Dec. 30, 2009
Passing Game Coordinator/WR Coach Charley Molnar
Opening Statement: First off, I would really like to thank the Sugar Bowl committee for doing such a great job. From the minute we touched down at the airport to getting escorted over here today, it’s been nothing but first class and a very smooth operation. We look forward to that continuing through the football game.
How much of last year’s Orange Bowl performance do you think affected Tony Pike and how much has he carried that with him into this game? I think the Orange Bowl has stayed with this entire football team for a year now. As good as last season was for us, that performance has left a bad taste in our mouth and a really bad memory from last season. From the beginning of winter workouts, Tony has really dedicated himself to improving his game and having a better knowledge of defenses in the pass game. Certainly though, last year’s defeat wasn’t all on the shoulders of Tony Pike.
Talk about Mardy Gilyard and what he means to your offense. I think Mardy Gilyard is one of the more dynamic players in all of college football. When he goes, our offense goes, and when our offense goes we always have a chance to win the football game. If you go back to the Pittsburgh and even the Illinois game, he also has the ability to make things happen in the kicking game, which gives us a chance to win regardless of the score. When the ball is in his hands, almost always good things happen.
Have you guys drawn any comparisons to last year’s Sugar Bowl game when Utah defeated Alabama? Actually, the only talk we’ve had about Utah is that they practiced at Tulane University, and that was one of the reasons we thought we could have good, positive practices. But really, we’ve made no comparisons between our team and the Utah team and haven’t drawn upon their success or their story for ours.
How much will you incorporate Zach (Collaros) into the gameplan if at all? Ever since Zach’s emergence, he’s always been part of our gameplan. There have been a few games where he hasn’t had the opportunity to play, but we certainly had Zach and our offense prepared to go into the football game. To see Zach Collaros in the Sugar Bowl, that would not be a reach.
Jacob Ramsey, RB
What has the mood on campus and in the city been like during the team’s undefeated season? The city has really embraced our football team. We’ve tried to really upgrade our play for our city and our fans, and they, in turn, have really turned out to support us a lot more.
How has the team tried to stay focused despite the distractions caused by the coaching situation? The first thing they (the Cincinnati coaching staff) did was be completely honest with us. They really gained our trust. We just came down here with the goal to win the Sugar Bowl. That’s been our focus in practice, to just come out and compete.
Does the offense feel confident going up against one of the top teams in the country? Definitely. Before coach Kelly got here, it was a defensive staff. The offense didn’t really get that much attention. It’s great to be getting the kinds of opportunities that we are now. We’re actually pretty happy about it. We just want to go out there and play our best game.
Tony Pike, QB
What is the team’s mood after being so close to the national title game? Obviously, you have two teams that were very close to playing for the national championship. In our eyes, this is the next best thing. It would have been great for the Cincinnati community to play in the national championship, but we’re in the Sugar Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl has put together some great events for us, and we love it down here, so we’re just looking forward to getting into the game.
What would a perfect season mean for a program that has struggled to get attention in a state dominated by another program (Ohio State)? Not just for our team, but for the whole program, it would mean a lot. We’ve always been known as a basketball program, so it’s nice that when people are talking about the Ohio States of college football, we’re getting mentioned. It’s exciting. It would be great for us and for the future of Cincinnati football to get our name out there to stay.
Mardy Gilyard, Wide Receiver
Why did you decide to stay at Cincinnati instead of returning home to Florida after losing your scholarship? Where I’m from, my city’s known for drugs, cocaine, dope, a lot of violence. I was happy to get out of there, and I was happy that someone wanted to send me to school somewhere. I wanted to go to the farthest place from home I could, and, me doing that, everyone from back home respects that. They love that. They were like, “Hey, don’t come back down here. You know what these streets are like. We don’t need you down here.”
Jeff Linkenbach, Left Tackle
How are you enjoying New Orleans so far? It’s been great. The city has been good to us. Bourbon Street has been interesting, the whole French Quarter is interesting. The people here are very nice, which some people might find surprising, but the people in the city have been very nice and hospitable. It’s been a very nice experience thus far.
How have preparations gone for the Sugar Bowl, not just this week, but in the weeks leading up to the game? I feel it’s gone pretty well. There have been a few distractions early on but we’ve moved past that and ready to play the game.
How do you feel Florida will react to the same distractions (with Coach Meyer)? It might have affected them the first few days after hearing the news, but if anything, this will bring the team more together. I am sure they are just as focused as we were in the days following Coach Kelly’s announcement.
How do you plan to attack the Florida defense and handle their team speed? We plan to attack the defense the same way we’ve attacked every other team, by running the ball when we get a chance, as the offensive line loves to run block. Pass the ball effectively, hopefully, move the pocket and run some screens.
Are there any players on the Florida defense that stand out or any defensive schemes that worry the offense? We just have to line up and play. Their whole defense has great players all across the board, their schemes are very sound and they execute very well. They’re a very sound defense and we have to execute just as well or better.
What do you expect (of the crowd) in the dome on Friday? I’m expecting it to be crazy, just rocking with the whole stadium shaking. I’ve played in the Carrier Dome (Syracuse) before, but I am expecting it to be a lot louder than that.
Chris Jurek, Center
How are you enjoying New Orleans so far? Everything has been great here. The city is wonderful and it’s exactly what we’ve expected coming down. The people have been great and the ambiance and atmosphere surrounding the city has been an amazing experience.
How has practice gone so far for you and the rest of the team as it prepares for the Florida defense? Practice has been very high spirited and a lot of fun to take part in. We’ve been preparing well the last few weeks and we are really looking forward to the game. Florida’s a great opponent but we are taking this opportunity very seriously and excited about the game.
What stands out most on the Florida defense? The most noticeable aspect of their defense is their team speed. They are a very fast defense with a lot of great players. We’ve got some great offensive skill players as well and I think we match up with their defense pretty good. It should be a great game.