Jan. 2, 2010
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -
Connecticut Head Coach Randy Edsall
On the win over South Carolina "What a great team victory for us. We knew we were going against a very good team from the SEC in South Carolina, an outstanding defense and a great coach in Steve Spurrier, an excellent staff at South Carolina. To come away with a victory the way that we did puts the icing on the cake for this season and for what the young men in that locker room mean and what they represent. I couldn't be more happy and thrilled for the players and the assistant coaches."
On Connecticut's 2009 season "There's just so much emotion with what has taken place this year. I said it to our media at the beginning of the year, I thought that we had a special group of kids this year. Watching them work since the bowl game from a year ago through the winter and the spring and summer and then during the season. We had two losses early in the season that were close and then (Jasper Howard's) death and watching them battle back in three games where we were so close. And to watch them come out and play against Notre Dame and Syracuse and South Florida and then to come down here, it's just hard to explain."
On how special his team is "That team in there when we get together 10 years, 15, 20 years from now, in all my years of coaching, I've never been around a team like this. What they stand for and what they're all about, it's hard to describe unless you've been through the ride with us."
On his team's defensive performance "We did some different things this week. We know that we have to be a little bit of a different defense because we're not the defense that we were before. We knew we had to be a little bit more of a pressure defense. We did a great job of executing, and the coaches prepared them extremely well. But it comes down to the players."
On his team's rushing performance "When you have a guy like (Andre Dixon), 33 carries, 126 yards. What a way for him to go out. He gets over 1,000 yards. All week long I watched him practice and he had a bounce in his step. He was ready to go. And when you get a guy like this and you get a big offensive line like we have, and you keep pounding it, you're going to wear people down."
On what the win means for the BIG EAST "We talked about just trying to earn respect. We wanted to make sure we got the eighth win. We came down here against an SEC team in the heart of one of the most passionate areas in the country for college football and wanted to show the kind of program we have and the kind of kids we have, and I think we did that very well. We're really proud to be part of the BIG EAST and get a win against an SEC team. I think it helps our conference out tremendously."
University of Connecticut Player Quotes
Andre Dixon - RB - PapaJohns.com Bowl Fred Sington MVP
On his relationship with Coach Edsall
"I feel like I am a good person and I feel like I try to do the right things. Everybody runs into bumps in the road. As a father and as a coach and friend, I think he really understands that. We built a strong relationship a long time ago. For him to trust me and believe in me and continue to believe that I am going to do the right things, it is great to hear somebody talk like that. To really know that someone really loves you as a coach, as a second father and friend, it is amazing to hear those words come out of coach's mouth."
On having an extra bounce in his step this week
"I don't know where it came from. I think it was the South or something."
Could part of it have been because it was your last game?
"I don't know if it was that or if it was (Jasper Howard). I felt good this week. I knew it was the last one and I always come out and put everything on the line. When it is the last, it's a special one, and you always want to do what you can to help your team be successful."
On the season
"This is really special year. Like coach said this is a special team. For us to start off really good and then go through a slump after what happened to our teammate and win out says something about our character and how strong of a family UConn is."
On today's game
"We played well in all three phases. When we called the team up before the game, I said, `I challenge you on offense, I challenge you on defense and I challenge you on special teams to put everything together and do it for (Jasper Howard).' As you saw out there, I think that is what happened today."
Lawrence Wilson - LB, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
On the season and ending it in Birmingham
"We could have folded the tent and let it go down hill. I applaud these guys for fighting through to the end and making it here."
On UConn's defense today
"It felt good to finally play well. They all played hard and we got pressure on the quarterback all day. That is one of the main reasons why we won. This is the most complete we game we played this year."
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
On going for it on fourth down in the first quarter
"We hadn't made a first down. I was hoping (quarterback) Stephen (Garcia) would look over at us. They had three big guys in there, so we were going to punt it, but he went ahead and snuck it. That was our fault for not yelling out to him. That was something that we hadn't worked on a whole lot, but I thought we could make a half yard. But obviously that sneak was not a good play against their defense."
On his team's performance
"Our guys practiced fairly decently. Our guys played probably about like they've played all year to tell you the truth. We had a few little runs here and there, but pass protection we still get beat. We got beat a few times today. We had guys come free at their quarterback, too, but we missed a lot. We missed a lot of tackles.
"We had a lot of breakdowns, but we've had breakdowns all year and still won some games. We have to do some things differently, and we know it. We'll see if we can do it. I think we can."
On whether dropped passes were the result of the cold temperatures
"I saw their guy make a nice one-handed grab on that little wheel route they hit on us for the first touchdown on third down. They made a bunch of third downs; we didn't make any hardly, and that was a big part of the game also. But it wasn't that cold out there. It was beautiful. The fourth quarter got a little cool. But I don't think I've ever seen three straight dropped passes in one possession like I saw out there in the fourth quarter."
On the end to South Carolina's 2009 season
"We've never been a great team this year. We've been a decent team. Offensively, we've not done all that much. We've scrambled around here and there. Defensively, we played pretty solid most of the year. But anyway, we just thoroughly got beat today. I thought we could play with UConn. I didn't think they were going to shut us out, which they probably should have done. We hardly ever had great field position. We got the one turnover when they fumbled, but that was on our own 40.
"They outplayed us today. They didn't miss many tackles; we missed a whole bunch. They just played very well. Give them credit."
South Carolina Player Quotes
Senior LB Eric Norwood Quotes:
On South Carolina's performance "I think we could have played better. It's just embarrassing to come down here and play the way we did. We didn't give up, we played hard, but we just didn't make plays. We didn't make enough plays and its disappointing for the fans that came down here and supported us, especially the way times are right now. It's disappointing to not come out with a win, but it is what it is."
On South Carolina's preparation for the game "I have no idea (what went wrong). I think we went out there, tried to play ball and they played better."
On UConn's running game "This was a solid running game. It's a solid team. They execute, they're not dirty out there and they just play ball. It's as simple as that."
On his career at South Carolina "The last four years here have been great. I've gotten a lot of support from the South Carolina fans and fans from other places, and I wouldn't have traded any of it for the world. I don't regret anything. I love all the support from the academics to athletics from everyone. I just want to say thank you to everyone that's supported me and that will continue supporting me in my future endeavors."
Sophomore QB Stephen Garcia quotes:
On the outcome of today's game "It's very disappointing. It's more disappointing for the seniors that are on the team like Eric [Norwood] more than anything."
On the difference between last year's bowl game and this year's "I am a lot closer with the seniors on this year's team and that's what makes it harder than anything. Playing the way we did."