Cincinnati vs. UConn Postgame Quotes

Dec. 3, 2011

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Cincinnati vs. Connecticut
December 3, 2011
Postgame Quotes

Head coach Butch Jones
Opening Statement:

“First of all I apologize for the tardiness. Obviously you can image a very jubilant locker room. I’m very proud of our football team, our 21 seniors, they created a memory that will last a lifetime and that’s winning a championship in Nippert Stadium, on that field, on senior day. I can’t say enough what this senior class has meant to our football family. You know when we set out on this journey 11 months ago, and then in August told our team we would be defined in how we handled adversity and how resilient we are with adversity and all the things that are associated with it. I think today kind of summarized everything with anything and everything that could go your way in the second half. We found a way to hang in there and win the football game. I thought, obviously our defense jumpstarted us very opportunistic. Also, special teams early flipping of field position to the punt by (Pat) O’Donnell and then the turnover for six. Then I thought Munchie stepped up on the one drive where we came away with a touchdown. Numerous third down opportunities and he converted and kept plays alive with his legs. A great team win, I’m just very proud of everyone associated with our football program and everything we have gone through and worked through and to keep fighting and playing. The number one goal of our football program is to graduate and to win academically and our second goal is to win BIG EAST Conference Championships. I’m very proud of our players.”

On touchdowns scored by returners for next year:
“Well, you know the way Munchie played, I think you see he gets more comfortable with his reps and the repetitions increasing. I thought he managed the game exceptionally well. Anthony McClung stepped up, 142 yards receiving. The big play to Blake Annen and then obviously the true freshman out of Stony Creek, Ga., Alex Chisum, one on one situation, they were on man coverage and we knew it, we just had a feeling they were going to be in, it was after a stoppage of clock, he won at the line of scrimmage and made a great play and obviously Munchie put the ball and gave him an opportunity to be successful. Obviously, I’m excited , but we are still not where we need to be and that stems from recruiting and all that. But I think you can see the young talent we have in this football team and we will continue to grow and develop it. But again, it’s about the seniors. Their perseverance, their leadership, you know they have set the standards and the expectations in years to come in whats expected from the senior class in our football family.”

On how anxious he was at the end when UConn started to come back:
“Very anxious, but you know our kids they don’t crack and think that’s attributed to the way we train. You know the off season, with their standard periods of 6 a.m. workouts to the way we practice. I have been coaching a long time and that’s the first time I have to end the game on a punt. They had 11 down and we did a great job with our operation timing getting rid of the ball.

On the turnaround from last season:
“It means a lot. Sometimes you have to lose to really appreciate this. You never take winning for granted; the margin of victory is very minimal, very small. Just the effort, being home over the holidays, shoot I was so disappointed, I left the country and hid in Canada for a little bit. I knew our players were disappointed. When we came back on January 3 and had our team meeting that night, I could see a very focused football team, very prideful. The way we have conducted our business, we’ve managed ourselves both on and off the field. If you remember we talked about 2011, our motto was ‘Be a Champion.’ Before we could be champions, our team had to be comprised of individual champions by the way they represented themselves, by going to class and by the way they work. When we have a team comprised of individual champions, that gives you an opportunity to win a championship and we were able to do that today.”

Junior defensive lineman Walter Stewart
On his first quarter touchdown:
“I saw the quarterback getting ready to throw, so I just reached out and took the ball from him. Luckily, it was in the end zone. It was surprising for me. You’d think he’d have a little more awareness being that he was in the end zone. But, he held the ball one more second and I just made the play. Not too many times do you get a sack in the end zone and get the football out in the same play. The percentages are real low on that. I’ve never done it in college, but in high school you can get away with a lot more. It’s something I’ve thought about throughout the season. That if I could just get close enough I could just take the ball out and not have to hit him or anything. I’m just happy that I had the opportunity to make the play.”

Senior defensive lineman Derek Wolfe
On his last game at Nippert Stadium:
“When you play at The Nipp, it’s a different animal. We practice out here. And we’re banging against each other out here every day. This is our backyard. We’re out here every day. We walk past this every single day on the way to class. So, there is just a different attitude out here and it just takes you over.”

On playing for head coach Butch Jones:
“To us, especially to me, it’s a love for the guys around you. He really instilled playing hard for the guys around you. He instilled in me that the harder you play the more plays you’ll make.”

Sophomore quarterback Munchie Legaux
On the offense’s play vs. UConn:

“It was okay. We could have done a lot better. But, overall we did a good job. We had a few mistakes that we left out there; dropped passes and missed balls. But, overall we did okay.”

On the goal of winning BIG EAST title:
“It was a big goal. We set that goal when we came back January 1 after not having a bowl game last year. We made our minds up then that this year we were going to be BIG EAST Champs no matter what it takes to do it. All the workouts at 6 a.m. that we did paid off.”

