Sept. 16, 2008
Head Coach Brian Kelly
"We'll start this off by talking about our opponent this weekend, Miami (Ohio). This is a great tradition game, relative to two schools in proximity. They've been playing this game for a long, long time, a lot of great stories, a lot of games that have been played between these two teams. As I've said before, I certainly recognize the tradition and what this game means to so many of the alums both at Miami (Ohio) and the University of Cincinnati. For us here at the University of Cincinnati we look at it as an opportunity to play a football game after losing one and we're anxious to play. Rivalry aside, it's important for our football team to go out and play well, knowing full well that we're playing another championship football team. This is the third week in a row that we'll have a championship football team to play. Eastern Kentucky won the (Ohio Valley Conference) championship, obviously Oklahoma won the Big XII Championship and Miami (Ohio) was the (Mid-American Conference) East champions last year and this is an improved team from last year and it was the MAC East Champs. Just running down some things that concern us at the University of Cincinnati, on offense they have five wide receivers that all can make plays. It's very deep offensively led by Dustin Woods, but (Eugene ) Harris, (Jamal) Rodgers, (Armand) Robinson and (Chris) Givens are all guys who have made plays and made big plays last week. So very deep at the wide receiver position, (Thomas) Merriweather has been very solid as a running back, he gets about 20 carries a game, very consistent for them and takes care of the ball. (Daniel) Raudabaugh is a big, strong quarterback who's got a great arm. Offensively, a lot of weapons at the wide receiver core, a strong-armed quarterback, and Merriweather's ability to run the football. Defensively, their loaded at linebacker, they have a three linebacker's who are on the Butkus Watch list, they play as many as five. (Joey) Hudson, (Clayton) Mullins and (Caleb) Bostic are the three that are on the watch list. They have (Chris) Shula and (Ryan) Kennedy so they have great depth at the linebacker position. (Joe) Coniglio at the defensive end is an experienced player, very active for them and their safeties are real solid run support guys that come downhill. From a defensive standpoint, loaded at the linebacker position, have played very good competition, lost 16-6 on the road against Michigan and their defense played very well. Against Vanderbilt, who went on to beat South Carolina, that was a game that hung in the balance until the fourth quarter. Finally, special teams, their punter (Jake) Richardson is averaging 50 yards per punt, I'm not sure if he leads the country, but he is clearly a weapon for them. Then Eugene Harris last week returned a punt for a touchdown. In all phases of the game, offensively, great depth at the wide receiver position, with a quarterback who can throw it. Defensively, great depth at the linebacker position with three that are on the Butkus watch list and then their special teams are outstanding. MAC East champs last year, but more importantly they're an improved team this year. We know we have our hands full and we're going to have to play well. For us, on a bye week, coming off of a loss to Oklahoma, it's a lot of time to look at our own weaknesses and improve on those, that's what we did last week and then later in the week we started to look at Miami (Ohio) and we're back in to a normal preparation week leading into Saturday's kickoff at 7:30."
On last year's 47-10 defeat of Miami (Ohio)
"I think it's always a lot more intense when you're on the road, you know you're coming into a hostile environment. I know our kids will be excited to play Miami (Ohio) because of the loss. I've always tried to stay away from being too emotional because you know with every peak there is a valley and I don't want that valley to happen in the second or third quarter against Miami (Ohio). I know Miami (Ohio) looks at it as they have the opportunity to beat a (Bowl Championship Subdivision) football team. I know when I was in the MAC, this would be a red-letter game for me, we would have it circled on our calendar. Add that with proximity of schools and the tradition and it makes for a very exciting atmosphere."
On playing down the emotion of a rivalry game
"I don't know if we try to play it down as much as we like to keep things the same from week to week. I think our kids understand the tradition of the game and I think it's important that we have the victory bell in our locker room. Our kids recognize this football game as being more than just playing another team, they recognize the tradition involved in the game. The way I coach is that whoever it is we don't want to be too emotional for the game."
