Head Coach Rich Ellerson Press Conference Quotes

Rich Ellerson

Rich Ellerson

Aug 26, 2013

The following quotes have been excerpted from Army head football coach Rich Ellerson’s press conference, held Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, in the Randall Hall auditorium.

(Ref,: opening statement)
“We couldn’t be more excited. We’ve been working and dreaming about this Friday since the beginning of January. We have had a very demanding preseason. We are looking forward to playing someone we don’t know all that well. They have new leaders in every phase of the game, offense defense and special teams. So as we should, we are focusing on ourselves. It’s much more about validating the hard work we put into the practice environment and defining ourselves. It’s going to be about how we play and how we play together. We have to put that out on the field on Friday.”

(Ref.: on approaching the season without Trent Steelman)
“Well, Angel has been with us a long time as well and has started some games and has played some football for us. He and A.J. have competed fiercely for this first opportunity, and that competition will continue to go on. I don’t think we’ve seen the final chapter in that. Clearly both those guys know what we have to do offensively, and they are both players in their own right. They are not Trent, but they do extraordinarily well. They have a veteran football team around them, and it’s going to be exciting to see those guys try to move that outfit up and down the field.”

(Ref.: on changes in the offense without Steelman)
“I think ideally it’s less of what a difference were going to be, but how much were going to be. Our goal is to get Angel, out of the gate, comfortable and playing within himself. We’re not going to do everything that we’ve ever done, but we’re going to pick some things that certainly are complementary and core to our offense; things that he is well practiced with so that he can play the game instead of going out there and try to solve the equation. He’s just going to go out there and play.”

(Ref.: what Army has to watch out for in Morgan State game)
“We are watching last year’s football team and trying to merry that vision with some of the coaches that they have acquired in the off-season and what they’ve done in the past and where the two overlap. We’ve sort of made that our focus. Obviously we look at their personal and I can tell you that their quarterback personnel is experienced is and talented. Both Higgins and Council complement one another. There is a little bit different style of play in both of them, but they are veteran players and they have very talented wide-receivers. They have a relatively young offensive line with the exception of their center. Defensively again, they have new leaders and offensively you always have to prepare a little generically and see what you get.”

(Ref.: benefits of opening the season at home)
“Opening at home, you’re in your locker room, and you’re in your stadium. There are some things that are going to absolutely unique about this first game. This is the first time that Army football team of 2013 has ever stepped on the field and having some things that aren’t new to the guys is an advantage. They will stay focused on themselves and focused on the next snap and they won’t have to deal with those couple of distractions that they wouldn’t have to deal with if they were on the road.”

(Ref.: playing on a Friday night)
“Not a lot. It comes right before Saturday and we’ll be okay.”

(Ref.: expectations for this year’s defense)
“We are seeing that the veteran status of this year’s football team on that side of the ball. They are starting to mature, but it’s still a relatively young group. It is certainly a little longer in the tooth than it’s been so we’re going to see some veteran guys who have played a little more football for us. We’re going to be a little more athletic, and I think we’re going to have a few more weapons on the field, defensively. We’re going to be challenged right out the gate because Morgan State’s quarterbacks’ prowess as both throwers and runners is going to be evident in the first outing and that shows up routinely throughout the season. We’re going to find out that when people use that quarterback legs, they thin you out a little bit and they create space. As for us, we’ve worked really hard to keep athletic guys on the field. We run well on defense and we’re reasonably healthy. I wish we were perfectly healthy going into the season but we’re not quite. Like I said, we have had a very competitive and combative preseason but we’re gaining on it. The good news is we don’t have guys injured but we don’t have guys who are 100 percent going into this game week. We are better than I thought we would be a week ago, so we will start fixing the equation as we go forward.”

(Ref.: playing a team who they have never played/never played them before)
“I guess in the early season, I’d rather be in the situation that we’re in. I would rather have that mystery because it forces you to do what you really should be doing in the early season, and that is focusing on your own football team and its strengths and weaknesses. Focusing on doing things that the guys are familiar and comfortable with and ensuring that you have the right people on the field, where your less focused on trying to scheme. Usually you’re trying to get the perfect offense or the perfect defense plays for an opponent that you know especially well, and I think that sometimes that you drive your guys a little bit crazy. The guys just really want to play. We’ve gotten ourselves to a point where we know what to do with our eyes and our feet and were anxious to get started. You know going in that they are going to do some things that you haven’t prepared for. Just like you know there are some things that they do that they haven’t prepared for.”

(Ref.: choosing Angel Santiago as the starting quarterback)
“Frankly, Angel was more productive and was better with the football. Both of those guys have a tremendous upside, both as throwers and runners. Coming out of spring we felt that A.J was a tad ahead but Angel, frankly, through the preseason camp has just made fewer mistakes. He has done a good job of taking care of the ball and making good decisions with the football. He has operated the football team well. They both have done good things, but the consistency is what has separated Angel.”

(Ref.: taking the offense to another level)
“I think the next step forward for us as a football team is to be able to compliment the running game with some throwing. We’re really excited about the development out of the receivers, both of our young quarterbacks who deliver the ball out there, and I think there’s where the next step is going to come. The running game is what it is. It will become more explosive, and it will become more dynamic when we can back off the secondary a little bit and make those guys pay for some of the extraordinary measures folks have gone to with their secondaries in run support. There are some opportunities in the passing game. We’re not sure of course what they’ll look like on Friday, but as games unfold and the season unfolds, we are going to be a good running football team and we are going to be a dynamic option football team that will create opportunities. The next step forward is in our ability to take advantage of those opportunities on the perimeter.”

(Ref.: the team’s summer)
“I think we’ve had our best summer ever in terms of how our guys managed their summer training. Some creative things were done with our yearlings down at cadet field training. Obviously our upperclassmen are doing different things in the summer. The freshman class are out there at East Barracks and CBT, that’s always a mixed bag, some guys handle that better than others. Our guys who have been to prep school tend to handle it a little bit better than the guys who are coming in direct because it’s less of a shock to their system. I would argue that two of those guys, Xavier Moss at wide receiver and Josh Jenkins at corner are two freshmen that I think you’re going to see a lot of early on.”

(Ref.: Angel Santiago’s improvement)
“I think the difference was noticeable from our spring ball to fall ball. He is much more confident and consistent as a quarterback. He eliminated that part of the game where he got lost or was unsure about where he was supposed to be or where the ball was supposed to go. Something clicked in the last few months where we’re having zero of those moments where you’re scratching your head. He’s very poised, very much in control, very comfortable with what we’re doing. I’ve always felt that Angel feels better when you turn the lights on and leave the coaches on the sideline. That was very evident of him when he played early on in his career. What I think has happened now is maybe he’s less bothered by the voices in the practice environment and he’s practicing like you’ll see him play on Friday.”

(Ref.: his mindset heading into the opener)
“There are 10,000 things that you’re trying to cover. We feel like we’ve been practicing for this game forever and here it is, it’s going to be on us on Friday. I still feel like there are so many things that need to be reversed and polished before we’re ready to go out and play. Of course the players don’t necessarily feel that, they’re just excited to keep score. We’re obviously wearing ourselves out on all the things that might happen in a game. You know you’re playing a talented opponent, but you’re not exactly sure where they’re all going to be. What you do know is they’re going to be excited to play, they’re going to be talented and they’re going to be coming out of their shoes  and we need to be doing exactly the same.”

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