Nov. 27, 2012
Butch Jones Press Conference • 11/27/12
“Good afternoon, good to see everyone here. I see you finally have a friend in the front row so that’s great.; Just a recap of the victory over South Florida and then move on to the UConn in our final regular season game. I am very proud of our players especially our seniors. We always talk about leaving your legacy and playing in Nippert is something that is very special to every player in our football program and to finish senor night with a victory. I felt for them; all the emotions and they challenged their emotions exceptionally well. I was proud of our entire football team. We challenged them all week long about their mental focus their fortitude, their perseverance. The type of mental conditioning that it would take to play in this game and that process started a year ago.
“A great win obviously, victory number eight and moving forward UConn is going to be a great challenge in very single aspect that we are going to face; going on the road, playing a team that has tremendous confidence, great rhythm, leadership and they are playing at home so now it is role reversal being their senior day. I told the team to just remember how you felt a week ago and playing a very good football team. I could go on and on about their defense but I’m sure you all have done your homework but if you haven’t, I will give you some statistics. Total defense number 10 in the country, rush defense number 9th in the country and only given up 100 yards rushing per game, 13th in the nation in sacs, 14th in tackle for losses, 25th in the nation in third down conversions and you know the height and awareness that we place on third down conversions in our program the last couple of weeks. They are 5th I the nation of average yard per rush at 2.7, opponent first down are only given up 16 and red zone; they have only had 25 trips and offense has only had 25 trips in the red zone all year and so basically they are not giving up long sustainable drives and I think that’s a direct correlation to being 19th in the nation for scoring defense.
“This is obviously going to be a great challenge for our offense but challenged don’t end there. It also starts with them on offense because they are a physical style football team, Lyle McCombs a very good running back, very elusive and they are very big up front. I just cheated and looked at Tim’s cheat sheet of the questions and he had the sizes of their offensive line already circled. 309-315 pounds across the board; they are good at what they do. They are going to run some power, going to run inside zone and their master of their trade and obviously very skilled wide out and it gets back to overall disciple of the defense, eye discipline. They are to throw some play action game, throw the football, great challenge and Nick Williams has been playing as long as Drew Frey
has; not only the value that he brings to the football game, not only in terms of the wide receiver play but also in the special teams game, the return game you must know we’re number third and want in all the time.
“Again, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach [Paul] Pasqualoni. You can see them take on his personality very well coached, they don’t beat themselves and again for this football team, team one 25 to go on the road, it’s going to take tremendous focus, effort and energy beginning today. One more thing on the South Florida game; we didn’t turn the football over and on top of that it was some very challenging condition with the wind, elements and our players embraced that challenge and took care of the football. It’s the only time we take care of the football and when we take the football away, we had an opportunity to win. When we talk about the South Florida’s six plays that mean the difference between winning and losing, I though the one play that really set the temperament, so to speak, was the punt by Pat O’Donnell that really flipped field position. They had a coming out situation; then our defense does a really great job of forcing a turnover and then it’s what once you get the turnover; it’s the points after the turnovers and we did a great job.
“The little things that people don’t see is Brendon Kay doing a great job in the quarterback draw but Kenbrell Thompkins during man coverage, runs the defender to the back of the end zone and then he turns and makes a great block and then Anthony McClung sprint across the field to get a body on a body, which we talk about with our wide receivers and anybody blocking down field, to really helped Brendon get the seven points there. Again I thought it was a great team effort, a great team win and now we are doing everything to work to get the victory number nine.”
On change with UConn offense the past two weeks:
“Their creating some big plays, taking care of the football and they are just a football team that has really generated momentum and are a byproduct of a long off week, I believe it’s two weeks off and that is the other thing; when we look at the fortitude and the resolve of Team 125 here at Cincinnati, lets now forget now the ten straight games. There are seven or eight other programs that have had to do that and that is a challenge especially with the physical style of football play that we want to play; Also correlating that with opponents and the physicality of the game. For our players, we are taking care of their bodies and doing everything that we ask of them; this week South Florida was an extremely physical football game and so our training room is working overtime but that is what comes when we hit the first week in December but that what happens when we play for ten consecutive weeks.”
On what makes tight end Travis Kelce such a good receiver:
“I think Travis Kelce has improved his technique. Everything is about painting pictures to the quarterback m as a pass receiver. Your body language tells them everything; when you are coming out of cuts, how you stick a route, getting your eyes around. He had tremendous hands and ability to adjust to the ball here and he is really worked his route running, overall technique and he is also very gifted athletically. He has great instincts. That is the thing we look at is the catch in advance, getting the ball north and south but he has an uncanny knack of really making the first offender miss as well… I’m ecstatic; I say it every week about where Travis has come in our program. He continues to get better and better. He’s been now playing through the nicks and pains associated with grind of a football season. His mentality – he’s a leader; he’s everything that we ask of our football players and more.”
