Oct. 29, 2011
Head Coach Charlie Strong
"When you look at us offensively, we started strong. They almost scored the second play of the game. Teddy (Bridgewater) was able to get the ball away from pressure and throw the ball to Michaelee (Harris). You just like the rhythm there the firsts two drives where we were very successful moving the ball, throwing the ball, and guys just making plays on offense.
"Defensively we knew we had to get pressure on the quarterback today, because he's such an excellent quarterback. Against West Virginia, they had no negative yards plays, whether it was running the football or sacks. We were able to get the sacks, throw for losses, and our defense just played excellent today. Defensively, we'll continue to grow and grow and grow and we'll get better and better and better each week. That's what we do on offense. If we can get us another 100-yard rusher plus 100 yards just with the whole team there, then we'll be very successful. When you look at Victor (Anderson), another big runner with 93 yards racked up, he made for an excellent block down the field. Radcliff making that big time block for them, which is really good. Our wide receivers have to understand at any point our backs are going to break one, whether it be a wide receiver breaking one or our running backs breaking one down the field.
"Down field blocking is so critical. Our special teams, we had some penalties. (Chris) Philpott hit a big field goal, and I told him `this one's in.' It was a change of quarter and let the clock run out, so I wanted him to kick on that far goal into the crunch zone, because that's where he had missed the last two in the previous game. So, it was just a big boost for him. We saw him knocking down that kick there and getting us a two touchdown lead. Watch the next series there and our defense goes out and stops them. We make the big pitch there. We just have to continue to get better. We can really improve from this game. We are nowhere where we should be. Up at West Virginia is going to be a very tough environment for us."
(On winning consecutive BIG EAST games)
"I was told that was the first time in five years we won back-to-back conference games, which was big. Our program needs to build on that, and we should never be in that position. If our team can continue to build and develop trust and confidence in themselves, then they have a chance to go finish this out the right way. It's a one game season. We have to go and get ready for West Virginia. I told them to celebrate this win, but it's all about West Virginia tomorrow."
(On the team seeing Anthony Conner for the first time)
"For the first time, our players had a chance to see this young man right before pregame. To be the competitor he is and have a competitive spirit, we see the respect our players have for him. We had warm ups, and I brought him in right before our players came off the field. I got them all up and said, `this is the moment you all have been waiting for." Here he comes out, and our team gets a chance to see him. He still has a long recovery, but it's so good to just see him. This is a program where you take young men, and they have success and see the influence they have on other players. I gave him the game ball today. We're going to win because of AC. Everyone's playing for AC right now and that's what it's all about."
(Improving toward the end of the season)
"That's what you hope. We just hope that we can build off this game and continue it with the next game and continue to get better. You look at us offensively, we took some small steps. Today, we made a really good step for our program, but it has to improve. Defensively, you have to go play great defense. It's the plan to win, especially in this conference, because everything counts."
(On the development of the offensive line)
"I look at our offensive line. You get Mario (Benavides) back. You have (John) Miller back. You have your whole group. With (Ryan) Kessling, you have your five guys sitting there. Then, we were able to develop guys like Jamon Brown, who took a quick development. (Brown) He can move and he has great feet. You get to the offensive play where we can move the ball down the field. Defensively, we made some plays where we can hold on. Then all of a sudden, we make a big play off a sack. We still have to improve, but we have to develop each week."
Hakeem Smith, So., S
(On Anthony Conner)
"We've been basing everything off `AC.' We set our hearts on playing for AC. Everything we did was for him. We had to show him that we really meant it was for him. When he came out onto the field it was a great feeling."
(On how he feels the freshman are adapting)
"They are catching on real fast. They are starting to get comfortable. They have a few games under their belt so they are comfortable and can react to the ball faster."
(On playing better at the end of the year)
"Last year, the turning point was when we beat Syracuse. This game today was a big game considering how far we are going to go into the season. We came out on top, the same as last year and we are just going to keep moving."
(On the game plan to stop their offense)
"We had to contain them and just put pressure on the quarterback. Basically that was it."
