it down.”

(On what Coach Strong said to him in the locker room)
“He told me I made a great play and to stay focused.”

Jeremy Wright, RB
(On what Coach Strong said in the locker room after the game)
“We definitely have to finish. We need to learn how to finish teams off. He wanted at halftime to see how mature we were and how we would finish the game. We definitely found out that we need to mature a little more.”

(On what changed in the second half)
“I don’t know exactly what it could have been. I just know we have to go back and fix it.

(On being disappointed despite the win)
“I’m definitely disappointed. I know we are a much better team than we showed in the second half. We just have to go out and execute.”

(On losing the lead being a good thing for the team)
“It could. We showed our true colors in the first half. We have to come out and execute better in the second half.”

(On the running game and what changed in the second half)
“I’m not even sure. I’m guessing UNC changed up their defense. They adjusted and we just couldn’t get it done. But, we definitely have things to work on.”

Nick Heuser, FB
(On if you were worried at the end of the game)
“I am still sick to my stomach. I was worried, but at least we came out with the win and that’s all that matters. We can’t let that happen again.”

(On differences of the offense in the first and second half)
“I don’t really know, it wasn’t a lack of effort. I can’t really say what happened. We tried hard it just wasn’t clicking I guess.”

(On missing the fourth and one, and if that caused that offense to sputter in the second half)
“That was big. If we had completed that fourth and one, and went on to score, I think the whole second half would have been different. We need to complete that fourth and one because I think it was a big turning point for the second half.”

(On North Carolina stepping up, not Louisville slowing down)
“Once they got their confidence rolling, they started playing much harder than they did in the first half.”

(On your touchdown catch)
“I got one in the books and it was awesome. I didn’t really know what to do afterwards. I told Coach Kenny Carter all summer that he would take my 15 yard celebration penalty. But since I got a 15 yard holding call earlier in the game, I just hope that negates it so I don’t get in trouble for that.”

Marcus Smith, DE
(On how it felt to make that big play at the end to get off the field for the win)
“The coaches called a great play and we believed in the defense. I had a big time going against #76 (Travis Bond) and I did everything I could do to get past him. I tried to get an intentional grounding call but they didn’t call it. We just have to keep playing hard.”

(What was message in the huddle before that 4th down play in the fourth quarter?)
“The coaches just said that we have to get off the field. They were very confident that we were going to win this ballgame, but it is a learning experience to not let anybody back in the game.”

(Any surprise on Andrew Johnson making that play to stop them on fourth down)
“No, he makes all those plays in practice, so it wasn’t surprising that he would do it in the game.”

Damian Copeland, WR
(On what happened in the game, and did they slow up)
“A lot of little things went wrong. Special teams during the blocked punt and the fumble on the kickoff return. It is little things like that we can continue to execute and get better at.”

(On last year not playing because of injury, and playing this year)
“Last year I was battling a hamstring injury all season. It kept me out of the Murray State game last year, and then I pulled it this time last year versus North Carolina. It feels great being back this season, I thank God for helping me through this. I learned a lot of patience from last year. Growing up and taking care of my body are the main things. Studying and staying in the film room for my opponents, then executing during games.”


North Carolina Head Coach Larry Fedora

(What lead to the team throwing it away in the first half)
“From what I can remember from the first half, it looked like a lack of effort, a lack of intensity, a lack of passion, a lot of mental mistakes, you name it whatever could go wrong went wrong in the first half. You got to give Louisville credit, but we can’t play football the way we played in the first half.”

(On the defense’s performance during the first half)
“It’s hard to say, but there were a lot of missed assignments early on in the game, and you got to put a lot of energy in it and play with enthusiasm and when you keep giving up play after play; eventually you just don’t have it anymore. I think that’s what happened early in the game with the defense”

(On the last offensive play of the game with Erik Highsmith)
“I think Brennan(73) made a great pass to him, I think Erik did a great job of getting to where he needed to be to get the ball and the defensive back did a great job of getting the ball out. You got to give the guy credit made the play when he needed to make the play.”

(On finding the positive in a lost)
“We’re going take this and we’re going learn from it, we learned a great lesson today. This team is not done, we’re in our third game of new systems and in all three areas, but what we did learn today about the Tar Heels is there’s a lot of fight in them. They’ve got something inside of them; that alone will give us a chance. We will get better, but we will definitely learn from this mistake and we will get better. It comes down to how you prepare and we have to get better at doing that.”

(On the game plan today compared to the Wake Forest game)
“It was actually less than the Wake Forest game plan, I am not sure we can cut it back anymore then we cut it back. The keys to victory haven’t changed and we’re not executing the key to victory and once we do that we’ll have a chance.”

Tommy Heffernan, Linebacker
(On what happened first half and what corrections the defense made in the second half)
“I think we just weren’t as intense as we should have been. I don’t think we were thinking right with our defensive assignments. Coming in at half time we realized we really needed to step it up. Coach Fedora gave us a great pump up speech. He said all he wanted us to do was to just fight and claw all you can. We came out with a lot more intensity second half which made the difference.”

(On how the team can use the second half play going forward)
“I think it shows what this team can potentially do. It shows that if we would have played half as hard as we did in the second half in the first half then we would have won that game. My hat is off to Louisville they are a great team, but it just shows what we are capable of when we are fighting.”

(On why there seemed to be a lack of effort)
“I don’t know if it is a lack of effort or what, I just don’t think our mind sets were right. Sometimes you come out and you don’t play as intense as you need to and a lot of guys came into the locker room at halftime and realized that.”

Kevin Reddick, Linebacker
(On getting pressure on Teddy Bridgewater)
“It is about execution. We were running the same plays in the second as we were in the first half. In the first half sometimes we were there and we just couldn’t make a play. Second half we focused up just a little bit more.”

(On if the blocked punt gave them hope)
“It kind of brought hope for the whole team. The UNC offense would go down and score and we knew as a defense that we needed to stop them on third downs.”

(On what coach Fedora’s message was at the half)
“Go out there and give it everything you got. Just give tremendous effort. Don’t worry about the first half just go out and give it all you got. Do what you have to do to bring this team back.”

(On what coach Fedora said after the game)
“He said that if we had just a little bit of the effort we had in the second half in the first half then we could have had a chance to beat them.”

(On what lessons they can take away from this)
“We have to come out fast. As a team we came out to slow. As a defense we came out to slow and that kind of put us behind.”


 

 

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