On Connecticut’s lack of takeaways:
“It’s a turnover game. The formula never changes. They’re doing a great job of taking care of the football. You look at the formula for winning; they’re going to force you to drive the length of the field. They’re extremely disciplined. They don’t give up big plays. They make you beat them. You earn every yard you get against UConn. They’re difficult. You look at an offense now, they’re playing disciplined. They don’t turn the football over. They’re really playing to their strengths, a big offensive front, and some skilled wide outs and obviously [Lyle] McCombs is a great running back. They’re playing Connecticut football and they are winning because of it. They’re very, very solid in special teams. Their return games, they’re a threat. They’ll flip field position and any time. They force you to be extremely disciplined. And it’s hard in today’s world of college football to really drive the length of the field, to have sustained drive of eight, nine, 10, 11 plays. Those are hard to do and they make you do that.”
On if looking back to camp if he thought the team had eight wins in it:
“I did but I said it, ‘we had to be a team that overachieved’. I believed anything was possible because of our work ethic and the character of our players. And I saw that last year, I saw coming off the Liberty Bowl victory. I saw the workman like mentality. But the thing that concerned me was the personality of this team, Team 125, was completely different from last year’s Team 124. The personality is completely different. What sums it up is you have the flamboyancy of Isaiah Pead being replaced by the quietness of a George Winn. This team has kind of taken on that kind of leadership. They just do what’s asked of them. They’re never overemotional or under emotional, but they’ve kept that passion and that fire. When you replace the individuals we’ve had to with graduation, that margin was very small. But I knew we could because of our character, but we had to be a team that did not beat itself. In turnovers, costly penalties, all those things, and our kids have done that. I think you lose sight of ten consecutive weeks of football. That’s a hard task. So far to date, they’ve answered that challenge.”
On his reaction to the past weekend’s BIG EAST upsets:
“That’s football. We live in a week-to-week world. It’s a week-to-week season. I keep saying, so much is involved in your mental conditioning. And we have good football teams in this conference. I’ve said it, ‘anybody is capable of beating anybody’. This year there’s more of a competitive balance in our conference than there’s ever been. And that’s why I keep saying it; you have to manage your adversities. You can’t be too high, you can’t be too low. You just have to have a bunker mentality and go to work every day. I think our players have done that. They’ve had some very difficult setbacks and yet they’ve come to work the next day. They’ve come to play the next week, and again that’s a byproduct of leadership and character.”
On what a share of the BIG EAST title would mean:
“It’s what our program is. We expect to contend for conference championships. We can’t worry about the outcome. Everyone wants to worry about the outcome. We can’t worry about the outcome of the Rutgers/Louisville game. The only thing we can control is our mindset, our mentality and our workman like approach, not only field but in the film room, in the classroom this week. Winning this day and winning this week. The only thing we can control is ourselves. That’s kind of been the message all along this week. We can only control what we can control and that’s worrying about ourselves because we have a lot to be concerned about Saturday at 3:30 p.m.”
On how importance conference security is for the University of Cincinnati:
“I could sit up here and give you a canned response and I’d be lying to you. If you ask any coach around the country, that security of being in a conference is critical. It’s critical for everything. I think that’s big. I do have the comfort in knowing that President Santa Ono and [Director of Athletics] Whit Babcock are doing anything and everything in their control to take care of the future of the University of Cincinnati. Those two individuals, along with our Board of Trustees have done a tremendous job. They’ve been proactive and everything is about a vision of continuing to grow and elevate all your programs. So I have that comfort level, but to sit here and tell you it’s not a concern – it is a concern because I do believe in the product that we have here. Not only on the field but off the field in terms of academics and everything that we have, our community. But make no mistake about it, everything is about an institution’s profile in whether we’re in the BIG EAST or somewhere else, I can tell you this: everyone is doing their due diligence here and that is great to see. We have a great product where it be, where it ends up whether it’s the BIG EAST or where have you. But I can tell you this: everyone is working extremely hard. And as the football coach, I can only control so many things. Just like I talked about not getting ahead of ourselves for Thursday night’s game, it’s the same with me. I have to coach this football team and make sure we’re ready to play our best football game. We’re doing anything and everything to secure the future of the University of Cincinnati.”