On the outcome of USF/WVU game:
“We knew that if (WVU) lost we had BCS hopes. But, at the same time, we knew that that game didn’t affect our game on Saturday and playing for the BIG EAST Championship.”

Sophomore wide receiver Anthony McClung
On if he knew today was going to be a big game for him:
“I didn’t really know. We really game planned for (Isaiah) Pead a lot and for him to get the ball. I knew I was going to get a lot of bubble, so they told me to always be ready for the deep routes. And we called them this game.”

Senior linebacker JK Schaffer
On Walter Stewart and his defensive touchdown:
“I was pass dropping and all of sudden they were getting some pressure. I was like, ‘where’d the ball go?’ and Walt starts dancing. It was a weird play but great. Anytime you can score on defense it’s huge. It helps out the entire team and gets the crowd involved too. It was a great play by Walt. He’s a great player and he’ll continue making those plays into the bowl game and next season. I think of Walt as a senior. He plays like a senior. He acts like a senior. And he leads like a senior. So, if Walt isn’t a captain next year, something is wrong.”

On the senior class:
“The senior class has been through a lot together. We’ve won three championships. Last year was rough on us. We got together as seniors and talked about how we were going to make the team better and make our team successful again. The plan worked. Coach Jones and the rest of the staff did a great job of developing good habits in us. Coach (Dave) Lawson in the weight room. They just did a great job preparing us to win and to be successful. They set us up for success.”

On if last season made UC more appreciative of winning:
“Absolutely, we’re sitting there in December and January watching bowl games from our couch. That definitely motivates you. The senior class now, we weren’t used to losing. We came in and the team was really good. None of us played a whole lot, but we won the BIG EAST and went to the Orange Bowl. So we were used to winning and that was it. Last year was a wake-up call. I’m just glad we got it corrected and did our job.”

On feelings after the game:
“It didn’t really hit me yet. So, I walked down there and saw the trophy. How can you explain a feeling like that? You work hard through the winter, the spring and the summer and camp. You put in a lot of work just for this game today. This game was the championship game and that’s what you put in all of your work for all year. So to go out there and see the clock hit zero with us on top, it was an unbelievable feeling. Especially being a senior.  The other two championships were great but winning it as a senior is a different kind of feeling. I’ll never forget this for the rest of my life.”

On playing his last game at Nippert Stadium:
“That definitely hasn’t hit me yet. I’m going to miss The Nipp. I’m going to miss the fans. I’m going to miss the school. I love playing here. I have a lot of good memories here and some bad. There’s a lot of sweat, blood and tears here. Blood, sweat and tears. I’m going to miss Nippert Stadium. It’s definitely a special place.”

Connecticut head coach Paul Pasqualoni
On thoughts about the game:

“We made some very costly mistakes, especially early in the game, and we really didn’t play well in any phase of the game early. You are on the road against a quality opponent in your conference. They are playing for a very meaningful season and we are playing for a very meaningful season and we got to play well and we didn’t play well enough. They did, so you got to give them credit. They played well. They played better than we did today. In the end, we are proud of the way the guys handled not playing well, fighting back from adversity. We had a lot to overcome in this game, it is an awful lot to overcome, but they almost did it. We are proud of the way they fought and hung in there.”

On interception return for touchdown by Drew Frey:
“To their credit on the interception, they had their linebacker (Schaffer) inside Griffin, and they had the safety (Frey) outside (Ryan) Griffin and (Frey) took a chance and came right down on (Ryan) Griffin and made the play. It was a good play on his part.”

On his thoughts on season:
“We are finishing 5-7. We are better than our 5-7 record, but the reality in the world of football is you are what your record says you are and we are a 5-7 team. We’ve certainly got work to do but we are proud of the way the kids handled the transition.”

Connecticut kicker Dave Teggart:
On second half response:

“I thought we had it coming back but we came up a little bit short. We came out pretty strong in the second half. There is no quit in any of these guys and it is a pleasure playing alongside all of them.”

On mentality in locker room at halftime:
“There was no panic, everyone was just kind of stunned, like there is no way this is happening. It was kind of a fluke that we were down so far but we battled back and the guys had no quit in them.”

Connecticut quarterback Johnny McEntee
On the team’s second half response:

“We kind of dug ourselves in the hole in the first half and it was too hard to get out of there. We made a good run but we ran out of time and that is too bad because we played good in the second half but we were just down by too much.”

On Walter Stewart’s strip and fumble recovery for touchdown:
“I am not really sure what happened. He stripped me and scored and I don’t know how that happened but it was a pretty good play by him. I was trying to avoid him and throw it away but he kind of just grabbed it.”

On Cincinnati’s defensive intensity to begin the game:
“They came out really strong. They came out and they wanted to get ahead and they did, that was really tough for us to come back. I am proud of my team for fighting back in the end, but we just ran out of time.”