Rich Ellerson Press Conference Quotes

Rich Ellerson

Rich Ellerson

Sept. 11, 2012

WEST POINT, N.Y. -

The following quotes have been excerpted from Army head football coach Rich Ellerson’s press conference, held Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, in the Randall Hall auditorium.

Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: opening statement)
“We didn’t play well (last week at San Diego State). It’s a hard pill to swallow. We were so looking forward to that opportunity and that game. It’s something we prepared for a long time, and we were all, by some degree, stunned by what we saw out there. Having said that, we don’t have a whole lot of time to cry in our milk. We’re in a short week because of the travel from last week and some of the things that are happening in the Corps this week. We’re going to take the approach that this is the longest halftime in history and make the adjustments we need to make – not so much adjustments as a matter of presence. We need to gather ourselves, get our eyes and feet where they belong so we’re competitive – quarterback/center exchange, formation of the boundary, there’s a million fundamental things that we have done just fine for months and were incapable of last week. We have to grab ourselves, take a deep breath and go back out there to prove ourselves. We don’t need to try to fool or dazzle anybody with our systems. We need to get guys’ eyes and feet set, turn the scoreboard off and have some fun. I feel like once again, we’ve managed to put on a bunch of baggage with expectations that we’re carrying around with us. It’s sucking the fun out of the game. We need to relax and play. We have some good guys who love to play the game, and that needs to be evident. San Diego State is a good football team, but I do not think that’s the best team on our schedule. Northern Illinois very well may be the best team on our schedule.”

(Ref.: prioritizing changes between week one and week two)
“We don’t need to change much; we just need to get back to doing what we thought we were going to do going into the opener. It’s a sense of presence. We have to heal and do some of those things, but as some of the guys pointed out, the game speed is so different than the practice environment. That’s why we’re careful, even though we don’t face our style of play that often, we try to get into the practice environment against those guys in a combative sense – offensively and defensively – so we know what a full-speed reaction looks like. Clearly, we were caught on our heels. The setting, the lights, the speed, the tempo were all adversaries for us (last week). We’re still a relatively young team, but we’re a young team that’s played more games than what we showed.”

(Ref.: scouting Northern Illinois)
“They are an extraordinarily athletic team. The offense features big linemen who are really efficient at what they do. The quarterback brings his legs to the game and is a dynamic player in the backfield, while also being able to throw it. He’s not a one-dimensional guy; he has some great skill on the perimeter and has a running back whose style of running is a little bit like what we saw at San Diego State. He’ll get into the line, bounce back and is able to change direction on a dime. He’ll be hard to get a hit on. Defensively, they are different than San Diego State, but they’ve played us and Cal Poly. They have a plan and have some folks who can cover a lot of space. We never know what we’re going to get from week to week, but we know these guys have been on some fast tracks already and still look fast.”

(Ref.: taking last week’s loss and applying it in a positive sense)
“We have to get over it, and that’s not easy. The good news is by the time you get back out there on Tuesday morning and are around each other, time helps. There’s no easy way around it, but we have to get over it and get focused. You’ve heard me say it a thousand times and I’ll say it again, we need to turn the scoreboard off and play. We know what wins. We don’t need to go out there and focus on winning and losing. We need to go out there and focus on the things that correlate with winning – the things we practice and preach all the time. There are things that make the game fun to play. If we do that and hold on to each other, we’ll be competitive. Until we do that, as long as we carry these expectations around with us, that’s a burden we need not carry. We need to play for the love of the game. That’s what people want to come and see. They want to see these cadets get after it, that’s fun and they clearly enjoy. That’s worth the price of admission. Watching guys go out there worried about screwing up is not worth paying for.”

(Ref.: senior quarterback Trent Steelman’s performance in last Saturday’s opener)
“He is obviously a guy who has tremendous expectations and is as intense a competitor as there is. That became an enemy of his. He tries to carry it all on his shoulders, and the truth is he doesn’t need to. At this point in his career here, there’s enough system and players around him that we need him to play quarterback. When he does, he’s a good player. When he tries to have an out-of-body experience and do something heroic, it doesn’t work in his favor. Everything we do requires a real level of precision, and when somebody starts doing something just a little bit different to try to make something happen, all of the sudden you see something like what you saw on Saturday. It’s a narrow margin, but one he has to find and stay on it. Nobody feels worse about it than he does. But again, none of us – Trent included – has time to worry about this. He obviously can play much better for four quarters, which he has many times in his career.”

(Ref.: the season-opening loss being a wake-up call)
“It needs to be. If it helps us hear that voice telling us to turn the scoreboard off and play for the love of the game, we need it. There’s not a new message going out there, but maybe this will help us hear the message. As you know, there are a lot of voices around these guys every day, but we need to make our coaches’ voices resonate with them in the short time we have them.”

(Ref.: were expectations too high for this team?)
“Yes; clearly. But maybe we can earn some of those back if we just relax and play. I think people were excited to watch a team that had some experience and loved to play. That would be fun to see. Seeing a bunch of guys go out there and worry about making mistakes or what somebody thinks is not worth the price of admission.”

(Ref.: who is emerging as the face of the defense?)
“To be determined, but I would say Nate Combs has battled in there. I also think Bobby Kough and Mike Ugenyi will remain on the radar as defensive linemen. Bobby and Mike are playing their first college football and did not play especially well last week, but they have demonstrated the ability to be successful in that space. A year ago, we just didn’t have guys who could compete in that space. Nate is directing the front and playing well. We need to give him a little bit of help on the perimeter. He’s had a long road to get to this senior year with a little bit of an injury background. Last year he played hard and really well at times, but was not always healthy. He was carrying around some of those former injuries then. Now those are behind him, and he has a chance to become very effective.”

(Ref.: injury update going into the home opener)
“Our fingers are crossed that Malcolm (Brown) and Ryan (Powis) will be available this week. There are some guys who are questionable on defense coming out of Saturday. We’re hopeful we’ll get those two guys back on offense.”

(Ref.: turnovers continuing to be an Achilles heel)
“We’ve never worked harder at it, and we’re better than that (last week at San Diego State). I have this stunned look because that’s my reaction.”

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