Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: Sophomore FB Jared Hassin's progression this season)
"For a guy that hadn't played football for a couple of years, much less be the fullback in this style of play, the season he's had is really remarkable. The fact that he's progressed as quickly and been as effective as early as he's been is really good news. I was trying to moderate expectations because we were all really excited about this guy. The truth is he has progressed more quickly than we realistically thought he would."
(Ref.: Thoughts on the impact of making first bowl appearance since 1996)
"This is certainly a bench mark, getting into this situation. We've fought, battled and scrapped to get to this opportunity, to step on this stage in the postseason. We sit at 6-6, so winning football is still up in the air. We have a great opportunity and we've done some great things to get to this point. It's been a mixed year with lots of ups and lots of downs as we've battled ourselves into this. As I say, it's a turn in the road, a mile post, but it's not the destination. The destination is to be consistently good and occasionally great. We have an opportunity to take a giant step in that direction on Thursday."
(Ref.: Running the triple option and how opponents defend it)
"We're a triple option football team, so obviously your opponent is going to have a lot to say about who ends up with the football. I think people have had a challenge getting their arms around us. A year ago, it was a little bit of a one-man show with Trent Steelman at quarterback really being the biggest threat with the ball in his hands. With Jared Hassin coming along as a fullback and the maturity of the guys we pitch the ball to and hand the ball to - Brian Cobbs, Malcolm Brown, Pat Mealy, Raymond Maples. All of those guys at different times this season have really played well. With an option team, you can have a little bit to say about who gets the ball defensively. We frankly don't care. We're going to go out there and execute and try to go where they're not."
Junior LB Steve Erzinger
(Ref.: Bowl experience thus far)
"It's been what I expected. This team hasn't been to a bowl in a while so we've never experienced it. We're all trying to take it in and have fun. We have a lot of freedom, so we're juggling having fun and enjoying the experience, but we're also here for business."
(Ref.: SMU offense)
"They play sort of a similar style of Hawai'i. They do a really good job running it. June Jones originated it, so he obviously knows a lot about it. It's just a fast run-gun and you have to pressure the quarterback. We can't let him get his feet set and make easy throws. We have to make him make some off-balanced throws into some situations he may not want to be in."
(Ref.: How SMU's offense effects his position as rover)
"It puts me in a lot of man coverage. Executing is going to be important. Obviously, there will be some match-ups that are either going to benefit us or benefit them. We just have to realize where those are and do the best we can to alleviate any problems."
(Ref.: How the team feels right now)
"We feel good. We're fresh and had a lot of time off. It was a chance to get away from everything, which was nice. I think a lot of the guys have had two solid practices here. We haven't had to break too much rust off so we're good."
Sophomore FB Jared Hassin
(Ref.: Personal evaluation of his play this season)
"It goes on a game-to-game basis. I didn't come into the season with any expectations in terms of numbers and things like that. I was just thinking about how much I could help the team and allow the offense to produce yards. For me, there were some games when I was successful and able to help the team move the ball and put up points. There were games when I didn't do my job as well as I think I should have."
(Ref.: Prototypical fullback for this option offense)
"This was the first time I've ever had the chance to get my hands on the football. I played tailback all through high school and at Air Force. When I came in here, it was an interesting change for me."
(Ref.: Academy life at West Point versus Air Force)
"There's no real significant difference. Everybody out there goes to school every day too and plebe life there isn't any better than plebe life there. I wasn't really out there long enough to experience a full year of the Air Force Academy in terms of school life."
(Ref.: Personality on and off the field)
"I like to think that I'm not one of the stereotypical football player, listening to heavy metal in the locker room before the game. I'm a relatively calm person and I've played that way for a while. I try to remain as relaxed as I can before a football game. When I came into the college football environment with thousands of fans and TV cameras, having a background playing as relaxing as I always had really helped me adjust."
Senior DB Donnie Dixon
(Ref.: Army's team personality)
"Our personality is that we are never satisfied, especially when we knew we could have done a lot better. That is all behind us and at this point we have just one game left and this is the most important one."
(Ref.: Life after football)
"I spoke to my Dad about that and he told me you have your entire life to think about that when you are done. Right now you just have to worry about putting a 'W' in the appropriate column. That is what I am focusing on right now.
"I have been playing football since I was seven, so it will be kind of strange second semester going back to my room and not heading up to some sort of practice. I will take my friendships and lessons learned over the years and I will move on. Such as life - it is time for a change."
(Ref.: Leaving a lasting legacy after graduation)
"I enjoy mentoring the younger guys, particularly at my position, both in football and the Academy stuff because at West Point it all goes hand-in-hand.
"In order to be a successful football player, you have to learn to handle those challenges. I would like to think my impact may not be visible to the outside public, but my younger teammates think highly of me even if I help one of them out. That is a good enough legacy for me."
(Ref.: Critiquing himself)
"I feel I am my hardest critic. I am the type of person no matter how good a game I have (I could have three interceptions); the only thing I will think about is a missed tackle during the course of the game.
I think I had a better season then last year. I left some plays on the field and I learned from them. It was fun and I loved playing with these guys. The last one has been special for me."
(Ref.: Senior class leaving a lasting legacy)
"We knew we were going to turn things around. We talked about it constantly. The challenges we faced our freshman and sophomore years drew this class together. With every heartbreak, we knew that when it was our time, we were going to shine.
"Granted, we did not do as well as we thought, but we did some things that have not been done around here in some time. I think that is worthy of recognition. Everyone has been working hard and we earned everything we got.
"You look at each game this year and there are a couple we could have stacked in the W column. That is behind us now and the one we are thinking about is the one we have in front of us (SMU), and we feel blessed because of that. In years past, the Navy game would have been it and we have this very good opportunity for one more football game. "