(On the offense being more productive)
"We just practiced well. When you practice well you play well. They always say you practice how you play and I'm a firm believer in that. We play fast and we execute well."
(On how experience is helping them)
"Everything we are doing is still the same. We are just keeping things simple. We are executing what we know"
(On what they are doing to improve on offense)
"The main thing is being physical up front at the offensive line. Those guys are opening holes and protecting me back there. I just take my hat off to those guys."
(On Victor Anderson's TD)
"It all comes from preparation. Coach Watts does a great job of preparing me well. He just always says if you see cover zero and the safeties are matched up with the slots then the option is always the way to beat it."
(On if the team has changed since game one)
"Yes it's a different team. At first we started off slow but it is hitting these guys. We are a very good football team as coach strong would say."
(On West Virginia)
"We don't plan on changing anything. We just want to execute our game plan. Coach strong always says it starts up front with the big guys. You could see that today and next week it will show again."
(On how he is growing)
"It all comes with preparation. Coach Watts prepares us well. The game plan is made for us to execute big plays and big runs."
Dexter Heyman, Sr., LB
(On the offense scoring early)
"The offense played great today. From a defensive standpoint, you always want a lead going into the fourth quarter. Any great defense will defend that lead in the fourth quarter and that is what we have been able to do the last two weeks."
(On going to West Virginia next week)
"Every time you win a game, the next one gets bigger. We have won two straight and we want to continue to build on this momentum and continue this success. As you know West Virginia is very explosive and can hang 50-60 points if you let them. One thing we have struggled with this year is stopping the big play. That's one thing you have to do against West Virginia, execute and get off the field on third downs."
(Thoughts on standing ovation for Anthony Conner)
"Definitely deserved very much so. Anthony is a guy who is very inspirational by the way he plays and for a split second in the locker room before the game we had that inspiration back."
(Possibility of being a championship contender)
"I don't want to look too far on anything. I am not going to dwell on this game because it is already done. There is plenty of football left to play. We are at West Virginia which is a very hostile environment, if anybody knows anything about Morgantown. We are going to have to strap on our boots and play a complete game."
Michaelee Harris, r-Fr., WR
(On what has changed in the team)
"I don't believe we practiced as hard as we do now. I'm glad, it is probably better sooner than later, but it is better late than never."
(On emotions when Anthony Conner was in the locker room)
"There were tears shed. I believe that opened our eyes. We went out there and played hard for him."
(On playing with Bridgewater in high school)
"Though I played with him in high school, I believe it is more fear of me letting him down. He is throwing to me, most of the time on scramble, he is throwing for a let out. I make sure I come down with everything so he knows that he at least has one for sure target."
(On if this is the most complete game of the season)
"I believe we played a complete game, but there is always room for improvement. We can get better at practice where we work on what we didn't do as well."
Syracuse Head Coach Doug Marrone
"Obviously we're disappointed. We lost the football game. I think you're only disappointed when you've lost. I'm disappointed in myself, the other coaches, and the players in the locker room. The effort level was good. We committed a lot of penalties early on in the game which is uncharacteristic of our team this year. I have to do a better job of making sure we understand and not have those types of penalties that put you in tough situations. That's what happened in the first half. We took a chance and tried to make some plays early on trying to be aggressive against the pressure and man defense. We weren't able to make those plays. Defensively we had them in some tough situations and we let them out early. Credit to Louisville. They did a nice job. We had some penalties on special teams. Really all three phases were involved in that (penalties). At the end of the day it's a team loss and I have to take a good look at myself in the mirror and make sure I can come back and find a way to put our players in position to win football games and play Syracuse football."
(On the Syracuse offense)
"The offense took shots early. I've done this a lot. In the NFL, we played against a lot of teams that play man coverage, which they play. They bring a lot of pressure and you have to hold them up and make plays. You go back and look at it and we've got some guys open. When I say open Ii mean touchdown open and we had a couple of overthrows. We had a couple of times when we had guys open and the protection broke down. There is a combination of things that go into it. For us we have to keep learning to make those plays when the opportunity comes. You don't know when it's going to come because you're taking shots all the time. We won more this year than we did last year on the outside but we were unable to make the play."
