Sept. 23, 2008
UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
SEPT. 23, 2008
Head Coach Brian Kelly
"We stay in the state of Ohio and head a little north to Akron. This will be back to back weeks for us with Mid-American (Conference) teams. Akron, another team that just a couple of years ago won MAC East Championship. (Head Coach) J.D. Brookhart is an outstanding coach, has a great offensive scheme and defensively they create a lot of confusion with scheme. This will another great challenge for us going on the road against a team that's very dangerous. They have a nice win over Syracuse at Syracuse. This past weekend against Army, shut down Army on the road. They have two very impressive road wins, anytime you can win on the road, it says a lot about your football team. We know that we need to play well, if we don't play well we will get beat. That's pretty much the theme for us each week. Speaking of Akron specifically, offensively, Chris Jacquemain is a very athletic quarterback, who does a good job on the play-action pass as well as getting the ball down field. (Deryn) Bowser and (Andre) Jones are outstanding wide receivers. I believe last week Jones had over a hundred yards in receptions. In the running game they have a number of backs. Early in the year they started (Alex) Allen, Dennis Kennedy is still there, I remember him from my days at Central Michigan and is another outstanding back. They're going to run the football, play-action pass and they have very good skill on the perimeter to push the ball down the field. Defensively, I think the name that sticks out to me is their starting (strong) linebacker Mike Thomas. I thought he had left Akron; it must be another Mike Thomas then. Brian Williams, number twenty-four, their starting strong safety was their leading rushing last year, now they moved him over to defense. He's an outstanding athlete. The thing that you see when you play Akron is great athlete's that can run. With their defensive scheme being different, something that you don't see every week, Mike Grant, their senior middle linebacker, again I remember him when we played them at Central, he's one of the better linebackers, he's a very physical player. Speed, athleticism, they do a very good job with their scheme defensively and it will be a great challenge for us, in playing at Akron on Saturday.
On Akron's defensive scheme
"I don't think it's confusing, it's like going against right now split back veer option, you don't see it a lot. So you have to spend some time in recognition. I think that the defense for us won't be confused; it's just a matter of practicing against it. The thing that is most notable is that they have very good speed, Brian Williams was their leading rusher last year and they put him on defense, they have a premium for speed on defense."
On the type of team Akron has
"They are very physical up front on both sides of the ball, I think their offensive line has great size and they are a very physical team on both the offensive and defensive line. Gritty is a work you could use, they're darn good. They put up a lot of points on Syracuse and had a nice win at Army, it's hard to win on the road, and they have two very nice road wins."
On what he's learned so far about his team
"I don't know that we're a finished product, but we know our strengths and our weaknesses. More importantly we know the things that we need to get better at; the Miami (Ohio) game gave us a better understanding of the things we need to continue to strive to be more efficient in. Obviously, third down we have to be able to get off the field. Offensively, we possess the ball with great balance; we're starting to see that some of the things that we've talked about in terms of running the ball is going to be really effective for us, Tony Pike emerging for us. We answered a lot of questions and we also took from the game some of the things we have to continue to work on, that's what that game did for us."
On the performance of Tony Pike
"We know that he can play on this level, now he's got to show a level of consistency and be able to do that week after week, but certainly that was key to the football game; how your quarterback is going ot play , without question that is something we can take out of that football game that we feel good about as we move forward."
On traveling to play Akron
"I think it's a sign of a mature football team (to win on the road), we've got a lot of seniors but we also have some young guys too. How you prepare and travel and being on the road against Akron and Marshall is going to be a real big test these next two weeks in terms of the development of our football team. We don't have all the answers yet, but these next two weeks will be two games that answer a lot of things about our football team."
On moving Connor Barwin around
"I think it's important that we continue to move him around. We think he can drop back in to coverage as well as rush the passer. We got what I wanted out of Connor Barwin, if you look at the fourth quarter the pressure that he was getting probably the biggest play of the game was the intentional grounding call. That was Connor Barwin flushing him out of the pocket, tackling him and the ball was thrown behind the line of scrimmage. That's Connor Barwin, he's going to keep going, play after play, of course he had a sack earlier, but that's what we expect. If we can get two or three sacks a game out of our defensive line, but we have to get it from both sides. We feel real good about Connor, we have to continue to create pressure from the other side with Lamonte (Nelms), Craig (Carey), (Rob) Trigg, Curtis Young, we've got three or four other guys we've got to get to in the rotation to continue that pressure with our front four."
Linebacker Ryan Manalac
On the defense's performance last week against Miami (Ohio)
"I think we did alright, it was disappointing to give up that many points especially with a new starting quarterback in there. We'd like to give him more but Tony (Pike) performed well but we ended up being alright. There are definitely a lot of things we need to work on, especially getting off the field on third down. "
On how the defense can improve its third down percentage
"I don't know if it would be in preparation or just more in discipline and understanding. We need to try taking a more mental mentality to get the job done."
On missing defensive ends Anthony Hoke and Angelo Craig
"They definitely brought a lot of speed to the end position and got some pressure to the quarterback, which I think we're having problems with this year. It's not just the defensive ends, it's everyone up front that aren't bringing enough pressure, and making it easier for the defensive backs to cover. I don't know if it's so much of missing them, but a defensive presence in general."
On how much the defensive ends played a role in leading the country last year in takeaways
"I think it was a lot, that pressure coming in definitely helps, the balls are coming out earlier and less accurate."
Center Chris Jurek
On the differences between protecting two different quarterbacks
"There's a little difference in how they present themselves to the defense but for the offensive line we just want to block for anyone who's back there. Whether it be quarterback, running back or wide receiver we're trying to protect them the best we can. (Tony) Pike brings a stronger arm into the game so there are more deep balls but both are just as prepared mentally and it's nice to see Pike perform so well in his first start, but there isn't too big of a difference."
On the performance of the offensive line
"I think we're progressing. As you can see we gave up no sacks against Miami (Ohio), we did give up some pressures, but that's one of the area's we need to work at a little more. It's nice to see we're getting the running game established a little more against Miami (Ohio) later in the game. It's just like any of facet of the game; you want to work at getting better each week."
On being able to run the ball successfully
"As an offensive lineman, we take it extremely personal when we can't run the ball as effectively as we want to. That's one of the things as a unit we try to work more in the offseason, to come together and learn more about offense, to learn the intricacies of the zone and each play as we progress. We've really worked hard on it and we're starting to see the effects of our hard work. In the last drive of the Miami (Ohio) game how we were effective with the run toward the end."