Head Coach Rich Ellerson Press Conference Quotes

Rich Ellerson and the Black Knights start their quest for the CIC Trophy at Air Force Saturday.

Rich Ellerson and the Black Knights start their quest for the CIC Trophy at Air Force Saturday.

Oct. 28, 2013

The following quotes have been excerpted from Army head football coach Rich Ellerson’s press conference, held Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, in the Randall Hall auditorium.

Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: opening statement)
“We are excited to play. It’s one of those weeks that the guys are looking forward to, especially when you come to West Point. We are playing another service academy. They are a team that we love to compete with. We know each other very well, and we can’t wait.”

(Ref.: coming out of a bye week)
“It came at a good time, and we are a healthier and fresher team because of it.”

(Ref.: on Air Force this season)
“I think that they struggled and we struggled as well. Both teams play this game at a lot of levels for a lot of reasons. Our mission is to seal the bunker and make sure that we are listening to the internal voice. Obviously, this is one of those games that stands out on your schedule when you start thinking about it. We have great respect for the things they do, what they’ve done and who they’ve played. We know this is going to be as fiercely contested football game as we’ve seen all year.”

(Ref.: the altitude)
“It is not a factor as far as we see it, and we don’t need oxygen masks. We are a well conditioned team that does a lot of anaerobic activity. You put in those timeouts, and we will be fine. Air Force’s football team is the challenge not the elevation.”

(Ref.: coaching academy games)
“These are iconic with respect to the programs, and it is part of our culture. It permeates us at every level. The recent graduates, old graduates, current players and people who are attending the service academies, the games bring the national attention on these young people and the path that they have chosen. I think it is a lot of fun being part of something like that. Obviously, at the end of the day I am coaching football. I am battling the larger media world as well as a large academy network. There are a lot of people who are trying to get a piece of our guys this week. I have to make sure our voice is the one that resonates with the guys, and we know what it takes to be in the right place. You can get into a sort of tug-of-war in games like this because it does mean so much to so many people, and everyone’s heart is in the right place.”

(Ref.: Army’s talent compared to Air Force)
“I think that the service academies, in general, are physically fair fights. Now we have some people banged up and they have some people banged up, and that plays into it of course, but I like where we are and the trajectory of our program physically. Obviously I would like to be a little healthier and have a little better practice, but having said all that I think it is a fair fight.”

(Ref.: the outside influences)
“This is one of those weeks that everyone is vested and has something to say. I think it’s all well meaning, but there are a lot of people who want to talk to you about Air Force and playing at Air Force. It’s all about the importance of the moment and taking advantage of the opportunities. Our guys get all that, and they have since August, so we are just keeping our heads down trying to get ready to play a difficult offense and defense. We are busy trying to get the nuts and the bolts of the game, and we just have to manage the voice internally. A lot of people have something to say and that’s the nature of the business. When you get into big games, it doesn’t matter where you are you tend to get a little bit of hell and we just tell our guys not to focus on that.”

(Ref.: staying focused for Saturday)
“I think this is a very mature football team. We do have a lot of guys who are going through it for the first time, but by and large, this is a veteran football team. We are a little young, but we have enough juniors, seniors, and sophomores who have done this before and have been really strong. Our senior class has a really strong voice that can keep that from getting away from us. That voice we need is in the huddle, in the meeting room, in the locker room and on the practice field. That is where the meaningful conversations that take place. The rest of it is just noise.”

(Ref.: not getting carried away emotionally this week)
“I don’t know if you can minimize it. There is always going to be some of that in the background. You just have to use it and manage it. Like I said, we are going to be intense. What we need not to be is coming out of our shoes, emotional, passionate because you play this game with great intensity and great focus; emotion plays into that but it has to be used as a tool not to be played by it. It’s not their first rodeo. They have been there before.”

(Ref.: getting a mid-season break)
“This week we liked it a lot. There were times I would prefer to keep playing, but this was not one of those weeks. We have been banged up and have had some guys that have been out for a while and have been healing and that extra week got them over the top. At this moment it was imperative, where we were health wise.”

(Ref.: status of A.J. Schurr, Angel Santiago, Thomas Holloway and Julian Holloway)
“Well they practiced. Julian practiced, but Thomas did not. We will know a little more about him in the next day or two. But the rest of those guys practiced.”

(Ref.: Air Force’s multi-offense vs. triple option)
“They are different to prepare for than when they were just running because that was a bigger part of them. There are parts of their offense that stand alone and there are parts of their offense that are similar to other things that you get from other folks so you can draw from those experiences. I wouldn’t say it is easier, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s harder either. It just is what it is. It’s unique, and I think that their choices are personnel driven, how they play and who they are playing with. They are not easy. They do some things that we haven’t seen and we know that. They are going to have another epiphany along the way and do something that they think we are particularly vulnerable to via personnel or system wise. That is the challenge there, having to prepare what you bring to the park and what you haven’t prepared for. What is difficult about this Air Force team is the traditional aspect and that wild card that you bring into the contest.”

(Ref.: throwing the ball)
“We need to run our offense. We don’t do some of those things that well.”

(Ref.: the pass rush)
“Air Force will run the ball, and they are one of the better running attacks in the country. Our challenges in the passing game, when it’s one of those matchups where it is a well thrown ball and they get one on you, you say good for them. What’s got us talking to ourselves is not trying to do the right things in some critical situations where we give up some goof balls because that is what undoes a large body of good work. That’s where as a coach we did not have them physically or mentally ready to go because that does not happen. Again, when you have guys that are on the field in physical situations that are not trying to do what’s called for, that’s on me.”

(Ref.: younger players getting reps on the bye week)
“This bye, given the eight straight weeks, part of our mission was to try and get fresh. We weren’t going to get back and do a lot of preseason work. We did have a lot of work that week and the guys that were available took it. The key was to get us as healthy and as fresh as we could, keep our fundamentals dusted off and try to get ahead on Air Force. That was it and frankly having a couple a couple days off may have been the best thing we need because that’s what they needed.”

(Ref.: on Tevin Long)
“The game comes easy to him. I was a little frustrated with what he did with ball handling including the center and quarterback exchange. It is interesting with our younger players, especially our younger quarterbacks this day and age, they spend zero time in the traditional QB and center exchange. There is also the factor of coming out of the shotgun. The rest of the stuff comes pretty easy to him. But again I am excited about Tevon’s athleticism. The game is easy for him, and he is one of the better guys in space with the football. We are trying to get him going as a returner just because we think he is dynamite with the ball in his hands. How he will progress as a quarterback? With A.J. and Angel both practicing, it is harder for him to get his hands on the ball where a couple of weeks ago it was great because that was a chance for him to take a lot of reps with the right guys.”

(Ref.: Raymond Maples’s health)
“Ray practiced last week a little bit and doesn’t feel great coming out of that practice so we’re still trying to see where he is. He, Thomas Holloway and Hayden Tippett are all just wait and see but they are all progressing.”

(Ref.: difficulties on the road)
“We played fine in Texas and in 2010 we played great on the road so I think it has more to do with who you are playing then where you are playing.”

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