(On Louisville's defense)
You have to remember it's the 15 th ranked defense so they're not going to do anything different. They corner pressured us which we picked up well. They came with the "Sam-Mikes" and they didn't all out us as much as they did in the past. They are a good defensive football team. There is a reason why they're ranked 15th. They are physical up front and for us when you're talking about manageable situations; we were taking our shots on first down where you need to take them. So now when you take those shots, it's second-and-10. Then, when we ran the ball, sometimes we'd have third-and-7 or third-and-8. Those situations are tough to manage."
(On being surprised to not play well after playing very well last week)
"I think when we are going into a game we can always make plays. I really do. There are some times after wins when I'm disappointed. I may not use that word in a public conference but sometimes you're disappointed you could have done more or been better. When I say I'm disappointed I look at myself first. I'm truly in this profession because I want to put our kids in a position to win. I get disappointed in myself and I go back and say did we do enough of this; did we do enough of that. It starts with me and that is my disappointment. We're all trying so hard to get this program to the point where someone can write `Hey, here we are. We've gotten over the top'; and we're not there yet. That's what we're striving for and that's what we are working for. I've said it from the beginning that we have to build a foundation for this football team and we can be successful for a long period of time. I'm not going to use any excuses. Here we are in year three and it's back and forth. To answer your question directly, we are an inconsistent football team who has to get better."
Antwon Bailey, Sr., RB
(On overall game)
"They came to play and they had a great day. Coach said coming in we knew they had a great rushing defense. They did what the film said they were going to do, they were going to pressure us, and they were going to come after us, which they did, and we struggled."
(On Louisville's defensive speed)
"With the pressure comes a lot of slanting and they have a fast defense, so when I wasn't able to get to the edge they were flowing."
(On difference between this week and last week)
"Give all the credit in the world to that Louisville team. They came out to play in all three phases of the ball. No doubt in my mind that each and every one of my teammates gave every thing they had. We just didn't come out on top today."
(On Louisville's defensive line)
"It was tough. It was more so tough because they send pressure from everywhere and at any time. I think that's what made it tough and affected the passing game."
(On RB direct snap formation)
"It's called the Express. It worked for us, I think we had a minus on one play, but it was definitely something that worked for us today and we ripped off a big gain on it."
(On changes made within the game)
"That's where the outside runs and outside tosses came in, trying to get outside of their pressure."
(On run game struggles)
"We got behind early and that hindered us. We were more of a passing team playing behind. It was that combined with Louisville's defense, they played outstanding."
(On difference between watching Louisville on film and playing live)
"I think it's like that with any team, its different watching film than it is live and in person, but it was exactly what we saw on film, they came after us."
Ryan Nassib, Sr., QB
(On difference between this week and last week)
"It wasn't really much of a difference. We made plays last week and we didn't make plays this week. Me particularly, I definitely wasn't accurate enough this week, and I didn't make enough throws where guys were open. Those missed throws I made really cost us the game."
(Was the wind a factor?)
"Not so much, maybe somewhat on touch balls, but I don't really know."
(On first down chances, and the effect of third and long)
"The third and long was tough, it isn't really a manageable third down for us. They did bring a lot of heat and that situation isn't really a high percentage of success for us."
(On inconsistency of team)
"I can definitely see that, we play so well a week prior and then we come out and lay an egg. It's something that I have to look at because I have to take leadership on the offense because I run the offense, so I have to make sure that I have all these guys right, and most importantly I have to have my self right first. The offensive line played great and it wasn't their fault on a lot of those sacks, mainly it was me because I didn't get the ball out quick enough, so we have a lot to fix, and that's just a growing process."
(On what forced penalties)
"We may have been a little too hyped in the beginning and that starts to make us make mistakes."
(On feeling like they had to force it after being down early)
"Not so much, we were moving the ball pretty well. We had two drives in the first half and we were making plays but we just weren't able to punch them in."