On quarterback Tony Pike starting his first game at home
"I think you'd have to ask him, I know what his expectations are and I know he knows what my expectations of him are. Whether we're playing at home or we're on the road against Oklahoma he better play to the level he's capable of playing. I think he clearly understands that, he's been around me for a couple of years, so there's a standard of play regardless of if he's home or away that I expected him to meet. Relative to his first starting appearance, he's not eighteen years old, he's been here, he's mature enough and we have no questions about his ability to go in there and lead out football team."
On his expectations for Tony Pike in relation to past UC quarterbacks
"It's the same, and I would say that if you looked at Ben's (Mauk) career coming into last year, he didn't play a whole lot of football at Wake Forest. Tony (Pike) may have had more snaps than Ben, cumulatively, in his career. My expectations of him are the same, he's got to get it done, he's got a job to do and that' s to lead our offense and I have a great deal of confidence that he'll do that."
On how the offense changes with a new quarterback
"It doesn't. That's the good thing about having Tony Pike, is that we don't have to change our offense. If we go and have to play a first-year quarterback in our system, whether in be Demetrius (Jones), Chazz (Anderson) or Zach (Collaros) we defiantly have to change what we do offensively. We don't have to do that with Tony."
On the chances of playing multiple quarterbacks
"That will be up to Tony. I don't know if Tony wants to have any other quarterbacks in there. We don't have any plans of making this a multiple quarterback situation. Tony Pike's our starter, we expect him to start the game and hopefully the only way we pull him out of the game is that we're trying to get some young guys a chance to play."
On the kicking situation
"It's a work in progress. We are still trying to determine who that is because we've had a couple of setbacks. Brandon Yingling came down with an illness and hasn't been able to practice for the last couple of days. Jake Rogers had his wisdom teeth out, so he's been out of action. We've been kicking everybody and I think we'll be able to sort that out in a day or two, but we a couple more days."
On the two freshman running backs Isaiah Pead and Darrin Williams
"We're still very impressed with both of them. They got a chance to scrimmage last week and they give us a lot of different options. I don't know if we're ready to go down that road, yet. But they are defiantly not in that redshirt category, yet. I think that we're going to continue to rotate those guys in with the varsity both (Isaiah) Pead and (Darrin) Williams because we think they can help us. We're just not ready to make that decision to throw them in the mix because we really haven't had an opportunity to get into a good consistent flow with (John) Goebel and (Jacob) Ramsey. It's too early for us to pull the plug on one of those guys and throw a true freshman in there."
On the running game up to this point
"I felt we were very efficient against Oklahoma in running the football. I think we have to get better. I'm pretty confident that we can throw the football, no matter what the situation is or who we play against. I feel good about our passing game, I think we have to continue to improve on the running game and I saw some good signs in the Oklahoma game in terms of being able to run the ball against a very good defense, but we need to get better and I know we are improving."
Junior Quarterback Tony Pike
On his first start for Cincinnati
"Heading into the start, I've been around here for a while and have been waiting for this opportunity. To see it happen in a way like this, with Dustin (Grutza) waited out his time and worked hard in the offseason and beat me out in camp, to see him go down it was sad to see but at the same time it's given me an opportunity to step up and show that I can lead this team."
On the biggest challenge starting his first game
"Biggest challenge is showing the rest of the offense and defense that I can step in and do the job and lead this team the way it's been led, while keeping the level of consistency up."
On his own expectations
"Basically, I expect to go out here and do what the coaches ask. Be able to lead the offense, get us into the right checks, and make the throws I need to throw. If I need to run the ball, run the ball effectively, basically just give our defense a chance and don't turnover the ball, while putting our team in a position to win."
On the difference between himself and Dustin Grutza
"I wouldn't say there's much of a difference, we both lead by example a lot. Not a lot of yelling, we'll get on some guys if we need to but we're there , we make good plays, support the guys. Dustin and I have been here together for a long time, for about five years now. We've grown to be close friends and I think we're pretty much alike."